It’s more of an Apocalypse World hack than a DW hack at this point, but I figure there’s probably an overlap of the…

It’s more of an Apocalypse World hack than a DW hack at this point, but I figure there’s probably an overlap of the…

It’s more of an Apocalypse World hack than a DW hack at this point, but I figure there’s probably an overlap of the kind of people interested in this sort of thing, and it was the amazingness of what is Dungeon World that inspired me to make it, so I’ll link over to the posts there.

Long story short, Adventure World is a currently “closed beta” game that I will hopefully be making “open beta” pretty soon. It’s about telling stories about disparate bands of heroes learning to resolve their differences to achieve their dreams. The archetypes are fundamental, resonant fantasy tropes like the Hero, the Scoundrel, and the Sage. 

Here’s a link over to the *w community posts:

And here’s a summary of six straight days of playtesting:

I’ve been struggling with coming up with a name for a basic move for my *W fantasy hack, to the point where I am now…

I’ve been struggling with coming up with a name for a basic move for my *W fantasy hack, to the point where I am now…

I’ve been struggling with coming up with a name for a basic move for my *W fantasy hack, to the point where I am now approaching the wonderful creativity of the Dungeon World hackers for help. What would you guys call this?

When you tamper with forces beyond your understanding, roll+MAGIC.  *On a 10+, the results are useful to you, though not necessarily what you expected. *On a 7-9, you get much more than you bargained for. The GM will tell you how.

A friend of mine is playing the Mage in one of our games, but his character sheet has the version where the…

A friend of mine is playing the Mage in one of our games, but his character sheet has the version where the…

A friend of mine is playing the Mage in one of our games, but his character sheet has the version where the alignment of your focus only makes it so that the maximum bonus is +1. I recall there being a version going around where an unaligned spell has the GM pick the consequences, and an aligned spell lets you pick instead. However, I can’t seem to find this version anywhere. Does anybody know where I could find it?

Play Report, part II

Play Report, part II

Play Report, part II

This was supposed to go up earlier, but then I got unexpectedly roped into what else but GMing two more sessions of Dungeon World for a different group of friends. So, expect more reports later, I suppose! Doing all of this playing back-to-back has been teaching me a lot about what I need to improve on.

To start, the previous cast, and a quick recap:

Abolished – the human fighter

Puck – the halfling druid

Baldric – the human bard

Foldpack the Brave – the human paladin

Our heroes, trapped in the fortress of a flame demon, deep within a Hell Dimension, just opened the door to the expansive courtyard of the fortress. Behind this door was what unexpectedly became the “boss room”, thanks to surprisingly high results from my rolling for the Dungeons As Monsters rules.

For this session, we were adding a fifth PC, Siegfried, the Elven Wizard. After establishing that he had already been acquainted with some of our heroes earlier, Siegfried was worked in smoothly by making him one of the four people chained up to the pillars around a summoning circle in a massive courtyard. These pillars crackled with energy to create a protective ring around the circle. Standing around were a handful of cultists, the High Priest from before, and another demon of the type encountered previously in the prison.

Fighting ensued, including some amazing antics involving the difficulties of remaining mounted on a mammoth-form druid as it charges. The priest was now using some sort of staff capable of creating a scythe blade of dark red energy, but the new armor-piercing magic missiles of the Wizard made short work of his previously impenetrable shield, letting the party discover that the staff was capable of producing any blade imaginable for the low cost of 1 HP, completely ignored armor with its attacks, and was capable of dealing +1d6 damage for another HP each attack. 

On the other end of the battlefield, Foldpack dueled the demon as well as several of the cultists. He should’ve made short work of all of them, but a sudden grab by the demon resulted in the Paladin getting trapped in the ritual circle just as whatever magic was powering it was at its peak. A this point I revealed that the Darkness that followed Foldpack was actually the fire demon himself, trapped within the Paladin’s body  (he’s named after a take-out box: get it? [rimshot]). Suddenly the party was facing down a demon two-and-a-half times as large as a human, wielding a molten flail with a head a meter in diameter, and completely covered in fire.

In the ensuing battle, Foldpack was continuously beaten and battered down to only 6 hit points, with all the Bard’s attempts to heal him getting interrupted by the dark magic lingering in the area. As the non-fire-immune members of the party held back and tried to protect the Wizard as he launched magic missiles. Holding the staff from the high priest, Foldpack turned the weapon into a spear just as the massive demon attempted grab him. Unfortunately, the armor-piercing blade tore straight through the demon’s hand, which seemed to resist the brutal pain to push itself down the spear to pick up the paladin, causing the spear to be dropped to the floor. Time slows as the bard rushes under the demon’s legs, throws the halberd to Foldpack, and the paladin spends 2 of his remaining 4 hit points to deliver a brutal blow, chopping off the arm of the demon as it hold him… and forcibly dropping himself a good 20 feet onto the hard ground. I have him roll 1d4 falling damage… and he rolls a 2. In one fell swoop, Foldpack not only slew the massive demon that he once contained within, but he also slew himself.

But this is where the story really starts to get good. Stunned at their companion’s death, the rest of the party tried to figure out a way to turn it all around. The Wizard came up with using the demonic ritual circle as a place of power… and surprisingly, the entire party seemed to think that this is a good idea. I warned them that they will be exposed to the dangers of the evil magic, and told them that the ritual would require the severed heart of the just-slain demon. They ignored my warnings and carried out the ritual, so I had each of them roll 1d6. Then, they each lost that many maximum Hit Points, and the total result (12) became Foldpack’s maximum HP. Needless to say, the Paladin was not pleased that he had been pulled from his well-deserved resting place, and had his heart replaced with that of a demon. As a small token reward for the brutality suffered by his character, I had him immediately resolve all 4 of his bonds, and then write a new one for each party member detailing exactly how he blamed each of them for this horrible mistake.

The escape from Hell itself was surprisingly uneventful, and we ended session number 2 as the party prepared to take the adventure to a larger scale, and journey to the capital city of the empire to discover the answers behind this demonic corruption.

All in all, I was very pleased with this session. Everybody seemed to enjoy themselves, and the dramatic twist of Foldpack the Brave becoming Foldpack the Returned was both unexpected and absolutely delightful. As far as lessons to be learned, I found myself having trouble remembering which players I had not talked to for longer periods of time, and as such the quieter players found themselves unintentionally pushed out of the limelight.

It was also this session where Bonds, and in particular how to resolve Bonds, really started to make sense to me. Presenting it as “taking something that is not as interesting or not as specific, and making it both interesting and specific” helped the players build relationships in a much more fluid and meaningful way.

This session was pretty short, as it was only the first half of the day, before the group split up to get dinner in various locations. My next post will cover the most recent 3rd session with the group, and then I’ll start writing up the new games that I just started up—a surprisingly hectic week!

Thanks for reading these little novels I end up writing. Succinctness is not one of my talents.

Idle thoughts before I go to bed: a smartphone app that lets you list the names of your PCs, and tells you how long…

Idle thoughts before I go to bed: a smartphone app that lets you list the names of your PCs, and tells you how long…

Idle thoughts before I go to bed: a smartphone app that lets you list the names of your PCs, and tells you how long since you have asked that player a question (including, of course, “what do you do?). Tap their name whenever you do to reset the timer. It could either be a count of the minutes, or a more relative counter that ticks up whenever you tap someone else’s name.

If I had a computer capable of making apps for my iPhone (thanks for that, Apple. I’m sure limiting who is allowed to make content for ecosystem was a brilliant idea in the long run [/sarcasm]), I’d do it for myself and try it out, but for now it remains as just a random idea in my head, after noticing how often I tend to take longer than I should to get back to a particular character, especially if they have a particularly quiet player.

Thoughts about the idea? Your own person solutions to the same problem? Am I just crazy and addicted to wanting to use my smartphone for everything?

So for this weekend and the one before it, I’ve been GMing an introduction to Dungeon World for a group of longtime…

So for this weekend and the one before it, I’ve been GMing an introduction to Dungeon World for a group of longtime…

So for this weekend and the one before it, I’ve been GMing an introduction to Dungeon World for a group of longtime D&D players, in hopes of encouraging them to move from their long run of tactical mini games to the fast-and-loose antics of DW’s storygame basis.

For character creation, we ended up for the following characters for the first session:

Abolished – the human fighter

Puck – the halfling druid

Baldric – the human bard

Foldpack the Brave – the human paladin

Through various bonds, as well as leading questions from myself, we found out that at some point Baldric made a terrible-but-undefined mistake that let loose some sort of fire demon. This tied in somehow with the empire of the land, which has been greedily expanding its borders, and in the process cultivating some sort of strange, magical ‘global warming’. It was this environmental change that led Puck out of his home in the Frozen North (he was raised by woolly mammoths) in search of vengeance, where he met up with the rest of our heroes. In addition to these, we established that Foldpack (originally named as a joke after the ‘foldpack’ containers from a chinese take-out place) has some sort of darkness that follows him. Solving this mystery of this darkness, and how it ties into this fiery demon became Foldpack’s Quest, and so he chose Immunity to Fire as one of his pact boons. This would become important.

We joined our heroes as a good night’s sleep in an inn was interrupted by some cultists in service to the flame demon — familiar foes, by this point. They initiated some sort of ritual that filled the sky with burning lines, lighting the night with red fire. As the heroes fought, I had one of them start up a countdown (as detailed in Dark Heart of the Dreamer) that represented the process of the cult ritual. This fight introduced our first villian, the high priest of the demon, who carried a large scroll that he was reading the ritual text from. The heroes tried to stop him, but his hellhound servants and his magical shield (4 armor, burns anything that passes through) made it difficult. As Abolished brought down his signature weapon on the priest’s head for the killing blow, the ritual was completed, and the entire party (and the half-burned inn) was teleported to the lair of the flame demon, in the middle of a hell dimension.

Already, in this first battle we established some interesting motifs. For one, Foldpack frequently found himself being the only one willing to charge into the frontlines of a battle and actually get things done. Everybody else had the tendency to waste time and hold back. Additionally, this was the first time we established that Puck and Baldric frequently team up, with the bard shooting his arrows from atop the mammoth-form of the druid.

For the flame demon’s lair, I used the Dungeon rules from Dark Heart of the Dreamer to help me come up with rooms on the fly. The first or these was the prison room—a stone walkway over a lava pit, with cages full of dead or dying prisoners hanging from the ceiling. The jailer was a large demon with a massive butcher knife (immediately disarmed and knocked into the lava), and a rather unusual breath weapon. Foldpack asked, as it charged its attack, if it would be fire. I let him roll a Spout Lore, for which he had his very first 6 or less roll. So, he found out that the attack wasn’t fire the hard way: a massive burst of spiny tentacles exploded out of the demon’s mouth, taking up more volume than should have spatially been possible. Baldric was nearly thrown into the lava, and was only saved by one of the prisoners in a cage pulling him up in exchange for freedom. Unfortunately, defeating the jailer ended up destroying the jail, knocking the bridge and all of the cages into the lava before any of those poor souls could be rescued.

The next room had some cultists in the middle of some sort of ritual. The PCs decided to ignore them and pass another way. At this point, I rolled randomly for the next room and found that every force of the dungeon was at high strength: quite unintentionally, our PCs found the ‘boss room’.

It was at this point that our first session ended. I feel like everyone had a pretty good time, though I think it was the second session that really sold them on the system.

Some lessons learned from the first session:

– I need to reference the GM moves more often. They’re super helpful and I always forget about some of the less common ones.

– Dungeons As Monsters and Countdowns are awesome and everyone should use them. The psychological effect of the players having a visible countdown, but not knowing for sure what a full countdown means is very potent.

– It is totally viable to literally send all of your PCs to Hell within the first hour of play, though I would probably start a bit less extreme for games that I wasn’t planning on being only a few sessions long.

– Paladins are awesome, and more people should play them. Having someone immune to fire in the party let me do all sorts of awesome things that would’ve been much riskier in a different group.

– The GM reference sheet with all the questions for creating monsters was amazingly useful. I created three different monsters on the fly during the game, but they still had the stats and moves that I needed to make the game fun in a way that wouldn’t be possible in a more tactical system.

– This is less ‘something I learned’ and more a confirmation of what I’ve already seen, but going in to a game with no prep whatsoever continues to be a total blast. If I tried to think up a plot beforehand it wouldn’t be nearly as cool, or as personally relevant to the players, as the one that I built in collaboration with all of them.

– With the exception of one player, everyone bought into the ‘freeform’ feel of Dungeon World with no difficulties, and loved it. One person seemed to dislike not being able to just say “I attack” in the way that you can in the more tactical games. I did my best to draw what I could out of him, but I think, to some extent, that’s just the kind of player he is, so I also allowed him some flexibility to be as prominent or in-the-background as he wanted in a way that I wouldn’t with a more flexible player.

A description of our second session will be on the way shortly.




So, as mentioned below, my friends encouraged me to finish up a playtestable version of my Dungeon World hack, and when I finished it, we proceeded to spend the majority of the next three days playing it. This was the second group I have run Dungeon World (or Adventure World, as I have dubbed my hack) for a group, and the experience successfully re-affirmed that I have found the perfect role-playing game for me to build upon.

First, the world. The game took place in my own campaign setting of Invisible. The main gimmick of the setting is that people no longer believe in magic the way they used to, and all the strange and mystical forces in the world exist just out of sight of everybody but the adventurers. The specific setting in which the bulk of our story take’s place is Threshton, a rather large port city run by a merchant’s guild. 

Next, the characters: All three are playing new classes, which you can look at here:

Kajri, the Witch is a young (18 years old) girl born into a very large and very rich family of merchants and other powerful people. When her (very distant) parents discovered her strange abilities, they shipped her off to study with a master of such things, Gregory Darius, while also attending a prestigious college. Kajri and Darius’s relationship has recently been strained as of late, as she insists on studying darker and darker magics and has stopped attending school. She now keeps an apartment in the lower district with Mak (and Draven next door).

Mak, the Hero is also 18, and similarly comes from a moneyed family. Or at least, what should be. When he was only 5 his mother (the father was never present) was disgraced from her family name, and she now lives in a little place in Threshton, entirely supported by the money Mak makes fighting in the boxing ring under Chuck’s tavern. Mak’s artifact is a nondescript amulet he found lying on the ground. He discovered that he could tap into its power to give him strength, but recently, when he does so, it has also had the physical side effect of giving him demonic-looking features.

Draven, the Veteran is not by any means 18 years old. He’s a retiree from a mercenary company that was moderately well-known for dealing with weird and very dangerous forces. His tale is a long one, and should be reserved for another day, but for now what matters is that he has been hired by Kajri’s family as a bodyguard for the young Witch, because apparently their idea of solving the problem of a delinquent prodigy is to just send someone along to make sure nobody gets too hurt.

All of this arose naturally from the process of making characters. This game is amazing.

Using the one plot element I had prepared for the entire session, I started things in the action: “Kajri, how did this cultists manage to strap you to this table?” “Mak, how did you figure out where Kajri is? Where are we, anyway?” “Draven, what is standing in between you and the one you are payed to keep safe?” It turns that Kajri was in a shady alley looking for a fence to buy black market spell components when she was grabbed, but her kidnappers happened to pass by Mak and Draven just as they were exiting from one of Mak’s boxing matches. The location is the basement of an unwitting nobleman Standing between them were some bulky-looking cultists holding long daggers and itching for a fight. Some highlights from the fight: Kajri attempts to use magic to push the man with the sacrificial dagger away and ends up pushing herself backwards, too, shattering the table into pieces. Mak goes demonic-looking and tosses some of the cultists into each other with little effort. Kajri uses a telekinesis spell to impale the leader with a shard of table, which seems to break some sort of mind-control spell on the rest of them. Draven remembers a similar time this happened, and shudders when he recalls the beast the ritual summoned: a creature made entirely of smoke and shadow, larger than the tallest tree and ever-hungry (but never satisfied). Well, surprise surprise, but as Kajri pulls the impaled dagger out of her stomach, it transforms into a smaller version of one of these creatures. They flee quickly, but realize that if they don’t stop it, all of Threshton will be consumed. Kajri: “Draven, how do we stop this.” “It’ll be dangerous. For you in particular.” “I can do it.” “We need fire. A lot of it. Overload it with what it wants.” Kajri, leaning on the shoulders of her friends, takes a deep breath and prepares a spell that she definitely didn’t learn from Darius.

At this point, we flash forward a couple of minutes. The house is in flames and our heroes are rapidly absconding before they become suspects for a rather dramatic case of arson. Retreating to their apartments, they fall asleep, not realizing that this is just the beginning…

Wow, so this is already really long, and it’s only the first of twelve in-game days, so I think I’ll wrap up here and continue in a later post.

Some behind the scenes notes: as mentioned, the only preparation for this entire game was the general notes about the campaign setting (Threshton didn’t even exist), and the idea of “someone about to be sacrificed by cultists”. The combat was using an earlier draft (not the one present from the link above) with no health system at all, and while I enjoyed the reminder that wounds have to have a fictional effect to do anything, I found that working without any sort of HP or Harm system made it too easy for me to go easy on the players. This issue would be expounded over the next two sections, leading to the second draft that you can see now. Beyond those issues, however, everything ran amazingly smoothly. The dramatic tension felt very fit for a television show, and the game flowed naturally.

More adventures of the Gatecrashers (why is it called that? well, you’ll just have to wait and see) coming soon!

So, I recently got together with some friends, and with their encouraging, finished a playable first draft of my…

So, I recently got together with some friends, and with their encouraging, finished a playable first draft of my…

So, I recently got together with some friends, and with their encouraging, finished a playable first draft of my Dungeon World hack, Adventure World. The key difference between the two is that Adventure World moves the focus away from dungeons, monster-slaying, and getting loot, and towards high adventure, cool ways of solving problems, and inter-character drama. I’m working on writing up a play report, but in the meantime I thought I’d share a little preview of what I’m working on with Adventure World, to help give context to the adventure’s I’ll be describing. 

This includes the first page of basic moves, and the first page for each class. Notice that I’ve changed the ability scores around  (all the “physical” stats have been compressed into “might” to give room for the completely new stats “moxy” and “magic”), and replaced the HP with something very close to AW’s Harm mechanic (to encourage less frequent but more serious wounds). I’ve also removed the race section—in my own world, the majority of adventurers are human, and I eventually plan on replacing the racial moves with a variety of background moves. 

These are six out of the planned ten base classes. Four of these are completely original work, the Druid is pretty much straight from the original, and the Mage is a modified version of gnome7’s class of the same name. 

The Veteran (as posted here a while ago), is the battle-scarred tough guy who’s seen it all. It is one of the more combat-oriented classes, and serves to give a party a person who can get into a straight-up fight and win handily.

The Hero is centered entirely around the Artifact, which is a highly open-ended magic item that tends to create as many problems as it solves. 

The Witch is heavily inspired by Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and serves as the spell-list spellcaster, with a strong theme of the temptations of power, and the risks/rewards therein.

The Priest is the “cleric replacement”, and is very dependent on the whims of its deity. I designed this class to evoke the feeling of a spellcaster who really isn’t self-sufficient the way the Mage or the Witch is.

All of these classes are, of course, rough drafts. I’ve had a chance to playtest the Hero, Witch, and Veteran during my most recent games, but I’m a long way off from actually producing anything. Eventually, I’d like to compile a full document for Adventure World, complete with advice on running with the new moves and classes, modified and expanded GM principles, new ideas for Fronts and Steadings, and lots of other fun stuff.

Questions and critiques are more than welcome, and I’ll get to work on giving some examples of what this has looked like in play.

The following are the starting moves for a new class, the Veteran, intended as one of two Fighter-replacements in my…

The following are the starting moves for a new class, the Veteran, intended as one of two Fighter-replacements in my…

The following are the starting moves for a new class, the Veteran, intended as one of two Fighter-replacements in my somewhat-less-violent Dungeon World hack, Adventure World. The Veteran is the world-weary warrior that has seen everything, and is willing to fight and die for what she believes in, even if that means going where no-one else is willing. Feedback and critique encouraged.

~~The Veteran~~


You have a deep Scar, both a burden you cannot share and a reminder of what you fight for. Choose a location for the Scar:







And choose a Cause worth fighting for:







You take -1 ongoing to any action using the scarred location unless that action is dedicated to your Cause. 

Familiar Faces

When you stand in opposition to a familiar foe, whether an individual or broader group, recount a previous encounter with them and roll+Wis. *On a 10+, hold 3. *On a 7-9, hold 1. Spend hold 1 for 1 at any time to do one of the following:

-Recall a previously unknown weakness or strength of the foe.

-Repell, resist, or endure a action that foe makes against you.

-Give you or an ally +1 foward to a roll made against that foe.

-Put the foe right where you want it.

Seen it All

When you end up in a dangerous situation that reminds you of a past adventure, recount how and roll+Wis. *On a 10+, choose 2. *On a 7-9, choose 1. On a miss, something is different enough this time to make your experience unhelpful or even dangerous.

-You’ve prepared for this day. Explain how.

-A mistake has been made. Explain what it is and why this makes the situation less dangerous.

-There are several things in the immediate environment that you could use to your advantage. Describe them.

Never Stop

When you fail to Withstand a Blow or would otherwise be rendered helpless while fighting for your Cause, you may grit your teeth and ignore the negative effects. If you do, take -1 ongoing until you see to the original impairment.