Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Drowning & Falling

From Shel Kahn's gorgeous Orin and the Dead Man's Sword

"Drowning & Falling" is my collection of custom moves for Dungeon World, covering situations that absolutely don't need custom moves, but that come enough that you might want them.  I've tried to include design notes, relevant examples of GM moves, and variations as much as possible. You don't need these moves, but maybe you'll find them helpful.

It's sort of a perpetual work in progress. Some of these moves have made their way into my other projects, most notably Stonetop and Homebrew World.  I've got vague plans to polish it up and finish it some day, but I wouldn't hold your breath. (Get it?)

You can find it here:

Click me!

Monday, July 30, 2018

Homebrew World

Homebrew World is the working title for my mini-hack of Dungeon World, optimized for one-shots and short-term campaigns.

Playbooks from my first time running this
You can find the most current print version right here:

Current print version

And here's the version for online play, using Google Sheets:

Current online version

So what's different?
  • Most +1/-1 modifiers are replaced with advantage/disadvantage (roll an extra die, discard the lowest/highest).
  • Parley is completely different; it’s as much an info-gathering move as it is a “convince them” move. Also: works on PCs.
  • Aid and Interfere are rewritten as well. Aid is now “grant advantage but with risk” and Interfere is its own thing.
  • Less dramatic rewrites of Hack and Slash, Defend, and Defy Danger
  • Expendables (rations, bandages, etc.) are condensed into “Supplies.” Adventuring gear is now a combo of undefined "load" and expending Supplies. Ammo is tracked as a "status" on weapons/equipment. Shields give a bonus to Defend.
  • Most “Special” moves are gone. Undertake a Perilous Journey is replaced with Venture Forth. I’ve included a couple of my favorite custom moves for speeding up play.
  • There are only 3 debilities, and each affects two stats. But they’re easier to clear.
  • XP and leveling are different, because this is meant for one-shots or short-term play. You get XP on a miss or when you Make Camp (instead of at end of session). An advance costs only 5 XP. You can burn XP to give yourself a +1 on a roll you just made.
  • No more “big number” on stats, just the modifier. Likewise, HP is now a set number per class.
  • “Race” is just part of your look. But everyone has a choice of Backgrounds, which replace the “race” moves and that give you a series of bond-like questions to use during intros.
  • Drives instead of Alignments; same mechanic but less baggage.
  • Many changes (some small, some big) within the classes themselves. 
    • There are two versions of the Fighter: one that's all skill and steel and guts, and the other (the Wielder) that's all about their special weapon. 

If I was going to be in charge of DW 2.0, this is a lot of what it would look like. 

Homebrew World was largely inspired by Yochai Gal's One Shot World (which you should totally look at, too; it's free, closer to "core" DW, and the materials he includes for GM support are great.)  It also owes a debt to Peter J, whose Dungeon World Quick Start Pack (no longer available) first got me thinking about this sort of thing.

If you have questions about Homebrew World, let me know in the comments, via Google Hangouts, or by email (jack underscore blackfoot at the yahoo company).  Likewise, if you play Homebrew World, I'd love to hear about it!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Monster Creation Cheatsheet

This right here is maybe the single most useful thing I've made for Dungeon World:

Monster Creation Cheat Sheet: click for the PDF

The monster creation questionnaire presented in Dungeon World isn't difficult or very complicated, but it does suffer from usability issues. As you read through the questionnaire, you are prompted to update ~7 different things:
  • Tags
  • Special Qualities
  • Instinct
  • Moves
  • Hit Points
  • Armor
  • Damage (and tags related to armor)
A single question/answer might very well have you adjust things in 2-3 categories.  For example, if the monster is "Much larger than a cart," you are told to add a general tag (huge), add a damage tag (reach), adjust its HP, and adjust its damage. If it's dangerous because of things other than wounds, you add a general tag (devious), write a move, and modify its damage. It's a very circular approach, and it takes longer than I like.

More importantly, when I'm making up a monster on the fly, I don't care about tags, qualities, or moves. If I can picture the monster in mind, I don't really need them. But I do like to play the numbers (HP, armor, damage) by the book—it helps me play to find out what happens. With the standard monster creation questionnaire, I've got to pour through the questions looking for the ones that affect damage, HP, and armor. Slows things way down.

With this cheat sheet, I can quickly run down the list and calculate those numbers & tags without the other stuff getting in the way. And if I'm prepping a monster in advance, I can just start at the top and work my way through, and the stat block is done

This cheat sheet should give you the same basic outcomes as the original questionnaire. I've added a few modifications, but they're marked with an * and I bet you'll approve of them.  

The Hazards column on the far right is my own invention. Basically, it’s meant as a reminder of all the different ways you might present a trap, an environmental hazard, or what have you.

Note: this is actually version 2 of this cheat sheet. You can find the original one here, but I like this new version better because it more thoroughly reflects the individual elements of the stat blocks. 


Stonetop is my "hearth fantasy" hack of Dungeon World, and my biggest ongoing project.

Image via Jason Lutes
From the introduction chapter:
You are one of these, who call Stonetop home. One of a handful of notable figures who stand out—admired, respected (maybe even reviled) for one reason or another. If there’s a problem in need of solving, or trouble brewing, people look to you for the solution. Or the cause. Or both.  
And right now, as the first wildflowers show their heads among the windswept grasses beyond the Wall, there’s trouble brewing. The world itself seems to be darkening, like the sky before those late-summer storms. Everyone can feel it. And some are afraid. 
These are good people, your kith and kin. If you don’t step up to protect them, who will?
The PCs play the local heroes of a small, isolated village in an iron age that never was. The giant ruins of the Makers lie half-buried all around. The fae dance in the Great Wood. The Things Below plot and dream and, recently, they stir. And all sane folk avoid deep water, for there dwell things, things that slither forth and drag you to your doom. Everyone knows this.

The game's core conceit is that it's centered on the PC's home town. It's still (mostly) a game about going on adventures, but those adventures happen to defend the town or to improve it. The steading itself gets its own playbook, with stats and improvements to be unlocked.

I've been working on this for a long time. It's a playable game, assuming you already know how to run Dungeon World.  I'm in the process, now, of turning it into a full-fledged product.  Jason Lutes is doing art direction, editing, and layout and plans to publish it under his imprint, Lampblack & Brimstone.

Here's a taste of the game:

You can learn more here. If you're interested in playtesting, and have a group that's willing to play at least 3 sessions and give feedback, hit me up on G+, via Hangouts, or below in the comments.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

What's this, then?

This is a blog about Dungeon World, my hack Stonetop, and related games and thoughts.   

Adam has since died of starvation. 

I've been playing Dungeon World since before it was published, and following its development since before even that. I've been actively involved in the Dungeon World Tavern since its early days, and I try to keep abreast of the conversations happening elsewhere (reddit, the Gauntlet, etc.). 

I've made a lot of content, posted willy-nilly all over the place. For Stonetop, I've looked at and analyzed most of Dungeon World and considered what to keep, what to discard, and what to change.I enjoy answering questions about the nuances of these games, and I like to give lots and lots of examples.

I've thought about this stuff a lot. I have opinions

So, this blog then, is about collecting those creations, thoughts and opinions. 

What you'll find here
I intend this blog to include...

  • Design notes on Stonetop and my other projects, as I work through problems and present new ideas.  
  • New content for Dungeon WorldStonetop, etc.
  • Permanent links to stuff I've made
  • Essays and general musings on Dungeon World and related PbtA games
  • Distillations and summaries of old conversations from the Tavern—there's a ton of great, stuff lost to the ephemeral nature of Google+.  
  • Whatever else I decide to put here.  
Got a question about Dungeon World or Stonetop or the like?  Ask in the comments and I'll try to answer, either there or via a post.