I’ve taken a short break from my Future of Work and Labor series but hope to resume it next week. I’m fairly tired but didn’t want to miss a week of Iron Blogger so I’ll write a quick post on my latest explorations into tabletop RPGs.

In the last few weeks I’ve run two no-prep one-shot sessions of Dungeon World (DW). No-prep means that I didn’t do any work on the story or world in advance and one-shot means that the story is self contained in one session (rather than over multiple days). I used this guide to run the session.

Thoughts on Dungeon World

I thoroughly enjoyed the DW system - it is rules light and geared toward story telling. The session is extremely fluid, the players are empowered to attempt anything the dream up, and the pacing is perfect. The core of the system is the GM presenting the players with dilemmas or tough choices and this creates a great dynamic with ever increasing stakes.

Thoughts on the One-Shot Framework

The framework we used had us spend the first 30 minutes collaboratively world building and character creating. None of the players knew the system in advance and we weren’t setting the story in an established world. The players chose character sheets and I started asking them questions about their past and their setting. Through that process we understood the forces at play in the world and the character incentives. By the end of the Q&A, the characters all had a goal they were reasonably aligned around.

Next, the adventure begins and the GM throws the players into the the thick of things. The players overcome obstacles and explore the world as they strive toward their mutual goal. In both games I ran, the players successfully completed their quest and the session lasted about three hours total.

I loved this set up as GM as I didn’t have to prep and there was tons of room to improvise. The world building was a blast and it was a fun puzzle to weave all the answers into a coherent setting. Throughout the session I had to stay on my toes to present interesting challenges for the players and architect a coherent plot with a satisfying arc; it was a rush - pure flow state.

Final Thoughts

Dungeon World and the one-shot method are both a lot a fun and I’m definitely going to explore them further. In a followup post, I hope to talk about some of the tradeoffs involved in running these types of games.

I’ll leave you with a couple descriptions of the sessions that I posted to Reddit:

Going Nuclear

Players playing morally ambiguous characters