Author Topic: Actual Play and Stuff I Don't Understand- Strange Magic  (Read 2830 times)

ZonerZ

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Actual Play and Stuff I Don't Understand- Strange Magic
« on: June 06, 2012, 04:15:01 AM »
Ignore this if you want, not part of the actual play (all technical details are underlined): This is probably an unconventional actual play- it's the first I've seen that wasn't written by a DM- and I think it was a pretty unconventional campaign. But I figure input from unexpected directions is still in the spirit of improving the game.

Actual Play:

This party setup was awesome and consisted of:

Ribbon (Neutral Human Thief) is a mercenary operating under an alias to eliminate racial purists.

Astrafel (Good Human Bard) is a traveling musician who accidentally learned Ribbon's real name, making her a liability, so he's stalking her.

Marcus Arealius (Good Human Cleric) is a warfather for Korinth, god of honorable battle, who's along to make sure Ribbon isn't a threat to Astrafel.

I found character creation a little restraining; the serious decisions like alignment and race feel out of my hands. In 4e I hated charOp, and having it all on the sheet did wonders for streamlining the process, but having only two options made me feel like I was pressured to take one of the more efficient options.

The biggest problem was alignment. My DM usually has a very strict 'good character only' rule. So the thief's player just had to pick the only alignment available that would play nice with a good campaign and a give-no-ground kind of DM.  No one was playing a unique character, so much as an archetype in a new situation. Again, streamlined the process a lot, and the alignments available/unavailable all made perfect sense; at a table of new players I would definitely limit their options to what are given. That's all house ruled easily enough to not worry about, though.

The DM was confused about how the cleric's Rotes worked. Nowhere on the sheets does it mention if they chose one or get all of them by default (every other aspect of our characters is printed clearly on the sheets). As they all had a spell level of one, we weren't sure if their levels count towards the cleric's spell limit or if they were something different entirely. We also didn't know if they were limited to one use a day or given unlimited uses. We just opted to give him one use of every one.


So our adventure 'started off' (I'm ignoring our character creation/tutorial chapter, because it was pretty rough and it definitely wasn't the system's fault) with the party waking up in a chamber, strapped to standing steel tables. Two people on the floor before them stared at the ceilings in panic, muttering something about structural failure before running off. The room began to rumble, shaking us from our bindings and onto the ground. Lacking in memory and wanting answers the party tore off after them. We made a wrong turn at a fork and found ourselves in a dank room that began in downward stairs leading to a chest surrounded by a forcefield. A sign above it read 'EMPLOYEES ARE TO REMOVE ALL EQUIPMENT BEFORE ENTERING. 3 WARNINGS MAXIMUM.' So, after the Cleric and Thief argued over which of them should be naked to grab the chest, both agreed the bard should do it while they leave the room. Before that, the thief decided to test the force field.

A big annoyance was what did and didn't count as being a trap. This force field seemed magical (and later we found out it was) which made the thief reluctant to check it. Even after he decided to, the DM thought it would be better to just Spout Lore, so the Thief was stuck rolling at a -1 instead of the +2 given to him by Trap Expert. I think that there may be a clear definition for what constitutes a trap in the materials, but I didn't see it. It would be really nice if it were spelled out clearly somewhere where it could be found easily by players and DMs alike. I can already see a long campaign of 'Well, won't work with this trap,' in games with tough DMs, which makes the thief class more like Fighter's Little Brother without the multiclass options.

The party got bored trying to figure out the trap because nothing they could do didn't end in the bard getting bounced off, and eventually they took a new route to tail their captors. We came to a door to our left (though the hallway stretched ever forward) and the cleric decided to open it. Inside were two crazed neanderthals. The cleric immediately slammed the door and valiantly held it shut so the others could eek past, and they charged ever forward to see a metal door ahead of them. The thief decided to launch himself feet first into the door. He managed a 7, and the DM let him choose between opening the door and causing some rocks to fall on him, or just bouncing off the door. He opted to just bounce off. Meanwhile, the cleric has torn off towards them with the neanderthals tailing him. My DM has decided that after 10 seconds of no deliberate action, one nearby enemy auto-hits (it's a pretty nice idea). So the neanderthals hit the cleric for negligible damage, and the bard tries to heal him with a healing song. This whole time we thought the cleric was the healer, but this seemingly unlimited healing song definitely gives that title to the bard. The thief tries to help out in combat and 6-s every swing he makes. Poor guy takes a heavy chunk of damage and in the fray both the bard and the thief get an arm broken. No problem, because the thief prefers jumping off of enemies to deal damage unarmed (when he can manage a running start).

Which is good because We've yet to build a thief who can carry all of the equipment he starts with. They start with +1 STR and have to take the rapier because the dagger is heavier than 3 throwing daggers, and you have to take the shortsword to take the daggers. A lighter dagger alternative would be great, but a ridiculously easy fix is just to fight with a throwing dagger. We'd just take a rapier (stolen) and decide it breaks on a failure. One more free weight, they don't have to be a STR thief (or wear clothes that don't fit the character) just to move. That's not a real problem, but a dagger weighs as much as a short sword. Can't imagine it's an easily concealed dagger. Our thief guy made a habit of dropping everything but throwing daggers as soon as it's plot convenient.

As soon as the cleric can, he uses Cure Light Wounds to make the thief's arm usable (now at a penalty, but at least possible to use; upon reading over the spell description, this is definitely not in the territory of the spell. I think a cleric spell that heals no damage but temporarily waives disabilities, an ignore pain, would be sweet). The cleric takes out a neanderthal with a well-placed mace bashing as the thief cuts down the last. All the while, the bard providing superb support (really, Bard is great). They begin down the path again to find an empty room with nothing but a few standing coat hangers, and from there a small menagerie of dangerous animals. The DM said that there was a busted cage and asked us what the name on the plaque above it said. We decided it was a Bumblewug, a giant frog monster. We find the bumblewug two rooms away. It's amazing how fluidly the DM can make monsters on-the-fly and have them feel both balanced and natural. I mean really, I can not wait to see how he does it (not supposed to read that page) but it really felt like it was prepared beforehand. Combat was fantastic and realistic, and I really fell into the moment. The thief was real-world proud to be the one who took it down. But that's probably because, compared to the cleric, the thief felt kind of useless in that adventure. See his trap problem above. The thief brought it down by hitting an overhead section of rock with an arrow enchanted with magic weapon (damn bards are cool; we decided the attack was a defy danger dex because if the arrow didn't hit then the thief set himself up to get grabbed by a giant froggy tongue), and this great victory was immediately followed by periods of falling rocks dealing d8s left and right. The team high-tailed it from the tunnel system just in time to find out they were in the middle of an active volcano; they could do nothing but look on as all that they remembered became a unity of fire and stone.



I'm not sure if I did this properly. I only got here through lots of conflicting information, but I know this much for sure: Dungeon Worlds is the best, most seamless system I've ever played. Usually seamless isn't a good thing. It comes hand in hand with arbitrary. But not in Dungeon World. In Dungeon World, as smooth as everything feels, I genuinely feel that everything happens for a reason. I'm going to do everything I can to get others involved. I'd also like to remind everyone who didn't to check out the kickstarter.

So does someone want to explain rotes to me? Maybe provide a good explanation for what is and isn't a trap? Can anyone guess who I was (though that's really to see if I was biased or impartial more than anything else)?

noofy

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Re: Actual Play and Stuff I Don't Understand- Strange Magic
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2012, 05:05:32 AM »
Nice write up Z, thanks for the AP. Glad you guys had a good time!

Your chargen sounds just the way it is intended to go. Awesome bonds by the way, see how that creates instant 'situation' and injects a little tension into the start of the game through the character's crossed agendas. Remember that DW isn't only about 'optimal' choices from the lists. They are designed as narrative cues to spark your imagination. Alignment is a fickle thing, and all choices are valid, its up to your whole group to determine what they feel comfortable playing (not just GM fiat).

With rotes, the cleric gets all of them and they don't count against their limit. They are helpful little prayers that all the faithful know in one form or another.
Quote
Commune
When you spend uninterrupted time (an hour or so) in quiet communion with your deity, you lose any spells already granted to you and are granted new spells of your choice whose total levels don't exceed your own+1. You also prepare your rotes; they don't count against your limit. You can't prepare spells that are higher level than you.

I think that if someone had Spouted Lore on the forcefield and got a success, that could then determine that it was a trap or perhaps rolled a hit on Discern Realities and determined what was dangerous to them and thus snowballed into the Theif's Trap Expert to actually disarm the trap.

iserith

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Re: Actual Play and Stuff I Don't Understand- Strange Magic
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2012, 05:35:16 AM »
The biggest problem was alignment. My DM usually has a very strict 'good character only' rule. So the thief's player just had to pick the only alignment available that would play nice with a good campaign and a give-no-ground kind of DM.

You can be non-good and still be heroic. Maybe talk to the DM about what you have in mind when you choose something that might not exactly align with the DM's expectations?

No one was playing a unique character, so much as an archetype in a new situation. Again, streamlined the process a lot, and the alignments available/unavailable all made perfect sense; at a table of new players I would definitely limit their options to what are given. That's all house ruled easily enough to not worry about, though.

As I look at it, the archetype level design of DW lends itself to putting together a playable character quickly. The process and Q&A that comes with character creation is what makes the character unique. If that process is lacking, you may feel like you don't have much to work with at the outset and forced to fall back on tropes.

A big annoyance was what did and didn't count as being a trap. This force field seemed magical (and later we found out it was) which made the thief reluctant to check it. Even after he decided to, the DM thought it would be better to just Spout Lore, so the Thief was stuck rolling at a -1 instead of the +2 given to him by Trap Expert. I think that there may be a clear definition for what constitutes a trap in the materials, but I didn't see it.

A trap is usually defined by a custom move, created by the GM either beforehand or on the spot. Something along the lines of "When anyone weighing more than a halfling walks across the black rune, the floor gives away to a spiked pit below..." Then some mechanic governing what you roll and/or what those results look like in context. It could be the GM didn't know this or didn't actually consider the field a trap in which case maybe some Q&A would have clarified everyone's perceptions. Spout Lore seems the right call if it wasn't a trap; Trap Expert if it was.

My DM has decided that after 10 seconds of no deliberate action, one nearby enemy auto-hits (it's a pretty nice idea)

When there's a lull in the conversation, that's usually a queue for the GM to make a move. Usually that's a soft move, but it sounds like here there were hard moves (damage) applied. Perhaps you were ignoring a specific threat? The GM never rolls to hit, but I think I know what you mean when you say that.

We've yet to build a thief who can carry all of the equipment he starts with ... Our thief guy made a habit of dropping everything but throwing daggers as soon as it's plot convenient.

This may get a revision. They've said they're doing a edit of equipment and whatnot for consistency.

Thanks for the AP! Glad you like Dungeon World.

ZonerZ

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Re: Actual Play and Stuff I Don't Understand- Strange Magic
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2012, 05:39:45 AM »
Wow, you guys are insanely helpful- not gonna lie, I thought that this community was much, much smaller than it really is. I didn't expect a response tomorrow, let alone 2 within an hour of posting, with both being meaningful and informative posts. My DM is working to improve the state of the table, so I think any trouble with the traps will be non-existent once we've gained experience.

stras

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Re: Actual Play and Stuff I Don't Understand- Strange Magic
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2012, 06:05:22 AM »
Hey, welcome aboard.  One tiny tidbit.

Be a fan of the characters, and say what the truth demands are precepts.  So if the rogue has no chance to disarm a trap - it's not a roll.  If the bard knows what the magic is he doesn't need to spout lore.  But remember, if you try and fail ... you get an xp! Lessens the sting a bit ^_~ Your rogue should be leveling up there shortly!

Races and Alignment. 
Firstly: The race choices are iconic.  Yes it takes a bit away from choice, but this game is a love letter to older editions.  You can probably talk to your GM about a different race if it's that important to you, ultimately it only gives a minor move that usually exemplifies the relationship between that race and class.  I certainly see your point, but I think the usability of the sheets and the speed of creation are good things to weight against it.

Secondly: Alignment.  So DW isn't exactly like old D&D.  Alignment isn't the hard axis that it was in old editions.  Ie: the alignment helps with outlook, but does not dictate actions.  If you have an evil wizard they don't cackle maniacally and talk about world domination, and keep having giant parties with demons and devils.  They have to spread fear and terror to their opponents.  You can serve your king loyally and well, and still do this just fine.  This distinction was a bit easier to see when they had xp structured more like SotY/Lady Blackbird keys - but the impetus is there.  If you act a certain way, you get xp.  Don't let your old-game traditions lock you into a mindset of 'evil' means 'comically evil in all things'.  It's not mandated by the rules anywhere.

skinnyghost

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Re: Actual Play and Stuff I Don't Understand- Strange Magic
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2012, 07:09:30 AM »
Wow, you guys are insanely helpful- not gonna lie, I thought that this community was much, much smaller than it really is. I didn't expect a response tomorrow, let alone 2 within an hour of posting, with both being meaningful and informative posts. My DM is working to improve the state of the table, so I think any trouble with the traps will be non-existent once we've gained experience.

The community that's formed around Dungeon World is one of the best and most helpful of any game I've seen.  We're lucky to have them.

I hope this thread has gotten you some useful replies - your DM is welcome to come and ask questions, too.  Now that you have access to the Beta docs, feel free to share them around!

watergoesred

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Re: Actual Play and Stuff I Don't Understand- Strange Magic
« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2012, 11:01:36 AM »
This discussion reminds me of a question: Do Cleric's make the Cast a Spell move to cast a rote? I'm guessing not by the name of the move but I can't find it discussed explicitly anywhere?

skinnyghost

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Re: Actual Play and Stuff I Don't Understand- Strange Magic
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2012, 02:24:10 PM »
This discussion reminds me of a question: Do Cleric's make the Cast a Spell move to cast a rote? I'm guessing not by the name of the move but I can't find it discussed explicitly anywhere?

Yep!  They're spells, technically.  Spells you get to prepare all of for "free" as part of your communion.

watergoesred

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Re: Actual Play and Stuff I Don't Understand- Strange Magic
« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2012, 10:52:30 PM »
Cheers! That's what I ruled in the game but I was never certain.

John Harper

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Re: Actual Play and Stuff I Don't Understand- Strange Magic
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2012, 09:09:34 PM »
Adam's "yep!" is a little ambiguous. He means, "yep, you do have to cast them." :)

skinnyghost

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Re: Actual Play and Stuff I Don't Understand- Strange Magic
« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2012, 09:47:20 PM »
Adam's "yep!" is a little ambiguous. He means, "yep, you do have to cast them." :)

Attack of the Ambiguous Game Designer.