When my kids were small, wind up toys like these would keep them amused for ages, wind up the little thumbwheel on the side and they would run around a table or the floor, causing much amusement.
Courses were built out of books and boxes and races were a regular thing.
Dungeon World encounters are rather like these little wind up toys. Each encounter has a very basic structure of:
- This is what it is.
- This is what it does
- This is what it wants
Kind of, this is a little plastic frog, it runs around the floor, it wants to veer madly off to the left.
In Dungeon World, it would probably be a horrific giant frog warrior, what it does would be the moves you have set up, and what it wants would be its ladder of Grim Portents.
The Grim Portents could be tracking the characters through a swamp; surrounding them if they pause, rest or camp; launching an ambush when the frog warriors have the advantage.
The longer the game goes on and the characters have not dealt with the threat of the frog warriors, they [the frog warriors] will gain the tactical advantage, surrounding the characters and then ambushing them.
Your villain is set up the same way, who/what it is, its moves, and a ladder of Grim Portents.
I am not a fan of ‘choose your own adventure’, numbered paragraph, adventures. I always wanted to do something that wasn’t an option of the three presented.
The Dungeon World adventure structure is a near-perfect alternative. The Grim Portent is completely interchangeable with the Clocks from Blades/Forged in the Dark or the COUNTDOWN ladders from games such as Tales from the Loop. These are all things that are going to happen, unless the characters intervene to stop them, or because the characters intervened.
Tales uses the characters’ actions to advance down the COUNTDOWN of consequences. Forged in the Dark defines what will cause the clock to tick down when you set up the clock, and Grim Portents are more aspirational, what the subject wants to achieve and will achieve.
A simple oracle easily controls the clock or the Grim Portent. Have the frog warriors discovered my trail? That is a simple yes-no question.
Everything is defined with what it is planning to do, and as soon as the character appears on the scene, different parts of the adventure start moving, like gears in a machine.
I created an adventure last night using an isometric map. It was one from a collection I had picked up and had never had a chance to use. I sketched up the fronts for a few different factions, a few encounters with minions, and a villain to defeat.
What I had at the end was exactly the same for a solo character as I would have for a group. My face to face group, now VTT group, hate DW. Their characters are habitually risk averse. Their idea of a perfect plan would probably to use airstrikes or snipers and never get anywhere near an enemy. The idea of most moves having consequences really turns them off.
That means that I will never get to run my adventure, unless I play it solo.
Tomorrow night is going to be DW adventure night.