In the Wake of the Sorcerer-Kings

Sean and I decided to play World of Dungeons (Part 1, Part 2 if you want to watch the process on youtube). We’ll be playing it tonight on the Actual Play twitch channel.

World of Dungeons with Sean and Judd / / Friday 11/19 / 6:30pm PST/9:30pm EST Design/Houserule as we go / What excites you about fantasy and dungeons? Smash Old School & PBTA together and we pick through the rubblel. Can you find Emmett and Pupper Cat?

In the Wake of the Sorcerer-Kings has been in my head without much detail for a while. I can find notes about the setting from years ago, notebooks from my NYC commuter days. The Sorcerer-Kings strip mined something from the earth and left, leaving their labs, weapons and experiments all over the city. Municipal delvers, who have their own labor union, go into these otherworldly portals and vaults, making them safe for the people who live in the area.

The delves have maps, either from the archives of the Sorcerer-Kings or mapping constructs sent into the delve site. I wanted an in-game excuse to hand Sean the pretty Dyson Logos maps.

We’re taking dungeons and sticking them directly into people’s homes, making a community of supportive workers around the delving trade, and looking into the ruins of an inhuman colonial menace that has picked up and left its mess behind. I can’t wait, haven’t been, this excited to game in a long time.

World of Dungeons leaves lots of room for the people playing it to make their own moves. I’m trying not to get ahead of myself, want to see how the game plays before writing up too many moves. The main things I’ve written down are details about delve sites, thoughts on various Sorcerer-Kings and those who served them, so as he discovers more about them, there is a feeling of alien depth.

Made a few things to show to Sean, something to get the first delve started with some flavor and another so we can make the setting together.

Pre-Delve Checklist
City Details

Making the city details, I couldn’t use the Apocalypse World playbooks as a guidepost (like I did in Moons of Leviathan’s Ithaca Station). This isn’t a game about a lack of resources or trying to rule over chaos. I wanted a city that felt lived in, so I made some details, hoping that they were enough for Sean to grab onto and run with. I think we’re going to be okay.

Sean’s character is a lycanthrope who lost an arm during a past delve. Had to make a lycanthropy move. I knew I wanted a situation where the character might lose control to The Beast and black out but I wanted the player to have control over when that occurred.

Rather than thinking about, How can these 2d6+something emulate what I want out of a game about delving into dangerous places that are causing problems for the community I want to think more about How can we frame this conversation to get what we want out of this game?

The move I love most in Apocalypse World is the Workspace on the old Savvyhead sheet (in the latest iteration of AW, Burned Over 2021, it is called Tinkering and is listed among the Standard Moves that go with a Workspace).

Choose which of the following your workspace includes. Choose 3: a garage, a darkroom,
a controlled growing environment, skilled labor (Carna, uy, Pamming, eg), a junkyard
of raw materials, a truck or van, weird-ass electronica, machining tools, transmitters &
receivers, a proving range, a relic of the golden age past, booby traps.
When you go into your workspace and dedicate yourself to making a thing, or to getting
to the bottom of some shit, decide what and tell the MC. e MC will tell you “sure, no
problem, but…” and then 1 to 4 of the following:
• It’s going to take hours/days/weeks/months of work.
• First you’ll have to get/build/�x/�gure out —— .
• You’re going to need —— to help you with it.
• It’s going to cost you a fuckton of jingle.
• e best you’ll be able to do is a crap version, weak and unreliable.
• It’s going to mean exposing yourself (plus colleagues) to serious danger.
• You’re going to have to add —— to your workplace �rst.
• It’s going to take several/dozens/hundreds of tries.
• You’re going to have to take —— apart to do it.
e MC might connect them all with “and,” or might throw in a merciful “or.”
Once you’ve accomplished the necessaries, you can go ahead and accomplish the thing
itself. e MC will stat it up, or spill, or whatever it calls for.

It gives the conversation structure. I ripped it off here, using it as a way to make magic items in D&D and blend it in to Traveller’s Little Black Box to reframe training here.

World of Dungeons gives us the following:

When you attempt something risky, sum 2d6
and add one of your attribute scores, based on
the action you’re taking. (The GM will tell you
some of the possible consequences before
you roll, so you can decide if it’s worth the risk
or if you want to revise your action.)
A total of 6 or less is a miss; things don’t go
well and the risk turns out badly. A total of
7-9 is a partial success; you do it, but there’s
some cost, compromise, retribution, harm, etc.
A total of 10 or more is a full success; you do
it without complications. And a total of 12 or
more is a critical success; you do it perfectly
to some extra benefit or advantage.
Skills: If you have an applicable skill, you
can’t miss. A roll of 6 or less counts as a
partial success, but with a bigger compromise
or complication than a 7-9 result.
Sometimes the GM will roll the die of fate
to see how the situation is established. Low
numbers are ill-fortune, high numbers are
good fortune (or at least not misery). The die of
fate might be rolled to establish the weather,
indicate a random NPC’s general attitude, or
to determine if a wandering monster appears.
The GM may also roll the die of fate if the PCs
take some action for which sheer chance is
the only factor in the outcome.
These rules are yours to bend to your will!
You may find it natural to expand, redact,
and modify them as you your game goes on.
We advise keeping an open mind and lively
discussion of possibilities at the table.

There isn’t much there but it is given with a wink and a nod and lots of old school D&D inspiration. The text above is the most flavorless text in the whole document. There rest is classes, equipment, names and places. Powered by the Apocalypse games (all role-playing games, really) demand rich context.

That is why I started with the Union Checklist at the start of the blog post and then moved into a list of fantasy city stuff. I wanted that feeling of a fantasy firefighter about to walk into a hot mess, participating in a labor union full of plucky adventurers trying to do right by the community in a city that was left strip-mined by inhuman monsters but life goes on. There’s work to be done.

I can’t imagine where I’m getting inspiration from that.

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