Tonight's Fellowship game didn't happen, so one of the usual players facilitated Dungeon World for a couple of us.

I created a Paladin and the other player (who was new to DW, but had years of D&D experience) created a Bard. Together, we chose to defend the mountain town of Highpass, an important stopover in a periodic religious pilgrimage.

It was a dark time - literally. The sun was being shrouded by something, and we knew evil was afoot. The Paladin headed up the road, checking for trouble, and sure enough, some cursed bird-men had laid a trap and blocked off the path. We ascended the mountain (Bard first, facing considerable danger) and confronted the bird-men. They backed off without a fight, and the Bard went back to town to rally support (or gather tools) to clear the road while the Paladin remained behind to start work.

The villagers were fearful and didn't assist directly, so the two of us headed further up. We then encountered a group of four cultists around a blue bonfire, chanting. The Paladin issued a challenge and confronted them, plowing through the minions to take on the apparent leader. Battle then broke out, with the Bard delivering some telling blows, the Paladin getting into a very rough-and-tumble fight (setting one cultist alight with the campfire, burning another's hand and his own in the same fire), and a painful showdown where the Bard was taken hostage and the Paladin intercepted a dagger meant for her.

With the Paladin seriously wounded, the Bard realized that the only way to stop the magic of the fire was a great sacrifice. She would have offered up the captive cultists, but the Paladin, knowing this would be an evil act, intervened, and healed the survivors and the Bard herself, then sent them all back to town before dealing with the flame's hunger the only way he could. A 4 on the Last Breath roll later, and the Paladin was a memory being told by the Bard in song to a grateful village.

System Comments

The new DW player definitely felt like the system had an edge over classic D&D for the DM, both in terms of prep and play. Character creation is also obviously faster.

In terms of this one-shot, combat was surprisingly brutal. Although the Paladin was clearly an idealist and had some magical blessings, he was an older guy and just threw himself bodily into the fight. He got cut, stabbed, burned, and even with his armor and sword took some damage, including chills from magical ice. It wasn't a clean sword duel or a graceful dance through a crowd of mooks. It was violent and desperate. While D&D gives you a lot of tactical options, the "right" choice for DW is often the one that's most narratively interesting and true in the moment.