I am going to be starting up a group playing Dungeon World pretty soon (I will be the GM). I have GM'd a very mechanics-driven game about 15 ago for maybe 5 years. In that game (which I wrote myself, and poorly because I was young) battles comprised most of the gameplay and it had a ludicrous amount of computer-RPG style rules to be crunched per action.

I understand pretty well how different Dungeon World is; that's the attraction. This leaves me with what I believe is an important question:

What is an appropriate scope for a first adventure and how large should the "blanks" I need to include be?

Three of the players will be completely new to tabletop RPGs, and the last one will be somewhat of a veteran player. Thus, I'm uncertain how much implicit storytelling I'll be able to expect from the player regarding the game world. Is it better to start with a smallish bit of context such as having the party breaking into a mansion to steal artifacts (and have the players come up with the what and why of it?) or is it better to lay out some encroaching dangers in a larger world and allow the players a chance to decide at a macro-level what they'd like to do to address them?

(I do not yet have access to the GM guide, so if this is answered specifically within it, that would be good to know.)

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    A point of order: there's no GM guide — the GM's rules are fully included in Dungeon World's chapters on the GMing rules. What guide are you referring to there? – SevenSidedDie Jan 17 '17 at 18:24
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    Possibly a misunderstanding. Is the entire game available for free online!? – BlackVegetable Jan 17 '17 at 18:26
  • Yes, Dungeon World's text was released as open source when it was first published. Have you read the whole game, or have you not read the rules that the GM has to follow yet? – SevenSidedDie Jan 17 '17 at 18:26
  • AWHFHAISWFEWF! That's incredible! I haven't read all of the rules yet apparently. I will seek them out and later throw money at the creators (possibly until they ask me to stop.) Thank you. – BlackVegetable Jan 17 '17 at 18:27
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    Cool. :) They're good people. – SevenSidedDie Jan 17 '17 at 18:28
up vote 8 down vote accepted

This is indeed covered in the book, and also, this material is freely available online. There is explicitly a section for GMing your first session.

The preferred method of starting a Dungeon World campaign as implied within the recommendations scattered through the rules is to start an adventure in medias res - at least to some extent. The characters already know each other and have reason to be adventuring, and should also already be on an adventure.

The typical RPG (other systems) might start slowly with a lot of setup - everyone meeting in a tavern, or wandering through town looking for a job, or stumbling upon each other for the first time. Dungeon World, by comparison, should jump right into the action - the group is standing outside a dungeon that they heard about, formed a group over, traveled to, and are ready to start delving immediately. It can still be any sort of "dungeon" you wish, from a goblin cave to an abandoned castle, or whatever; the important part is that the process of getting to the first major plot point is glossed over.

From there, improvise. You don't need to think up the rest of the world right away - it will come as you play. You are encouraged to write down Fronts, Dangers, and Grim Portents, though they will come naturally over time.

A lot of the questions of "why" are addressed during character creation, with the creation of bonds as well as any other questions you may ask. This period of character creation right before beginning should involve you the group collaboratively deciding clearly how everyone knows each other, why they are allies, what motivates them, and why they are where they are now. Then, roll with it.

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    Wait, then what is the paid digital download for? Just supporting the creators? (If so, that's fine and I'll still do that.) – BlackVegetable Jan 17 '17 at 18:25
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    @BlackVegetable you also get all the stuff in nicely formatted and easily printable PDFs. And possibly some extra artwork and extra playbooks. But mostly the support thing. – Erik Jan 17 '17 at 18:27
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    @BlackVegetable Pretty much. I own the physical book and it doesn't really contain anything that isn't free online. The book also doesn't contain a whole lot of art or production value, so it's really just for supporting the creators and/or having a nice book collection. – Southpaw Hare Jan 17 '17 at 18:29
  • @BlackVegetable It was published as a Creative Commons project before the Kickstarter project that launched it. But the most straightforward way to get access to the full text is still to purchase the PDF and/or physical book via DriveThruRPG. That said, being Creative Commons has spawned the creation of many hacks and supplements by other individuals that may or may not be. – Wesley Obenshain Jan 17 '17 at 21:10
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    @SouthpawHare It's missing the marginalia. There's also the issue of offline transportability. But honestly, I meant that as opposed to acquiring the PDF from some other source, even though it would be legal. It's also not terrifically readable but that's a separate issue. – Wesley Obenshain Jan 17 '17 at 21:28

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