Does anyone know of an article somewhere that talks about the origin of Dungeon World?

Does anyone know of an article somewhere that talks about the origin of Dungeon World?

Does anyone know of an article somewhere that talks about the origin of Dungeon World?

I’m superficially aware that Tony Dowler was the author behind Apocalypse D&D, but I have no idea how Sage and Adam got involved, and became the driving force behind the game. It would also be cool to hear about the different versions of DW before the current CC text.

It seems like it could be a story worth telling.

10 thoughts on “Does anyone know of an article somewhere that talks about the origin of Dungeon World?”

  1. Watch a few of Adams videos and I think you will get the story.

    Basically he wanted to play d&d with his friends but they had trouble with all the modifiers and math they had to do. So he started to make a stripped back version. Apocalypse world happened and so thought that might be a good start. Friends said hey this seems like a good game you should publish. Then they spent years honing it to publish it, playtesting eith their friends who seem to be cool as they playtest new games all the time.

    I think thats the story, maybe people can see which videos he divulges aome of this information in…

  2. Thanks, Jeremy Strandberg. I was actually on that track already, I just wondered if maybe anyone had written some kind of synopsis already.

    It’s surprising that Tony Dowler doesn’t get a more prominent mention in the book credits, and none of this is mentioned in the book’s introduction. He is mentioned under “Appendix 1: Influences”, though, so it’s not like anyone was denying him his brainchild.

  3. james day, I’ve heard a version of that before, but that doesn’t account for Tony Dowler’s role in the origin of the game. And it’s a bit “neat”. It’s a good intro to the impetus for Dungeon World, but experience tells me that designing anything complex, and collaborating with other creatives, is a messy process, even when it goes well.

    Dungeon World went well: It’s an awesome creation. But as someone interested in history and design, it would be cool to hear more about the creative process.

    As Jeremy Strandberg points out, that will require some homework! I reckon I’ll report back if I synthesize anything interesting from the excavations. 😉

  4. Hmm. I seem to recall some clarification from Sage and Adam when they first made DW Hack (the pre-Red Book) public, about how they were going a different direction from Tony and why that was. I think that was on the Barf Firth forum, but it might have been in the original DW Hack document. I’ll see if I can find it when I’m at a computer.

  5. This thread right seems to show what happened:

    Looks like:

    * June 26, 2010: Tony publishes the Apocalypse D&D (3.0) version to the Barf Forth forums. Given that it’s flagged as the 3.0 version, that implies he’d been playing it and working on it for a while. Sage and Adam were already familiar with it at that time. Adam made the character sheet linked from that thread (no longer available).

    * July 11, 2010: Tony posts this “Where is this hack going?” topic on Barf Forth. He talks about expanding it into a full set of rules, and the need for a name change. John Harper suggests “Dungeon World.”

    * Aug 4, 2010: In the Apocalypse World D&D post, Sage posts a link to the earliest version of Dungeon World that I know of. (Alas, I don’t have a copy of it anymore and the links are dead.) Sage says in that post: “_I have a new version of the rules with lots of input from Tony and Adam_”. Tony then says: “_Sage, your rules are superb. I recommend these to anyone who wants to play Apocalypse D&D.

    Same date: Sage also posts on the “Where is this hack going?” thread that he votes for Dungeon World as the name. “_In fact, I vote for it so hard, I made a new version of the rules and just called them Dungeon World. 🙂

    * Aug 16, 2010: In the “Where is this hack going?” thread, Tony says “_I’m currently working on the assumption that Dungeon World is a Sage LaTorra game, but I’m planning to steal it back eventually. 🙂

    * Jan 7, 2011: In the “Dedicated Forums” thread ( ) , Sage asks Vincent: “_Could the Apocalypse D&D forum be renamed to ‘_Dungeon World_’ and have me added as a moderator? Tony and I have talked about it, and DW is pretty much just the continuation of ApocD&D, which Tony isn’t working on at the moment.

    Looking at Tony’s Apocalypse D&D 3.0 documents, and comparing it to the DW we have now, they’re clearly very different games. The earliest copy of DW I have is from Sept 2010 (here: ), and you can already see significant differences.

    You can also see clear lines of influence, like the names for most of the moves (Discern Realities, Spout Lore, Defy Danger) and even some of the move text (Bend Bars/Lift Gates is still fundamentally the same as Tony’s version).

    But to me, the story basically looks like: Tony started it, got the ball rolling. Sage and Adam were involved early on, and took it and ran with it. Tony stepped back. And that was that.

    Oh, and here’s the text I was thinking of, from the DW Hack document in Sept 2010: “_The first Apocalypse World/Dungeons and Dragons hybrid was Tony Dowler’s Apocalypse D&D_. This is a continuation

    of Tony’s great ideas to a bigger game.” – Apocalypse D&D Rules

  6. Thank you, Jeremy!

    I was poring over the earliest threads today, including some you mentioned, but I hadn’t pieced it all together yet. didn’t archive Sage’s Dungeon World page until 15 Aug 2010, but you can download the 15 August version of Dungeon World here:
    It’s probably the same version Sage posted 11 days earlier, more or less. And comparing its checksum to the September version also captured by, I can see that the August and September versions were identical.

  7. The Walking Eye podcast did an interview with Sage and Adam back in 2012 where they discuss some of the history of building the game, too.

    Edit: Ok, that’s interesting. If you click on that link, you get a 403 Forbidden, but if you copy-and-paste the URL into your browser you get the page. It seems their website doesn’t like deep-linking directly to episodes, presumably based on the referrer header of the request. Anyway, if you get a Forbidden on the link, just click in your browser’s location bar which contains the URL and hit return to load the page.

Comments are closed.