Hey guys.

Hey guys.

Hey guys. I am going to start running Dungeon World soon and I don’t want to prep too much because I really want to let the players tell their stories not be forced into mine. But is it OK to create a starting location and general quest?

Like “you heard a rumor of a magic item that could help turn the tide in the battle against the demons. It has led you to the summit of a mountain at the stairs of a forgotten temple”

And then start asking questions to fill in the other details? I hope that question makes sense.

23 thoughts on “Hey guys.”

  1. My experience is that if you DON’T do something like that, you end up with chaos. Creativity-within-bounds is less stressful and faster.

  2. Brian Haag those are my thoughts too. I could derive even the setting and mission by asking questions but I think if I give them just that little bit and then fill in the rest with the answers they give me to questions that should be good.

  3. You’re doing it right 🙂 It’s a good, charged situation you’ve got here.

    Ask questions to find out how the characters fit into the overall situation, but don’t forget to throw them into trouble sooner rather than later. You can always fill in the blanks after the first action scene.

  4. Start in an adventure, not before it. And keep some rumors or ideas handy for when the players get lost.

    In my experience, people playing DW expecting D&D will look to you for direction, and not be super proactive about it.

    Have them set character goals, and tell the group about them. “I want to kill the Dragonking Draygun for burning my village” etc

  5. Aaron Griffin thanks man. My inclination is to start them right before they are about to enter this temple. I can get them in the action quickly and then “fill in the blanks” as we go.

  6. That’s not bad. But, what if they don’t go into the temple?

    Maybe start them inside the temple; if you aren’t really giving them the option of not going into the temple, then don’t pretend to.

  7. William Nichols my style is I don’t care if they go in or not. They will still face conflict and adversity. They might have an easier time of it if they go into the temple. But maybe it would be good to start them in the temple. I’ll think on it.

  8. Chalice In Chains I like a hot start. “The little red man tosses a javelin at you, as you cluster behind the giant statue of what might be their god, or king, or something. Jarkel, what did you do to anger the natives this deep in the temple? You hear their chittering speech in the distance, and peek out to notice a group circling around you. Clenna, why are they pointing at your specifically? …”

  9. It’s a good start, but Aaron Griffin and William Nichols are providing good insight. In DW, you don’t want to place the characters in front of a door and count on them going through. they may wander away from it, and you’ll be disappointed they didn’t see what you hoped to show them.

    Using your specific prompt, i’d recommend this as a way to start in the middle of action:

    “You are all tired. You have spent the past week trudging through hills and scaling a mountain to find this damned temple. A treacherous, winding stair at the mountain’s summit has taken you into the depths of the once-forgotten, long-abandoned temple. And now you stand, torches flickering against the damp cold, in the heart of the temple. When you hear the low, ominous sound….”

    “The Wizard – what rumored secrets did you follow to this temple?”

    “The Fighter – what challenges did you expect to face?”

    “The Druid – what does the wisdom of the ages say about this place?”

    “The Thief – that low, ominous sound stops, and you just barely catch the skittering of quick, stealthy movement as something rushes at you from the inky black beyond the torch’s light. What do YOU do?”

    Before i’ve asked any questions, i’ve placed them in the abandoned temple that you wanted, far from help, and tired. But i’m not sure why they’re here, or what they’ll face. As a GM, i’m here to play to find out what happens, too.

    Depending on the answers from the first few players, i’ll start sketching out the general idea of why they’re here, and what they might face in the darkness. And once i’ve gotten a bit of feedback, i’ll throw an immediate danger at one of them, in this case, The Thief.

    i don’t know yet what is rushing at The Thief. It may be an attack from goblins. It may be a scared child, fleeing toward the light after escaping demons. It may be a blind cave rat scurrying to the warmth. As The Thief responds to my soft move of “there’s motion, coming at you, and you can’t see it yet” i’ll follow up on the player’s response and any moves they may trigger.

    If they draw a blade and prepare to stab the thing that comes through, i’ll probably let them know what they see and give them a chance to respond accordingly; but i know that they are eager for combat, and as GM, i’m here to give the players a good experience. Probably the goblin!

    If they seek to hide in the shadows to get a drop on the thing rushing in, i’ll use cues from the group and the results of their move to narrate what happens next.

    If they turn tail and run back up where they came from, i’ll have them run into the guardians that don’t let people LEAVE the temple, because hell… it turns out it’s also a prison, in addition to whatever else it was!

    But what i haven’t done is put the players in a place where they have to run down the path that I”m hoping for, once they have agency (i.e. after i’ve set the initial scene and asked for their input/reactions).

  10. There’s a lot of good advice here, but II’ll echo what William Nichols said: if you aren’t willing to let them walk away from the temple, then start them in the temple.

    Players have a habit of having their characters do what you least expect, and I feel that part of Playing to Find Out What Happens is letting them do that. They might walk away from the temple if given the choice, and you need to be ready for that.

    So I would either start them in the temple, or with a very clear reason as to why they would explore it.

    I usually start my adventures (one shot or otherwise), by establishing a McGuffin the characters are after through leading questions. Like “Why is Lord Bellbottoms, the one who tasked you to retrieve the Mask of the Faceless One, unworthy of it?” Then I have them make a Perilous Journey move as they get to their destination, both to show them how basic moves work and because it often results in an encounter. When they get to the adventure site they have a pretty strong motive to go in. (If they don’t then I didn’t do my job well enough establishing that McGuffin).

  11. I probably wouldn’t do the guardians, Andrew Fish , as I think players will view it as a limit to autonomy. Or, I mean, they coudl just fight their way out, which is totes awesome.

    Other than that, all the plusses.

  12. The least fun I’ve had running DW was when I did not start them some place specific. Like Brian Haag says: it’s asking for chaos.

    We spent most of the first session just trying to figure out why the bloody hell any of them would know each other or care about each other, and establish where they might be, and why, and oh god it was painful.

    Now, I almost always start them at the threshold (at the door to the dungeon, on the trail of a villain, looking for someone missing, etc.) and then ask them why they’re there.

    You don’t really need to worry about “what if they don’t go in the door?” if you ask them the right questions. “What are you hoping to find here?” “Who else is looking for X?” “Why is it so important you find them first?”

    Those questions will immediately get the players invested in the delve. The chances that they’ll just walk away are very low.

  13. Jeremy Strandberg thanks man. This is my style as well. I’m the kind of gm who is fine with trying something and rolling with what they do. I’m also not afraid to have the session be a total failure. I think I just have to go with my instinct and I should be fine.

  14. Definitely start somewhere, even give them a quest.

    But don’t expect them to go on that quest or anywhere you have in mind. If they want to go off and do something completely different, roll with it.

  15. I think my players like railroad. They never ever wanders where I didn’t expect XD. Then again they didn’t like DW to my utmost doom. 😕

    All comments here makes so much sense. How come this isn’t the norm in all rpg still eludes me.

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