Actual Play – Death’s Seven Armed Embrace (12/17/2015)

dungeon_world_finalGM: Edmund Metheny
Players: Sophie Lagacé, Adrienne Mueller, Karen Twelves, and Sean Nittner
System: Dungeon World
Setting: Land of 10,000 Gods

In the Land of 10,000 Gods…

…Our heroes boarded the fisherman Barun Tek’s boat, along with his son Maru Tek, and guardsman Sagma.

…The Fisherman Barun Tek told us two rules of being on his boat: Stay in the middle of the boat, don’t jump around.

…The Mage Kanta cajoled the fisherman into allowing her to name his boat, so that she could cast spells upon it. The cost of doing so was an incantation on this nets to draw fish to them. The incantation went horribly wrong, but none of them knew at first.

… The ship was named Home of the Greedy Man.

…At night the Mage Kanta had a dream, where she saw the creature she brought forth from the void, negative image of her. Black where she was white, white where she was black. In riddles the creature told her that all living creatures seek to disembark the wheel of time and achieve enlightenment but when one soul leaves, the scales have to be balanced.  All that holds them back must be gathered into one creature, one person. That person could be Kanta…

…Ferocious monsters attacked our ship. First one jumped on the deck, grabbed the boy Maru and pulled him back under water. Ram, on watch bellowed for them to come to fight him… and come they did. The creatures were Makara, or Tiger Fish. Tigers in the front and fish in the back, covered in oily scales all over.

…Our heroes fought bravely and only barely fended them off. Two of them, Kanta and and Ram feel to their vicious blows, but death resolved to give each of them another chance. Kanta, with no strings attached. Ram, with the condition that he grant each of his companions a good death before he seems deaths embrace again. The he hugged death, and with her seven arms, the dark mistress hugged him back.

…Merit deftly threw dagger after dagger into the thick rubbery hides of the Makara. She also threw ropes overboard, saving both Kanta and Rahi from drowning.

…Rahi fought bravely with her peasant sword. She was in and out of the water, fending the beasts offer her friends, exposing herself to danger at every turn!

…Ram stood over Kanta, protecting her with his divine ward and pulling her out of the water, even to his own detriment. When there was only one beast left, and he had a rope wrapped around it’s throat, he pulled with all it’s might until it was choked out, but in it’s death spasms, the beast also landed blow after blow that delivered the killer to death’s door.

…The fisherman lamented the loss of his son, and said there would be no one to carry on his line and feed his family. He asked, how could we possibly face the giant Temecula when we barely survived the fight with these four Makara? Kanta responded that they could and they would because that is what heroes do.

What Rocked

When Merit was pounding on Ram’s chest cursing him for dying. “You asshole! You giant dead asshole!” (BEST LINE OF THE NIGHT)

Ram’s description of death. Seven armed, playing a sitar with no strings.

The pathetic and dilapidated stated we all ended the fight in. Everyone wet, everyone bloody… except Merit who was physically just fine but emotionally a wreck after almost loosing Ram.

Ram going for the kill, despite the danger to himself. He had to deliver something to his dark mistress.

Coming back from death’s gates. Both of us! Ram using his relationship with Death to help Katna come back.

Kanta’s spells NEVER work. It’s great. So far she’s three for three in creating a disaster when she uses magic. I think this is really setting the precedent for tipping the scales of creation. I’d like to see that come out next session. Something like Barun tek smells his nets and notices they smell like chum from Kanta’s spell and must either be tossed off the boat lest we get attacked again, or continue to draw monsters to us. A good reason for Barun to get a real hate on for Kanta.


What could have improved

I feel awkward in one-on-one sequences that go on too long. Kanta had a dream sequence that was important for the character, but in that way that riddles go, went on longer than I felt comfortable with. I think it was important for her development and to show the impact of her actions, but yeah, I wanted to see more or Merit’s quips, Rahi’s self-doubt, and Ram’s zeal!

I think the Makura’s move was three moves in one. It was inflict harm (2d6+2), separate them (pull some of us in the water), and put them in a spot (in water the Makura’s attacks did more damage (2d6+4). That plus their 2 points of armor, maybe them more than a match for any of us. In the end most of them fled, but in a stand up fight, I’m pretty sure they could have taken us all. I think their threat could have been somewhat ameliorated by breaking their moves up. So the first time you miss, get a 7-9 on hack and slash, or otherwise expose yourself to danger, they grab you. The next time they pull you under water, the third they inflict harm. Or it could be a two step process grab and pull underwater, then inflict harm.

My character is kind of an asshole, and I’m working on making her less so without giving up the sense that she cares more about knowledge and it getting into the right hands than anything else. I want her to be respectful of people even if she isn’t friendly per se. So far she hasn’t been either.


  1. Adrienne

    Yay, things that rocked! I also love how Kanta’s spells keep failing.

    Re Kanta as asshole. Whatever changes you want to make, man – but she *is* great for generating tension between the characters and having at least a little of that is such a fun thing.

    Favourite Bits:
    – Rahi riding the tiger and trying to kill it!
    – Getting to engage the new bond with Kanta was really cool.
    – Merit was so, so wonderful, in her tiny sad-rage!

    Other thoughts:
    – ‘What are you waiting for?’ The text on this is I think a little misleading. It seems like if you succeed, the enemy attacks you. I think, it’s more a matter of: If you succeed, the enemy *will* attack you when it gets the opportunity. I never rolled a full success with this move, but it seems weird that the outcome of a 10+ would result in you taking damage. I believe normally hard moves like that only get triggered on a miss.

    – Thank you Edmund for allowing the Bond with Death, the roll +Death, and the sharing of the +1 with Kanta!

    (- Google hangouts not as trying as last time. Better connection helped a *lot*.)

  2. Re: The Makara’s move: as Marge Lundegard once said “I’m not sure I agree with your police work there.” First, I don’t think that the party ever got separated, except for my one erroneous call on Ram strangling one. There were several occasions where characters aided one another in getting back into the boat, which would not have been possible had they been separated. The only mechanical effect was that while in the water people took more damage.

    When making up the monster, I considered just adding a “Forceful” tag to its attack which, given the size of the boat, would have pretty much automatically knocked people into the water. My thinking was instead that players love to actually roll rather than have such things imposed on them, so I changed that to a “Defy Danger” roll to keep from falling in. I should come up with a name for such a tag like “off balance” which is similar to Forceful except that you get a “Defy Danger” roll to avoid the effect.

    • Sean Nittner

      It depends on what you’re going for. Adding Forceful or Off Balance tags, and maybe another tag like Underwater to bump the damage up to 2d6+4 underwater certainly makes for a legit monster.

      The four of them were pretty overwhelming for us though, and if you wanted to give them the same abilities but parcel them out, you could break up their moves to be something like:

      * Pull them underwater
      * Rake with terrible claws (2d6+2)

      Because we sit on different sides of the proverbial GM screen I realize this is some backseat GMing and I apologize for that. I think discussion of things like monster tags and moves is meritorious but doing so while we’re in an active game together is challenging. My potential bias of “it wasn’t right because it was too hard” is definitely there. Also there is a disparity that when I critique the game I put you in the hot seat, which I don’t want to do.

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