World of Dungeons

image from ArtBreeder

filed under game design on 11 Nov 2018
tagged dungeon world, world of dungeons, wodu, heartbreaker, and osr

A few weeks ago, in my UMF playtest (a chat-based duet that has since reached over 564,000 words), I provided an interesting side quest – a dangerous realm fashioned of pure chaos into a fantasy world, bound by fairytale logic and containing the trapped souls of 113 people who had been unmade, erased from reality wholecloth.

Naturally, we needed a suitable fantasy system. Fortunately, I have like fifty different super-light OSR variants. Ultimately, we settled on World of Dungeons.

And now I’m hacking it.

You might ask why. There’s plenty of hacks already, not to mention literal Dungeon World. The answer, of course, is to bring together all the elements I love from OSR with the ones I love from Dungeon World and Apocalypse World.

I am familiar with Streets of Marienberg and Advanced World of Dungeons, and they’re both very good playsets. The former is a bit too Warhammer for me, and the latter is a mashing together of parts of SoM and WoDu that loses some of the parts I liked from SoM and mixes in some weird fantasy and planetary romance stuff.

My design philosophy is simple: build something compatible with both Dungeon World and OSR content, that can be used to pick up and play an adventure written for either without too much stress. Bring in my favorite OSR mechanics. Add rules that add color and drama. Don’t add rules for things that are easily handled with a risky roll and common sense. Give the GM more tools for dungeon crawling, in the spirit of the original WoDu.

So far I’ve got a rough skeleton together that I’m fairly pleased with. All of core World of Dungeons is present. Dozens of new special abilities. Simple subsystems for magic, alchemy, crafting, time, light, and gear. GM Moves, Agendas, and Principles, simplified and reworked.

And some art, even, for the first time. I’m experimenting with it.