Dungeon World: Tabletop RPGs Made Easy

Dungeon World Cover

NotAnNPC asks:

So…I want to know more about Dungeon World. I’ve seen several tweets about it and how easy it is to play. How is it different from other table tops like D&D and Pathfinder?

 To answer this question, we have Jason Pitre. Jason is an indie roleplaying games enthusiast and writer and he loves Dungeon World!

Thanks for asking! Full disclosure, I have been a fan of Dungeon World since the early iterations.

Dungeon World is the brain-child of Adam Koebel and Sage Latorra, who have worked together to produce a really fascinating game that reproduces all of the excitement of nostalgic, classic D&D. It’s a game where you play badass fighters, strange wizards, zealous paladins and devout clerics, fighting orks and dragons. The designers describe it as a love-letter to the way they remember playing Dungeons and Dungeons as kids.

The system behind Dungeon World is quite different from other tabletop games such as modern D&D or Pathfinder, for good reason. Dungeon World is inspired by and derived from the Vincent Baker’s brilliant post-apocalyptic game “Apocalypse World”. Vincent is well known for coming up with innovative mechanics, which Adam and Sage have refined and recreated to fit the dungeon environment.

The basic system is simple. The GM (Game Master, person who decides the story the players are in) asks you what you want to do. You describe your clever thief sneaking into the royal treasury, bypassing a couple tripwires and generally being stealthy. The GM describes the heavy footfalls and clanging of boots heading in your general direction and asks what you would like to do.  You describe hiding behind a bookshelf in the shadows, and everyone agrees that it makes sense that you could do that.  You didn’t roll dice for any of that.

The entire game mechanic revolves around these moves, which are always resolved by rolling 2d6 + your attribute modifier (2d6 means two six-sided dice).  If you get a 10+, you succeed with style. If you get a 7-9, the GM will offer you some hard bargain, drawback or other complication. If you get a 6 or less, then the GM gets to be mean to you, but you get an experience point that will help you level up.

Let’s say that you want to then sneak out of the shadows and steal the key from the passing guard’s belt. In such a case, you would roll 2d6 to use your move “Defy Danger”.  You roll a 7, +1 for your Dexterity modifier, for a total of 8.  The GM smiles and says that you can get the key firmly in your grasp, but you will attract the attention of the guard. Your life gets a little more complicated, but you did get most of what you wanted.

The system pretty much says that you only roll the dice when it’s interesting to do so. It means that you have free-flowing combat, players have authority to define parts of the setting and you don’t get bogged down in the record keeping of exactly how many arrows you have in your quiver. It’s lightweight, needing almost no preparation and supporting the GM with some excellent guidance text.


Jason Pitre is the owner, designer and barista at Genesis of Legend Publishing

Designer of the Spark Roleplaying Game and Posthuman Pathways

More information about Dungeon World is available here. For even more rules information, check out the Dungeon World SRD!

Do you have experience with Dungeon World? What do you like about it?