Currently I’m running a weekly 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons campaign for my regular gaming group. My group has a standing policy that when one of the regulars is unable to attend a session we do something else for the evening usually a board or card game. This works all right but in in truth it never really scratches that roleplaying itch. Last week Bratheal Blackanvil, our robust dwarven fighter, was unable to attended gaming so I pulled out a little something I’d been saving for a rainy day, World of Dungeons.
World of Dungeons is a three page hack of the Dungeon World RPG, which in turn is a hack of the original Apocalypse World. The microRPG was originally released as a Kickstarter stretch goal for Dungeon World and now is available to the world here. The designer’s thought behind World of Dungeons was “What if Dungeon World was the latest edition of a game first published in 1979? What would that original game look like?” For those of you familiar with Dungeon World most of the concepts are similar (player-facing rules, 2d6 + ability etc.) but much more streamline. Instead of moves you simply state what you are trying to do and if the GM says the action is risky enough, you roll 2d6 plus an appropriate stat (+0 to +3). This mechanic generates the following potential results:
- Less than 6: Things don’t go well and the risk turns out badly (the GM will tell you what happens).
- A total of 7 – 9: You do it, but there is some sort of complication, cost, comprimise, retribution, etc.
- A total of 10 or 11: You do what you set out to do without complication.
- 12 or more: You dot it plus gain some extra benefit or advantage.
It is a very simple system and we made characters and started playing in a matter of minutes. As the players were create their characters I asked a few questions:
- How do you know each other? The fighter and the thief are after the sorcerer that destroyed the fighter’s village. They hired the ranger to lead them to the sorcerer’s lair.
- What is this lair? It’s a old tower that’s falling apart.
- Where is this old tower, what’s the region like? In the mountains. It’s a cold northern climate.
- You guys didn’t bring a wizard or a cleric, any reason? Magic is evil in this world. It’s more sword & sorcery than high-fantasy.
And with that we were up and playing a fantasy RPG set in a bronze-age style setting reminiscent of Conan the Barbarian. Over the next few hours a tale of vengeance, personal sacrifice, and unabashed looting unfolded and we had an extremely fun and memorable session. As with all things Dungeon World it was another great reminder of how an amazing story can emerge with virtually no prep work and a table full of story tellers. Our quick World of Dungeons one-shot has convinced me that this is the system I’m going to use when I run games at conventions next year. For the players they can create characters quickly and contribute to the story they want to experience, and for me I can run a great game with virtually no prep, win-win.
If your looking for a great one-shot game, or even a few sessions worth of gaming, you might give World of Dungeons a try. One important note however, if you are unfamiliar with the nature of hard and soft moves, and how the Apocalypse World dialogue works, you won’t figure it out with these rules. But if you have played any of these games, World of Dungeons offers a fun and quick alternative to your normal game.