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?

4E Game Premise – Final Version

So, after some thought I’ve made a few changes to the background we decided upon to make the story a little more interesting, suspenseful, and internally consistent. Most of the story is the same but there are a few more unknowns so I have a few surprises for the players as the game develops. I’ve also took advantage of the info presented at the end of the 4E DMG – the map and description of the Nentir Vale looked like it could be adapted simply enough to what I had in mind and thus saves me having to create a map or any real background.

The Nentir Vale is a northern land, with harsh, bitterly cold winters. Summers are cool and mild. The majority of the region is made up of large stretches of open meadow land, copses of light forest, gently rolling hills, and the occasional thicket of dense woodland and heavy undergrowth. It is bordered by the Winterbole Forest and the Spine (a very high, very rugged mountain range) to the north which are largely the domain of the elves. To the east lie in the Dawnforge Mountains,another dense and far ranging mountain range known for its rich mineral veins and the dwarves that mine them. In the west the Cairngorn Peaks and Ogrefist Hills form a natural border to the vast prairie and grasslands known as The Stonemarch. Finally, to the south lay the dense and wild Harkenwood and Witchlight Fens. The Nentir River, which flows from Lake Nen in the north of the Vale to the fens in the south splits the Nentir Vale nearly in half.

The important points and info to get the players started include:

Iìslandruble – Ancient white wyrm who ruled the surrounding lands for centuries. Also known as “Frostbite” which is a simplified translation of the elves’ name for the dragon. The elves of the high peaks, with the help of the humans and dragonborn in the area, finally defeated the dragonhim’s horde and mortally wounded Iìslandruble, who fell to earth amongst the Glacier of the White Wyrm. For nearly 150 years the Vale’s inhabitants and the elves have known peace. Iìslandruble had many followers who worshipped her as a goddess – these include a large tribe of kobolds, a clan of frost giants, as well as numerous dragonspawn. They were slain or scattered when she was defeated.

The elves of the high peaks (Ter’lan sani) – live amongst the massive conifers of the Winterbole Forest and the peaks of The Spine (picture redwoods). They are accustomed to the cold temperatures of the region. Humans often refer to them as “ice elves” though this isn’t really an accurate description since they don’t differ much from other elves of the land. More than 4,000 elves live in the region although their individual settlements are usually quite small (less than 350 per village). Their largest settlement, Cylisdranii, is a town of over 1,000 elves built within the trees themselves. The elves are ruled by a council of 5, the head of which is Correlion Eldor.

Dragonborn (Kyriislan’kez) -elven named literally means “children of Iìslandruble” Name for the dragonborn that live amongst the elves. Legend has it that they are the descendants of men who were tainted by the dragon’s blood. Less than 400 dragonborn live in the region, along side the elves. Their scale colors range from pure white to an sapphire blue and all have a cold breath weapon, supporting the idea that they are somehow liked to the white wyrm.

Fallcrest – walled town that stands amid the Moon Hills at the falls of the Nentir River. Here the roads moving through the region as well as the river meet making Fallcrest a hub of the region’s trade. The surrounding ridges shelter small valleys where outlying farms and woodsfolk live. Home to nearly 1200 humans, along with a small community of dwarves, couple dozen half-elves (interbreeding is very rare and frowned upon), and a few odd elves. Pelor has a large temple within the town headed by high priestess Aeriana, who is an ally of the elves.

Winterhaven – village that lies about 100km to the northwest of Fallcrest. The road linking the two towns is known as the Kings’ Road. Winterhaven is a sleepy village with less than a thousand residents.

The Background story – Just over 150 years ago, the great wyrm Iìslandruble’s reign of terror over the region of Nentir Vale came to an end thanks to a coalition of elves, humans, and dragonborn whose armies scattered the dragon’s followers and sent her mortally wounded body plunging to the icy barren glaciers of the Spine. The win came at a terrible price, decimating the vale’s population and civilization. For the past century and a half the vale’s peoples have struggled to rebuild.

Recently, the leader of the elven council, Correlion Eldor, has had a series of prophetic visions, suggesting that a new threat has risen. While the cause of the danger is not clear, Correlion fears that Iìslandruble hordes may be gathering again, despite the fact that their goddess has died. This belief is supported by reports of increasing hostile activity amongst the kobolds within the vale, as well as recent mysterious attacks on caravans traveling the King’s Road. The Dwarves, once again wary of getting involved in the problems of men and elves have begun shutting the doors to their great halls and cities.

Correlion has sent his two sons, Eryanor and Corran, on quests to discover the viracity of the visions: Eryanor has been sent on a mission to investigate the Glacier of the Great Wyrm, where Iìslandruble’s body fell 150 years ago. Meanwhile, Corran has been sent south to investigate the reports of attacks by kobolds and other minions of the great white dragon. He has been sent to meet with Aeriana, high priestess of Pelor who is interested in finding out if there is more to the recent attacks than just merely banditry.