So here is my problem with Dungeon World

So here is my problem with Dungeon World

So here is my problem with Dungeon World

Greetings people, most of you know me as a fan of the system, someone that has a good grasp on what it’s about and how you use it. I think i give quite good avice on here and DW is certainly a system i really like. 

So why am i more interested in AW and Monsterhearts despite having not much experience in either genres? 

They promote roleplaying. 

hey hey stop it right here, 

roleplaying is not only talking in character – that is for sure. DW is totally cool in making you make choices for your character and defining him trough play. 

Still, in AW or MH you need to talk to people way more then in DW. It’s about Community and Interpersonal Drama as much as it’s about cool action. You have more things that make you relate to other people and interact with them. 

Now i know that DW is basically fantasy-action-movie World and not Song-of-Ice-and-Fire-and-Intrigue-World.

Having a focus on making people talk in character to each other and NPCs is much harder to do in DW. 

You can do all those things but it’S not as much regular part of play. 

Do you agree? 

That is why i played AW with my group, to get them to stay in character more and interact with people. We played Mouse Guard before and that game is a bit more about community and interacting but a lot of the time you are out in the wilderness and only need to talk in your patrol (and a lot of stuff can be done OOC). So we played AW and we had lot’s of this stuff. 

How do you get interacting in character more into DW?

39 thoughts on “So here is my problem with Dungeon World”

  1. I think it’s absolutely an element of the setting and the GM’s side of things. DW is geared towards something particular. Not having played DW, I would speculate that leaning on the bonds is a good way to help this along. I also think that you could bring up the question of “how do the relationships between these characters assert themselves during the action?”

    You could probably do a lot with the “downtime” in between delves. Use that as a chance to flesh out your world. Before and after the adventure, they have ample opportunity to go places and fill in some of the GM’s blanks.

  2. I like my DW like I like my AW, local.  I like reincorporating places and people.  I like people written as monsters and monsters written with instincts that are more like agendas and moves that are more social than physical.  I like DW where others’ motives are ambiguous and they respond to the players’ actions but also DW where scenes are framed with others communicating with the players right off the bat.

  3. Sure, you can make your DW game like a heist, with playing different monster factions against each other… But this is not really the core of the game. It makes for a really cool game but everyone has to be on board for that. 

  4. I don’t know who your DW MC was, but they must have been doing something wrong. I have only played 2 DW games, but they felt no less or more narrative and collaborative than my AW games are.

  5. Tommy Rayburn just me – and it was at the beginning of my forray into MCing *World games. 

    I am sure it can work this way but it doesn’t as easily as in AW. Could be my group though. 

  6. Part of the disconnect is that the fantasy genre tends to be about quests and moving on to discover what’s next.  If you kill some goblins, it’s OK, you’re moving on – it’s not like you have to keep sleeping here, it’s not like you need something in this place (water/food/protection/people).  The post apocalyptic genre is more about scarcity.  There’s less around and if you crap where you sleep you have to deal with it. 

    The way I’d handle your situation is to run your game as a bounded regional ecology.  Start in the action, then have them return to the steading – treat that like the first session of AW.  Now fronts get pushed and the steading is threatened, crap.  Gotta go back to where the action started.  Delt with, great but there are other issues with the next steading over.  Keep retreading the same ground and building on previous additions to the fiction rather than always introducing new elements.

  7. Left-field idea: what if you leaned on the Bonds as if they were Burning Wheel-style Beliefs? Heck, you could even create a custom move for this. When your Bond spurs you into definitive action, mark experience. Or something like that.

    Maybe even do up Bond moves, akin to alignment moves.

  8. I lean on most stuff like they where Burning Wheel Beliefs. Not always challenging (validating stuff so that they are cool is nice too) them but i lean on that stuff. Or i try at least. 

  9. I love that thought of Marshall Miller. I think some of my suggestions are going about it from the wrong end. Considering that the *World games are all about creating a situation, framing that situation…wow. That’s an underused tool. Very interesting.

  10. I agree with basically all the stuff you said, Tim Franzke. It’s why, going into my game of DW, I made it clear to the players I wanted a more socially relevant game than a “kill the monsters cause they’re a different skin tone than us” game.

    I agree with the idea of making sure your Fronts are tied to characters close to the PCs. I’d also say, even in an adventure front, be sure to make at least one of the dangers a person with an agenda that isn’t necessarily bad.

    I have an adventure front about Orc graveyards being used by Kobolds to stage their attacks on Halflings. The PCs will have to deal with Orc crypt keepers. Are they evil? No. Tough? No. Are they people? Yes, and they want the PCs to stop disturbing their ancestors’ remains. How will the PCs deal with this social constraint that interferes with their mission? That’s the money maker right there.

  11. Make one of them the guys that highered them, make one of them the fighters college and one the wizards old master…

    Uuuhhh i see it now!

  12. An example of sympathetic monsters:

    Urisk                                   Solitary, Magical

    Hooves and horns (6 Damage) 10 HP 2 Armor


    Sad and solitary, the urisk are hard workers and faithful friends to those who can look past their gnarled and mangy appearance. Instinct: Do what is

    asked of them

    • Work diligently

    • Ruminate mournfully

    • Hide when things go sideways

    An example of monstrous people:

    In-Laws                                     Solitary, Intelligent

    Cutting words and smug snorts              1HP, 0 Armor

    -1 forward, Reach, Messy

    Special quality: Unpredictable creature

    What’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine – including our parents. Do not let the name fool you, darling, these creatures are pure chaos. They take many forms, men, dwarves, elves and halflings all suffer from the snide words and withering looks of disapproval these creatures emit. Gird your self-esteem and weather the storm; if treated properly, the In-Law can become a valuable ally.  Instinct: To dismiss off-hand

    • Play the victim

    • Voice disapproval

    • Mention a filial obligation

    • Team up when wills align

  13. I think because it’s an *World game designed as a send up to D&D, it’s easy to slip back into the dungeon-crawl mindset. More than the other games, DW has a selection of moves that explicitly deal with combat (“Hack and Slash” etc) and a selection that deal with social situations – whereas the other *Worlds have more specific Social moves but nebulous phrases (like “Seize By Force”) that cover combat.

    So, to the original question, um, yes? I think it takes conscious effort to shift from a default We’re On An Adventure Hooray For Us mode and focus on interpersonal relations, compared some of the other AW descendants.

  14. You’re right that DW by default is less about character conflict and more about group vs. world. That is partly because of D&D tropes we can’t help using and partly because of actual game design. 

    It is easily changed, though: go heavy on bonds and proper fronts, make stake questions more about ethics, ask them questions about each other like crazy. Works like a charm.

  15. One possibility, if you feel like there’s more mechanical support for things you’d like to be doing in other AW-family games, is to borrow moves from them. Conversion is seldom hard, and you could add in, say, 3-5 basic moves for inter-personal actions, sex moves if you’re interested in that as part of play, and an additional move or two for each class.

  16. Tim Franzke you and I are in complete agreement. I find that there are too few areas of inter-personal conflicts or social interaction where you get to engage the system. I have had this discussion in the forums of RPG Geek.

  17. A hack that we mention in Advanced Delving is to add a point to the GM Agenda: “challenge their bonds.”

    As it stands, in DW the interpersonal drama is icing on the adventuring cake. This is how Adam and I like it, so that’s what we made.

    If you want to drift a little to either side—a little less drama or a little more—you can do that easily by using a lot of the things mentioned in this thread.

    If you really want to delve into that stuff, though, DW might not be the game for you. Which is completely cool! Adam and I won’t be upset. I love me some Burning Wheel for really getting into character-driven drama.

  18. Whenever I throw a big list of jobs at our DW crew, the resulting discussion reveals character.  Finding out why people do stuff is interesting.

  19. I was thinking about this last week and I would tend to agree, only because AW is very much about social conflict and the consequences it brings, while DW is designed to bring elements of AW into a D&D framework. D&D is not a social consequences game, it’s a tactical game, and DW subsequently focuses a lot more on tactics than social consequences.

    Make sense?

  20. Well, just look at the moves in AW verses the moves in DW.

    In AW: The Operator has a move called Reputation which is mechanically allows the player to dictate that an NPC has heard of them. The Skinner has a move called Lost which literally just brings a character into your presence. These aren’t tactical abilities, they’re social consequence abilities. They allow the player to affect the roles of the characters, presumably in order to further plot or speed up play or insert cool minutia into the interactions.

    In DW: When I look at the Bard, presumably the most social of the character classes, the only directly social move they start with is Charming And Open, which is like a specialized form of Reading A Person in AW. Their other starting moves are tactical (Arcane Art) or information gathering (Bardic Lore, Port in the Storm) which leads to tactics. Port in the Storm is info about a “civilized settlement” so it could be seen as doing more than giving you ideas for tactics about the community, but I don’t see it playing into social consequences that the player creates themself.

  21. There’s a common convention that tactical games involve combat grid and small figurines. In that sense DW is not a tactical game at all.

    Also, Bardic Lore = tactical? Seriously?

  22. You don’t need a combat grid or small figurines to play D&D, but it’s still a tactical game.

    The key point is it’s not social consequences. It’s tale-telling and information gathering, presumably for getting insight into a threat because look at your choices: magic, undead, beastiary, the planes, divine servants. Presumably the question you ask the GM will be something along the lines of “What is this (monster’s) weakness?” or “How is this (magical device) powered?” and I haven’t seen it used in other ways. In that sense it’s giving a knowledge about something in order to bypass it, that is tactics. Bardic Lore is tactical when it’s not flavor text.

  23. Bonds are a weak tie between characters as written, and the GM advice for DW does not recommend PC-NPC-PC triangles like in AW.  For that matter, it generally doesn’t emphasize NPCs as much at all.  I’ve always taken this to be a stylistic choice (from the above, sounds like Sage LaTorra agrees).  And I think Patrick Henry Downs is more or less right that character abilities don’t drive social consequences as much as they do in AW.

    Personally, I like it that way.  There were things I got frustrated with about D&D2, and then I spent a lot of years playing other systems and wandering in the wildlands of narrative-heavy melodramatic games, and have come to the conclusion that that stuff has never really been for me.  I want to play RPGs to buckle some swash, and explore some crazy places, and hang out with friends while doing it, and DW is currently the best way I know of to do that.

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