Eight! (8)! Ocho! That’s a heck of a good run for my games and we’re not done yet. Probably …. two or three more sessions to go before someone has “won” the game.
Last night we had our first asymmetric victory per the SWvM rules: Moonicorn defeated his hunter and made his when you defeat a danger move, while Space Wurm is still moving his pieces into place. So that’s interesting. It also made me notice that, really, it’s like 80% the GM’s job to line things up so that a roll is possible.
Well…maybe 60%. I’m not sure! But last night, Moonicorn’s victory was the first time anyone had defeated a danger with a Parley. The entire scene was marvelous and a good example of that floor-falling-away feeling I talked about at the top of my “What I Like” post last week. Anyone want a little storytime? Let’s have some storytime.
Okay so Nehanda, aka Moonicorn, is on planet Herazon. It’s his homeworld and it is in ruins. The father of Space Wurm had consolidated his power by shoving Herazon into the Void Between the Worlds, which is not space. Space isn’t a concept these primitive planetary romance folks even know. But the Void! Scary place. The realm of gods and monsters.
Herazon had been returned to our universe through hard work and “Science!” (sort of), but the place is in ruins. It’s been gone for a decade, but much much more time has passed for the inhabitants of Herazon. Many of them have met the gods of the Void and, well, it broke them.
Space Wurm’s troops are on the planet looting it for good shit, and Nehanda is running around trying to keep the refugees safe. In looking for safe quarters somewhere in the ruins, eventually he stumbles on the cult of the King of the Sun. Their jam is totally unrelated to any of the religions going on back in the real world so nobody can really spout lore about it (other than the Other, who is discovering she knows more about this stuff than she realized). Okay right so this Sun King cult really, really wants to spread the Good News — i.e. burn out your soul and your free will with their god’s cleansing light — and Nehanda, loathe to defend Space Wurm’s looting soldiers, knows they’re all going to fall under the Sun King’s spell.
He stands up to the high priestess of the cult, triggering his full of grace meta-move (I think he becomes immune to the blinding light as a result). She’s wreathed in sunlight and is clearly the avatar or whatever of this god. He survives a high-stakes defy danger (i.e. or lose your mind to the Sun King!) long enough to discern realities on this lady. Doing so reveals that the Sun King’s priestess is none other than his long-lost mother, broken by grief when she ensured Nehanda’s safety as her planet was falling into the Void. By putting his life in the hands of the emperor’s own son, a boy who would eventually grow up to be Space Wurm.
Now that he knows the priestess is his mother — although she’s super-weird now that she’s been doing the Sun King’s bidding for decades on this lost planet — he parleys with her to stop her march on Space Wurm’s soldiers. The leverage of course is his love.
He gets it (CHA is maxed at +3) and he had a +1 forward from his discern, so he nails his 12+ result that triggers Moonicorn’s advanced move, change of heart.
Her change of heart is that she takes up his cause of saving the soldiers. And because the Sun King has been actively hunting Moonicorn and is a jealous and fickle god, he withdraws his support, blessing, curse. She’s broken free of the Sun King’s powers and that breaks the entire cult on Herazon. Danger defeated! With a flipping Parley.
Getting back to what I was talking about before the indulgent little break there, there’s definitely a mix of hands-on management and organic development in timing out when it’s right to let a danger be defeated. I’m still new-ish to Dungeon World (maybe not so much these days, having run 8 sessions of it with a super-involved skin over it) so I’m still learning what feels right. It’s a little vexing that it’s such a judgement call but it’s not at all a showstopper. Really it’s up to the players, and nobody is complaining. I guess that means it feels fair?
We’d taken last week off so everyone was a teeny bit hazy on where we’d left off, but maybe 10 minutes of “oh yeah but what about” got everyone back in the groove. They were separated, and that’s frustrating to everyone but nobody was really ready to throw their suspension of disbelief out the window and get together just-because. I think folks are ready, at the table, to get everyone back together again.
Getting the Other’s player to engage is probably my one ongoing problem/quibble. Some of that is the hands-off nature of the Other, some of that is the hands-off nature of the player, and those things synergize. Like, it’s easy for her to look at her alignment and aim for not understanding situations. Which means there’s kinda-sorta a perverse incentive there to not work toward more understanding, you know? She gets frustrated and I get frustrated but eventually we talk our way to the point where, yeah, it makes sense that the Other really ought to do something. The character also has an astonishing amount of agency — being able to bop around at will, being able to summon weird shit from the Void — and combined with not much direction, well. As long as she is up for playing 3-4 more sessions I think we’re good.
Great news: I think everyone’s level 5 at this point, which means we’re about to get into the level 6-10 advances. I’m super stoked! So far I’ve been impressed by what all the moves add to the game.