Dungeon Starter example play?

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Dungeon Starter example play?
« on: January 06, 2013, 07:59:40 PM »
I think there are a few missing pieces (in my mind) that are keeping me from truly understanding a major part of this game.  Hints of a magic "ah ha" taunt me between the lines of the manual, posts in here..etc.

One thing I think would help would be an example play using one of Miller's dungeon starters.  I've read and listened to a few plays of DW, but these plays didn't seem to start from the same place that the dungeon starters do (conceptually.)  I'm sure an example play of one of these probably doesn't exist, and I might be in danger of fogging up my point, but here goes.

Let's take The Shallow Sea for example. An awesome setting...waist-high sea. Each Starter has a list of Questions, these questions are about the specifics of wandering in the sea. Then there's Impressions, cool scene starters or enders. Some custom moves...creatures...and then items.

With the assumption that these Starters are a representation of all the prep you need for a first session, how would you, the DW-experienced reader, start out the session. I get everything up until I try to imagine starting the game. 

ME: Ok, so that's the setting.
PLAYERS: Awesome. pretty cool. Been in this sea forever, our legs are all shriveled.  Let's start!
ME: Ok, yea cool. So.....why are you here and where are you going?
PLAYERS: isn't...that...you're role in this?
ME: Right! er...let me ask you more questions...Could someone point to random places on the map and tell me what's there so that I can think up some stuff to put there?
PLAYERS: er....let's play Dominion!

I'm sure someone could respond to this post by simply saying "ask questions! find out what they want, and then listen.....". I've read a ton of posts here. I've listened to a podcast, i've read a transcription of play - and I have to say every example of play i've seen has indicated a pre-planned plot or agenda by the GM.

In fact, i almost didn't have a first session until I downloaded the DW two-hour demo adventure...that one made sense to me and it led me to create the Steely Knives adventure i posted earlier. But I know that the Slave-Pit wasn't kind of example of adventure that the Starters and the manual eludes to.

So - are the Starters missing alot more questions and/or prep that I should be responsible for - or am I missing the "ah ha" point that I need?

Thanks for listening,
/Snamo Zont



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noofy

  • 777
Re: Dungeon Starter example play?
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2013, 08:44:42 PM »
Here ya go :)
http://www.story-games.com/forums/discussion/15162/dungeon-world-down-the-goblin-hole-/p1

Its based on the 'redbook' version of DW, so some of the XP references and move iterations don't marry up with the latest version, but Userclone and his group sur had heaps of fun with the goblin hole!

Re: Dungeon Starter example play?
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2013, 08:56:04 PM »
This isn't specific to Dungeon World, but can apply to starting any game especially one shots. Just start the characters in a situation where they know what they are supposed to do.

To give you an example, here are the three set ups I've used so far.
  • After exploring the local temple and discovering it was really a front for the horrible Snake Cult, you're hot on the trail of some cultists and the poor villagers they've kidnapped. They're not bothering to hide their trail, are about a day ahead of you as far as you can tell, and are headed right into the Rushmoor swamp.
  • You've been following the strange tracks through the Wildwood for two days now. The trail leads directly from the village of Nordmark through the forest and out onto the ice shelf, heading in the direction of Whitespire Tower. Rumor in the village is that the Ice Witch has somehow taken up residence there again.
  • As you follow the passageway down, it suddenly opens into a long rectangular room about 20' wide and 50' deep. Two rows of humanoid statues with upraised swords form a sort of aisle down the center of the room, the last two flanking a door. The Annulus, a legendary magical helmet, must lie somewhere further into the tomb of the Faceless One.

From there I start in with the questions to determine fiction. I ask loaded questions that will give me something to work with regardless of what the response is. Who sent you to go retrieve the Annulus and what does it do? How long ago was the Ice Witch defeated and what happened to the knights sworn to prevent her return? How  did the villagers not know the high preist was actually a Snake Cultist? Etc., etc., etc. Build on the answers by asking other players for details or clarification.

Yes, this is railroady. You're forcing the players to follow the Snake Cultists, to go explore Whitespire Tower and deal with the Ice Witch, or to search the Faceless One's tomb for the Annulus. But I think most players appreciate a clear direction and a clear goal for the adventure right from the beginning of the game. Especially for the first session. Drop the characters in the middle of a situation where the players can say "Ah ha! That's where I'm supposed to go" and just go.
If you see my post in your thread, it'll die within 24 hours. You've been warned.

@HyveMynd on Twitter

Re: Dungeon Starter example play?
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2013, 08:57:11 PM »
In my first sesssion I went with a notebook ad the DW book in an iPad, told themt eh classes and they picked, then I went to questions, the most important part here is to ask about their characters first, who are they, what brought them to the point in life they are at the start of the game, where they learned whatever it is that they do, how old are they, and so on, with that you will have them develop the characters, you can then end asking them what they are doing there or hold the carrot to them, using the adventure's central idea adapted to what the characters would want.

I think you are loosing a crucial part, establishing who the characters are, their stories, attitudes toward life and desires. An example on how my character process started with the players:

Classes: Warlock, Fighter, Druid and Wizard.

First question asked after they chose how they look and their names:

Warlock, WHY did you make a pact with the demon?
To gain power.

Ok, what does your pact state you gave to the demon, and I am thinking your soul is there, and what does your demon require of you (check your sheet, it is right there in the Contract move.
I did not sell my soul, I made a pact to gain power in exchange for bringing the demon a lot of souls, my soul is forfeit to the demon if I don't get the number of souls I promised.

Another player asked: HOW MANY souls does your contract asks for? (I grin)
I don't know, a lot, how about 999? (I grin again and accept it.

This revolved around a single move of the Warlock class and its basic premise, "you have a deal with a demon". I asked a lot more questions, but with those alone I already knew he wasn't looking to solve the pact in-game, he also was willing to corrupt others (tied to his evil alignment), and  demons and souls would be part of the game.

Hope it helps shed some light.
I started a blog to share my pain: gmstruggles.wordpress.com

All my posts (unless stated otherwise) are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

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noclue

  • 609
Re: Dungeon Starter example play?
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2013, 09:03:48 PM »
ME: Ok, so that's the setting.
PLAYERS: Awesome. pretty cool. Been in this sea forever, our legs are all shriveled.  Let's start!
ME: Ok, yea cool. So.....why are you here and where are you going?
PLAYERS: isn't...that...you're role in this?
ME: Right! er...let me ask you more questions...Could someone point to random places on the map and tell me what's there so that I can think up some stuff to put there?
PLAYERS: er....let's play Dominion!
I havent played The Shallow Sea but those don't look like the questions on the sheet.
James R.

    "There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which can not fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance-that principle is contempt prior to investigation."
     --HERBERT SPENCER

Re: Dungeon Starter example play?
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2013, 10:08:03 PM »
ME: Ok, so that's the setting.
PLAYERS: Awesome. pretty cool. Been in this sea forever, our legs are all shriveled.  Let's start!
ME: Ok, yea cool. So.....why are you here and where are you going?
PLAYERS: isn't...that...you're role in this?

If I was starting a game and the players hit me with this question, I would respond with the following:
"OK, look. Dungeon World is a cooperative narrative game. That means you, the players, have a lot more control over the narrative than in other RPGs you may have played before. You can help shape the story and tell me why you're here in the Shallow Sea, or I can just give you a reason. Which would you prefer?"

If the players start throwing out reasons why their characters are in the curent location, great. Build off those answers, ask follow up questions, get details, and encourage everyone to participate. "Thistle, Galadiir says you were sent to the Shallow Sea by the ruler of [Kingdom X] to recover an important artifact. What is artifact you are searching for?" "Bjorn, you're a cleric of Zorica, the god of knowledge and hidden things. Did you learn anything about [Artifact Y] in your training or studies?" "Cassandra, as a bard you've probably travelled all over the realm. Have you ever been to [Kingdom X] before? What was the ruler like? Why do you think he/she wants [Artifact Y]?" And so on.

If on the other had, the players say they'd prefer you to give them a starting point that's cool too. Just pick one of the standard fantasy quests (there's only so many of them) and go. If you're using a Dungeon Starter like the Shallow Sea, grab an impression you think looks cool and start the PCs in the middle of it. "As you wade through the warm, thigh-deep water you can see something floating on the surface ahead of you. It's like a vast mat of white, semi-translucent foam bobbing with the gently undulating waves. As it floats closer you see that it is actually a patch of pea-sized jelly-like bubbles, each containing a tiny wriggling tadpole-like creature. What do you do?" One of two things will happen; either the players will be interested and start making moves (Spout Lore or Discern Realities, probably) or they'll wander off to find something else. If they do the latter, just describe them wading through the water for a while, grab another impression and try again.
If you see my post in your thread, it'll die within 24 hours. You've been warned.

@HyveMynd on Twitter

Re: Dungeon Starter example play?
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2013, 01:14:23 PM »
ME: Ok, so that's the setting.
PLAYERS: Awesome. pretty cool. Been in this sea forever, our legs are all shriveled.  Let's start!
ME: Ok, yea cool. So.....why are you here and where are you going?
PLAYERS: isn't...that...you're role in this?
ME: Right! er...let me ask you more questions...Could someone point to random places on the map and tell me what's there so that I can think up some stuff to put there?
PLAYERS: er....let's play Dominion!

HyveMynd touched on this, but I want to re-iterate; The concern that the players will expect you to guide them through the adventure is a valid one. Especially if you're playing with seasoned vets of a certain other game (which we will not name here but simply refer to broadly) they might be hard wired for this sort of thing.
Getting them out of this mind-set and letting them experience the fun that comes from authoring the setting and background might not be the kind of thing they are ready (or willing, or perhaps even interested) in jumping into with both feet.

So, talk about it a little with them up front. Just as HyveMynd said. Let them know this is part of the game. Talk a little about how that is part of what makes DW different and fun. If they are excited by the prospect, great. Proceed as normal.

But when they get a little lost or if they aren't head-over-heels for the idea. That's fine too. Just let that part of the game be pushed to the back burner a little. Plan to run the adventure in a more traditional sense. Give them back-leading when they need it. But every now and again, ask the for some detail, some piece of history, some element of the world. Let them see how fun it is. In short, spoon-feed them. Take it slow. Once they get a taste for it, they will want to take the reins more and more.

The game won't break if you have to be a more traditional GM. Nobody is going to come to your house, take the dice from your hands, and tell you you are doing it wrong.

If your players need a more structured experience before they get used to all freedom, give it to them. And then slowly take the training wheels off.

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Scrape

  • 378
Re: Dungeon Starter example play?
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2013, 04:10:24 PM »
Remember, too, that you are starting the PCs in a tense situation. You're not dumping the setting on them and saying "what do you do?" You're going "You're in some bushes outside The Forbidden Temple, and the lizardmen are only ten feet away but they haven't seen you yet. They're sniffing the air, they'll find you in moments. Now's your chance, what do you do?"

After the battle, you can go "So what were you looking for in the temple, again?" And build off that. Start with some action and introduce the setting as you go.

Re: Dungeon Starter example play?
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2013, 04:38:50 PM »
There were some really great answers here. And they definitely help, thank all of you for responding.

I seem to be battling a very old-school mindset - a prescriptive "i'm the DM and here is your adventure - behold" perspective. Typically I'm waving around my hands when i say that.

Letting go of figuring out every bit of the story, or of at least setting up a literal narrative flow, is the tough part. But I'm completely in love with the "cooperative narrative" idea so i'm going to keep working to open up.

For the next session i've got a campaign front figured out and an adventure front for the night. Both have story points that the players have contributed from the first session, so I'm happy about that. I've got plans on how to get more out of them, and what I hear will easily become the following adventures.

Here's to over-thinking!

/Snamo Zont

Re: Dungeon Starter example play?
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2013, 09:09:14 PM »
There used to be a good example of play on the Something Awful forum (The Sky Chain) but its old enough now that you need to be a member to access the archived threads.  I'd have saved a copy if I'd known they were only up 6 months.

Re: Dungeon Starter example play?
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2013, 01:59:56 PM »
PLAYERS: Awesome. pretty cool. Been in this sea forever, our legs are all shriveled.  Let's start!
ME: Ok, yea cool. So.....why are you here and where are you going?

FWIW, this is exactly what I did in my first game. Except it was way worse, because I had no setting at all. I literally started the game like this:

GM: (turns to player A) What are you doing?
Player A: Sleepwalking!
GM: Where?
Player A: In a graveyard!
GM: (not much I can do with a sleepwalker. Turns to player B) You wake up and Character A is missing. What do you do?
Player B: Look out the window. Do I see him?
GM: Roll discern realities...

Blah blah etc. Once I got them rolling dice, they soon failed rolls, and we soon had a burgeoning zombie apocalypse. All I'm saying here is that this CAN work, it worked for me though it was admittedly a little rough. It may have helped that I was playing with teenagers, not jaded old timers with assumptions and expectations. Having something like a Dungeon Starter would make it easier as at least it gives you something to stimulate your imagination. I was initially drawing blanks which kind of sucked.

If I were going to use the shallow sea I think I'd start with a soft move. Maybe just present them with an impression that encourages investigation. For example, "You are wading thigh-deep in the warm waters of the shadllow sea. You approach a group of houses, raised on poles above the water. What do you do?" Now just let the players make moves and drive it forward.

Re: Dungeon Starter example play?
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2013, 03:19:33 PM »

FWIW, this is exactly what I did in my first game. Except it was way worse, because I had no setting at all. I literally started the game like this:

GM: (turns to player A) What are you doing?
Player A: Sleepwalking!
GM: Where?
Player A: In a graveyard!
GM: (not much I can do with a sleepwalker. Turns to player B) You wake up and Character A is missing. What do you do?
Player B: Look out the window. Do I see him?
GM: Roll discern realities...

Blah blah etc. Once I got them rolling dice, they soon failed rolls, and we soon had a burgeoning zombie apocalypse. All I'm saying here is that this CAN work, it worked for me though it was admittedly a little rough. It may have helped that I was playing with teenagers, not jaded old timers with assumptions and expectations. Having something like a Dungeon Starter would make it easier as at least it gives you something to stimulate your imagination. I was initially drawing blanks which kind of sucked.


That actually sounds like a great way to start a game night. If the expectations don't start too high, where it could lead might be surprising.