I’m building new compendium classes that deal with specific problems my players and I are having with Dungeon World.

I’m building new compendium classes that deal with specific problems my players and I are having with Dungeon World.

I’m building new compendium classes that deal with specific problems my players and I are having with Dungeon World.

• Sometimes running a one-player, one-GM session

• A D&D veteran displeased with the low selection of spells

• The level 10 cap

• The lack of a mechanical “critical hit” on a 12+

I’m trying to stay as close to the source material as possible. The Wanderer is an expansion of the official Bearer compendium class. Official Cleric spells are based directly on D&D, and the Acolyte compendium class expands upon that using the same source.


For the one-player situation, there are a number of issues: bonds, death, variety of moves and healing. I tried out the Legacy Weapon Playbook, and while its concepts are good, its mechanics really bog down the game in practice. What surprises me is that the Bearer Compendium Class that comes with the official kit already does a good job of covering these issues. It allows the player to bond with a companion, it helps to avoid death and it also provides healing. What’s missing is access to a more varied list of moves, so I’m building a Wanderer Compendium Class to fill in that missing piece. However, I’m doing something a little different, as the starting move of this class leads directly into the Bearer class.

When you enter a dungeon alone, the next time you level up you may choose this move:

Faint Whispers

Your lack of company in the silent depths has made you susceptible to faint whispers of an intelligent weapon. The GM will lead you to it.

It might seem a little cheap, but I want it to be clear that taking the Bearer class really improves one-on-one play. The rest of the moves for Wanderer will cover other problems that come up in one-on-one play, such as lack of move variety. What other problems do you think come up in one-on-one play?


I’m also working on an expansion of Cleric spells for one of my players. As most Cleric spells are directly derived from Dungeons & Dragons anyway, I’m going through the D&D SRD and picking interesting spells to create a second spell book.


When a character refuses to retire from adventure, they can become this class. This one is really difficult, since there are many mechanical problems leveling beyond 10: too many moves, too high stats, players getting bored of their set of moves. My current idea is a compendium class that allows the players to break level cap, but with a steep cost: they start gaining permanent debilities, forgetting moves, etc. Basically, it is what happens when warriors continue fighting past their prime. I’m not sure if this is the right approach or not, and I’m also thinking about going the other direction and giving god-like powers to the players.


The conceptual opposite of the Defiant Old-timer. When a character absorbs the essence of a fallen god, they become a nigh-unstoppable being themselves. Drawing upon DC’s Dr. Manhattan, high-concept novels like CUSP, and movies like Her and Lucy, the drawback to counterbalance this class will be a progressively worsening disconnection between godly pursuits and the adventurer’s quest. Although extremely powerful, Transcendant will become increasingly aloof and unhelpful to other characters until, at one point, they will ascend into the divine realm and take their place as one of the deities. To the Transcendant, there are far more important matters in the multiverse across infinite time and space than wasting time with a ragtag group of heroes.


Another budding concept that allows the characters to make and name their own special attack. When they Hack and Slash on a 12+, they can choose to learn their special attack or use one they already learned. Basically, this class allows characters to come up with “super moves” (made using a combination of properties like Signature Weapon) that occasionally activates.

What do you guys think? These will be pretty massive undertakings, even though they are just compendium classes. Should I go through with them?

13 thoughts on “I’m building new compendium classes that deal with specific problems my players and I are having with Dungeon World.”

  1. I would recommend checking out the Delver and Explorer compendium classes. The Explorer one gives you a patron(s) who fund your quests and you bring them treasures and knowledge in return.

    The Delver is an expert dungeoneer who knows his way round a labrynth and has all sorts of cool spelunking tricks up his sleeve.

  2. Commenting to follow, but will also plug a Cypher System game by a designer I respect, Bruce Cordell (from 2nd/3rd ed. D&D Psionics fame) “Gods of the Fall”. Some of my fondest RPG memories are from a solo PC game where the character(s — I had a friendly NPC I was a “big fan” of, but turned against the PC around 15th level for a brief period…) went from lvl 1 to using the 3.5e Epic book rules to lvl 22-23 or so (it was REALLY hard for me as the DM to present challenges, especially as we were using broken 3.0 psionics rules! — sorry Bruce!)

  3. The common pit-fall I keep seeing in one-on-one compendiums:

    The purpose of moves is to change how the character effects their will in the fiction, not whether they get to effect their will at all. Most of the compendiums seem to focus on replacing party-like survivability, and do so by consuming slots that should have been used for the “how you effect things” moves.

    As such, I prefer other solutions – henchmen if your fiction needs a party, a focus on fiction that doesn’t need parties, etc. Mostly a combination of those two.

  4. Agree with J Stein​​​​​. Use more hierlings. Even a CC that allows you to better command them, similar to the Ranger class and his pet.

    As for going 10+ levels, not an easy task. D&D is easy to exceed level caps because you just add more +1’s. DW on the other hand, you cant. The difference that i see needed is a change in the way the players and the world see the heros. Even just adding tags like Divine, Demonic, Immortal, Lightning Reflexes, Iron Skin, and Earth Shaking can open up fictional possibilities that may allow players to perform actions without rolling, or allow the players to perform actions they couldn’t have before and roll for an associated move. No more bonuses. No more added moves. Just fictional tags.

    And critical hits. I think special “powers” or added tags would be cool.


    More on 10+ levels. The characters are very experienced by this point. Lowly battles don’t add anything new. Instead of XP. Id have them complete objectives that grant them the new tags. Drink that demons blood, Bath in the blessed pool of Sahara, sleep under the earth for 3 years. That kind of stuff.

  5. AW has an advance that unlocks improved versions of moves that trigger on a 10+. It might be worth checking there for ideas. The moves are restricted to later advances, which could also help solve your level 10+ problem.

  6. Joshua Faller, yes it could! My son used Ritual in a couple different sessions to create new spells. It came about when he asked if he would need to do a ritual every time he wanted to summon a tornado. I told him he would, but he could also use a ritual as experimentaion to learn “Tornado” spell… he loved it!

  7. Joshua Faller Ritual is an amazing move that, is criminally underused.

    Dawit Thepchatree How long did it take your character to hit level 10, and why are they unwilling to retire / take an apprentice?

  8. There are a variety of people in our group. Complete newbies, those with some D&D experience, and a grizzled D&D veteran who balks at most of DW rules while continuing to play, because full-on D&D is too much of a time commitment for all of us. Working on these compendium classes is my attempt at pleasing everyone, but I honestly think DW as-is is strong enough on its own.

    That said, a dash of Grim World did enhance the experience tremendously though.

  9. Dawit Thepchatree what dash of grin world did yoy use and how did it improve the game. (I also own grim world and utilizes messy among other things).

  10. meh, change job class and instead of gaining more power they can take another job type and begin from lvl 1 but still have access to their first tier abilities. you could treat the first tier as and apprenticeship lvl and now the real fun begins. you could take a Cleric and have them become a priest class that gains a few different class benefits and the cleric spells remain the same same, but now provide some extra push, like your cure wounds would have the normal hit points based off the roll but adds a heal over time dot and you could buff it for a 1d4 for each turn. just saying its an idea. but if used right you could have your players staying in character but begin to develop them more as they progress through the story. it would also allow you to develop stronger mobs to fight them as well as introduce enemies that they fight who them their selves lvl and become stronger.

    oooh, turn undead could change into a certain number of undead become holy undead and will fight along side you as warriors of light for a certain amount of turns before returning to other side. oh that just sounds cool…make it Dawit, make it! then post how it went 🙂

    hope this was ok.

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