[AP] Dungeon World over Google Plus

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[AP] Dungeon World over Google Plus
« on: September 17, 2012, 07:25:36 PM »
Hiya folks. I managed to run a session of Dungeon World over Google Plus with some friends, and I'd like to talk about it.

Before the game, I daydreamed a starting scenario like this:

The goblin warren has thrived in the deep woods for some time, but it never affected Nook's Crossing before. When an otyugh, deep in the warrens, started an outbreak of Filth Fever, Skullthumper the Orkaster sought to solve the problem with magic. Whatever half-baked spell he mustered, it turned the infected into undead and started a different sort of outbreak. Most of the survivors have fled into the countryside and begun proliferating wherever they find themselves, and life in Nook's Crossing's has been poorer and more dangerous for it.

My descriptive palette included words like fetid, swollen, dank, reeking, musty, cloying, acrid, foul, offal, refuse, discarded, ramshackle, rotting, dark, close, cramped, soft, and cold.

During introductions, the players heard this:

Nook's Crossing has suddenly fallen victim to increasingly bold goblin raids, and no one knows why. You'll start at the edge of the forest clearing looking upon an entrance into a tunnel braced by random deadfall in the side a hill. You've found a goblin warren.

I made sure to describe the day-long drizzle they'd trekked here under, and the fresh, delightful odor of a forest rain in spring, in contrast to what would follow.

Inside they would find a handful of surviving goblins in a foyer of sorts, bracing a makeshift barricade against something deeper inside. More on that later. Next up, it's character introductions and bonds.

P.S., can I be in the adventurer's guild?

The Cast: [AP] Dungeon World over Google Plus
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2012, 12:44:48 AM »

First Session: The Cast

The following occupied our Dungeon World:

Heimdal the Fighter, Dwarf
  • Look: Short, hard, and calloused. Battered body, battered face, battered armor, battered horn helm
  • Signature Weapon: Heimdal wields a massive ancient warhammer (+forceful +messy +well-crafted), named simply 'the Hammer'
  • Pertinent Details: He found The Hammer deep in the mines. It belonged to a mighty ancient dwarf hero of legend, and Heimdal won many duels in order to keep it. He feels it is his by right, and only he is worthy of wielding it. He now roams the land in search of a worthy opponent. He's bored and reckless and dangerous.
  • Bonds: Heimdal caught Tempi trying to steal The Hammer and spared his life, and therefore reckons Tempi owes him his life. He worries about Baldric's ability to survive in the dungeons, and he inadvertently insulted Deilwen's god.

Deilwen the Cleric, Human
  • Look: Short hair, clean and well-groomed. Average build and kind, lonely eyes.
  • God and Sect: The Faceless One, God of the Downtrodden. His sect is cultish and insular, charged with gaining secrets
  • Pertinent Details: Deilwen doesn't know why he was chosen by The Faceless One, but he was somehow spared when his village was attacked and enslaved (he doesn't remember by what). He feels indebted to his god, but doesn't understand its agenda. He carries as a religious symbol a small stone of rough black onyx. When he channels The Faceless One, it becomes a formless black vapor.
  • Bonds: Deilwen doesn't trust Heimdal after his affront to The Faceless One. He has vowed to keep Tempi safe, despite Tempi being in constant danger.

Baldric the Bard, Human
  • Look: Fiery eyes beneath a wild shock of ruddy hair. He bears leather armor over a fit, jaunty body. He's grimy and doesn't look very "minstrel-ly".
  • Music and Lore: Baldric chants ballads, and carries around a fiddle, never before played. He evades questions about his attachment to it. He knows all about the grand histories of the known world.
  • Pertinent Details: Baldric carries a rapier, preferring cleverness in swordplay as well as in verse. He was born to a stern blacksmith in Mill Town who never approved of his curiosity and fondness for thinking. He fell in love with Pendrell the elf maiden from the nearby Deep Wood, who taught him the bardly arts, among other things, in secret. One day Pendrell stopped coming to meet him; with no reason to stay anymore, he left Mill Town not long afterward.
  • Bonds: Baldric met Tempi on the road near Mill Town, and they've travelled together since, sharing adventures. Recently, they met Heimdal at Nooks Crossing; Baldric had sung songs of Heimdal before they met, and immediately impressed himself upon Heimdal's affairs in order to compose a new ballad about him. He also figures Deilwen a fool, and makes him the butt of every joke.

Tempi the Thief, Halfling
  • Look: Sandy short hair frames gray eyes above a lithe, springy body clad in black.
  • Traps and Poison: Halflings are nomadic gypsy-like merchants, and Tempi learned all about traps from their nightly encampments. He won't say where he mastered the use of Bloodweed Syrum, probably for his own safety.
  • Pertinent Details: Tempi is on the run from big-city creditors of the worst kind. He suspects he was set up as a fall guy by certain members of his caravan, but he has no proof, nor indeed any idea who is culpable or why.
  • Bonds: Pendrell stopped visiting Baldric when Tempi arrived in the area and stole her fickle heart. She still visits Tempi sometimes, and Baldric knows nothing of it. Still, he has Baldric's back when things go wrong, and is irked by the lavish praise and attention Baldric now heaps upon Heimdal.

Now they're all standing outside a goblin warren. What do they do? Find out next!

Into the Hole: [AP] Dungeon World over Google Plus
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2012, 06:27:47 PM »
Into the Hole

They're all standing in the tree line away from the rain, peering into the goblin hole. They can hear the odd muffled clank and sometimes a grunt - maybe a goblin expletive?

Heimdal strides forward like a colossus across the clearing, but Tempi jumps in front, "just let me have a look first." Heimdal notices the warren floor slopes downward without any regard for proper drainage, creating a streaming, muddy morass. "Go right ahead, then."

Tempi tiptoes into the hole. A stench washes over him with palpable force as he approaches a crook in the tunnel. He hears strained voices beyond, almost an argument, if goblins are anything like halflings. Distracted, he finds himself thigh-deep in a sinkhole. He's right at the corner; he can probably make it back out without attracting attention, but moving forward would surely alert those voices deeper in. He retreats to report what he heard.

Comment: This was a weak hit on Defy Danger, for which I offered an ugly choice. In hindsight, I'm not sure I like it. I could have done better. Oh, well.

Deilwen asks his god for guidance, and The Faceless One delivers with enthusiasm. His symbol, now a black vapor, takes the form of a lozenge (a shield, perhaps?), and shoots straight down the hole, raising startled cries within. Annoyed and impatient, Heimdal charges in after it, followed by the rest.

Comment: This was the Guidance rote, again a weak hit. He chose to be put in a spot, and thus they lost the element of surprise.

Startled Survivors

The room beyond shares the same low ceiling as the entrance tunnel, forcing the humans to stoop and hobble. It widens to around 20 yards across, with one obvious exit at the opposite side, blocked by a haphazard barrier of piled dross. Luminous fungi cast an eerie green glow across a dozen or so startled goblins. Three goblins brace their spears against the barrier; something pushes against the other side, and these three pay the intruding party no notice.

Baldric pauses to notice that the force on the other side makes no sound. Deilwen notices his holy symbol vapor forming a floating lozenge before one of the goblins. He swings his hammer at its face. The lozenge intercedes, but the hammer passes through unheeded. Still, by some stroke of fortune it merely grazes the goblin's crude armor to no effect. The startled goblin likewise grazes Deilwen. Deilwen wonders whether he interpreted his god correctly.

Comment: Hack 'n' Slash weak hit and crappy damage rolls. I implied that his god had interfered.

Meanwhile, Heimdal ignores the puny goblins and marches to the barricade in search of a real challenge. With the might of The Hammer he smashes it down as if it were cobweb (Fighter's breaking things move, 10+). A daunting big horde of undead goblins issues from within (dubbed "zoblins" by the players). Heimdal manages a swing at one before they swarm and surround him.

Everything Comes Apart and Burns

Comment: Here follows a series of missed rolls to make even the most stalwart player despair. I'm serious, 6- every time they stood a chance of getting ahead; 10+ only when barely recovering. My memory lacks precision here, so I'll summarize.

Chaos reigns as the goblin survivors flee, ignored. Deilwen entreats his god to turn the horde away. His vapor swells and billows out among the horde; it seems to work as Deilwen pushes through to Heimdal. (It didn't. He rolled a miss and the vapor did nothing. Deilwen was now trapped in the midst of the horde with Heimdal.). Heimdal swings at a few zoblins, then powers through to rejoin his companions. Deilwen attempts to kill a few, but strikes the low ceiling and overbalances, landing on his back. Zoblins swarm him, but his armor preserves him for a moment.

Baldric runs a zoblin through the heart, but it merely lurches forward up to the hilt to bite him in the shoulder. He pushes it away, but his rapier remains in its chest as it rejoins the horde.

Tempi stands back, looking for some advantage in the environment. His mind alights upon the torch in his pack, which he promptly lights. He waves it at the zoblins, attempting to scare them back. Instead he ignites them, and the fire quickly spreads among the relatively dry zoblin horde.

Heimdal levels a mighty swing, but loses his grip. He sees The Hammer sail through the entrance tunnel, and shoves his way through burning zoblins to retrieve it.

Deilwen endures until the zoblins move away, distracted by their own burning flesh. At last, his holy symbol returns, and, still lying on his back, Deilwen invokes The Faceless One and casts Speak with the Dead. A nearby zoblin goes still and faces Deilwin. It whispers into his mind even as its body burns away. "We were falling ill,  and Skullthumper used magic to heal us. Then we died." Deilwen rises and grips his hammer.

The Tide Begins to Turn

Flames begin to extinguish from the zoblins in the entry chamber as they run out of fuel. Heimdal leaps again into the fray, bellowing at Baldric to restore the barricade before more zoblins can join their vanguard. Baldric moves to comply, but notices his rapier, still impaling a zoblin, in the chamber beyond where more zoblins begin to shamble in. He snatches up a goblin spear and charges in to retrieve it real quick. He sneaks around the edge of the horde, and is swarmed and bitten again for his trouble.

Deilwen notices Baldric's plight and follows him into the deeper chamber. He Stands in Defense, and together they fight their way back toward their companions. Baldric contrives various schemes to retake his rapier; each fails.

Tempi brandishes his torch and scrambles across the fallen barricade, but trips and drops his torch in the mud, extinguishing it. Heimdal glances over from the fray and mutters a curse. At last, Baldric and Deilwen win free to the barricade, while Tempi, knowing from the look on Baldric's face, performs a stunning display of acrobatics, retrieving Baldric's rapier and making it look easy.

The three work together to hold off the new horde and rebuild the barricade, while Heimdal finishes off the last of the burned out zoblins in the entry chamber. For a few moments, all is quiet.



Session End

Baldric resolved his bond with Deilwen, deciding that he will no longer be the butt of any jokes after standing shoulder-to-shoulder with him. Baldric's body failed to fend off the foulness carried in the zoblins' bites. He contracted an unknown illness and marked down the Weak debility. Everyone marked experience for learning something new about the world. Later, having learned of the XP-for-missed-rolls rule, I awarded everyone three more experience based on the approximate number of missed rolls everyone endured. I should maybe make it four.

Next up is an all-commentary after action review. I'll reflect on what we were there to accomplish, what actually happened, what worked, what didn't, and why. I might muse a bit on what could happen next.

*

noofy

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Re: [AP] Dungeon World over Google Plus
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2012, 03:44:53 AM »
Wonderful mix of actual play and DM commentary! Very useful play example, especially for a tense and exciting fight sequence!

It seems like the players had a wonderful time (even if their characters were sorely challenged). I'm very curious to see how the story plays out! Have you got any ideas for fronts or dangers to play with in the background? Will you detail Nook's crossing with the player's using the steading rules?

Well done Strongbif and thanks so much, I'm sure you are in the adventurer's guild now :)

Re: [AP] Dungeon World over Google Plus
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2012, 10:31:50 AM »
Zoblins are awesome!!!  Are they more like voodoo zombies or goblin-pox crazed zombies or flesh pealing raised from the dead zombies?

[Edit: Oh crap, don't answer that, play to find out!]

Re: [AP] Dungeon World over Google Plus
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2012, 01:00:44 AM »
Thanks, guys!

You might be surprised to know that we all left the first session vaguely unsatisfied.

Partly it's because success was thin on the ground.

Partly it's because I'm inexpert at dungeons (I cut my RPG and GM teeth on AEG's 7th Sea and progressed through Deadlands to Savage Worlds).

Partly it's because we were still figuring out the moves and stuff (we'd all of us played Apocalypse World, but there are important differences to navigate).

Partly it's because I didn't use rules that I've since gleaned from these forums that would have fit perfectly (e.g., mark XP on a missed roll, gang-ups roll multiple damage dice and take the highest, when players do damage the damage roll result = number of mooks that go down in that hit).

But mostly it's because I wasn't paying close enough attention to my players' cues. Heimdal wanted a big-ass monster to vanquish, and Tempi wanted something to backstab and maybe a clever trap to turn against his foes.

These elements were waiting further into the dungeon. To be fair, I expected them to get past the foyer at least.

Ooh, and this: I should have called for more Spout Lore rolls. Especially given the Bard. I shot myself in the foot by not offering anyone the ability to speak goblin (and anyway, it's not like all goblins speak the same language, duh), but a Spout Lore roll for the Bard to know just enough about these goblins' tongue, plus a detail about how he learned it? God, I'm kicking myself.

As an aside, I'm super-stoked about Baldric's Grand Histories of the Known World expertise. Talk about depth and verisimilitude: we'll have constant prompts to tie in the current situation with the march of history. Yes.

Quote from: noofy
Have you got any ideas for fronts or dangers to play with in the background? Will you detail Nook's crossing with the player's using the steading rules?

Yes and yes. I'll remain taciturn in case my players happen upon this. I'll say this: if you're familiar with the goblins' monster moves, you might could guess what comes of those fleeing goblin survivors next.

Quote from: mease19
Are they more like voodoo zombies or goblin-pox crazed zombies or flesh pealing raised from the dead zombies?

A gentleman never tells.