Porting Apocalypse World style moves into D&D 5E

TL;DR – If you want to use a Dungeon World move in D&D 5E, roll 1d6+1d10: Failure on 8-, partial success on 9-12, success on 13+.

I love the Apocalypse World engine moves. These moves are discreet rules that are portable from one AW Engine game to another.

But I’m exploring using the moves in other systems; In particular D&D 5E. Dungeon World has the following probability based on:

Roll 2d6
Bonus Failure (6-) Partial Success (7-9) Complete Success (10+)
-2 72.2% 25.0% 2.8%
-1 58.3% 33.3% 8.3%
0 41.7% 41.7% 16.7%
1 27.8% 44.4% 27.8%
2 16.7% 41.7% 41.7%
3 8.3% 33.3% 58.3%

Apocalypse World Engine Probabilities

What follows is what I found to be a reasonable mirroring of the Apocalypse World Engine probabilities. Roll 1d6+1d10. On an 8- failure, 9-12 partial success, and 13+ success.

Roll 1d6 + 1d10
Bonus Failure (8-) Partial Success (9-12) Complete Success (13+)
-3 75.0% 23.3% 1.7%
-2 65.0% 30.0% 5.0%
-1 55.0% 35.0% 10.0%
0 45.0% 38.3% 16.7%
1 35.0% 40.0% 25.0%
2 25.0% 40.0% 35.0%
3 16.7% 38.3% 45.0%
4 10.0% 35.0% 55.0%
5 5.0% 30.0% 65.0%


I ended up writing a script to run several iterations and compared this to the Apocalypse World engine probabilities.

The d6+d10 is a reasonable approximation. I chose d6+d10 instead of 2d8 because of the flat peak; 7 to 11 has the same probability for d6+d10; Whereas 2d8 has a “pointy” peak.



3 thoughts on “Porting Apocalypse World style moves into D&D 5E

  1. Hi from Italy! My name is Daniele and I love both Apocalypse World and D&D5. I started a group on Facebook for italian players of AW because there wasn’t before (and it was so wrong…). I loved math, too – your post is just perfect!
    Here comes my humble opinion on the matter.
    In AW is it not true that a 7- is not a failure but a complication in the game? The concept on which is built the game is totally different from D&D5, I mean. It’s a thin line, I know that – but this means a lot for me. In D&D5 there are three step that are failure, success and draw, but in AW there’s no such thing: each action means something narratively. Even if we have three steps here, they are not describable in the order of success or failure. I feel that all those curves you have made doesn’t get the point of AW that is: there’s no failure, nor success, only a different step of complication. All right, if I get 10+ complication is zero and with 12+ complication is not for my storyline, but for my opponent. But I really can’t see the system work in a statistic prospective.

    I hope these words can be understood and I’m sorry if my english level is not adeguate to the thread – but I assure you I’m not here to start flames, but to point out that probably D&D5 and AW cores are too incompatible to have a mash-up like this.
    We will need a wider adjustment of D&D5, I think.

    Best regards & have a nice day! :)

  2. @spiritogiovane Thanks for reaching out to me in your non-native language. It is a brave act.

    Your example is great. In Apocalypse World, whenever the dice are rolled, something in the fiction is going to change. This is not always true in D&D.

    But, consider that each game is an incomplete system. That is to say they don’t model every possible action. Consider the following AW move:

    When you bust open the doors to the Zombie Queen’s sanctum, Roll + Hard (or STR). On a 10+, you have caught the Zombie Queen unaware, deal your harm. On a 7-9, the Zombie Queen is waiting, exchange harm. On a 6-, the Zombie Queen is ready and springs her trap, one of your number is ensorcelled, tell the MC who.

    This is an arbitrary move, but highlights that you can easily leverage this move for D&D.

    The key component of Apocalypse World is that failure should be interesting. In D&D, all too often, I’ve seen failure be very boring.

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