It’s been a couple weeks since our first session but it didn’t take too long to get back in the groove.
We started out separated, still, with Moonicorn and the Other on a mining planet embroiled in navguild and neuronium mining shenanigans, and Space Wurm and his Lover back on the capital world of Hyperion struggling to deal with the navguild’s power grab. We kept the camera moving back and forth pretty well but it’s not my favorite format.
A few observations about playing Dungeon World through the psychedelic lens of SWvM:
* Because it’s kind of a talky game, and that talk often happens between PCs, we’re feeling the absence of effective social tools in the DW toolkit. It also means that characters like The Lover don’t get as many opportunities to roll dice, thus she’s advancing sloooowly because she just doesn’t get to roll much (yet). Playing toward her alignment is a bear as well, since for now at least the Space Wurm player is being kind of an evil hardass. The love is strained and the drama between those characters is terrific, but advancement is leaving her behind.
* Per last session’s realization that I wasn’t pushing blow-by-blow rolling enough, DW-style, this session everyone saw quite a lot more rolling. Which mostly boils down to Defy Danger which of course boils down to 7-9 results. It’s some heavy GM lifting but I’ve got a loooot of leads and opportunities.
* I was concerned that the win/lose condition of the campaign would badly warp organic fictional development, but as of the second session it really hasn’t. Moonicorn is pretty reactive, still, with hunters coming at him left and right and the weird tiny black cat Other from beyond time and space complicating his life. Space Wurm is also a little reactive, which is really okay because his moves tend to move the fiction in big sweeping ways. He just got his first advance, tho, and will be taking Fifth Column to start infiltrating his goons into the fronts he wants to control. He feels slow and methodical and that’s pretty fun.
* I’ve taken the opportunity to spool out a couple more threats; now two fronts have two threats each, and the third front isn’t really announced formally yet. I’ve got an interesting r-map variant I’m creating on a giant sheet of — yes — butcher paper that I’ll post sometime. I’m highlighting the dangers with stars and highlighter so everyone has that meta level of understanding.
* I was a little worried about unleashing more dangers before old dangers got resolved, but the whole setting works together and it feels artificially constrained to, you know, just not mention the prophetic drugs and void madness when both are affecting the hostile navigator’s guild and the slow boil of a faith war that’s already costing the lives of navigators’ families. It’s all tied together and I think it’s working together better than if I had held off. I think at this point all but one danger I had planned has been revealed.
* The Lover finally took her Fascination Street move out for a drive. It’s a little like Heartstrings, in that everyone else has to take into account what’s on her playbook: the target of the move has a few options in how to get rid of the fascinated status. It’s an awkward form factor, not sure what to do about it. The big realization for me was, after the first time she fascinated an NPC, that of course that’s not just a marker, it’s new fictional positioning! So it’s been great fun to have the NPCs fawning over her, helpless to her charms. I think that’s important because the NPCs need to want to get rid of the fascinated status with the same acuity as players who don’t want to get jerked around forever.
* It took a little contrivance on the part of the players — I wasn’t pushing for it! — but we’ve finally gotten everyone in the same place. Well, on the same planet at least. The tiny Other is separated but I think that’s okay. I think the Lover will have a much easier time dealing with Moonicorn, so I’m looking forward to that new dynamic (the Lover-Space Wurm bit is borderline codependent and depressing tbh). The Space Wurm – Other matchup should be interesting too.
Anyway, it’s going pretty well. The melodrama is good and I wish there was more support for it in terms of advancement or even just better social moves. Totally a Dungeon World thing, and everyone gets that. I may try to wrangle Defy Danger into some kind of shape to handle that. Or I may just leave it to the players to hash it out! This particular group, I think, doesn’t need to worry so very much about a strong voice drowning everyone else out.