Dungeon World

@Retreater

Thanks for posting that. I’m going to respond only to the UaPJ for now to keep he conversation focused. We can move to the Parley and Combat once the UaPJ thoughts are resolved.

My thoughts are two-fold:

1) Regarding Rations. You mentioned “over-preparing” (presumably meaning they bought and stored much more than they need).

a) All aspects of equipment are meant to be enduring “pressure-points” on play. Encumbrance/Load is one way this is handled. That gets mitigated s bit with two high Str characters, but make sure that is handled appropriately (DW makes this low overhead, so that shouldn’t be trouble like other games).

b) Beyond Load, there is only so much space to put stuff in packs. So both you and your players have a say in this. Your say is “guys, it’s a backpack...a full days allotment of rations is probably 3/4 a lunchbox for full grown, beefy warriors like you. This isn’t modern day where you’re packing huge calories and nutrient density into small meal bars”. You just can’t carry that many rations in your packs! Their say is “we’re going to sacrifice some space for torches/adventuring gear/poultices/etc for an extra days rations”. To which you say “fair enough”...knowing now you have a more vulnerable pressure point to attack on 7-9 and 6-.

2) If these guys are inherently combat-centric in their builds/load-outs, then consider making obstacles/dangers (for UaPJ and others) be different. Consider non-combat Dangers for UaPJ as the bulk of results. Perhaps a Scout 7-9 yields:

* A Discovery. Some new, shiny, interesting locale with a promise of treasure on a short window of opportunity (maybe the moon is right once a year to separate the waters of a deep lake and reveal something...or a portal appears suddenly and shimmers as if it’s bout to blink out) which creates an interesting decision-point. Alternatively, maybe the scout stumbles upon an lamed Bear/Wolf/Leopard who may turn into a Cohort if they can get it out of its trap and heal it..and survive the violence that it fights with due to its fear and injury.

* A non-combat Danger that they have to immediately act upon lest it manifest against them:

- An aberrant altar erected by a cult of some Far Realm horror. Laying eyes upon its writings and portents twists the mind and turns you against your nature!

- A surveying team for a mineral site or a new trail to connect streadings is in dire peril as a mudslide has buried half their team...most of their gear...the night is gathering and predators loom. The problem is, the site is completely unstable due to all of the rains...a slide of this area to the valley below is imminent given grumbling of the mountain/hill!

- A very young, Demon-Possessed (or feral?) girl has left a trail of rats that she has been feasting upon as she is starving to death...Seeing the meaty Barbarian she stalks him and jumps upon him from an overhanging branch!

- A horrific hailstorm has emerged out of nowhere! They better find shelter or the softball sized hail (and maybe a tornado?) will damage their armor/ruin their packs(upon which time they’ll have to decide which gear to leave behind)/injure them (or worse).
 
Last edited:
@Nebulous

PBtA games are extremely low prep. The game will fight you (and won’t reward you) if you prep much.

You and your players need to be understanding and open with each other if this gaming paradigm is entirely new to you. Take a breath. Lean on each other. Be relaxed and conversational. Ask questions. Use the answers.

You’ll learn it and get better with thinking on your feet and navigating genre logic impromptu together. And the game’s engine and advice will help you.

I would recommend Vincent Baker’s GMing advice in Apocalypse World and Dogs in the Vineyard to also help you along (as they’re both enormously helpful and apropos). Same goes for Johnathon Harper with Blades in the Dark.

Another great resource is the advice in Strike! But you really don’t need all of those. DW GMing advice is fantastic and comprehensive while being concise and focused.

Since I’m plugging things, I’ll plug “The Perilous Wilds” as a DW supplement. I use it’s UaPJ and Companion/Cohort rules (and a few other moves).
 

JeffB

Hero
Servants
I would like a game with less prep than D&D, and this seems like it could work, once we get the rules down.
Go download "One shot World" from Drive Thru- It's great for one-shots or several sessions.

It has almost no -prep. And includes all you need to do that "almost no prep". Also there are dozens and dozens of Dungeon Starter type products out there for free (And Cinder Queen is a must buy, IMO)

BTW- This is an invaluable resource for DW if anyone here does not know about it.

Dungeon World Syllabus
 

Aldarc

Hero
I wanna like Dungeon World, and I still want to run it but it feels like Sage and Adam rooted Apocalypse World too heavily in D&D. I would like an Apocalypse World Engine game that is fantasy but not necessarily trying to be D&D-Style fantasy.
 

Panda-s1

Scruffy and Determined
I've never actually played DW (unfortunately), but I have listened to a few podcasts that use powered by the apocalypse games, so I guess I'll throw my 2 cents.
Certainly I'll get some crossed eyes when I say something like "it's going to be better for our story if I rip off your character's arm."
afaik the Powered by the Apocalypse games have become popular with actual-play podcasts, and I feel like that's because it's good at creating drama (like drama drama, not interpersonal drama). every time characters go into battle they always come out worse for wear and that's 'cause they get injured. sure they lose HP, but more importantly they explain in detail why and how they hurt. people will also play these games and run campaigns where they rarely go into combat, instead focusing on things like exploration and intrigue, in which case combat becomes much more deadly since it usually represents some major issue coming to a head. at least that's the impression I've gotten. dismemberment is the extreme end of things, but it's probably better to think of injuries instead of HP.

Our group is definitely entrenched in the D&D/PF milieu (even if it's OSR). We were looking for a game that we could play over voice chat while in different states without the need for grids or complex character sheets.
maybe I'm wrong, but I felt like part of the appeal of older D&D was that it was fraught with peril. all the games made with this system are supposed to be some form of deadly and DW is very much inspired by games like this, hirelings and 10 foot poles included. if you guys play OSR I'd think they'd understand that the game is supposed to be kinda scary and not about steamrolling through dungeons, idk.

The other major issue I've had - the soft vs. hard moves - isn't really clearly defined in the book either (again, from what I could tell). And even from the advice given in this thread and the linked advice PDF, it's more "as the GM you should just do what you think would enhance the game/make it more interesting."
since I'm the only person I know who wants to play Dungeon World, I've had this issue too since I'd probably end up the one to run it. I came to the realization that GM moves are basically the smiling dungeon master meme in less abstract form. basically you can do whatever nasty cool thing you can think of to the players, and you don't even have to pretend to roll for anything! I mean correct me if I'm wrong, but I feel like that's what they were going for when they wrote the rules for moves.
 

Nebulous

Hero
Since I’m plugging things, I’ll plug “The Perilous Wilds” as a DW supplement. I use it’s UaPJ and Companion/Cohort rules (and a few other moves).
Wow, that's a cool little supplement! I hope I can get my old group to try this out on roll20. They're excited about doing 5e Forge of Fury but I'm not very thrilled.
 
@Panda-s1 my players are kinda bored with it. The OSR fan thinks it's too easy, the 5e player thinks there aren't enough options, but the PF player likes the ease of play because he doesn't want to make any extra time investment in this game.

I've been re-reading the rulebook today. I'm fairly convinced I'm running it closely to RAW, but there's obviously something missing (as many in this thread are pointing out).

Perhaps I'm not cut out for extreme GM Fiat games like FATE, DW, etc.
 

pemerton

Legend
@Retreater - I don't think I would describe DW as "extreme GM fiat", because the principles are pretty focused. But I agree with you that choosing your moves may be what's causing trouble. I haven't yet GMed a PbtA game - I'm hoping to do Apocalypse World some time in this lifetime! - but I have found establishing consequences for failure in Burning Wheel to pose some similar challenges. (Also, but to a lesser extent, establishing failures in skill challenges when GMing 4e.)

I think at least part of the solution is to have a very clear sense of the fiction and its trajectory, and to have player buy-in to that - which tends to mean a high degree of at-the-table collaboration in establishing the fiction. One system that has helped me with this particular GM skill, and is very easy to play and excellent for one-shots, is Cthuhlu Dark.
 
@Retreater

You’re definitely missing something because most OSR games (outside Moldvay Basic) and 5e have at their beating hearts GM Fiat; “rulings not rules.”

Powered By the Apocalypse games, DW in this case are not even in the slightest “rulings not rules”; it’s antithetucal in fact (and the game says so). These games are profoundly player facing with extreme, player-facing codification, shared authority, and GMing that is tightly constrained by (a) all of the above mentioned and (b) by the explicit play agenda and binding GM principles (which should be what is guiding your every move made).

Why do you think DW is GM Fiat while something like 2e and 5e (which are all GM Fiat driven and vulnerable to Force in the extreme) are not?

I think once that is answered we may get a better understanding of what is happening in your game.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
@Panda-s1 my players are kinda bored with it. The OSR fan thinks it's too easy, the 5e player thinks there aren't enough options, but the PF player likes the ease of play because he doesn't want to make any extra time investment in this game.

I've been re-reading the rulebook today. I'm fairly convinced I'm running it closely to RAW, but there's obviously something missing (as many in this thread are pointing out).

Perhaps I'm not cut out for extreme GM Fiat games like FATE, DW, etc.
This isn't an "extreme GM fiat" game, though. I has very clear delineations on what and when a GM can do. Your issue appears to be that you don't actually do what you need to do -- you don't make a failure HARD on the PCs. You don't ask for enough rolls in combat. Take your example above. A dragonbone is big, like big, with a long neck capable of striking at a distance. Your Barbarian rushing in would have so do some Defy Dangers just to close to get to do a Hack and Slash. I mean, it has the Reach and Messy tags! Also, how is the Fighter defending the Barbarian if he hasn't closed to the Dragonbone so that he can be beside the Barbarian? Goodness! I mean, sure, the rolls you relate are straight up successes, but there needed to be many more rolls called for.

And the Lich! Good grief, those are scary! That DM move of 'Reveal a preparation or plan already completed' is either a get out of jail free card or a way to make the PC's lives truly miserable. It says, in effect, that the lich can now reveal a plan that's already true that will help the situation for the lich. An escape plan, that this is a trap, that the lich had captured the PC's families -- that's, like, really, really bad stuff, there.

There's no way that the PCs rolled well enough to Defy all of that danger, get their licks in without return. I mean, sure, they look like they had good rolls, but not enough. You need to push harder on the PCs. DW is a game where your PCs should have been quaking in their boots at ONE of the threats you list in that fight. That Dragonbone is hideously scary, and it's still something I'd rather face than the Lich.
 
I agree with @pemerton and @Ovinomancer above Retreater.

I think broadly the rest of your table is struggling with the game’s play agenda (and is likely smuggling things in from elsewhere) and you’re probably having some trouble picking your moves in a way that follows the play agenda and GMing principles.

Genre logic and dramatic need (those ensconced in each of the PCs’ builds from Bonds to Look to Alignment to Moves) are fundamental to every moment of the game. But none of that is GM Fiat. That’s just aggressive creativity along a particular wavelength.
 
@Ovinomancer

Those exact points about combat were precisely what I was going to cover when I got to combat with him.

Merely closing to melee with a creature that has that much of a Reach advantage should be brutal and likely costly! Messy with significant Reach Tag advantage? You’re talking HP loss, damaged armor, disarmed, helmet on backwards so you can’t see, disability, lost fingers or worse by the time you actually engage!

And with two melee characters it’s much more difficult.

And again, you have to be by the player you’re defending. And if they have the Messy tag, you’re still having to deal with that if you decide to halve the damage.

And that isn’t even getting into making terrain features prominent components of the battle (both for PCs to use and to Harry PCs as complications).
 
Why do you think DW is GM Fiat while something like 2e and 5e (which are all GM Fiat driven and vulnerable to Force in the extreme) are not?
The extreme GM Fiat in games like DW is "create an ability that your monster has. If a character rolls a threat, you can enact that ability. If it's a stronger ability, the character has to roll a 'serious threat.'" In D&D you have abilities like a dragon's breath attack (for example). Depending on the edition, maybe the dragon can use it as an Encounter Ability, Every 1d4 rounds, or maybe it recharges when the dragon is bloodied. But it is codified. It does 8d6 fire damage in a cone, save for half. And you know that's what it does.
In DW, maybe that same dragon can do the fire breath every round. Maybe once per battle. How much damage does it do? It doesn't say. Does it melt the character's armor and root them to the spot, turning their longsword into worthless slag, roasting them alive in their mail? The book offers no guidelines at all what a breath weapon does.
 
Your Barbarian rushing in would have so do some Defy Dangers just to close to get to do a Hack and Slash. I mean, it has the Reach and Messy tags!
She did, using a Strength defy danger to leap over the cover of sarcophagi and succeeded with such a high result that the danger was redirected on the bone dragon. The fighter used a Strength defy danger to close the gap, using his shield to block the attacks, pushing through into position.
The lich's nefarious plan was to bring in a horde of ghouls, which was quickly countered by the cleric's turn undead. If I had gotten another opportunity, what could I have done? The lich could have teleported away - but the party would've won anyway. I guess maybe I could have done a death attack on one of the characters?
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
The extreme GM Fiat in games like DW is "create an ability that your monster has. If a character rolls a threat, you can enact that ability. If it's a stronger ability, the character has to roll a 'serious threat.'" In D&D you have abilities like a dragon's breath attack (for example). Depending on the edition, maybe the dragon can use it as an Encounter Ability, Every 1d4 rounds, or maybe it recharges when the dragon is bloodied. But it is codified. It does 8d6 fire damage in a cone, save for half. And you know that's what it does.
In DW, maybe that same dragon can do the fire breath every round. Maybe once per battle. How much damage does it do? It doesn't say. Does it melt the character's armor and root them to the spot, turning their longsword into worthless slag, roasting them alive in their mail? The book offers no guidelines at all what a breath weapon does.
What do you think a breath weapon does? Describe it. That's what it does. Don't be stuck expecting Dungeon World to be like D&D -- it's a different game, you need different expectations. If you're going to be stuck on breath weapons not being defined in DW the same way as in D&D, then there's indeed a problem here, but it's not DM fiat. It's you trying to force a square peg into a round hole and finding out that the rules don't support it.

Monsters with breath weapons in D&D exist so you, the DM, can use the monster's turn to attack multiple PCs. In DW. That's not necessary to have in DW as a codified thing. A breath weapon in DW is a threat, not necessarily a follow through. Here's a great example: your Barbarian PC rushes up to a Dragon, trying to dodge inside it's fearsome guard while the Ranger peppers it with arrows and the Cleric prepares a spell. You roll your Defy Danger and get a partial success! You've closed inside the Dragons reach, threatening it with your blade! The dragon, however, pulls back it's head, opens it's huge jaws and inhales deeply, the cavern of it's mouth glowing red with building fire! It's sure to engulf everyone in front of it in hellfire and death! What do you do?

If you don't do something, then the dragon sets you on fire. Probably does a good chunk of damage to everyone, too. I'd use the dragon's normal damage. After all, you all had something you could have done about it before it engulfed you.

That's one example of how you could do breath weapons in DW. It's not something that needs clear design rules, because it's not going to be used on a monster than has it's turn and needs to be mechanically balanced against the PCs like in D&D. And, if you're thinking that way, it indicates that you've missed the bus a bit and are still back at the D&D station. It's a nice station, the D&D station. I like it, and go there often. But, it's not where you can play DW.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
She did, using a Strength defy danger to leap over the cover of sarcophagi and succeeded with such a high result that the danger was redirected on the bone dragon. The fighter used a Strength defy danger to close the gap, using his shield to block the attacks, pushing through into position.
The lich's nefarious plan was to bring in a horde of ghouls, which was quickly countered by the cleric's turn undead. If I had gotten another opportunity, what could I have done? The lich could have teleported away - but the party would've won anyway. I guess maybe I could have done a death attack on one of the characters?
So, we have a 10+ defy danger from the Barbarian, then 2 10+ hack and slashes. The Fighter got a 10+ on the defy danger, and at least a 7+ on the defend. The Cleric got a 10+ on their turn attempt. No one had a partial or failed roll. Yeah, if the dice go that hot, I suppose you just stand and marvel at the blessing of the dice gods.

Do you have a better example of a combat that didn't work for you that wasn't visited by the dice gods?
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
She did, using a Strength defy danger to leap over the cover of sarcophagi and succeeded with such a high result that the danger was redirected on the bone dragon. The fighter used a Strength defy danger to close the gap, using his shield to block the attacks, pushing through into position.
The lich's nefarious plan was to bring in a horde of ghouls, which was quickly countered by the cleric's turn undead. If I had gotten another opportunity, what could I have done? The lich could have teleported away - but the party would've won anyway. I guess maybe I could have done a death attack on one of the characters?
You know, thinking on it, "I use my shield to power through to close" sounds like a good idea, except that the Dragonbone's attack pierce in excess of the shield defensive value. This is a case where you follow the fiction and say, "no can do, the Dragonbone will shred your shield on the way it -- it's just not tough enough to withstand the onslaught. Did you want to do something else?"

This is a key part of running DW -- follow the what's established in the fiction. Just because the Fighter wants to use strength to Defy Danger doesn't mean it'll work. If the fiction of the scene doesn't allow it, then it can't be done. And, using a shield to force your way through an attack when the attack would naturally destroy the shield (Messy, Piercing) is a case where you, as DM, have the duty to follow the fiction and say no. I'd tell the player this up front and not just autofail the action, though. It's important in DW to have a back and forth about what the situation is and how the fiction works. Heck, if the Fighter hefted the lid of the Sarcophagus and used that to cover his approach, I'd let that work, but add in a bend bars to lift the thing to begin with.
 
The extreme GM Fiat in games like DW is "create an ability that your monster has. If a character rolls a threat, you can enact that ability. If it's a stronger ability, the character has to roll a 'serious threat.'" In D&D you have abilities like a dragon's breath attack (for example). Depending on the edition, maybe the dragon can use it as an Encounter Ability, Every 1d4 rounds, or maybe it recharges when the dragon is bloodied. But it is codified. It does 8d6 fire damage in a cone, save for half. And you know that's what it does.
In DW, maybe that same dragon can do the fire breath every round. Maybe once per battle. How much damage does it do? It doesn't say. Does it melt the character's armor and root them to the spot, turning their longsword into worthless slag, roasting them alive in their mail? The book offers no guidelines at all what a breath weapon does.
@Ovinomancer did a great job with his last 3 posts to address your last few posts, but I'm going to throw some words at this.

1) You're using "quotes" here. Can you cite where your quoted text is in the rule-book because I can't parse that text your (seemingly?) quoting without context. Is that your own takeaway of some text or is that actual text? I can't find it in the monster section.

2) It seems likely that you're making a pretty hefty mistake here that is pretty common (and one I find myself regularly having to try to get people not to do). You're smuggling in a premise from another game (in this case classic D&D) as your mental framework while simultaneously failing to consider Dungeon World's integrated, holistic ruleset and play paradigm.

a) There are no rounds so you don't have to worry about rounds or scheduling of abilities based on rounds/encounters/days for your monsters. You present a soft move and ask the players "what do they do" about it? If they don't respond sufficiently (either via a move or by outright ignoring the soft move), you actualize the soft move and turn it into a hard move.

b) The question of slagging armor/weapons or roasting characters alive falls onto the combination of:

  • Fictional description
  • Tags/Special Qualities/Instinct/Descriptors
  • Forms of Attack

Consider the following:

Xoldunath (The Inferno That Will Consume The World); Ancient Red Dragon

Solitary, Huge, Magical, Divine
Bite (b[2d10]+7 damage, 3 piercing); 24 HP; 4 Armor; Reach, Forceful, Messy
Special Qualities: Wreathed in supernatural flame, Tail that fells battlements, Wings that conjure fiery vortices

A fortress impenetrable on the top of Mount Grell
Survived an age, all sieges repelled
That age ended, the minstrels will tell
When a Red without equal decided it he would fell

Instinct: To lay low the legends of man

  • Firestorm from the sky
  • Steal the resolve of the mightiest heroes
  • Leave nothing standing in its wake




That should provide more than enough information to place this creature in the world in the macro, to consider its behavior socially when confronted, and to consider its behavior and means when forced into combat. What do we know from this and the rules:

1) Its melee attacks are going to do the Bite damage with Forceful and Messy (Bite is just the most common...the rest of its attacks would do the same effect).

2) Its surrounded by a burning aura of flame. This surely isn't enough to ensure the incineration of a common person instantly but it definitely threatens more than scrapes and bruises. You'd probably do something like a 1d6 ignores armor after a soft move (reveal an unwelcome truth as they draw to Close range) has been ignored/hasn't dealt with (which triggers the hard move of deal damage.

3) It conjures fire tornadoes from its might wing buffets. Fire tornadoes? Yeah, that sounds lethal to a common person; 1d10 ignores armor. And it obviously requires a wind-up (so this would be a soft move from the air), would have the Forceful tag, and attack multiple people in an area.


So you have a creature that can fell stone battlements with its draconic fury. You mentioned that your Fighter is just going to power through a supernatural barrage of tail slaps and wing buffets and massive claws that turn a stone edifice to rubble...via a (Vibranium, I guess?) shield? Mechanically it ignores armor, burns in proximity, crushes things to pieces/rips them apart, and sends things infinitely more sturdy than your Fighter flying.

This moment, like all others, requires the GM to Begin and End With the Fiction and Think Dangerous but also Embrace the Fantastic. I'm thinking you want to Ask Questions and Use the Answers here.

GM: "Uhhh...he rips towers apart with his might. If you want to use your shield to attempt to just brunt force your way to close to melee, then have at it. You can Defy Danger Strength, but you're not going to be able to get a 10+; the max you can get is a 7-9 (same as when a Protector helps you Defy Danger). And your shield is likely to be involved in any cost/complication here!"

In my opinion, that is very charitable. The other two options when a player presents an action declaration with all the context involved (which, in my opinion and without knowing this person, comes off as a borderline degenerate attempt to skirt fictional positioning and just play "pressure the GM to let me use favorable maths"...given that you say they're always Defying Danger Strength...color me skeptical that this is just someone hewing to genre coherency) is "sure, but you're losing that shield regardless of the outcome" or "just...no...come on, the force of the impact, and the Forceful tag, would throw you back to where you started, best case scenario, and the Messy tag would obliterate your shield!"
 
Last edited:
1) You're using "quotes" here. Can you cite where your quoted text is in the rule-book because I can't parse that text your (seemingly?) quoting without context. Is that your own takeaway of some text or is that actual text? I can't find it in the monster section.
Sorry. That's not actual text from DW. That's my attempt to parse the suggestions I've received so far.

2) It seems likely that you're making a pretty hefty mistake here that is pretty common (and one I find myself regularly having to try to get people not to do). You're smuggling in a premise from another game (in this case classic D&D) as your mental framework while simultaneously failing to consider Dungeon World's integrated, holistic ruleset and play paradigm.
D&D is sort of the elephant in the room when it comes to fantasy RPGs, and unless I'm mistaken, it seems that the designers constructed the game from at least a jumping off point from 3.5 edition (given that there are monster designs that originated in 3.5). When something isn't explicitly stated in a game that is attempting to recreate the feel of classic D&D, I (perhaps incorrectly) use D&D to fill in the gaps. That's just where I come from. I would assume many other GMs are the same.

a) There are no rounds so you don't have to worry about rounds or scheduling of abilities based on rounds/encounters/days for your monsters.
I understand that concept, but there must be limits in place. My assumption is that DW limits the more powerful monster abilities by using soft or hard moves. I've had difficulty understanding when to use which move or how hard or soft to make them. In the example of the nasty red dragon you cited, am I to make the wing buffets a hard move, the bite a soft move, and the fiery aura an ever-present danger that the characters need to Defy Danger before any actions/moves close to the dragon?

GM: "Uhhh...he rips towers apart with his might. If you want to use your shield to attempt to just brunt force your way to close to melee, then have at it. You can Defy Danger Strength, but you're not going to be able to get a 10+; the max you can get is a 7-9 (same as when a Protector helps you Defy Danger). And your shield is likely to be involved in any cost/complication here!"
So setting limits to the maximum success a character can get is something a GM can do?
 

Advertisement

Top