I just started as a GM in a DW campaign with friends.

I just started as a GM in a DW campaign with friends.

I just started as a GM in a DW campaign with friends. I’m used to planning in DnD, so been wondering what everyone’s break down of planning vs impromptu in Dungeon World is.

Also what are premade DW campaign settings like with the draw maps, leave blanks mantra?

Lastly, what do people use to create new character classes? I’ve been looking a few templates but I wonder if there is some kind of commonly used one.

19 thoughts on “I just started as a GM in a DW campaign with friends.”

  1. As far as prepping a game, I actually think that the chapter that covers it in the book is pretty solid.  Have an outline about what the bad guys are doing and what will progress if the players don’t intervene.  If you’re doing a campaign just do it on a larger scale and have that sit in the background as “ultimate goals” the bad guy wants to have happen.

    Usually with the “Draw Maps” mantra I’ve had luck just asking the players what they know about the area and building off that.  Have a goblin hoard living nearby?  “Hey Jon, you’ve heard of the area where the goblins are rumored to be.  What do you know about the area and how far away is it?” and add that to the map.  With premade games, sure, they give you maps, but you don’t have to follow them.  Just take hints from them and let the players do the actual filling in.

  2. Karlen Kendrick yeah I think I have to get better at letting players do more filling in. Feels like DW strives for more cooperation between GM and PCs than traditional DnD.

  3. I’ll be honest. The less prep you do in DW the better.

    Best prep: have some monster stats handy. Post-it notes in the terrain section of the DW book will do it, or you can use the online database.

    Ask the players what the problem is that they’re trying to solve, what the treasure is they want to retrieve, or whatever. Give them a room and ask them how many doors are in it.

    Basically, make the players do the prep work. When they roll a 6 or look at you, have something interesting and unfortunate happen.

  4. When sitting down for the 1st session especially, I present questions whose answers shape the world. Look at the types of characters your players choose as a base for improvisation. You can prepare a general theme or a specific danger for the players, but giving goals of the adventure and the specific details should should only really come once you intimately understand the characters.

    If a player makes a wizard, delve deeper into some magic dangers, plots, places, things of the world

    If any of the characters can speak to animals, flesh out animal characters and spend more time in interactions, let the players dance with wolves…sorry

    If a fighter comes into play, develop his personal enemy or challenge to face someday

    That’s the way I think of it, personal taste of the GM and group help even out most other aspects. Have fun and I hope it all goes well!

  5. Samuel Bogumill so far it’s going well, since my group is all learning to play DW at the same time. (They are my old DnD college group) I like the idea of centering those questions on what classes are being played.

  6. Stephanie Bryant yeah currently I’ve been using a half developed campaign I had for a 3.5 DnD game so some stuff is there but I’m going to try and let players answer more of the questions.

    I like asking them what problem they’re trying to solve. I might use that.

  7. In general, I like to do prep as described in the book:  first session is more-or-less blank slate, couch them in an interesting place and then ask them the why’s & wherefores, use that help figure out what’s going on.  

    I do like to have a blank dungeon map (usually one of Dyson Lygos’s) on hand and use that as inspiration for describing what they see and what they discover when the Discern Realities.  The map is a total blank, but that structure really helps me feel more grounded.

    Generally, I find we barely get into the action during the first session, but we end with a good idea of why they’re there, what they’re after, what threats they might encounter there, etc.

    Between sessions, I’ll do some prep as described in the book:  adventure fronts, dangers, some grim portents. 

    But… here’s an interesting thing:  you don’t have to do that.  I’ve found that keying up that blank map and doing some traditional dungeon prep work, and then turning the PCs loose in it… well that works just fine.  *Nothing in the Dungeon World rules assume that you are asking questions or letting the players fill in the blanks*.  The game works just fine with traditional, OSR-style dungeon prep (i.e. prep situations, not stories) and then playing to see what happens.

    The fronts/dangers/grim portents structure is great, and it helps you make sure that your dungeons (and more importantly, the larger world) feel alive and dynamic.  But a straight-up dungeon crawl with a keyed mapped works fine, and it can be a helluva lot of fun.

  8. Jeremy Strandberg yeah right now I was planning a bit and just stopping. I like having an overall plan without lots of details. But i think in the future I’m going to strive to have even less “prepared”.

  9. I want to second James Mendez Hodes, Class Warfare is very deeply awesome, and I think a core supplement to Dungeon World. Also Jason Cordova mentioned something that I really like about game prep a couple of weeks ago on Discern Realities- he advised to prep seven elements- encounters, npcs, battles, strange sites, just seven things that can help make a primarily improvisational session run smoothly. It’s definitely helped me think about how to run primarily improvisational play.

  10. A resource I’ve found hugely helpful is the Dungeon World Guide for GMs, compiled by some helpful people over on the SomethingAwful boards:


    As for the rule of 7, it’s damn helpful to make up 7 setpieces, each with at least 3 details.  Don’t just make a library, make one and describe the smell of hand-bound leather, the flickering lights of candles, and the scratching of quill pens on parchment.  Dungeon World is heavy on the story, so make sure your players have huge hooks to grab onto and write on.  

    And coming from the 3.5 background, I have to say that I never wanted to DM before coming across Dungeon World, and other PbtA style games.  I’ve been able to prep a game just by spending 30 minutes writing down a basic outline and remembering details from the week before, it’s that damn easy.  Good luck, and remember to have fun!

  11. When it comes to leaving blanks, I try to begin with a pretty simple formula. I show up with some threats and dangers that I would like to see in the game, and possibly a few ideas for a starting situation. But if something woud be familiar to one of the PCs (where they live, what kind of world they live in, who they know, etc), I just ask the players.

    And then if they tell me cool stuff about their fighter’s signature weapon, or what quest their paladin is on, or where their wizard learned her magic and why she’s looking for the Titan’s Golden Eye, I make room for that stuff in the middle of what I’ve prepped already. Because if I leave blanks for stuff that I’m just going to have to invent later, it’s kindof pointless. But if I leave blanks so I can put stuff the players obviously care about in there, that hooks them into the setting, the situation, and the story way faster than when they don’t have any input at all.

    So, one of the things good DW adventures give you is lists of questions you can ask the players to prompt them into telling you stuff they find interesting and want to see more of. You may have to experiment a bit, because different people like contributing different things to a game, but as long as you have those, that’s a good starting point for a campaign.

  12. Wow so much awesome advice. I am so looking forward to my next game in a couple of weeks. My biggest takeaway is to definitely ask more questions of my players.

    I’ll report back on how it goes! Thank you everyone.

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