[Dungeon World] Making shit up

edited June 2011 in Story Games
I'm going to be running a Dungeon World game at a minicon in CA this weekend. Tomorrow in fact.

Does anyone have any advice? I am taking a page out of Play Unsafe and just having three index cards with themes on them. I'm going to try and build a three hour session around that.

What you you do, a little under t-24hrs before showtime?

Comments

  • Write down some fun monsters you want to use, traps, treasures (I make treasure handouts), sketch out a map, make a list of cool names, print out multiple copies of moves (1/person) and equipment (1 per 2 people).

    Daydream.
  • I've done both - I think Dungeon World supports either play style. You can come fully-prepared with NPCs and a Dungeon and Everything Else (but no set plot! just setting / characters! create the world around the PCs and then let them fuck it up for you). Alternately, if you've got players you think will be amenable to it, you can just come with some hints and ideas and fill things in as you go.

    All I've been doing is one-off playtests lately, so my general structure is to pick and old D&D adventure a few days beforehand and make some notes - people, places, plots and build them into a workable dungeon front. I take those notes and the map from the adventure and let the PCs fill in the blanks for me - why they're there, what they're about, how they relate to each other. That stuff tends to spin itself out and the session takes all kinds of interesting turns. Sometimes the dungeon doesn't come into play at all.
  • My plan is to set them up in media res with a situation skeleton based on those three index cards I drew, and then just let things snowball.

    "You've cornered your mark behind the blacksmithy in town. It's dark, everyone is asleep. The man is feverish and babbling nonsense about sorcery and God and how it wasn't supposed to go this way. He's wearing tattered robes and has cloth wrapped around his feet and calves. His eyes are wide, his brow is covered in sweat, and his the knuckles of his right hand are white from gripping his short sword."

    Why'd you take the job? Who or what referred you to the task? Had any of you met prior to that?

    Stuff like that.

    You both reassured me. This is going to be fun! I always get so anxious.
  • That's a sweet-ass hook.
  • That sounds cool.

    I take the name of the game pretty seriously. Everything hinges on a dungeon (of some kind) when I run it. I make a loose sketch and daydream cool dungeony stuff and then run it off the cuff, using the starting Bonds stuff especially to flesh out the situation.
  • Eh, I take the name of the game about as seriously as I take the name of Dungeons and Dragons. I wouldn't mind a dungeon, there's probably going to be a dungeon, but I don't want to force anything. Maybe they'll all just get annoyed and try to kill each other.

    "Geek the mage first!"

    I dunno. Would that be a fun con game? "We barely made it out of the starting area before we realized we hated each other and started plotting everyone's vile deaths."

    Next sentence: "It was rad!" or "It was lame." ?
  • Well, if you're supposed to "do what your prep and the fiction demands" it helps to have a little bit of prep, yeah? Otherwise, you basically have to ask the players questions the whole time, which can be cool too -- don't get me wrong -- but they can't help you create monsters on the fly, really.
  • Posted By: J. WaltonWell, if you're supposed to "do what your prep and the fiction demands" it helps to have a little bit of prep, yeah? Otherwise, you basically have to ask the players questions the whole time, which can be cool too -- don't get me wrong -- but they can't help you create monsters on the fly, really.
    Oh yeah, good point. I'm going to write up a sheet of threat-y type stuff, and a sheet of ways to describe the lands they'll be trolling through. The threat sheet will have monsters, traps, dangerous locations, factions, etc. The environment sheet will have keywords, names of people, places, and things, legends, etc. Maybe I'll just make one giant sheet with a load of cool crap on it, and another sheet that just has monsters and traps.

    I'm going to have bandits, undead, cultists, townsfolk, king's men, wizards, clerics, demons, etc all ready to go. That way I can just say "uhh... you get lost in the forest on the way to the tower, and end up trapped in a demon's grove. I totally have that demon written up!"

    Yeah?

    Or: "A miss? Uhh... you stumble through a trip wire. Defy Danger, and the danger is that sharpened log flying straight at your trachea. I have the stats, of course I do!"
  • Posted By: framweard
    I dunno. Would that be a fun con game? "We barely made it out of the starting area before we realized we hated each other and started plotting everyone's vile deaths."

    Next sentence: "It was rad!" or "It was lame." ?
    You ever play "The Sword" (a burning wheel demo)?
  • That intro is pretty sweet. Do you have any idea what's behind that? Or is it just something grabby that you came up with? (I'm unfamiliar with Play Unsafe, never read it.)

    My preference would be to flesh that out a little more. Just some general idea of what's going on, so that you have something to go on. Like all prep, it can be rendered useless by play, but it helps me to have something to go on. Like Walton said, just asking questions can work too, depending on style.

    I'd probably fill in the broad strokes: the blacksmith's the last survivor of a successful demon summoning attempt made in the catacombs beneath the church. What's left down there now... isn't pretty. Dead, undead, and mad cultists. Bits of hellish terrain that crossed over too. And of course the demon itself.
  • I definitely have some background. I have a bunch of bullet points on the back of some cards that say "Disease" "Cult" and "A wizard did it!".

    The general idea is for them to interrogate this guy, undertake a perilous journey (through the woods to the north or something), and end up at the wizard's lair. Then slaying will happen, or death, or whatever.

    None of this is set in stone, this is the just "hey everything is going as expected" thread. I'll have a sheet with a bunch of shit in the region for them to get distracted by (or for me to distract them with when they floor me with something).

    Yeah?

    skinnyghost: I haven't played "The Sword", but I have read it. Thanks for reminding me about it! :D
  • Posted By: J. WaltonOtherwise, you basically have to ask the players questions the whole time, which can be cool too -- don't get me wrong -- but they can't help you create monsters on the fly, really.
    As the owl says, oh really? Of course they can. You, the GM, just have to be agile, which means having the system down absolutely pat. Could be a lot of fun! The characters don't know what the monster is, the players don't know what the monster is, and now not even the GM does, until they collectively assert some facts about it into the fiction using the same procedures as the rest of play. I've never tried doing it as quickly as that comment portrays it, but I don't think it's impossible in principle.
  • Uh, sure, Colin, but this version of the rules just came out, right? There's not many people who have it down absolutely pat, enough to improvise it completely, especially not the OP, who it sounds like hasn't played it at all. Personally, I'd want to run at least several sessions before attempting to wing it from scratch. It took me at least 3-4 sessions of running AW before I felt like I could be a little more free with fronts and threats.
  • Point of reference - I ran a three-session mini-campaign, and it only really got hot when they went down in the dungeon. Which happened at the beginning of session three. Won't make that mistake again. The thief, especially, is dungeon-optimized.
  • But jwalt, now that I've suggested it, don't you think it would be fun? You could structure it a little bit by writing a couple of dozen moves and threat countdown schemata in advance and then choosing from that list, rather than improvising completely de novo. Cool as it is to go into a dungeon full of orcs, wouldn't it be a different kind of treat to go into a dungeon where no one knows what they'll find? Not even the GM?

    For the first time in years, I am beginning to contemplate running a game with killing monsters and taking their stuff. You monster. You put this in my head with your weird psychic jujutsu. I'll do it with a sawed-off 3.x, maybe E6, rather than DW, precisely because I know it like the back of my hand.
  • edited June 2011
    While considering what a DW module might look like (with Fiasco playsets and IAWA oracles floating in the back of my brain) it occurred to me that it could be really useful for GMs to write down exactly 20 thematically-linked impressions/descriptions/things/places that they might like to put into a dungeon (taking into consideration all those books and movies they were considering). This way they have a crib sheet of things to say if they get caught with nothing to say and are starting to sweat. It may also help them establish a consistent tone and feel for the first session. The list also fits with the lists of GM moves that they can look to when they need to decide what move to make. Anyhow, see below for an example of what I had in mind.

    The Goblin Hole:
    A hole in the dirt just big enough for a man to squeeze through.
    A well with a goblin's corpse, his hand stretched out toward the well.
    A goblin with his hand tied to ring in the ceiling.
    A thick, sweet-smelling, smoke filling the air.
    A vertical shaft and a crude pulley.
    A series of shallow algae-filled pools.
    A talking bird skull on a string.
    A vent filled with quartz.
    A chattering of starlings, desperate to reach the surface.
    Hairless, blind rabbits in hutches.
    A weeping willow whose tendrils extend into the depths below.
    A tunnel to somewhere else entirely.
    The throne-ridden patriarch of the goblins.
    Two hollow-eyed children in a cage.
    A heavy antler-covered log swinging in from above.
    A well-covered pit where you might not expect.
    Five fish on a spit over coals.
    Black land nettles that sting like crazy.
    A narrow ledge along the edge of a roughly carved cannal .
    A flight of arrows in mid arc.
  • Posted By: mease19Anyhow, see below for an example of what I had in mind.
    This reminded me of a very cool blog post I saw somewhere (sorry don't have a link).

    They made a list of cool things that would be encountered. And towards the bottom of the list it got more and more hairy, until the bottom one was the "boss" monster or whathaveyou.

    But they had a list of (say) 12 encounters and used a d6 to access them. Which means that the boss monster couldn't happen until at least the 7th encounter.

    You could do the same thing with your list above by using a d10 and crossing off encounters as they happen.
  • That's cool, Marshall.
  • I did eventually turn turn this idea into not one but two Dungeon World modules or Dungeon Starters as I refer to them in the text.

    The Goblin Hole

    Black Oak Ridge
  • Posted By: mease19While considering what a DW module might look like (with Fiasco playsets and IAWA oracles floating in the back of my brain) it occurred to me that it could be really useful for GMs to write down exactly 20 thematically-linked impressions/descriptions/things/places that they might like to put into a dungeon (taking into consideration all those books and movies they were considering). This way they have a crib sheet of things to say if they get caught with nothing to say and are starting to sweat.
    Stealing this idea for my first session of The Regiment this weekend. Thanks!!
  • +1 Marshall's post!
  • Marshall: DUDE. Yes.
  • Those are awesome, Marshall!
  • One more, cause apparently trilogies are all the rage.

    The Shallow Sea
  • That looks awesome!
  • Marshall, you make the coolest shit.
  • As usual, great stuff. Maybe these should go in the DW book.
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