Actual Play – Dungeon World Potluck (11/5/2011)

GM: Shaun Hayworth
Players: Sean Nittner, Dan Roberts and Kristin Smith
System: Dungeon World

This was a very chill night. It started with three very smooth White Russians, then food, then some tasty, tasty beer. So by the time we were gaming, I was mostly socializing. But still, it’s gaming, and I don’t fuck around with my gaming.

Shuan started explaining the basics of Dungeon World ala the rules of Apoc World and I tuned out a bit, listening a little to see if there was any significant change but my guess was that I had heard enough about it to start playing.

I nabbed the fighter, picked a dwarf (with the hopes of getting people intoxicated and using my +Con (instead of +Cha) to parlay) and a BIG UNBLEMISHED HAMMER. I made a point that my unblemished hammer was a shame to all dwarves. It was a new hammer because I had lost my ancestral weapon when I was captured by goblins years ago.

Shaun did a nice job of reincorporation, the same goblins that were the caves we were entering were the ones that had taken my dwarf captive years ago, so he had a real axe to grind with them. Fun motivations.
We didn’t actually get too far into the game. We started late, had interruptions and had to end on the early side, but I got a taste of Dungeon World and that was enough for me to know I want more!

Thoughts on the game

I was told before that DW lacked the desperation of AW, and because of that didn’t evoke the drama that AW did. That statement alone really turned me off to DW, I love the desperation that AW creates, it keeps games tight. Everyone knows that their actions have consequences and that they are playing where nothing can be taking for granted. Can you kill a guy? Absolutely. Will there be repercussions? Only if you’re doing it right. My concern with any hack-n-slash game was that actions have few real consequences, that you’re playing on an open field where the sound of your actions will just disappear into the vast cosmos rather than bounce off the walls of scarcity and desperation. I’m not being very clear or articulate, but suffice to say, I wasn’t thinking I would like DW.

I was wrong. Sure, Dungeon World doesn’t have the desperation of Apocalypse World, but what it does have is an ingenious adventure generation system. I mean, it’s take right form AW, so it’s no surprise, but still, it works remarkably well. You roll anything shy of a 10+ and your actions will have consequences. Consequences that will generate further conflicts, conflicts which will require you taking actions (or moves, you know, whatever), which will generate consequences… The PCs never need to leave the tavern, the adventure will come to them. Then stack that up with a series of known challenges (get the treasure, kill the dude, etc) and you’ve got all the pacing and pressure you need.

I really dug that weapons didn’t matter in DW. You just have a base damage you do. The reason I love this? I’m always describing my characters forsaking their weapons to grab a fools head and smash it into a rock, or a gut strike with the butt of a weapon followed by a knee to the head as they keel over. I really, really, never want to be tied down to a specific weapon and I LOVE that DW frees you of that (even when you’re the fighter with a signature weapon)

The moves have trouble built right in. Bend Bars/Lift Gates is the total Conan move it always should have been in D&D. I’m going to roll to break something with my physical might, but bad things will probably come of that (lots of noise, permanent damage, taking a long time, etc).

Risk averse play came up a couple times, I think mostly form the misconception that it does a damn bit of good in the game. It didn’t save us from danger, it did bring on more craziness. I think with more play that would have been conditioned right out of the players. The AW mechanics are awesome like that.

I have been searching long and hard… for years and years to find a game system to continue an D&D game that I played in back in high school. The story isn’t over and I’ve been telling my GM for the last almost two decades that he was going to finish it with me one way or another. I thought about every version of D&D, Burning Wheel, PTA, Smallville, and others. I think I’ve finally found my match with Dungeon World. And boy does that make me happy.

I wanna know what’s in that cave. Gimme more Shauh Sub 1.