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Worlds Without Number (General Thread)

Aldarc

Legend
This is simply meant to be a general discussion thread for Kevin Crawford's Worlds Without Number.

A few people have been talking about it here and there in the forum, but I am curious who has looked through it yet? What do you think of the rules, GM advice, or sandboxing toolkit? Who has run a game with it? What were your experiences? Or what do you plan to run with it? Has anyone homebrewed anything with it?

Let's talk Worlds Without Number.
 

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kenada

Legend
Supporter
I’ve mostly completed my read-through of the Deluxe edition. The only parts I haven’t finished reading (“Heroic Classes and Characters”, “Legates”) are ones I won’t be using (because I want OSR-style grittiness).

What do you think of the rules, GM advice, or sandboxing toolkit?
I think the book is fairly well organized. Most rules are organized together in a logical way. It’s a breath of fresh air coming from Pathfinder 2e, but it lacks the succinctness of Old-School Essentials. Sometimes it uses bolded text to call out important things, but there is room for improvement. The “Magic” chapter in particular buries important information in paragraphs of text. You have to dig to find out how many spells you learn or gain at advancement.

There are some parts that weren’t great (though they don’t detract from my overall like of the system). WWN is based on B/X, but it omits several key procedures. There is a section on wilderness exploration, but there is no procedure for running it. There are also no procedures for handling encounters. B/X has a strong procedure, and it tells you when and how to transition. This is particularly problematic in WWN because this is one of the few places where the rules are not all in the same place. Reaction rolls, morale, and instinct (a new mechanic) are all off in a separate chapter (“Creatures of a Far Age”).

WWN describes several different types of challenges you can run, and they’re mostly pretty good. However, the investigation challenge is not. When I was first skimming the book, I initially thought it was discussing three clue rule. That had me excited initially, but I was wrong. It actually abandons the sandbox approach for a railroad: run three scenes to discover the clues, and the PCs have to succeed at them all or fail (or get a deus ex machina). There are techniques you can overlay a sandbox to support a mystery scenario, so I was very disappointed by that.

I also don’t care for the bestiary. The writing is really good and evocative. The new creatures are really creepy. However, everything is (again) buried in walls of text. Abilities are noted in bold, but if you want to run a creature, you have to dig out the supporting text from the fluff. If I weren’t doing my own setting, I’d have to prepare my own stat blocks for a lot of things.

I think the only issue I have is I wish projects had more mechanical weight (something like a progress clock). They give you some structure for figuring out who might get involved or be affected by it, but the resolution appears to come down mostly to fiat. Given the mechanics behind factions, which seems like a cool way to create a dynamic world without a lot of work on the GM’s part, that was also a bit disappointing.

It’s also worth calling out that there is an undocumented group check mechanic. “The Rules of the Game” describes how to run skill checks. It discussed scenarios where the group needs to work together to help one person succeed (“Aiding a Skill Check”), but WWN also has rules for when the group needs to succeed collectively. Both escape and foraging have you use the best modifier of the group to make a single check. I only stumbled across this because the surprise rules make no sense without group checks (what happens if everyone rolls but some fail? It’s not said).

Otherwise, I think the GMing stuff is pretty cool. There are tons of tables, and I’m really looking forward to getting into setting creation (more on that below). The system as a whole has a very strong 3e vibe. I’d describe it as B/X with the best of 3e added.

Who has run a game with it? What were your experiences?
We ran a one-shot last week, and we’re switching to it as the system of choice for my campaign. We were already doing a sandbox, so all the tools are very handy. I already have my own setting, which already fit somewhat (due to Dying Earth influences), but I’m starting the process of setting creation to see if it could improve things and to bring it in line with WWN’s default assumptions.

The session itself went pretty well. I posted a bit about it in my “A Pathfinder Group Tries Old-School Essentials” thread. We struggled with OSE because the characters just didn’t have enough meat to them for my players, and combat was just too hard. They felt completely incompetent. In WWN, the classes have more mechanical weight, and things like Shock damage make warriors extremely awesome at killing things. As one of my players put it, the game felt dangerous, but they weren’t pathetically weak.

I’ve just started working through the setting creation chapter. The thing that really sticks out is how frequently Kevin reminds you to keep your focus on producing playable material, which is a good thing. While adapting my setting during world creation, I found I actually had a lot of gaps. I’d just defined some species because I wanted the PCs to have options in prior iterations (5e, PF2, OSE), but none of that was really tied together in a believable way. I’d defined various homelands for the species, but the core conceit prevented them from working. I’d also been struggling through the Alexandrian’s approach to hexcrawls, which proved just to onerous, so the region where play was actually happened turned out to be very poorly defined.

Here’s an example of what I mean with regards to the species and their homelands. When I worked through world creation, it asks if there are any special physics in your setting. I’d originally conceived of the setting as a hard sci-fi setting but got away from that in a later revision. I wanted to pivot back to that but keep the general nature of the changes I’d made in the revision (where the world was flat), so the world became an Alderson disk. Also inspired by Frederick Pohl’s The World at the End of Time, I wanted the world to be traveling at relativistic speeds after the death of the universe (it just hadn’t caught up with the setting yet).

That’s all neat, but WWN keeps reminding the GM: you can have fun with setting creation if you like, but you need to be focusing on creating usable, playable content. That lead me to start thinking about the implications of those core setting conceits. How do I have seasons (the sun’s precession causes them due to the wobble induced by the mechanism that keeps it from crashing into the disk)? How can you navigate between continents if the stars are gone (due to the death of the universe)? Well, you can’t, and that’s what told me I need to reconsider the original premise of the campaign (an expedition sent to another continent) and how the PCs would even be part of such thing.

Fortuitously, I had events in my setting’s history that could map nicely into some of the system’s assumptions. The War of the Giants had taken place in the past, and it resulted in the departure of dragons in the setting. I took that and reframed that a bit. The departure of the dragons happened with a precursor civilization (at an unspecified point in the past) when the dragons came and destroyed them. This time, the War of the Giants became a war between the current empire and the fiends and celestials who descended from the heavens (around the time the stars started going out, which some people mistook as the gods in heaven coming down to punish them). Eventually, the fiends and celestials also disappeared for some reason, and about a thousand years later, we have the current date.

What I’m left with is a world that’s dying, in decline, and making progress is difficult. The Legacy of prior civilizations doesn’t want to be understood, so people struggle to advance beyond what they have discovered. Because of the lack of stars, there are few living outside of settled areas, so much of the wilderness is untamed and dangerous. Once I start adding the other layers (regional and kingdom backdrops, geography, nations, factions, etc), I should have a sandbox setting with a lot of potential and mechanics and tools to make that work. Because of how burdensome it is to prep all the things, the settlement where the campaign is based is barely detailed, and that sucks (because it means it barely makes sense and isn’t a good source of events or drama even though it should be).

Or what do you plan to run with it? Has anyone homebrewed anything with it?
I didn’t like the official one (or any of the unofficial ones), so I put together a character sheet. There are a handful of things that don’t have dedicated boxes: initiative, speed, languages. To be honest, I forgot to include them, but they have reasonable defaults, and they can be put in the notes section on the back.
 


Aldarc

Legend
That was far more thorough than I was expecting, @kenada, but thank you. I was also a Kickstarter backer, though just at the pdf level, so I had been followingly loosely along through beta releases. But I have not forced myself to engage in a more concerted reading of the text.
I’ve mostly completed my read-through of the Deluxe edition. The only parts I haven’t finished reading (“Heroic Classes and Characters”, “Legates”) are ones I won’t be using (because I want OSR-style grittiness).
My own players may be more inclined towards the heroic mode, but I'm not sure how either feels in actual play, so I would definitely be interested if people have experience running both for comparison purposes.

I think the book is fairly well organized. Most rules are organized together in a logical way. It’s a breath of fresh air coming from Pathfinder 2e, but it lacks the succinctness of Old-School Essentials. Sometimes it uses bolded text to call out important things, but there is room for improvement. The “Magic” chapter in particular buries important information in paragraphs of text. You have to dig to find out how many spells you learn or gain at advancement.
Aren't these in the tables or am I thinking of something else?

There are some parts that weren’t great (though they don’t detract from my overall like of the system). WWN is based on B/X, but it omits several key procedures. There is a section on wilderness exploration, but there is no procedure for running it. There are also no procedures for handling encounters. B/X has a strong procedure, and it tells you when and how to transition. This is particularly problematic in WWN because this is one of the few places where the rules are not all in the same place. Reaction rolls, morale, and instinct (a new mechanic) are all off in a separate chapter (“Creatures of a Far Age”).
This may be one of the problems of WWN transitioning from SWN, which is likely far less interested in wilderness exploration.

Otherwise, I think the GMing stuff is pretty cool. There are tons of tables, and I’m really looking forward to getting into setting creation (more on that below). The system as a whole has a very strong 3e vibe. I’d describe it as B/X with the best of 3e added.
IMHO, there is a strong conceptual link in SWN/WWN to Green Ronin's True 20 system from the d20 era. True 20 reduced classes to the 3e's NPC classes: i.e., warrior, expert, and adept. Each class would also get a special core ability that you would only get from starting in that class. True 20 also had mixed/partial classes in the core book with transparent math about making your own in the Companion. So when I see the duplication of the Warrior, Expert, and Mystic/Mage in SWN/WWN, then it's hard not to get a T20 vibe.

We ran a one-shot last week, and we’re switching to it as the system of choice for my campaign. We were already doing a sandbox, so all the tools are very handy. I already have my own setting, which already fit somewhat (due to Dying Earth influences), but I’m starting the process of setting creation to see if it could improve things and to bring it in line with WWN’s default assumptions.

The session itself went pretty well. I posted a bit about it in my “A Pathfinder Group Tries Old-School Essentials” thread. We struggled with OSE because the characters just didn’t have enough meat to them for my players, and combat was just too hard. They felt completely incompetent. In WWN, the classes have more mechanical weight, and things like Shock damage make warriors extremely awesome at killing things. As one of my players put it, the game felt dangerous, but they weren’t pathetically weak.
Discussion of your WWN play sessions would definitely be welcome in this thread.

I’ve just started working through the setting creation chapter. The thing that really sticks out is how frequently Kevin reminds you to keep your focus on producing playable material, which is a good thing. While adapting my setting during world creation, I found I actually had a lot of gaps. I’d just defined some species because I wanted the PCs to have options in prior iterations (5e, PF2, OSE), but none of that was really tied together in a believable way. I’d defined various homelands for the species, but the core conceit prevented them from working. I’d also been struggling through the Alexandrian’s approach to hexcrawls, which proved just to onerous, so the region where play was actually happened turned out to be very poorly defined.

Here’s an example of what I mean with regards to the species and their homelands. When I worked through world creation, it asks if there are any special physics in your setting. I’d originally conceived of the setting as a hard sci-fi setting but got away from that in a later revision. I wanted to pivot back to that but keep the general nature of the changes I’d made in the revision (where the world was flat), so the world became an Alderson disk. Also inspired by Frederick Pohl’s The World at the End of Time, I wanted the world to be traveling at relativistic speeds after the death of the universe (it just hadn’t caught up with the setting yet).

That’s all neat, but WWN keeps reminding the GM: you can have fun with setting creation if you like, but you need to be focusing on creating usable, playable content. That lead me to start thinking about the implications of those core setting conceits. How do I have seasons (the sun’s precession causes them due to the wobble induced by the mechanism that keeps it from crashing into the disk)? How can you navigate between continents if the stars are gone (due to the death of the universe)? Well, you can’t, and that’s what told me I need to reconsider the original premise of the campaign (an expedition sent to another continent) and how the PCs would even be part of such thing.

Fortuitously, I had events in my setting’s history that could map nicely into some of the system’s assumptions. The War of the Giants had taken place in the past, and it resulted in the departure of dragons in the setting. I took that and reframed that a bit. The departure of the dragons happened with a precursor civilization (at an unspecified point in the past) when the dragons came and destroyed them. This time, the War of the Giants became a war between the current empire and the fiends and celestials who descended from the heavens (around the time the stars started going out, which some people mistook as the gods in heaven coming down to punish them). Eventually, the fiends and celestials also disappeared for some reason, and about a thousand years later, we have the current date.

What I’m left with is a world that’s dying, in decline, and making progress is difficult. The Legacy of prior civilizations doesn’t want to be understood, so people struggle to advance beyond what they have discovered. Because of the lack of stars, there are few living outside of settled areas, so much of the wilderness is untamed and dangerous. Once I start adding the other layers (regional and kingdom backdrops, geography, nations, factions, etc), I should have a sandbox setting with a lot of potential and mechanics and tools to make that work. Because of how burdensome it is to prep all the things, the settlement where the campaign is based is barely detailed, and that sucks (because it means it barely makes sense and isn’t a good source of events or drama even though it should be).
This chapter is IMHO a real treasure of the book. Kevin Crawford does a good job of providing reasonable guidelines for world-building that is oriented towards (1) playable content and (2) effective use of the GM's time. He also de-mystifies the entire process of running a sandbox. I watched one GM on YouTube who was planning their upcoming WWN campaign and using this chapter to world-build. You could tell that this section riled the feathers a little for both the GM and their co-host, but I think that's due to the book basically calling out gratuitous, self-serving world-building rather than play-oriented world-building. I believe that at one point, Crawford even says that your players won't care about most of it. Crawford is far more of a pragmatist when it comes to his world-building approach, which I highly appreciate.

As an aside, I wish that this book had existed for one of my old D&D GMs for this chapter alone. After our PF1 campaign was done, we got together to tentatively brainstorm a possible D&D 5e campaign. I recommended starting their focus on the starting town and the surrounding environs. We brainstormed the name of a town and a hook for its founding. I then let him due to the rest. We reconvened after about two weeks. When I asked his progress, he said the he had given the world two moons, calculated the size of the planet and its annual cycle, and whole bunch more. I was not surprised that he burned out on GMing after only about 2-3 sessions of play, though it's possible there were other contributing factors behind the scenes. So I think that this sort of world-building advice would have helped him considerably in keeping him grounded and focused. There are other GMs who I also have played with who have suffered a similar "world-building sickness." I definitely want to try working through the setting creation guidelines myself, if only to see how it plays out when one follows the guidelines as prescribed. I definitely have some tentative ideas.

I have personally wanted to use WWN to run essentially "Islands Without Number." This would be more of a high seas island-hopping sandbox adventure. However, I'm not a fan of the Vancian cynicism of the Dying Earth genre, so I will likely change that, but it would be nice to potentially incorporate some of these science fantasy elements. I have been debating between two different versions of the setting.

The first would be something more analogous to adventuring in an off-brand Middle Earth that has been shattered into islands rather than existing as a solid landmass (The Westlands of ME) or completely submerged (Beleriand) with various ruins and relics of the First, Second, and early Third age being hidden throughout the archipelago. The second idea is something more akin to a Maritime Southeast Asian or Pirates of Dark Water* fantasy that involves ascended ancients/aliens/"makers" (think Stargate SG-1) and their human/demihuman "progeny" who fathom only a remote, tiny sliver of their legacy. I'm leaning towards the latter.

* PoDW was drawn by an art studio in the Philippines, and you can see SEA and Filipino influences in some of the aesthetics (cf. the Filipino kampilan sword and Ioz's sword).
 


Retreater

Legend
Reading through the free PDF at the moment. Seems okay, just overly wordy. I don't care for the organization, as important rules seem to be buried in paragraphs of text.
I also don't care for the toolkit approach to designing monsters. I would prefer to have more creatures already statted up and ready to play.
These are just my first impressions, however, and subject to change.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
My own players may be more inclined towards the heroic mode, but I'm not sure how either feels in actual play, so I would definitely be interested if people have experience running both for comparison purposes.
While my preference is for the default, I’d also like to hear people’s experiences with heroic mode. In particular, I wonder how well it works with 3e and newer adventures (like how the default is compatible with old-school ones).

Aren't these in the tables or am I thinking of something else?
I’ve seen it asked a few times on reddit, so I don’t think it is called out in a table anywhere. It’s listed under your tradition benefits for each tradition as well as in the character advancement section of “The Rules of the Game”. The number of starting spells is only called out in the summary of character creation section of “Character Creation” (as far as I can tell).

IMHO, there is a strong conceptual link in SWN/WWN to Green Ronin's True 20 system from the d20 era. True 20 reduced classes to the 3e's NPC classes: i.e., warrior, expert, and adept. Each class would also get a special core ability that you would only get from starting in that class. True 20 also had mixed/partial classes in the core book with transparent math about making your own in the Companion. So when I see the duplication of the Warrior, Expert, and Mystic/Mage in SWN/WWN, then it's hard not to get a T20 vibe.
Aside from the obvious similarities with saving throws, I was struck by how much the action economy reminded me of 3e. It’s arguably closer to 4e, but something about it reminded me more of 3e. Character creation is also similar, but it seems much less vulnerable to system mastery compared to 3e and (especially) Pathfinder. I know there was one broken combo (healer/vowed) discovered around release, but it got fixed in errata soon after.

Discussion of your WWN play sessions would definitely be welcome in this thread.
Cool. I’ll put that in a separate post. We just had the one so far, but it felt different compared to some of our starts with other systems.

This chapter is IMHO a real treasure of the book. Kevin Crawford does a good job of providing reasonable guidelines for world-building that is oriented towards (1) playable content and (2) effective use of the GM's time. He also de-mystifies the entire process of running a sandbox. I watched one GM on YouTube who was planning their upcoming WWN campaign and using this chapter to world-build. You could tell that this section riled the feathers a little for both the GM and their co-host, but I think that's due to the book basically calling out gratuitous, self-serving world-building rather than play-oriented world-building. I believe that at one point, Crawford even says that your players won't care about most of it. Crawford is far more of a pragmatist when it comes to his world-building approach, which I highly appreciate.
Do you have a link to the video? I’d like to give it a watch.

However, I'm not a fan of the Vancian cynicism of the Dying Earth genre, so I will likely change that, but it would be nice to potentially incorporate some of these science fantasy elements. I have been debating between two different versions of the setting.

The first would be something more analogous to adventuring in an off-brand Middle Earth that has been shattered into islands rather than existing as a solid landmass (The Westlands of ME) or completely submerged (Beleriand) with various ruins and relics of the First, Second, and early Third age being hidden throughout the archipelago. The second idea is something more akin to a Maritime Southeast Asian or Pirates of Dark Water* fantasy that involves ascended ancients/aliens/"makers" (think Stargate SG-1) and their human/demihuman "progeny" who fathom only a remote, tiny sliver of their legacy. I'm leaning towards the latter.

* PoDW was drawn by an art studio in the Philippines, and you can see SEA and Filipino influences in some of the aesthetics (cf. the Filipino kampilan sword and Ioz's sword).
I wonder if some of the sector creation stuff from SWN could be repurposed to generate an island-hopping campaign. I guess you’d generate the islands and establish their political boundaries, then switch over to WWN for the fantasy-related tags and other procedures, which isn’t really making all that much use of it. Regardless, it seems like an interesting idea, and divorcing WWN from its core setting seems doable.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
This session report is going to be a bit brief. It was our first time back in-person, so we started the session with a group lunch and then spent a while socializing before getting into the system and then actually playing. Technically, the session was a one-shot (hence why I hadn’t done setting creation yet), but I had a hunch we’d be switching over from OSE.

The premise of the “one-shot” was that we were going to retcon our prior session of OSE. In that previous session, the group had come up with a plan to attack some ghouls in a barrow. They’d brought supplies, abandoned their plan because of hubris, and got routed.

The original party consisted of an acrobat, a barbarian, a cleric, and a thief. We were using the advanced fantasy genre rules with homebrew races. When I converted them to WWN, I tried to keep the spirit of the characters. I did not create homebrew foci for my homebrew species (though there were concessions made for small ones), but I may do so later. Note that there are no humans in my setting, so I’m treating the species as fungible by default.
  • Deirdre: the barbarian was converted to a warrior with the barbarian background. I gave her the whirlwind assault focus at level 2. Shocking Assault was tempting, but she uses a “big” weapon, and it felt more fun to have her wade into battle and kill lots of enemies. I had to switch her weapon over from a two-handed sword (OSE) to a great axe because great swords are too expensive for 1st level characters.
  • Dingo: the thief was converted as a pure expert with the criminal (thief) background. I gave him Specialist (Sneak) and Trapmaster. I wasn’t exactly sure what to do for his second focus, but Trapmaster ended up being a really good choice (the player seemed to like it).
  • La Nachou: the acrobat was the most difficult to convert. The acrobat’s thing is its leaping abilities, but the player also felt his character was kind of useless. If you can set it up, you get double damage, but that’s not always easy or possible. For this character, I made him a specialist/partial-mage with the High Magic tradition and the artisan background (because he’d rolled coppersmith as his secondary skill in OSE). I chose Velicitous Imbuement and The Excellent Transpicuous Transformation along with Retain Sorcery to let him do that multiple times per day. I gave La Nachou Alert and Impervious Defense for his foci.
  • Tama Nya: the cleric was converted over as a partial-mage/partial-mage with the Healer and Necromancer traditions. I’m not currently allowing the Gyre-specific classes from “Arts of the Gyre”, so Sarulite Blood Priest wasn’t an option. I took Armored Magic for her focus. This more or less recreated the basic cleric from OSE except she was much better at healing and killing undead (because Smite the Dead does guaranteed damage).
Since we rolled something approximating 3d6 in order (roll seven times in order, drop lowest result), I kept the results from OSE and reused them for WWN. I also followed WWN’s rule for assigning a 14. In the future, we’ll just use follow the normal character creation process. Hit points were rolled, and I took the equipment packages and tweaked them to fit. I also converted our money over from OSE at a 25:1 ratio (I was using a sp-based economy, but it was just multiplying OSE prices by 10).

Before we got started, everyone had a chance to buy equipment. They bought a bunch of oil, which was the original plan from OSE. They wanted to set up an ambush and set the ghouls on fire. For the ghouls themselves, I converted them from OSE with a few tweaks. I followed the naturalistic armor recommendations from WWN and gave them only a single attack (since that seems to be the norm) doing the naturalistic amount of damage. I patterned their paralyzing attack after the Polop weapons, which give you two chances to avoid the paralysis (first you lose your next Main action then you are paralyzed for the rest of the scene). While I could have used the OSE ghoul as written, this felt more in the spirit of WWN.

We started off the session outside the dungeon (Deeps?). It has multiple entrances, and I wanted to give the PCs a chance to decide how to go about things. They’d been here before, so they knew what the trade-offs were depending on the entrance. They could choose to climb down the side of the cliff and enter on the sea-side opening. The risk there is a trap that could trigger, dropping portcullises and alerting the ghouls to their presence. There is a chimney they could climb down, which would put them in an alcove off to the side. They seemed averse to climbing though. The entrance they chose was one hidden under dirt and leather, and buried under some rocks. They crawled through it and entered the barrow.

Once inside the dungeon, I engaged with my exploration procedure. By default WWN assumes an abstract dungeon layout. I like maps, so I followed the slightly more strict time progression. I kept distances abstract, choosing to track time based on scenes since the party spent most of their time sneaking about the hallways trying to get information. They had a lantern they used to provide light. My assumption is ghouls see just fine in the dark (and most nasty things probably do if they are active at night, since there are no stars). The ghouls here had a deal with some locals to come in and worship at a shrine, so they are not default hostile to people who come into their lair. Otherwise, the party’s sneaking about would not have been as effective.

Unlike last time, the party didn’t just completely abandon their plan. I’m sure that was part of it, but they also seemed to key in on Dingo’s Trapmaster focus. They wanted to set something up with that and stage an ambush. Even though that was literally their plan last time, having it be on Dingo’s character sheet seemed to reinforce that it was something they should do. Anyway, they snuck down the passage (shuttering their lantern as they snuck past the ghouls in their dining hall) and made their way to the alcove.

While they were doing this, I was rolling wandering encounter checks. I like the way WWN gives you guidelines on how frequently to roll. OSE does this too, but it’s mostly up to discretion. Since the sight was not particularly organized or alert, I was rolling every three turns. Fortunately, I got a 1 the first time I rolled. I’d run out of time, so I went with what I had. In the future, I think following the suggestion in WWN to tie it back to the inhabitants is a good one. I had an existing table of events, which rolled for a patrol. The master of the ghouls was going to leave her room and walk about the dungeon. I had her coming up ahead, and the party had to decide what to do.

They were near a door, so they opened it up and saw the fire beetle inside. For some reason, they thought it was a good idea to leave a ration in the hallway for the beetle. They retreated back and listened. They heard a ghoul come out and say something, but none of them spoke the innate language of the undead, so they had no idea what he was saying (mostly something along the lines of ‘why is this here?’). They then decided to fall back again to another passage, back closer to where they entered. They left a trail of coins this time, and at the end of the passage, Dingo set up a fire trap, and they set up an ambush.

I figured at this point word had gotten back to the master (a Lady Ghast and an accompanying ghoul) that someone was up to something. She found the coins followed them to see what was happening. The other ghoul led the way. When the ghoul got to the trap, it activated, and the ghoul got burnt. Since it was a set ambush, I gave the party a surprise round (they made their group Dex/Sneak versus the ghouls’ roll), and they alpha-striked them. The ghoul died right away. It had had barely any hit points left, and Deirdre moved into position to finish it off. She then make a Snap Attack to make a ranged attack against Lady Ghast. Tama cast Smite the Dead, and either Dingo or La Nachou finished off Lady Ghast at the start of the combat round itself (the party against won initiative).

Note that what we did with Make a Snap Attack was a mistake. I’d initially read it as you sacrifice your next Main Action. It’s actually your Main Action for the round. If you go first, you’re only going to Make a Snap Attack if you are reacting to someone who reacted to you (there is a good example of this in the SWN section on combat). If you want to interrupt someone, you have to Hold an Action. Even if we hadn’t run that wrongly, I think the party would have won overwhelmingly. Deirdre had used her Veteran’s Luck to good effect. Even without it, she still dealt a minimum of 4 damage to anything with an AC of 15 or less.

After that, they returned to the area with the fire beetle. At this point, the dungeon was on alert, but I was rolling terribly on my wandering encounter checks. They snuck into that area and found a ghoul dressed in priest robes and the fire bettle (named Glowy or something like that). There was a statue of the Sovereign of Disgust, one of the celestial lords, and a minor cult back in the Grand Kingdom. This is pre-world-building, so I expect religion will be different, so this could change (since WWN’s procedure seems more focused on the religions themselves rather than on grab bags of deities). Regardless, the ghoul asked if they were there to worship. He could get the boot and step on them if they’d like. Tama responded by blowing the ghoul up with her last casting of Smite the Dead. The player really liked that. Glowy freaked out, and they eventually calmed it down with some rations.

The party grabbed some valuable-looking candlesticks made of silver and left. I figured since Dingo had a thief background, it would be his thing to know the value of stuff like that. I communicated that secretly to the player and left it up to him what to tell the party. I don’t think he actually has yet. 😂 The party snuck back out and made camp. During the night, the ghouls followed them back to their camp, but I rolled “predictably hostile” for their reaction when the watch found them. Tama really wanted to blow them up (but she was out of spells). The ghouls confirmed they were the ones who killed the boss, and decided to back off (figuring it wasn’t worth determining empirically whether they could take the party).

We wrapped at that point because I didn’t want to do any wilderness exploration or travel without having setting generation completed (because I knew the map would likely change). I’m using a hybrid of individual and group goals for XP. You set two group goals at the start of the session, and you get 3 XP for the first you complete. Anyone who helps gets 1 XP (for each goal completed). Whether a goal is completed is determined by group consensus. There was no group goal because that is determined at the end of the session (to help me with planning). Everyone got 4–7 XP. We’re using a slower version of the slow (2× slow) track since I expect the average amount of XP to be higher.

Overall, the players liked it. The guy who played La Nachou thought it was the coolest character he’s played. The Tama’s player was really into killing undead in OSE, but the character was not particularly good at it. Now the character is much better. Deirdre’s player has terrible dice luck, so both Shock damage and Veteran’s Luck lets him not suck at combat (a common source of amusement in other systems). Dingo also got to do some cool stuff, and I was happy to see they were really into setting up traps. I expect this to be a common tactic going forward.
 

Aldarc

Legend
I’ve seen it asked a few times on reddit, so I don’t think it is called out in a table anywhere. It’s listed under your tradition benefits for each tradition as well as in the character advancement section of “The Rules of the Game”. The number of starting spells is only called out in the summary of character creation section of “Character Creation” (as far as I can tell).
Achso.

Aside from the obvious similarities with saving throws, I was struck by how much the action economy reminded me of 3e. It’s arguably closer to 4e, but something about it reminded me more of 3e. Character creation is also similar, but it seems much less vulnerable to system mastery compared to 3e and (especially) Pathfinder. I know there was one broken combo (healer/vowed) discovered around release, but it got fixed in errata soon after.
SWN/WWN is definitely OSR, but it's not ashamed from incorporating ideas from outside of that scope.

Is the errata simply included/updated as part of the standard document or is it separate?

Do you have a link to the video? I’d like to give it a watch.
I just did a search for WWN on YouTube. I was looking for play videos to see the mechanics in action. There are only two channels so far that seem to have done anything with it so far: Garblag Games and Adventures in Lollygagging. The former is the one that I was talking about. They basically walk-through the setting creation of their game in a 3-part video and then have a Session 0 video for character creation, but they haven't reached actual play yet. The latter has a 3-part play campaign that is still ongoing, but I am only still partway through their first video.

I wonder if some of the sector creation stuff from SWN could be repurposed to generate an island-hopping campaign. I guess you’d generate the islands and establish their political boundaries, then switch over to WWN for the fantasy-related tags and other procedures, which isn’t really making all that much use of it. Regardless, it seems like an interesting idea, and divorcing WWN from its core setting seems doable.
I may have to use the sector creation stuff from SWN for that purpose. Divorcing WWN from its setting seems easy.

Ugh channel all that creative energy into stuff that won’t matter.
It was a bit of a railroad campaign anyway, so I wasn't surprised that it ended in a trainwreck. I can confirm though that none of this stuff ever came up in the sessions we played. My opinions about world-building that I have espoused before did not come out of nowhere, but from firsthand experience of dealing with this GM and others like him who caught "world-building sickness."
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
Is the errata simply included/updated as part of the standard document or is it separate?
Kevin Crawford described what he was thinking of doing here on reddit, which is pretty close to what he ended up doing. The PDF was updated in early April. My print-on-demand copy does not reflect the changes.
  • Brutal Counter can only be used once per round against a single foe.
  • Swift Healer is limited to once per scene on any given target.
  • Healer’s Knife does not benefit from arts that modify Healing Touch.
I just did a search for WWN on YouTube. I was looking for play videos to see the mechanics in action. There are only two channels so far that seem to have done anything with it so far: Garblag Games and Adventures in Lollygagging. The former is the one that I was talking about. They basically walk-through the setting creation of their game in a 3-part video and then have a Session 0 video for character creation, but they haven't reached actual play yet. The latter has a 3-part play campaign that is still ongoing, but I am only still partway through their first video.
Thanks. I’m not big on actual plays, but I’d like to see how setting creation goes for other GMs.
 

Aldarc

Legend
I wonder if some of the sector creation stuff from SWN could be repurposed to generate an island-hopping campaign. I guess you’d generate the islands and establish their political boundaries, then switch over to WWN for the fantasy-related tags and other procedures, which isn’t really making all that much use of it. Regardless, it seems like an interesting idea, and divorcing WWN from its core setting seems doable.
A bit of a follow-up, but apparently someone in the WWN Subreddit has already done a WWN conversion of the ship rules from SWN for an "Age of Sails" sort of campaign.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
Okay, wow. I’ve been working on the regional part of setting generation for most of this week a few hours every evening. It’s a lot more involved than coming up with the world setting. It could be I had an evocative idea that wrote itself (for the world), but I struggled with the region-level details a bit at first.

The first challenging part is it asks you to name the region. Naming things is hard. I eventually decided that it would be named in the languages of one of the nations, and then decided that would be Old English. I spent an evening just digging through Old English stuff looking for something that stuck out to me. I kind of wish the naming came last, so you would have all the other elements of the region there to provide potential ideas.

After that came the distinctive terrain features. I struggled with that too, but that is because I took the suggestion to use the tables as advisory. I eventually abandoned that, and things went much better. When Kevin Crawford suggests you can use some tables to help you out, what he’s actually saying is use those tables unless you have a strong idea for that element. It’s much easier to roll up some ideas and riff off those than it is to come up with them out of nowhere.

I’m almost done with region creation. I just need to finish up the relationships between the groups and decide which factions I want to detail. I’m doing my creation in a mind map (so I haven’t even written anything yet), but the word count is going to be about triple what I wrote for the world setting. After all that is done, I get to do kingdom creation then go through religion and society creation.

The amount of content you generate is quite impressive. I think I’ve written more about this one region than I have about the entire setting in previous iterations. The thing that really sticks out to me is that the setting details are all adventure focus. All of the groups have their histories and issues, and those are all potential sources of adventure. That’s in contrast to prior attempts that wasted a lot of words on things like army composition.

I started watching the first set of videos you linked @Aldarc, but I never got far enough into them to see where feathers got riled, but I can guess. I had to learn to trust the process. Oh, I rolled this, but I had some other idea instead. It turns out that riffing on the dice almost always produced things that were more interesting than what I had in mind originally (like decadent nomads who supply the region’s exotic drugs or a republic that has been stuck in perpetual war for generations or a group of Blighted who are both horrifying and tragic).
 

Aldarc

Legend
Okay, wow. I’ve been working on the regional part of setting generation for most of this week a few hours every evening. It’s a lot more involved than coming up with the world setting. It could be I had an evocative idea that wrote itself (for the world), but I struggled with the region-level details a bit at first.
I got stuck here as well, partially because one of the main things that trips me up about world-building: maps. I like having a basic sense of the geo part of the geo-political and cultural landscape, but I don't have the greatest map-making or artistic talent. I noticed the map in the one WWN world-building video I mentioned, and so I just flat out asked them what mapping program they used. It's apparently Inkarnate, so I've been toying with that the past day or so.

As a side note: (1) islands are a lot of work and (2) no matter how weird or unrealistic you think that the shapes of your lands look, the real world produces far weirder and more varied geography. I'm beginning to think that one reason why fantasy maps look unrealistic is simply because people don't make their geography look weird enough.

The first challenging part is it asks you to name the region. Naming things is hard. I eventually decided that it would be named in the languages of one of the nations, and then decided that would be Old English. I spent an evening just digging through Old English stuff looking for something that stuck out to me. I kind of wish the naming came last, so you would have all the other elements of the region there to provide potential ideas.
Agreed. This is the other thing that I find challenging. There is a reason why I often find myself reusing names. Right now, I'm just putting placeholder names and flagging them so I can come back to this point at a later stage. I do try to apply certain guidelines for name generation though. For example, one naming guideline that I put in place for this current project is "no 'th' sound."

After that came the distinctive terrain features. I struggled with that too, but that is because I took the suggestion to use the tables as advisory. I eventually abandoned that, and things went much better. When Kevin Crawford suggests you can use some tables to help you out, what he’s actually saying is use those tables unless you have a strong idea for that element. It’s much easier to roll up some ideas and riff off those than it is to come up with them out of nowhere.
I am having a different sort of issue. Fantasy adventure often imagines these incredibly varied landscapes: e.g., small islands over here, mountains here next to the "blasted lands," desert next to the jungle, grasslands next to the ancient farmlands, etc. But in my case, I know that I'm basically dealing with a large tropical mega-archipelago with volcanic mountain chains.

I’m almost done with region creation. I just need to finish up the relationships between the groups and decide which factions I want to detail. I’m doing my creation in a mind map (so I haven’t even written anything yet), but the word count is going to be about triple what I wrote for the world setting. After all that is done, I get to do kingdom creation then go through religion and society creation.

The amount of content you generate is quite impressive. I think I’ve written more about this one region than I have about the entire setting in previous iterations. The thing that really sticks out to me is that the setting details are all adventure focus. All of the groups have their histories and issues, and those are all potential sources of adventure. That’s in contrast to prior attempts that wasted a lot of words on things like army composition.
I'm impressed with the guidelines in this book. As you say, if you follow the advice, it forces useable content creation.

I started watching the first set of videos you linked @Aldarc, but I never got far enough into them to see where feathers got riled, but I can guess. I had to learn to trust the process. Oh, I rolled this, but I had some other idea instead. It turns out that riffing on the dice almost always produced things that were more interesting than what I had in mind originally (like decadent nomads who supply the region’s exotic drugs or a republic that has been stuck in perpetual war for generations or a group of Blighted who are both horrifying and tragic).
I may be overstating how riled their feathers were as they took it in good humor. I believe they were reacting with bemusement to the part in the book about players generally not caring about your WB, don't WB for things that you won't need, how it's often gratuitous, etc.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
I got stuck here as well, partially because one of the main things that trips me up about world-building: maps. I like having a basic sense of the geo part of the geo-political and cultural landscape, but I don't have the greatest map-making or artistic talent. I noticed the map in the one WWN world-building video I mentioned, and so I just flat out asked them what mapping program they used. It's apparently Inkarnate, so I've been toying with that the past day or so.
While I had previous versions I could use as a base (see: v1 and v2), I ended up having making some fairly big changes. I followed WWN’s advice not to go too detailed, so it’s just a sketch currently. I did the first of those prior iterations in Campaign Cartographer 3+ and the second in Tiled using a couple of pixel hex tilesets I bought on itch.io (tileset 1 and tileset 2). I’m probably going to go with CC3+ again, but I’m just leaving it as a sketch for now while I work through kingdom creation.

As a side note: (1) islands are a lot of work and (2) no matter how weird or unrealistic you think that the shapes of your lands look, the real world produces far weirder and more varied geography. I'm beginning to think that one reason why fantasy maps look unrealistic is simply because people don't make their geography look weird enough.
I wonder if starting with a fractal terrain tool would work better. I assume part of the issue is the coastlines and other features don’t match our intuitive expectations of what they should look like, so it’s like some uncanny valley thing.

Agreed. This is the other thing that I find challenging. There is a reason why I often find myself reusing names. Right now, I'm just putting placeholder names and flagging them so I can come back to this point at a later stage. I do try to apply certain guidelines for name generation though.
Aside from naming the region, I’m just using generic names too. “Orc Nation”, “Kobold Nation”, “Vuple Nomads”, and so on. I’ll give them proper names once I go through kingdom creation and pick linguistic touchstones. It wasn’t worth further delay trying to figure out names for everything while I was trying to put together the framework. 😅

For example, one naming guideline that I put in place for this current project is "no 'th' sound."
Kevin Crawford’s makes a pointed observation on fantasy names devised by GMs. I’ve opted to keep the English names for the distinctive features because those can be evocative to players in a way that foreign ones won’t, but I’m going to lean heavily on linguistic touchstones for everything else. (Also, no “th” is a good guideline!)

I am having a different sort of issue. Fantasy adventure often imagines these incredibly varied landscapes: e.g., small islands over here, mountains here next to the "blasted lands," desert next to the jungle, grasslands next to the ancient farmlands, etc. But in my case, I know that I'm basically dealing with a large tropical mega-archipelago with volcanic mountain chains.
Roll a bunch of stuff then try to figure out how it makes sense?

So if you get: pit, ancient farmland, canyons, swamp, rain forest, weathered mountains. You could have the pit be a permanent whirlpool that legends say leads to paradise, but no one who has entered has come back alive. The ancient farmland is an island chain that was terraformed to support growing food from non-tropical climates. The canyon is a trench on the bottom of the sea where a sea-dwelling, sapient species lives. The swamp is a fouled, boglike area between several islands where sea-dwelling Outsiders went to die (like beached whales except more evil). The locals are deathly afraid of whatever could be in there (so that means treasure, right?). The rain forest is the default biome for islands. The weathered mountains are a central chain of islands with a large, dormant volcano at the center that hasn’t erupted for eons and has worn down over time into a big hill with a caldera.
 

Aldarc

Legend
While I had previous versions I could use as a base (see: v1 and v2), I ended up having making some fairly big changes. I followed WWN’s advice not to go too detailed, so it’s just a sketch currently. I did the first of those prior iterations in Campaign Cartographer 3+ and the second in Tiled using a couple of pixel hex tilesets I bought on itch.io (tileset 1 and tileset 2). I’m probably going to go with CC3+ again, but I’m just leaving it as a sketch for now while I work through kingdom creation.

I wonder if starting with a fractal terrain tool would work better. I assume part of the issue is the coastlines and other features don’t match our intuitive expectations of what they should look like, so it’s like some uncanny valley thing.
Nice work! I decided to stop here as far as my notions for the archipelago. This was all done with the free version of Inkarnate and toying around with just the land stage. The inspiration should be familiar:
Adun (4).jpg

Aside from naming the region, I’m just using generic names too. “Orc Nation”, “Kobold Nation”, “Vuple Nomads”, and so on. I’ll give them proper names once I go through kingdom creation and pick linguistic touchstones. It wasn’t worth further delay trying to figure out names for everything while I was trying to put together the framework. 😅
Pretty much.

Roll a bunch of stuff then try to figure out how it makes sense?

So if you get: pit, ancient farmland, canyons, swamp, rain forest, weathered mountains. You could have the pit be a permanent whirlpool that legends say leads to paradise, but no one who has entered has come back alive. The ancient farmland is an island chain that was terraformed to support growing food from non-tropical climates. The canyon is a trench on the bottom of the sea where a sea-dwelling, sapient species lives. The swamp is a fouled, boglike area between several islands where sea-dwelling Outsiders went to die (like beached whales except more evil). The locals are deathly afraid of whatever could be in there (so that means treasure, right?). The rain forest is the default biome for islands. The weathered mountains are a central chain of islands with a large, dormant volcano at the center that hasn’t erupted for eons and has worn down over time into a big hill with a caldera.
I may do that. I do know that I will be lifting at least one thing from Pirates of Dark Water. There will be some cavernous atolls where some "pale warrior" elves live.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
Another update! I’m almost done with my first kingdom. It’s like a rabbit hole that never ends. I think I’m done, and then I flip through and see the community section. It’s all good though. I’ve only encountered a couple of issues with the process so far, and one is self-inflicted. The self-inflicted issue is that the campaign is set in an area of conflict, so I’m going to have to go through kingdom generation a couple of more times to get everything established for the players. I’m getting better at it, but I’d be done if we were just in the middle of one or the other.*

The other issue I have is the religion construction section seems rather biased towards monotheistic religions. It doesn’t really give any advice or guidance on doing a polytheistic one. Historical religions tended to be polytheistic, and it’s a common trope in fantasy, so it’s something I want in my setting. I ended up just picking an arbitrary number of deities and rolled for each on the society function and portfolio tables.

Things did take an interesting turn when I got “It was an artificial construct built by humans” for a deity that was also declared illegal. I decided to tie that into the current religion (since that was a previous one that had fallen out of favor) by making it an ancient A.I. that had secretly then overtly taken over after the old institutions faltered and lost trust a while back.

Something I wish I had done differently (and plan to change) is not use a mind map. It was good for generating ideas at first, but it did not scale up as I started adding more and more information. I’m going to need to move what I have so far, which is rapidly approaching 5k words of just notes, over to Scrivener, so I can take advantage of its ability to organize information while I write.


* Why not change? Continuity with the pre-WWN/retcon campaign. The PCs had established a settlement near what is now an opposition settlement. There are a few touchstones I and my players have identified that I wanted to keep, and that settlement is one of them. It doesn’t make sense to have two settlements right next to each other, but it should when they’re on opposite sides of a river on opposite borders and with different allegiances.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
Nice work! I decided to stop here as far as my notions for the archipelago. This was all done with the free version of Inkarnate and toying around with just the land stage. The inspiration should be familiar:
I used to use Inkarnate myself. It's quite good, but I felt it was a bit too limitIng (at least the free version). I ultimately found Wonderdraft, which is a desktop application that produces very similar quality maps to Inkarnate, but has a broader toolset. Just in case you're interested.
 

Aldarc

Legend
I used to use Inkarnate myself. It's quite good, but I felt it was a bit too limitIng (at least the free version). I ultimately found Wonderdraft, which is a desktop application that produces very similar quality maps to Inkarnate, but has a broader toolset. Just in case you're interested.
Much appreciated. My main need for a map program was just to get a better sense of the geography. But I may need this for when I have to go into further detail.

I've done additional work and alterations to the map about a few days ago, and put a bunch of names up.
Adun (Lands 2).jpg
There are a lot of regions, nations, and the like - far more than what WWN recommends - but several things: (1) the area this is based on (the Malay Archipelago) is far bigger in reality than it commonly appears on maps (e.g., Sumatra is larger than the state of California); and (2) I'm only really concerning myself with six of them as the major players for detailing and about four of them as mid or minor players of note, such as Rul, a "neutral" nation ruled by a Council of Magi that trains guild mages in the region.
 

Yora

Adventurer
I've been looking at the gameplay rules sections now, and I quite like it. I might actually use it instead of B/X for the campaign I am working on.

But one thing that just seems very odd to me is shock damage. I fully understand how the mechanics work, they are not that difficult. But why does this mechanic exist in the first place? What's its purpose and what is it supposed to add to the game? Dealing damage to enemies even on a miss unless they have really good armor just feels weird.
Is it supposed to speed up combat? Or to make ranged weapons worse? I'm tempted to just outright ignore it, but I assume there was some kind of reasoning to add this new mechanic to a game that otherwise is just regular stuff we've seen many times before.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
I've been looking at the gameplay rules sections now, and I quite like it. I might actually use it instead of B/X for the campaign I am working on.

But one thing that just seems very odd to me is shock damage. I fully understand how the mechanics work, they are not that difficult. But why does this mechanic exist in the first place? What's its purpose and what is it supposed to add to the game? Dealing damage to enemies even on a miss unless they have really good armor just feels weird.
Is it supposed to speed up combat? Or to make ranged weapons worse? I'm tempted to just outright ignore it, but I assume there was some kind of reasoning to add this new mechanic to a game that otherwise is just regular stuff we've seen many times before.
I wouldn't get rid of Shock damage if you're going to use WWN. It's fairly core to the Warrior's ability to deal damage (it's even called out as such in the class entry).

The game describes Shock as "the inevitable harm that is done when an unarmored target is assailed by something sharp in melee range."

I see it as the wearing down of an enemy who isn't so heavily armored that they can largely shrug off your attacks. If you've done martial arts, or even play-fought with tree branches, you know that blocking a hard strike hurts. It sends a shock, up through your arms, all the way into your shoulders and torso. Shock damage wears opponents down and leaves them open to a lethal blow in a similar manner, IMO.

I think it's too core to the combat to remove without completely breaking at least the warrior class. If you don't want to use shock, I wouldn't recommend using WWN.
 

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