While reading through games like Savage Worlds, Fate, and Dungeon World, it seems like they play well as either a…

While reading through games like Savage Worlds, Fate, and Dungeon World, it seems like they play well as either a…

While reading through games like Savage Worlds, Fate, and Dungeon World, it seems like they play well as either a pick up style game or one shot game. I’m sure they work well as a campaign style game, but I wonder if they work even better under campaign conditions because of that “pick up” nature. If you play these games can you tell me if that is a fair assessment?

If that is true, how can that style of play be implemented into a D&D type game? Given that as I get older, I find that I have less time and patience for prep.


P.S. I’m up for anyone teaching me the finer points of any of those systems.

13 thoughts on “While reading through games like Savage Worlds, Fate, and Dungeon World, it seems like they play well as either a…”

  1. I can speak to DW. It’s built for starting from a blank map with just the character’s backstories and Bonds to go by, and turning that into an ongoing campaign. To support that it has mechanics for defining and progressing a living world on whatever map you end up filling in.

    The “pick up” nature of DW is really just that it has a strong set of guidelines for the first session, and the Front and living world mechanics for later development. Fast character creation helps that. 

    For a D&D type game you could easily adopt the GM Agendas and Moves, and start with a blank map. The GM Moves are nothing but what most good GMs do anyway, they’re just clearly presented for novice GMs. The big difference is that the blank map requires asking the players questions and incorporating the answers into your world building. The cutoff for PC backstory should be “right before we started”.

  2. I really like the concept of having a blank slate with a handful of options, and I think that it could work really well for a DND type game. I think a lot of game Masters could benefit from this, but I don’t think a lot of game Masters explore other games and so I am hoping to be able to produce some adventures/campaign style books that could do that for D&D.

  3. Yeah. You have the base moves that anyone can do- hack & slash, volley, defy danger (pick an attribute by how you describe the character defying danger), defend, spout lore, discern realities, and parley. And then there are class moves that gives additional abilities related to your class.  

  4. The way I see them, Moves neither limit what a character can do, nor are they suggestions as to what a character could do. They are simply neutral triggers. They come into effect whether the player intended them to or not. When a character does X, Y happens.

  5. Dungeon World can be great for a one-shot, but it works even better as a longer game because the setting and the Threats are built from what the players contribute by way of answering the GM’s loaded questions.

    Savage Worlds requires GM preparation or detailed improvisation like any other traditional challenge-oriented RPG. For a one-shot, it works best with pre-generated characters and a prepared scenario, or module suited to the characters’ level of effectiveness.

    Fate, like DW, is largely built off of what the players contribute, but in how they define their character Aspects. It works great as a one-shot if the GM can improvise a situation and obstacles that incorporate more than one Aspect from every player character. This becomes easier with practice.

  6. Some great answers here on DW. Nothing really to add except that the best way to find out about DW is to play it. Especially if you’re planning to do game design to mimic DW principles. Again, not that good DMs don’t do a lot of this in standard versions of dnd, but DW really prompts you to focus on the story and to never let up, never give in to a lapse of imagination by pat answers like “you hit, you miss, you fail.” It’s kinda relentless and awesome that way.

  7. The *World games revolutionized my GMing.  It was super scary relying so much on the players and myself for bringing ideas together right at the table, but it’s been so rewarding.  Just being able to ask the kinds of questions and listening for the kinds of details that springboard into game ideas, and being open to completely changing how things are going.  I don’t plan stories anymore, just open-ended situations.  The PCs and dice can decide how the situations play out.  D&D still requires some prep, depending on the edition, but it means you don’t have to plan the entire session, just a few situations/encounters that could come up (and you can always save them for later if you don’t use them).

    Also, failure isn’t bad.  A failed role doesn’t always mean damage or death.  It just means things get more complicated, which is amazing.  People stop being so paranoid about the perfect way to do things, and start getting more wild and adventurous.

    And oh man, collaborative storytelling.  Your players can come up with better stories than you can.  It is so great asking a question like “How do you pray to and interact with your god?” and getting an answer way out of left field that you would never have been able to think up.

    I recommend reading the DW book, it has some great advice in it for running any game.  It might also be helpful to run or play in a DW game, I think it could really change how you run other games.

  8. Any sort of relatively simple game system can benefit from using DW/AW style prep, collaboration, question-asking, fronts, etc.  There’s actually remarkably little in the core mechanics of DW that builds on this; it’s almost all about the GM principles.  

    I tried using fronts, threats, and moves in D&D 4e and the gears ground pretty hard. The amount of prep required to make fights meaningful/interesting and the amount of time such fights took… it made the improvisational/collaborative stuff very hard. I suspect you’d have the same problem with 3x/Pathfinder.  But I think the approach would work well with 5e. 

  9. That’s interesting Jeremy Strandberg. Some mechanical systems just don’t allow for improv, but others are open to it. 4e just isn’t as hackable as other editions, I think. So far, I’m finding 5e fairly hackable, and like you say, I can definitely improv a session with ease using fronts, GM principles, player collaboration, etc.

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