Sunday RPG Group: Dungeon World

Every other Sunday, I organize (and often run) an open, public RPG game at our local comic book shop, Avatar Comics and Games.

This week, I ran Dungeon World. I ran The Giant’s Dollhouse, a winner of the 2013 One Page Dungeon Contest.

I also ran this game the previous week online, but it didn’t go very well.

Yesterday, the game went well. It was over 115 degrees outside in Las Vegas, so despite the air conditioning, we were all a bit sweaty and nerdy at the comic book shop. Such is life in geekery in Las Vegas.

Anyway, heat and biology aside, I had 5 players show up to the game, which was a good turnout. I honestly wasn’t sure if I’d get more– I had 3-4 RSVPs outside of the Google+ group, which would have given us 2 tables’ worth of players, and only one GM. Fortunately, a large number of my players are also DMs, so I had two volunteers to step in if needed.

The adventure went well. At a few points, while making the kinds of moves the GM is supposed to make, I had them lose the magical item they were using to turn the NPCs from stone back into flesh. They were not pleased, but in the process, they did realize that the entire outer wall was hinged and could slant outwards to be opened up (like… a dollhouse).

For time reasons, I didn’t have the giant show up until they were already fleeing the dollhouse.

They woke all the NPCs, including the vampire and the orc, but didn’t kill any of them.The vampire eventually got the paladin alone, and attempted to seduce him into being bitten. She got a bite on him before he threw her off, and they fought before she turned to mist and fled through the gap in the wall.

The paladin now has a quest… and a vampire’s bite on his neck, spurring him on. He must kill her before he feeds, or he’ll be turned!

The wizard converted the sleeping dwarf into his personal familiar (infusing him with the loyalty of a dog).

The bard seduced Lady Darnton, who has been missing for 300 years, but comes from a noble and respected house. She will now become his personal patron, out of gratitude. He also gained a lead on some very interesting and powerful artifacts.

The thief has a few fun artifacts and a wish to kill Lady Darnton.

The ranger reclaimed his beloved bear companion, and has escaped this horrible building.

And I have a group of 5 players who would love to come back the next time I run Dungeon World. As a result, I’ve decided to modify and adopt a Living Dungeon World model, so these PCs can continue their adventures and meet new friends and allies along the way. This will require these players to modify their characters somewhat before they can play again, but I think it will work pretty well as a campaign in our local group.

And here’s an exchange between one of the players and me on the G+ Event:

Peter: I had a great time in today’s adventure.  While I didn’t get as much exp or treasure (except for the noble lady, snicker) as the rest of the party, I think I did have the most fun playing my character.  Can’t wait to try this system again.

Me:The nice thing about DW is that you don’t really do it for XP or loot. You do it for the story.A level 5 character and a level 1 character can both play at the same table. The level 1 character will have fewer special options available, but he will still have plenty of moves, and the math will work pretty much the same. They will both have equal amounts of time in the story spotlight, which is the absolute focus of the game.

In Pierre’s story, he escaped from a giant’s dollhouse and rescued several people, including a nice lady who may turn out to be an NPC patron later on. He observed feats of heroism and derring-do (observation being a core part of bardic adventuring), and supported his pals through word and song.

Unwittingly, he may even have found a link to some of the transformation stones, those legendary artifacts that have been rumored to unlock the keys of life and death!

Sure, he helped an ages-old vampire escape, unleashing a monstrosity upon the land…. but that’s really more the paladin’s problem, eh?

And that’s the kind of thing that makes Dungeon World exciting and fun. It’s not about how much XP or treasure you got. It’s about how much fun you had.