Ok I need a little help.   I am my 2nd session in on a Dungeon World game (Dark Sun hack) and one of my players died…

Ok I need a little help.   I am my 2nd session in on a Dungeon World game (Dark Sun hack) and one of my players died…

Ok I need a little help.   I am my 2nd session in on a Dungeon World game (Dark Sun hack) and one of my players died last session.   Granted we were absent 1 player so only 3 players and they could have chosen to run.   

The characters are taken from the Darksun playbook (Gladiator, Bard, Druid)  I sent a small group of two creatures then a “soft move” of bringing in two more reinforcements since these mooks have only 3 hp and they were dropping them VERY quickly.   Then as a Hard move I brought in a creature which was a solitary creature (there were only 1 left of the mooks…who ran away).  

A combination of players rolling 6- each for 4 or 5 attempts to take down this creature and my rolling high damage (d10+5) repeatedly took down the players quickly then resulted in one hp 0 (-4).  We finished out the fight and with the epic end of the fight, we resolved the “Last Breath” move.   

As the Deal with Death , death offered the druid the option of allowing the next Defiler (detroyer of nature) that they meet, to not come to harm by his hands.  The druid refused and thus died.  The player was completely happy with the choice and the decision since he was not liking some of the “unfinished” look of the Dark Sun Druid and wanted something else. 

My situation, as a new MC I think I was using “deal damage” too often.  Is there such a thing?  Did my ‘deal with death’ seem too harsh?  

11 thoughts on “Ok I need a little help.   I am my 2nd session in on a Dungeon World game (Dark Sun hack) and one of my players died…”

  1. Each rolled 4-5 failure rolls? I would be surprised if no one died. Clearly he had an opportunity to come back with the last breath. +5 is on the high side for a non-horde type creature, I would think, unless they were at a higher level.

    I had a horde of scorpion babies attack players with d4+6, that dwindled in the + as they cut them down, so eventually it came back down to d4, the larger scorpion was about a d10+2, but remember that damage is not the only thing that has to be done. You can remove a limb, damage armor, or any other multitude of shitty outcomes for the player that doesn’t kill them.

  2. After the session we talked. I wanted to get the sense from the players if this had an impact on the fun and to get feedback for me as an MC.

    I realized that i could have triggered disabilities (correct?) instead of damage, or I could have started making more soft moves like burning their gear, putting them in a spot that could yield a minus to the next roll or take damage option.

    I do also realize now that the level of that solitary was a little overpowered for them on their first night. 🙂 IF anything it has impressed on them that even though this is a strongly narrative game it is by no means a stroll through combat as they originally suspected (by them fighting something that was obviously too much for them at the moment.

  3. Use deal damage only when you can’t come up with some way to make things harder for them. from the book:

    “The enemy’s counterattack can be any GM move made directly with that creature. A goblin might just attack you back, or they might jam a poisoned needle into your veins. Life’s tough, isn’t it?

    I would look at the creature’s instincts and see if that can inform your next move.

    (Goblin) Instinct:

    To multiply


    Call more goblins

    Retreat and return with (many) more.

    Seems like having them call in an Orkaster or three might have been a good compromise! 

  4. Ya, only deal damage a minority of the time.  Have fun with “fictional positioning,” in other words, use your moves to make the situation worse for the PC(s): separate them, break their gear, nasty surprises, etc.

    There’s nothing wrong with killing PCs once in a while – it makes everything more real.  But round by round, dealing damage is usually one of the less-interesting things you can do.

    (I know, there are no rounds… ;-))

  5. Don’t be afaid to deal damage, but don’t just deal damage. Remember to begin and end with the fiction, so what does the enemy do? What does that look like? What is the creature doing that breaks the PC’s momentum, threatens them, makes them react?  Make that your move; the damage (if any) is just the mechanical part of it that ratchets up tension eats away at resources.

    For the recod, you deal damage anytime your GM/monster move would be damaging.  From the GMing chapter, under Making Your Move:

    Note that “deal damage” is a move, but other moves may include damage as well. When an ogre flings you against a wall you take damage as surely as if he had smashed you with his fists.

  6. Ray Case i get that and I realize should have been more aware of the creature instincts, but what about if the players are frequently using the “hack and slash” move and roll 7-9. Dont I have to deal damage to them in response? If they roll 6-, is that when I can use creature moves ?

  7. You don’t have to deal damage specifically; you have to make an attack with the enemy they are hacking and slashing against. Depending on the enemy’s moves and fictionally available means of attack, that might not mean dealing damage. Or it might mean dealing damage as part of their attack/move.

  8. Chris Shorb 🙂  normally I would but the dice typically dont roll well unless it is something against them so I thought I would help out and roll… but in retrospect I wont do that again. LOL

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