Sharing this a little more broadly.

Sharing this a little more broadly.

Sharing this a little more broadly. Looking for feedback, especially from newer GMs. Bonus points if you haven’t actually run DW just yet and aren’t quite certain what to do; if that’s you, I’d love to get your feedback on this.

#Stonetop is my DW hack/playset that sets the PCs up as the heroes of an isolated village in a late iron/bronze age setting. Less murderhobo, more hearth fantasy.

This is the Stonetop equivalent of the “The GM” chapter in Dungeon World: agenda & principles, GM moves, and the basics of what to do.

If you have time to read it and feedback to give, I’d appreciate it!

11 thoughts on “Sharing this a little more broadly.”

  1. That chapter is great – I love the way that you give such vivid examples of all the rules you discuss. It was really clearly communicated, too.

    I’m not exactly in the category you describe of “not having actually run DW”, since I have run a few sessions (I ran a one-shot of your “Sailing the Sapphire Isles” starter last night in fact), but while I understand the DW agenda and principles intellectually, I still haven’t internalised that mode of play (having been roleplaying since I was a teenager in the 80s). I tend to fall back on old habits in the moment, and only after the session realise that I didn’t really embrace the full PBtA style of play.

    So, it might be useful feedback to say that I found your Stonetop GMing chapter really inspirational. I feel that it had a more visceral effect than the DW GMing chapter, which as I said, I’ve taken in intellectually but which slips away in play… I really want to go back in time and run last night’s session again now 🙂

    I don’t know if you’re at the nit-picky typo-fixing stage, but I noticed a few things:

    * Page 15: “Use them to bring a threat (or it’s influence) into a scene” should be “(or its influence)” without an apostrophe

    * Page 17: “Some GMs work intentionally and exclusively off their lists, even putting tic marks next to each one” I’m not sure if that spelling of “tic” is a US English thing, but here in Australia I’d expect it to be spelled “tick”… “tic” is like what someone has in their face where it twitches involuntarily.

    * Page 19: “So, it’s like you said, you that drake calms as you place your hand on its snout”… the words “you that drake” are wrong I think, but I’m not sure what was intended. Is it meant to be “So, it’s like you said, that drake calms…”?

  2. Robert Rendell that’s great to hear, thanks!

    Was there anything where you found yourself thinking “yeah, yeah, this is dragging on a bit” or otherwise didn’t find useful?

  3. Jeremy Strandberg Re: dragging… not really, no. Even for parts that I felt I understood, the enjoyment of reading the examples made me eager to keep reading.

    Re: the Sapphire Isles game: the game went well, and everyone had a good time. The initial situation was:

    What happened here recently? A narrow escape from an Imperial Man-o-war.

    What here is not what it seems? You joined the crew under false pretense.

    Who or what is really in control here? The rebellious Imperial noble funding the voyage.

    What (else) should we be on the lookout for? Sea monsters… big ones.

    What here is useful or valuable to us? A vast treasure, buried somewhere on this island or lying in a sunken wreck.

    What is about to happen? Three sails are set to intercept you.

    Initial disposition: 6- You start pinned down, imprisoned or on the run.

    So it was that, while the Imperial Man-o-war had been outdistanced and was now beyond the horizon, three Imperial Cutters had kept up and were almost at boarding distance, just as they the way ahead was blocked by the reefs around an island.

    They managed to navigate into the reef with only minor scrapes, spot a sea monster (or a reef monster, as the Bard insisted on claiming, since he’d previously categorically stated there were no sea monster sightings in this area), and position themselves such that when the first cutter pulled alongside and started to board them, it was between them and the monster, which proceeded to attack the cutter. They ended up recruiting the Imperial Marines who had leaped aboard and suddenly found themselves without a ship or shipmates (crunch crunch aieeee!), sailed on through the reef to the island while the remaining cutters backed out of the reef and started to patrol the sea waiting for them to emerge, and landed with the marines and their expedition funder, the near-sighted Duke Frederick, to investigate the ruins of the city of the Lizardman Sorcerer-King Rex, which was reputed to contain a great treasure.

    Anyway, I won’t go into a blow-by-blow account of the session… I was rolling on the Perilous Wilds tables for Dangers and Discoveries, which threw up some interesting curve-balls (Jungle Gnomes – who knew?) The players were rolling pretty well throughout the evening, so they flew through most of the challenges, and we had a full evening of fun. The Thief had plenty of work finding traps in the secret passages under the ruins of the palace, the wall of zombie-limbs was bypassed by the cleric turning undead and then finding the lever to swing it out of the way of the others, and they found the treasure and the armband that would have allowed them to sit on Rex’s throne without invoking the curse, but we called it a night before finding out what that meant.

    Where I don’t feel that I was doing the PBtA thing was mainly around failing to ask questions and use the answers. I asked about the false pretense under which they had joined the crew, but the answers weren’t really consequential apart from running jokes about the Bard (who had decided that he had signed on as a shipwright and sail-maker, figuring that the ship and sails was already made so his lack of skill wouldn’t matter, and the tattered sails turned out to be part of the reason that the Imperial Cutters had caught up). The actual events of the session were mostly me and the Perilous Wilds making things up though, and I wasn’t thinking about my Agenda or Principles at all.

  4. Robert Rendell ah! That sounds like so much fun. I still haven’t had a chance to actually run the Sapphire Isles myself, so it’s really cool to read how it worked out for you.

    I think you might be short-changing yourself re: “thinking about agenda/principles.” In my experience, those are both something you internalize and then occasionally check yourself on, rather than actively thinking “am I pursuing my agenda here? what principle is guiding me?”

    And just based on what you said… you were clearly portraying a fantastic world, filling their lives with adventure, and playing to find out what happened! I obviously wasn’t there to see how you applied the principles, but from what you describe you asked questions & built on the answers brilliantly. The fact that some of the questions/answers were spurred by a starter doesn’t change the fact that you (clearly) used the answers in play.

    One thing that I’ve noticed in play is that when I have the Perilous Wilds out and I’m using the tables, I’m much less likely to “ask” than to “roll.” And I think that’s fine! In a lot of ways, using the random tables to inspire (for example) forest gnomes or a wall covered in zombie arms is great! It means that you’re exploring the world together with the players, and it makes the discoveries feel more like discoveries. But you’re still hitting all of your agendas that way, even though you might be downplaying one of the principles.

  5. Jeremy Strandberg, I just was able to read through the chapter on my computer – despite downloading it on Android, it claimed it was an invalid PDF format. I have several PDFs I’ve read before, but seems your latest ones aren’t working on the latest Android. (Pixel 2, if that helps.)

    Technical difficulties aside, it was an excellent chapter! I especially enjoyed the examples for each of the moves, and framing the GM’s “turn” as establish the fiction, do a move, then turn it back to the players is great advice for new and old GMs alike. (I personally forget and sometimes only establish the fiction or do a move, which disorients the players or leaves them directionless.) “The Line” is something I all too frequently cross, so that box text was very helpful. The “What not to do” section is incredibly useful to experienced GMs from other backgrounds: it helps them turn their experience from Those Other RPGs into the feel you want to get from your system. If there’s more you thought of adding there, I wouldn’t hesitate to do so.

    Nit-picky editing thing: The Box Text section on page 12 is unlabelled.

    My credentials: been a GM for various systems since ’96, but have only gotten to play DW once and other PbtA games 2 other times.

    Thanks for sharing! I’ve been enjoying all of your Stonetop-related work to date!

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