Actual Play – Voyage to Sorvereignstead (7/22/2014)

dungeon_world_finalGM: Justin Evans
Players: Greg Bailey, Josh Curtis, and Sean Nittner
System: Dungeon World
Dungeon/Adventure: The Black Spot

Introduction the the night’s adventure

A fine red mist paints the sand as Merryweather’s body crumples to the ground…his gout of blood is your call to action.

Longboats from the Savage Fall have found you and now blockade the smuggler’s cove. How did they find you so quickly? Why are they so damned persistent?

This island hasn’t been the haven you were hoping for, and your ploy didn’t give you as much time to regroup as you had hoped…but perhaps it has found you new allies. Once charged with delivering you to Fort Shackleton in chains, Captain Grace Harrington lays unconscious at your feet. Her first mate looks to you with pleading eyes. They could prove valuable but are they worth the trouble?

Assuming you can run the blockade and raise your sail on the open seas, where will you go? You’ll need a bigger ship and the crew to man her if you’re to find the Blind Hermit and follow the Mad Minstrel’s verse to fortune and glory!

To the ships

Without another hope for escaping the island, our heroes and their un-trusting ex-captor made their way down to the beach, fought off the the few crew of the Savage Fall that remained their, stole a ship and made haste for Sorvereignstead.

Getting there was a perilous journey but we made it in good time and (reasonably) well fed!


Sorvereignstead reminds you of the flotsam that collects on the shore after a storm. A mix of rabble, randomly jumbled around but pushed into a kind of pattern by the sea. You eye it warily, each with your own agendas. There’s lots to get done in town but your lead on the Savage Fall was not great and her sails are far more grand. You don’t see her at anchor but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t been here already…or that she won’t crest the horizon at any moment. If you’re lucky, she may have spent some time scouring the islands during her hunt, buying you some time.

You need to:

  • Infiltrate town
  • Try not getting killed
  • Find a healer for William Golden and Captain Harrington
  • Not get killed some more
  • See what prospects there are for a ship and supplies
  • Without getting killed
  • Track down the Blind Hermit
    …and not get killed

Thoughts on this game

Our game was cut short, but I await the further adventures of Left Hand Lew, Minotaur, and William Golden!

Actual Play – A curse on this island (6/12/14)

dungeon_world_finalGM: Justin Evans
Players: Greg Bailey, Josh Curtis, and Sean Nittner
System: Dungeon World
Dungeon/Adventure: The Black Spot

Before the Game

Justin sent this out…

The waves roughly shove your long boat onto the small sandy beach in the hidden smuggler’s cove. Kalgan Quay isn’t much of an island. A fine place to lie in wait for a fat merchant ship or a handy spot to hide from the Colonial flag. Dawn is just starting to break, casting everything in sharp silhouettes. As you catch our breath, questions rattle around in your heads:

  • Why did Captain John Crofford and the crew of the Savage Fall attack the Landguard?
  • Why is the Reefmonger working with his crew?
  • Why did he point you out as the ship went down?
  • What the hell should you do next?

You hope you’ll live long enough to answer a couple of them.

A day and night on this cursed island

I so love that Minotaur is in charge of the “corrupted nature” element in the game (if that doesn’t make any sense, see our last adventure The Black Spot for the skinny). One of the first things that happened when we pulled our longship ashore was that Left Hand Lew found a dog that was passed out on the beach. Clearly the ship dog from the Landguard. But something was wrong with it.

Justin turned to me and asked what happened to the dog. Oh the horrors. The barbs in his skin (that was courtesy of Justin), his lips peeled back to reveal rotted gums and blackened teeth. Despite his appearance Lew tried to help the poor mutt. He brought him further on shore and tried to feed him. Only for the beast to snap at him, it’s bloodshot eyes wide with terror and malice. And things just went downhill from there…

Showing off

This move has got to be my favorite vanity move


When you perform a feat of strength in front of an audience, roll+Str. On a hit, you keep their attention as they watch in amazement or dismay. On a 7-9, you also draw unwanted attention to yourself.

When the decided to move inland to camp, Minotaur just picked up the longboat by himself and started carrying it to their eventual campsite. Because I rolled an 8, when we hit the tree line and the boat wouldn’t fit, Minotaur just kept pushing and the the boat cut a swath in the trees, leaving a clear and obvious path right to our camp. That’s fucking awesome.

Adventure Camping

These moves are really cool. They make “downtime” part of the game:

Make Camp

When you settle in to rest consume a ration. If you’re somewhere dangerous decide the watch order as well. If you have enough XP you may Level Up. When you wake from at least a few uninterrupted hours of sleep heal damage equal to half your max HP.

Take Watch

When you you’re on watch and something approaches the camp roll+Wis. On a 10+ you’re able to wake the camp and prepare a response, the camp takes +1 forward. On a 7–9 you react just a moment too late; the camp is awake but hasn’t had time to prepare. You have weapons and armor but little else. On a miss whatever lurks outside the campfire’s light has the drop on you.

We did well on both, which was great, because the colonials were on our tail. Watching out for them William Golden saw the figures trying to sneak up on us and when jumped into our camp, pistols drawn, it was they who were ambushed. Left Hand Lew and Minotaur had a pissing contest with first mate Thomas Parker, confident the power in his pistol was wet from the drink (he was soaked) and Golden snuck up behind his men and put daggers in their backs. It was tense for moment but the first mate’s desperation to help captain Grace Harrington (who he had carried unconscious to our camp) won out and he lowered the gun.

He told us that he survived the attack and the creature beneath, but had to swim to shore since someone had taken the longboat (yep, that would be us). So far as he could tell the Reefmonger was after one of us, but not a soul in that camp knew why.

We agreed to work together. We’d camp for the night and set out in the morning for Sovereignstead, the free city.

Divided we fall

While scouting before making camp Minotaur found a pool of clear water and after the peace was made he set out with with the two privates to gather water and supplies. Meanwhile Golden and the First Mate stayed in camp to watch after the captain. Left Hand Lew went to find a good look out spot to watch for the Reefmonger.

In camp Golden could tell that the first mate was completely in love with his captain. He was uneasy learning that a colonial was a man just like him. It was harder to classify them all as heartless bastards when he saw one so worried and concerned.

A Deadly Kiss

Up the hill Minotaur was trying to turn the junior officers against their captain. “We’ll be the first ones to die you know that? When trouble comes, and it will, we’re t he brutes and the fodder that will take the fall so that our ‘superiors’ get away.” It was just as Pip began to retort that he had always felt respected and valued on the Landguard that he disappeared. A tendril grabbed him and pulled into to that clear water where down below and beautiful and naked woman lied. Only now she was awake, her eyes milky and her her lower body a hundred vicious tentacles.

She pulled Pip down, pressed her dead lips to his and with a kiss drained his life away. Much violence ensued. Minotaur dove into the water was was entangled by the tentacles himself. Left Hand Lew swung down from his perch to cut Minotaur free, but only enough for him to get a huge gulp of air and go back down, this time with Golden. Together they fought the creature, Golden with his quick blade and Minotaur by choking the creature, apply his massive might to squeeze her to death.

At one point before they were both down there, Golden dropped Minotaur’s blade down to him and it rested in the sand, he used the edge of it to cut them free and escape the terror. Golden, however, noticed the remains another adventurer below on their way to the surface and snatched it up on his way out of the water. Both of them barely made it free of the water when an avalanche of rocks came tumbling down the hill to bury the water hole and the evil creature inside it!

A notable treasure

Inside that backpack was a short rod that appeared to be of great value. From the mouth of the MC:

In the rotting remains of the pack you found a dull iron rod untouched by rust. Once the muck was cleaned off you could see faint etchings or inlaid patterns in bronze or gold. A half dome of onyx decorated one end of the peculiar metal bar. William Golden suspects it may be a button…but he also suspects it could be a trap.

(No help from the audience please!)

Reefmonger upon us

There was other bad news. Before his swung down from his perch Left Hand Lew saw the Reefmonger’s longships closing it. We all made haste to flee the quay but when we got back to our camp to gather up Thomas and the captain we say Meriwether, who had fled the creature of the lake, take an arrow right through his throat. There were upon us!

Thoughts on the Game

I am completely turned around on Dungeon World. I love this game. Our characters are larger than life, but the failure results mean even though we can try amazing things, failing them brings some brutal consequences. For instance when Minotaur was choking the undead woman, she punctured his blind eye with one of her tendrils, driving it into his brain. Fucking brutal!

I dislike negating actions. Player A says I do X and then player B undoes X. It’s a super buzz kill for player A and a waste of everyone’s time. So I had a lot of reluctance when Left Hand Lew pulled Minotaur out of the water to go back in. He had given Minotaur a chance to breath, and freed him form the tentacles so it wasn’t a totally lost effort, but having him dive right back in seemed antithetical to Lew’s intent of saving him. Josh, comment if you had thoughts on this one way or the other.

Derp, was just at Go Play North West and I didn’t bring my copy of DW. Could have had it signed by both Adam and Sage. Arg. And yep, still a fan boy.

We had some interesting interactions with Discern Realities. I got a strong hit when surveying the island, learned some things about it, but not all of them were strictly the answers to my questions or something that gave me +1 forward, some of them were useful resources like finding a fresh source of water… you know, that had a undead sea monster in it, but that’s just part of the fun.

Edit: Justin’s comments incorporated.

Actual Play – The Black Spot (5/8/2014)

dungeon_world_finalGM: Justin Evans
Players: Greg Bailey, Josh Curtis, and Sean Nittner
System: Dungeon World
Dungeon/Adventure: The Black Spot

In our rotation of GMs, Justin has signed up to run Dungeon World, specifically a swashbuckling pirate version of Dungeon World. His pitch:

Imagine a man’s skull, pale and grinning. Now imagine a hammer blow to the skull’s chin. The bone cracks, the jaw tears away and teeth scatter. From a crow’s eye view that is what the Rictus Islands would look like. They lie just 2 days off the coast of The Colonies where folk try to scrape out a living in a new land of opportunity. But the Colonies weren’t the first to inhabit these lush jungles and fields. An ancient kingdom lies forgotten and buried under their vines. It’s a mystery how this kingdom was laid to waste. Ancient temples and pyramids hint at a society greater than any in the Jagged Kingdoms. Some surviving tribes trade with the Colonies, some raid them.

You have to pass through the Rictus Islands to start the two week journey back to the Jagged Kingdoms … which makes them the perfect hunting grounds for pirates and sanctioned privateers alike. Trade makes it worthwhile so Fort Shackletown, to the north, was built to help keep them in check. While Sovereignstead to the south claims to be loyal to no king.

You are a prisoner heading to Fort Shackletown now, to stand trial.

The Landguard is a ship in service of the Colonial Trade Alliance. In it’s brig are:

The Brute
The Dashing Hero
The Sea Dog
The Theif


Since it’s his birthday this month (Happy Birthday Josh!), Josh took first pick and napped the Sea Dog! I went for the Brute, and Greg picked the Thief. Here’s how they turned out:

Left-hand Lew (Josh) is a handsome man, or would be if it weren’t for those strange facial tattoos. Like zig-zag blade scars from his temples to his jaw. He is an older man, with long, salt-n-pepper black hair tied in a pony tail. He wears a fine leather long-coat with the standard poofy shirt and pants beneath. A blue sash completes the look. His saying: “Me always offers quarters, but only to those who fight to the death!”

Minotaur (Sean) is stupid big. Even for a monster he’s big. If we’re in manacles, he’s just in chains, none of the normal manacles would fit. One of his horns is missing, cloven off years ago by a blade wicked sharp. He’s got an eye patch as well, or if these fucking maggots took it from him and milky white eye instead. His saying: “And there’s coin in it?” as in “I have to put on a dress and play the pretty one to seduce that drunk fuck? And there’s coin in it? I’m a size 44.”

William Golden (Greg) …. Some say he was once highborn, that’s probably why he talks so funny. Some say he could retire and be a nobleman thrice over if he’d just hold on to his money, instead of dropping it where it’s most needed, in the poor shanties that lie between Fort Shackletown and Sovereignstead. He’s got a mission for sure, but no one knows why he does it, maybe he just wants to take every last silver possible from the colonials, either that or he has a deathwish. There’s a price on his head alright, and now it looks like someone’s gonna collect. That bounty hunter over there looks mean and fearsome, and he’s got good ole Golden locked up in chains real good.

Our History (how we got in this brig)

Minotaur used to work as a bouncer in a gambling hall. He did honest work, more or less. Sometimes people get drunk and need to be roughed up and thrown out. Sometimes those people are Carlos Skiverrez, aka The Jackal. Sometimes, when you’re new and don’t know shit, you accidentally treat The Jackal like he’s just another schlub and break his sword arm in the process of escorting him out.

Sometimes life sucks.

After that, Carlos had a personal vendetta against Minotaur. Said his arm would never be the same and that if Minotaur wanted to make it right, he was making reparations. A word Minotaur later learned meant paying money, a lot of money.

Most recently Outside the ancient moss covered temple in Greenhearth Valley. “Merchants” hired Minotaur for caravan duty hauling their supplies (pilfered relics) out of the valley and back to their ship. The moment they crested the hill out of the valley, he heard a shout of a lieutenant ordering them to stand down and her men to shoot if they moved.

Minotaur dropped the casket on the ground. He wasn’t going to die for these fuckers.

Left Hand Lew’s story:
“Twas a year ago in a town called Mud that me heard it. The Wood Dragon was already rowdy that eve, when the mad minstrel came a tumblin in from the wilds. He walked right up to the fire, pulled out his drum, and began a singin. His songs were wild and epic, randy and rude, but most of all, they were strange. And he sang all night no stoppin.”

“The more the crowd drank, the more they loved im. And they drank a lot… thanks to Left Hand Lew. Me was buying drinks left and left, but wasn’t drinking meself. Was hired to fill the press, you see, an these landlubbers were the perfect mark. Drunk men were easier to herd aboard a ship. Unconscious men even better. So me sat there, buying drinks, and listening to the mad minstrel. When the night was old and me press gang about to spring, the mad minstrel started a new song. Twas a dark and twisted tale of an empire long gone. Some of it wasn’t even in common. Couldn’t imagine where the fool had learnt it, somewhere in the wilds I spose. It had the ring o’ truth to it though and so me ears kept a listenin. Twas the last verse that made me sit up and take note. The cadence of the song changed. The words went from poetic fanciness to somethin more akin to a command. Or perhaps even… directions! Here’s what was sung, word for word.”

“Six blind sentinels gaze at her lustily,
While four loyal traitors guard her virtue valiantly.
Two hateful lovers touch her lips longingly,
But only the dragon’s tears may enter lovely Tomoachan.”

“There was more to the song twas sure but the press gang jumped in and that was that. The mad minstrel found himself aboard the boat; and so to a few coins to unscrupulous folks to ensure his quick and watery demise. Couldn’t have that tale spread about.”

Recently alas, Minotaur… I sold that treasure map to the “merchants” and brokered the deal between Minotaur and them. Of course, then I sold them out the Colonials. “Why get paid once for a job, when you can get paid twice”, me dad used to say.

He tried to collect the treasure for himself (get paid a third time if you can) which ended him in the brig as well!

William Golden is a hero to some, and insurrectionist to others. He hates colonials. No surprise he found himself in their brig!

Our Domains

J-dog uses a technique that he shares with Archipelago, which is to give each players narrative authority over one element of the game. We dived them  like this:

Minotaur: Corrupting influences

Left Hand Lew: The Sea

William Golden: Swashbuckling action

The idea being that if one of these elements can into play and needed to be described, the player in charge of the element would narrate it. Good stuff.

The Play is the Thing

We stared the game and got a bit into playing before establishing our bonds. That caused some confusion as we weren’t sure if we knew each other or not, but then realized we did. And realized that we had very different ideas about each other. For instance William Golden believing Minotaur has his back, whilst Minotaur believing William would make a tasty snack. Good times.

Once the action started in earnest though we opened in the brig, when one of the crew, sick as the devil was sent down to be on guard duty and opted to take a piss on Minotaur. The beast backed up enough to lure the guard in close (he really wanted to make sure the piss got on him) and then lunged forward shouldering him support beam and unconsciousness.

Moments later the shit hit the fan. Our started turning in place (the was no wind so we had been stuck drifting for some time) and the starboard side lurched down into the ocean. A moment later a call came out from the crows nest. “Pirates!” We were being boarded and pulled under by some horrific sea creature.

Time for a daring escape. We got free, past the crew and pirates, recovered some of our possessions, stole a longboat and made for a hidden cave that William knew about.

Along the way there was savagery from Minotaur, earnest care and leadership from William, and dashing seaboard acrobatics from Left Hand Lew. Huzzah!

Thoughts on the Game

It’s been a while since I’ve played Dungeon World and I intentionally didn’t print out the basic rules as a method to keep me leading with the fiction (at least for my own part). That seemed to work well for all of us as moves were usually pretty easy to discern based on our actions.

I was originally planning to be a Minotaur (named Minotaur) but when Justin suggested the book The Minotaur take a Cigarette Break and asked the question if I was the Minotaur of legend it make perfect sense. Of course he was the Minotaur, and Theseus was a pansy.

The nice thing about not “fighting” is that our characters felt super competent. We were doing all manner of heroics and while we weren’t always succeeding, it wasn’t because of ineptitude, but rather interference.  It was some pretty awesome competence porn. I think that will change when we get into a fight and LHL’s quick blade or Minotaur’s burly strength fails to drop an opponent in a single blow.  We’ll see.

Justin used a custom move to represent the dread of the “Black Spot” on a miss, you can be given the Black Spot, which represents a sense of dread, a doom you know will befall you. When you have the black spot your are -1 to Defy Danger (as you assume you’ll fail) but +1 to Hack and Slash as you fight without regard for self preservation. It passed around during the game (we all had it at one point) and added a hot potato element to the game. Hot Potato of Doom!