With the game only days from now, I’ve been plugging at getting the printouts and handouts all ready to go. First I proofread and printed out the character sheets and any maps for the first adventure.
Then it was time for me to write up the Dungeon World basic moves I will be using, keeping the language as concise and simple as I could. I added the icons in and realized that I never drew one for the Defend move, so I threw down a basic shield (though in hindsight, I should have had a round shield to match the Viking flavor of the campaign) with Eihwaz, the rune of defense.
We’ll see how well the basic moves work for the boys. I’m a little concerned it will be overwhelming at first to have so many, but I think we can get through them in play.
Finally, I started printing out item cards for the first quest. These will fit nicely in the Equipment Packs from r-n-w.net. The cool products Rose and Niels (https://www.patreon.com/rpgtoons/) put out are a big inspiration for what I want to do with the boys.
I’m getting a little close to the wire on the remaining items. I have to finish writing and designing two more handouts (a quest sheet and an acceptance letter to Kraghall Academy), design and build one more table piece, and write the backstory scenario for my wife’s character. Then all that will be left is to flesh out how I want to role-play the initial NPCs.
Getting excited to roll this out to the boys and start exploring the world with the characters they’ve made.
Working on building a new character sheet and hacking a game for children borrowing elements from Dungeon World and Sidekick Quests has been really illuminating. By digging into the details and questioning how I would simplify for little ones, it made me realize the base assumptions I just follow without even thinking.
I feel like I did a pretty good job of cutting out a lot of the cruft, simplifying the moves and other aspects on the character sheets to make them more user-friendly.
Even though I want to promote math skills for the boys, I didn’t think that having huge numbers for the health, energy and experience pools was helpful for gameplay. I want them to see what they need at a glance, so I simplified how certain things work. Most notably damage and health.
When a player takes or deals damage, the base damage is going to be 1 health and then modifications can be added. This allows for simplified health pools and combat. This gives the ability to display health with individual icons. It’s obviously not going to be very well balanced, but I’m focusing on the story, so it may not matter.
The one drawback is that it seriously reduces the types of dice used on a regular basis. Right now, the game is geared toward using d6 for the majority of rolls. I will need to find other challenges that use the different dice, so the kids can get used to identifying and using them.
I limited what I have on the sheets to four sections: profile, abilities, custom moves and pools. Everything else is either on another sheet (basic moves), or have individual cards (inventory and weapons). This gives the boys easy to read graphic segments, so that they never have to search around for things in the middle of play.
Maybe when the character’s go up a couple of levels, I’ll have to put the basic moves on the character sheets and then have the custom moves on their own page, but I’ll tackle that when I get there.
The liked the different colors Sidekick Quests uses for difficulty levels and whatnot to allow the reader to see where things are at a glance. My palettes are much more muted, but I took this concept for the three move results (success, success with consequence, and failure).
I’ll definitely be tinkering with the design over the course of the campaign.
I am starting to get the hang of PbtA (Powered by the Apocalypse) type moves, and feel like I was able to pair down the descriptions and details of the moves to keep them from dragging down play, making them usable for six-year-olds. Additionally, I moved away from just making arbitrary bonuses and instead allowed the class to use more favorable abilities for certain rolls when the move is triggered.
Once game-play starts, and we’ve got a dozen sessions or so under our belts, I’ll know a lot better what changes need to be made to the custom moves. But I think that will go for all of the Dungeon World and Sidekick Quest rules I’ve adopted and modified.
Now that the character sheets are designed and completed, I have a style I can build on. I’ll start in on monster sheets, NPCs and inventory cards in the near future.
One of the concerns I have with the game, is my boy’s tenacity to stick with one thing and do it over and over again. It can be a song, a saying, a joke, or in the case of earlier role-playing experiences, shooting things. While playing No Thank You, Evil! the boy’s would approach every monster the same way, by firing their eel-blasters at them every time. I had to work overtime to get them to expand to find other options.
While I’m sure as they play through, they’ll use a lot of other skills and resources to deal with problems, I’m hoping to not have it be an issue early on in the game. Judging by the things play-acting during the character creation stage, the shocking weapon ability may be a go-to. To get around this, I’m looking to set limitations on the number of times certain moves can be used.
I definitely don’t want to get into a resource-management style game with arbitrary limits, but I do want to encourage different options and ideas. The idea of having prepared spells is not appealing to me, it was never one of the fun parts of D&D, and with the limited number of moves already, seems overly restrictive.
I briefly toyed around with the idea of basing the ability to continually use certain abilities until the player rolled a failure, and then the ability would be gone until the character rested, but I didn’t like the option of it possibly failing the first time they use it and then not having it for the whole day, I don’t want using their abilities to be punitive.
Yesterday, I was working on finalizing the character sheets and needed to make a decision so I could complete the design. I went with an energy pool along side the health pool, so that the players can use all of their abilities multiple times in a day, but not necessarily spam them. Like health, I kept the energy pool very simplified, a maximum of six-eight “stars”, and certain abilities requiring the use of a star.
Naturally, most of the abilities requiring energy are combat related, as I want to encourage more investigation and role-playing, but I did set one of my wife’s divinatory moves to require a star. These abilities are marked with a golden star next to them on the custom moves section.
This way, the moves can still be cool and the boy’s can still use them liberally, but not to the point of it becoming dull.
These are the moves I set as requiring energy to use:
Vicious Bite (attack)
Fearsome Howl (fear)
Thunder Touch (push opponents)
Storm Charge (attack)
Burning Touch (attack)
Earth Memory (divination)
Channel Önd (healing)
We’ll see how it goes and if we don’t like it, I can always drop the energy pool concept without too much reworking.
It’s important to me to make sure that every option the boys have in the game is really easy to use and identify. For that purpose, I have created an icon for each and every move they will have for the start or play. In Dungeon World, and other Powered by the Apocalypse games, moves are basically the actions a character can take. There are class-specific moves and basic moves. I made a special icon for each one to make sure that the player’s options are clear.
I was a little daunted by the task at first, simply because there were so many, but once I got into the groove, it turned out to be not that painful. The first step was to sketch out a basic idea on paper to figure out how I’d represent the move.
The next step was to figure out how to turn my crappy sketch into an effective icon. By icon, I mean a stylized graphical representation, more shape than line-art, not necessarily a true icon meant to be immediately understood by the viewer at any scale. This took a little bit longer, but I didn’t make many significant changes from my initial sketches, so that was also fairly painless. I got about half of them done while the kids were visiting the library, and the rest over a couple of nights after they were in bed.
Finally, I took a picture of my sketchbook with the iPad camera and opened it in Clip Studio Paint. I used my fairly rough drawings as a guide for the digital inking. I use the Hairpin Sable brush from Frenden as my primary ink brush. This step was the quickest stage and I was able to get almost all of them done within a day, between times hanging with the boys.
I’m pretty happy with how they turned out and feel like I can work on getting the final versions of the starting moves going now. The next step is to clean up the wording of each move and then I’ll put them on the character sheets.
Finally, I’m taking a look at the starting moves for the Seether, the chthonic shaman class chosen by my wife.
You are wise woman in touch with the dark energies of the earth. Through trance-like seething, you channel the mysteries of the deep, the ways of fire, andserpent magic.
Burning Touch You are able to focus your energies to make your touch red-hot. Extended contact can cause organic materials to combust.
Earth Memory You fall into a trance and send your fetch into the deep earth to find answers. On a 7+ you can ask a single question of the GM. Anything below 7, the denizens of the deep earth notice your presence.
Serpent Dance When you are engaged in conflict with another, you can cause your body to tremble and shake with the movements of the serpent. You can choose to either quick strike for a +1 on Hack and Slash or whip out of harms way to defend for +1.
Buried Knowledge You know things from deep beneath the earth and gain +1 on all discern realities or spout lore moves when dealing with the underworld and things that grow there.
Here is a quick view of the Thunder Priest class chosen by the other son.
You are devoted to the warrior god thunder, Thor, and have learned to channel some of the natural powers of the storm.
Hearty Revelry You are a large presence, particularly when you have a full belly. People hang on your every word and feel compelled by your boisterous tales.When you attempt to discern realities or parley with others while eating and drinking, you get +1 on the roll.
Bend Bars, Lift Gates When you use pure strength to destroy an inanimate obstacle, roll +TOUGH. 10+ choose 3 below. 7-9 choose 2.
It doesn’t take a very long time
Nothing of value is destroyed
It is not too noisy
You can fix without a lot of effort
Thunder Touch When you touch a being with your hand, you can channel the thunder from inside to push them away from you.
Storm Charge You can charge a metal weapon with lighting to do an additional +1 damage.
Signs of Battle When you attempt to discern realities when you come upon a scene where a battle has occurred, you gain +1
I borrowed the Bend Bars, Lift Gates move directly from the Fighter playbook. I’m not 100% sure if I am going to keep it the same. I’m curious if the multiple options would work well for the boys or not. It might be something that changes as we play the game. Flexibility will be key.
I gave this class two more investigative abilities because the play may lend itself to more combat and I want to give him other options.
A quick look at the wolf feral class, played by one of my sons.
When making a class playbook for them, I am cognizant to keep descriptions simple, but mindful to not dumb things down. Each class will have some core move which will assist them in either investigation or conflict resolution outside of combat.
Here are some of the starting moves for the class. I may add one or two more after I get some of the other classes set up.
You are a member of the Ulfhednar, an order of humans who can channel the powers of wolves. You wear a pelt that gives you the senses, reflexes, and ferocity of the wolf.
Keen Senses Your senses are those of a wolf. In particular, hearing and smell are much more sensitive than normal humans. Darkness does not hinder you, but loud noises and strong smells may make it difficult to focus.
Vicious Bite When you try to bite someone or something, it is extremely painful. You can hold someone tightly with your iron jaws.
Wolf Step You can move silently and quickly like a wolf, covering large distances with preternatural speed.
When you follow the trail of a living being, you roll +CLEVER +1 On 7+ you are able to follow until conditions change. On 10+ you are able to gather information about your quarry.