Having previously ran J.B. Mannon's Ziggurat of the Sun Princess, and finding the setting very evocative, I was curious about his latest Dungeon World project—Thornburg. This was a solicited review – I contacted J.B. and asked if he would send me a copy for review.
What You Get
You get an evocative map of the village of Thornburg, a handful of Non-Player Characters (NPCs 📖) with instincts and moves, a handful of described locations, and some advice and initial questions to ask the players.
First, and foremost, I really love Matt Jackson’s map of Thornburg. It is hand-drawn and provides hints of little stories rippling through the village – I particularly like the unexplained grave in the woods.
The Thornburg supplent begins by stating that until you begin asking and answering questions about the village of Thornburg, nothing is happening in this town – the write-up instead puts potential energy in the various NPCs.
The advice reiterates what Dungeon World advises; Ask questions. Lots of questions. And Thornburg provides a solid list of loaded questions to ask. By building on their answers a Game Master (GM 📖) knows what the Player Characters (PCs 📖) are interested in exploring. Below is an example:
The town of Thornburg is known for its local legends, what is the most disturbing legend you have heard of?
Thornburg then goes on to include a section on Fronts, but it is in worksheet format. I think this is a weak spot. For me, the Fronts should come out after the first session, not during. There isn’t quite a clear explanation of this section.
The final section is a list of locations and NPCs. Each location has a slice of the map, a description, and one or more NPCs with an illustration. The NPCs are an interesting bunch. Lots of odd behavior in these characters, but most importantly, the NPCs have fully fleshed out moves and very unique instincts.
Thornburg costs $2.50 in Portable Document Format (PDF) or $5 for both print and PDF. The map is a great rendering of a Fantasy village. The concise advice for running Dungeon World is very helpful for those new to Dungeon World and it’s Apocalypse World Engine siblings. The NPCs, portraits, and locations are interesting enough that the price is right.
Buy this if: You like village maps; You want a little kick to get your Dungeon World game going; You are looking for a village that has the potential for odd things lurking around the corner.
Don’t buy this if: You are looking for a dungeon crawl, looking for only non-human opposition, you aren’t planning on sending your characters through small late middle ages villages.