Translating Old School Items to Dungeon World

From the Dungeon World core rulebook:

When making your own magic items keep in mind that these items are magical. Simple modifiers, like +1 damage, are the realm of the mundane—magic items should provide more interesting bonuses.

And in principle I believe this is very worthwhile advice. However, there are lots of magic items out there, especially those created for Old School Games under the Open Game License.

This post builds from my previous post concerning Saving Throws or Defying Danger. I actually began this post and had it mostly finished before I started writing the previous post.

Translating from the Old School Items

Dungeon World begins and ends with the fiction. When looking at old school items you should explore how the item interacts with the fiction.

Consider the following old school item:

Begin OPEN GAME CONTENT

Ring of Poison Resistance: The wearer receives a +5 to saving throws vs. poison.

END OPEN GAME CONTENT

In an old school game, a +5 to your save is rather significant but does not guarantee success.

A direct translation could be interpreted as:

Begin OPEN GAME CONTENT

Ring of Poison Resistance: You gain +1 ongoing to defying the dangers of poison.

End OPEN GAME CONTENT

But the above definition assumes a move triggers, which may not be the case.

In Dungeon World poison has the dangerous tag (see below).

It’s easy to get in trouble with it. If you interact with it without proper precautions the GM may freely invoke the consequences of your foolish actions.

The dangerous tag description hints that using this could trigger a move; But the tag doesn’t guarantee that a move triggers. And therein lies a difference between Dungeon World and an old school game.

The old school item builds on the saving throw – a reactive defense mechanism developed to give your character one final attempt to avoid a terrible fate.

Dungeon World’s Redbook (its alpha version) had the following move for Saving Throws, explicitly calling out poison.

Make a Saving Throw (Con)

When you take damage from an enemy of higher level than you or when something inflicts an effect (magic, poison, calamity) upon you, roll+Con. On a 10+, nothing else bad happens. On a 7-9 the GM chooses one. On a 6- the GM chooses two.

  • You drop something valuable
  • You break something mundane
  • You miss something important
  • You lose your footing
  • You lose track of someone or something
  • It’s worse than it seemed—take +monster level damage

Gone is the Saving Throw concept, replaced instead with the more generalized Defy Danger move – its fictional trigger is below:

When you act despite an imminent threat or suffer a calamity, say how you deal with it and roll. If you do it…

  • …by powering through, +Str
  • …by getting out of the way or acting fast, +Dex
  • …by enduring, +Con
  • …with quick thinking, +Int
  • …through mental fortitude, +Wis
  • …using charm and social grace, +Cha

✴On a 10+, you do what you set out to, the threat doesn’t come to bear. ✴On a 7–9, you stumble, hesitate, or flinch: the GM will offer you a worse outcome, hard bargain, or ugly choice.

From that fictional trigger a player could rightly narrate that they are attempting to defy the danger of poison by sucking out the poison or toughing it out; They could also reach into their pack to get some antitoxin.

But a Ring of Poison Resistance should provide a reactionary defense.

Begin OPEN GAME CONTENT

Ring of Poison Resistance: When you are exposed to the dangers of poison you can deal with it by relying on the ring. Roll+3 to defy the danger of the poison. Instead of rolling you may permanently drain the ring’s magic to negate the dangers of the poison.

End OPEN GAME CONTENT

If you are interested, you can checkout my Take on Magic Items.

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2 thoughts on “Translating Old School Items to Dungeon World

  1. Pingback: Translating Old School Items to Dungeon World | Take On Rules | Critical Grumble

  2. Pingback: Translating Old School Items to Dungeon World | Take On Rules | Critical Grumble

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