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Living Dungeon World – Session 1

Yesterday, I ran my first attempt at Living Dungeon World, a shared-world organized play kind of campaign in which the DMs share the fronts and setting.

It’s similar to Living Forgotten Realms and Pathfinder Society and similar organized play campaigns. Except, for LDW, there isn’t an overarching organization, and we’re really just starting to try it out at Avatar.

I had 2 players, one with a cleric and the other with a bard. Party balance with 2 PCs is very challenging in Dungeons and Dragons. In Dungeon World– it was completely fine to have just 2 PCs.

In LDW, there’s a concept called “idioms” which basically reward the PCs with experience points for selecting moves that support certain behavioral roles. The character’s class determines one idiom. The DM selects the other. I chose “Converse” for both of their idioms. With 2 PCs, neither of whom was overly martial, I knew they would want to talk their way out of trouble as much as possible. The adventure I’d selected would support that, and I wanted to reward them for those efforts.

The cleric was a “cleric of lawfulness and justice” and the bard was… the opposite. A complete hedonist. I was looking forward to seeing how these two would find a way to come together, and so I started the adventure with some “prelude” role-playing in a town, to give them a chance to figure out why they’d adventure together for more than 5 minutes.

Eventually, I gave the bard a reason to need a cleric– he’s always chasing the next high, and lich dust is rumored to be one of the best drugs in the world. It is, however, very hard to obtain, since it’s made of the dust of an intelligent undead. However, clerics… well, clerics are good at killing undead.

And did I mention that, right there on the map, is The Grey Wastes, a land overrun with undead? Good, excellent. The adventure begins. It was about 2:30 PM by then– we play from noon to 4. Didn’t matter– all of the pre-adventure stuff is just as important to the fictional world in DW as the actual planned adventure. If we spend an entire session on preparing a bardic performance, but everyone has fun, and it’s an epic and glorious performance…. well, that’s a successful session, in my eyes.

For this adventure, I used one of the Five Room Dungeons— I like using pre-made adventures in organized games. They make a lot more sense, in terms of dropping in an adventure that doesn’t take too long, and having enough leeway to adapt to whatever the players throw at me. I previously used a One Page Dungeon for the Dungeon World game last month– a game which went pretty well, considering it was my second time GMing the system.

The premise of this  adventure is that the three princes of the Grey Wastes killed each other before one was crowned. If one is crowned, the other two will be laid to rest. But the PCs have to pick which to crown. They talked their way through the role-playing encounter with the dead princes’ ghosts, then talked their ways past the other traps and guardians placed there by the princes’ minions. They did this largely by lying and claiming that they would crown whichever prince the trap/guardian wanted. The cleric thought he wasn’t lying– he intended to split the crown in three, Solomon-style, and give it to the princes.

The crown proved to be more resilient than his mace, however, so they eventually picked a prince (the one they thought was the middle son) and crowned him…. only to discover that the eldest prince had secretly had his minions trade their remains, so the PCs were deceived into crowning the eldest!

Throughout this adventure, they would periodically ask what danger to be wary of. If they rolled poorly, I just kind of shrugged and said things like “three fratricidal undead princes in a land of zombies? What could possibly go wrong?”

In the end, the new lich-king gave them gems of protection to get out of his lands, while they stole the dust of his now-destroyed brothers. The bard has a mother-lode of lich dust, and the cleric has numerous legal complications to think about– if he crowned one prince, but it was the other’s body, what’s the legal implications of that rule? Sure, it’s an academic question, since the uncrowned prince is now dust that’s rapidly going up the bard’s nose…. but it’s still a good question to ponder over a cup of tea in an inn without any zombies clawing at his face.

When the game was over, as the GM in a shared world, I had a responsibility to help the PCs level up, and then log the adventure in our newly-created LDW Campaign Guide, kept in the LDW at Avatar Google folder.

Side Note: I will need to change one rule in the LDW player’s instructions– our games need to be a little more PG-13 rated. Too many sex jokes (not innuendo– just outright cock-sucking references) that really didn’t need to be “on-screen.” I’m fine with drug use as a plot device, and I don’t mind a little saucy humor. But I need our games to continue to be welcome at the local comic book shop.

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2 thoughts on “Living Dungeon World – Session 1”

  1. That sounded like a fantastic game, Stephanie!

    I’ll have to look back over the document; what makes it not PG-13?

  2. Oh, nothing written into the document as it is makes it not PG-13.

    It turns out, I have to explicitly state that our games need to stay PG-13, in order to curtail the kind of crudeness we had in yesterday’s game….

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