Dungeon World – Don’t Mess With the Paladin

Recently I had the opportunity to run two sessions of Dungeon World. First, I ran the adventure starter, Goblin Hole for a small group. And then, ran Purple Worm Graveyard for a larger group. Although both these games were run with different players, there was a common occurrence between the two: the paladin killed another player.

In the Goblin Hole adventure the paladin slew the thief. Granted this was an accident since he one shot her. And the decision was not made lightly as it was the result of a considerable amount of griefing (the thief did not like the precepts of the paladin’s order). In the second adventure the effort was more intentional. As the paladin went charging into a room the ranger attempted to trip him. This lead to a rapid series of events that resulted in the paladin beating the ranger to death. The odd thing in the second game was that no one tried to stop the paladin. They either stood their in shock, or healed the ranger between blows. It was a very strange occurrence.

Aside from this oddity things seemed to run pretty well. Character creation was a breeze, and there were no problems with the “no duplicate classes” rule. We had a good round table Q&A to establish bonds.

None of the players were familiar with either Apocalypse World, or Dungeon World, but this was not a limiting factor because of the focus on character activity rather than rules guiding activity. In fact the more rules the players learned the worse it got, because they stopped focusing as much on what their characters were doing, and starting reading moves as menus.

Really the only major issue I ran into was with the larger group. Players felt combats required “rounds” where everyone was afforded an opportunity for action. This felt most natural from them being primarily traditional gamers. The issue that I had with it was that it was forcing disengaged player to participate in scenes they had no interest in. To me, one of the benefits of conversation actions is that it allows players with investment in the current activity to fully engage the system, while allowing those who don’t to get a breather. I would have much rather the group broken up by their focus so we could have flipped spotlights around, but the notion of “don’t split the party” was too ingrained for the one shot.

Generally speaking I am pretty happy with the system, but I think I would like to run and play in some more games before making a final assessment of it.

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