Another Big DW game

So, this past weekend’s Dungeon World game was another huge one. Eight players this time, which left me feeling like one of the bad guys at the end of Raiders (in a mostly good way). I believe Fred summed it up best:

Roll +Bond for the # of players. On 6-, go for it. On 7–9, if you are Rob, run the game but expose yourself to danger. On 10+, get a 2nd GM.

Session was basically non-stop action, as the guys who Sanguinus and Shrike pissed off last session decided to invade Rzae with Mud Bronze Automatons and Alchemical weapons. Lots of things went terribly wrong (as they’re wont to do) but the invading ship was destroyed (with many explosions) and the summoning ritual was disrupted by virtue of adding all the alchemical components (and the body of the fellow carrying them) at the same time to rather toxic effect.

It all went well, but it was educational on a number of fronts.

First, juggling this many players is always insane. There is a reason that this session was mostly non-stop action. When the game is this big then I need to impose a constraint to keep it moving. In the last big session is was geographic isolation, in this one it was a ticking clock. And even with that, it still demands a shallower experience – I have to seize upon the easiest hooks and most immediately compelling action to keep things going, and that has a cost over time. While Dungeon World is never going to have the full on Netrunner problem, the reality is that it’s always easier to engage the fighter than it is to engage a character with more nuanced courses of action.

I don’t think it’s a huge problem – broad play is still fun. But I want to drill in a bit too.

We also started the discussion about Compendium Classes this week. Some of the characters are 5th level at this point, and if the failures keep up at the rate they have, we’ll be hitting 6th and 7th soon. Level 10 is a bit of a wall, looming up on us.

At the same time, there is general agreement that people want Compendium Classes, but the classes I have found so far are a bit thin. The Agent actually has a move that explicitly encourages taking a CC, so I really had to dig through the pile to find one for her and we found the Bearer, which means she’s carrying around a maliciously intelligent magic sword, so that was a win[1]. But for everyone else (even Sanguinus, for whom the Dread Pirate CC might be a good match) the opportunity cost of CCs is a problem.

So, we’re going to try to kill two birds with one stone, and make CC’s a parallel XP track. The idea is that the cost of a CC move is some flat amount of XP that is less than leveling (say, 3 + number of CC moves), so that as players get up in levels, there is some incentive to branch out. Even if they hit level 10, we’ll still have some avenue for character growth (even if stats are capped).

However, this is only going to work if I can get a decent and appealing set of Compendium Classes, which is going to take its own research effort. The ones I’ve found so far are a strongly mixed bag. The good news is that if there really is a shortage of good ones, they’re easier to create than full bore classes.

Anyway, that’s the plan for now. We’ll see how it holds up.

  1. Doubly so, since the bearer was Fred’s requested CC in the Compendium, so it was fun for him to see it at the table. it was doubly fun for him to see it go to the one player likely to take it to darker places than he might.  ↩

4 thoughts on “Another Big DW game

  1. Myles Corcoran

    In our group we found the Level 10 wall off-putting too. With compendium classes it felt to me that most of the base classes and the better thought-out third party playbooks had enough in them to keep a player interested and have choices all the way up to 10th level. Lots of the CCs I’ve read seem very situation or history specific, which is good, but make it harder to plan ahead if you’re that way inclined.

    I very much like your suggestion of a separate XP track for access and getting CCs moves. I’d even consider a single XP track and let the players decide where to spend their XP (base class moves or cc moves), as we leveled up pretty quickly.

  2. Chris

    Maybe you could borrow the Apocalypse World advanced moves “the ungiven future” from p182 of the AW book.
    2nd character (play 2)
    Change character – like compendium class
    The Basic moves each have an advanced form – perhaps you could do that.

    1. Rob Donoghue Post author

      Considering it, but some of those aren’t a great match for the campaign. Retirement matches poorly with the rotating cast play (since it undercuts the sense of legacy), but I’m definitely pondering what advanced moves look like in this context.


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