Dungeon World... new DM

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Dungeon World... new DM
« on: December 18, 2015, 07:19:46 AM »
Hi all

This is my first post... and it's about a common problem it seems. I am used to conventional systems, and DW is really hard for me to get my head around. I am super-excited to try it out but it seems to require a completely new mindset.

If we use the front from the beginners guide as an example (found here http://apocalypse-world.com/forums/index.php?topic=4996.0). I will ask my questions in bullet form... I will greatly appreciate it if someone could provide some input.

1) How would you start this adventure? And would the players know about the dangers from the get-go or would they find out by interacting with NPC:s?

2) There are certain "questions for the players" listed. But isn't the whole game based in large part on asking questions from the players? If so, why are these specific ones listed?

3) If players approach a point of interest, would you ask them "ok, what is the place like?" or would you make it up as you go?

4) The dangers/grim portents... how would you get the PC:s in touch with the dangers/grim portents (in order to stop them from realizing)?

5) How should the "stakes" be used? Who should answer these questions, and when?

I guess I am so used to conventional RPG thinking that I really stumble... yet me and my group are really interested in giving DW a go.

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noclue

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Re: Dungeon World... new DM
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2015, 11:46:36 AM »
I wouldn't ask the players much of anything about points of interest. I might ask the characters. So, if the character would have a reason to know what something looked like you could ask them, but if not its your job to tell them about the world.

Again, there's no reason to tell the players anything about your fronts other than rough the lense of the character. That's what the questions to the players are trying to tease out, who knows things, who's not from around here, who might have secret sea elf knowledge, etc.

You don't have the job of getting the players in touch with grim portents, you're playing to find out what happens and following your other principals.

I think stakes questions are things that the GM should keep in mind during play. They may find there way into actual questions of the characters, or not.
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 World... new DM
« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2015, 03:01:18 PM »
Thanks for your reply

I have further questions. If my stupidity is getting on your nerves feel free to ignore my questions

I wouldn't ask the players much of anything about points of interest. I might ask the characters. So, if the character would have a reason to know what something looked like you could ask them, but if not its your job to tell them about the world.

The rules tell us not to make maps or any detailed plans. But why not, if it is the DM's role anyway to tell the players about the world. When they enter a dungeon, isn't it easier to have it all mapped out? Especially if one's improv skills aren't that good?

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Again, there's no reason to tell the players anything about your fronts other than rough the lense of the character. That's what the questions to the players are trying to tease out, who knows things, who's not from around here, who might have secret sea elf knowledge, etc.

So, in theory, one could end up with a situation where no one has any idea about what to do?

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You don't have the job of getting the players in touch with grim portents, you're playing to find out what happens and following your other principals.

In practice, what does playing to find out what happens mean? I find this statement intriguing, but I cannot imagine what it means.

I tried searching the web and found examples of play, but mostly fights and actions scenes. I think the engine handles these things in a most excellent way but I am still totally lost as to how the other principles apply. There seems to be something here that I cannot wrap my head around, and I fear I will never do it unfortunately.

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Munin

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Re: Dungeon World... new DM
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2015, 12:23:09 PM »
"Play to find out" means not going into the game with a pre-set story-agenda or script or "plot." It means you've set up a situation (as indicated by your front and hinted at by your grim portents) and dropped the players into that situation to see what they do. Don't plan on a final, climactic battle with the Dragon, because if you play to find out, your players might end up working for the Dragon, which would be awesome!

Re: Dungeon World... new DM
« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2015, 01:07:20 PM »
Thanks!

But you'd have to have an adventure hook of some kind, right? I mean the characters need to be informed about what is going on in the world (dangers, grim portents) otherwise they have no possibility of acting to change things.

So some minimal pre-planning would be in order, right?

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Munin

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Re: Dungeon World... new DM
« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2015, 02:36:59 PM »
Yes, but the thing you're "pre-planning" is the situation, not the story. So in the example, the dragon (its end goal and whatever steps it plans to take to achieve those goals) is the planned part. In terms of a "hook," that's all about presenting your Grim Portents to the players in such a way as to motivate them to do something about it all.

And that is very explicitly why the term "Threats" is used in Apocalypse World (and many of its successors including Dungeon World) - the situation represented by the front breaks down into one or more discrete people/groups/monsters/forces/concepts that threaten what little stability is represented by the current status quo. The Dragon is a threat because feeding its young is presumably bad for the local populace. The Magmin are a threat because they have their own agenda and want to seize control, presumably to enslave the local populace to work in the mine. The Dragon Cult is a threat because it will ultimately end up sacrificing people to the dragon. And so on.

So while the Dragon Cult might be a Threat (within the overall Front), its Grim Portents serve as the hooks to involve the players. And the whole idea of the Grim Portents is that they illustrate the escalation of the situation - first it's just rumors of a cult, or crazy rabble-rousers spouting pro-dragon madness in the market square. Then it's rampant fear in the town, followed shortly by martial law as the authorities try to root out the ring leaders. Then it's the Dragon Cult attempting to seize power. Then, once in power, it's the Dragon Cult deciding (by whatever means) who gets sacrificed to the Dragon.

At any step along the way, the players can become involved, and it is the job of the GM to give them reasons why getting involved is worth doing (i.e. one of the PCs family members has gotten implicated - perhaps mistakenly, perhaps not - in cult activities, swept up in the raids associated with the imposition of martial law, and is likely to be executed in the morning; or the cult is now in control and has decided that one of the PCs would make the perfect sacrifice to the Dragon; or whatever).

But the point of "playing to find out" is that you have no idea which way the players will jump or what they'll do. For instance, maybe if the imposition of martial law is perceived as particularly brutal, the players will actually side with the Dragon Cult. That story is just as interesting and compelling as if the players oppose the Dragon Cult from the very beginning, especially if the PCs back the cult at first because they feel the authorities are over-reacting, then realize later the danger that the cult represents.

And if the players choose not to become involved, then the Doom or Dark Fate or whatever end-condition represented by the Threat comes to pass. If the players do nothing, the Dragon Cult is in control of the human population of the island and is regularly sacrificing people to the dragon. Those that aren't already enslaved by the Magmin, that is.

Does this make sense?

Re: Dungeon World... new DM
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2015, 02:40:58 PM »
Yes it does! Thank you very much Munin for taking the time to write this (y)

Perfect :) thanks

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Munin

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Re: Dungeon World... new DM
« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2015, 05:47:10 PM »
No worries, happy to help! And let us know how your first session goes!

Re: Dungeon World... new DM
« Reply #8 on: December 22, 2015, 01:46:51 AM »
I will! (It is scheduled for Jan. 8)

Re: Dungeon World... new DM
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2016, 02:18:27 AM »
I promised to be back with a report from the 1st session... which never happened because of illness.

Nothing else to report for the moment.

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Munin

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Re: Dungeon World... new DM
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2016, 11:25:04 AM »
Heh, I hate it when that happens! Hope everyone feels better!

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noclue

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Re: Dungeon World... new DM
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2016, 09:09:16 PM »
Illness sucks.
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 World... new DM
« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2016, 03:01:19 AM »
ok so we had our first session last friday. we had a blast!

I made some errors, made some hard moves as a consequence of partial successes and so on. It is hard to let go of conventional RPG-thinking...

At one point I let the party set a trap that shouldn't have been possible. They were in a cave, and they proposed to make some rope-contraption that they attached to the wall. I guess I did not ask enough questions; had I asked "how are you doing this exactly, with what?" it would have been evident that what they intended to do wasn't really possible.

It also struck me that using some models during combat would aid in getting everyone to have a common understanding of what is going on.

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Munin

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Re: Dungeon World... new DM
« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2016, 09:26:39 AM »
I'm glad your group enjoyed it! And yes, sketching out maps or using minis or whatever can be very helpful to get everyone on the same page when it comes to the fictional landscape.

Re: Dungeon World... new DM
« Reply #14 on: February 10, 2016, 10:00:29 AM »
Kristoffer, I see no one answered your question about maps. The rule there is make maps but leave blanks. That means, you know, map out your dungeon the way you normally would, but don't necessarily detail every room. That means a few of your rooms have just a one-word prompt, 'undead' or 'razor room' or 'chasm', or are just blank. Don't commit yourself to what's in those rooms. Let your table's play inspire you as the party gets to those rooms.

Re: adventure hooks -- Dungeon World has a few tools to let you pre-plan situation but not actual story/plot. One of them is the fronts, and Munin's advice there is excellent. Another tool, more to the point of your question about adventure hooks, is the idea of starting the party in media res. Meaning, you know, start them right in the action. So, no scenes of them in the tavern getting a mission or whatever. Start them just inside the dungeon, fighting off a horde of goblins who were guarding the mouth of the cave. Start them in the treasure room with the trap already activated and the sand filling up the room or whatever.

Re: ask questions -- yeah, ask questions from the players to a) do collaborative world-building, so it's not all on you and b) to solicit things that are of interest to them. Ask questions like crazy! You're looking for interesting bits from the players to take as cues for the kinds of things they want to see in the game.