When you tell people you play roleplay games most of them envision Dungeons & Dragons. They imagine you must spend your nights hacking and slashing orcs, or casting magic missile at kobold hordes, or firing off a volley of arrows at your enemies from a prime vantage point. Well, that has never really appealed to me. My first experiences roleplaying were in 2008 when I ran (yes ran, not played in) a 4th Edition D&D campaign. The amount of planning eventually turned me off and that’s when I sought out something different. After playing a variety of different games I ended up falling in love with the Powered by the Apocalypse engine which happened to have its own variation on that old D&D genre of game: Dungeon World (Designed by Sage LaTorra and Adam Koebel, Published by Sage Kobold Productions).
Our Friday night choice at Games on Demand was a no brainer. We’d noticed last year one particular GM’s sessions would fill up almost as soon as the doors to the room opened. Additionally, we were told he ran a damn good game of Dungeon World. Hamish Cameron is the designer of The Sprawl, a cyberpunk themed PBtA game, but is also a man who loves to run and and play Dungeon World. Having run Dungeon World many many times but never having played in it, this was a perfect opportunity. And I have to say, Hamish was one of the most energetic, engaging GMs I’ve played with in a long time. He was incredibly invested in the world the players collectively created and kept the momentum of the dungeon crawl going with interesting twists and dangers.
Dungeon World has all the basic trappings of a PBtA game: Basic and Playbook Moves triggered by player actions in the fiction, rolling two 6 sided die plus a stat to determine the outcome, and player directed worldbuilding. It’s both old fashioned but refreshing at the same time. In this particular game, I chose to play a Cleric, a playbook that doesn’t get as much love as say the Fighter or Ranger. The world the table created was focused around The City of Glass, an outpost in the middle of desert whose air was poisonous gas. Traders traveled across the desert on the backs of giant snails. The city’s religion revolved around the performing arts and so masks held an important religious significance. The various religious sects liturgies came in the form of dramas. My Cleric, Dahlia the Voice, came from the church of The Sage. Her people believed knowledge should be preserved in the mind and would memorize texts before burning them in a holy fire. They would then share their knowledge through dramatic performance or recitations of the knowledge they accrued.
Hamish gave our party a choice of dungeons to explore and we went with the (I might get this wrong) The Temple of Third Eye. It was an old mine in the middle of the desert and rumors about it housing a fallen sun god deep in its bowels were getting around. Dahlia’s purpose for being there was to uncover an ancient scroll that detailed life in these lands 10,000 years in the past. A very valuable find for my sect. In the party was a gruff Dwarven Templar, an illusionist Mage, and two orphans: Vaxx the Thief and Lillaine the Bard. Things went as you might expect in any typical dungeon delve. Lots of monsters, mystery and a dark god rising up from beneath the earth. Almost a total party kill, expect Dahlia the Voice escaped to warn The City of Glass that this angry sun god had risen.
Dungeon World is great fun. And Hamish was able to keep that fun going for four hours which is quite an achievement after running games all day. If you are a traditional tabletop gamer or someone who used to play and is looking for a way back into the hobby, I highly recommend Dungeon World as a great introduction to Powered by the Apocalypse. There’s no complex math, no worrying about line of site or other tactical minutiae, the emphasis is on weaving an interesting and entertaining adventure. The world you play in the world the people at your table want to play in so you always end up with something unique and keyed into motivation you to play.
Dungeon World can be purchased here – http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/108028/Dungeon-World
And if you were to click on Dungeon World under Rules Systems on the right hand side, you’ll see there are myriad of resources available to add to your game if you like. My personal recommendation would be the playbooks and products produced by Awful Good Games – http://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/5695/Awful-Good-Games