Last night, I ran Session 1 of my new Dungeon World campaign using Krevborna. The YouTube video is embedded at the end of this post, and we stream live on my Twitch channel. Here are my thoughts about how I did…
For context, DW expects the players to shoulder more of the worldbuilding than traditional Dungeons and Dragons does. Because I decided to use an existing setting, I instead decided to let them build up more of the opening scenario. During Session 0 character creation, they told me they wanted to be in a port city. This means Piskaro in this world. When the adventure began, I had no additional prep other than knowing the Krevborna world and one sentence: “What sort of monster are you chasing near the canals?”
This implied a few things, of course: first and foremost, that they would be chasing a monster. As that sits at the very core of the game we wanted to play, everybody already was on board with this. Further, we started in the middle of the action, which fits the advice on a DW first session:
Start the session with a group of player characters (maybe all of them) in a tense situation. Use anything that demands action… Ask questions right away—“who is leading the ambush against you?” or “what did you do to make King Levus so mad?” If the situation stems directly from the characters and your questions, all the better. Here’s where the game starts. The players will start saying and doing things, which means they’ll start making moves. For the first session you should watch especially carefully for when moves apply, until the players get the hang of it.
They told me they were chasing a wererat thief. After cornering him in an alleyway, they started a fight. The hardest move I made was a monster move for the wererat (substituting a werewolf): strike from within. For me, this meant having a couple more pop up from sewer grates. Probably I could have done other things, and in fact later I chose show signs of an approaching threat by telling them they could hear voices and movement in the sewers below.
Those wererats dropped the Thief to 0 hit points, unexpectedly, so we unexpectedly used the Last Breath move. I feared this, since I didn’t really know what to do with it, and sure enough he rolled the mixed success:
On a 7–9, Death himself will offer you a bargain. Take it and stabilize or refuse and pass beyond the Black Gates into whatever fate awaits you.
So I told him he found himself on a limitless sea of blood, stretching to the horizon. A beautiful pale angel rose from the liquid, her wings themselves made of blood dripping back into the ocean. She told him he could live but would forever carry the mark of the wererat who’d sent him there, which he accepted. That feels like it will become a VERY important move for him later…
I had hoped to have more time in the tavern (“The Ample Stern”), but that will probably come later. At the end of their Recover move, It occurred to me that I could already introduce a new faction, triggered by “when everyone looks to you to find out what happens”. So they got a note and some coin from The League of Rat-Catchers, a Krevborna faction that believes “that to fight beasts one must become a beast; they consume vermin both mundane and unnatural to gain their power.”
They decided they wanted to replenish their healing potion supply, so they found an herbalist shop. Because they didn’t have enough coin, the shopkeeper had them run off some young toughs in the city, after which she pointed them at Morrigan Rue to help them find this League. As Morrigan is known to hire adventurers “for inscrutable ends,” I plan to use her in the future.
We’ve moved the game to Monday evenings at 7pm US Central for two hours, so it should not require tremendous effort or disrupt my family life. I have more reflection to do on my own ability to use GM moves and of course writing fronts, but that will come later this week.