Has anyone ever tried a DW game that is more exploration-based and relatively light on combat?

Has anyone ever tried a DW game that is more exploration-based and relatively light on combat?

Has anyone ever tried a DW game that is more exploration-based and relatively light on combat? As much as I enjoy PbtA, I think that the exploration part of DW is somewhat lacking. Are there any investigation subsystems from other PbtA games that could be hacked in?

9 thoughts on “Has anyone ever tried a DW game that is more exploration-based and relatively light on combat?”

  1. Have you taken a look at Inverse World? I think it gives you lots of good instruments to do exploration right. Chiefly, this rests on the fact that all playbooks have mobility moves of one type or the other, to get to places, and there are ‘Hazards’ (if I remember the nomenclature correctly), which are basically dangerous environmental conditions that are handled like monsters, so they have a primary “instinct” (though they don’t need to be alive and have a will/intelligence), and a list of moves like monster moves…

  2. I wouldn’t go as far as Randy, honestly. I think it’s possible to do exploration in an interesting way, provided you introduce some small changes. I have not seen investigation and mistery handled well by any PbtA game, so far (but then again, it’s exceedingly difficult to do well in other game systems, too)

  3. As Nathan Roberts intimates, Perilous Journeys is my attempt to integrate wilderness exploration into Dungeon World, which mainly consists of altering and expanding the travel moves, but in my approach to encounter generation I specifically put more emphasis on discovery than fighting monsters. My goal is to make the wilderness a mysterious and interesting place to explore in its own right, instead of a succession of combat encounters.

    An early draft can be had here:


    My group right now is playtesting a hack that uses these wilderness exploration rules to approximate an OD&D hexcrawl, where the emphasis is on retrieving treasure, and fighting is deadly. As a result, it’s “light on combat” in the sense that avoiding or circumventing the monsters is more desirable (and often more fun) than facing them head-on.

    As far as investigation goes, I ran a *World Call of Cthulhu hack that worked really well, but I was using published material, not generating the mystery on the fly.

  4. Yes.  Did a Pirate based game with Inverse World classes that has had almost no traditional dungeons and some sessions without combat at all.

    I think it works better with strong, interesting bonds at the start and with Drives to do more varied stuff, as opposed to the Alignment moves.  In other words, look at the Inverse World classes; they may take some adapting for more traditional settings but they are a lot of fun overall.

    To stay in the spirit of exploration, I think it’s important to ask the players about where their characters have been and their connections to the world.

    Having interesting NPCs tied to specific places was helpful.

    I am not really a fan of how Undertake a Perilous journey works out in play and would recommend presenting travel obstacles (storms, impassable terrain, and so on) as encounters in their own right so the players can decide how to tackle the problems.  Undertake a Perilous Journey has such rigidly defined consequences that it rarely feels as interesting as simply throwing a flash flood or something else at the players and seeing what they do.

    Monster of the Week has some decent Investigative moves, but I also found that if your players are really interested in figuring out what’s going on under the surface they’ll start breaking out Discern Realities.  A lot!  This is fine, so try to encourage them with interesting responses.

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