Saturday, 23 April 2016

[Meta] Introduction

I have been looking some time to get some kind of solo role-playing thing going. I have been unsure for some time what form would work well for this; creative writing was always a weak area for me in school. I found the Lone Wolf Roleplaying group on G+ recently, and that has some cool ideas; I expect I will explore some of those systems more in time.

But I have been interested in Dungeon World (DW) ever since I bought the game last year, and recently came across the Eberron Dungeon World group on G+, and the excellent DW supplement published through it. As a long time fan of Dungeons and Dragons Online (still the game I play most regularly), I like the Eberron setting and was looking for a chance to learn more about Khorvaire, the main populated continent in the setting (most of DDO takes place in Xen'Drik). So I decided to try bringing these elements together in a solo game.


Dungeon World is all about the fiction. Normally that means the things that have happened in the game so far (as agreed by players & GM). For a solo game, that will instead be things that I have written down so far in the fiction. So I plan to do this game as something half-way between a regular p&p role-playing game and creative writing — I'll write down what happened in story form, and that's the established fiction of the game.

I could have that be the whole output of the game — just the fiction. But I'm a big fan of the RollPlay shows, and I like the game reports on the Lone Wolf Roleplaying group. So I think I will present the combined report — the fiction, and the game steps that led to it.

To understand the game steps more, you can look at the game rules. There is a reference available for the classes and game moves on I am also using the changed racial moves and some new classes from the Eberron supplement, and I am using the Perilous Wilds moves for hirelings and travel.

Steering the Game: Agenda and Principles

These are how Dungeon World suggests that you drive the game from the GM side. I will probably use die rolls to decide what direction to take things at times, but DW does not suggest heavy use of dice for this, instead making use of rules that provided defined courses of action that the GM can use. And it provides the Agenda and Principles to suggest how to make those choices.

The Agenda for DW, which I use as-is:
  • Portray a fantastic world
  • Fill the characters' lives with adventure
  • Play to find out what happens
The Principles are modified slightly, both by me and by the Eberron supplement:
  • Blur the line between magic and technology (Eberron supplement): Eberron is fantasy with an industrial revolution based on magic rather than steam thrown on top. Mechanical traps that release jets of fire from magically-charged dragonshards, trains powered by lightning running on lines of arcane runes, craftsmen using magical tools in their everyday work. Most magic is commodity, used by artisans in standard ways; true magical talent is rare.
  • Past conflict, current intrigue (Eberron, my addition): The surviving human kingdoms of Khorvaire all bears the scars of a protracted war, recently ended. Most other groups and locations in the settings have histories of conflict. There are more rivalries than alliances, everyone has spies, and within every group there are smaller cliques working in secrecy to their own agendas.
  • Make a move that follows: The GM's choices should fit with the fiction established so far.
  • Give everyone personhood (Eberron supplement): Eberron is a setting where humans, humanoid species, intelligent "monsters" and sentient mechanical creations generally have equal status. Enemies are generally not automatically good or evil based on their "type"; they are individuals that reflect the culture that they come from.
  • Ask questions and use the answers: usually in DW this mean questions to the (non-GM) players, which isn't relevant here. But I can probably still make use of this, as I see it used in some of those Lone Wolf games.
  • Adventurers struggling together (my addition): this tends to flow naturally in DW, where it is not part of the GM principles because it is a principle for all players: see the party "struggle together". It might not be so clear when played solo with creative writing playing a part. So I think I need this one. This is Indiana Jones meets Lord of the Rings, not lords and ladies each in their own castles playing at the Game of Thrones, for instance.
  • Be a fan of the characters.
  • Think dangerous: an entire country in Eberron was destroyed a few years ago, by nobody-knows-what (well, presumably someone does…). There are plots afoot to destroy cities, release demons, overthrow governments. If the characters fail their rolls or just fail to act, bad things should happen.
  • Begin and end with the fiction: all moves in the game are triggered by, or flow from, the fiction; the results of moves affect the fiction.
  • Think off-screen too: not every GM move needs to be happening on-screen, in front of the heroes.
These principles embody the tone of Eberron, but I am doing more than just that because I am using the established setting itself. I hope that doing this will make running a solo game more manageable; I do not have to come up with setting, instead I can use the established setting as a source of ideas to drive the game. I will be mainly coming up with local situations (places, characters, events), and so it is for those that I will be seeking to apply these principles.


  1. Did you create Fronts and Grim Portents at all for this game?

    1. Yes, though my use of them has been a little loose throughout.

      First front came after the first session:
      then I added another in session 4:

      Fronts for the second arc of the game begin in , though I kept more details of the fronts out of the write-up until they were seen in play. So the grim portents for those fronts are talked about once some of them begin to appear in the story.