17 thoughts on “How do you describe DW to people to ACTUALLY have them understand that it’s different from DND?”

  1. Just off the top of my head, I start with something like, “It feels like D&D, but the mechanics do their best to get out of the way. No initiative, no counting squares for movement and ranges, and the core roll is 2d6, a bell curve, therefore scientifically(tm) more fun”

  2. “It’s like D&D, except—you know how in D&D, if everyone rolls poorly, literally nothing might happen for long periods of time? In Dungeon World, you never have a turn where nothing happens.”

    Or I just send them the 16 HP dragon story. (Only one person I sent it to ever said “whatever, this could happen in D&D,” and he is a dork.)

  3. If it’s a person that has never heard of roleplaying I’ll just say “It’s akin to dnd.” For people who do have some sort of base knowledge on the subject I say “It’s storytelling the game with everything being narrative driven, and the GM is just ‘that guy’ who leans in and says “but did you?” when you talk about how you did something awesome.”

  4. “It’s totally the same as D&D. It just takes advantage of recent developments in RPG design to make the game more engaging and more player-focused.”

  5. Jason Tocci I like what your saying here. I think the appeal for me in DW as a GM/PC is that there is no binary success. My key points are this:

    -Its not a board game

    -Your turns don’t take 45 minutes

    -You actually have control to shape a world

    -RPGs say ‘You can do anything’, this game means it

    -You can play RIGHT NOW

    I like what Jason adds. Your turn never means nothing.

  6. DW is quite literally the opposite from D&D. In D&D, the DM has free reign to do whatever they want. In DW, the GM must follow a strict set of rules (not guidelines) that govern how the game is supposed to be played.

    In the book, DW explicitly forbids some ways that D&D is typically played:

    • Do not challenge players to solve a complex trap.

    • Do not have them explore a finely-crafted setting.

    • Do not tell a planned-out story.

    • Do not try to beat the players by testing their ability.

    • Do not presume their actions and allow nothing to happen when they make wrong decisions.

    My group has gone through all of these don’ts already, with disastrous results. Dungeon World’s GM rules are not there to encourage a better style of play; the moves actually interfere with D&D’s approach, since they force everyone to take the story in a different direction almost every time the dice is rolled.

    In essence, D&D is a puzzle game. You use strategy and observation to figure out how to crack the puzzle and get to the predetermined ending. Yes, it can be played as a story game, but unless the GM is spectacular, the mechanics will get in the way of the story.

    In contrast, DW is a story game. Each time the dice is rolled, it is a potential branch in the story, one that is partially told by the player instead of the GM. There are a multitude of possible endings to the story, depending on how the players roll, how they react to those rolls, and how the GM reacts to the rolls. In this game, the challenge is not strategy, it is creativity. Everyone is working together to build an incredible, memorable story, and the game is forcing us to do so with each and every dice roll, or even lack thereof (many actions do not trigger the 2d6 roll, like the surprise attack).

    Even epic boss fights in DW is forcing everyone to be creative. Done right, the GM must set it up so that the mechanics matter less than the fiction. The dragon cannot be attacked directly unless certain fiction-based conditions are met. This dragon will then force players to become creative. With their meager tools in their hands, how will they bring down this colossal beast? Can they even hope to do so? In a sense, it’s actually harder than D&D, since a dragon is just a bigger ball of stats with some clever strategic abilities. It doesn’t matter how much damage the Fighter can do if they can’t find a way to reach a flying dragon.

    This is what I love about DW and PbtA games. It is a completely different way to play a game. It’s more engaging. It’s more challenging in a way that most conventional RPGs cannot substitute. And, I daresay, it is more fun.

  7. Remember when you first played D&D as a kid, and it was all possibilities and cool ideas and just filled with awesome? And then you got more and more into the rules, and learned to play it “right,” and the magic sort of went away.

    This is like before all that. It’s like playing D&D when you were a kid.

    It’s magic.

  8. Everything said here: yes. Also, it’s a collaborative game – be prepared to answer questions, and have the answers influence the world around the characters!

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