Dungeon World: Into the Fire Session #1 Recap

Dungeon World
We played a session of Dungeon World via Google Hangouts this past wednesday. It’s a mini-campaign I’m calling Into the Fire, loosely inspired by the concepts from Hell Dorado/Claustrophobia.  Here’s how it went:
The world is dying. Pieces of the world are vanishing, ceasing to exist. There isn’t much time left. So, the Council of Wizards has created bridge to elsewhere — a portal to another world. One team of explorers has already been sent through the portal — but they didn’t come back.Now the Paladin Targus Fairhand is sent through the portal, along with two hirelings (Daron, a human burglar, and Ramak, a dwarf), along with two conscripted prisoners, Alti (a Shaman) and Nora (a Ranger). Targus is forthright about their mission: they are to explore the area around the portal entrance, and attempt to discover what
has delayed the first team of explorers.
Exiting the portal on the other side, they find themselves in a dark, sweltering hot environment. They can hear something moving in the dark. The dwarf, who can see in such environments, reports that they are in a cave, likely forged from volcanic activity, and that there is some sort of animal to moving behind some rocks to the north-west. While Targus lights a torch, Alti makes contact with one of her ancestor-spirits, Riga. (Riga is not summoned, but communicates telepathically).  Riga merely shouts that Alti  should “go back! leave this place!” and begins screaming, seemingly in agony.
Targus, having lit the torch, reveals a cavern with three passages leading north, west, and east. The rocks that form the floor, walls, and ceiling are smooth, as though they had been melted and then hardened again. There are some larger boulders, pieces of the ceiling which have fallen, and behind some of these is the beast. Targus steps around the rocks and finds a creature like a maggot the size of a St. Bernard, with a face like a human skull and the horns of a bull, and a scorpion’s stinger at its tail. It gives a piercing shriek as it sees him; he attacks it with his mallet, but the blow merely bounces off

the creature’s rolls of fat, and the thing’s tail whips forward to strike him on the neck. Nora, bow drawn, tries to sink an arrow into into the beasts’ hide, but cannot see it past the rocks and the Paladin.

Alti tries to calm Riga, but only agitates her more. The screams of anguish fill Alti’s head, leaving her unable to act or sense anything around her — and thus she fails to see (or alert the rest of the party to) the second maggot-thing that creeps out of the eastern
passageway.

Meantime the poison now in his veins weakens Targus, but he holds fast against it. Nora gets her shot and pins an arrow in the beast’s hide, but fails to see the second maggot-thing crawling up behind her. Targus and the two hirelings attack the first beast again, and as the dwarf and burglar stab at it, Targus cracks its skull open with his mallet — sending a spray of black gore into the dwarf’s face.

Nora is surprised by the maggot’s sudden sting in her arm; she cries out and drops her bow so as to attack it with her spear, but before she can do anything the maggot wrap itself around her and begins to crush her. The others, hearing her cry, rush to her aid; save for Alti, who is still overwhelmed by the cries of her ancestor. She manages to sever the telepathic link to Riga, but, seeing the situation at hand, decides that the others can take care of it without her.

Targus strikes at the maggot, but in the confusion as it writhes he hits Daron instead. Nora uses her spear for leverage to break out of the maggot’s grasp, but has to leave it behind as she slips loose.

Board Game Thoughts

My family isn’t all that into RPGs, but they do like board games, and since I’ve been visiting my folks the past few weeks, I’ve been playing a *lot* of games.  Mostly these have been strategy/tactical games.  Let’s see if I can remember all the ones I’ve played:

  1. Colossal Arena
  2. Carson City
  3. Last Night on Earth
  4. Clue: The Great Museum Caper
  5. Risk
  6. Zombie State
  7. Bang!
  8. Space Hulk: Death Angel
  9. Defenders of the Realm
  10. Arkham Horror
  11. Munchkin
  12. Pirates of the Caribbean Pirate Dice

That last one my older brother and I also used to tweak the rules of a pirate game he’d bought that has very high quality pieces, board, etc, but very poor rules to go along with them.  So, then, twelve or thirteen board games, some of which I played more than once.  (I also played Dogs in the Vineyard with some friends, but that wasn’t with my family.  And my younger brother and I started playing Dungeon World, an old-school hack of Apocalypse World, but we didn’t get much farther than character creation, unfortunately.)

While Risk and Clue: The Great Museum Caper are old family favorites (although I hadn’t played Clue: TGMC since highschool), and many of the others (Last Night on Earth, Arkham Horror) were very familiar to me, several of the games were new, including Colossal Arena, Carson City, Zombie State, Space Hulk, and Defenders of the Realm.  Of these new games, I think Zombie State is probably my favorite, although Colossal Arena and Space Hulk are also highly enjoyable games, and Defenders of the Realm seems to work when you’d like the experience of playing Arkham Horror without quite so strong narrative elements or Yog-Sothothery.  The only one I didn’t really like was Carson City, which has far too much in common with Settlers of Catan for my taste.  (I know Settlers is quite popular in most corners, but I am not any good at it and find it frustrating, as if there is some central mechanic to the game that everyone else has read but have conspiratorially kept hidden from me.)

Many of the newer games had strong narrative or story elements, which (in addition to their excellent rules systems) are what make them of especial interest to me.  There’s a web forum I frequent entitled “Story Games” which is mostly about RPGs but is so named because it wants to encompass all games in which a story is told or formed through play.  It’s a purposefully vague and inclusive definition, but I find this not to be a disadvantage.  I suppose there are people out there who self identify as exclusively RPG players, but my own allegiance is more to the narrative form (of any sort), and as pertains to games I’ll go anywhere I can create a sense of story.   To be fair, I’ll happily play other games as well (I especially enjoy strategy games like chess or Risk, and get addicted to puzzle games like Tetris) but those games I consistently find the most enjoyment in have a narrative element; be they RPGs or board games.

What games do you all play with your family members?  Are they more “traditional” games like Scrabble or Monopoly, or do you have family members who are interested in war or strategy games, or even RPGs?

Also, what cool board games, if any, have you played recently?  Any experiences with any of the games on my above list you’d like to share?