My opening pitch explaining the full lineage of the game by throwing every physical book I had on the table in a stack – D&D, Dungeon World (DW), World of Dungeons (WoD), the Planarch Codex, Invisible Cities – upon a table that was already burgeoning and over-full with dice, a noteboard, markers, dice, character sheets, and index cards. It was quite a sight.
I then explained the concept of Dis – how it was an extraplanar city consuming all planes of existence – gave them a sense that this would be rather improvisational anthropunk fantasy, and shared the letter to the freebooters (page 1 from the materials above). I emphasized about how I had no idea what most of the bolded terms meant exactly.
I decided to go with World of Dungeons, augmented with DW basic moves (but incorporating my “HR Manual of the Planes” project). The character creation process was:
1. Roll your level and stats as normal. (I offered 10 XP if they rolled their stats in order. Everyone took it.)
2. Pick your heritage, using one or more monsters as a base. I offered the one-shot list of monsters, but also offered to provide a random monster if asked from DW (hence the mammodon and nirvana wasp).
3. I told them to ignore skills, and dealt out my careers from “HR Manuals of the Planes” (page 4 of my materials). Everyone got two classes and chose 1. They then picked two of the WoD Special Abilities.
4. They went shopping and did everything else for character creation.
4a. (we had a very difficult time with hit points and hit dice and shall say no more of the matter)
In addition to the initial “love letter”, I had some pre-gen jobs from someone else’s blog, and started the players by asking which of 4 jobs did they first take to get in trouble with the Wanderers in the first place. We did some rough jump cuts through that first job (perhaps too rough? but it worked out). I think my letter was framing things too hard, because it turned out they didn’t quite have debt with the Wanderers after all, and merely in a contract with them. The subsequent job was done more or less normally, scene-to-scene, and that worked great. We didn’t end up leaving Dis unfortunately – I should push more jobs out onto the planes.
I took the “everything is a dungeon” prompt as a direction to use these pseudomorph dice to generate a map of the spaces they enter, but then this created a moment where we neated to stop and draw out any map. But that’s fine? I think there’s a good question of whether it’s better to keep things narrated, or to seize upon tokens + a drawn map. I feel like having the time wizard’s dorm be a weird cave formation was funky, but also nicely unique.
I did what I often do when MCing games like Dungeon World, which is slipping into raw improv/response instead of a pure agenda/principles/moves mode. The game’s high-improv nature was a bit exhausting. I’m interested in playing a slower-paced non-one-shot game, and perhaps getting better at leveraging the agenda/principles/moves more. (I totally need to make myself a DM Screen to put all the relevant agenda/principles/moves in one spot.)
I’m interested in “HR Manuals of the Planes” as a concept – it just makes more sense to me that there are weird careers across the planes? – and people liked the ones I handed out. I wonder how to better unify the “3 character abilities” that were part of character creation. Some ideas:
- Perhaps these should work as simply as Heritage Moves, rather than being their own class-style moves?
- Will having 3 moves be too many?
- Can I reuse spell as a kind of alternate character moves?
- Do I want to keep some common “adventurer” moves, like the ones in World of Dungeons? This implies that people have moved on from their past experiences to accommodate life as a Freebooter of Dis.
I’m also wondering if I prefer the WoD or DW part of the spectrum. There seems to be a lot of fluidity around the WoD moves and options (by design?), but I might prefer some of the abstraction and concreteness around the DW approach. If I pick one, then I can make XP be a bit more coherent.