I ran Dungeon World last night with my 12 y/o and his cousins.

I ran Dungeon World last night with my 12 y/o and his cousins.

I ran Dungeon World last night with my 12 y/o and his cousins. It went well and we all had a good time, but our conversation this morning left me a little bewildered.

Him: “So, what happened after we defeated the BBG last night?”

Me: “Well, I don’t know. That’s why we play, to find out.”

Him: “Oh.” Sounding disappointed. “I thought this was a game where we have a quest that we’re trying to complete and you know everything already.”

Soooo, does this mean that kids want the railroad? The certainty that a pre-planned adventure and mission bring? I know we all had a good time and they really got into “making stuff up as we went” – to the point that I had to reign it in at times – but maybe they thought I already knew all the answers?

10 thoughts on “I ran Dungeon World last night with my 12 y/o and his cousins.”

  1. Interesting! Am I right in thinking you’ve played 1 session so far? If so, how are you doing with your fronts and dangers? 

    Fronts aren’t about knowing everything already or giving the players a quest, but they do help you think about what will happen if the players do nothing to stop them.

    For example, let’s say in your first game the PCs killed a Mushroom dragon whelp. Maybe the mushroom dragon’s mama is now angry. Her front might look something like this:

    FRONT: “Angry mama!”

    DOOM: (If the players do nothing) the land and all it’s people are turned into mushrooms or eaten!

    PORTENTS: (What happens on the way to the doom:)

    – cattle are going missing

    – a village is found covered in mushrooms

    – an army is lost fighting the mushroom dragon

    – all the crops are turned into mushrooms!

    (That’s an oversimplification, but hopefully you get the idea.)

    Notice how any one of the portents could be considered a ‘quest’, but it’s up to the players to investigate it, not you. If the players choose to ignore the portents and go hunt goblins or whatever, no problem! But that village probably won’t be there when they get back…

  2. I think your son is just used to computer games, which are played over and over again with the same story – a bit like Groundhog Day. He’ll get used to dw…

  3. It’s not just computer games, it’s stories in general. Traditional storytelling, going back to oral tradition, has a teller and listeners, and most people grow up experiencing stories that way. Linear narrative is the basis of all narrative, and it’s what most of us grow up with.

    It’s totally natural for people to expect the arc of the tale to be all figured out by the teller, because that’s how stories traditionally operate. Even if the teller is making stuff up as she goes along, it’s received as “truth” by the listeners.

    Playing to find out is something you learn how to do. There’s bound to be a sense of “something missing” when all you know is the tidy 3-act structure of all mainstream media. And then you get past it, and then you never look back.

  4. I think Wynand Louw pretty much said it.  It’s an expectation thing.  He’s probably not familiar with the idea of playing to find out what happens.  That can change.

  5. Joe Banner – We only had time for two sessions over the weekend at a family reunion, so I didn’t formally create any fronts. But I did spin some of the things from char gen into issues for them to deal with. The big two were a skeleton horde swarming the desert temple they were holed up in, forcing them to flee to the catacombs beneath. The other one was tying their ideas about three magical daggers, the Haunted Dagger, Golden Dagger, and Peace Dagger into a looming threat. Beneath the temple a priest of un-death was performing a ritual using the daggers to summon a giant sand worm. They managed to stop him, with the halfling thief rolling a 7-9 on his throwing knife and being faced with the hard choice of letting one of two spells go off before the priest died: a) the death spell that was targeting him or b) the dagger ritual. He chose to let the death spell go off and face Death in last breath in order to save the day, so it was quite heroic. I was very pleased with how everything came together and 90% of it was directly from things that the boys put forth as ideas, with little bits of twists and structure put on top by me.

  6. All – great discussion. The interesting thing is that we did tie up the immediate action with a pretty standard 3-ish part arc (get to the temple, flee from the skeleton horde and into the caverns, discover the evil priest and defeat him and his skeleton warriors while stopping his ritual).

    In retrospect, I think his question/disappointment was actually a reflection of his excitement for the game. He’s totally new to TTRPG and loved this first experience so much that he wants me to run games for him and his friends when we get home. I think he just wanted to hear more about the adventures of his halfling thief Shank and his companions, the icy druid Beaster and the creepy elf wizard Galadir. I probably could have just made up some stories of their next adventures, but for better or worse stuck to my sense that while yes, I have some fictional lego blocks that may be used in building those adventures, none of us know exactly how they’ll be put together or what other blocks we’ll discover in the bin and decide to throw into the story.

    In any case, I’m excited that the TTRPG bug finally bit him (he’s a big time computer gamer, mostly TF2 and similar shooters) and will do my best to grow and nurture that excitement since TTRPG is not only a great hobby, but also provides personal growth opportunities that aren’t readily available in many other hobbies.

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