Thoughts on Neitherworld

Last month, I bodged together a one-shot game based on Dungeon World. It’s available over here in Google Docs, if you want to check it out/steal it mercilessly/comment ruthlessly. It went over pretty well, but I definitely learned about some blind spots it had:

Explaining the High Concept. This is a big one for me, because I love weird. As a consequence of this, I have a bad habit of being a little obscure for my own good. My players were quick to blow open some obvious issues that came out of the Neitherworld as a setting: Are the Neitherworlders alive or dead? What happens when dead things die? What about Neitherworlders, when they die? How long has the king been overthrown?

A lot of these are great questions that Dungeon World and other PbtA games use to share the power with players. Unfortunately, some of these questions fell flat because I hadn’t given myself any prep for them. My players are good at throwing in details and twists, but when a question falls flat, you’ve got to have a backup answer as the GM.

Randomizing the Dungeon. I still think the idea of a randomly rolled dungeon has some legs, but there are definitely rooms in the mix that just weren’t helpful, or which just slowed things down.

XP Triggers. My players really loved the idea of XP Triggers leading to a freeform license to do something epic and awesome and unrolled. I stole a lot of that from Jenna Moran and her game, Chuubo’s Miraculous Wish-Granting Engine, but the XP Triggers are definitely not made equal. The “King of Halloween” got to trigger his, but our “Belle of the Masquerade” didn’t get any at all, because the other players took a more direct approach. I think having more triggers, or some broader ones, might help fix that.

 

Best Quote of the Game:
“Gaze deeply into my cauldron and you may yet glimpse your own future, for it is an ancient brew. And also minestrone.”

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