Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dungeon World - Session 1 Actual Play

So we started Dungeon World today! As I'd mentioned, the older plan of playing Apocalypse World was foregone since Kris isn't big into the post-apoc genre, but old school D&D is totally cool with us. Curtis wasn't in the gang today, but we're joined by old friend Kenny! Kenny played with us through high school and we drifted apart about a year ago. I was able to get him to come back, and he enjoyed it, so hey, got a member back! Anyway, here's the basic rundown.

The Cast -
We used 3 classes, The Cleric, The Fighter, and The Thief.
The Cleric - Played by Kris, his name is Grizwald (I know, wizard-y, but hey, it works). He has sharp eyes, strange hair, flowing robes, and a thin body. He's human, so he gets a Wizard spell on his spell list. He's good as well. He has Str13, Dex11, Con15, Int9, Wis17, Cha8. For his deity, we twisted the exact rules a bit and gave him 2 domains since I believe those are purely descrriptive, so his god has the domains of Bloody Conquest and Civilization, and has the precepts that his religion believes in sacrificial rites and trial by combat. We decided that the god's name was Bale - and he looks like a demon. It became established through the game that Bale IS a demon king(more devil, I suppose), and that Grizwald is simply deluded as to his deity's purposes - he thinks Bale believes in destroying savages and bringing the law of society upon the barbarous heretic nations. In truth, Bale is just plain tyrannically evil. Grizwald has a holy symbol that looks like a demon's head, carries a Mace of Sharpness (this is a reference to an older campaign, its a flanged mace, but instead of each flange it has axe heads), leathor armor, and 5 rations. His bonus wizard spell is Contact Spirit, which I love.
The Fighter - Played by Daniel, his name is Dim Orlak. He has hard eyesm wild hair, scarred skin, and a built body. He's neutral, and a dwarf. His stats are Str17, Dex13, Con15, Int8, Wis9, Cha11. His signature weapon is an ancestral battleaxe at close range, and it's sharp (and I'm realizing right now he misread, he should have two enhancements and doesn't. Whoops). It is ornate. His story is that he is of Clan Orlak, a powerful dwarven clan, and he was heir to it. His father died and his uncle married to become his stepfather and take control of the throne (yes, very Hamlet). Dim lived up to his name and led a failed coup, by which I mean he and a couple buddies went and gave a rousing speech to the local army to try and gain their support, at which point they were arrested. After being broken out (see Bonds) he was forced to leave the dwarven lands, but not before he stole his father's ancestral weapon, Hrothgar. Hrothgar is bejeweled all along it , and is hefty and powerful. He wears plate armor.
The Thief - Played by Kenny, a man born with the name Shank had no other possible paths in life - Crime was his destiny. Shank has shifty eyes, a hooded head, a cloaked outfit, and a lithe body. He's neutral - really neutral, its not him lying. He's human, and he has Str13, Dex17, Con15, Int9, Wis8, and Cha11. He carries a shiv (what else?) and a dose of bloodweed poison, as well as his 30 uses of dungeon rations and his leather armor. Kenny came a bit later than the rest of us, so we didn't spend a huge amount of time with an individual backstory, we figured the bonds would fill that out.
And of course, The Dungeon Master, me. I've never run AW or DW before, and while somewhat daunted by some of the principles, I'm gonna give it my best shot. I also have 0 experience with true old-school D&D, btw. None of us do.
The Bonds - Now that you know them individually, here's their interconnections.
Grizwald: Dim+1, Shank+1. Shank has insulted my deity. I am working on converting Dim to my faith.
Dim: Shank+2, Grizwald+1. Shank owes me their life, whether they admit it or not. I have sworn to protect Shank. Grizwald is soft, but I will make them hard like me (it was pointed out numerous times how innately sexual this sounds).
Shank: Dim+2, Grizwald+2. I stole something from Grizwald. Dim has my back when things go wrong. Grizwald knows incriminating details about me. Dim and I have a con running.
So here's the story. Shank is in prison for undecided reasons in the dwarven lands. Dim does his extremely ill-advised coup and ends up in that same prison. Shank helps him to bust out, and in the process Dim saved Shank's life. Dim then swore to protect Shank for the help in breaking out, and Shanks knows that Dim's got his back. A couple months late, they're in a different land and meet Grizwald on the street. Dim and Shank perform their usual con - Dim talk and distracts while Shank picks their pocket. Shank steals the holy symbol from Grizwald, who notices and stops him (hence, Shank has insulted my deity and I stole something from Grizwald. And because Grizwald knows this, he knows incriminating details). They end up partnering (I'll be digging into this later) and workign together. Grizwald knows he'll never get Shank on his deity's side because of the law thing, but he's trying to convert Dim. Dim is constantly training and pushing Grizwald, trying to harden him up.

For ease, I'm running The Bloodstone Idol, since Basic didn't have any monster generation rules that I saw, and I just wanted to see what they're giving me.
We started in a tavern in Blackmoore and I primed them on the local situation with the Hall Under The Hill, the goblins fighting lizardment, and Grunloch through the local bartender. Shank stole a bit out of the register while the others were distracting the bartender, and afte he did this we realized that we hadn't highlighted stats.
I don't perfectly recall who gave which, but Shank ended with Dex and Cha highlighted, Dim had Str and Wis, and Grizwald had Con and Wis.
The gang turned in for the night to set out for the hall the next morning. Grizwald communed for Bless and Cure Light Wounds. Around noon, they arrive at the hill. They go striding over the crest of the hill to look at the entrance and get spotted, first thing. Goblins and Lizardmen both. Shank immediately tucked himself away behind some rubble, but the other two were entirely exposed. As Grizwald cast Bless on himself (successfully), they could hear the lizards yell out "Look at this, those fool goblins got some mercenaries to fight for them, those cowards!" Hearing this, Dim charged the two lizards who had stepped out, each with large hammers. It...did not go well. Dim ended up on his belly with the lizards over him. Grizwald quickly dashed forward and threw up his mace to block and ended up reducing the damage enough to nullify it on Dim, as well as opening up the lizard and slicing up its arm with the mace's blades. Shank took this as his cue to skirt around his rubble and appear out of nowhere to backstab the lizard, killing it instantly. The goblins at this point could be heard muttering things like "Wait, we hired guys? Did Glug do this on his own? They're killing lizards, might as well help out." and started peppering the region in bolts. Some rather exciting combat ensued, including two more lizards coming out, one with hammer, the other with sword and shield. Combat continued, and numerous times things looked pretty grim for a couple of them. I didn't kill anyone - I could have, but I felt that I wasn't getting the numbers right and that I might have been dealing with the stuff a bit wrong. It also didn't help that other than Shank they rolled awful. Dim failed just as often as he succeeded, and since he was hack-and-slashing all the time it meant lots of pounding on him. After a while, a goblin came roaring down the hill yelling "They're not our men! Get 'em!" and the goblins joined in the fight. Shank broke off and took him down, but for the rest of the fight there were an irritating pair of crossbowmen constantly shooting, along with two goblin warriors. The PCs got swarmed. Both Grizwald and Shank were at 1 HP at one point, so there was some frantic spellcasting going on. Once the goblins and lizardmen were dead, the crossbowmen ran off. It was, all in all, a nasty fight, but they came through alright in the end. Grizwald levelled, and took Inquisitor, which made sense for Bale. As a petition, he sacrificed the alters and some of the things in them to Bale, and was visited by his god in his mind. In a world of blood and fire and brimstone, he sat upon a throne surrounded by skulls, and announced that he was pleased, and he removed the -1 to casting Grizwald had incurred, as well as adding a +1 to the Discern Realities check he was doing. We decided that Bale wasn't even TRYING to hide his evilness - it isn't a trick. Grizwald is just entirely oblivious. Dim and Shank have been trying to show Grizwald the evil, and it just isn't working.
After the discern realities check, they arrived in the Hall. I played out the Steward and its obnoxiously welcoming greeting, and they decided to take the spiral stairs (they saw the corridor, but didn't go down it to see the ropes or Idol). They stopped off on the landing with the vault doors, and while picking the lock, Shank noticed runes outlining the door that matched ones on the wall around the door. A spout lore check got that it was set to go off when the door is opened, though they didn't know what it did. They did it and went in, and by accident triggered the Ghost appearing (also levelling Dim, who took Merciless). It wasn't even aware that it had died, it thought they were here to sacrifice him, or to free him. He reacted with anger to each attempt to tell him he was dead. To try gaining some info, Grizwald used Contact Spirit to call an aspect of his deity, which ended up taking the shape of a classic shoulder-devil. Honestly it wasn't too helpful. At the end of the session Kris still has like 4 hold to use though, so he may still have some use.
When he tried to leave, he stuck on the exit, since the runes that had activated were a Spirit Barrier effect. Dim swung his axe through him to prove that he was dead, and the ghost changed. He became more spiritlike, his anger triggered, and he started terrorizing. Dim swung again, and did some damage, but not enough to do too much hurt on it. It swooped through Dim, and was hovering over Grizwald (who'd fallen over in the action of the change, which was accompanied by the walls shaking) when Shank shoved his blade through it, accidentally hitting Grizwald too. Grizwald decided that was enough, and concentrated a red ring of energy and together with the aspect blasted the ghost with Inflict Light Wounds, which did enough to totally kill it. After re-ordering themselves, they settled in to begin a search of the room. We ended session.
Shank knew Dim better, Grizwald knows Shank better, and Dim knows Grizwald better. I don't recall our exact reasonings, sorry.

Well, it went pretty good. I'm having a bit of trouble with a few things.
1) This is a chronic issue of mine - I have a hard time with premade adventures. It just makes me feel iffy while running one.
2) I wasn't sure what to the monsters be doing when it came around to them. A lot of the time it seemed like just arbitrary damage punishment, but there wasn't a ton else I could think of doing.
3) Should NOT have highlighted Cha for Shank. While it would have been interesting, he didn't get to use it really. Parley in and of itself seems very hard to fit into a situation, unfortunately, and Shank really fell behind on XP. There wasn't really a place here for him to be sneaking/infiltrating either, so he wasn't getting alignment XP, and since Backstab is Str, he wasn't getting any there either. That's one thing I would shift, I would make Backstab Dex for us.
4) I had a hard time habitually referring to them by character name. It's never been a practice in our group, and its being troublesome to adapt to.
5) More than anything, we've never played anything with this much "The rules come from the fiction." We made it work, but we didn't get too far into that. I think some more in-character work would help with that a bit. We definitely agreed that our heads were in the fiction than in our Dogs game, though not as much as our 3:16 game. We're working on it, and we all admitted that we're all lacking in it some, and that it will come with some practice.
6) The monsters in the original did enormous amounts of damage - I would have TPK'd fast. I shifted them down at advice from Story Games, but I wasn't sure how far, so it's a guess. Now that most of them are level 2 though I seems like I'm dealing too little damage again since they're massively strong at this point (d10+d4+1 fighter damage, +1d6 if he takes a blow) so my monsters don't live long unless I use large groups. I hope the Beta's monster creation rules are nice for this.
7) I need to get better at describing these rooms. That's why I usually like to just invent as I go, in this case I want to try to keep it mostly to what the book has. In the future, beyond the Idol, I'll probably have a bit better time with this, but still. I also wish the only plus in all their Int, Wis, and Cha stats wasn't Grizwald's +2 Wis.

Oh well. I'm looking forward to the next round. So far Kris' deity is the coolest thing for me. Kill of the night goes to Shank for Assassin's Creed'ing a dude.

End Recording,

...Beta? Dear Dungeon World writers (or whomever handles submissions to the Adventurer's Guild), I confirm that the email I am signed up on your website with is cmmc. It's my parent's email and not explicitly tied to here or to the email account I used to send this to, so I thought it worth confirming that this is indeed the same person ;)

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