Having trouble getting Horror and DW to mix.

Having trouble getting Horror and DW to mix.

Having trouble getting Horror and DW to mix. It seems that the inherent awesomeness of the characters resists placing them in a horror context. In turn, any attempt to make them fragile and fearful invalidates their DW-ness…

Any thoughts on hybridizing these two disparate forms of narrative? Has anyone run Ravenloft successfully as a campaign or is it something better suited to one-shots?

13 thoughts on “Having trouble getting Horror and DW to mix.”

  1. It all depends on what kind of Moves you use. Beeing a Fan of the character does not mean that they have to be super awesome badasses. They could be just desperate people trying to survive. 

    It is just a different kind of conversation.

  2. What’s the issue, exactly?

    If it’s just that they’re too tough, you can take out the class base HP and cap how much armour they can get by limiting multi-classing for armour moves.

    Only do this if you’re prepared to spend a lot of time thinking up things to do to them other than deal damage; the idea is to reduce their max HP so that they think “whoa, d6 damage is a lot!” without actually making them that much more fragile in practice.

  3. I ran Ravenloft in DW. It completely went off the rails after about 15 minutes, but it’s totally doable. You just have to make custom moves for fear and the taint of darkness.

  4. My first DW campaign used the Innistrad gothic horror setting from Magic: the Gathering, and it went really well.  I used some fear and insanity rules created by (I think) John Harper  and Sean Dunstan , but to be honest, they didn’t come into play much.  I think you can establish the horror tone pretty well through description and judicious use of GM moves.

  5. Custom moves might be the answer.  Perhaps like something from ‘tremulus’.  Also, if you can’t “just Hack and Slash” a dragon because it’s too awesome, perhaps you can’t just “[insert move here]” an [insert horror here] because it’s too horrible.  You know what I mean.  Also, hard moves.  Very hard moves.

  6. It’s not an issue of giving the players have less HP. Lethality isn’t the issue. Nor is it a matter of not having custom moves. I have written a whole set of custom horror moves (and compendium classes):


    Alex Norris to answer your question, the issue seems to be that making Dungeon World characters make fear tests seems inherently wrong somehow…

    Lets say for instance I throw a vampire at the party. This is horror so this compels them to make a test that determines if they freak out and run away screaming. (This is beyond the sheer weirdness of having everyone at the table make the same check at the same time. Let alone the cascading issue of making the same check every time we encounter a monster…)

    The very act of doing this seems antithetical to DW by virtue of it takes them from being capable, well equipped, dangerous adventurers to victims in a moment. One second we’re jumping across rooftops shooting arrows and slinging spells and the next we’re contemplating the same character curling into fetal position and whimpering. 


    John Marron could you go into how it went off the rails?

  7. There are no “horror tests” in DW. What you do have is the terrifying tag, which gives you all the mechanical justification you need (if you ever needed any) to go “this thing is so scary you’re nearly paralysed with fear, you’re going to have to Defy Danger to do anything except run away.”

    Although, there is the issue that vampires aren’t actually scary.

  8. hm. Maybe you could use your Moves in that direction. I mean, on a classical 7-9 on Defy Danger you could bring down an hesitation due to, well, a hint of fear in the character. And on a failed roll, that’s when you can introduce your PCs to horror. Of course it’s not about saying “your Character is now whimpering in a corner ’cause she’s scared!”, but rather about description and giving them what they don’t expect. A failed roll on a Spout Lore? Bad news: werewolves aren’t really killed by silver, that was just a folk tale… I don’t know if I’m clear enough. It’s about the mood and the tone, and those two things are mostly about description. There’s a famous comment in some blog about fighting a “16 HP dragon” (that has the terrifying tag), that’s pretty clear

Comments are closed.