Hey guys, my team and I are currently developing our own Victorian dieselpunk meets cthulhu campaign (and some other…

Hey guys, my team and I are currently developing our own Victorian dieselpunk meets cthulhu campaign (and some other…

Hey guys, my team and I are currently developing our own Victorian dieselpunk meets cthulhu campaign (and some other things thrown in for good measure) setting over at www.silverholdstudios.com, and we’re looking to create a Dungeon World adaption as part of our upcoming kickstarter campaign. Now, as I’ve only had a little experience with Dungeon World myself, can anyone give any pointers on developing classes and the likes?


14 thoughts on “Hey guys, my team and I are currently developing our own Victorian dieselpunk meets cthulhu campaign (and some other…”

  1. Yes: developing full classes takes an incredible amount of work and is very hard to do right.

    Here’s a jumble of stuff I’ve written previously about what you need to write a class:

    Always start from the fiction. You need a concept that:

    * isn’t covered by something else;

    * is wide enough to generate 30 moves (4 starting, 10/10 advanced, 3 racial, 3 alignment);

    * is narrow enough to have a clearly-defined thematic identity.

    In practice, this means you need 2-3 distinct concepts mashed together to cover enough conceptual ground for a full base class. Trying to recreate a single book/game/film character isn’t going to leave you with enough moves; that’s what compendium classes are for.

    Every move you write has to reinforce the class’ theme. Don’t write moves that don’t plug in to the class’ 2-3 thematic identities.

    Don’t steal moves from other playbooks. If your class concept needs a move from another playbook to be fully realised, you either need to rethink your concept or you can just give your playbook multiclass moves.

    On that note, don’t use Multiclass Dabbler/Initiate, they’re pants. If you’re going to have MC moves, do them in the same style as Inverse World’s MC moves.

    As mentioned, don’t make moves that are just better versions of basic moves and replace them. If you want to make something that is similar to an existing basic move, make it a move that modifies how a basic move works instead.

    Don’t build a class around a single starting move, with multiple advanced moves that improve it. Write your advanced moves so the class expands horizontally, not vertically (conceptually wider, not mechanically more powerful).

    Don’t fall into the trap of trying to straight copy over ideas from other systems, especially D&D. Dungeon World moves have their own tone and their own mechanics.

    Remember that fiction comes first, and that a move that gives a purely fictional bonus is much more interesting than a move that gives a purely mechanical bonus.

    Keep in mind what other classes can do when writing your own: you don’t want to make a class that is better at talking than the Bard, or better at fighting than the Fighter.

    Remember niche protection. Making a class that is better or as good as the above at both fighting and talking is even worse.

    Keep it simple – don’t include hold mechanics where you don’t need them, for example. If you write a move with options, don’t go above four options to choose from (and three is ideal in most cases).

    Remember that each type of move (no roll, result, choice or hold) conveys a different tone (no roll means you can always do it, roll for result is for simple actions with same-beat resolution, choice is for complex actions with same-beat resolution, and hold is for moves where you power up and discharge that power in separate beats).

    On a similar level, know that “choose X bad things that don’t happen” and “choose X good things that happen” are different, not just in terms of tone but in terms of the result too: in the former case, every option you didn’t pick happens.

    Also: time units. DW doesn’t have rounds; instead, it has “a few instants,” “a moment,” “a few moments,” “a short time,” “some time,” “a while,” etc.

    Remember that a single move should be a single unit of rules, and should strive to be short and simple. You generally want:

    * one of the starting moves to be a signature ability (the Psion’s Expanded Consciousness, the Druid’s Shapeshifter)

    * one of them to be some kind of move the character can use in combat if the signature ability isn’t a combat move (the Bard’s Arcane Art, the Shaman’s Help from Beyond);

    * one of them to be a short utility move that plugs in to the class’ theme and provides flavour (the Thief’s Flexible Morals, the Barbarian’s Musclebound); and

    * one of them to be a move about interacting with the world in a unique way – either a social move or one about perceiving things (the Paladin’s I Am the Law, the Ranger’s Hunt and Track).

    You might also want to spin off the scene-setting part of one of your starting moves into a separate thing to keep each individual move simple – for example, the Cleric’s Deity or the Druid’s Born of the Soil.

    It’s generally best to think of two stats that your class will use. Try not to mix stats in the starting moves, or if you do, do it as a balancing concern – MAD is a real thing.

    On the other hand, the fiction comes first, and it doesn’t make huge amounts of sense to have, say, a move about suplexing opponents rely on Wis just because you’ve got a Wis-based class. If that happens, either rethink the move’s fiction so it makes sense, or change it to another move entirely.

    The second stat comes into play for advanced moves, and lets you offer players the ability to go for a different “build” than default. You only really want a few moves that rely on this second stat (maybe two per tier).

    As an example, the Shaman is a Cha primary class with an implied Con secondary (since it relies on HP to use some of its moves). Several of the Shaman’s advanced moves are Wis-based, and those are the ones that don’t cost HP – so if you wanted, you could be Cha/Wis instead.

    Finally, remember that you don’t necessarily need to write a full class: if your class ends up being “like a Fighter, but X” there is nothing wrong with writing replacement moves to take one theme out of an existing class and replace it with another.

  2. Hi Peter,

    How much are you looking to do with the Dungeon World adaptation? If you’re just looking to create new classes for Dungeon World, know that creating a good class takes a significant amount of time and understanding of the underlying Dungeon World mechanics; I’d definitely recommend bringing someone in to the team who has a background in creating Dungeon World classes, or prepare to spend a considerable amount of time getting to know the base game!

    The core thing about Dungeon World classes is that the base classes are already very potent and versatile; if you’re making a new class, it really has to express a core idea in very definite terms that can’t just be covered with a re-skin of one of the base classes.

    I’m in the middle of a (successful!) kickstarter campaign for Dungeon World and Fate Core, called Pirate World:


    It has about 7 new classes in it, and they’ve taken a long time to write. They’re undergoing community redrafting even now!

    The experience of making a DW adaptation has been pretty great so far, and I’ve definitely learned quite a lot. I’ll be in touch with more details later!

    Edit: I totally agree with all of Alex Norris ‘s points!

  3. Wow, that’s a lot to take in! I was actually considering bringing on someone from the Dungeon World community to assist with the development of the adaptation.I don’t have too many details on the project from a DW perspective, and I’d have to discuss such a proposal with my colleagues, but there is definitely a potential opportunity for someone to help out.

  4. Well, while I haven’t played a lot of dungeon world I really enjoy the new way it approaches the D&D-esque genre. I love the succeed with a cost, and that every roll means something, rather than a simple failure (which ties in nicely with the dark tone of the setting), and I really feel that it could benefit being brought to the DW ruleset, even as a simple hack or the likes.

  5. Just make sure that you’re not jumping on the bandwagon simply to increase contributors. There has been a lot of RPG Kickstarters as of late that cannot generate the backers with their own system so they tack on DW or Fate to increase their backers. This not only is a disservice to the game in question, but also to the backers who play those systems that tend to get a sub par treatment because the designers don’t know the systems they are tacking on. My biggest suggestion if you move forward is to be sure you understand the system you are porting to and that your not just hanging a popular system on your setting because your system is not generating the amount you need to fund. Play the system. Know the system. Remember, if you do a poor job with your product you hurt future sales and products.

  6. The more linear and defined your campaign is, the more the system will fight you and the more you loose the very cool first session procedure from DW.

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