I was playing Dungeons and Dragons last night and we three players ended up in a bad situation with some ogres. Our strongest party member was hurting bad, and by the time we realized we were in over our heads, he dropped. My archer was standing at the doorway and turned to run, but a lucky blow from behind brought him to his knees, finished. Our only hope was the halfling thief, hanging on by a thread. He might have been able to run away, but the ogres were hungry and our bodies would not have lasted in their clutches. He decided on a desperate leaping attack… which failed miserably. Total Party Kill.
While we weren’t happy about dying, it was a satisfying end. It wasn’t deus ex machina; the Dungeon Master was fair. It was just a downer. Since we had a few hours before we planned to end, the group decided to let me help them give Dungeon World a try. Within a few minutes, they started describing their wizard, thief and paladin, and I started asking questions. Rook the thief and Thaddeus the paladin both fancy the ladies, and they started out competing for the attention of the same girl Michelle, the daughter of the captain of the guard Jean.
Meanwhile, Finferel the wizard was studying in the library when he overheard two people talking about Rook. He tried to get closer to hear and he was intercepted by Boris, one of the teachers at the Wizard Academy. Finferil grabbed a book off the shelf called “The Alchemical Properties of the Toad” as cover, but Boris didn’t buy it. He threatened a thaumaturgy test in the morning and suggested Finferil go home and get some rest.
We discovered together that the story takes place in a fair-sized town where the river meets the ocean. Rook and Michelle were having a heart-to-heart on the dock, wondering if their relationship was going anywhere. Thaddeus and another girl named Stacy came upon them as Michelle was storming off, and Thaddeus decided it would be a good idea for he and Stacy to go talk to her. Stacy was upset being upstaged by her rival, but she’s a classy gal, so she just left. To rub salt into the wounds, Thaddeus and Michelle ended up spending their evening together. For a few moments, I thought we might start playing Monsterhearts (http://buriedwithoutceremony.com/portfolio/monsterhearts/).
Fast forward to the next morning. Rook was hungry and tried to steal a meal from the same cafe where Finferel was having breakfast by posing as a waiter. Rook was close to filching a pastry for himself but caught the eye of Jean, the guard captain. Jean asked Finferel some pointed questions about a break-in at the library. Sacred, Finferel went invisible after being accused, and Jean enlisted his professor Boris to help find him. Wielding some manner of magical compass, the pair was zeroing in on Finferel when Thaddeus used his standing as a paladin to dissuade Boris from helping with the search, and Finferel was able to escape.
Rook tried to get away from the restaurant, but was detained by a guard Stephen who had it in for him. Just as Rook was going to get a beating for stealing Stephen’s bejeweled garden gnomes, Thaddeus came to his rescue. The scuffle came to the attention of the restaurant owner, who broke up the fight (Thaddues had gained the upper hand) and insisted that Rook and Thaddeus clean up their mess.
As they swept, Thaddeus rubbed in his success with Michelle and Finferel managed a little thievery of his own, nicking a pastry while remaining invisible. Rook caught up with Finferel and they headed toward the river, where the terrain is more marshy. They heard some deep croaking, and Finferel found himself snatched off the boardwalk by a toad the size of a horse!
A second dire toad showed up and caught the attention of Thaddeus. Finferel’s magic missile and Rook’s backstab managed to dispatch the first toad, but the second played hide and seek in the reeds. It almost pulled the boardwalk down on Thaddeus, but he dodged out of his way. It stole his shield before Thaddeus was able to dash after it and strike it. Badly hurt, it fled to the river and disappeared.
Meanwhile, Finferel and Rook got separated. Rook was snatched away, and Finferel and Thaddeus started looking for him. The session ended with Rook being dragged away at knife point by a ruffian, with Boris hissing in his ear, “Quiet, boy!”
The group really took to it. A suggestion was made that we should start our D&D sessions with an hour or two of Dungeon World to elicit some roleplaying. I think my mission was a success.