I’m about to start running a Dungeon World game soon and setting the game in a city seems to be a popular opinion.

I’m about to start running a Dungeon World game soon and setting the game in a city seems to be a popular opinion.

I’m about to start running a Dungeon World game soon and setting the game in a city seems to be a popular opinion. I only used the core book previously but we’re using Class Warfare and possibly beasties from the recent Dungeon World Bundle of Holding. As I’m exploring new options, I was wondering if there are any books about city-based campaigns or any adventures people know of which are cool. Also I kind of want to give my group a hero’s tavern to customise and tinker with kind of like the Normandy in Mass Effect or Skyhold in Dragon Age. Are there any systems for this out there or shall I just hack my own?

17 thoughts on “I’m about to start running a Dungeon World game soon and setting the game in a city seems to be a popular opinion.”

  1. The Planarch Codex has a system for a fantastical living city which I really like. Probably not what you’re looking for but it might be useful to look at.

  2. I’d call the tavern a steading, and use the rules in the core book as a start. That might work. I’m not sure about what kind of customization detailing that’ll give you, offhand.

  3. The best experiences in city-based DW games are where I’ve used Planarch Codex to create a city with a strange twist; some universal law we take for granted just doesn’t work right there.

    (I had a go at something similar in Alabaster and Old Rope, which you can download here for free: https://www.patreon.com/posts/alabaster-old-3779989)

    If you’re looking for something less esoteric, maybe just a table or three you can roll on in a pinch, Vornheim might be useful for you. I love the rules for making up neighbourhood maps on the fly, for example.

    RE the Home base: If I was in your shoes, I’d throw the players straight into the action for the first session. While they’re making their characters you could ask a few questions: “Do you have a base? How’d you get it? Why’s it safe? Who else knows about it?” Depending on the answers (and interest) you could prep a couple of relevant custom moves for the 2nd session onwards.

  4. Our game is based in a city, which I’ve largely made up as we go along.  I think the important things are to have a bunch of factions, some of which you can name ahead of time and some which will appear as the game goes along, several neighbourhoods with names, and a big sheet of names ready to hand out to NPCs.  Name everyone, scribble notes (“surly soup cook”, “friendly corrupt fight promoter”), and re-introduce the interesting ones.

    Second or thirded Planarch and Vornheim, which are both weirder than what I prefer to use, but the techniques are good.

  5. I’ve had a very quick look for the Planarch Codex and can’t find where to buy the PDF. The few images I saw from a Google search look like interesting things could be harvested from it.

    My current plan is:

    Session One: Action, with only a few questions in character creation to establish things which are in the city.

    Session Two: We all draw the city, add factions and the like. We’ll have fixed elements from session one noted down whenever anyone mentions a location and here we’ll give them a fixed abode.

    Session Three: We add some history to it.

    Using the HQ as a steadying is a good idea and just scaling things from a world to a city could work. This is the kind of place so large that whole neighbourhoods have been abandoned or built over so there’s a lot to discover. I may even do a quick time jump between sessions one and two, then see how they got the tavern with some questions and/or flashbacks. This has given me a lot to think on, so thanks.

  6. Creative juices are flowing, I love running city adventures!

    Guilds, factions, gangs and cultists. All of these are critical. When you draw your map, using colored zones to depict who controls each area is great. This way, even the shops and smithies can side with one or the other.

    I’d ask the players if there is a strong central government too. Perhaps the gangs/guilds/cults are fighting to fill a power gap?

    So so so many possibilities!

    I hope you all have fun.

  7. For the factions and stuff in the city I’d probably go with the Front mechanic for keeping track of that, although it doesn’t really handle how factions interact very well, as all the Grim Portents are separate. If you want a strong focus on Factions in your city you might consider the faction system from Stars Without Number, which would need a reskin for the assets seeing as it’s a scifi-themed game, but that would probably be pretty easy to do, and I’m pretty sure some other people have done it. Seeing as the faction turn system is pretty much a game unto itself it could probably be integrated into DW without much difficulty.

    For the city itself I think the Region system for The Perilous Wilds would really work pretty great. Have the city divided into differently-themed Regions, have a basic idea of the feel of each region and where they interact and connect, and write up some appropriate Dangers and Discoveries for each. I find it’s a great way to handle all the things I want to put in a campaign without having to put it somewhere specific on a map and rely on the players stumbling across it by chance – it’s a great mix between prep and playing to find out what happens. Of course it’s built for wilderness rather than city exploration, so some of the random tables that can be used to generate Dangers and Disvoeries on the fly might not be useful, or should at least be tweaked to your needs, but the basic structure could be great for a city-based campaign I think. Thoughts?

  8. Use neighbourhoods instead of drawing a lot of streets, i definitely recommend vornheim for making streets on the fly. In these neighbourhoods have a distinct feel and a place of interest or monument everyone knows about.

    Use fronts for factions like normal, i would also give your players some contacts that may know one faction or connected to one faction.

  9. It is possible to have a faction without a front: for example the faction of the current bosses might only have the agenda “keep everything like it is right now”. Status-Quo and Good-Guy factions don’t have Impending Dooms, therefore no Front.

  10. I would actually go opposite to that, i feel they shoukd all have fronts they just don’t all need to be impending dooms. Shows that the city and the factions are going on without the pcs and that they all have goals of some sort

  11. Given that I want the scale of this city to be stupidly big I think factions having fronts only when dramatically relevant may fit. Some might be ticking in the background while others are more blatant, but not all will be visibly doing things all the time. Not at first, at least.

  12. james day, that’s also defensible.  There’s no correct answers to these questions, there’s only what’s helpful and fun at the table, within the amount of time you want to spend doing prep.

  13. Just in case people were curious about the Planarch Codex, I note it’s just been added to the current Bundle of Holding.

    Tonight is the first session of Dungeon World: Exodus

    What mysteries lurk in the dark alleyways of Exodus?

    Who are the moon-masked cultists and what do they want?

    We’ll find out tonight…

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