Apocalypse World: Dark Ages Session Report

A follow-up to my playtest observation.

Stronghold

  • What does the stronghold defend? A harbor and a port
  • Who are its enemies? Raiders by land. Raiders by sea.
  • What are its fortifications? An island position; a palisade outer wall; watch and signal towers; and a well or deep cistern.
  • What does its armory include? Hide coats and leather helmets; Bows and a suplly of arrows; Swords.

Characters

  • Acealon (Court Wizard)
    • You are literate.
    • You have the right to step out of your earthly life.
    • You have the right to throw down demons and lawless spirts.
    • You have the right to win over ghosts.
    • Bold 0, Good +1, Strong -1, Wary 1, Weird 2
    • Head of household; Library
  • Darloon, son of Mote (Wicker-Wise)
    • You have a right to enchant someone or something.
    • You have the right to be overcome by an oracular vision.
    • You have the right to speak wisdom in counsel.
    • When you whisper to ghosts you have the right to win them over.
    • Bold 0, Good +1, Strong -1, Wary +1, Weird +2
  • Kadlosch (Blacksmith)
    • You have the right to blood recompense when you are wronged.
    • You are a free landowner.
    • When you rally warriors from among your peers, you have the right to roll Strong.
    • You have the right to slay whom you must for the protection of all.
    • Bold +1, Good 0, Strong +2, Wary +1, Weird -1
    • Head of household; New wealth, armory, vassals, cattle
  • Aezar (Peasant Beauty)
    • When you appear on the battlefield, you are breathtaking and fell.
    • When you confront someone, you are beautiful, poised, and hard as steel.
    • You are exhilerating, intoxicating, when you choose to be.
    • You are radiant and stunning.
    • Bold +2, Good +1, Strong +1, Wary 0, Weird -1

People

  • Norse
    • Bound by the boats, the sea, and the gold
    • Look like: Wiry and tawny brown
    • Known for: Physical prowess, archers, sorcery, superb metalwork, far reaching trade routes
    • Rites 0, War 1, Wealth 1
    • Souls 70, Households 50, Warriors 20
  • Russian
    • They are subjects of the same crown
    • Look like: Hulking, milk white
    • Known for: Devotion to law, patience in suffering, brutal raids, loyalty, marvelous feast
    • Rites 1, War 1, Wealth 0
    • Souls 300, Households 40, Warriors 40
  • Kelds (Baltic)
    • They worship the same god
    • Look like: Small and peach pink skin
    • Known for: Ruthlessness, loyalty, vigilance against sorcery, skill at arms, elaborate cosmology, garish fashions
    • Rites 1, War 2, Wealth -1
    • Souls 30, Households 4, Warriors 8

The Session

Opening Moves

  • Prepare for What’s Coming (Blacksmith)
    • With a new gatehouse
    • With a bounty of food
  • Soldiering (Peasant Beauty)
    • You begin the season unhurt
    • You are owed pay
    • You are still bound to fight
  • Rites & Celebration (Wicker-Wise)
    • Celebrating Old Ways; A blood sacrifice
  • Ask for their Hospitality (Court Wizard)
    • He was given archers to help find the Peasant Beauty’s company
    • Aezar owed Acelone money; Aezar’s ancestors owed money to Acelone, and Aezar kept with tradition.

Session

  • An omen in the fisheries. A black fish being eaten by a white fish being eaten by a black fish.
  • Acelon was going to find Aezar, to call in the debt owed him.
    • Ingrid, the castellan, spared 10 archers to find Ingulf’s company, with whom Acelon was soldiering.
  • Acelon wanted to step out of his earthly life to find Aezar. A botched roll, and he found himself submerged deep underwater. Lanterns bobbing. A maggoty corpse of Ingulf, leader of Aezar’s company, approaching.
  • Acelon threw down the demon, demanding his name – Mannon – and to be left in peace. Acelon awoke, in bed, drenched.
  • Kadlosch was going to undertake a Great Labor by Crafting fine quality arrows for the archers.
    • Assistance was given by way of consulting the spirits
    • Exhausted, Kardlosch nearly broke as he realized that “These apprentices are no better than when I got here.”
  • Acelon Lept into Action (Heading out to find Aezar)
    • Acelon found Aezar but suffered minor scrapes as the Kelds harried him and his company.
  • Aezar, through presence and bravado, was able to break the Kelds and able to make a hasty retreat.
  • In the woods Aezar, Acelon, and the companies meet.
  • Leap into Action (Returning Home)
    • Acelon easily covered the distance to get back to the village, inspiring the company to follow, startling and scattering the raiding kelds.
    • Aezar attempting to keep up, ruins his leather armor and helmet.
  • Raiders on the sea, the watchtowers spotted.
  • Kadlosch and Darloon seeing doom on the horizon, mustered warriors and set about preparing defenses.
  • Batle was eminent, but would it be possible to avoid?Kadlosch’s player grabbed the dice to Avoid Battle.
    • They are raiding for food. The Russians were famished; Kadlosch might be able to convince them to give up their raid if the bounty of food were given.
  • Kadlosch made the offer. And Boris accepted.
  • Darloon consulted the spirits of fallen crewmates of Boris. He won them over to haunt Boris.
  • Aezar called out Boris, the leader of the raiders to join in single combat.
    • Boris had a spear, shield, and hide armor: 4 Harm, 2 Armor
    • Aezar had a knife: 2 Harm, 0 Armor
    • Boris had 1 point to spend choosing between Attack, Defend, Position. Aezar had 3.
    • Boris chose 1 for Harm; Aezar chose 2 for Position and 1 for Defend.

Aezar in a fit of defiance, took a spear to the side, but instead of withdrawing, pressed forward to disarm Boris and bring knife to his throat. Aezar suffered 5 harm, but still drew breath.

With a clear abundance of food, the Russians were willing to relocate their families to this blessed land of abundance.

In haste Kadlosch prepared an enchantment to heal Aezar – Among the other sacrifices, Boris was made the blood sacrifice.

End of Season

  • Aezar spent the remainder of the season recovering
  • Acelon spent the remainder of the season recovering
  • Kadlosch spent time with his people preparing for what’s coming.
    • A bounty of food.
    • Added stone and timber longhouses.
  • Darloon spent time with his people preparing for what’s coming.
    • Added an encircling ditch.

Apocalypse World: Dark Ages Playtest and Observations

This past Saturday at Better World Book’s monthly game day, I ran a playtest session of Vincent Baker‘s Apocalypse World: Dark Ages. There were four other players. We spent about an hour creating the stronghold, people, and characters. Then another two and a half hours “in character”.

The process of crafting the stronghold, people, and characters gave immediate shape to the characters’ environment. As this is a game about strongholds, peoples, and war companies, the game world crafting process is better than any Quickstart Guide.

The game started bumpy; I wasn’t asking my usual questions to grow the world. I fumbled a bit. I went quick to the dice for guidance. This helped me get my feet. I’m also working on a session write up.

Observations

  1. There is a lot of information to juggle
  2. This is my kind of game
  3. Playtest notes

Juggling Information

There are a lot of “nouns” to coordinate in Apocalypse World: Dark Ages:

  • Strongholds
  • Peoples
  • Companies
  • Notables
  • Characters

There are a lot of “verbs” to process of Apocalypse World: Dark Ages:

  • Basic moves
  • Battle moves
  • Season moves
  • People moves
  • Enchantments

I found it challenging to coordinate so many sheets of paper. I was not prepared.

This is My Kind of Game

My favorite long running campaign was a 2nd edition D&D Birthright game. The campaign was a web of individual adventures and political machinations. Character level actions impacted the campaign; And likewise political actions impacted the individual adventures.

With basic moves, the characters have power to ask for more information or take action. Characters can bide their time, assessing things, asking how to affect change. Or they can leap into action to take the initiative.

Layer on the battle moves – of which we didn’t explore. The characters can either take control of something larger than themselves or be part of the scrum.

Last, the season moves provide a mechanism for advancing the campaign calendar. It is a powerful tool at the disposal of the Master of Ceremonies. A scene can be cut short. Brought to a close.

In other words, Apocalypse World: Dark Ages is a game ripe for campaign play.

Playtest Notes

Some of the players at the table wanted more information about wealth. Were they rich? Or poor? How poor? Was there a middle ground? As wealth impacts starting equipment, this was important for some of the players.

We were hesitant to dive into the mass combat rules; The closest we got was a player grabbing the dice to Avoid the Battle. It was a great moment as the player leaned on the move and in essence asked “I don’t think I want to fight for this, what can I do to avoid this battle?” My response was catered to campaign play and not the single session playtest at hand.

There were a few points in which, as a GM, I was fishing for moves that were applicable; I wanted to go to the dice because I wasn’t ready to “Say yes.” Things were at stake. I wasn’t as familiar with the basic moves; Things didn’t flow as smooth as they could.

 

 

 

GenCon’s Apocalypse World KristaCon Event

I had the privilege of attending GenCon this year. I was a volunteer for Games on Demand and a regular player at Games on Demand.

One of the events that I was eager to join was the Apocalypse World KristaCon-style game, run by Mark Diaz Truman and Travis Scott. Earlier at Origins, my son had the privilege to play in a Dungeon World KristaCon-style event run by Travis and Mark. He had such a fantastic time in their game.

For the uninitiated a KristaCon-style event eschews the convention-style one-shot session in favor of something more involved. In the case of Origins and GenCon’s KristaCon-style events, this meant two GMs coordinating three sessions with many of the same players playing in each session.

The result was a mini-campaign where player characters were moving between tables, building the game over the course of 3 sessions.

Barf Forth Apocalyptica

At the table was Mark, Derrick, and sadly 3 other players whose names slip my memory. I had previously played a very memorable game of Dungeon World with Derrick, Travis, and Mark. Derrick and I had played Apocalypse World before, though no more than a handful of times. The other 3 were new to the game system, but quickly proved up for the task.

Mark kicked things off by having us sketch up a bit of our world. We spent about an hour defining our little piece of civilization at the end of the road. Thank you Derrick for kicking things off with your vivid descriptions; It sets the tone for everything. Everyone remained quite engaged, leaning into the game, ready to give but also eager to hear how other things were going.

I ended up playing Found Spider (Hocus). I was a bit confused early on thinking I was grabbing the Brainer, but it turned out a better fit. I based Found Spider loosely on Pennsetucky from Orange is the New Black. Found Spider was a religious nut job with a following.

Found Spider’s followers were her family, congregating near her. They were hungry, desperate, and diseased. But also dedicated and were a powerful psychic antenna.

Three Sessions in Brief

Over the course of three sessions, I watched the fortunes of Found Spider ebb and flow. In the first session Found Spider was quickly on her heels as one of her followers committed a senseless act of destruction – that desperation tag flared up.

In the second session, Found Spider had only 15 minutes of screen time, but it was so very creepy and defining of Found Spider’s character. In those moments I really grew to understand Found Spider and the lengths she would go to.

Most people may howl at having only 15 minutes in a 3.5 hour game, but I was captivated by what was transpiring amongst the other players and was quite content to hear the story unfold.

The phrase that so very much summed up Found Spider was “A spider web requires something sturdy and permanent as its anchor.” This realization that Found Spider was in fact a team player helped to position Found Spider in session three.

In the third session, Found Spider became the euphoric zealot, driven by love. Mark and Travis had some interesting custom moves for the game, one was related to “doing things out of love”. Found Spider stood beside Chairman Proper, fighting for the coffee shop at the end of the road.

Denoument

The KristaCon-style event provided a framework for seeing Apocalypse World in its best light…a continuing series of sessions, in which characters develop in interesting and unexpected ways.

I went into the game knowing that Found Spider was bat shit crazy, but I didn’t realize how bat shit and desperate Found Spider would actually be; Nor did I know at the outset what Found Spider’s actual driving force was.

One of the challenges was making sure that our table focused on the story and not on digging through playbooks to find our next advancement; We addressed that for session ethree, and things really sang at that point.

After our massive confrontation, Mark closed things out by asking for an epilogue for each of our characters. Found Spider ended up marrying Chairman Proper, changing from a religious nut-job to one driven to create a better place – mechanically speaking Found Spider likely shifted to a Touchstone.

How to Hack Apocalypse World with the AW Hacker All-Stars hosted by Pete Figtree

Pete Figtree facilitated a Google Hangouts on the Air round table discussion on hacking Apocalypse World. His guests were Adam Koebel, John Harper, Sage LaTorra, Gregor Vuga, and Johnathan Walton. Below are my notes from the round-table.


Take a look at Kevin Crawford’s Small Publisher Guide PDF and resources.

Sage Latorra: Every design starts as an adaptation or response to something else.

Notes -> Hack -> Complete Game

You need to provide more support as you approach more people.

Sage Latorra: Analyze the basic moves to decide what you need. Don’t assume they are the ones from your foundation.

Why does it attract so many hacks?

John Harper:

  • Vincent devotes a whole chapter to his game for hacking Apocalypse World.
  • AW gives you a skeleton, names, tags, and labels to all of the pieces. The hackers have an entology in which to share ideas. It is not exhaustive for all the possible RPGs one might write.
  • Hacking no longer becomes a long prospect.

Adam Koebel: Playing the game is hacking it. Make up custom moves.

Sage Latorra: It becomes an easy way to talk about other games.

Gregor Vuga: All gaming thoughts were in the framework of Apocalypse World. All components are laid bare.

Adam Koebel: Joe McDonald wrote Simple World, a generic core hacked for Apocalypse World.

John Harper: Monsterhearts is probably a better system for playing your first Apocalypse World game. It is a better distilation of the platonic form of Apocalypse World.

Gregor Vuga: Apocalypse World is not just 2d6, 6-, 7 to 9, 10+; Its a full framework.

Johnathan Walton: You must focus the hack on the fiction. Otherwise, you are not cooking with gas. Simple World does not have an implicit fiction.

Sage Latorra: System Reference doesn’t work for Dungeon World; You need the full tone.

John Harper: World of Dungeons is a “joke about Dungeon World and D&D”; You have to start from somewhere…Dungeon World gives you everything. World of Dungeons gives you the absolute minimum you need to build the game up.

John Harper: “Dungeon World is a great supplement for World of Dungeons.”

The original D&D had precious few rules, as a result, all of the players became game designers; Hacking on D&D.

What do you guys think is the biggest problem when some player comes from pre-conceptions from another hack and plays your hack?

Adam Koebel: Talk about it.
Sage Latorra: There is a tone setting.
Gregor Vuga: Set the expectations.

Adrian Theon: Do you think that if you have a “generic” system, that custom playsets similar to fiasco is a space worth exploring?

Johnathan Walton: It is possible, but we haven’t really seen it.
Adam Koebel: Dungeon Planet and Inverse World are hacks that expand the generic dungeon crawl.

Kyle Simons: What stories should you NOT use the AW engine to tell (can people hack it to tell any story they want?)

Undying broke the roll dice component of AW, but is clearly an AW hack.
Ghost Echo – John Harper’s game

Try to make the game you want to make. Making it a hack shouldn’t be your goal. If its fighting you…abandon it. Though there is a marketing aspect to AW. Make your game! Don’t try to end up making an AW hack.

Johnathan: AW is a body of work. There are ample hacks. You can start anywhere in the opus. If you’ve internalized the games, you may accidentally create an AW hack. Write the game you want to write.

Fiction triggers moves (i.e. triggers interaction with rules)

What steps do you take?

Johnathan: Play a lot of AW to be able to express your game. Study your medium. Study AW hacks.

What is out there:

  • tremulus
  • Monster of the Week
  • Monsterhearts
  • Saga of the Icelander
  • Muderous Ghosts
  • The Sundered Land
  • Ghostlines
  • World of Dungeons
  • The Regiment
  • Inverse World
  • Apocalyse Galactica
  • there are lots more…how is this creative captures

John: Around about session #1, I wish “something” and that will start your hack. Game designer motivation, “Nothing is better than playing a game you don’t like”

Sage Latorra: tremulus is a good AW hack, but he tweaked and made a 4 page hack for his own Cthulhu AW hack

Adam Koebel: Don’t make the playbooks first. They are the most complicated things. They are the only player facing rules. There are layers of narrative economy and interaction.

Johnathan: When writing your AW hack, don’t write custom playbooks. It is easier to get started.

Gregor: Static vision for setting. Envision your interaction with players, then think about your Agenda, Principles, and Moves.

John: As a game design principle, start way earlier. Unleash your notes early on your game group. It will help shine a light on it. Play first, design as support.

What is the bare minimum?

John Harper: Character creation is all you need. It is how the rules point the players at the desired fiction. If you can’t have characters, what do you do?

Gregor: Help the players make characters. Position them in the fiction. For the MC, tell them what their jobs are.

Sage: Rough outline of the first session. Revision is a constant.

Johnathan: Apocalypse World is an onion. The core of the game is a conversation. Above that there are two things: the GM and players have different rules. GM: Principles, moves, agenda. Players: Moves and playbooks.

Sage Latorra: AW is a framework for game design.

Gregor: Look at Murderous Ghosts and the Sundered Lands. Those are Apocalypse World hacks unlike other games.

John Harper: The last page of the Sundered Land tells you how to make an RPG.

Ben Wray: It seems a lot of hacks focus on new playbooks/basic moves, but often use many of the same GM principles/agenda. Any thoughts on hacking the GM-facing side of the system?

Group: Its really important to hack the GM side of the game.

Adam: The point of the rules is to guide play. Creating the narrative in play by the rules. Think about what kind of behavior things are behaving.

Sage: A viable hack can be made, but you are living by the same GM expectations.

Johnathan: A weakness of the design is the perception that as a GM you aren’t rolling dice and thus things are very hand wavy. Go back and read the agenda, principles, and moves. Aspire to do the things on those lists. Review them, they are your score card.

Adam: Record yourself GMing the game. Codify the decisions you are making.

John: The Sundered Land, the GM role is extremely small in scope. It is easier to deconstruct and perhaps easier to keep in memory.

How far could you push the GM facing system before it broke?

John Harper: Nightwitches, by Jason Morningstar, is about Russian pilots in WWII and is inspired by Sagas. There are numerous roles to assume. When your character’s fictional role isn’t being fulfilled, you are the GM. Someone has to do the GM jobs, because conflict is required for rich stories.

Words of Wisdom?

Pete: Is AW a good game to hack?

Adam: Any game you love enough is a good game to hack.

Sage: If you want to hack it, you probably have enough experience.

Pete: Its not particularly harder?

Gregor: It may be a bit easier, as there is a chapter on hacking.

Sage: The explicitness of the game may give a good head start.

Pete: What are your words of wisdom?

Adam: Once you have enough stuff, play it until your eyes bleed and you wish you were dead. You know last week, this is different. Put it away, then pull it out again. You’ll love it and hate it.

Sage: We needed some distance to begin our first supplement. Give it time, and things could be fun again. Be open about your game. Designers are hurt most by being protective or pushing it too hard. Just be excited, put it out there, make it free for everyone. Maybe someone else has made the game.

John: Do not have one game. Have several things kicking around. We all have made lots of discarded carcasses of things and games. The things you’ve seen is all that we’ve “barely been able to finish.” Don’t feel bad if its frustration, abandonment, and failure. Having lots going on is helpful for keeping the creative energies going.

Sage: John and Sage have discarded so many games without even writing docs. Then those that are docs rarely turn into games worth sharing.

Johnathan: Game design can be onerous. Especially AW, the exact wording of moves matters so much. AW is like writing poetry not like writing fiction. Word order matters, choices matter, which move structure matters. The moves interact directly with the fiction. Again look at Sundered Lands. Start really small. Be a part of a design community. It must be supportive and brutally honest. “Man that game was terrible. Lets go get a beer and talk about it.”

Gregor: Its like scripting. If you don’t get the order right you get a compile error. In terms of the community: its about your audience. Failure is discouraging. You must love the process.

Pete: This community is fueled by passion.

Just Arrived – Monster of the Week by Michael Sands

Awhile ago, I sponsored the IndieGoGo campaign for Monster of the Week by Michael Sands. Monster of the Week is a part of the burgeoning Apocalypse World hack ecosystem.

Monster of the Week

Monster of the Week

I was pulled into the IndieGoGo campaign with the one-two punch of Apocalypse World engine and “It models seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

And today it arrived.

I’ve read a good portion of the PDF, but didn’t finish it. I find game books are easiest for me to read in physical form – in fact most books remain easier for me to read if I have a physical copy.

To my knowledge, this game is the first RPG I’ve purchased from a New Zealander.

I’m looking forward to reading this book and giving it a try. I’m going to run at least one session before GenCon so I should have this in my repertoire of games that I can run at Games on Demand.

More importantly, when I mentioned that the game was partly inspired by Buffy the Vampire Slayer, my kids immediately perked up – they love Buffy, Xander, Willow, Giles, Spike, and company.

The challenge remains not enough time for all the games. At least we got a few hands of Tichu in this evening.

Who Knew the Apocalypse Would Spawn So Many Games

I’m fascinated by Apocalypse World and its progeny (i.e. Dungeon World, Monster of the Week, Apocalypse Galactica, The Regiment etc.).

The core rules of the game are easily accessible. The tone and scope are encoded in the moves…and each table is encouraged to create custom moves appropriate for their session/game.

The games mandate that lots of questions be asked and answered – after all everyone is there to play to find out what happens. This strongly discourages isolated world building, and instead pushes towards defining the world through play.

But, most importantly, my fevered fascination with the game comes from the well defined Failure, Partial Success, and Success of a move. Certainly this isn’t the first game with three (or more) possible results for a roll. But it is the concrete definitions of Success and Partial Success that ignites my brain.

Another interesting thing, when I’ve GM-ed one of these games, I rarely want to see a move Fail. After all, Failure means that I can make a hard move. I am on the hook to come up with a response on the spot. In this way, the games naturally steer me towards “Being a fan of the characters” because the other path is more work.

Contrast with a Partial Success for a move. The Partial Success of a move provides a framework to work within. Even with a set of well defined GM moves, Failure is more involved than the other two outcomes.

That isn’t to say I won’t do my job and make a Hard Move. In fact, the hard moves are my time to shine and inject more into the story. Separate them, dissolve their sword, bring in reinforcements, and in general push them hard. This then makes their success all the better.

Another tangentially related reason for my fascination is that the games are very quick to pick up and start playing. The moves are right there for everyone to see. Each game has  different conflict resolution systems – Dungeon World’s the least like the others.  So I can quickly pick up each of these games, knowing that the Agenda, Principles, and Moves are the Cliff Notes of what the games will be about.

Thank you Vincent Baker, and the entire Apocalypse World hacking community. You’ve created some great games that I look forward to playing.

Floundering Around the Burning Wheel

Presently I’m running one Burning Wheel campaign and playing in another.  I feel both of them are circumventing portions of the game.

First, we rarely do proper Artha awards.  Instead of setting aside time at the end, we prefer to play until the last minute.  By the time we wrap up the session the kids are tired or others need to get to our next obligation, we only do a very simple Artha awards sequence.  Typically, we hand out 2 Fate and 1 Persona, then look for anything exemplary.

It’s not rules as written and it certainly feels awkward and shameful.  Ultimately, I believe we do these shameful things because character’s beliefs are not tying into the game.  This is a group failing.

In the case of Bloodstone, I provided the introduction for everyone to tie into. I didn’t work as closely with all of the players to make sure their beliefs tied into the game.  We don’t have a laser-like focus.  As such, there are some characters, namely Remy and Holden, who are typically more peripheral to the game.  Granted, negotiating beliefs for 5 characters of differing experience and age is challenging to begin with.

In the case of the Butcher, Baker, and Candlestick Maker, we had a vision of how our characters were connected, but those characters were made in a knowledge vacuum.  We certainly knew about the Crypt of the Slug Mother, but as players we didn’t know where the campaign was going.

These failings leave us in a somewhat jumbled mess, as some characters are floundering for their spot in the story.

One notable difference that I’m seeing between the two campaigns is the concept of complications.

I am perfectly content letting my players come up with many things…if they succeed on a test; Let them scavenge for anything, make Dark Secret-wise tests, attempt to console their companion…but I hope they know that a failed test will give me ammunition.  Sort of like roll a 6 or less in Apocalypse World, I now get to make a Hard Move.

Contrast with the Butcher, Baker, and Candlestick Maker, where several test failures are met with “Nothing Happens.”  And in a handful of cases, success could be distilled to “Nothing Happens.”  Which sucks.

The key thing I’ve learned is, let the characters propose actions.  If you don’t want to see it happen, make a high Obstacle.  Let the players then figure out how to reach for it.  If they succeed, give it to them.  If they fail…make a Hard Move.

Personally, a test should change the state of the game, and I believe other game players would agree.  Apocalypse World and it’s brilliant derivative Dungeon World, hard-code this in the moves.  In order to truly change the state of the game, you have to make a move – in Burning Wheel it would be make a test.  Think about it…in Settlers of Catan the state of the game changes when the dice are thrown…some people get new resources, others might get robbed.

It has taken a bit for me to more readily see the possible complications of a test.  It’s not that I wasn’t doing it before, its just now, I’m willing to throw things out there and let a player decide how hard they want to push for a success.  Its a calculated negotiation between players that directly impacts their characters.

What I’ve found to be best for running my Burning Wheel game has been to review the agenda, principles, and moves of Dungeon World (Get the Basic Rules PDF for $5).

In short, follow these guidelines, in order:

  • What the rules demand
  • What the adventure demands
  • What honesty demands – be open and honest
  • What the principles demand
    • Draw maps, leave blanks
    • Address the characters, not the players
    • Embrace the fantastic
    • Make a move that follows
    • Never speak the name of your move
    • Give every monster life
    • Name every person
    • Ask questions and use the answers
    • Be a fan of the characters
    • Think dangerous
    • Begin and end with the fiction
    • Think offscreen, too

I’ve already illustrated the moves of Dungeon World and Apocalypse World.  It’s not that I didn’t do those things before, its simply that the above outline is sort of like a liturgical invocation; a chance to set aside other thoughts and consider what the players demand; An enjoyable time with friends.