A SINGLE STEP: An introductory/campaign starter for Dungeon World.

A SINGLE STEP: An introductory/campaign starter for Dungeon World.

A SINGLE STEP: An introductory/campaign starter for Dungeon World.

“_Are there other wizards?_ Not really. There are other workers of arcane magic, and the common folk may call them wizards, but they’re not like you. They don’t have the same abilities, though they may be similar. Later on there may be another player character with the same class but no GM character will ever really be a wizard (or any other class).” – Dungeon World, page 178

Have you ever wondered why that is?


Long ago, there were great heroes. A warrior who was as strong as an army, master of all weapons. A wizard who could shake the earth with his magic. A priest capable of bring his god’s will to the world. A thief who wielded shadow as a tool and a weapon. The bard, whose songs could inspire nations. The druid, embodiment of the power of nature. The ranger who mastered beasts and became one with the forests. The paladin, who protected all with sword, shield, and faith.

They were the world’s first heroes.

They fought evil, as individuals and later as a group, stopping unknowable monstrosities and terrible foes. They defeated every foe they faced and saved the world dozens of times over.

But time is one foe that can fell even the mightiest of opponents. The heroes knew they could not live forever, and even after their passing the world would face danger once again. How, then, could they continue to protect the world? Training proteges would take too long, and even if they did find a way to live forever, there was the chance that they would be unable to change with the times and adapt to the new threats that would inevitably arise.

Then the wizard and the bard had an idea.

There was one place the heroes could go to both escape the ravages of time and be ready to reappear at a moment’s notice: the shared imagination of the world.

Oh, the bard and the wizard used lots of complex terms to describe it; “collective unconscious , “zeitgeist”, “heroic archetypes” and the like. But what mattered was the result: the heroes would cease to exist as people, and would become ideas. And when needed, they could empower individuals with their power and abilities  allowing for heroes that had ties to the world they lived in.

So the heroes left the world we know. They did remain, however, in the backs of the mind of the people of the world. In legends and fables. Some sought the power of the heroes, but those who sought rarely found; a hero is chosen by the need to protect and forged in deeds. It’s not something you try to become for fame or fortune.

Still, there are those who sought the power of the heroes in other ways, such as through worship. Around the world, one can find altars and statues of the heroes that were used in futile attempts to beseech them for their power. Over the generations, these makeshift temples faded from memory.

But on a small ignored island, one such temple is about to be discovered by the survivors of a shipwreck. Others are there already, seeking what they believe is forgotten magic for their own ends. The stakes begin as survival, but may end up being the world itself.

It is a a world, a time, a moment in need of heroes.

What do you do?

6 thoughts on “A SINGLE STEP: An introductory/campaign starter for Dungeon World.”

  1. Okay, here’s the deal. This is the convergence point of three things in my mind:

    The recent D&DClassics site had N4: “Treasure Hunt” available. It’s one of my favorite modules, because the premise was unique for AD&D; instead of starting at first level like normal, you began as a level 0 commoner with no skills, no powers, nothing but the clothes on your back. The PCs started play on the beach of a mostly deserted island, having washed up there after the slave ship they were prisoners on sinks. They end up being picked by a goddess and “granted” their first class level, based on their actions. The characters didn’t even have alignments until this point, but they accrued “alignment points” based on their actions.

    Dungeon World had the “Villager” class back in the beginning, where you didn’t start with any stats or anything, and had to earn your class and alignment, and made up Bonds as you went along.

    A while back, someone on G+ asked for ideas as to where ancient heroes could hide themselves for ages, and I suggested things like “they become elementals! Fighter elementals! Cleric elementals!” and “they hid in the collective unconscious  That’s where the whole class idea comes from!” The guy in question didn’t like those ideas (he was looking more low-fantasy, I guess), but I kept them in the back of my mind.

    Which leads me to this idea: an “introductory adventure” for DW where the players have to earn their classes, because classes are the  mantle of powerful conceptual entities. You can ease the players into the idea of classes (and why they have these classes), give them a common origin, and set up the start of a campaign with some pre-defined metaphysics.

  2. This is a cool thing.

    Although, personally, I think it’d be better if they ended up being worshipped as gods (despite not being gods), so you could play around with what a religion based on having a pantheon of hero PCs of each class looks like.

  3. Alex Norris I thought of that, actually. I don’t think I’d want to do that for the module, because I feel like that’s making too many assumptions about the game world in advance.

  4. Yeah, that’s fair – I generally prefer to make one or two basic assumptions about the world and present them to the players to decide whether they want to roll with them or not.

    Technically, this whole thing is an assumption already – making an assumption about one of the pantheons out there in a way that ties in with it isn’t exactly violating their agency.

    (Then again, the players in my campaign keep complaining that I ask them too many questions and they want me to just dictate everything. :/)

  5. One of the most interesting overlaps I could see between 13th Age and DW was the uniqueness angle and the whole “icons” thing.  Like each class in DW is that guy, at the start of their journey.

    Also, Sean Dunstan and Alex Norris I’ll often start new games with a “pitch” based on what I want to explore, thematically.  Saying “I was thinking this game could be set in a far-off colony where a cruel alchemist rules with weird magical science” and let the players springboard and fill the gaps.  There are various levels of preparedness that are going to come into play, depending on the preferences of the GM and the group!

  6. Adam Koebel: yeah, I really feel this is the best approach – gives the setting some direction while still letting players participate. Although, in my case, I tend to establish a starting situations pretty firmly and then offer up more elements every now and then for the players to play with – I’m not much of a fan of traditional heroic fantasy and tend to like having sci-fi or post-apocalyptic bits mixed in.

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