Drive Thru RPG Review: Dungeon World

Last year I found a project that looked interesting to me. It was Dungeon World by Sage Latorra and Adam Koebel. I was hearing an awful lot about it on twitter and other places on the internet. After doing a bit of research I decided to back the project. I chose the $65 level which netted me the hard bound book, a t-shirt, digital copies of everything, and a few additional items. I received my package in the mail just the other day and was just floored by the final product.

Dungeon World sets out to capture the feel of old school D&D while using a more modern rules set. It accomplishes this goal with ease and does so by using the Apocalypse World engine. This is a fairly easy to master set of rules and at it’s core only uses 2d6. All dice related activities are controlled by moves. These are specific actions that a player or the GM takes within the game. The moves range from Hack and Slash and Defy Danger to the specific moves that accompany each class in Dungeon World. A move is a specific action that a character takes in the game. Hack and Slash is a good example as it is attacking something that is defending itself. If the target can’t defend itself you wouldn’t use this move but just deal damage. Success is determined by the roll of 2d6 plus a stat. If the result is 10 or better the move succeeds. If the result is between a 7 and 9, the move succeeds but there are complications. A 6 or less is a failure. Each move also has a set of things that go along with each of these results making conflict resolution simple but meaningful.

One of my favorite things about this game is how easy it is to get up and running. I was very fortunate to get play several games at Gen Con last year. Each one was very much something that was done off the cuff. We would gather together at someone’s hotel and sort through the characters so that everyone got something that interested them. We would then proceed to generate the characters and have everything done and be ready to start within about 15 minutes. The bonds that you generate are very helpful for creating a sense of connection to the other characters despite this process going so quick. On top of the quick character creation, the moves are very easy to understand and allowed us to dive into the impromptu adventure in short order. The system itself to the extended play that one would expect from a fantasy role playing game. It has plenty of advice for how to build up a campaign and the experience system is designed to give a player plenty of interesting choices as they progress in power.

The book itself is gorgeous. The art work is sparing but each piece is evocative of the feel of an old school game.  The layout is  well done making each page appealing to the eye and creating a pleasant reading experience. Everything is well organized and I had no difficulty finding anything that I was looking for while perusing the rules or during a game. I think my favorite part is the appendix which has a listing of tags and their meanings as well as a table for creating an npc on the fly. This is something that I appreciate having in the base book of any game and was very happy to see it in this one.

I can not recommend this game enough. It accomplishes what it set out to do. It provides that free-wheeling feel that one would get playing the earlier editions of D&D. It does this while avoiding the mind-numbing crunch. The Apocalypse World mechanics are put to excellent use creating a great gaming experience.

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