Okay, guys – I need another bit of help.

Okay, guys – I need another bit of help.

Okay, guys – I need another bit of help.

The DW campaign continues, and , for the most part, it’s going incredibly well.

However, the Thief and the Paladin …. really don’t like each other.  Really.  It’s come to blows more than once and, unfortunately, the dice mechanics aren’t working as well as I expected.

I do, however, feel I’m doing something wrong.  

The rules as written assume that for every die roll, there’s a reaction.  That obviously doesn’t work nearly as well with PCs – how do you handle those instances where PCs decide they want to try to kill each other?

It was just a bit ago that I popped on to discuss one of the lovely things about DW – my party’s evil cleric and how…

It was just a bit ago that I popped on to discuss one of the lovely things about DW – my party’s evil cleric and how…

It was just a bit ago that I popped on to discuss one of the lovely things about DW – my party’s evil cleric and how easy it was to introduce the Evil into the party without flattening the entire story (a thing that’s always been a problem before).  I asked the community questions, took a lot of notes – and we’re approaching session three.

I thought, given how much the community helped out with this campaign, I’d come back with my Fronts and show you what your input helped create, and offer a little of the process it took for me to get there.

For you new-to-DW folks?  My process may not be yours – just be advised that your experiences may differ.

Let me start by saying that I went into the first session with only two things I knew were true:  

1) The player characters were going to start in the middle of what (will prove) to be the great climactic battle of good vs. evil… and it was unlikely Good was on the winning side.


2) The world revolved around a set of artifacts that, unknown to the players (and to most of the world at large), were instrumental in dictating the political and military situation of the world around them.

By the time this session was over?  My players had created a world revolving around Dragons.  The Wizard spoke with some authority about the Green Lady and the Black Lord, the two metaphorical dragons that represented the balance of existence, and the Red Dragon, the outsider always seeking to disrupt the Lord and Lady’s dance.  The Cleric (of Conquest and Suffering, no less!) had laid out a pantheon of gods that, while not truly specific, nonetheless gave us the start of our creation myth.

My thief laid out an order of assassins, devoted to stopping magic-abusers, and my bard laid out the tyranny of the Evil Kingdom, strongly hinting that the Tyrant Lord was controlled by another, more sinister force – that his ambition was not his own.

This led me to my Campaign front:

The Campaign Front:  The Last Gate

The world has long been created, and the Age of Heroes is long past.  Gone are the great monsters; the Dragons were hunted to extinction when their ancient empire was broken, the Gates that the Giants and Titans used to ravage the world were all closed.  The wall between realities has grown solid and civilized.

In truth, however, one Gate remains – one last threshold that keeps the world from being wholly inviolate.  The Gods would destroy it.  The primal forces would crack it wide open.  Some few powers would use it to their own ends – but the time of the Last Gate has come.


* The Grey – 

The Saadi – the ancient enemies of existence, seeking only to unmake all, and their cults as led by the Herald, the last Saadi remaining on this earth… if they open the gate, the hordes of unmaking will swarm, and all that has been made will be lost.  (Destruction)

* The Artifacts of the Dragon Empire – 

Venerated by the Dragoncults, the last remnants of the last dragons of this plane captured and preserved in artifacts that now stir, sensing the nearness of the Last Gate and hoping to restore the Empire (returning Dragons to this plane) with its power.  (Usurpation)

*  The Tyrant Lord of Order – 

Avatar of the Mad God, a tyrant who seeks to bring all of existence under heel.  The Tyrant seeks the Gate to close it for all time, ridding the world of all outside influences save for that of his God, bringing into being a world perfected by law and the will strong enough to lead it.  (Tyranny)

(In this case, each Danger is a group/mover who wants to activate the Gate for their own ends.  Each Adventure Front is a battlefield that these three prime movers are attempting to manipulate for their own ends.)

Grim Portents:

* The way to the Last Gate is found.

* The Last Free Kingdom is placed under siege.

* The power of the Gods wanes.

* The Guardians of the Gate are lost.

* The Gatewar comes into the open.

* A power ascends

* The Gate is opened.

(Notable individuals and NPCs started falling out in the adventure fronts – I am not detailing them here.)

(This front currently has no moves.  This may change, as I grow more comfortable with writing them, and as it becomes obvious what moves will be needed.  I suspect when you come in contact with a draconic artefact and when you are infected by the Saadi will both be there, as will  _when you sacrifice someone in a Grey Ritual_.)

Adventure fronts to follow!

A’right, guys – let’s talk about Tags.

A’right, guys – let’s talk about Tags.

A’right, guys – let’s talk about Tags.

I’m building fronts and beasties for my new campaign, and am (only mildly) confused by the loose tags for monsters.   Let’s take Messy, specifically.

I’m working on an automaton – a sort of clockwork contraption of whirling blades that would essentially be tagged as Stupid, Clumsy, and Messy.  As I understand things, these tags essentially give me license to affect the fiction in ways that are appropriate to the tag.  That is, the beastie is intended to be really dumb; it lacks self-preservation, won’t notice even obvious traps or ambushes, and would charge heedlessly at an enemy even with a gaping chasm filled with lava between themselves and their target.   Clumsy?  They’re easy to knock over, prone to falling over, and don’t handle things like stairs well.

However, Messy has direct consequences to the players – getting hit by one of these things isn’t a couple of clean wounds; it’s more like running into a blender set on frappe’.  I get how this works fictionally – how should I treat this systemically?

Is this a matter of more hard moves for damage, with bigger consequences?    When do we maim or visit fictional consequences beyond damage?  Is the answer always ‘when the fiction dictates it to be so?’

One of the issues I’ve always had with most game systems is that one player that absolutely insists on being ‘oogie’.

One of the issues I’ve always had with most game systems is that one player that absolutely insists on being ‘oogie’.

One of the issues I’ve always had with most game systems is that one player that absolutely insists on being ‘oogie’.  You know the one:  “Oh, c’mon, why CAN’T I play the evil-necromancer-who-eats-the-souls-of-children?  Really, I can get along!”

This sort of problem player – in most other games – is a real problem; even if you let ’em put together a non-oogie character, they generally still look for every opportunity to act out their impulse toward mayhem and viciousness.  These are the people that, in the somewhat-famous words of Sapphire, from The Gamers: Dorkness Rising “[aren’t] evil, they’re chaotic neutral!” and have fun blowing up peasants that annoy ’em.

My new DungeonWorld campaign kicked off yesterday, and I must admit a certain set of misgivings when I started without training wheels:  I sat my players down at the table and gave them only three expectations:

– There could (of course) be only ONE of a given class.

– They have to, when they’re finished, have a coherent group – it doesn’t have to be a group of happy, lovey-dovey, considerate model citizens, but it does have to be a group that can and will adventure together in a way that will allow them to turn their backs on each other.

– They must make at least one non-mutual bond.

The very first question I get asked?  “Do I have to be ‘good’?”

Oh, you folks don’t know the temptation that welled up in me to say ‘yes’.  But, walking into this, I’d decided early on that this game would be one without ‘training wheels’; I’ve got a good group of (mostly) mature players, a brand-new, very free-form system, and I’ve had good luck in my one-offs before.  

Taking a deep breath, I said ‘no, but you do have to go with the alignment selections you’re offered’.

What followed was one of the best ‘first game’ sessions I’ve ever run.  I could wax rhapsodic about the flow of combat, or how fast my players picked up on just how much latitude they really had.  I could list you the questions I used at chargen – (My personal favorites? “You have a ‘blankie’, or other child’s toy or security object.  Is it yours?  What is its story?”  and “One of you has a pet – not an animal companion like the ranger – but a pet that you love and knows a few simple tricks that stop just shy of ‘fetch’. (Play dead, roll over, shake?  Acceptable. 🙂 )  What kind of pet is it, what’s it’s name, and how did you end up with it in the middle of a battlefield?”)

Instead?  I’m going to tell you only one thing:   I have an evil cleric of the God of Suffering in my party, who was not only not the usual disruptive influence such a cleric usually is, but who brought conflict, fun, and more than a few great moments to the gaming group without once compromising her character.

Dungeon World gave a character with selfish motivations room to breathe – and the bonds ensured that the character could be part of this adventuring group without requiring the usual hawkish caution on the part of the GM.  When her sudden, yet inevetable betrayal comes?  We’re even ready to handle it – and the group is already throwing out ideas about how cool it could be.

What can I say?  This hasn’t happened in any other system I’ve ever played or GM’d – and it’s a refreshing, remarkable thing to see.  

A’right, vets!

A’right, vets!

A’right, vets!  New group, new game this Sunday – and I think I’m ready for them.  However, let me ask the lot of you:

I’m going to go in with minimal prep – but I do have this idea based around an old blurb for the Orbs of Dragonkind back in D&D2nd days.  There’s this part of me that really loves the idea of a fantasy world where countries are based on a set of artefacts, and where the very political identities of the people in the world are ultimately connected to who owns and uses what pretty bauble.

This isn’t necessarially something I want to throw out at my players for game one – just a tidbit about the world I want to incorporate into the larger musings on Fronts and campaign that the PCs may never actually encounter unless they go political or a villain leaps out at me that fits the paradigm.

Should I throw this out early, or hold it until later?  

I do /not/ necessarily want to influence my player’s brainstorming sessions – but it is little thing that I, as a GM, want to develop.  If I throw it out there, they’ll riff on the theme – but that ruins it as a surprise for later.

Either game could be good.  Which way would you go?

A question for DW GMs:

A question for DW GMs:

A question for DW GMs:

How do you, in your group, handle advancing fronts?  

I’m working on an old idea for a campaign – I know that something I want to address (one of the great world mysteries for my players) revolves around artifacts that are at the core of kingdoms in the world.  I also want to emphasize that, while the players are heroic, they can’t be everywhere at once; when they have the option of pursuing several possible actions, the ones they don’t pick will get worse, which in turn will affect my campaign front – the one that I plan on being a slow reveal.

So.  What are your rules of thumb?  How do you reveal front advancement to your players?  What do you do to both incorporate what your players do and make the world seem alive?