[Dungeon World / Apoc D&D] Dingledale's finest

edited February 2011 in Actual Play
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!


  • Huzzah! That sounds like a real blast! Tell us more!
  • Part Two: Their first adventure!

    Thanks Tony! that's fine praise from the fellow who sorta got me started on this whole retro D&D thang in the first place, and the map they used is one of your microdungeons. It can be as much fun as you remember. Truely!

    Anyways, the lads were adrift in the wilderness with not much to go on other than a few whispered rumours and their map of the dungeon. They had very little in the way of supplies and no real experience of the wilds. I surmised this to them as such and asked 'What do you do?'

    "Don't I know any Aragorn types here abouts? I am a hobbit after all, they always seem to have a guardian ranger or wizard or something.' Asked Brancino
    It didn't really fit the bill of the adventure hook move, but I was inspired by my fondness for the Burning Wheel Circles mechanic when I asked how he was going about it.
    'Oh, you know when I was little I spent a bit of time tramping about these woods, there's bound to be a crusty woodsman dude nearby. I call out for Cathcart Jonny.' (Cathcart Jonny is a local itnerant that the local people regard with some fondness. He traipses along the backroads looking for roadkill that he hacks up with a hatchet and takes back to his camp in the bush.)
    'Yeah, Cathcart Jonny!' pipes in Tonks. 'He'd know how to get the Bugbear Caves.'

    'Fine, roll plus Charisma to find Cathcart. 10+ he's your friend, 7-9 he wants something first, and on a miss he finds you, after hearing that you've left town, he's got a score to settle.' I hope this won't backfire as I'm pulling it all outa my arse. Chris rolled a 7 and after stumbling wildly through the dense forest comes across Jonny's Hut. After a brief bit of roleplay and a crazy narration from Marc describing their shared meal with the drug-addled ranger, the Hagrid-esque Jonny offers to aid them in their jaunt through the wilderness so long as they get the High Wizard's of the academy to re-instate him as the teacher for Monsterous affairs. (It was revealed he'd caused the death of some wizardry students due to an unfortunate accident with a carrion crawler.)

    'What's a carrion crawler?' Asked Marc, can I see that monster manual? I told him he could only research when he returned to Dingledale and apologised to the Wizard Conclave, hopefully re-instating him as a bona fide Wizard. 'Yeah, but I can always pay them off when I find all this treasure everyone talks about.'

    The troupe departed in the morning, failing their Undertake a dangerous journey move, even with Cathcart Jonny's help. I plonked a die in the tine cup and informed them that after a few days of travel, using up all their supplies Jonny pulls back a curtain of foliage to reveal the clearing that leads to the Bugbear caves.... Except its not. Its a dirty, smelly swamp and there is a bad feeling about it. 'Oh, it never used to look like this!' Jonny gesticulates.
    'What's bad about it?' asked Tonks
    'Sounds like you're trying to discern its reality. Roll that move on your sheet.' I have a authorship tweak I use when improvising this move: The players ask one of the questions on the list and they can tell me what the answers to the questions are.

    'No No, he's lead us to the right place!' clamours Tonks. ' Its like a secret! The entrance is under the swamp, we have to swim down and up through the caves. See? Here on the map!' He points unerringly at the series of watery caves at the lower end of the dungeon map.
    'Sweet, have an awesome dice' I say I as I hand him a die out of the tincup. Cool move. 'So what do you do?'
    'See this move here - Pull a stunt? I do that to get into the caves through the muck.' Marc rolls a 9.
    'You make it, though you have to shuck off all your robes and leave your spellbook behind as to not damage it. Xena follows you, but likewise ends up starkers and muddy in the caves. Brancino?'
    'Eff that Tonksy, you can have it, I'm not taking off my chaps, there has to be another way in, I'll meet you in the big cave where the party is going down.' Chris manages to defy danger and use his thievery skills to make it past the Kobold guards at the main entrance. Cathcart Jonny however, is firmly sighted down my crossbow crosshairs and runs screaming back into the woods, covered in nasty kobolds biting and scratching him with ubiquitous rusty knives.

    'Huh, I steal some of their outfits from the locker room and head off to the main party cave' began Brancino.
    'Wait, what? Lockers? Tell me what you see' I ask for detail and to point to the room on the map.
    'You know, those kobold guys are bouncers right? So there's bound to be lockers or chests or something in this entrance with their spare outfits. Since they are harassing Jonny, I take an outfit. I can pass my self off as one of them.' Chris seems rather pleased.
    'You're a dark-skinned halfling, they are dog like reptilians that eat almost anything. That's a big call. sounds like you're pulling a stunt, but use charisma instead of dexterity.' I'm amused and somewhat pleased at his innovative play.
    'Yeah, well I stick to shadows and stuff, so I'll roll my extra awesome die O.K.? An 11! Cool. I want to suffer little damage, confuse and trick my enemies and end up at the dance hall!' A tall order, but I tell him to mark experience and narrate his success, since it was pretty funny.

    Meanwhile the naked Tonks and Xena have a ruckus with a green slime, Tonks misfires his magic missile and enrages a carrion crawler in the depths of the dungeon. Battered and bruised after a disastrous hack and slash, Tonks flees to escape with his life, Xena is left behind to perish horribly...
    'Good thing you have two pretend girlfriends' laughs the incognito Brancino. Though swallows his snark as the bare-arsed wizard barrels into the dance hall, arcane light floating above his head like a beacon, carrion crawler in tow.

    I got Chris to read out the remaining Bugbear entry in the monster Manual, and Marc to skim the blurb for the carrion crawler. 'Now' I asked, 'what would a Bugbear dance party look like, and what would the carrion crawler do in this situation?'
    'Well, since they are a continuing source of irritation, I bet they are listening to trance music, played by some doped up elvish slaves that they haven't eaten yet.' Chris is getting into this.
    'I think the carrion crawler would be scared by all the loud music and dancing moshpit of Bugbears and forget all about me' mutters an out of breath Tonks.
    'Sounds good. The High Ceilinged cave hums with the discordant drone of smacked-out elvish trance. A huge mob of Bugbears moshes about with gay...' I wink at Brancino '...abandon. They are munching on the remains of unlucky human prey, roasting in the fire pits that line the centre of the cave.'
    'Like in the Matrix!' clamours Marc, 'You know, when Zion is threatened'
    'Sure,' Chris replies 'but what about the treasure? Where's that?'

    A few moves later, the pair have managed to distract the main mob with the carrion crawler, slice a few Bugbears into hamburger, free the elvish musos with promises to get them to re-hab in Dingledale, and discover the scollcase of one former degenerate master Wizard now skin and bones upon the Bugbear's midden pile. The scroll case contains a map of his latest project, a vast holding under Phoenix Mountain, where it seems he was preparing to invade Dingledale and recruit the Bugbears to his cause with promises of manflesh. Unfortunately, they found little other loot (a few indigestible sparkly gems and a suit of plate armour). Desperate to return for rest and recovery, the lads scarpered from the dungeon, crack whore elves in tow, Tonks wearing only his requisitioned Plate mail.
    'Gee that would chafe huh?' Marc commented wryly. 'Maybe Cathcart Jonny will have my robes?'

    At the edge of the forest, they were met by a bloodied and disheveled Cathcart Jonny. 'I believe this is yours' he said handing Tonks a torn and half eaten spellbook. 'The kobolds ate the rest. Now, take me back to the Wizard's high council so I can get my job back like you promised!'
    'Dogs ate your homework!' Cackled Brancino 'Nice suit of armour bro, maybe you should join the town guard or something. Oh, and how are you gonna explain Xena's disappearance to the Madam of the Stinky Fish huh?' Truely, I had to do little, these guys just handed it to me on a plate.

    We narrated the return to Dingledale without incident and as they hit the 'Raw Prawn' (a pawnshop), Tonksey discovered the suit of armour he was wearing belonged to a knight of the Black Orchid called Sir Catweazle. Apparently he had disappeared around the time of the last full moon party claiming he was stepping out for the privies, intoning the age old excuse of 'I may be gone for some time'. His aunt, countess Polly was most pleased to hear of his demise and in return for his armour offered Tonksey a place as court magician at her castle a few days hence. He said he would think about it and get back to her.

    We called it quits at this point and my mates decided they'd like to do more on our next camping trip. We have the beginnings of many an adventure and the system works great. I can't wait to see the full blown version of Dungeon World, and would be happy to pay for it!
  • Noofy, there is so much awesome in your post. I've played a few sessions with the same lighthearted tone, and I love hearing about other people's as well. The idea of a Bugbear Dance Party has had me smiling for most of the day. Glad you had a good time!
  • This is completely ridiculous and I love it.
  • *blush* Thanks folks.
    No really. AW and in turn DW make this sort of Story Gameplay easy. Real easy. (at least for the first session). I can't wait to put some thought into the Front of Mt. Phoenix, and the threats it contains.
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