Part One: Breaking the Ice.
In the fond hope that Sage will grant me access to the Dungeon World Aventurers club, I'd like to relate a tale of introducing story gaming (or in this case any sort of roleplay) to some friends of mine. To set the scene, I recently went on a boys camping trip to the beach with my two long time (non-gamer) mates. At a local primitive camping ground called Mystery Bay (I kid you not.) http://www.narooma.org.au/mysterybay.html
You know; surfing, fishing, snorkeling, skydiving (me anyway).... and Story Gaming! Wha?
Yup, on the first night around the campfire under dwindling light, with headtorches akimbo and full bellies of charcoaled fish, I suggested (after a few intoxicating bevvies) that we lads have a roleplay session to entertain ourselves. There was some consternation, shifting uncomfortably in their fold-out chairs, looking at the relative proximity of our fellow primitive campers and the odd raised eyebrow at this.' No, no' I assured them, nothing sexual! You see, these two 40-something mates of mine had never roleplayed before. Never.
'Like what?' asked Chris, D&D?
Ahhh, I thought, he's heard of the concept. 'Yeah, sorta. But simpler, more about telling a story than fighting with miniatures and stuff.'
'Cool. Sure, why not?' Marc looked blankly at the both of us as if we were speaking in tongues.
'Is this one of your boardgames Noofy? Caus if it is, I'm not sure...'
'No, its not a board game, its a story telling game. We're all going to tell a story together.' How cheesy! When was the last time I'd introduced RP? 9th Grade? I had a quick mental flash of Moz from the IT Crowd and quickly moved on.
'What sort of story? Like a scary campfire story?' Marc looked at me with a wry grin.
'Maybe. But the premise is a fantasy; LoTR, Harry Potter, Prince of Persia, Xena, How to train your Dragon. That sort of thing. You guys are going to be the heroes. Here choose one....'
I whipped out my pre- prepared laminated character sheets for Dungeon World, similarly protected move sheets from both Apoc D&D and DW, a box of mini-d6s (I'll explain later).
'Can I be a gay hobbit assassin?' asked Chris.
'What? Like gay gay, or just happy?' Marc looked at him with scrutiny.
'However you'd like. Its not apparent. He's gotta be cool though, with magic shit and stuff.' Chris seemed like he'd done this before! (he hadn't)
'Um, sure.... You'll have to work your way up to being an assassin though. How about a thief? Take a look.' I handed Chris the sheet.
'Can I be a wizard, like in Harry Potter?' Marc was losing his hesitation, and had come across the Wizard Sheet.
'Sure, both of you have a read, we'll answer the questions one by one and choose some special talents for each of you. Then we can start.'
Chris described his halfling as mean, dark and bristling with hidden weapons.
'What, like Megosh from Willow? What's he look like? What''s his shtick?' I prompted.
'Willow? What's that? No, he's like a shrunken version of the Cop from the Village People, but nasty with a knife. He doesn't have a good voice either, but he has a few daggers hidden in his chaps.' Chris was grinning, and sketching on the reverse of his sheet with the wipeable marker I had given him.
'Cool. What about you Marc?'
''Um, My Wizard is you know, a wizard. Robes and stuff, with a wand and glasses and a pretend girlfriend. Oh and I know spells, lots and lots of spells.'
'You can only start with two, here choose from this list.'
'What?! Two pretend girlfriends?' Chris guffawed as he had another beverage, 'Mate, you are a wizard!'
The banter continued, the playbooks working admirably to set the premise and encourage talk. Well done Sage! I went over the moves and the basic mechanic and asked the guys to introduce themselves, explaining that we were going to 'follow them around' for a bit to see where the story was headed. We ended up with Branson the gay (take it as you will) halfling wannabe assassin with a leather fetish, who resided above the postoffice in Dingledale. He had stolen Tonks' spellbook, thinking it valuable, but later finding it inconsequential had returned it to him over an ale at the Stinky Fish Bawdy House. Tonks was a bumbling young wizard, recently expelled from the Magic Academy in Dingledale for losing his spellbook and truancy. He had lost his billet at the school and was currently shacking up with some elven hussy named Xena in a waterfront dive. He has struck an unlikely friendship with Branson, who he vows will someday stop laughing at him, especially when his magic proves the point!
'Brancino' piped Chris. 'All my mates and those who fear me call me Brancino. Its cooler.'
'O.K. so you're cool. But you're also destitute and an adventurer. What do you do?'
"Well, can I go to the assassin's club and get a job?'
'I don't know? Can you? See your moves? Sounds like you are looking for an adventure hook yeah? Roll...'
We used the moves to do stuff, I tried to follow the principles, and I explained my own hack from Old School Hack of the awesome dice. Whenever the players do something awesome, anyone can give them a die from the tin cup (the pool starts with 2 each for a total of 4). The extra die(dice) can be added to any roll the player selects any two results from the pool to make the score of the die roll. The spent die then goes back to the stack (next to me) and you mark experience. Whenever I make a hard move or introduce ominous portents of doom, I add a die from my stack into the tin cup. Awesome!
Brancino ended up thrown out of the assassin's club and told to go hang out with the thieves guild until he learned some manners (or a better dress sense), and at least murder something. Wandering down to the waterfront, he met up with Tonks at the Stinky Fish and they had a chat (Parley) with Xena about the up and coming party into the wilds outside the walled pallisade of the town.
'What kind of party? Like a Dance Party? That sounds awesome! Can Xena come?' Tonks had a few ales and his headtorch was wobbling.
'Um... That wasn't exactly what I had in mind but O.K. Sure. You have one more question from the list. Brancino?'
'Yeah, whoes invited to the party, like monsters?' He had spied the new 4e monster manual digest format I had brought for just this sort of improvisation.
'Why not? Leaf through that and choose one monster type that'll be holding the dance party. Its rumoured that adventurers that survive the ruckus return to Dingledale bulging with sacks of loot.' Chris flicked open to one of the first entries and choose the indomnitable Bugbears! This was going to be great. Chris began to read out the blurb. 'Sounds like you're Spouting Lore my friend! Before you read any further you are going to have to roll.'
'I'll help, I'm sure my text books would have something on monsters.' Marc was getting it. I grinned with enjoyment. This was actually working!
A short while of negotiated consequences and shared authorship later, the dastardly duo were off to the fabled Bugbear Dance Party Revel, Xena the elven courtesan in tow as an underpaid hireling and packmule, one-page dungeon map in hand and a journey beyond the dubious sanctity of Dingledale's roughshod walls.
Next up, our heroes infiltrate the bugbear's caves, cause some mayhem and return beaten and bloody not with material treasure, but the promise of far greater rewards under Phoenix Mountain!