So I’ve been trying to understand Dungeon World for about a year now.

So I’ve been trying to understand Dungeon World for about a year now.

So I’ve been trying to understand Dungeon World for about a year now. With out playing it, I’m not sure it will click. It seems like a great pick up and go sandbox type game. Is it possible to play/ convert Basic D&D/labyrinth lord/swords and wizardry adventures?

16 thoughts on “So I’ve been trying to understand Dungeon World for about a year now.”

  1. To an extent, you could use, for example, a Basic D&D scenario with DW, but with a few caveats. The adventure will not play as written using DW. If the scenario relies too much on a railroad of choices/events moving from A to B to C, be prepared, as mentioned to go off those rails. DW also rewards being underprepared. A lot of prewritten adventures do not embrace this concept, seeking to fill in all of the spaces on the map. Also and lastly, DW adventures are driven by the way fronts interact with player choices. If you convert a Basic D&D adventure to DW, take some time to write up two or three fronts, drawing inspiration from the adventure.

  2. DW is really driven by player choices. Adventures make great settings, with places/monsters/factions/institutions/events, but you can’t expect to follow their plots linearly.

    To use a Lego analogy, an adventure is like a Lego set. You can’t make the players build the set but you can use all the cool pieces from the set to make something equally cool with the same theme(s).

  3. There are two halves to this question. (1) Yes, you can totally use Dungeon World rules to run a Basic D&D adventure, though you will at least have to do radical surgery on the stats for all the monsters — many fewer hit points, figure out what their damage should be, reinterpret special abilities.  It won’t really be plug-n-play.  (2) But more than rules, DW is designed for a style of play which encourages and supports a lot of player autonomy and all-round improvisation at the table.  If you really go with that, then most published modules run off the rails pretty quickly.  You don’t have to play that way, but if you’re not going to, then DW rules may not have a lot of appeal for you.

    For me anyway, the decisions flow in this direction:  I want to play games where the players are free to be creative with the plot, and I don’t have to do a lot of DM homework before sessions => therefore I need a system where it’s really easy to invent opponents on the fly => therefore monsters can’t need more than a couple of stats, but still have ways to be interesting and different.  Dungeon World has that, and also it has Fronts as a tool for managing big-picture conflict on the fly at the table.  (Though, you could totally steal Fronts and pretty much use them with any RPG.)

  4. Tim Deschene where can I get the totally rad players guide? I’m having the hardest time fully understanding the rules. It definitely seems like the game for me, but for some reason I start to glaze over after a few pages in.

  5. Here are the steps for converting.

    1) At first, forget the map, encounters and story arc.

    2) Find your villian. He will be the main front.

    3) What are your villian’s goals? Most important: How does the villian’s goals create conflict with that of the characters? If there is no conflict there is no story. This means that your characters must also have clear goals. If not initially, then immediately after the story hook encounter.

    4) What are the stakes? This is the second most important thing you must answer. What is so important about their conflict with the villian that the characters can’t just walk away? Make it personal. Put something they care about in jeopardy.

    5) What resources does the villian have at his disposal to thwart the characters? These are called dangers. They can be environmental, monsters and NPCs. Make a list. To convert monsters, use the monster creation rules as a guideline. Once you understand it you can do it on the fly.

    6) To start the adventure, use a story hook: You are at x, doing y, and z happens. What do you do?

    7) Now, when you start playing, use the map as guideline only. Best forget the pre written story arc.

    8)Create encounters and spawn monsters on the fly, not as the map says, but as fiction demands. Do not worry about encounter balance. Use your GM kung fu to almost but not quite kill a few characters in the climactic battles. Do this by spawning more monsters and fictional positioning as required.

    Things to avoid in DW

    •Do not let them slog from room to room on a map as in classic RPGs. You will lose their interest.

    •Do not allow fights to become HP trimming exercises. Fights are supposed to be cinematic, not tactical. Focus on awesome action, not what the characters can’t do. Make rulings in favour of awesomeness, not realism or game balance.

    •Do not have any emotional bond to your prep. Be ready to fly by the seat of your pants.

  6. You don’t really convert adventures to DW from other systems like you do between other OSR games. In DW you ask the players lots of questions and build the setting and situation based on their answers. You can certainly draw from published modules for inspiration, but you have to be ready to abandon all of that if the fiction moves in another direction. And that will happen, as no one can predict what choices players will make when triggering moves.

  7. Tim Franzke

    What I mean is, 1) tactics are less important than cinematics and awesomeness. 2) It is very difficult to make true tactical decisions without some sort of simulation. The simulation level in DW is very low, therefore the tactical decisions available to the player are very few. The player can make a lot of narrativist decisions in DW though.

    Conversely, D&D 4th ed has a high simulation level, therefore many tactical decisions are available.

    So while there are tactical decisions to be made in DW, they are negligible compared to what is available in 4th ed.

    DW is not a tactical game. Period. If you try to play DW like 4th ed, it won’t work.

  8. 4E isn’t the only kind of tactical game one can have though.

    Ambushing, separating enemies, target priorities, hit&run tactics, spell useage…

    Totally no tactics in these fights.

    Cinematic awesome is one way to play; it would s in no way required.

  9. I’m with Tim; DW can be intensely tactical. It’s just not tactical in the same reliable way that 4e is. There’s very little procedural authority to defer to.

    Tactics in DW depend on working the fiction, setting yourself so that the likely outcomes (even on a miss) are stacked in your favor.  Or by avoiding the need to roll moves at all.  Doing so depends on everyone having the same (or close enough) vision of what’s going on, and having the conversational skills to work that out during play.  And that often manifests as “stuff that’s awesome” getting more slack or traction than “stuff that’s OK and realistic.” But it largely depends on your group.

    (Pedantic side note: 4e doesn’t do simulation for shite.  It gives you a reliable, robust, detailed, expansive, and generally fun set of rules, but the rules as written fail hard at simulating anything approximating reality.)

  10. Jeremy Strandberg

    I suppose we have different ideas of what a tactical game is. I am also a boardgamer, and what you describe as tactical play does not sound like tactical play at all, I would call it fictional positioning.

    You are right about the use of the word “simulation”: Chess is an intensely tactical game but does not simulate anything – it is abstract. But what it has is an internally coherent set of rules that allows you to make tactical decisions for predictable outcomes. Which is wat 4th ed also has.

    When I do X, Y happens predictably. So I can make decisions based on that rule.

    In DW it does not work like that. When I roll 7-9 or 6- ANYTHING can happen within the parameters of the fiction. It is up to the GM to decide what. So while I can make decisions regarding fictional positioning, DW really does not lend itself to much tactical decision making.

    Of course it is all relative. Dungeon World has a 100% more tactical decision making than Fiasco.

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