GenCon Games on Demand - Dungeon World

After , Jenny left to prepare for a client interview for her freelance writing. I stayed on to join a Dungeon World game run by Jason Morningstar, creator Fiasco.

Having just played and , I elected to play a dwarf fighter. As I was making my character (a 3 minute ordeal), I paused to think about his alignment.

The options were:

  • Good - When you defend those weaker than you mark Experience Points (XP 📖).
  • Neutral - When you defeat a worthy opponent mark XP.
  • Evil - When you kill a defenseless or surrendered enemy mark XP.

Dungeon World rewards my character’s development if he adheres to his alignment. Awesome! I elected to make my dwarf fighter good, figuring that I’d be defending the halfling rogue and elf wizard.

We finished up the character creation by selecting my character’s bonds. Below are the character’s bonds that I filled out.

  • _______________ owes me their life, whether they admit it or not.
  • I have sworn to protect _______________.
  • I worry about the ability of _______________ to survive in the dungeon.
  • _______________ is soft, but I will make them hard like me.

With the bonds set, and the other player’s highlighted my character’s Strength and Dexterity. This turned out to work rather well. First, my fighter was going to make lots of Strength based moves.

Second, every time I would Dey Danger to charge in and get in the fray, I would mark XP. And finally, if I chose the Defend move to save another character’s skin, I also gained XP.

In combat, my character quickly marked XP, and as per Jason Morningstar’s house rule, after 5 XP, I gained a level. This is contrary to the rules as written of after 10 XP times your level (i.e. 10 at 1st, 20 at 2nd, 30 at 3rd) gain a level. Jason said that in short games, he prefers to bee-line advancement.


Dungeon World 📖, and it’s fore-bearer Apocalypse World 📖, were immediately awesome. I could see the value of the moves and keeping the dice out of the hand of the game master. However, the finer points of running a conflict were just outside of my initial comprehension. But once Jason began our first battle, things really started to click.

We eschewed detailed maps, instead focusing on hastily drawn rooms and approximate location. Instead of showing the goblins that were flanking the wizard, the game master informed the player that his wizard was flanked because the wizard’s previous failed move.

Another excellent component of the game is that there is no need to worry about rolling for initiative. If the players are dawdling, it is the Game Masters (GMs 📖) job to . Otherwise, the first person to “do it”, “does it.” Which means if I say “I’m charging the goblin” then my character is in fact charging in, before anyone else might even respond.

This works because Dungeon World instructs the Game Master to only make moves when the players aren’t acting or when the players fail one of their moves.

In the example of charging the goblin, the Game Master must wait for the results of my Hack and Slash move. If it was successful, I do my damage, and the goblin does nothing else. If I fail my move, the goblin does damage. Given the probabilities, I am likely to have a partial success in which I do my damage and the goblin does it’s damage.

I would highly recommend picking up a copy of Dungeon World. Dungeon World is most definitely on the short list of games that I will run for one-shot dungeon crawls. I think it will also be a wonderful game for longer term play. We’ll see.