I am GMing a DW game for three other players, a bard, a wizard and a barbarian.

I am GMing a DW game for three other players, a bard, a wizard and a barbarian.

I am GMing a DW game for three other players, a bard, a wizard and a barbarian. We have had one session, and are going to have another one on Sunday. One of the players recently started dating someone, and they might bring their SO to the next session to play as well. Now, I think I could easily just say, “you meet this new character, and they are on the same adventure”, but I was thinking of something that might be more interesting.

When the last session ended, the characters were in the queen’s castle and just learned that much of the castle and the queen herself are under mind-control from a cult that is doing some bad stuff to the south. The characters were just heading back to their rooms when the session ended. I am probably going to have them walk into a group of cultists and have a fight (something I unfortunately didn’t really do during the first session – pretty lame once I realized it!)

So, what I would like to do is have one of the cultists be snapped out of mind control and – surprise! – it’s the new PC! However, there is a problem there:

– I can make the new player just sit and watch while everyone fights, and then surprise them by saying they are now that person. This seems dumb – nobody likes to sit and watch when they could play.

– I could have the new player play as the cultist to the point they are defeated and then they can switch sides. This seems better but does ruin any surprise of realizing that the cultist is going to join your party. Also, how does the PC play this – do I make them a special monster that they just get to control? Or do they fully play as their new character instead?

Has anyone done a similar thing to this? I think it seems like a really fun way to introduce the new character!

15 thoughts on “I am GMing a DW game for three other players, a bard, a wizard and a barbarian.”

  1. Rather than you deciding for the new player, I would ask them what they want to do. Maybe they want to be a member of the party who just happened to be somewhere else until now. Maybe they want to have been infiltrating the cult undercover. Or maybe they like the idea of playing a character who snaps out of being mind controlled. Work with the player, and the rest of the group, to find a way to insert the new character that everyone agrees upon.

  2. ^ Absolutely agree, discuss with the player. If that’s not possible beforehand, be ready for either and quietly ask them their preference before the game starts.

  3. I think you are all correct about asking the player. They may just want to kind of join up to the group. I don’t think they have ever played a tabletop RPG and I am not sure they would want that kind of spotlight. I guess I was being pretty selfish thinking about, “wouldn’t it be cool if…”

    In the unlikely event that the player wants to be a cultist, how would you do that? Has anyone ever done that – had a PC enemy that turns PC friend?

  4. My instincts say, let the character be awesome in their first moments. Maybe there’s more cultists than planned and the new PC swings in to save the day? Or arrives before they reach their room to warn them of the ambush and helps them turn the tables? IMHO “hapless victim of mind control” may make for a dramatic reveal but it’s an awkward first impression at best.

  5. What if the PC is someone who wasn’t affected by the mind control in the first place. The party hasn’t been, so couldn’t they be similarly immune/able to resist? Maybe you could have them be holding up somewhere in the castle, and seeing the party there is fighting back, they jump in to help.

  6. There was a time when I worried about the reasons why and how a new character would appear mid-dungeon.

    Then I thought: it’s a game, it’s a setting where people snap fingers and hurl fireballs, giant lizards fly and spit acid clouds… So forget reasoning and just put the new player in the game.

    Of course, this being DW, you should use the fiction at your favor. Ask the new player:

    -What reason do you have to be there?

    -How did you manage to sneak past all the dangers without being seeing?

    -You found something very out of place while sneaking past the last sentries. What was that?

  7. Best to consult the player.  If they are also new to gaming they may WANT to watch a bit before playing, get a feel for the group dynamic. 

    Another option is have the character be a prisoner and drugged.  Then at the proper time they shake off the drug/mind control but before then they are passive, not posing a threat to the PCs and an obvious rescue person.  Then suddenly the person you saw in need of rescuing snaps out of it and turns the tables and rescues the PCs and then joins the party.  Ah, the Bonds of Battle.  Oh, with this you can have the Player write up 2 old bonds to resolve quickly at the end of the game and make new ones with their new party.  The old bonds broken/resolved will give the player some XP to jump in with AND provide some background fodder for the player.  Win/Win.

  8. counterpoint: don’t let the player choose. just as play improves when you accept the things the players tell you are true and build off them, play is better when players are open to being told things about their character.

  9. I did a big reveal like this in 4e. The new player was working along side a dragon who’s goals contradicted ours. It wasn’t until we brought in our own dragon that we worked for at the time (before we gutted its belly 😈) and defeated the “evil” dragon that the new player switched sides. Apparently they were intimidated into doing its bidding.

  10. If the new player has been mind controlled and fighting breaks out, you might tell them, “your companions all reach for their swords. for a moment you think you should, but you can’t say why. it’s as though a spell has been lifted…” basically, bring them in at the start of the fight scene or in the midst of it.

  11. One of the big differences that i love about DW (and PbtA generally) over many other games i’ve played, is that is that we’re explicitly instructed to have “meta game” conversations. Some moves have us interrogate the fiction, or the characters. Some have us speak as players.

    There is nothing wrong, and everything right, with giving the new player wide discretion in the sort of character they want to play. And there is nothing wrong, and everything right, in giving them a basic background on what has happened so far, and asking them to coordinate a reasonable story for why their new character suddenly appears.

    i would recommend that you start them with bonds with at least one other PC, and give the other PCs a chance to have a “pre-existing” bond with the new character too, and make sure any “backstory” to the new PC develops around these bonds.

    That will help bring the new player and their PC into the story on more or less equal footing, rather than as a simple supporting character.

  12. Thanks for all the input from everyone! I have realized I was definitely thinking about this the wrong way. I can see how fun now it will be to ask the new player a ton of questions and to figure out their place in this world.

    I think I was trying to think “cinematically”, which I’ve seen DW games lean towards – making things exciting. And I was thinking, as myself, I would probably love the opportunity to drop in as an antagonist and then suddenly switch sides (it also leaves a bunch of room for “what if they aren’t really a good character now? What if they are pretending?)

    But, I think that was more for me. I gotta remember to be a fan of the characters. If I don’t know the character yet, I can’t be a fan.

    I can not wait for Sunday.

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