Dungeon World/D&D/WoD - Story Elements!

edited April 2014 in Make Stuff!
You've been asked to run a game of D&D-esque fantasy on short notice, and you've got nothing prepared. You're confident in your improvisational skills and your players are awesome, but you want this one cool thing, one playing piece you want to bring to the table that leaves your mark on the session. A focal point around which the events of the game will transpire.

Each player brings their character, and their interpretation of the character, as their offering in this fantasy "potluck". So, what do you bring? Is it an NPC, a location, an item, an organization?

Describe in 1-to-4 sentences, brief but evocative: what's your offering at this potluck, what will be the focal point around which your improvisations will flow? Make it something special, something unique to you, with your own personal flavour. If you were going to write a fantasy novel, your magnum opus... this one thing would definitely be in it.

(Afterwards, we can use your offerings as seeds for adventure, or perhaps one or more random tables: a crowd-sourced compendium of cool fantasy knick-knacks, or an Oracle for full-colour fantasy gaming.)


  • A crater in the hills north of town at the center of which lies a glowing purple egg. It's known that when people enter the crater, they don't normally leave. When they do, they're changed, sometimes horribly.
  • edited April 2014
    An abandoned clock-tower where a clock-tower should not be.
    It may be in the middle of a desert, deep within a rain-forest, in the unexplored reaches of Antarctica where only God and penguins can see it, or in the deepest trench of the ocean where even God is blind.
    The ravages of time have eroded its basalt gargoyles into Cyclopean abstractions like those of Modernist sculptors.
    Stonesensing dwarves will note, with bewilderment, that the clock-tower's stone is older than the planet.

    ...Oh, and one more thing: the clock's hands tick backwards.
  • A castle built on a massive bridge over a great ravine. At the bottom of the ravine flows a small river through the woodlands, but the cliffs to the sides are so high that the bridge is almost among the clouds. At the middle the bridge becomes broader, and holds a castle, with the ordinary "basement" dungeon levels extending below the bridge, inside two massive pillars. Lots of flying critters and perilous ledges.
  • * A boastful talking frog who claims to be the cursed prince of the ruined castle the PCs are exploring. There are some very obvious gaps in his story, but he seems to believe it. Ancient texts the PCs might excavate give more credence to some (but not all) of his story.
  • The last Elf, a being who holds the terror of the storm in her eyes, is dying.
  • One of my players' favourites, when I asked them, was:

    Marigold, a sickly, gangly horse with stringy hair, bloodshot eyes, and bleeding gums. (A sort of equine version of Gollum, if you will.)

    Marigold was a Tchegaran bloodmare: a rare creature from the South, a flesh-eating horse. Mostly melancholy, appearing depressed, she would occasionally "wake up" if an animal like a curious dog got too close. An unlucky dog might get its head smashed by a hoof and become Marigold's dinner, her blunt teeth tearing skin and flesh off the carcass.

    Bloodmares have an incredible sense of smell, particularly for blood, and Marigold was brought on an expedition to track down an elusive criminal wanted by the Crown.
  • What Is Said of the Willow Witch:
    (in four increasingly improbable and erratically rhyming sentences)

    The Willow Witch, they say, is a Springtime youth
    Yet a thousand Winters old.
    They say she softens the hardest heart
    Yet yearns, and leaves them cold.

    They say the Willow Witch's Weird is the Doom to always know
    Every Lie Unspoken and every Truth Untold -
    Save only two (which most she craves to hold):
    Whence the Shadows come and whither the Light doth go

    "A Pauper Queen", they cry - "the Virgin Harlot", they hue -
    Some say "Scold" and others whisper "Ingenue";
    Yet the wildest tale of the Willow Witch they tell (or so they say "They" do)
    Is that ALL the tales (or so they say) they tell of the Willow Witch are True.

    Background: in all my worlds, there is a swamp near a town. And in that swamp there is a hut. And in that hut there is a witch. It's only now that I've come to realize that, old or young, malign or benign, it's pretty much the same witch.

  • A guy who really, really, really wants the PCs to be famous and wants them to let him make that happen.
  • JD,

    Is there more to that - a gaming story, or even a bit of fantasy colour? What's the deal?
  • A pack of wights has been "recruiting" in the area. They pose as small groups of stranded or waylaid pedlars or pilgrims. Anyone kindly enough to help them or take them in disappears ... until they show up on the road one day, on a cart with a broken axle, and won't you please give them a lift back to town?
  • In the town, there is a raincoat under a tree.
    In the sky, there is a cloud containing the sea.
    In the sea, there is a whale without any eyes.
    In the whale, there is a man without his raincoat.
  • The ever-frozen mountain is melting, sending spring water in streams around both sides of the village. Black smoke billows from hidden crevices. The oldest man in the village says that his grandfather told him that dwarves lived under the mountain, but that they closed their doors and the mountain fell asleep. Now someone, or something, has started the furnaces.
  • × I would bring a piece of paper, a pen and draw contours on the paper to make it into a map.
    × I would let each participant come up with either a person, place, event, rumor, item or faction and draw it on the map.
    × Two things for each participant would be enough, and each one must provide a short explanation of what they drew.
    × I would then pick one thing on the map as the adversary, and the one to defeat, and use the rest as inspiration for what the characters can come upon.


    Probably not the answer you're after but ...
  • JD,

    Is there more to that - a gaming story, or even a bit of fantasy colour? What's the deal?
    People in fantasy times want to be famous too! There's really no deal. Basically he's your hype man and you get into adventures because he's bragged about you a lot to lots of influential people.

  • edited April 2014
    Basically, they're like a fantasy entertainment agent looking to sponsor the Next Big Heroes? I could totally buy that. Actually, that'd be a really fun premise to kick off a Dungeon World campaign. What are their motives? What's their ultimate goal? Yeah.
  • The ragtag gang of adventurers is forced by a sudden blizzard to seek shelter in a small village of a dozen buildings. In the middle of the night, with the storm raging at its worst, figures appear through the whipping snow. No sane human would travel in this weather, but they are neither sane nor human, they are undead. Zombies and skeletons attack the village for no apparent reason.

    Note to self: When the PCs enter a new room, always describe the exits they can use to flee when the place is overrun by undead. If they clear out a house, make them hear pleas for help through the storm from the next building. It's fun if they move between different houses and in each face new situations of the undead threatening the living.
  • edited May 2014
    The world grows dark; twilight is upon it. Monsters hunt men in the night. The only solution is that the Sleeper must awaken, to end this encroaching of long night. She slumbers in the the Tower of Id, a black finger that stretches infinitely into up into the ether. Only by steading the Tower's trials will the Ancient Bonfire be lit and the Sleeper's Awakening bring light anew.

    The twist is that they are aspects of the sleeper's persona, and that this is all the dream of a young girl. Use some Jungian psychology(collective and personal unconscious type stuff) for the puzzles and monsters (no wandering or random stuff, just iconic archetypical ones), and make them relevant to the final boss/ awakening.
  • edited May 2014
    1-to-4 sentences, right? Sounds like a table to me. :D There's an earthquake in the Big City! A huge rent in the ground reveals...

    1. A thick seam of gold. Nuggets of the precious snuff litter the crevasse and the well water leaves gold dust glittering in the bucket.
    2. A torrent of oil! The black blood of the earth pours into the streets, despoiling everything and making the population ill. The smallest flame will engulf the city in a firestorm.
    3. A passage into a mystical underworld filled with danger and strange creatures. Perhaps the gate keeper of this place is being heckled by the growing crowd.
    4. Sweet, sticky rock. The ground itself seems to ooze treacle of inexplicable provenance. It's quite edible and can be refined into a delicious product.
  • It's a bit hard for me to come up with something confidently without knowing what the PCs are all about. :)

    Two silly ideas, for what they're worth:

    Bladerunner but instead of replicants, you have golems or some other magical automaton with real consciousness. Instead of Deckard, you have the PCs as enforcers (or if they join the golems, targets).

    Another one:

    Evil personified is hiding in X region, protected by an eeeeevil cult. They must find it and destroy it. Except unbeknownst to them, it's a newborn who has a dark destiny. What do the do once and if they get a hold of the baby? Kind of inspired by The Omen and Rosemary's Baby.

    I could see that turning into a 3 Men and a Baby campaign if they decide to raise it to be non-evil.

    I'm joking, of course,...or am I?
  • 4 kids from Two Trees went delving into the demon-haunted hole in the ground that all locals know was once some kind of bloody shrine to Orcus. They've been gone for a few days and have not returned. Please help them. Here's the ancient map our local priest safe-guarded, back when we had a priest.

    I'd grab a one-page dungeon or map online and go for it.

    Tables: State of the kids (undead/lost/immobile/starving/evil) Random Encounter for the local forest.
  • The PCs are re-living the same day over and over - hunted down and murdered by the residents of a possessed town. Only when they slaughter every last person can the horror end, but then they'll have some explaining to do...
  • edited May 2014
    The Fountain of Youth is out there, as foretold by legend. And it actually works - in its own way. Drinking the water gives you some moderately beneficial effect for a limited time and makes you feel wonderfully energetic, but meanwhile it is making you "younger" by removing individual memories from your mind*, starting with newer ones and going back toward older ones. Most of the incidents forgotten are so minor their loss goes unnoticed. PCs may not notice anything wrong until one of them begins exhibiting memory loss over major incidents that just occurred hours or days ago. Loved ones, family histories, key facts, important conversations, all might be forgotten. If use of the water goes on on enough, an entire level (or skill, etc, depending on system) might be lost.

    * nod to "Don't Rest Your Head"
  • A city built around the body of a fallen titan leftover from prehistory. Whether the creature is dead is a matter of debate; its flesh regrows and heals. This does make it an endless source of foul-but-endurable meat for the poor of the city, alchemical reagents, and necromantic materials. Some people carve their homes into the creature's body.
  • Mr. Coruspax's Marvellous Menangerie and Death Defying Acts has set up camp in a multitude of colourful tents on the outskirts of town. By all accounts the opening show last night for the nobility was met with a resounding standing ovation!

    Unfortunately it seems that someone (or something) has managed to circumvent the wards on the creatures cages and let them all loose in the wee hours.... A manticore is terrorising the orchard whilst hordes of domesticated (trained) daeomonlings have been tearing through the market district. Its all hands to the cause to try and round up the menangerie, leaving a host of magical paraphenalia unattended in the grand tent, what will you do!
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