23 April 2013

Experimenting With Wild Magic in Dungeon World

Last session we playtested a class that I have been working on for Dungeon World, the Wild Mage. A friend from out of town is taking on the role for a couple of weeks while he is visiting and he ran with the idea. Without further preamble, here are the wild magic highlights from the session.

Capturing Mist

The first major use of wild magic in the game came early on. The adventurers were investigating a mysterious blue mist that originated from a well in the centre of town. The poking and proddings of a certain halfling caused an explosive release of the mist to blast out of the well and start to cloud over the town.

In response to the outbreak of mist Enkadash the Wild Mage used his Arcane Conduit move, which works similarly to a Wizard's ritual only it results in unpredictable drawbacks and twisted results. Enkadash managed to use his magic to gather up and confine the mist in a sphere, but in the process was hideously transformed into an orc and magnetized. This ultimately lead to some hilarious role play between Enkadash and Joln the Cleric where they argued about how magic was supposed to work.

Inadvertent Gate

Joln is a cleric of The Nameless One, a mysterious deity that collects secrets. All of The Nameless One's listeners (clerics) carry a glass orb that they use to collect information for their god and Joln couldn't pass up a chance to learn about Enkadash's unusual magic. He had Joln channel his magic into the orb, but the magic surged and proved much more powerful than expected. So powerful, in fact, that it expanded the link to The Nameless One into a full blown gate into the god's domain!

The Nameless One's power leaked from the portal and townsfolk were called to it like rats to the pied piper to spill their secrets. The group tried to keep townsfolk away for as long as possible, but it was a losing battle. Joln, either out of heroism or spiritual curiosity, stepped through the gate with the orb and closed the link between the material world and The Nameless One's domain. This was a completely unexpected turn of events, but I think it will lead to a very interesting adventure in the near future. Unfortuantely, it also means that the group is without a proper cleric for the time being. Joln's player has taken control of a follower for the time being.

Light Surge

Wild Magic surged once again as the group explored a dungeon accessed from the town's well. This time it happened when Enkadash tried to cast a simple light spell and it instead summoned an unseen servant. The players just handed a torch to the servant, so it all worked out more or less the same.

Boom, Headshot!

In a battle with some subterannean zombies Enkadash unleashed his Arcane Conduit again. A pulse of energy blasted out from his person and exploded the head of every zombie in the room. The drawback this time? Enkadash became blind to everything except magical energy. This proved to be only a minor inconvenciece as he was able to use the unseen servant as a guide through the rest of the dungeon.

Wild Mage Isn't Ready Yet

I need to weaken the Arcane Conduit move. At this point the drawbacks are not making it the risky, last resort choice that I had intended it to be. The Wizard's Ritual is balanced by allowing the GM to place restrictions on it. Arcane Conduit as currently written can be used whenever the Wild Mage would like and is balanced only by drawbacks. I think I will need to make Arcane Conduit less reliable even on a 10+ result by giving the GM license to twist results in the same manner as a genie would twist a wish; the trick is getting the wording right. I also need to play around with the drawbacks, there isn't any rhyme or reason to them at this point.


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