At the last SGG I ended up running a Dungeon World session. Half our members showed a little late, and I knew we didn't have very much in the way of time (3 hours at the top end). And hence, I wanted to run a "dungeon starter" of sorts that I put together... three simple questions.
We created characters, ending up with:
- Pollux the human fighter wielding a strange black axe, played by David.
- Knock the pudgy elf wizard, culinary officianado, played by Mark.
- Sibel the human druid, avatar of the blasted wasteland, dirty and bland, with cow skull helmet and vibrant green staff, played by Mead.
We created bonds: Pollux and Sibel both agreed that Knock looked like prey, and is soft and needs protecting. Knock believes that Pollux will play an important role in events to come, and that the scrawny Sibel is woefully undernourished. Pollux and Sibel have a blood pact, but Pollux worries that Sibel, knowledgeable of the upper earth, is not ready for dungeon survival.
Time to drop question #1, and see where they go with it...
What rumor about the Scrimshaw Pass decided you on hiring Lyurk's band for protection?
The party had heard rumors of magic wards that could be confusing... and that the pass always takes something from those who try to pass through. And the valley they were travelling through consisted of many bones under the thin layer of fresh snow.
It was obvious to me that they thought highly of themselves, and didn't like the thought of needing Lyurk, so I quickly make Lyurk's band consist of a few scummy brigands... simple thug Assan, heavyset Lump, the cloaked and secretive Zir, and Lyurk's sister, Lah, with two curved wicked blades.
One thing I liked about this part of the session was that even though I was planning on just hitting the action in media res, we organically did a little flashback scene at the last towns tavern, where they hired Lyurk. He was obviously concerned about the money, of which the party had little, but despite this agreed to accompany them... it appeared that other motivations were in play. I love that the players just jumped into this scene, and then easily jumped out of it, back to the present.
Some keening arose from the hillside, and Lyurk's people ran to investigate. Sibel started pilfering through their things, and found a vial of red dust: Amber Sand, which they discerned was a sleeping substance that could be dissolved in food or water.
It was at this point that the party got attacked by what looked like skeleton wights. As it turned out, these were some sort of short humanoids wearing bone armor, and after some scratches and scuffs, they were dealt with. Just at the end of the combat, Lyurk's band returns claiming to have taken care of some more of these, over the ridge.
Why do you now know that Lyurk is planning to have his band murder and rob you, even though he hasn't let this on?
I love these leading questions which move the story along. In this case it could be one of a hundred reasons, whether it's purely malice, simple robbery, or in this case the players settled on Lyurk having been hired by people who were out to get the party.
Knock, having culinary inclinations, sidles up to Lump (their cook, with a stew going) and tries slipping in the Amber Sands as "salt". Lump doesn't notice, but does offers a taste of the stew, which Knock fakes a slurp of, by inadvertently spilling and burning his shoulder. Before long Lyurk's crew is passed out.
The party take Lyurk's band's shoes and weapons, and toss them a mile out, as they head towards the pass.
What is Pyre's Tower, and what has driven you to it?
OK, this wasn't really my question #3; I hadn't finished it, but it was supposed to be something like this: What is the <some object>, and what has driven you to get it? and What rumors have you heard about <some location>? Now that you see it, what does it look like? \
I went instead with a tower. Also, in game it came up that Sibel the wasteland druid was search for fire-starters and immolators, as one of them caused the destruction of his homeland, and he's an avatar out for retribution. I decided to call the structure Pyre's Tower, which sounds fire-y, and to have it inhabited by a fire wizard.
They were approaching it, but taking their time (and in the real world we were running out of that), so I just had a fire-enshrouded being appear near them in the growing night. They made a good feint, and Pollux was therefore able to sneak close, and plunge his axe into the sorcerers chest.
Unfortunately we couldn't do a real "roses and thorns" type thing at the end, since Game Haus Cafe was closing shop and we had to get out relatively quick. But everyone seemed to dig the adventure.
For me, the best part was that the entire session was planned around these three questions. Nothing else had been pre-planned to any degree. It all came from our minds as we went along, and that's some collaboration that I love to see.