In Medias Res... 101 Action Filled Starts for your first session!

  • 4 Replies
In Medias Res...

No one wants to start their Dungeon World Adventure with the party lazily sipping brew while they wait passively for adventure to strike. NO! Dungeon World requires the Party to be thrown into the action immediately. However, it is some times difficult as a Game Master to come up with original and interesting starts for your game when you only have half an hour of character/world building to go on.

Here the community will list 101 (+Int) cool, dynamic, exciting, and dangerous "First Scenes" to fill your brain with, to steal, adapt, or spark your imagination. They will help set the stage for adventure early, and get your first session off to a flying start!

-Greven Lorekeeper of Marikest

P.S. Roll+Wis to keep the numbering accurate. 10+, Gain 1 Forum Point, 7-9, Edit to fix that shit., 6 or less, Take 10 Forum damage.

Re: In Medias Res... 101 Action Filled Starts for your first session!
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2013, 10:33:54 AM »
1. A "Tough Guy" Character is strapped to an alter. Cultists stand over him raising a dagger to complete their dark ritual. The rest of the party kicks open the door to the dark shrine on the other side of the room just as the knife comes down!

2. A moment ago the party had been fighting Orc brigands on the King's Road. The wizard had botched a spell... badly. The party now finds themselves looking across the grey fire wastelands of hell. Devils under wing approach en mass.

3. The party had been sailing for several weeks. The captain had been concerned about a massive thunder storm looming in their route. As they approach the storm surges, nearly sinking the ship. Out of the darkened sky emerges a great flying ship, powered by lightning elementals. It opens fire on the party and their already damaged vessel. (Think opening of the 2009 Star Trek).

4. The party, soaked in blood, enters the massive chamber. They have defeated the dragon and now look upon his hoard. (characters set their Hit Points, gear, moves, etc. to reflect a fight with a dragon.) As they approach their prize they hear the sounds of the hoards much older guardians begin to move towards them.

5. The thief is bound to a chair, ropes at her feet and chest, manacles on her wrists. She has offended the guild for the last time and now they are going to put the hurt on her. Unfortunately for the guild, she's the only one who knows who she sold it to (What was it?). Luckily for the thief the guild's search missed her favorite tool (a lock pick or a dagger; pick one), and her friends have finally tracked the ruffians to their secret entrance in the darkened alley.

6. On their way deep into the woods, the ranger or druid comes across strange tracks (Spout Lore, What manner of beast could have left these? The player tells the party). If they follow the tracks they find it in its lair. If not it ambushes them. Unfortunately it is much worse than the tracks indicated. The beast has been driven mad by a dark influence, and its body has been turned to corruption and putrescence. (Start of Princess Mononoke)

7. With a mighty kick the "tough guy" breaks open the lid of the upright stone coffin he had been sealed in. He hears the sounds of his companions scratching and shouting to get out of other stone coffins near by. He also hears the sound of shambling undead coming to investigate the sound of stone breaking in the darkened mausoleum. The party's gear lies in a heap near by, but... "Oh Hells NO! Why does that zombie have MY sword!"

8. The party rides back carrying the treasures of another successful adventure. As they clear the last hill they see the town below in flames, burning to the ground. A party of marauders can be seen riding out of town on the far side into the mountains. They were looking for something (What? Ask the players). The players have it in their recently recovered treasure trove (Do they know they have it? Probably not). Unfortunately the only person who know how to use it was just taken hostage and the parties home and village continues to be sacked!

9. That was easy! The traps were predicable and easy to spot. Now that the party has removed the sacred Icon to complete the ritual, (to do what? For whom? Ask the players) the real danger hits. The hidden booby traps spring to life as the party makes their desperate escape. Outside the find that their long time rival (who is this ass hole and how is he always one step ahead?) has allied with the natives and with over whelming force takes the Icon from the party. Damn, not again! (The Raiders of the Lost Ark opening)

10. Months tracking this murderer and finally the party has caught him in the act! They see the lifeless body of his most recent victim lying in a slick pool of blood at his feet. The party engages combat. They fight tooth and nail. Moments before the City Guard burst through the door the villain snaps his fingers and disappears completely in a mist of vapor which silently passes out the window. The guards stare down the party as they stand soaked in blood over the lifeless body of yet another murder victim. "But we're innocent! The real murderer was just here!"

Re: In Medias Res... 101 Action Filled Starts for your first session!
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2013, 03:17:05 PM »
11. The crowd roars with approval as the heroes are shoved towards the headsman's block, the executioner's axe glinting in the sunlight as confetti floats past like multi-colored snow.

12. With the splintering of timber the long-house is torn in half by the earthquake, the heavy snowstorm howling in through the shattered walls. As the support beams below snap, half of the long-house groans and tilts over the side of the cliff. The shaman of the Frozen Teeth have struck again.

13. The body of the green knight, defender of the town, crumples to the sand. "By order of the All-Seeing Exarch and by the sacred rites of combat" cries the victorious bronze knight "all in this town are the property of the Enlightened Empire." The soldiers move in to strip people of their weapons and put them in chains.



  • 777
Re: In Medias Res... 101 Action Filled Starts for your first session!
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2013, 10:16:31 PM »
13: Have everyone put a label on this map, a location, a feeling, a tag, a descriptive word or two, a contact, a bond... Whatever. They have to then in a few sentences briefly describe how their character is tied to this label to the group. Ask questions to anchor them deep.

Then pit at least one element against another, preferably more than two. Make a stake question on the fly. Set the scene at that location and front load the conflict (either physical or verbal or emotional or magical). Threaten one or more of the player's interests and ask 'What do you do?'

14: Thanks to Mike Shea, have each player choose (or roll randomly) one of these artefacts are connected to or that they know all about:
Forbidden Artifacts

  • Ancient book from before the time of mortals
    Sealed copper cylinder containing the last breath of a dead god
    Crown of the lich queen
    A jeweled demon skull that always speaks the dark truth
    The dagger that pierced the heart of a child heir to a fallen empire
    A ancient tablet describing the death of a current king
    A steel coffin containing the dust of an entombed vampire
    An urn containing the ashes of an adulterous queen and her dark priest lover
    An immortal child
    Scrolls of a dark spell that cannot be destroyed
    An ancient well leading to a dark world
    A twisted horn that awakens the eater of the world
    A sphere holding the souls of the dead
    A jeweled box of secrets, lies, and jealousy
    A priceless gem that brought murder to every previous owner
    An ethereal prison in the form of an adamantine monolith
    An ancient primordial burial ground
    An intricate mechanical box containing an unknown seed
    A treasure chest containing a still-beating heart
    The skull of a man magically preserved and a million years older than mortals
Then have them all hauled up in front of the King who has had his only daughter stolen from him by a big bad - He demands the players share their reputed expertise / knowledge of these artefacts or face internment in the mines of doom for their impudence.

Sounds like they are spouting lore / discerning reality / parley to me.

Re: In Medias Res... 101 Action Filled Starts for your first session!
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2014, 08:46:48 AM »
Apologies for the thread necromancy, but I really liked this thread and was sorry to find it hadn't continued.

16.   With one final mighty blow, the Arch Necromancer crumples to the ground. The party’s victory celebrations must be short-lived, however, as the cavern begins to buckle and heave. Is it an earthquake? No, the Necromancer’s infernal patrons have come to claim his prizes by drawing his lair into the Abyss!
17.   With one final mighty blow, the Evil High Priest crumples to the ground. With a cracking noise, dust falls from the giant stone idol as it begins to move of its own accord, six serrated stone blades held in six muscular arms. The remaining cultists shriek and go mad as the idol moves forward to wreak the god’s vengeance for being foiled.
18.   With one final mighty blow, the Grand Duke crumples to the ground. The guards and courtiers look aghast as the evil man falls, then turn as different lords begin shouting orders at the guards, fighting to take over in the power vacuum. One lord throws a sack of coins at the players as another orders his black-cloaked guards to murder them and their “new patron”…
19.   With one final mighty blow, the Master of Assasssins crumples to the ground. As he falls, he lands on/pulls a lever and the party hears the clanks and whirs as a dungeon full of fiendish traps activate. Roars echoing down the passages hint at horrors previously penned up in hidden cages that have now been released to roam the hallways leading to the exit…