Hello all!

Hello all!

Hello all!

I’m looking for advice on how to create a balanced and interesting class in DW. I have done some cursory research and haven’t found a video or a post about it. I’m also aware that ultimately in order to find out if a class is both balanced and fun you have to play test the bananas out of it, but I’m looking for something that provides a good place to start.



20 thoughts on “Hello all!”

  1. Christopher Meid This definitely looks like the type of information that I’m looking for. However, I was hoping to find something that was either free or cheaper than the base system.

  2. Start with a fictional theme. What does your class do that existing classes don’t, or that the existing classes are a poor fit? Now, why and how do they do it?

  3. Interestingly enough, I think the game is hard to break if you stick to the basic move structure. I take the stance as DM, if I am dubious about a move, that I will just wait and make any failures equal and opposite in force to the move. In other words, if your move allows you to do something really powerful, I assume it gives me the right to make failure catastrophic in equal measure. Where I think playbooks get broken is when their creators create new rules or too casually award +1’s for things (like racial abilities, or weapons, or increase or stack bonuses).

  4. Well, and awarding too many moves or moves that seem to destroy the notion of specializing. For instance, I could make a Dungeoneer playbook that has the trap moves of a thief, the basic useful spells of a wizard, the weapon stuff of a fighter, and the healing power of a cleric. (Even then, the book might not be broken. But it seems counter to the idea of the game.)

  5. Spencer Sirotak – class balance isn’t really a thing in Dungeon World the way it is in many other systems.  A well-designed playbook isn’t “equally balanced” against other playbooks in any discrete terms.

    Instead, think about these things:

    What is the playbook’s theme, and how is it different from others? – your playbook should have its own strengths, without undermining any other playbooks at your table.

    Are the moves consistent with the theme? – your playbook should include moves that influence the fiction with that theme.

    Do the moves encourage “playing to find out what happens?” –  The moves should NOT generally let the player dictate what happens, when it is interesting to let the dice and/or other players provide input.

    Is this fun for the whole group? – In DW, it is explicitly the job of each player, including but not only the GM, to be mindful of the “fun” at the table.  If your playbook is well designed, it will leave a lot of room for the other players, including the GM, to have input on the fiction.

    All that said, i second Christopher Meid ‘s suggestion.  Reading Class Warfare gave me a much better understanding of how to craft a class and write custom moves.  I don’t actually use the methodology laid out in Class Warfare to build playbooks, but reading the book helped me see the building blocks behind good playbook/move construction.

  6. Andrew Fish Lots of good advice thanks! I think that this in combination with the other information is a pretty good starting point. and provides some quality “questions” to answer when building a class and it’s moves.

  7. Andrew Fish This “Is this fun for the whole group?” is SO MUCH BETTER as a question than “Is it balanced?” It accomplishes the same thing without the pretend math and endless bickering over balance. 

  8. Ray Otus after an embarrassing number of years spent competing against my friends, both fellow player characters and the GMs i’ve played with, it took PbtA to help me realize that my real goal should be: to have fun with them!  Hell, i wouldn’t have even agreed i was competing with them before i took the step into DW and looked back.

    I no longer want to hit the hardest or save the day.  I mean, sure, some times i want my turn to shine; but really i want to be at a table where we’re all having fun watching something interesting happen!

  9. Don’t completely dismiss notions of balance. Folks often use the word to allude to “things that are too powerful.” You’ll mostly avoid that if you if follow Andrew Fish’s advice, but there are other types of balance to consider. You don’t want to make moves that players never take, or that they take and never use, or (worst) that they regret taking.

    Ask yourself the following about any given move:

    How is this better/different than a basic move? If the trigger and range of outcomes are not noticeably different than Defy Danger… ask yourself whether it should really be a move I have to “buy” when I level up. Or, think about how you can make the move better/more interesting/different than a straight Defy Danger, but only in specific (thematically appropriate) circumstances.

    If this where your character, would YOU ever choose that move? Would you USE it? It’s really easy to accidentally make “filler” moves, ones that seem thematically appropriate but that wouldn’t actually be that useful. Maybe you had an idea for a slick name or mechanic, but the fictional situation it would apply to is so limited that it’ll never come up.

    If it’s similar to other moves, is it objectively better or worse? Should it be? For example, there’s a move in Class Warfare for the Sage that’s something like “when a PC comes to you for advice and you give it, they get +1 to act on the answer; at the end of the session, if anyone acted on your advice, mark XP.” Which is almost identical to the Wizard’s Know It All move. The only difference is that Know It All gives you XP each time someone first acts on your advice; Sage Advice is only 1/session. Why the difference? I don’t know, but if I was the Sage and I saw the Wizard’s move, I’d feel like I got ripped off.

    There’s a lot more to it, but those are three “checks” I find myself doing with my own playbooks.

  10. Jeremy Strandberg Great tips. I don’t think of that as “balance,” but that’s just semantics anyway. Your points are excellent. I think with DW it’s always important to look for existing stuff you can re-use before you create something new, unless it’s something like a custom move for a monster or location that is ephemeral. 

  11. Great points Jeremy Strandberg!  

    I find myself interpreting questions about “balance” as being a comparison against other playbooks, but i like the view of moves balanced against each other within the “real estate” of the playbook.  

    This has broadened my thinking about moves and playbooks.  thank you!

    One thing i like about DW is that i find myself playing-in-the-moment, enjoying my character throughout the play.  In previous systems, i would usually find myself checking off boxes on a list, gathering attributes to eventually build the character i intended to play all along.

  12. Echo what others have said, but also to add: there is a mathematical “balance” to DW, and it can be broken. For example, if—after adding your stat and bonuses and stuff—you add, say, +2 to your roll, works great; however, if you are adding +10, you are way off the deep end, never failing and sucking the fun out of the game. Generally, if players are adding more than +3 a lot in your game, something is probably wrong. This is why nearly anything in a move is better than “take +1” stuff.

  13. Lester Ward Yeah there is definitely a mathematical balance to the bonuses to rolls and the results of those rolls. Mostly what you said, but also a +4 makes your odds of failing a roll extremely low, and anything beyond +4 it becomes impossible to fail a roll.  

  14. Norbert G. Matausch I understand that. Making a new playbook really takes both language and logic skills. Making new classes for other games takes more logic and math skills. Crafting a good move is akin to writing a poem. You have to keep revising and refining the words, especially in choices with lists (hold X), to make them brief, clear, and evocative. 

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