Ran the first session of an adventure that a friend has written to help her test it last night.  It’s written for…

Ran the first session of an adventure that a friend has written to help her test it last night.  It’s written for…

Ran the first session of an adventure that a friend has written to help her test it last night.  It’s written for D&D but she wanted to test how flexible it was so I ran it in DW.  She was also keen to have it run by an inexperienced GM, so I was able to fill that role too…  Apart from a one-shot trial game of DW, I’ve never GMed before.

It went pretty well for the most part, although one thing popped up a few times… The DW equivalent of “everyone do a spot / listen check”. 

Telling the players to try to discern reality definitely sounds wrong, so how else should you handle such situations?  Situations where there is something to be found / noticed / heard / spotted / etc, but you need to be particularly astute to do so.

I get that I should describe what they see and that they should ask questions (and invoke moves as necessary) from there, but there still seemed to be something missing… =/

12 thoughts on “Ran the first session of an adventure that a friend has written to help her test it last night.  It’s written for…”

  1. Discern realities. Reveal future badness*. Tell them the consequences and ask*.

    * (I might have these wrong, or they might be the Apocalypse World names.)

    I’m not a fan of the “everybody make a check”. I find its missing from DW the way Initiative’s missing – i.e. it feels funny at first, but soon you don’t notice it’s gone.

  2. Congratulations on your first time GMing! Personally, if they don’t take the time to be cautious and check for themselves, I don’t bring it up. If they are going to plow into danger without a second thought, they deserve to be ambushed. =P In this case, it sounds like you called for a discern realities before they looked around? That’s not something you do in Dungeon World. A GM shouldn’t make a move happen unless the players initiate it. (Unless they are standing around at a loss and looking to you for direction.) They should say “I think I want to look around first before we head into this ominous crypt that once had a cult of a dead king in it. Might be dangerous. A little.” That’s when you ask them to discern realities. If you ask them to do it before they come to it themselves, you’re letting them know that there is something there they aren’t seeing/hearing/ect. If they miss loot, an occassional “a glint is revealed in the darkness” soft move can’t hurt, but otherwise, they are crippling themselves by not looking around first. 

  3. If they stare at you blankly not knowing what to do, make as hard a move as you’d like.

    My favourite (in the dungeon setting) is to:

    Point to a looming threat

    ‘If you know that something is lurking and waiting for the players to stumble upon it, this move shows them the signs and clues. This move is the dragon’s footprints in the mud or the slimy trail of the gelatinous cube.’

  4. I know where you’re coming from Greg. It can be hard to wrap your head around a system that often resolves things without the need to default to math and mechanics . . . Where the unfolding fiction alone is often enough to arrive a reasonable, believable outcome.

    But . . Oh man, once you do get it . . . It’s nothing short of liberating!

    For me, the key is to be very clear when setting up a situation. I thinks it’s okay to throw the brick at your players and say something like “The chamber before you is bathed in shadows and features all sorts of nooks and crannies that could conceal potential danger or hazard. What do you do?”

    If that doesn’t beg for someone to take a closer look at things or exercise caution, and maybe make a move or two, well, I don’t know how to make it any more obvious. I’m practically prodding them. If they just throw caution to the wind and March staright on in, well, that sounds like a golden opportunity to me.

  5. In DW, I’m a big fan of trying to throw something odd into the description to pique the player’s interest in it, thus triggering a Discern Realities or other Move by one of the players. If they are just charging in, I might give them a “Are you sure you want to do that?” prompt, to see if they catch on. If they don’t slow down, then go for it.

    DW and other more narrative-focused games (FATE, etc.) tend to be of the opinion that if a check is required to go on in play (have to find the entrance to the orc lair before you can assault the orcs), then the players should be more or less given it. (They can still choose to ignore it…) I think the design decision is that players (and the GM) don’t want to watch people make 10-20 dice rolls just to move the story forward. Every dice roll should be final, that is, if you don’t succeed, then something else should happen.

  6. If something is amiss… maybe ask them “hey, out of all of you, who might notice [Amiss thing]?”, then turn to that player and go “Hmmm, there’s a danger you might not notice [the thing] in time… how are you defying that danger?” 

  7. Thanks for the suggestions, I think it was definitely a combination of the players not looking around enough and me not finding good ways to prompt them to do so.

    Will keep trying to improve things next session!

  8. Greg Baatard That’s really all you can do is learn from your experience and mistakes. (Just add some XP when you fail. =P) I know I’m a very extreme kinda GM that in a dungeon full of traps… If the party fails to be cautious… Someone loses a limb. ^.^ I know some people are afraid to make hard moves like that as GMs, but that leads to even more character development. My more recent victim lost his leg and arm to an acidic attack because he ignored my prompts that the acid was eating through his armor. Now he has mechanical limbs in their place that I give him an addition to strength for, but subtraction to his dexterity. 

  9. You should almost never ask for everyone to make a “spot” or any other check. If the party is exploring, have the most “spotty” (that doesn’t sound right…) play lead the check and have others assist if that is what they would actually be doing.

    In DW, you can handle it by saying to the most astute character, “You think you may have see XYZ out of the corner of your eye. What do you do?” If there are others actively keeping an eye out during the exploring, they can assist, if not, they cannot.

    The same goes when running other games like FFG’s Star Wars, Numenera, or even Dungeon World. Having everyone make a certain check (except for something like Initiative in FFG Star Wars) bogs down the game. Also, if the character making the check fails, there should be no retry or other players asking “Can I try to make that check?” If the situation lacks consequences enough for rety to make sense, don’t ask for a check at all.

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