Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Dungeon World + Trilemma Adventures

Last week I got to run a one shot of Dungeon World - for all my enthusiasm about it I had never actually played it - but I'd heard good things.  I'd also heard good things about Trilemma Adventures so I decided to grab one of their free dungeons to play in.  How did it go?  Read on, bold adventurer...

We played The Sky Blind Spire by Michael Prescott

Creating characters was fairly straightforward, the main problem being I had printed the playbooks out too small!  DW brings playbooks from Apocalypse World rather than using character sheets, it's a case of ticking boxes and filling in blanks so once we were all on the same page we were ready to roll.  All the standard fantasy classes and tropes I'd expect are there, and I liked that it's clear the characters are THE, not a, member of that class.

Because Dungeon World also uses Apocalypse World's "Moves", play is quick - powered by the narrative - and I was impressed by how much freedom the rules give to describe cool actions that are no less optimal than "I hit it with my sword". This I think stems from:
  • Characters' damage is linked to their class, not to weapons, so however you visualise the combat you can achieve the same output.  Things, and players, were thrown around and used as improvised weapons with gay abandon.
  • Forcing a hard choice is core to the game mechanic, and this is something I think I'll definitely take forward as a way to handle failure in all my other games.  When The Barbarian rolled 7-9 in a fistfight with a giant he had to choose between taking the pain or looking weak. Later The Fighter had to choose whether losing his shield to molten lead was worth not getting hit by it, and The Thief erred toward wasting ammo or reduced damage rather than put himself in Dire Pelican -related danger.
I think this game is FUN. And it's fast, and it flows, which I love in an RPG.  It's also pretty deadly which is a plus for me, as I really do not like the HP-grind inherent in the d20 system and its variants.  The Fighter and the Paladin expired while pitching the last giant headlong to his death down a flight of stairs - he got to hit them back - but I had pulled out all the stops as it was getting late and the rules do stipulate you should make as hard a Move as you like.

The giants were fun; I used Hill Giants from DW and just made sure players had to Defy Danger to get within a giant's reach to be able to attack it, as 10HP isn't much.  That worked and was quite good fun to play out.

For the Rikalu I just used Goblins.  The rest of the monsters I just chose some suitable looking damage/HP values and added instincts and moves for the flavour.  The Dire Pelicans enjoyed trying to swallow the halfling Thief whole, the Muck Fly got a good hit on the Barbarian so I also made him Sick from the filth, the Undines I liked as their damage - not being bound to a weapon or a particular attack - could be described as coming from a wall of water, or drowning, or a ray, or anything that felt right.

Both the game and the adventure are definitely recommended.  While I'm not sure how Dungeon World would hold up to a full campaign I could see both working in a West Marches type of game, and I'd definitely try it to find out!

2 comments:

  1. I love the visual of losing a shield to a spray of molten lead, that's awesome!

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    1. What's actually great is how that block of text about the giants adds so much character and stops us slumping into "an encounter with 4 x Giants".

      I also loved how the puzzle is presented for discovery, and there are forces at play to encourage players to complete it or destroy it, but nothing is forced.

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