[World of Dungeons] The Moppets Go Delving

edited June 2012 in Actual Play
So I've posted before about my two daughters (ages 12 and 8) and their introduction to roleplaying via Faery's Tale. I've been salivating for the chance to run John Harper's World of Dungeons since snagging it from the Dungeon World Kickstarter. Tonight, Mom was away, it's Father's Day, and the girls were willing to indulge me. I spent about 15 minutes mapping out three levels of a wizard's tower, tossed in some monster and treasure ideas, and we were off.

In brief, the game turned out to be a blast. So much so, that I eventually had to be the one to call it. Elder Moppet was ready to take a break, but Junior Moppet was ready to hit the next room, despite the initial room's creepiness. I looked at the clock, and was "whoops, we're past even your summer break bedtime, ladies."

Here's how it went down: We spent most of our time on character generation. They're not experienced at parsing rules or going through the process of mapping out the minutiae, so we made up stuff as a group. Junior Moppet wavered between Thief and Ranger before finally deciding on the former. Elder Moppet wanted to make up her own class right from the get-go, citing interest in Wizard and Ranger, so we naturally settled on Druid.

Junior Moppet ended up with Mist, a dark, tough thief girl who wields twin curved shortswords "like Zuko from Avatar." She also carries caltrops, a rope and grappling hook, two smoke bombs, special climbing claws, and a handful of darts with sleeping venom. After adding rations and a pocket-sized candle-lantern, she was operating on a silver deficit, so she asked if she could steal some of her gear. I said yes, and she rolled a 7 for a burglary effort, meaning she succeeded in pilfering her stuff, but someone in the city is mad at her. Nice story hook for later. Mist doesn't wear armor, but has Athletics and Stealth, plus the special abilities of Reflexes and Tinker.

Elder Moppet brought Valavanora, a mysterious, green-clad druid with her peregrine falcon familiar Dera, and two nature spirits she knows how to summon: Mir (domains of water and secrets) and Koriander (fire and birds). We decided that Druidic spirits had to have an element as one domain, and couldn't embody domains that didn't have some connection with nature. Valavanora carries a bronze dagger and a short bow, wears light armor, and carries a collapsible pole, chalk, and other druidy ritual stuff (rocks, feathers, crystals). Her skills are Heal and Lore, special abilities Summon and Pet.

I should say we spent a helluva lot of time on names. The Story Games Names book got a workout. They also spent a lot of time trying to decide what their hair and clothes looked like. Junior Moppet was groaning and generally not the best sport while waiting for her sister to name her entourage.

Finally, we started play. I put them outside the wizard's tower and its formidable oaken doors. After determining there were no windows on the ground floor, Mist picked the lock. With the Tinker ability, she had no chance of failure. After she rolled a miss, I ruled Mist opened the lock fine, but the tumblers made a sharp noise that surely alerted anything on the other side. Both girls hesitated and discussed options. Finally, Mist put on her climbing claws and slipped inside, scrambled up the wall, and shimmied along a ceiling beam so she could get a look at the room. She has Athletics and rolled a full success, so no problem.

I described a cobwebbed room with two chests, a clay jar, an empty fireplace, and a skeleton sprawled over one of the chests. The far side of the room had a double door, one half hanging on one hinge. Small humanoid footprints were visible on the floor, leading in and out of the room by the broken door. Junior Moppet found all this creepy enough to want to stop playing, but after some reassurance that Mist was a badass, she soldiered on.

She reported to Valavanora, and the two decided to go in. My move was that the skeleton animated (of course) and attacked them with a rusty sword. Mist declared she wanted to block the blow and kick a leg out from under the thing. She rolled a 12, so of course, she booted the leg clean off and toppled the skeleton. Then Valavanora declared she wanted to grab the still thrashing skeleton's sword arm and pull it off. She rolled a 13, so we decided she pulled off the arm and used it to bat the skull into a corner, where it cracked apart. Scratch one skeleton.

Then onto the loot. I just made up stuff on the spot, very generously. Gotta get them hooked, after all. I figured they stuck out the chargen process and took out their first monster, so a big shiny carrot was warranted. By the time they finished their investigation, they had a bag of silver, bronze bracers of protection (+1 armor), a scroll for the Knock ritual, a jar of healing salve, a bag of holding, and a silver coiled serpent ring that granted the wearer the skill of Resist Poison. Valavanora snagged the bracers, salve, and bag. Mist took the ring. They're clear that the silver split is 50/50 and happily marked their experience, though I cautioned them they didn't get XP for the loot until they returned it to town. I allowed Valavanora to roll Lore to suss out the powers of their bling. I did warn them they shouldn't expect every encounter to be so profitable.

Both girls are eager to play again. Elder Moppet wants to get more magic and find a perspicacious loris (we just finished Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan series). Junior Moppet wants more silver so she can level up and get more skills and abilities.

I am a happy guy. From a system standpoint, the game runs beautifully. I asked a lot of questions, made suggestions, and discussed possible consequences before the roll. Everything seemed grounded and clear; the fictional results were concrete and flowed easily from the mechanics. I put the die roll results on a folded 3x5 card so they knew what their dice results meant. Simply put, it's smooth and easy to run, but feels surprisingly granular. I was really happy to come up with the magic ring granting a new, narrow skill, since I really like the skill system. When the girls found out the ring's power, both went wide-eyed and oohed and ahhhed.

The kids really enjoyed character generation, from the attribute rolls to the shopping. Based on the kinds of things she was asking for before play, I expect Junior Moppet will be using her silver to kit herself out like the goddamn Batman. Elder Moppet commented that she likes this more than Faery's Tale. During toothbrushing, both girls expressed the wish that they were more like their cool characters. This summer, we're going to bring together some of Elder Moppet's friends for regular "Dungeon Girls" gaming and anime nights. We've agreed World of Dungeons is the ideal system to kick things off.

Thanks, John. Best Father's Day present ever.


  • Love it! Long live the adventures of Moppets junior and senior. Imagine in 20 years when they reminisce about the AWESOME story game play they had with their dad. Priceless.
  • Thank you for this wonderful AP, Blake! You made my day. :) Glad you and the Moppets had fun.

    (I'm totally adding narrow-skill granting magic items to my campaign)
  • Neat! How long did you play?

    I'm interested in your experience with names. When I played with my kids, they just picked names from the WoD list and it was neat that my daughter's character was from "the Islands" and my son's from Ankhyra...y'know, whatever those are! :)

    For the druid, did you build whole rules for druid-generation (choose two of these four or whatever) or just build Valavanora with those skills and abilities and call her a druid?

    My son's playing a thief and ran short on silver (after choosing armor to protect his two HP) so we played through a scene where he was ransacking a neighborhood's sheds, looking for a crowbar to steal. He was caught and ended up sort-of accidentally killing the guy. It's interesting that we had similar situations that both drove the fiction in interesting places.
  • Thanks, all. Noofy, it was tremendous fun, and will make a great war story. Junior Moppet asked me first thing this morning if we could play after breakfast. John, I'd say you've got a hit on your hands. It really felt...magical. I haven't felt anything quite like this since I started with the blue box in the '70's.

    Christopher, we played for about two hours, with chargen eating the first hour. We started with the WoD list, but the girls tried on a few names without settling on anything. Junior Moppet was going by "Anu" at first, but then changed her mind. Elder Moppet found the number of choices intimidating, but she enjoyed going through the list. We went to the Story Games book after nothing in the WoD list stuck.

    It's neat that you played out a prologue of sorts. I just had Mist roll off-stage, because I wanted to jump right into the dungeon. We haven't gotten to the wider world yet. I expect we'll build the setting outward from the wizard's tower.

    Interestingly, both girls rolled max HP, so they don't have quite *quite* the sense of vulnerability they would with a lower number.
  • Oh, given Elder Moppet's interests in mixing magic and nature, I decided Druid was a mix of Wizard and Ranger skills for her to pick among: Summon and Ritual from Wizard, Pet and Wild from Druid. I'd have said Heal or Lore or Awareness for the class skill, but she picked Heal and Lore, so it was easy.
  • Love the wizard+ranger custom druid build! It's so obvious once you point it out. :)
  • Right, so now all of a sudden, I am going to be playing the crap out of World of Dungeons. After re-reading it, I am actually in love with how much is left undefined. Amazing AP! Long game the moppets!
  • I never want kids until I read about awesome gamer parents.

    Well done, my man. :)
  • I'm glad there are wonderful dads out there like Blake playing role-playing games with daughters like the Moppets he is blessed with. Heart-warming AP.
  • Thanks, everyone. Trust me, playing with the moppets is exhilarating. I feel quite self-indulgent posting about it.

    John, I also kind of like the mix of Cleric to the Druid build in the other World of Dungeons thread. Summon + Cure + Pet + Wild makes sense too.
  • A quick post-script: we went camping yesterday with some other families from the girls' school yesterday, including a contingent of boys who brought their D&D3E books, and had evidently been gaming all week (as folks started out there on Monday). I'd packed World of Dungeons in case the girls were bored (hah, fat chance). Elder Moppet told one of the boys about her Druid, and he became terribly interested, asking me repeatedly about the game until his mom shut him down.

    This morning, I broke out the rules and the 3x5 cards and helped him make a Necromancer. Three other boys came around and wanted to play. All were incredulous that a D&D game could be structured around one page of rules. We ended up with the necromancer, a fighter, and two assassins. I went to help break down the camp, and the boys proceeded to play by themselves, with Necromancer Lad running the game. This seemed to go well, and I stuck my nose in from time to time to suggest complications or tips like, "he rolled a 12, make it awesome and take some time to describe what he does," and "invoke the senses--what does it smell like down there?" They ate it up, immediately getting how important atmosphere could be.

    The main mantra I kept repeating was: "The rules inform the fiction, the fiction informs the rules." For example, I told them, how do your characters see? A few torches on the walls, they replied. OK, so the light is dim and shadowy, and you could use a torch to set something on fire, ward off a monster, or burn someone, right? Ohh, yeahh...! they said.

    They played until the parents came to tell them to pack things up. I heard more setting descriptions, more detailed descriptions of what they were doing, and more "atmosphere." It was clear they were having a helluva lot of fun.

    Necromancer Lad told me afterward that WoD was more fun than D&D because there weren't so many rules. I let him take the printed rules home and tipped all the boys to the existence of Dungeon World and the Kickstarter. My wife commented that she overheard them talking about +1s and armor and special abilities while they packed up.

    The Moppets spent most of the campout in the river or zipping around on skate-scooters, but made a point of telling me they want to play World of Dungeons tonight.

  • This is tremendously inspiring. I *have* to find some time to run this with a few friends of mine; you're selling the CRAP out of WoD.
  • Blake: I... there are no words. Thank you.
  • You're welcome, but thanks to you. This is such a terrific little jewel of a game.
  • This is freaking AWESOME. Does anyone else think that after a load of user created content has been posted, someone should make a Rules Cyclopedia version? Actually, that should just be a stretch goal for DW...

  • I should say we spent a helluva lot of time on names. The Story Games Names book got a workout. They also spent a lot of time trying to decide what their hair and clothes looked like. Junior Moppet was groaning and generally not the best sport while waiting for her sister to name her entourage.
    Once when I was running a superhero game for my wife and two daughters (probably 10 and 13 at the time), I offhandedly said "In gratitude, the city council gives you the building to use as your base." I had not planned that the next 2 hours would be spent making architectural layouts of their new base and drawings of all their cool stuff, including using the shell of the giant crab robot they had just defeated as the meeting room.

    Kid gamers. So. Awesome.
  • Definitely. I came home from Bikram's tonight to Elder Moppet's cosplay project of dressing up like her druid character Valavanora. She has special Druidy clothes picked out, a messenger bag that holds the following: a quicksilver dose in a small glass jar, some plastic jewels and coins for loot, a special bag of holding, bandages, some old earrings for talismans, a scroll she made for one of the ritual scrolls they found in the wizard's tower, a feather, and sticks she's going to use for arrows. There's more, but I've kind of lost track. I know she's trying to figure out torches and rope. Her scroll has one side inscribed with arcane glyphs she made up. She's trying to find something to work for her bracers of protection. I anticipate she'll ask for a hawk puppet before too long.

    My wife was laughing, mouthing "LARP" to me as I stood there, frozen in giddy amazement at this presentation. Junior Moppet emphasized that she wants to make a Mist costume also.

    John, what rough beasts of awesome have we loosed?
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