Monday, July 11, 2016

Test played Reviews: Dungeon World

In depth Reviews
Starting a more in depth review series.
Test played Reviews: JAGS Revised
Test played Reviews: Hackmaster
Test played Reviews: Dungeon World

Next is my reviews, done in order from my first consideration up to the test play evaluation, is Dungeon World. For testing, it was going up against Heroquest. Although it only lasted until the next battle, that is because it went up against Hackmaster. Had Dungeon World gone up against any of the four that Hackmaster defeated like it defeated OpenQuest in that surge, it would have done so as well.

Dungeon World SRD can be found several places but the official bought version can be found by following links at

For my testing, I printed one SRD to PDF so that I could have a portable digital copy that wasn't on the internet.

Looking at available material and scoring the availability of material

Dungeon World (2012) - A (if I can find an official SRD) - Nice that the SRD is online in several forms. Is there an official one? I don't want to used someone else's creation, especially if it has adds that earn revenue that doesn't go to the creator. I don't want to use dungeonworldsrd if it's not officially by the creator.

Phase 1 - First Reading Evaluation

Dungeon World - keywords: conversation & fiction. for the most part the game limits a player to 3 to 6 choices - I say choices because the wording says "choose one from". For character creation, lists of options are given. 11 classes, races seem like accessories (some give benefits to classes), looks are chosen from 3 possibilities each (eyes, hair, clothing, and body type. I'm not sure if their functional. Stats are not rolled - there is a list of predetermined values which players assign. The stats begin already heroic. So if I want to play a game showing struggling and learning of being a common person, I would need to alter and lower those numbers. HP is class based + con bonus. Moves are the bread and butter of this system with basic, special, and class moves available. They seem more like scripts that need to be activated by the players fictional explanation. Players can pick a few options for some moves. Gear comes with three choices. Weapons have a type, range, enhancement, and look. Most of the benefit from the weapons come from the enhancement. For magic, only clerics and wizards have spells in the core. Casting prepared ahead of time wit lvl+1 # spells. During long periods of rest one can pick different spells. They can either succeed and be cast again, succeed with a problem, or be determined by the GM for failing. Bonds with other characters have a roll + # of bonds with that character sometimes. Levels are current lvl+7exp. Exp points are given up to 3 questions + 1 bond. Adventures are called fronts, with 2-3 dangers & impending doom, 1-5 grim portents, and 1-3 stakes.

It seems like Dungeon World would play much like a mousetrap or series of triggered events. Where the players conversation triggers different effects within their character, in the adventure, and around the world.

Phase II - My Criteria Evaluation

First the rough stuff.

Spells are abysmal, overly simplistic, and too much like d&d for my liking. It would be completely removed if I end up picking this game.

Combat really poses a dilemma. This is the only system that uses simultaneous combat and skills. In this case using only one roll to figure out what happens between conflicting characters and npcs. I don't have a clue what I would do with it. Everything in the game is based on this mechanic with the moves, so I can't remove it. I'll have to think about this and experiment during play test phase.

Content in this game sucks - I guess the assumption is to converse and create the world on the fly. Or do minimal world creation ahead of time and just sort of wing. This may be intentional which from what I read sounds like the case, but I'm still grading content the lowest possible.

Beyond that, the game is a little above average.

The character focus receives my highest praises.

Dungeon World

10 Major Criteria & 10 Sub-criteria Dungeon WorldGrdPts
1. Depth -B3
a. Meaningful -B3
b. Utilized Functions -B3
2. Flexible/Adaptable -B3
3. Consistency -B3
4. Understandable -C2
5. Character -A4
a. Behavior tied to character -A4
b. Unique Character -A4
6. Combat System -C2
a. Turn/move/action -D1
b. Attack speed/ hastened/quicker -E0
7. Spell System -E0
a. Spell Regulatory -E0
b. Spell Breadth -E0
8. Creatures -B3
a. Standard Fantasy -C2
b. Creation -B3
9. Content -E0
10. Aesthetic -E0

Grade B-
Reviews read or watched 4
Set of reviews from product pages 2
Gameplays read or watched 1

Key to Criteria

10 Major Criteria & 10 Sub-criteria1. Depth - how meaningful and utilized are the data & functions are used?
a. Meaningful - does data recorded makes a difference in the game?
b. Utilized Functions - are there multiple uses for data recorded?
2. Flexible/Adaptable - how usable is it with other custom settings?
3. Consistency - how many different systems are there within the game?
4. Understandable - are concepts defined before they are presented, Or is it just a rule dump without explanation?
5. Character - how is behavior explained and can characters be unique?
a. Behavior tied to character - how well does the data determine how a character behaves?
b. Unique Character - can the characters stand out from other characters of similar nature?
6. Combat System - are the mechanics interesting and innovative?
a. Turn/move/action - does the game use the same boring turn based mechanics?
b. Attack speed/ hastened/quicker - will having higher quickness make the attacks go faster and multiple times?
7. Spell System - does the game use the boring overused spell set?
a. Spell Regulatory - how does the game use data to limit magical powers?
b. Spell Breadth - is there a wide variety, yet coherently grouped collection of spells?
8. Creatures - how many provided creatures are available?
a. Standard Fantasy - does the game provide the expected common monsters and creatures?
b. Creation - are there creature creation rules so that I can add my own creatures?
9. Content - is the overall content presented in the core detail depth and have variety. Do elements differ in sufficient degree among other data?
10. Aesthetic - does the game have a subjective coolness factor?

I plan on using the A, B, C, D, and E again, this time tying them to points so I can convert it into a total value for the game.
For each criteria
 = 4 - beyond my expectation
B = 3 - great
C = 2 - sufficient
D = 1 - below my expectation
E = 0 - horrible, unusable

Total evaluation = sum of criteria/20

Phase III Testing the game.

Dungeon World
1) total grade from phase 2 2
2) character creation test 3
3) skill system test 3
4) combat system test 2
5) magic system test 2
Total score 12
Average 4 pt scale 2.4

Character creation took me 30 minutes. After following the rules exactly, my character had a different name - chosen from a list of names - and a four description chosen from pools of three. I made a Willem the human bard, with Joyous Eyes, Finery clothing, Fancy Hair, and a Thin Body with leather armor, my father's repaired mandolin, and a dueling rapier. Being human game me a move for hospitality to minstrels. It's not exactly the character I had envision, but it is somewhat in the same ballpark. Of course I didn't do any of the bonds, which seem interesting for the player group dynamic. I'm glad alignment is functional, adding one Exp if the character performs a certain action in the session.

30 Min
Dungeon World
Bard Human
Hospitality to minstrels

Joyous Eyes
Fancy Hair
Thin Body

Strength 12 +0
Dexterity 13 +1
Constitution 15 +1
Wisdom 8 -1
Intelligence 9 +0
Charisma 16 +2

Arcane Art
When you weave a performance into a basic spell, choose an ally and an effect:
*Heal 1d8 damage
 *'+1d4 forward to damage
 *Their mind is shaken clear of one enchantment
 *The next time someone successfully assists the target with aid, they get +2 instead of +1 Then roll+Cha.

*On a 10+, the ally gets the selected effect.
 ✴ On a 7-9, your spell still works, but you draw unwanted attention or your magic reverberates to other targets affecting them as well, GM’s choice

Bardic Lore
 Choose an area of expertise:
Spells and Magicks
The Dead and Undead
 Grand Histories of the Known World
 A Bestiary of Creatures Unusual
The Planar Spheres
Legends of Heroes
Past Gods and Their Servants

When you first encounter an important creature, location, or item (your call) covered by your bardic lore you can ask the GM any one question about it; the GM will answer truthfully. The GM may then ask you what tale, song, or legend you heard that information in.

Alignment: Good
Perform your art to aid someone else.

HP 6+Con 21
Your base damage is d6.

Your load is 9+Str 12.

You have dungeon rations (5 uses, 1 weight).
Choose one instrument, all are 0 weight for Your father’s mandolin, repaired 0wgt
Leather armor (1 armor, 1 weight)
Dueling rapier (close, precise, 2 weight)
Adventuring gear (1 weight)

Charming and Open 
When you speak frankly with someone, you can ask their player a question from the list below. They must answer it truthfully, then they may ask you a question from the list (which you must answer truthfully).

Whom do you serve?
 What do you wish I would do?
 How can I get you to ______?
 What are you really feeling right now?
 What do you most desire?

A Port in the Storm 
When you return to a civilized settlement you’ve visited before, tell the GM when you were last here. They’ll tell you how it’s changed since then.

Fill in the name of one of your companions in at least one:
This is not my first adventure with _______________.
I sang stories of _______________ long before I ever met them in person.
_______________ is often the butt of my jokes.
I am writing a ballad about the adventures of _______________.
_______________ trusted me with a secret. ____________

Skill test
The skill test was very easy and I liked how the skills have the effects built into the results list. I did however feel pretty limited in how many moves I could actually do. It might be good for beginners who need narrowed options.

Willem's combat with a cave rat took 7 moves, only 2 were dealing damage, 3 were 'both take damage', and two were taking damage. Luckily Willem had 21 hp and the cave rat only had 7, otherwise Willem would have been dead first.

For magic I just rolled a few time to imagine what the effects would be for my bardic knowledge and arcane art song. It worked and both had descriptive results. I did wish however that I had a greater number of possible selections and variety even after looking through the advanced 2to10 and 6to10 moves.

In all, this game did mediocre for character creation, no-initiative simultaneous trigger based combat, and narrow focused magic effects. It was great for character creation and skill test results.

Although Heroquest has a better character creation system, Dungeon Worlds has enough of everything to make the game work and not feel as insufficient. It is very narrow in focus however and fatalistic in play, which I will see how it compares in the future.

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