I’m considering running a game at (in?

I’m considering running a game at (in?

I’m considering running a game at (in?  for?  with respect to?) VirtuaCon, and my inclination is an 8-hour (their max allowed) dungeon crawl.  I’m noodling on making the party a rescue mission to find/save a Dwarf archaeologist.   The PCs would all be Dwarves, plus one Human scholar.

Dungeon World seems like the perfect system.  By grabbing players a few weeks ahead of time, we can customize each character to make it more suitable to the specific setting.  DW characters are pretty hardy, but I’m thinking something like 6th level, so that one of the second-tier Moves is available.

Think I’m right that DW is the right call?  I’d never considered it in this context before, but man it’s awesome for one-shots….

22 thoughts on “I’m considering running a game at (in?”

  1. Sir, I would not suggest an 8 hour session for a con for a variety of reasons. First and foremost it is con for Queens sake. People come and people go. I do not think that people will sit straight through all this time… they could, but… don’t they have anything else to do at that event? 

    Furthemore, DW, in my opinion, of course, is not the best system for a crawl… as I see it in roguelikes. Checks for traps, 10 foot pole, that kind of stuff. For a con optimal would be a 1,5 to 2 hours long session, 4 hours tops. Thus, you could GM it several times and it would be okay. 

    It’s your call, of course, but I have my doubts about that. Other than that, yeah, it would be cool.

  2. Much as the name tends to lead people to believe otherwise, Dungeon World isn’t really a great game for dungeon crawls in the traditional sense.  I mean, if you have a really clever and interesting dungeon full of setpiece battles and fun things to interact with then maybe, but I don’t really think this is where the game shines.

  3. Meh. I’ll disagree that DW doesn’t shine or can’t do dungeon crawls. What I’m balking at is setting things up too much beforehand.

    I feel that DW really shines when the players have lots of input about the setting, that includes during the game. Setting up the mission beforehand seems fine, but why force people to play as dwarves?

    I’ve run a few con games, both in person and across the internet, and things work great when the first 30 minutes is character creation.

  4. Chris Stone-Bush That’s the issue I’m wondering about–the lack of input/improv from the characters.  My other thought was FATE, which can be set up a little more strictly.

  5. When I ran some DW con games, I had an idea of the quest the PCs would be going on: discover what happened to the villagers, go defeat the Ice Witch, recover the Faceless One’s mask, etc. But then I came up with a bunch of leading questions that let the players add to the world. Stuff like “How did the Ice Witch break free of her prison?”, “In addition to telepathy, what does the Faceless One’s mask do?”, and ” What evil magics did the Serpent Cult have the last time you faced them?” Questions that established facts necessary for the adventure, but still give the players lots of power to shape the story. They’re difficult to come up with, but really great tools.

  6. Oh, feh. DW works just fine with a pre-existing situation. And a creative constraint like “you’re all dwarves” is kinda fun, as long as it delivers on the premise and makes that actually matter.

    The trick, in my mind, is to ask questions up front that immediately make the players invested in the situation. Like, maybe have n+1 leading questions and you let each player answer one. Questions like “What was is like studying at the university with such a famous scholar as Dr Enry Stones as a father?” or “What dwarven tradition leaves you honor bound to try to rescue Dr Stones?” or “Why is it so important to your that you help rescue Dr Stones, and why are you rather reluctant to do so?” or “What secret bit of lore does only Dr Stones know, and why is it so important to your clan that you learn it?”

    Be sure to leave enough blanks to accommodate for their answers, but otherwise, hells yes have a big crazy dungeon full of weirdness and awesome. Good idea to have some grim portents and impending dooms in there, too, to keep things moving and keep the pressure on.

  7. Jeremy Strandberg But the more I think on it, the more I think those questions are really about campaign creation (or character development).  So by running a one-shot am I somewhat robbing the system of its value?

  8. Running a rigidly defined one shot, yes, or rather, probably robbing the game of AW’a “play to find out” magic. For all I know you might make it sing like crystal goblets. 

  9. DW works better, again, probably, when you figure out what direction the players want to go, continue that way for 75% of the slot, introduce the thingthatcanendtheplot, and find out if they can resolve it. 

    “You’re all dwarves, so regardless of class here are some dwarven racial XP choices. Now, you’re down in these caves trying to rescue someone – who?” And roll from there, if you’re still intent on sticking with your basic premise. 

  10. I’m with the others who say 8 hours is too long for a con game. Unless you have six players on board with that ahead of time, you may have trouble getting enough players. Personally I would run two 3 hour sessions in that time, taking a break in between.

  11. It’s “VirtuaCon”… meaning we’re all going to be in our underwear.  I should have made that clear–it’s a big part of the point.  A con game on a Saturday at your house.  An 8-hour session like when you were 17.  A dungeon.  Etc.

  12. For a pure play dungeon crawl like that I would recommend a different OSR/retro clone (probably Swords & Wizardry since it’s free and fun). DW does an ok job of 0e/ad&d pastiche but it’s kind of a “square peg in a round hole.” PbtA shines best when the GM leaves lots of room for improv. If you’re mapping out a dungeon in advance you may find a different rule set better suited.

  13. Marshall Brengle After thinking on it I’m inclined to agree with you.  But I still want to capture the essence of Moves–I think they’re the best part of the system.  Mechanical but they allow you to declare pretty much anything.

  14. I vote try it. Meta play to find out what happens, if you will. Mostly what it seems people are saying is “that takes away the best part of DW”, but that doesn’t mean what’s left sucks.

  15. Again, I think DW can do dungeon crawls just fine, but it’s slightly different from other games. When I first started GMing DW, I ran a session that used a map from the old D&D module Tower, Temple, and Tomb (or something like that). I stuck slavishly to the printed map at first, and that caused some problems.

    When players got 6- results and I needed to make a GM move, the map often got in the way. I found myself thinking “there’s nothing else dangerous in this area” or “there’s no way the monsters could hear the PCs all the way over there” and things started to slow down. By not making GM moves when necessary, I was giving the PCs less to react to, and so giving them fewer reasons to make moves of their own. That meant there were fewer rolls and fewer chances for 6- results. The game entered a sort of “death spiral”, and after two hours I just threw out the map. Things went much better after that, because I felt more able to make things up on the fly when necessary to make the game exciting.

    After that experience I decided to only use bits of maps from then on. Leave blanks and all that. You can have set pieces and locations that are necessary for whatever adventure idea you have planned, but leave the areas in between blank. Or have some kind of randomizer. You can totally do a dungeon crawl in DW, I just recommend making up most of the dungeon as you are playing.

  16. Chris Stone-Bush​ Sounds like great advice. Actually, I will totally use that advice. I also want to do a series of dungeon crawls. Just surprised so many people seemed to assume he wrote out a Caverns of Thracia-esque tome of box text and maps already.

  17. Thanks Miles Sterrett​. I’ve thought about making index cards with drawings of dungeon areas and notes about their contents. Then you’d just draw a card when you needed a new area. Though I’m sure there are already plenty of products out there that do the same thing.

  18. Brian Haag It seems like you’re questioning whether DW is good for one-shots at all.  It is. Tons of DW get thrown together and people seem to enjoy it quite a bit. Honestly, I think there are few better systems for fun-per-hour. And often, those one-shots include plenty of what you’d call campaign building. 

    The kinds of questions I’m suggesting are things I’d use in almost any sort of one-shot, regardless of system, unless it was some seriously old-school “who cares why we’re here I prod the floor with a 10-ft pole” sort of game. 

    I guess it really comes down to: what do you want out of this 8-hour session of dungeon crawling? If you want a grinding, nerve-wracking, death-behind every corner experience, where the everyone’s a couple rolls away from death and your ability to pick items off the shopping list really matters (and if so, awesome!), yeah, maybe don’t play DW. But if you want some crazy dungeon-crawling fun that follows the fiction and snowballs based on the player’s antics and doesn’t require you to detail every damn room, then hells yes DW is freaking great.

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