This week I’ve been reading some opinions on PbtA games in general, and what people think make them good and bad.

This week I’ve been reading some opinions on PbtA games in general, and what people think make them good and bad.

This week I’ve been reading some opinions on PbtA games in general, and what people think make them good and bad. It made me curious, what do people on this board think is the worst thing about Dungeon World? If you had to pick one thing that you’d avoid/change/get rid of what would it be.

37 thoughts on “This week I’ve been reading some opinions on PbtA games in general, and what people think make them good and bad.”

  1. I wish the game made a bigger deal out of Bonds. They’re based on Beliefs from Burning Wheel, they give you XP, and they’re meant to be intraparty storylines, but in my experience players don’t do much with them. So, I wish the game, somehow, made them stand out more.

    Also, Parley doesn’t pull very much weight as a social move, which can make complicated, messy, charged social drama hard-to-undoable in the system. That’s fine if you don’t want that kind of stuff in your D&D-style gaming, but if you do, you’re not entirely supported by the system.

  2. – I changed Parley into a more flexible system, driven by GM choice instead of player choice.

    – Hit points seem like a tacked on subsystem within the smoother PbtA engine. Conditions don’t really seem to do much, either.

    – I don’t really like many of the “heritage” limits, like racial restrictions on classes.

    – XP from Failed rolls easily overshadow any other source of XP, diminishing their presence in the game.

    – I really dislike the Fighter’ “shtick” of having a special weapon and little else.

    – The game seems incomplete without Perilous Wilds, especially for those of us who like a more sandbox environment.

    – It really needs a more serious discussion on handling monsters and combat encounters. Instincts and narrative permissions should have way more importance that hit dies and damage output.

  3. Overall I love DW. Though I do agree that Bonds don’t get used all that much. It does make players think about how their characters are connected, which is good as the game assumes everyone is a unified party, but not a lot gets done with them.

  4. The Bonds written on the sheets aren’t very good for completing them for some reason.

    Sometimes failure can feel like the gm has to come up with a “suddenly ogres” scenario especially with something like spout lore.

    The Druid shapeshifting move has a very weak failure to it probably compounding the powerfullness of the class. As a gm i struggle with druids failing and what to do a lot.

    Defy danger can easily be just DEX all the time and you have to really think about it for it not to be.

  5. Peeves are: Bonds and HP as above, the need for constant GM fiat calls (or table collaboration) to maintain monsters as threats, the way most advanced moves are combat-oriented, but the worst feature for me is: the cogitative load on the GM since the game quickly devolves to a series of defy danger rolls and hence a need to come up with 7-9 results with no support from the game (compare to the diversity of moves triggered in AW and the prompts they provide for the MC).

  6. james day, failed Spout Lore is easy. Reveal an Unwanted Truth. The wizard remembers that the creatures are poisonous or have acidic blood. The cleric remembers the temple was home of a death cult and is home of a vampire. What ever the DM had prepped just got tougher but the players are warned, and it flows fluidly with the fiction.

  7. Jim Sensenbrenner​ I guess I was using it as an example. I think the main problem is that the nature of dw is thst you roll because a move goes off which might not necessarily mean there is danger there.

    In another game some things i would rule as you don’t need to roll this since there is no danger to the roll. In dungeon world that is not the case which causes weird things where you as a gm have to creat failure out of thin air where there might not of been.

  8. Rolling because a move has been triggered, irregardless of​ whether danger is present, is the core of PbtA games. These are not “say yes or roll the dice” type games james day​.

    The GM does not “have to create failure out of thin air where there might not have been” on a 6-. The GM simply makes a move. It can be as hard or as soft as the situation or GM thinks it should be.

  9. Chris Stone-Bush​I get this is core but sometimes it can create wiggy situations like spout lore or wizards cast a spell move or things like that when the gm has to create danger.

    Sometimes i like that because it always creates adventure sometimes it feels weird to me.

    Again like the title says its a thing i sometimes see as a negative compared to other rpgs.

  10. Agree with hit points and bonds as weak spots. But my hangup remains have stats in addition to modifiers, for really no good reason beyond being an homage. They’re a nuisance to figure out, and then they have almost no use in play.

  11. Carl’s assertion about the homage stats is totally on point as far as I am concerned. Bonds are weak sauce. Beliefs from Burning Wheel are so much stronger and better defined. Parley is only okay… it could be better. So, I’m basically agreeing with a lot of what others are saying.

  12. Two for me, both of which have been stated above:

    Most of the bonds as written don’t lend themselves to resolution IMO. I always create my own bonds based on character and whatever is established about how the party met. This is especially apparent when a new player doesn’t really understand how it works and will only choose a bond that’s listed, and then never use it in play.

    Race options are also a sore spot for me. There are several times a race that isn’t listed might make good fiction, so I’ll work with my players (or GM) for a suitable race. I’m working the kinks out of a “Choose your race” move that is somewhat of a cross between how the Barbarian’s “Outsider” works and Apocalypse World’s stat highlighting. “Sure you can be a Goblin Paladin, now let’s figure out exactly what that means for our world.”

  13. Doubling down.

    Bonds: obviously an issue in the community. Probably why flags are so popular.

    Stats: wasted, calculations. Gives a d&d feel, but they can be ignored. Health can be calculated another way

  14. To me i kind of like the stats in that they make sure that you can’t get +3 or the bigger stats straight away. It takes about 2-3 levels before you can get a +3 and it means you peobably only have at least two +3s if you gun for them at level 10

  15. I am not a big fan of the hit points myself, try to emphasize the important of bonds, but my players see them on the sheet as plain and lastly. I have modified my stat gain, because getting to +3’s are way to easy.

    1)Modified Stats: So as an option my players can choose either a stat gain or an advanced move. I feel like in a world lore based, stats not increasing as often isn’t a problem. Specially when you start with a +2 and several +1’s. Which on 2d6 net u 7-9’s often and still good amount of 10+.

  16. Agree with a lot of the above, especially bonds. I love the idea, but the DW implementation is just bad.

    I’m surpised no one else mentioned this (as far as I see): Fronts. Although purely a GM thing, getting fronts ‘right’ makes keeping your story compelling and consistent a lot easier. That said, as they are explained in the manual its nearly impossible to really grasp initially (just see the many forum threads about fronts).

    Question to those mentioning HP: Why does this annoy you, and what would the alternative be?

  17. HP involves a lot of whiffing when rolling for damage – especially for characters with armour. In AW and those that use the Harm clock – it feels a lot more cinematic. As a GM you see someone roll 6- and say, okay, you take 1 harm. But their armour could cancel that right? Wrong – they have to roll for receiving Harm anyway, a bad result could mean the Harm goes through their armour.

    When someone shoots at you in AW, it’s always tense. That shot might get through, or something worse could happen. In DW, if you’re a Wizard and you’ve stacked 6 magic armour, you don’t give a shit when skeletons wail on you. You’re invulnerable. That’s why DW hit points are crap. It works at low level play. Later on they have to be ignored completely so you can still threaten the players. And then it’s like you’re ignoring all the bonuses that player has worked for because your mechanical options are crap.

    So yeh, HP is bad yo. DW is still cool and all but HP is definitely not.

  18. I think my biggest issue is a really simple fix honestly, I just want some loot tables. In a Dungeons and Dragons inspired game I feel loot tables should be there for all the times when players are like “Where mah gold yo!”

  19. OMG the stun tag/stun damage. Kill it with fire.

    I really really wish H&S wasn’t so focused on “deal damage,” and that it handled more fictional inputs and outputs. Likewise, I wish there was more clarity regarding when H&S triggered vs when it did not, and what it looks like when it does not trigger.

    It bugs me that the monsters listed in the book largely do not appear to have been built using the monster creation guidelines.

    Aid (and to a lesser extent, Interfere) have never felt right to me.

    I’d like a way to smoothly abstract battles, similar to how AW lets you use basically the same moves and harm scales for individual combat or for gang warfare.

    Agree with a lot of what others have said: bonds (especially the ones provided) work pretty poorly in play; fronts are pretty clumsy and poorly explained; Parley could use an overhaul.

  20. Jeremy Strandberg Aid / Interfere is actually a very important tool in maintaining a civil table. If another player keeps talking over others you can relegate their input to Aid / Interfere instead of starting a new move.You can also handle players acting against one another. As much as one can insist “play nice” – handing the situation mechanically keeps people immersed in the scene instead of bringing the game to a halt. It allows players to explore toxic behaviour without actually being toxic themselves.

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