For the first session of the campaign, I am going to treat it as a part of a session zero – an introductory session where the players learn the ropes of the game and how to interact as their characters and with their adventuring party. Sly Flourish, DM and author of Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master, just posted a really good overview of his session zero prep on Youtube (starting at about the 18 minute mark to skip the finale of his previous campaign).
My session zero is going to feature a lot of the backstory of the characters, how they end up together and going a bit over game mechanics, then finishing off with a mini-challenge to put it all together. As I want to keep the sessions at around an hour to an hour and a half, we won’t have a lot of time to get into role-playing, so most of that will begin in the next session.
I’m going to treat the first few sessions as a continuation of the session zero, as we all kind of figure out what we’re doing. Then we will get into the meat of the stories and advetures. Last night, I wrote the first bit of backstory for the players, featuring my youngest’s character, Thule Bonecrusher.
Thule Bonecrusher, you come from the frozen north. When you were a tiny child, your parents were swept away in a terrible storm. You were rescued and adopted by a clan of nomadic barbarians. The storm left a mark on you and as you grew older you became dedicated to the thunder god, Thor, in a desire to control the skies themselves.
To the east, beyond the rim of the world, is a terrible giant who wears the form of an eagle, hight Hraesvelg, or Corpse Gulper. His form is so impossibly large that when he flaps his wings, it sends mighty storms of snow and ice through Midgard.
Last week, one of the wise-women in the clan let slip that the storm which you lost your parents in was indeed created by Hraesvelg. Vowing revenge, you set off to the east to find and punish this Jotunn, an evil type of giant. Unfortunately, you didn’t get very far before you were running for your life across the tundra.
What was chasing you? Was it a troll-woman with legs like a stork? A slobbery giant wolf? Or a starving Lindorm, a snake-like dragon with yellow eyes?
Adding questions for the players to do some world-building is one of the core features of Dungeon World, and it allows the backstory to feel a little more interactive while still being able to keep the pace up.
While you were running, you did not see the sink hole in front of you and were going to pitch right into it.
Roll 2d6 to Defy Danger using your QUICK modifier to see if you can grab onto the tree next to the hole.
On 10+ (success) he grabs onto the tree and does not fall, but the monster pushes the tree into the hole, on 7-9 he grabs for a large branch, but it’s not strong enough and breaks and he falls with the branch into the hole, on 6 or below he just straight up misses and falls in. (The end result is going to be pretty much the same, but I want to introduce the moves mechanics)
You fall for what seems for minutes and land in an icy underground river. Grabbing the remains of the tree, you float into darkness. You don’t know how long you were stuck on that tree in the darkness, but it felt like days. Luckily, you’re used to the cold and were able to tough it out. Eventually, the water began to flow more rapidly and you saw light at the end of a tunnel coming quickly. Followed by a long drop as you plunged over a waterfall into a large lake.
You swam to the surface, and as your eyes began to adjust to the bright daylight, you saw a burly man in a row-boat looking at you with his arms crossed.
“You’re late”, he said.