In Dungeon World, there are a number of ways for players to become “debilitated”, for which one or more of their attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom or Charisma) can take a penalty to its modifier of -1 (the actual “Score” remains unaffected).
The file (linked just above) comes in a 2 page format of 18 cards. There are 3 cards for each attribute that can have a debility. The cards indicate the attribute using its associated 3 letter abbreviation (STR, DEX, CON, INT, WIS and CHA).
A HUGE thanks to the work of Sage LaTorra and Adam Koebel on “Dungeon World“, which is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Also, a big thanks “Game-Icons.net” for the icons provided under the terms of the Creative Commons 3.0 BY license.
During the Summer of 2012, yet another RPG Kickstarter began for a game called “Dungeon World”. In looking it over again (here) now, I recall giving it a glance back then. There were murmurs of it on Twitter that eventually prompted me to hit Google with a “Dungeonworld Kickstarter” search. I had merged the two names into one but Google, as usual, understood well enough what I needed.
My initial pass on Dungeon World
At a glance I didn’t see anything new. It apparently was going to allow you to hunt for treasure, fight monsters, and crawl dungeons… the thing is, a had a few games that already let me do this. As such, my lack of patience found me quickly scrolling down the Kickstarter page (more scrolling = more better when it comes to these, right?) before abruptly killing the tab and getting back to whatever I had been doing previously (likely something entirely unimportant).
Fast forward to 4 days ago (June 4, 2013), literally 1 year to the day since the Dungeon World Kickstarter had launched. Unlike many of the other RPG Kickstarters I hear about (or am asked to promote via Twitter), Dungeon World was still being talked about, and in fact, increasingly so. It was something that always seemed to find it’s way to me, no matter what I was doing at the time.
I had to know, what is this “Dungeon World”…
I ended up on the official Dungeon World website looking around for more information. Not much there helped me immediately, so I simply threw out a quick tweet to those who might share their experiences… the feedback was amazingly positive. I started hearing the word “narrative”, and things that demonstrated this was a game focused on said narrative over mechanics – and that while they (mechanics) existed, they seem to come to the surface only as needed.
I was intrigued…
Before long I was reading a guide, and it is at this point I would say, if you are interested in knowing more about Dungeon World please do check out this Dungeon World guide (link goes to the official DW site/page for the guide, which is a PDF). It was exactly what I needed, and in reading it, things became much clearer to me, and I was hooked immediately, especially after reaching the end and reading that particular in-game write-up.
…then I was excited.
I don’t mean to sound over-dramatic, but I honestly had not been as excited about a table top RPG (in my 24 years of gaming), and I do indeed get excited about these kinds of games.
The more I read about Dungeon World, the more it seemed to have been created specifically for me. It seemed as though the developers said… ok, we’ve been watching how Weem DM’s his games. We’ve seen how he adjusts his games, through the various editions of D&D, to match with a playstyle he is trying to draw from his players… let’s make a game tailored towards that style and focus.
…so what is it?
I’m afraid of over-simplifying the game and/or butchering the concept (it’s still new to me after all), but do I want to give you a very quick idea of it, as I see it. Essentially, the game is focused on the narrative aspect of play. In fact, the system requires you to express what you are doing narratively, as it is FROM those descriptions that the GM can determine his/her responding actions. This is not an arbitrary thing either. It’s not as though the game is trying to train you to be more descriptive despite working fine without them. Rather, the game NEEDS you to be descriptive – the GM will not otherwise know what possible responses can be given, and from them what moves can be attached.
Success in all things is determined by a roll of 2d6, plus an appropriate modifier based on the action being used. A 10 or better is Success, a 7 to 9 results in Success, but at a cost, and a 6 or below is failure. Damage is primarily calculated based on your Class. In fact, a glance at the weapons list would show you they lack damage listings at all. You could be just as successful attacking a Goblin with your sword as you could be by kicking him in the face, pushing a barrel over on him, or jumping down on him from an elevated position… as long as what you are doing makes sense in the narrative, you are good to go! Once your action(s) has been decided upon, an appropriate “move” is selected that best fits what you are doing, which determines your modifier. Roll the 2d6 and add your modifier as mentioned above.
At this point, the action is narrated by the player working with the GM, and the GM responds accordingly. If you succeeded, you pull of the action (in some cases, that will be applying damage to an enemy). If you succeeded at a cost, you pull of the action, but the GM may immediately present an immediate danger to you or a party member as a cost of that action. You may have succeeded in hitting the Goblin with a Fireball, but that caused 3 of them to suddenly change directions… they are now bearing down on the Cleric… the GM could then turn to the Cleric and ask… “What do you do?!”
There is no initiative, nor turn order. Want to do a few actions at once? Explain what you are attempting to do, and if it makes narrative sense, it happens! As the action unfolds, the GM will move around the group putting players in immediate danger, and prompting them for a response.
There is much more to the game, but I wanted to keep this short.
…but that said, what’s next?
Do note that I have yet to play the game, after all it’s only been 4 days since I discovered it myself, but I already have a group of 5 people who were ready to play an RPG and now it looks like that RPG will be Dungeon World (they were excited to try it after my description of it to them). These players have little to no experience with RPG’s so that is very exciting as well. I love introducing people to these games, and I think Dungeon World could be an amazing new experience for them.
Additionally, I want to mention that you may seem some (more) Dungeon World related posts, images and perhaps other materials here in the near future. It will really depend on how our first play goes, but I would imagine we’ll have a good time and you could expect to see more about this game from me in the near future, including a post about our first experience with the game.
…my last words.
Finally, if you are interested in learning more about the game (I certainly suggest you do!) please check out the guide I mentioned earlier. I read about the game in a few different placed, but it was the guide that really opened my eyes to what it is that made this game really stand out.
Dungeon World Rules (Free/Online) – “…While everyone should buy a copy to support the creators, they did generously license it under a Creative Commons Attribution license. As a result, you can read it for free (minus all the nifty art and nice layout)…” – Alan (Below)
NOTE: This was written very quickly, and with almost no editing. I do apologize for any mistakes, or troubles reading it. I’m out of town using a laptop that is not mine and quickly wanting to share my thoughts and excitement!
Matt and Brian James recently started up a digital print and RPG publishing company called Vorpal Games (more info here on the Vorpal Games Facebook page). While checking out the limited details they had there (it’s early, you know) I saw their very interesting logo done by Erik Nowak (@eric_nowak) and, as it sometimes happens, I was struck with an idea of my own for such a logo.
At this point, you have probably seen it at the top of this post, but here it is (to the right) laid out in various formats. You will see the primary logo on black, then I have it over the colors blue, green and red to see how that looks. Below that, a black and white version, followed by 2 versions each one using just 2 colors (click the image to enlarge it).
Most of the time these little experiments, never get used beyond sharing them here, and this time will not be any different I’m sure. The primary purpose of these is to vent some creative burst of energy I’ve had, and explore something new. While I would gladly hand it over to James & Co to use as they wish, their current logo is great and just grabs you – I love what Erik did with it. It cuts right to the point (no pun intended) and says, “this is Vorpal”. In the case of my version, I just had an idea about going with a blade a blood, and liked the challenge of finding a way to work that it into the logo/name. It’s very simple, but I tend to lean that way when it comes to logos (for the most part).
By the way, if the name Matt James sounds familiar to you, this isn’t the first time I have played around with images related to him… you may recall Matt James Awesome Sauce, or Veteran of the Edition Wars for example. Of course, as an award-winning game designer who has worked with companies such as Wizards of the Coast and Paizo – you may have heard of him somewhere else already.
I love character creation… well, I should say, I think most of us love character creation. Something about those moments/days/weeks of planning and imagining the future of a character… it’s inspiring.
I often find I’m best inspired (while creating my character) when I simply use a blank white sheet of paper. There are no lines to constrain me. I can make sketches and diagrams, and put the information wherever I please. It feels less rigid to me, and I tend to really think about who my character is while letting that drive the way I highlight what I feel is important. Later on, once the dust has settled, I tend to move the important bits over to a proper character sheet, but the blank canvas I started with helped me get to a good point first, focusing on the important things (who my character is) and getting that settled before focusing too heavily on the data.
Anyway, I was thinking about this today having made a new character last night which I thought I would post to give you an idea of what I’m talking about.
Often times, I start from scratch and using the map/drawing as inspiration I re-create the concept brand new. With this one, I wanted to keep/use the original drawing – mostly because I wanted to do this quickly (it took about 20 minutes), but also because I thought it would be nice considering the purpose with which it was posted.
These kinds of things are great ways for me to exercise some creativity and have some fun, and I continue to keep an eye out for more to do!
Every once in a while I read, hear or see something that inspires creativity within me. Sometimes I express this creativity through writing, but often it’s through images, such as those that I made in Photoshop.
Tonight, Scott Rehm (aka The Angry DM aka @theangrydm) posted a cover image for his Pathfinder campaign seen here…
I immediately was inspired to do a color version in Photoshop while I waited for a YouTube video to upload. I had a blast with this and it helped me kill some time in that 3-4am period when sleep tends to win (take that sleep!). Anyway, here’s what I came up with…
The intention here was not to create something for Scott to use (though he certainly can if he wants), but rather to challenge myself with something inspired by someone else. It’s easy for me to create things for myself that I came up with, but it can be challenging to create something that was someone else’s idea or thought, especially when it involves techniques or elements that I rarely or never use or create.
I don’t really do traditional reviews. I am one of those “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything” kind of guys when it comes to my online activities. Traditional reviews generally demonstrate the good AND bad aspects of a product in a way I never really felt fit to do. I also don’t like to waste anyone’s time, so the tl;dr of this article is… if you are a DM looking to reduce your prep time AND make your games more dynamic, go checkout/buy “The Lazy Dungeon Master” today.
…but, if you were looking for a little more from me on this, please continue…
When I DM a game, what I enjoy the most is experiencing the story along with the players – anxious to see what will happen next. Much of that enjoyment is made possible due to the fact that I plan out very little before each game. My players would tell you I don’t really do much until just before they get there, or even while they are just getting there and getting situated. My “notes” might consist of a paragraph or two, at most.
Hours and even days spent hovering over notepads, frantically writing the “story” for the game is not something I have ever been into. I am a day dreamer whose best ideas seem only to be fueled when the time to share these experiences is upon me. Those days when I have tried to plan for a game in advance find me staring at the walls and ceiling, being distracted by YouTube or opening Photoshop… but talk to me the day of a game and there is no end to the creativity I have – nothing can distract me, and I am as excited as ever.
This is how it has always been. Even when I first began DM’ing at the age of 12 (and perhaps because of my age), I could not focus on game preparation beforehand – but by the time my friends came over to stay the night, or I arrived at their places, I was bouncing off the walls with ideas. I have always had a very active imagination and there is no turning that off at times, but committing even the best of those wildly cascading ideas to paper is something I’ve never been able to do ahead of time, much to the frustration of some around me.
I’ve noticed over these many years that the less I prep for a game, the more we all seemed to enjoy said game. It hasn’t always been true, but it often seems to be the case. Explaining why that is, or how to capture that kind of magic has always been a bit tricky for me though.
I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I saw the title appear on Twitter a few weeks back, but having read it now, I feel it (the title) is a little misleading, or maybe vague is a better word for it. Perhaps something like “The Focused Dungeon Master”, or even “The Minimalist Dungeon Master” may have helped better illustrate (for me anyway) the concept of the book. The use of “Lazy” seemed to indicate the book was aimed at those who may not be putting enough effort into their games, with tools to help them step up. I would not call myself a lazy DM, nor am I looking to become a lazier DM, so I wasn’t sure it would be for me.
The fact is, the opposite is true of this book as I began to discover on the website. It’s aimed directly at experienced DM’s who are perhaps putting TOO MUCH effort into their game preparation out of a strong desire to run amazing games, which may in fact be hindering them. The idea here is to maximize the productivity of prep time while reducing the time commitment, all with the goal of creating more dynamic and exciting games. It’s a concept I have embraced for years (in my own way), and have even shared with others, but this book really shows you the idea in action and is a much better advocate of cutting out game preparation than I have ever been.
Using a new (one sentence) adventure concept as an example, Mike does an amazing job of walking you through the process, further developing the example as he goes. If you ever wanted to sit in on the preparation of a great DM for his/her games, this is insight you will really enjoy.
Additionally, the book is filled with many ideas and inspiring bits that found me wanting to run a campaign right now. “The Lazy Dungeon Master Toolkit” at the end offers tables for such things as “20 Movie-Inspired Quests”, “20 PC Relationships”, “20 Encounter-Wide Environmental Effects”, adding further value to an already excellent book.
I can highly recommend this book if you are an experienced DM looking to cut down on the prep time of your games while simultaneously making them more exciting and dynamic. When I want to share how it is that I can run enjoyable games with almost no prep (I do get asked), I can now lazily point to this book instead – one that, despite my experience, had much to teach me.
I love running D&D for new players. I think that the excitement, for many DM’s, has to do with us going back to our first games again – almost as if playing for the first time vicariously through those new players.
I also think it has something to do with knowing that the massive vault of past stories, ideas and campaigns we have would all be completely new to this person. You can pull out old tricks that worked well in the past, and the player will be none the wiser.
Beyond those personal reasons, I also simply enjoy bringing people to the game. Helping them understand the game, and why I think it’s as important as it is, is an activity I really cherish. I’m not an “industry” guy – I don’t write reviews, have not written any official adventures, created official artwork or any of the other things one might point at as evidence of belonging to, or being a part of the industry – but I do see myself as an advocate for the game, and there are (if self-imposed) responsibilities that go along with it that very much include telling people about the game, and introducing them to it if possible, as well as presenting it online as best I can to others, among other things.
All of this means that when I can bring someone to the game, and they find they enjoy it more than they imagined they would, I feel a great sense of accomplishment.
My wife and I were together for seven years before we married. We’re now approaching our four year anniversary (Oct 29th), which means we have been together for nearly 11 years now.
Additionally, I’ve been playing D&D since I was 12, so when her and I started dating I had been playing for 13 years or so – half my life already! She didn’t know about it until she learned about it from me, but it wasn’t her kind of thing and I never tried to get her into it. I’ve had my game nights over these past 11 years, and during that time she has slowly become more and more interested in the Fantasy genre in general. I give credit to Harry Potter, which she began reading after the 2nd or 3rd book was released, and she fell in love with immediately.
Lords of Waterdeep, a gateway to D&D
A few months ago, she showed some interest in knowing more about the game Lords of Waterdeep. She was looking to play some board games, and I had been raving about this one. Before long I was showing her how to play, and by the end of the first game she was wanting to play it again…
She enjoyed it so much, that we found ourselves (just the two of us) playing it many times a week, and before long I was borrowing other games for her to try. She even did some research online (and I asked around as well) for a game that she would enjoy if she enjoyed (as she did) Lords of Waterdeep. The most commonly given answer was Agracola, a game I had played once before.
It was at this point that she began looking for people to meet up with to play these kinds of games. I’ve been very busy lately, and while I was involved in a weekly board game night, it was more of a “guys night” so it wasn’t something I could pull her into.
It was at about this time, a month ago now, that she said, “So, can I play D&D?”
At about that time, a month ago, she began looking through the Pathfinder Rulebook, reading about Races. She was immediately drawn to Half-Elves, and found herself torn between a desire to try a Ranger or a Bard.
We began the process of making her a character, but didn’t finish. A few weeks later (a few weeks ago), we were driving up to visit family in the Bay Area when I said, “hey, do you want to try an example of D&D right now?”. She was excited, but curious how we could do this while I was behind the wheel on the 101, going 70+ mph.
“Reach back into my bag and pull out the lid for ‘Lords of Waterdeep’… we can roll dice in it“. After that, I had her get dice from my backpack (I always have dice with me… don’t we all?).
“…Oh yea, Lords of Waterdeep was definitely my gateway to D&D…”
~ Nicole, Weem’s Wife
I quickly made up some very simplified rules that went something like…
“Ok, you are an Elven Ranger, you have a bow that does d8 damage [pointed to the dice], and a longsword that does the same. You have a +4 to hit with the bow, and +2 with the sword. Because you are good with the bow, if you roll over a 16 with it on your first shot, you can shoot again.”
The goal for me was to give her an example of how non-combat roleplaying worked, but to also mix in some actual combat so she knew how and when to roll dice and determine results.
I gave her an opening story… she was patrolling the woods with two other Elves, as she does many times a week. I explained how they had been following the trail of a small pack of Goblins through the woods and how they had just come across Elves who appeared to have been ambushed. I explained the scene a bit and explained how she could interact with the scene and the various ways in which she could tell me what she wished to do.
She picked it up right away, explaining that she knelt down next to one of the Elves who was barely alive He died after telling her of the Goblins and she said, “I put my hand on his head and say a word, or whatever I would do for him”. Pretty good for someone’s first game, I thought.
Before long, we had a chase through the woods – she was firing on the run, taking a penalty. I kept it really simple and told her it was 11 or better to hit and that depending on the situation she may have a +2 or a -2. She eventually caught up with a Goblin, and with a well placed shot (she wanted to aim – I told her she would need an 18 or better and she rolled a 19!) she shot him in the knee, dropping but not killing him.
She tried to interrogate the Goblin, but I had her roll a check (I just told her 13 or better) which she succeeded, at which point I told her she could tell he was lying. She asked if it was bad to kill Goblins, and after explaining that in a normal game no one would even bat an eye if she did, she said, “I cut his throat”… nice.
At this point (within the next few days), we will make her very first character, and with the recent release of updated D&D Next playtest material, I told her I thought it would be a good option. The playtest material keeps things pretty simple, so it would be (I felt) a good place for her to start – but it had the added benefit of allowing me to familiarize myself with the latest updates. Getting my group together (and having time to plan games myself) has been hard lately, so I have not had a chance to play “Next” in months.
That said, I will be running solo games for her initially. While she is very excited to play, she is too nervous to play with others right off the bat. I tried to remove those concerns, but it didn’t help, and that’s okay. In the end, she just wants a few games by herself to get a better feel of the game before I bring in “the pros”.
Her excitement with the game, and my general lack of free time (among other reasons), led me to back out of my weekly game night with the guys so that I might focus on playing D&D with her. Her excitement is contagious and I think that’s another one of the reasons I (and others) enjoy playing with new players; we become just as excited as they can be, and that’s a lot of fun.
I’ve introduced many people to D&D, but this will be one of the most meaningful times. We’ve done well having not shared this hobby for 11 years now, so I would stop short of calling it “important” that she likes it, but I certainly hope she enjoys it and considers playing beyond her first game, which should occur within a week.
Wish me luck!
Hey, you made it to the end!
Thanks for reading. If you have any advice for me re: running the D&D Next playtest for one person, feel free to let me know here, or hit me up on Twitter…