ttrpg, Dungeon World 

Maybe it's just my group, but a lesson I'm steadily learning is:

If you've given your NPC a name, and you want your players to know it, introduce it early, because they absolutely will not ask what it is.

ttrpg, Dungeon World 

The enlightened GM way to see it is:

They're looking to you for cues as to which NPCs are significant enough to bother learning about, and providing a name upfront is a clear gesture in that direction.

ttrpg, Dungeon World 

That's something I need to get better about in general. I like to leave things pretty open-ended, even at the level of description, in hopes that my players will poke and prod around until they either give me a good narrative excuse to uncover details I've prepped, or opened up opportunities to improvise new details. But sometimes, they just need a nudge in some direction, ANY DIRECTION, to keep them from bogging down in uncertainty over what's supposed to be significant.

ttrpg, Dungeon World 

Anyway, tonight was my second session running DW. A bit more comfortable with the moves, and I managed to get the campaign headed in a clear direction, which means I can dig into developing some fronts for the rest of this arc.

As of now, though, I prefer Ultra-Violet Grasslands, which is the only other ttrpg I've run. DW's rule set is interesting, but I enjoy working in a distinct setting, and the setting here is almost totally tabla rasa.

ttrpg, Dungeon World 

Dungeon World is asking a lot by providing minimal setting and also emphasizing collaborative storytelling. Feels like they should have picked one or the other. There are probably RPG groups in which everyone feels comfortable constructing bits of the world out of whole cloth, but most players are likely more comfortable improvising within a suggestive framework.

ttrpg, Dungeon World 

Third session tonight, and my paladin player has only just figured out what deity his character serves. That there was no starter pantheon really threw him for a loop — and he's probably the most experienced player in the group. DW provides mechanics for really playing characters *as characters*, but I find myself having to prompt players to invent details with very little established world to work from.

ttrpg, Dungeon World 

It's also taken us three sessions to get to a dungeon — totally my fault, but at the same time, the players would have substantially less world to build on right now had I not had them trekking across the landscape for a week of in-game time first. I suspect the moves will feel more solid once the walls close in a little, but the setting might feel paper-thin had I put them on a shorter route.

ttrpg, Dungeon World 

One thing I need to work on: Using GM moves in response to failing rules. The manual is pretty explicit about what happens when a player rolls a (high or moderate) success, but leaves the consequence of a failure open. It took me a few sessions to really wrap my head around the way GM moves stand in for explicit instructions for failing rolls. Something to work on for next week. (Expecting lots of dice use now that the characters are entering a dungeon.)

ttrpg, Dungeon World 

Tonight's session: My first dungeon — the abandoned swamp monastery of an uplift-oriented dwarven cult. My players explored a little over half before exiting to camp, but it's gone well so far. They teased out a lot of lore, fought a couple of monsters, pulled some interesting moves with the environment, put me on the spot in a couple of good ways. And they articulated a couple of my themes for the place back to me, so I feel confident it's gelling as a conceit.

ttrpg, Dungeon World 

If anyone's interested, I used this dungeon map generator, refreshing it a few times to get a layout that I liked and turning off annotations to make it easier to add my own. (Right clicking brings up the options.) watabou.itch.io/one-page-dunge

I uploaded the exported image to the background of a new Roll20 map for use during the session (fog of war is a nice feature), then printed out a copy for my own notes. The printout I loaded up with lore, descriptions, encounter notes, etc.

ttrpg, Dungeon World 

At the end of every session I ask "Has anyone resolved any bonds?" and we all look at their character sheets and say, "Ah, maybe? Sorta? Not really?" so it's time to sit down and figure out how to make these things function.

ttrpg, Dungeon World 

Okay, so we have our heads wrapped around Bonds now, I think. And the upshot is that it seems to encourage players to engage their characters more *as characters*, rather than as diving bells they put on to inhabit the world. Moreover, they're engaging them *collaboratively* — e.g. two of them are explicitly negotiating how to handle a macguffin their characters approach with different attitudes.

Still, writing Bonds is tricky, so I may need to house-rule the process some.

ttrpg, Dungeon World 

Another Dungeon World feature I need to get a better handle on is tags. Right now, our use of objects in the game is pretty basic, and I suspect there's a lot of dynamism that we're missing out on because we haven't gotten past seeing tags as mostly cosmetic. If anyone knows of any useful resources on that, I'd appreciate a link.

ttrpg, Dungeon World 

What marks a good session for me, as the person running a ttrpg, is surprise. The most enjoyable moments are those when I've put the players in some sort of spot, figured out a few ways they might deal with it, and then have to adjust to some totally cockamamie plan they cook up that I simply had not imagined beforehand. That's the good stuff.

ttrpg, Dungeon World 

Last night, for instance, my players emerged from a dungeon to find that the NPC they had left waiting was now a hostage, and his captors were demanding the macguffin the party had just retrieved in exchange for his life. Character-wise, they were committed to saving the NPC, but they also didn't want to turn over their prize. So they ended up faking its destruction with a magic spell!

ttrpg, Dungeon World 

Definitely not one of the scenarios I had planned for, but I love it when they pull some left-field business, so I helped them figure out what moves made the most mechanical sense. And I wasn't sure how to progress game if it worked, but I wanted to play it out, so when our wizard rolled a 6 on the key move, I let him salvage the spell with a hard choice.

And it all dovetailed nicely with some of my narrative goals, which is my second criteria for a good session: Fortuity!

ttrpg, Dungeon World 

Coming up on a natural endpoint for the adventure I've been running, so one of my goals was to move the party along toward a climax. And I mostly achieved that, but I worry a little that I'm shortchanging them out of potential detours and General Whatnot.

ttrpg, Dungeon World 

Having run one adventure and most of a second one, I'm recognizing that one of my (potentially frustrating) tendencies as a GM is to gallop through the end sessions at a much brisker pace tha the earlier sessions. Part of it is just that I don't want the end to bog down, but part of it is maybe I should be more careful about creating situations where the party needs to travel long distances to get to the final point on their quest.

ttrpg, Dungeon World 

Still happy with some GM moves I made.

The party confronted the Antagonist. I complicated his motives — he wants the MacGuffin to ward off an invasion. But it's Evil, so they don't want to hand it over! They were bogging down negotiating alternatives, but they hadn't been entirely honest with him, so I had them spot an approaching guard, returning with the NPC guide who's bound to blow their cover!

"Oops, all out of time tonight! Guess we'll get back to this next week.…"

ttrpg, Dungeon World 

That creates enough conflict that we can drive this along to a conclusion, but it also buys me some time. I can see a way through to a potentially satisfying conclusion, but I'd also like a little time to think through the directions in which they were pushing. They were trying to talk him into forming defensive alliances with some gnolls and/or frogmen. Does that lead anywhere fun? Or just open up the narrative indefinitely? Gotta think through some possibilities…

ttrpg, Dungeon World 

The party's paladin is openly discussing ways to murder the NPC before he can talk, so I'd say it has them appropriately rattled.

ttrpg, Dungeon World 

Very rocky session last night. First, we got a late start. Then my players had a hard time committing to some course (ANY course) of action.

The later is partly my fault — how could it not be? I'm arranging much of the world around them. But I'm off on vacation next week, and was hoping to wrap this adventure up so we could move onto other things when I get back. Now I've about how to re-calibrate our trajectory toward a more satisfying climax for the next session or two.

Follow

ttrpg, Dungeon World 

So… how do I get things back on track? With a dungeon, of course.

Part of what went wrong is that the players had secreted the Evil McGuffin away in a cave before heading in to meet the Antagonist, and that curtailed any opportunity to do something with it — like destroy it. They finagled their way out, and now they're on their way back to retrieve the E McG, so I'm going to put the Antagonist's army in pursuit, and reveal a dungeon in the back of the cave.

That's step one.

ttrpg, Dungeon World 

Dungeon crawling is more straightforward than the rock-and-a-hard-place scene that was playing out in their meeting with the Antagonist, and putting an army at their backs provides a direct threat to act against, rather than a tenuous situation that they're tempted to keep from going bad to worse. Plus: Monsters. They know how to deal with monsters.

ttrpg, Dungeon World 

Step two is… reveal another Antagonist. I think another thing that threw them last night was that they weren't really happy with the Antagonist they were up against. They kept talking about possibly assassinating him, but never went through with an attack. Luckily, the background lore I've been improvising hints at another possible Baddie, who I hadn't really planned on bringing in, but it (mostly) works with the narrative, and gives them a more direct goal to pursue.

ttrpg, Dungeon World 

Overall, what I'd like to do is draw this adventure to a conclusion, and then either move these characters along to a DW supplement (like Servants of the Cinder Queen), or try a different game altogether, if they're not interested in pursuing more DW.

ttrpg, Dungeon World 

Another GM skill I intend to work on: Imparting a rhythm to individual sessions.

If anyone has advice, I'm all ears.

ttrpg, Dungeon World 

After a three week hiatus, I finally got the chance to redirect the party into a dungeon, which did a nice job of getting the adventure back on track. Who would have thought that a game called Dungeon World would work best with dungeons??

We're on track to draw this campaign to a conclusion next week, at which point I intend to give them the option to either carry on with this world, or try a different game altogether.

ttrpg, Dungeon World 

I could go either way, honestly. I've picked up a bunch of Dungeon World supplements that I'd be happy to try out. Perilous Wilds, Servants of the Cinder Queen, that sort of thing. Or I could try to adapt Slumbering Ursine Dunes, maybe as another DW plane adjacent to theirs.

At the same time, I'd be just as happy trying out Mothership or Blades In the Dark.

Either way, I've downloaded Ironsworn and intend to give it a try as a solo campaign.

Busy, busy.

ttrpg, Dungeon World 

Nothing has given me as sharp a feel for the way Dungeon World can work as the Lampblack & Brimstone supplements, btw. They're perfectly formatted to work with the system, and rooted in a very solid sense of how to tease a world out of PbtA-style moves.

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