After the holidays, most of the group got back together for another session. (Sadly, the Paladin’s player had the flu and could not be present.) The players told me really enjoyed having the freedom to roleplay with each other without the GM interrupting – which made me a bit sad, as it told me they’ve had some really bad GMs before. The easiest scene in the world for me is the PCs chatting while I figure out how to deal with whatever unexpected mess they created in the previous scene… As usual, the session can be viewed on YouTube directly!
We started again with introductory world-building and character exploration questions. My favorite this time was “who is the living person in this world you most care about (no reason)?” Insert evil GM grin here!
Joe the Thief had encountered some bloated seaflesh crawling out of a canal at the end of the last session. With some help from a plague doctor named Ambrosina, he managed to poison it to death. However, he used the opportunity to extort some money from a couple who had fled a moment earlier and thus left their wheelbarrow full of packages and crates with heavy, metallic objects inside. He also stole a pearl necklace from the offerings left a shrine to those lost at sea, giving us a new perspective on this character. I’ve introduced these shrines before, as well as chalk markings on the street that purport to ward off the dangers from a series of murders potentially linked to occult activity.
Clayton the Fighter and Felicity the Bard continued on to meet a patron named Morrigan Rue, who resides in a clock tower. This gave me a chance to introduce some classic Gothic elements, like creepy paintings of old people on the walls as they ascended a spiral staircase. Every one of these things, of course, is an opportunity to show more about the world and its flavor. Similarly, the description of Morrigan’s sitting room came from Tim Burton’s house.
The interplay here is my opportunity to get them to tell me in character what happened before. I can find out what they remember and what they found important – and then, when they try to Discern Realities, the story reshapes itself again. Oh, hey, they think they’ve figured out that she’s a vampire (unnaturally pale, sharp fangs)!
But she does give them a job: to investigate potential cult activity, starting at a tavern called the Octopus’ Smile. She communicated that it was not particularly urgent, because they’ve complained that they need some downtime. And yet, with all the adventure hooks I’ve dangled, nobody has forced them to move quickly. It’s their own ambition holding them back, in some sense.
Joe’s escapades from earlier led to a bit of trouble after the group met back up, because the woman (who he’d identified as possibly being connected to a pirate crew) brought the guard to him due to his extortion and then overstated the amount stolen. Once the guard recognized him, they made him give back a small bit of the extortion money, and even kept part of it themselves. Corruption lies at the very heart of this city.
And then we ended the session with the group deciding to follow that pirate woman! I didn’t expect that in the least, so I’m really glad it happened at the end of our time.
For the first time, I tried a background image for the stream itself. It was the same image as I use for my YouTube thumbnails. It seemed a bit bright, actually, and I’ll probably swap it out next time. Also, I have started to consider getting rid of the dice roll window. On the one hand, lots of folks aren’t really familiar with Dungeon World mechanics. On the other hand, I think the whole point of this sort of storygame is to make the mechanics almost invisible. They shape the fiction but this isn’t a crunchy game.
Another lesson? If you introduce new elements (“she has pirate insignia”), the players have full freedom to use those elements.
So now I have to decide whether to tie the pirates to existing dangers or create a new one. With the inclusion of ancient evils and cults, maybe I can make some things happen all at once…
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