So I ran my second ever DW game – a one shot based on the Christmas themed “Sinister Solstice” adventure by Ray Otus [ http://www.jellysaw.com/dw/sinister-solstice.pdf ]. I used a fair bit of it, but modified quite a few things as well.
I had 4 players, all experienced in a number of systems but mostly new to Dungeon World. We had a Druid, Ranger, Fighter and Cleric, and the game took ~6 hours.
Some highlights and feedback (some of which may be slightly without context if relating to things I changed or added):
* The druid shapeshifted many times for great effect – scouting, brute strength, stealth, etc… It was seeming a bit too convenient, so when she eventually failed a couple of rolls one caused the destruction of her armour, and the other left her in half rat / half elf form for a while, unable to speak or use her hands well.
* After a brief skirmish with the ice elves, the party was able to negotiate their assistance in getting to the castle – after proving their worth by killing the giant, ghoul-blood-maddened bear.
* The battle with the bear was quite fun, with the cleric providing a bubble of protection among an increasingly large number of ghouls as they tracked it, then trying to maintain Turn Undead during the battle.
* The fighter rolled annoyingly well throughout the session, and as a new DM I sometimes struggled to make him feel challenged in a way that didn’t feel like a copout.
* The workshop was staffed by a workforce of starved and mentally broken children/teens, and patrolled by Mistress Claws, a horrible matron with razor-blades in her boots and gloves, who did not hesitate to hamstring or even kill workers to enforce order or save her skin.
* Kringle was human, once a wizard but now quite insane and dedicated to continually extending his life (the toys that he would deliver this solstice would see the fruition of a plan in quite a devastating way). To work within the theme, I gave him a crooked staff painted in red and gold stripes, shiny ornamental globes full of sleeping or merriment gas, a bell that would slow time for all but the ringer, and a ring that allowed him to phase through walls – all tools that would facilitate his delivery of gifts.
* The ranger had listened to the voices on the wind and learned that much of Kringle’s power came from things he owned, and after lubricating the memory of an old ice elf with the cleric’s flask of hooch, she was able to learn that one of the items was the bell. This had her prepared with a called shot as soon as Kringle whipped it out, leading to a cool scene where it fell down the stairs, time slowing to a crawl for everyone including Kringle and then speeding back up with every step it hit before shattering…
* The clockwork knight became toy guardsmen – clockwork soldiers commanded by Mistress Claws to enforce order in the castle. The fighter stumbled upon a defective one who was able to tick for “yes” and tock for “no”.
* The final battle saw the castle/stables/toy warehouse ablaze while Kringle tried to escape on the sleigh – bumping and jolting along the grounds as it tried to get airborne due to only having a few reindeer tethered and the cleric on board (the fighter was also on board, but a stray shot from the ranger ended up pinning his hand to the sleigh…)
* The tipping point was when the druid turned into a hawk, caught up with the sleigh, latched her talons onto Kringles face and then returned to elf form, sending the sleigh into the ground and in a nasty crash.
* When Kringle was more focused on holding onto his hat [of Revification] than bracing for the impact, the players twigged that they needed to get it off him – managing to do so, he decayed before their eyes, having died a long time ago and been sustained by the hat ever since.
* The fighter ended up with an ankle tangled in the reins of an escaping flying reindeer, but he managed to clamber onto its back, grab it by the antlers and dive bomb it into the ground. It was messy.
All in all, it went really well – thanks Ray Otus!
I struggled to check in on everyone regularly enough at times when things got hectic, and during some hectic combat moments I also struggled to make things flow as well as they could… It’s hard to make it so that people don’t feel like they’re doing nothing and waiting for a “turn” while the combat focus is on someone else…