I pretty much understand the basic concepts and rules, but I have a hard time with the fiction.

I pretty much understand the basic concepts and rules, but I have a hard time with the fiction.

I pretty much understand the basic concepts and rules, but I have a hard time with the fiction. For example, I can describe the extreme basics of what happens in the fight, but I’m not that great at impromptu. Also, I find trouble describing what happens in town and running the actual plot with NPC’s and such. I can barely describe the world around the PC’s! Any tips on how to put more narrative into my game?

25 thoughts on “I pretty much understand the basic concepts and rules, but I have a hard time with the fiction.”

  1. Are you running a game or getting ready to run a game? I ask because simply following the agenda and principles, and making GM moves should inject some fiction into the game. Just by how the rules work.

    Also, I don’t feel you’re meant to “run a plot” in DW. As GM you’re meant to follow where the PCs go, have NPCs react to their actions, and follow your Fronts and Dangers.

  2. Be obvious, don’t try to be overly creative. Just say something concrete. “He punches you in the face” is better than “the orc cocks back his arm, rage in his eyes before he lets out a gutteral yowl and swings his meaty fist towards you, connecting with your chin.”

  3. If I don’t know what to say next I “ask questions and use the answers”. Then build on the fiction together.

    Player: What does this guy (a fence) look like?

    Me: I don’t know. What does he look like?

    Player: He’s got a scar running down the right side of his face, over his eye.

    Me: This man, Jorgezera, keeps one side of his face hidden in shadow. With a voice like gravel grinding together he asks “well, zit you what has the di’mond?” What do you do?

    My problem in the past has been “what do I say” rather than “how do I say it”. Asking questions gives me the kick I need to move forward.

  4. To add narrative just ask yourself why?

    Why are the bandits in the old church?

    Because the first king’s crown was buried with him there.

    Why do the bandits want the crown?

    The one who owns the crown has claim on the entire kingdom, so a noble would pay handsomely for it.

  5. Samuel Aguirre I’m worried that we’re answering questions about how to move the plot along but that you’re asking a much more fundamental question about how do establish the fiction. Is that right?

    Like, correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like you’re having trouble with:

    1) Visualizing the fictional situation (where everyone is, what the scene looks like, who’s doing what, what the momentum looks like, etc.)

    2) Describing that situation in a way that is clear to the other players.

    3) Framing scenes (especially in town): where the PCs are, who they’re talking to, when to zoom in vs zoom out, and so forth.

    4) Playing the roles of NPCs (speaking in their voice, giving them distinct character, etc.)

    Is that the sort of thing you’re looking for advice on? Or more about how to move the plot along?

  6. Jeremy Strandberg I can’t speak for Samuel Aguirre but i know that is certainly something i’m having troubles with. Could you go over each of those points and explain how you know when to utilize each of the techniques?

  7. A few things I’ve learned while running Dungeon World games:

    1) I don’t need to think up the ‘perfect’ move; if I say the first thing that comes to mind, interesting things will probably still happen. Trust your instincts. Encourage your players to trust theirs.

    2) If you’re stuck, ask the characters. Sometimes even if you’re not stuck, ask the characters. This gives your players a chance to signal what they’re interested in exploring and it also gives them a chance to trigger scenes to work on bonds and further develop their characters.

    3) Don’t forget to Think Dangerous. If things start to stall, pick a soft GM move from your list like show signs of an approaching threat, put someone in a spot or present an opportunity, with or without cost. If you can’t think of a danger, look to your fronts for inspiration. If the fronts don’t seem to fit right now, describe a vague sound, sense of doom, smell, etc and ask one of the characters to elaborate on it.

  8. Jeremy Strandberg That is pretty much it. I have played several sessions of DW, but I’ve only had one or two really good parts (usually fights) that everyone enjoys. I have a hard time with setting the plot, names of characters, using NPC’s, and describing the setting when traveling, fighting, and in town.

    Thanks to everyone who responded, I really appreciate your help and support!

  9. Samuel Aguirre it sounds almost like you’re not making their decisions consequential outside of combat. Bad combat decision, you get hurt. Bad decision when travelling, you lose a ration?

    Combat is just an obstacle. Overcoming a dangerous jungle can and should be as interesting as assaulting a giant werebear.

  10. I have plenty of time to prep, I tried to make a front, but it wasn’t that good. I made another one, and it was little improvement on the first. Mostly I am just on improv…

  11. I ask because it sounds like you want help narrating what’s happening in the world around the PCs. Having Dangers, Fronts, or even just notes about those things written up should be a great help in doing that.

    Can I ask what’s going on in your world? I know you want general tips, but those are rather hard to give.

  12. I wad thinking of starting an entirely new session with my group because the storyline was so bad.

    In my previous world, the adventurers were wandering around the world and fighting off a lot of goblins and kobolds. There was no real plot, and I didn’t know much about how to handle traveling so we pretty much stayed in the same spot.

    The thing I need is a full length text adventure that was run by someone who knows what they are talking about.

  13. Samuel Aguirre I’ve never actually run anything over hangouts, and only played online a few times. I’ve been thinking about running some stuff online, and if I do I’ll keep you in mind. Won’t be for a few months at least, though.

    Maybe try out the Gauntlet G+ community. There’s some solid games that go on over there.

    Mark Weis I’ve got some thoughts a-brewin’ about those points, but it’ll take a bit to boil down into something concrete. I’ll probably make a new post about it when it’s ready.

  14. Let the players help, especially the creative ones. “Malmud, you’ve been to the docks before. What are they like?” “Sir Jerome remembers the old Cleric from his days as a initiate. Describe him for us.” Then let the player run with it a bit. It’s not all on you.

  15. Samuel Aguirre I just posted another couple “run throughs” if you’re interested. These aren’t from actual play, but rather from me thought-testing some revised travel moves for my Stonetop setting.

    So, take them with a pretty substantial grain of salt. It’s likely filled with references to playbooks you haven’t seen, moves (or revisions to moves) that you haven’t seen, backstory, etc. But I think they’re still pretty coherent examples of how I (try to) run DW.


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