Actual Play – Land of 10,000 Maniacs (12/10/2015)

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

Ed has created a custom Dungeon World setting called the Land of 10,000 Gods. It’s a fantasy campaign mashup of the epic style of J.R.R. Tolkien and sweeping Indian epics such as the Mahabhar ata and the Ramayana, filled with gods and monsters, and two moons. Ed has written a whole lot about it here: Overview, Map, Religion, and Playbooks. Sophie also made a pinterest board for the setting.

Character Creation

We did some of this over email ahead of time, but all the details were completed when we were together online. Out cast:

Rahi (Sophie) the Relic Bearer, is a young woman who constantly doubts her own worthiness. One she failed to defeat a monster and an entire village was destroyed. She now forever tries to make up for that failure. She wields a sword called “Victory-” and destroys any monster in her path. (Rahi’s Backstory, Rahi’s Character Sheet)

Kanta (Sean) the Mage is a Vidyadhara, one who has been exposed to incredible knowledge and seeks ever more. She hired Ram some time ago to act as her bodyguard and manservant, and sought out Rahi, who she knew must wield the sword, that we only know part of it’s name. Kanta’s magic focuses on the True Name of all things. Once she knows a things name, she has mastery over it. (Kanta’s Character Sheet)

Ram Jul’Rash (Adrienne) the Holy Killer, appears to be a fun loving guyaka ready for a drink and a song. While this is true Ram also serves death and delivers to his dark mistress as she requires. He has fought side by side with Rahi, and shared many drinks with Merit. (Ram’s Character Sheet)

Merit (Karen) the trickster, is a diminutive Yaksa who travels from town to town, graciously accepting the gifts everyone seems so eager to pile upon heroes.



Not all the bond text on our playbooks was complete (they had been hacked quite a bit) so here are our official and unofficial bonds:


  • Ram has fought side by side with me, he is a true friend.
  • When I was young I fled from a monster and it destroyed Merit’s village.
  • Kanta is a Vidyadhara, a real Vidyadhara!


  • Ram’s only bonds are with Death, his mistress.


  • Rahi fears me because they do not understand me.
  • I have shown Rahi the power of my wisdom, learning, and mastery of the arcane arts.\
  • I believe that I must teach Ram


  • Ram has my back with things go wrong, as they often do.
  • I know a secret about Kanta but they don’t know I know it. (Kanta let an ailing family die, so that she could heal Rahi from a mortal wound)

Pragati NayarIntro to the session – Fish for Dinner

You are all going to start out in the town of “Fish-for-Dinner”*, the biggest seaport in the area. The main fishing fleet of Wet Plains operates out of Fish-for-Dinner, and it has a bustling fish market and does good trade in dried or preserved seafood products, as well as carrying on trade up the river.

The Sirdar of Fish-For-Dinner, Pragati Nayar, has put out a call for heroes to solve a difficult problem. Pay is supposed to be good***. Rumor has it that it has something to do with difficulties that the fishing fleet is supposed to be having at the moment, but details are sketchy. It is known that several fishing vessels have disappeared of late. Since a call for heroes has gone out rumors have been flying about and the general agreement amid it all is that it must be something serious if it needs heroes. Since all the characters have hero marks and people can tell that they are heroes, you have all started getting looks on the streets – nobody is going to be impolite enough (or crazy enough) to treat you with anything less than complete respect and deference, but people are clearly wondering what is going on and what you are going to do about it.

*I am using the convention that place names are converted to their actual meaning. Because the people of the land love clever word usage, place names tend towards the alliterative, the pretentious, or the droll.

**Sirdar: (lit. “Holder of Authority”) a generic title for whoever is in charge of an area but not actually royalty. The head of a major city is a Sirdar. The head of a tiny village is a Sirdar. It is often used less formally for anyone in charge of anything – the owner of a farm with two hired hands may be referred to jokingly as a Sirdar.

***Fish-for-Dinner is one of the wealthiest urban areas in Wet Plains, so pay tends to be pretty good.

Enter the Big Damn Heroes

In the bustling streets of Fish-for-Dinner, we wasted little time finding the Sirdar. Rahi and Ram knew there was a need for us. Kanta believed this was part of the journey to find new knowledge and Merit thought it likely we’d get paid well.

On the street as we traveled towards the capital, Kanta asked the people what they thought of their leader and of their current plight. [First roll of the game and I rolled snake eyes to Discern Reality. Good times]. The tired laborer assailed the Sirdar with every character flaw imaginable. She had personally taken from him and his boon companions. She wasn’t a leader, but a thief, taxing them all and keeping the riches for herself.

When we met the Sirdar, she did not quite meet up to her citizens appraisal and instead seemed to be personally austere and had great personal concern for her people. The problem she needed heroes to solve: A tamigula, which is a colossally large shark, the kind of shark that eats great whales for snacks had died and it’s massive corpse washed up on the coast of Fish for Dinner, creating a small island of rotting flesh. Flesh which attracted carnivorous fish and worse. One fisherman, Barun Tek, said he spotted trees that had grown up out of it, after it had only been there for a few days at most. Two fishing boats have gone out and haven’t returned. Nayar was concerned their may be monsters living on the island and attacking ships as they came near.

Kanta asked if we could be outfitted with a stout ship and and brave captain to take us out to the monster corpse turn island of pestilence. She offered that one would be provided in the morning. Merit inquired if there would be payment, and if we would be given supplies for our journey, our gold to purchase the supplies, or both. Preferably both.

Becoming antiquated with the waters

(Also know as, you can’t trust heroes in four feet of water). Ram said that he had never been on the water before and was eager to experience it. Kanta told him that he must learn the names of the waves before he trusted his life on them. Merit said the water was old hat and that she’d be happy to teach him and Rahi how to swim.

Ram, eager to get to the swimming, and less so to the learning, asked Kanta if he could swim first before leaning the waves names. Kanta consented to his request but had a lesson in mind for him already.

We found a warm river delta where the current was mild and the water was not deep. Merit began her instruction promptly. She said that most people learned to swim with hardly anything on, bu realistically, usually when you’re knocked in the water, it’s with your boots on and a sack full of gold in one hand, so best to learn carrying all that your normally wear!

As they splashed about, Kanta stepped ankle deep into the delta water, bent down, and placed her palms on the surface of the water. “Little cove, what is your name?” Though the cove would not reveal itself to her, a single wave, Temichi greeted Kanta and slashed about her ankles. “Little Temechi, I want you to go drown than man” She gestured to Ram “Pull him under the water, keep him there for a time, then whisper your name into his ear, and let him go.”

Little Temichi was not a great wave or a strong one, and it could not hold Ram long, but it held him there long enough that it got the attention of the all the people who had gathered to watch us. And everyone, Rahi and Merit, and all many of the locals, all dove in the water to rescue him. By the time he was saved Merit and a fisherman had almost drowned and Rahi lost her relic blade Victory getting them out of the once gentle, now treacherous waters.

Rahi was ashamed of her loss and wondered, not for the first time, if she was worthy of carrying such a weapon. One of the Sirdar’s guardsmen kneeled before her and offered up his blade, begging her to take it. She accepted reluctantly, and somberly we retreated back to to the Sirdar’s quarters.

To the side a small boy watched wide eyed as Kanta stood in what was part of the river bed but was now dry, the water had left the area to drown Ram. As the spell ended it came rushing back around her feet. When she asked the river told Kanta, that only shedding all that she had could Rahi earn back the blade.

An early morning

Before the slept, Kanta spoke with Merit and Ram, revealing that the tragedy of the day was caused by her, in an attempt to teach Ram the value of knowledge, only to reveal that for her knowledge, she lacked wisdom. In the same breath she asked Merit to steal everything Rahi possessed, so that the warrior could earn back her blade. Merit didn’t put much faith in rivers, they are tricky ones. She wasn’t going to cause any more trouble for Rahi. Ram, meanwhile, was someone excited by the fact that Kanta nearly killed him, but deeply disturbed that she was not forthright with him. Kanta blushed a deep shade of indigo and asked that Ram not killer her while she slept.

The all woke (even Kanta) and met with the Sirdar, and her guest, the fisherman Barun Tek. He was greedily eating as much as he could as fast as he could, and stuffing what he couldn’t fit into his mouth, into whatever pockets he had. Merit, not one to go without sustenance started eating in earnest and stashing away what she could as well!

Tek said he had seen the creature but didn’t dare get close to it. Now, however, with a great reward in store for him, he had mustered his bravery and would take us there. Before even setting foot on his fishing boat we already started making plans for how to send this titanic creature back to its original deep sea grave.

End of Session

  • Kanta – Changed her bond with Ram from I believe that I must teach Ram to I must prove that I am earnest to Ram.
  • Merit – Satisfied her alignment requirement to con people out of their valuables.
  • Rahi – Satisfied her alignment requirement to defend the weak and unfortunate.
  • All – We learned about the world, specifically that the Night of Blight brings creatures beyond the pale, and that one had died and was creating problems even in death!

What Rocked

Oh, I  am terrible. Kanta in her arrogance caused so much trouble. Fishermen nearly died. Rahi lost her sword, and Ram no longer respects her. So good. Mechanically, much of this stirred from a series of 7-9 weak hits and outright misses. The system operating as it should!

Karen was amazing. Merit was so mercenary the entire time. I didn’t capture ever detail above but I loved that at ever chance he reminded people that big damn heroes needed a lot of creature comforts (food, gold, drink, comfortable beds, etc.) to perform all their thrilling heroics!

As first sessions go, this one gelled very well. Our character had some really deep rooted motivations to care about one another. Rahi is tormented by guilt over what happened to Merit’s village. Merit is holding onto a secret of Kanta’s that she hasn’t let out yet. Kanta is obsessed with “teaching” Ram. Ram is just obsessed with death. It’s some really good stuff.

What could have improved

For being the land of 10,000 gods none of us really made mention of gods during the session. I’m sure we can rectify that in future games.

It didn’t happen this time because I used magic to do a small thing (pull that man under water) but I’m concerned that as written magic could be really broken (like “change major plot elements of the setting by casting a spell” broken). I think we’ll see next session if it needs more costs and/or limitations built into it when I try to cast a spell that blows an island size corpse back into the sea!

6 thoughts on “Actual Play – Land of 10,000 Maniacs (12/10/2015)”

  1. First, thanks for the great Actual Play write-up! It will come in very handy for reference! And ego boosting! ^_^

    I agree with both of the “things that could have gone better.” The main reason that I think the gods didn’t appear more was that I had not yet written up the Special god moves yet. That will be remedied by this Thursday.

    As for the magic system, I think the main limitations on it are Wheaton’s law. If it’s going to break things and spoil everyone’s fun, you probably shouldn’t do it. The big reason that I went for the mage archetype instead of the wizard was that I wanted to give magic using players more opportunity to explore the setting and the flexibility to have their magic fit into the setting in the way that Vancian spell lists just don’t. But of course it’s always a trade off – the more flexibility you give the characters the more they have to police themselves rather than being bound by strict rules to do it for them.

    1. Re Gods: We also only played for a couple of hours, man. But the new special god moves do look really cool! (Will Ram form a connection with a god other than Death? Could be awesome…)

      Re Magic: Wizards also have the Ritual move which can, similarly, allow for absolutely any effect. Looks like the main difference for it is that 1) the costs are GM-controlled and 2) they can be harder to cope with than the ones listed for the Mage. (Weeks-months to prepare, needs a *lot* of money, etc.)

  2. Favourite Bits:
    – The floating carcass island!
    – Love Sophie for being willing to sacrifice the Relic sword. It’s like *the* fancy thing about that character and she was willing to let Rahi drop it to save a friend. Made sense for her heroic, selfless, Good character – but a tough decision as a player! (Or would be for me.) Definitely the right move though. It totally bound the characters together more – particularly Merit and Kanta with their guilt over the situation.
    – How awesome is it that we have such troublemakers! Merit for teaching us to swim in challenging conditions. Sean for fiddling with the waves and considering thieving from Rahi. Like Sophie said – we got so much meat out of such small actions.
    – Merit leading Kanta away to ask about the names of grass!!!

    Other thoughts:
    – I like our world! Fish-for-Dinner seems like a cool starting point and I really like the idea of very-literal names for things.

    – Google Hangouts. Oh man. Pretty rough. I didn’t realize how much I cue off of body signals and need them to make conversations work. Have done 2+2 online gaming before and it’s been okay, but this was 1+1+1+2 -some video +some lag, particularly for me, and it was a lot tougher. I hate feeling like I’m talking over somebody, but I guess people accept it as par for the course. Hopefully I’ll get used to it!

    – On the plus side for electronic gaming – I really appreciated Edmund dropping in pictures! (The tamigula is so monstrous!)

    – Also appreciated Sean reaching to roll for discern realities / spout lore a lot. Appropriate for character, but also really nice additions of flavor/color to environment.

    – Ram, my little darling, needs some work. His lack of bonds means he a little slower to accrue XP – which I knew going in and think is a nifty quirk – but it also means he’s not very reactive. (Read, I need to figure out ways to help him *be* reactive.) Like Sophie’s Rahi, Ram also needs a flaw – but I’m taking ‘coward’ and ‘asshole’ off the table, so will need to think of something else. Aaand there are still some holes in his backstory. Soon.

    – Intra-party conflict. I’ve played in two and run one DW campaign in the past and I’d say this has the potential to generate some real highs and some real lows. I guess we’ll see how it goes!

    – Can’t wait to see what’s up with that island!

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