Dungeon World Recap: Session One

Two Sundays ago I began a journey through a game I am very familiar with, but from a totally different perspective. If you’ve been around Adventure Rules for a day or two then you know that my favorite tabletop RPG is Dungeon World, a game Powered by the Apocalypse where fantasy heroes explore dungeons, fight dragons, and throw money at townsfolk to make people love them. I’ve played Dungeon World on three separate occasions before this, but in the role of the gamemaster. This time, I get to be a player. We’ve had two sessions in our game so far and they’ve been quite fun, so today I thought you might enjoy sharing in the experiences I’ve had with this wonderful game!

First thing’s first – I have to set the scene a bit. This campaign is set in a world ruled over by a pantheon of gods. Each god has a dedicated guild that follows them, and for many years the kingdom flourished under the benevolent rule of the gods and a very wise king. However, when tragedy struck and the kingdom was left to the king’s son and daughter, the prince used the opportunity to take over the kingdom and rule with an iron fist. His sister the princess was driven out, and instead of living in a land of balanced worship of all the gods, the whole kingdom is forced to give foremost attention to those dedicated to power and military glory. Still, there’s word of a resistance brewing, a force of those loyal to the princess who wish to take back the kingdom so that she may reign righteously through right and not through might.

Our party of heroes has traveled together in the past when common interests brought them together, and the beginning of this journey was no different. Kaelyn, our bard, sought out a set of magical runes supposedly hidden deep in a massive cave. These runes hold important secrets that would be valuable to his guild, so he set out to find them with help from companions. Alcaeus, a mighty warrior in service of the law guild, would serve as his steel. Merrick, an enchanter with a gift for weapons, would assist with the magical nature of the runes. And Pascal, a ranger with an unusual dog named Splice, would guide them to and through the cave. Pascal and Splice are my contribution to the party, her spunky attitude and love for helping innocent people driving her to rush headlong into the action of the story.

Pictured above are some characters who have served as inspiration for Pascal, providing varying degrees of my ideas for her personality, aesthetic, and (in the case of the last picture) her name.

We began our journey at the cave where the magical runes were presumably located. Our first moves were careful as we took turns using skills from our unique repertoires to look around and get a sense of the cave. We were also learning each other’s characters, injecting that first bit of banter and roleplaying to help us get a feel for each other. Our cautious navigation helped us to avoid some early traps and we arrived safely in what appeared to be a large banquet hall.

The spherical hall featured five doors in a half circle around the room, each one labeled with a rune that our bard Kaelyn identified as Fire, Earth, Water, Air, and Mana. Of course, the most eye catching thing about the room was the banquet table in the center. A massive ax was buried into the center of the table, and all around it places were set and half-eaten food was strewn about. It was pretty clear that whoever had eaten here left not long ago at all.

While our bard made himself sick eating a piece of particularly nasty bread, the rest of us set about figuring out the doors. A little experimentation taught us that each door needed to be exposed to its element in order for it to open. A lit torch opened the Fire door and a tankard of water poured into the water door caused it to open as well. It took our fighter Alcaeus a little bit of time to figure out the wooden door because he failed to identify that the ax in the center of the table was actually made of wood.

I don’t know if our GM has played Golden Sun but I definitely got that vibe from the puzzles.

Each room was pitch dark on the inside and rather tricky to navigate, but exploring each of them led to a heavy sphere on top of an elaborate pedestal. This gave me an idea and I encouraged our enchanter to check out the Mana door and see if there were slots for orbs inside of it – sure enough, it looked like those heavy spheres would be the keys to the doorway. Lifting the orbs proved problematic, though, as they were not only obscenely heavy but surrounded by deadly traps. And to make things worse, our activities had alerted two enemies to our presence: bears.

While Merrick and Alcaeus navigated the water and wood rooms, respectively, Kaelyn had already solved the fire puzzle and I had been standing lookout. So when the bears showed up, I immediately drew my bow and opened fire. It took me a few shots to land even a glancing blow and the bears were upon me – luckily, I was able to position myself on the banquet table and use it to my advantage. As the bear put its weight on the front of the table, I leapt off, planting an arrow right in the bear’s chest and putting a barrier between myself and its remaining companion.

By this time the others had all come out of their puzzle rooms too. Kaelyn used his Arcane Art to bless me with some extra damage, but a stray shot from my bow meant that the one taking extra damage was him instead of the bear. Meanwhile, Alcaeus and Merrick carried their orbs to the Mana door, no thanks to Splice who playfully insisted on playing between Alcaeus’s legs the entire way.

Splice may be a blink dog, but he’s got Growlithe’s loyalty and competence along with Lillipup’s cuteness and playful nature.

As for our last bear? Well, Merrick managed to hold it off long enough for me to place myself on top of the now-sideways banquet table. With a little help from my allies balancing the table, I managed to get off a Called Shot, striking the bear in the head and leaving it effectively helpless. Alcaeus then took up his mace and smashed the bear in the head, bringing down our last foe. With the wild animals taken care of and the Mana door open, we were able to proceed.

We enjoyed a little downtime at this point, Merrick using the magical power of the Mana room to enchant a shield for Alcaeus. Meanwhile, Kaelyn interpreted a series of runes along the wall in order to discover the secret of how to proceed. It didn’t take long from there to reach the passage to the magical runes we were seeking, but that wasn’t all that awaited us at the end of the cave.

After Kaelyn took down the runes he was looking for, a shadowy figure materialized before us. They spoke in veiled words about how impressed they were with our ability to quickly navigate the puzzles of the cave. Then suddenly we were set upon by more shadowy figures, leaping at us from all angles. Most of us managed to avoid getting tackled but we were now on edge, and I had Splice at the ready to attack if things got hostile. However, the leader of the strangers urged us that they meant no harm.
Organization Cloak.png
The wearer of the cloak revealed herself to be Alexis, the leader of the resistance against the king. She’d been watching our group for some time and felt that we would be great assets to have against the king’s soldiers. There’s no love for the king in our group of adventurers, and combining that with the offer to do some real good for the innocent people caught in the crossfire of the royal war was enough to persuade us to help.

Having successfully joined the Resistance, the first session came to an end. It was a simple session but a fun one, and I was pretty proud to have been able to show off some of Pascal’s archery skills. Little did I know that in the second session of play, my bow would see even more use as I and a brave warrior fought side-by-side to singlehandedly complete our first mission as Resistance fighters.

What was our first mission? Who of my three noble companions accompanied me? And what kind of crazy shenanigans did we get involved in? I plan to continue to share the stories of my adventures in this campaign, so if you enjoyed today’s post be sure to come back next week to see the second part of our exciting journey!

In the meantime, I’d love to hear in the comments the story of your favorite first session of a campaign. What was your character like? What was it like meeting the other heroes of the party? What challenges did you have to overcome? Conversely, if you’ve never played a tabletop before, do you think that’d be something you’d be interested in trying? I’m always happy to discuss RPGs with my fellow adventurers, so don’t be shy!

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