Thoughts on Playing and Running Dungeon World

   Posted by: Andrew Linstrom   in Uncategorized

So far, I’ve played Dungeon World just a few times. The first was with my regular Thursday night crew, as run by Colin. The second time was at Gateway this past Labor Day weekend, as run by Colin. The third was just this last weekend at Nerdly Beach Party VIII, run by–wait for it–Colin. I also ran it on a whim Sunday morning of NBP8. Since the fine folks producing DW have this thing going where if you blog about your experience with the game, you may join the Adventurers’ Guild part of their site, with access to tasty playtest materials. So, wait, I talk about playing Dungeon World, and then I get more Dungeon World to play with? I am so down. Inspired by Ryan’s embloggenings earlier today, I will share some of my own thoughts on my encounters with Dungeon World.

Character creation is a bacon-scented breeze. I love this guided style of character generation.There’s still plenty of room for personal color–what do you mean by “wild eyes” or “exotic robes”? Things slow down a bit for me when playing the Wizard or the Cleric and picking spells, but not nearly as much as they do when hitting that same decision point in any variation of actual D&D I’ve played. Same with equipment, but again, the choices are much more grabby in DW: pay my coin or two for dungeon rations, for example, which the description tells me I have five uses of, and the Make Camp move has a condition that tells me when to mark one of those uses off. Done. The latest edition offers starting equipment packages for the various classes, an option I never exercised in D&D, but dove eagerly upon in DW. Going shopping in an RPG is a certain kind of fun, and not one of the kinds of fun I’m looking for when I play Dungeon World.

I love the concept of bonds, and echo the feeling that a number of others have shared: antagonistic bonds don’t do much for me (See: what Hamish said). That xp carrot hanging over bonds makes me want to drive for them, and some of them have a chance to distract from the action rather than merely saucing it up. (Is the xp for playing bonds thing official? Because it should be.) I believe it was either Colin or Hamish who proposed writing in a new bond after every session, and I like this idea–the most interesting developments in your characters’ history and relationships should be happening in the dungeon. Keeping track of the bonds other players have with your character can be difficult, and I’d like to try putting all the bonds on a sheet of paper and having that on the table for anyone reference.

The Apocalypse World mechanics of player moves and MC/GM moves is delicious, and I’m not tired of offering or being offered my pick of terrible, interesting choices. I’m still a little fuzzy on exactly how and when the GM makes certain moves, but I have a feeling that there are good answers for me to find in the text, they don’t or shouldn’t involve the word “exactly.”

When I ran DW at Nerdly, it may be putting things generously to say it was totemic Dungeon World. I haven’t read the book, haven’t even set down with the Apocalypse World text in a serious way. I was pretty much aping what I’d seen Colin do when I played in his games. (<3 Colin. Linstrom only apes the best.) I didn’t know how things were supposed to be built, but I had an idea of what the end result was supposed to look like. I laid out the module title (“Mountain Fast of the Iron Abominations”) and appropriate cover art, directed character generation with lots of help from the experienced GMs at the table, and played through a combat encounter and a passel of moves surrounding Make Camp move before we called it. There were five players, which I agree was too many–not enough GM attention to go around.

The other big lesson I learned from running it is that I fucking love this game and want to run it again. I also want to play it under other GMs, Hamish and Mike in particular as GMs whose styles agree with me. I should probably also sit down with the text and absorb the tastiness within. I’m generally allergic to prep, but for this game, I might make an exception, particularly since it’s light on the math and heavy on the flavor.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 28th, 2011 at 9:15 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One comment


I think I noticed it and pointed it out, but actually writing in a new bond after every game is in the rules. Bonds for xp is not official. The specifics of xp are up in the air at the moment.

Your run of DW was pretty much by the rules, so your ape-fu is strong! Mike’s already eager to rope you in for the big Strategicon DW fest!

September 28th, 2011 at 9:24 pm

Leave a reply

Name (*)
Mail (will not be published) (*)