So two weekends ago, I had the opportunity to run an impromptu Dungeon World one-shot. It was very last-minute, but I was up for the task. In all honesty, I was going to run the Slave-Pit of Drazhu once more, but I realized I forgot the item cards that are unique to the adventure. Not that they’re required to run it, but I would have needed to take some time to at the very least list and improvise a bunch of items both magical and mundane to give to the players throughout the adventure. Not only that, but on the drive to the FLGS (that’s friendly, local game store) where we played, I realized one of the players is a regular in my normal Dungeon World game, and had already experienced the adventure before. I wanted the experience to be different, fun, and fresh for him, so I decided to improvise basically the same adventure from a different perspective.
So we had three players in total; of the two new players, one of them was really young and also a min-maxer / munchkiner though not much of a meta-gamer. The other player, I honestly wasn’t sure, but from initial impressions he seemed to also fall into the mix-maxer category. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Character creation was fairly quick, one of Dungeon’s World’s greatest strengths, but I grew concerned as more and more questions piled up related to min-maxing. What stat should I dump? What’s the strongest weapon I can use? Before the game began, I couldn’t help but think that both new players would hate this game before long. Not enough crunch and super-high damage numbers to keep them happy.
Still, it was time to put on a show, so I had the adventurer’s happen upon a mining town that was strangely quiet and seemingly deserted. After poking around an inn, they find a child hiding from them. Convincing the child they mean no harm, they relay that some creature adorned in purple robes with a skull for a head riding a giant spider came to the town with orcs and goblins, and captured all the townsfolk, taking them to the town mine and enslaving them. The kid did offer them a small sack of coins if they promised to rescue his parents. The party readily agreed to do so.
So off to the mine the party went. The kid gave them directions, and before long they happened upon it. Upon entering, they found themselves in combat with zombies, but the party was up to the task and defeated them rather handily. That’s not to say they emerged unscathed; a few moments later, an earthquake shakes the foundation and some party members are injured from falling rocks.
The injuries are minor however, and the party continues forward, deeper into the mine. Due to time, I had the party encounter the big bad: the evil lich Drazhu and his Giant Spider at this point, much more quickly than I would have liked, but c’est la vie. In the center of his throne room, Drazhu stands at the center with a circle of glyphs on the floor, and a bunch of dead bodies within the circle, looking drained of blood.
This fight proved a bit more challenging, but in the end, Drazhu teleported away to live and fight another day, though his pet Spider, Spider-man (I couldn’t improvise a good name for Drazhu’s giant spider pet; I was tired! Though in hindsight, I wish I had called him Spidor.) is killed, and the various sarcophagi looted. Most of the villagers were rescued from slavery and there was much rejoicing.
What happened next actually shocked me; I was prepared for this to be a one-shot. Bam! One and done! Then the two new players asked me if we could play again.
So here we have two min-maxers / munchkiners who enjoyed Dungeon World more than I thought they would. Not that I thought they hated it; I could see they were having fun throughout the game, but I also sensed a bit of frustration at times. It was cool and gratifying to see that even in a game where narrative drives the game mechanics, min-maxers can enjoy the game and even want to play it more.
In all honesty, due to time and scheduling, I’m not sure we’ll ever play again with this particular group, but never say never.