I recently started a campaign of Dungeon World. I thought I’d collect some thoughts about it, as well as a look at the system and the wonderful monsters that are my gaming group.
First of all, what Dungeon World isn’t
I’ve grown annoyed with “old school” style games as the phrase seems to hand-wave a lot of shoddy design in mechanics, art and setting because that’s apparently what it was like when we were younger. Hackmaster was a fun parody of the mood of those games, but the system was unwieldy in its 4th edition and somehow worse in its newer iteration as it removed the ‘fun’ of the previous one. The Free RPG Day reviews I’ve been writing have been a slog because there are so many ‘old school’ adventures and systems and I can only write “hate” so many times.
So what is Dungeon World?
Dungeon World takes the feeling of the old games, the fun, wonder an yes, occasional silliness. Then we get some interesting and simple mechanics in the style of modern games like Fate, which are where my mind’s been at lately.
Dungeon World uses the six basic stats of most d20-based games; Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma, then puts a modifier going from -3 to +3 on each one depending on each score. To make an action you roll 2d6 and add a stat, translated in the system as Roll + Strength, if you’re climbing a rope, for instance. Roll + Bond to call on your bond with someone to help or hinder them. Roll + Dexterity to roll through the blade traps. You get the gist, but it gets so much better from there.
You roll 2d6 + a stat, and if you get a 10 then you succeed. If you get a 7-9 you succeed at a cost. If you roll a 6, you fail miserably but get an XP from the experience. Not just that, but rather than having 100 pages listing all the detailed things skills can do, you simply describe what you’re doing and the GM determines what move you’re using. The key rule to this game is that the narrative comes first. Before anything else, you describe what you are doing and then the GM says if this is an attack, they say if it’s a Charisma roll instead, or an Intelligence, or if you don’t actually need to roll at all.
There’s more, but I’ll get to that when I describe the session.