Thinking more about Dungeon World

As I mentioned earlier this week, Dungeon World was a big hit with the after-school club kids and I’m now preparing to put together a campaign for a group of them. However, while the Basic Game comes with a couple of very good scenarios, the little kid in me really is itching to adapt one of the classic AD&D modules in my collection. In particular I’d really like to see if DW manages to capture the feel of the game I grew up playing without all the rules wonkiness and minutiae that I no longer enjoy. The conversion itself shouldn’t be too time consuming or difficult given the simplicity of what is needed for DW – monsters consist of 3 “stats” and a few descriptive custom moves, and mostly you just need a map, a situation or two, and some NPCs, all of which those old adventures have in spades.

The real question is which adventure though and that’s not something trivial to decide. My first impulse is to go with The Village of Hommlet. It seems ideal for DW because it’s so open-ended, has a few of evocative locations and situations (e.g., the moathouse, the temple’s spy ring, the missing priest, etc.) , and a whole host of interesting NPCs. On the down side, I’ve run the adventure a bunch of times and would like to try something new. So here are the others I’m considering:

  • U1: The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh – great locations, great situation, lots of potential to build off the events, or even just follow up with the other adventures in the series.
  • L2: The Assassin’s Knot – this one is a bit of a mystery, which is risque in terms of player buy-in & effort, but it has a lot of potential, especially to bring in more social situations and conflict.
  • UK2: The Sentinel – I’ve always been fond of this adventure along with its sequel (UK 3: The Gauntlet) and I think it would be a good choice for a “semi-epic” kind of short campaign. Tempting…
  • B4: The Lost Cityvery open-ended (more of a big location/sandbox) with lots of interesting stuff to interact with including the yaun-ti which I love.

Any others that I should consider?

Trying out Dungeon World with the students

This afternoon I ran a session of Dungeon World for the after-school club kids and it went over really well – so well, that I have at least nine students eager to play next week which means I will need to see if I can get one of the 12th graders to GM a second group.

For today’s session, which was run simply as a demo for the group to watch, I had a human fighter, human paladin, elf wizard, and halfling thief. I ran a section of the Blood Stone Idol adventure that’s included in the Basic set PDF, starting the group at the entrance of the dungeon and letting them explore the first few areas. I was surprised at how quickly the students picked up the rules and how well they engaged with the narrative elements of the game. What was most interesting to me was how much they enjoyed exploring the typical D&D tropes and story elements in an entirely new way. The session ended with the paladin being smashed flat by a marauding ogre, followed by the halfling thief running up the ogre’s leg, burying his dagger in to its throat, and then riding the dagger down the length of its neck like a pirate sliding down a sail. The group broke in to a cheer and we wrapped up the demo.

I also found the game a lot of fun to run. My favorite part was the list of GM moves which essentially dictate how I could react to failures. I loved the fact that the story’s twists and developments grew organically out of the characters’ “failures” rather than my rolls and how my main job was simply to react and spring board based on the players’ decisions.

All in all it was a great session and the result is we’ll be playing a lot more Dungeon World over the next few months.