Author Topic: Converting a scenario made for old-school D&D and simulacra  (Read 4063 times)

gaptooth

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Converting a scenario made for old-school D&D and simulacra
« on: April 08, 2013, 09:08:40 PM »
I'm new to *World games, but I have played a bunch of Trollbabe and Sorcerer. In recent years, however, I've been mainly playing the the classic fantasy RPG Tunnels & Trolls, and some of my thinking from that game might bleed over into Dungeon World. After reading DW cover-to-cover last week, I'm really jazzed to play it!

So, I'm thinking of adapting this "Tower of the Stargazer" adventure by James Raggi to DW as an experiment, and I have a couple questions. I can't really ask without talking about some spoilers, though.

[spoiler]

One of the signature situations in this adventure is a powerful wizard who has trapped himself in an arcane circle for almost sixty years. He offers the PCs a cash reward if they will free him, but then ushers them out of his tower, ending the adventure. If they refuse, he becomes enraged and threatens them with horrible death, but he can't do anything to them while trapped. If they free him after that, he has the stats of a level 13 Magic User and enough spell firepower to wipe out the whole party in short order. A comment in the text states "This looks like an encounter, but it's really a trap."

In DW, the adventurers might use the Parley move to negotiate with the wizard. When they meet him, they would definitely have leverage— he hasn't seen a living soul for the better part of a century, and he needs their help. But Parley isn't mind control, and it seems like once they freed him, their leverage is gone, and all bets are off. Trouble is, cool as the situation might be, it conflicts with the agenda item: "Play to find out what happens."

[/spoiler]

What are some ways to incorporate a situation like this into DW play that preserves the tension AND respects the game's agenda? Would you bother statting up the wizard as a monster?

Another feature of old-school D&D that isn't here in DW is "save or die", and I have to imagine that's by design; the way Last Breath works offers a very cool alternative. But I'm not sure how to deal with the "save or die" situations in this adventure.

[spoiler]

Two "save or die" situations in "Tower of the Stargazer" have to do with deadly venom, and I'm thinking a custom move might work:

Roll+CON. *On a 10+, you feel a shooting pain, drop anything you are holding, and collapse, but the venom has no other effect. *On a 7-9, you feel a shooting pain, drop anything you are holding, and collapse. Pick one of the following:
* You are blind and your head is swimming until you get antivenom or some other effective treatment.
* Your arms and legs go rigid, making movement difficult and painful until you get antivenom or some other effective treatment.

On a miss, you feel a shooting pain, drop anything you are holding, and collapse, foaming at the mouth. Take your Last Breath.

Is that a sensible way to adapt the intent of the saving throw? Does it come off as too harsh? Or too easy? Is it too buttoned-down? In one case, the venom comes from a magical trap, but the adventure also has a solo monster whose bite calls for a Poison save or die. I noticed that some monsters in DW have "poison"-related moves, but the effect is left to the imagination.

[/spoiler]

If I were running Trollbabe or Sorcerer, I wouldn't even think of converting a D&D adventure like this. But since DW has a whole chapter on it I wanted to give it a go.

gaptooth

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Re: Converting a scenario made for old-school D&D and simulacra
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2013, 10:15:48 PM »
After writing up the situation and questions, I had an inkling that eluded me before: The wizard should be written up as a Front, with a doom and some portents to guide a more open-ended interaction, rather than just presenting the players with a decision tree. That might resolve that question, but let me know if you think of anything else I should consider!

noofy

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Re: Converting a scenario made for old-school D&D and simulacra
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2013, 10:51:45 PM »
oooh! Great adventure :)

You've read the chapter in the appendix on converting adventures right? The main thrust (as you've rightly surmised) is to retain your agenda, but be inspired by the situations, setting and dangers of the module. You are effectively focusing your options on a hard / soft move (and scene framing) to the prep at hand.

So have the wizard as presented! If he's the 'signature' monster of the adventure, what's his instinct? What does he want? Freedom, yes? So write a couple of impending dooms that will come to pass as the adventurers do nothing to change his situation - one of the most effective ways to do this (I've found) is to re-incorporate info revealed during chargen and bond-writing into these portents and/or have other factions in the dungeon interact with the wizard according to their instincts given the players actions.

You could even frontload the session as you start in a tense situation, write an Adventure move such as the one on p.352 and tie the results back to knowledge / leverage on the wizard.

Heck, why not just open the game THERE - in a tense situation with  the wizard, they have found him and he offers them something far more beguiling than just gold (look to their character sheets and bonds) to set him free. Combine this with an impending doom of another danger in the dungeon and you have time pressure added to the mix.

I mean this is ripe for getting the players to discern and spout lore, introducing new and exciting details to your dungeon world about the wizard and his history. All you come to the table with is that he is powerful, he is trapped by his own foolishness and that he wants out big-time.

In regards to your poison custom move... I like it! Not too harsh at all, it is poison after all... There was an old 'saving throw' move from an earlier edition you might like to resurrect / modify? How about:

Quote
Make a Saving Throw (Con)
When something inflicts an effect (magic, poison, calamity) upon you, roll+Con. On a 10+, nothing else bad happens.
On a 7-9 the GM chooses one.
On a 6- the GM chooses two.
• You drop something valuable
• You break something mundane
• You miss something important
• You lose your footing
• You lose track of someone or something
• It’s worse than it seemed—take 1d10 damage(ap)

Which really is just a 'softened' version of your move :)
I'd just add a few of the above choices to your iteration and write it up like so:

Make a Poison Saving Throw (Con)
When deadly poison inflicts its effect upon you, roll+Con.
On a 13+, you feel a shooting pain, but the venom has no other lasting effect.  
On a 10-12 the GM chooses one and you choose one.
On a 7-9 the GM chooses two and you choose one.
• You drop something valuable
• You break something mundane
• You miss something important
• You lose your footing
• You lose track of someone or something
• It’s worse than it seemed—take a debility

On a miss, Last Breath Sucker.

« Last Edit: April 08, 2013, 11:00:44 PM by noofy »

Johnstone

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Re: Converting a scenario made for old-school D&D and simulacra
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2013, 10:55:02 AM »
I ran Tower of the Stargazer. We had a good time. Couple things:

Playing to Find Out What Happens

This principle is pretty much the same in LotFP. The only difference is that because DW is an adventure game, you are allowed to make up the dungeon on the fly. You are not allowed to do this in LotFP (or old-school D&D generally). I think you might be falling for the idea that this principle means you should just make up everything on the fly, but no -- you can use a pre-written dungeon for DW the same as you would for D&D (and in fact there is nothing in the GM sections about using a module--just advice in that appendix).

The main thing is not to remember not to plan scenes in a linear order and not to decide the outcome of scenes, as this is a common failing in adventure-based games. But the wizard being a jerk is not a "thing that happens," it's just who he is. So you know that he will say whatever he has to in order to get free and then he's like "GTFO bitches." That is fine, you still don't know what will happen, and you will decide exactly what he does when the time comes. Will they even free him? My players decides to stand outside the circle taunting him and making fun of him for being a bad wizard. They onl freed him by accident and the first thing he did was drop death spells on them because why would he tell them to get out at that point? He was pissed and they knew they had it coming. Did I know that was going to happen? No idea, I just role-played the dude in the moment based on his description and we found out what happened.

You can run the adventure pretty much as-is and it will be fine. You don't even have to connect the PCs to it, as long as you get their input on the parts of the world that their PCs actually ARE familiar with, which is probably everything outside the tower.

Well, okay: as-is except for one thing...

Poison

The front door of the dungeon having a poisoned handle is a dick move. This kind of dick move is okay in LotFP, it is not okay in DW. Poison deep inside the dungeon, where players should damn well know better than to pick up things that look like they might be poisoned? Sure. You drink the wine in some wizard's tower? WTF are you crazy? You look deep into some wizard's magic mirror? Okay, buddy, roooooll them dice. You pull all the levers on his crazy huge machine? Now you're really asking for it!!! Sure. But not the front door.

Tower of the Stargazer is written for a game where the dungeon is the most important element. Nobody cares who your character is. He dies at the front door? Roll up another, it takes like 5 minutes. But Dungeon World is about the characters and their adventure, the dungeon is not the important part. Killing a Dungeon World PC at the front door to the dungeon is kind of like D&D PCs removing the front doors of the dungeon and selling them because they are made of gold and then retiring, without ever setting foot in the dungeon proper. You show up to D&D to explore a dungeon, but you show up to Dungeon World to play a character on an adventure, so if they die before they have any adventure, they're not really getting to play.

So, make 'em sick or something, sure, but don't kill anybody at the front door.

neuronphaser

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Re: Converting a scenario made for old-school D&D and simulacra
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2013, 09:06:10 PM »
Just for reference, I'm working on a conversion of "Kill Bargle!" -- first D&D adventure in the famous D&D Basic Set Red Box, later updated in Dungeon Magazine #150 -- and have posted it to my blog.

Once the players have their characters done, I'll post a Part 2 to follow up on how things evolved based on the Players' input.  It's already shaping up to be wildly different, yet based on the ideas and maps from the original.  It's pretty amazing how DW can change things up without negating things.

noofy

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Re: Converting a scenario made for old-school D&D and simulacra
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2013, 12:02:30 PM »
Nice one Tim!
Bargle is such a bad arse :)

Scrape

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Re: Converting a scenario made for old-school D&D and simulacra
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2013, 09:08:38 PM »
I think Johnstone totally nails it. You can definitely keep the spirit of the adventure alive within the DW framework by taking his advice. Especially the save or die stuff; be really upfront about that element with your players. Personally, I hate that and if I had a GM throw that at me in Dungeon World, I'd feel cheated because that's not what the game advertises. On the other hand, I'm currently having a blast with a Dungeon Crawl Classics campaign. It's totally against my normal preferences, but the game explicitly states its playstyle and is totally upfront about what to expect. My DM also made a point of setting expectations when we signed up. Makes all the difference.