Playing Dungeon World Hack tomorrow; advice please?

edited February 2011 in Play Advice
Hello story-gamers!

I'm planning on running Dungeon World Hack for some friends tomorrow. I have all the material I need printed out, I've read Apocalypse World and ran a dozen sessions or so, and I've been playing and running D&D intermittently for 15 years.

That being said, I am not the world's most confident or well-organized GM. Would you guys be so kind as to offer advice, links, actual player reports, and the like? I have about 20 hours of work to do before tomorrow evening, or I would gladly troll the internet endlessly absorbing data.

I'm playing with a dear friend who just got out of the military and hasn't played anything since we were kids, and two hardcore White-Wolf fans who used to play D&D with me in the past (one of whom I have hooked on Dogs in the Vineyard and Apocalypse World). Both of the White-Wolf guys have played Apocalypse World with me, and both of them love it. One has gone so far as to run his own successful game, but he doesn't quite play as procedurally as the AW text demands.

Anyway, I hope that's enough data.


ETA: Also, the Dungeon World Hack seems to be missing some data that was in the old versions, namely how to make monsters and stuff. Can I still find that information somewhere?


  • They've been reworking the monsters and fronts sections, and so that stuff is, at the moment, not part of the Dungeon World Hack download. However, if you join up with the Adventurers Guild, you'll get access to the "latest builds" which do include that material. My suggestion, If you don't have time to wait and still have access to the older versions, just use the monster rules from those.

    Other general advice- start right into the action; keep things moving along at a brisk pace; ask the players lots of directed questions that inform the story ("It's an ambush! What devious trap have the bugbears used to catch you?").

    In regard to GM moves, lean more heavily on indirect moves ("put someone in a spot", "show signs of doom", "offer an opportunity") than on direct, hard moves ("deal damage", "turn their move back on them"). Make sure that successes (even 7-9 partial successes) feel like successes. Both of these points are in keeping with the "Be a fan of the characters" principle. They should be the heroes, and doing awesome things in tough situations.

    I'll be running it next weekend, so I've been thinking about this a bit. I hope this is helpful.
  • It is helpful; thanks Steve.

    Although, to join the Adventurer's Guild you need to submit an AP right? So I'll have to wait until the next time we play to see the latest build. Oh well, that's still exciting!
  • Get a dungeon map, not too big but with a couple interesting features. Write down one or two special moves for the interesting features. Write down a countdown for the dungeon (either everything goes on full alert, the dungeon will collapse or be flooded, the prisoners will be killed, the ritual will be finished, the target will escape, etc.). The PCs start outside the (main?) dungeon entrance. Use their bonds to establish quick backstory, and expand on this in the AW style as needed.

    Enemies should range from 3-6 hp per level (in the first dungeon, just 1st and 2nd level enemies) depending on how mookish they are. An enemy should have one or two special moves, and deal damage (and have armor) analogous to the equipment lists. There is no 'balance', so make it clear to your players they probably can't safely hack'n'slash through, and encourage both daring and clever approaches (with the other Moves).

    Place a couple special treasures (valuable gems or jewelry, magic items, maps, rare monster bits, secret plans or ancient lore worth a reward or further investigation), at least one in the open for each one hidden.

    Have a simple map of the local town, a couple places that are safe to travel (river or road), and a few that are not safe but known to be worthwhile (for loot, reward, or XP-ful based on your PC types). Have a few NPCs - the watering hole, the pawn/market/general store, the authority, and some quick sketches of skilled hirelings.

    Sling together a few more dungeons. Give one or two countdowns that tie them to NPCs and the PCs. This should keep you busy for a few hours of play. I'll be on for few more hours if you'd like more (ideas, details, reference to other resources, or other help).
  • That's all very solid and valuable advice, Daniel!
  • Thanks, Steve.

    Here's a quickie, Joey; my usual players all run to 'gonzo', so adjust the tone to your taste, if this proves to be useful.

    The dungeon is "Shrine of the Barrow Maiden", from Tony Dowler's Microdungeons, November Compilation ( , last map). The overall countdown is 'Disturbing the Shrine', 1-3 being palpable menace, 4-5 minor curse [-1 Defy Danger while in the vicinity of the dungeon, 6 summons 1d6 zombie defenders to harass the offenders. Tie the reason the PCs are here to their bonds, if possible.

    The entrance descends into the 'Den of Robbers'; unless it's otherwise established, the robbers [level1, 3hp, leathers (armor1), ragged bows (1d6) and short swords (1d6), Slippery (Position roll of 10+ does not give +1 forward)] aren't initially aware of the PCs. There are three of them here right now, enjoying the fruits of their crimes (gambling their 8 gold and drinking from three bottles of cheap wine) around a small coal-fire. They are open to negotiation if opposed by equal or greater numbers.

    They know there are zombies in the next room, but that's about it. The door to the antechamber is barred from this side.

    The antechamber has four shuffling zombies [level1, 5hp, 'natural' armor1, ragged bite and claw (1d4), Undead (averse to sunlight, immune to pain and poison and so on), Infection (damage from a bite causes an infection countdown 1-3 feeling sickly -1 to Con-based rolls and vector for infection 4-5 looking sickly -1 to Cha-based rolls 6 zombie!), Mindless (can't really trick, read intentions, Parley), Slow [+1 to Dodge and Position vs them)]. Clockwise around, the other four doors are: shut and locked ('oak wand'), shut (actual shrine), shut and jammed (pit room), and shut ('mhordak's refuge').

    The room of the Oak Wand has a small chest on a pedestal, containing the Oak Wand [+1 to Turn/Command Undead, 1/day cast Speak w/ Dead w/o a roll]. It is sacred to the Barrow Maiden.

    The actual shrine has nice tapestries, columns, and a statue of the Barrow Maiden. If a sincere prayer to her is made at her image, she will provide the effect of a Sanctuary spell, only affecting undead. Her 'tear' gems are tiny sapphires; removing them means you are doomed to return as undead if you die.

    The pit room has a chest full of tribute to the Barrow Maiden [approximately 20 gold in small coin]; approaching carelessly drops the character into the Thorn Trench [1d6 damage, +Defy Danger].

    Mhordak's Refuge houses Mhordak [level2, 10hp, 'natural' armor1, ragged bite and claw (1d4) or flail (1d8), Undead, Infection, Batter (damaged by the flail is knocked down and must Defy Danger)]. The actual guardian of the Shrine will come out if too much noise is made in the antechamber tussling with zombies. The rooms are those of an anchorite; Mhordak carries a sacred symbol worth a few gold and the key to the room of the Oak Wand but everything else is utterly decayed. The 'loam weevils' have infested the rear chamber, and will get into the gear of anyone lingering in the area [countdown 1-3 you've got weevils 4-5 they ruin food and gear 6 they spread to others]. The secret trapdoor is easy to find at this point, but is stuck from decay.

    The secret passage from Mhordak's refuge is relatively easy to traverse, but moving through the roots quickly requires a Defy Danger roll, and the DM picks.

    The Thorn Trench is not easily traversed; the faithful used to walk it as a test, and if a character has the Sanctuary from the Shrine statue they can ignore the thorns [moving through the Thorns along any one length or less of distance requires a Dodge roll or take 1d4 damage and Defy Danger]. The secret door is difficult to spot from this side [need an appropriate Spout Lore, Discern Realities, or a good plan to find it]; getting up the pit requires the usual gear or other help. The 'nest' is a nest of big rats [if disturbed, the rats swarm doing 1d4 damage until somehow dispersed or moved far enough away from]. The nest clearly contains coins, gems, and jewelry tucked into its weft, worth 1d4 gold per action spent rifling [to a maximum of 20 gold].

    There you go. Good luck with your game.
  • edited February 2011
    So far, great advice from everyone across the board.

    framweard, the last thing we want to do is leave you hanging when it comes to monsters. Steve's right, the current version is very much up in the air with regards to monsters, so we left them out for the time being. Soon the Hack version will have a few monsters, with the full version having a long list. But the last thing we want to do is leave you hanging, so here's a preview of the new monsters to get you started. Caveat: these are still a work in progress, so they may be a little wonky. Feedback would be awesome!

    As was noted above, monsters can range from mooky to dangerous pretty easily. PCs need to be ready to bring their wits, and fall back when things don't go their way.

    The other thing that accidentally got cut (from both versions, oddly enough) is leveling rules. 10 experience marks gets you second level, then you erase. 20 gets you third, erase, etc. Each level grants a new move. Levels divisible by three let you bump a stat up by one as well.

    I can't recommend Tony Dowler's maps enough. They're about as Dungeon World as you can get. Tony also wrote The Purple Worm Graveyard, an adventure that I've run several times which is great fun, though it's based on a different branch of the rules, so you made need to make some changes.

    If you're going for a pure dungeon crawl, starting at the entrance to the dungeon is my favorite strategy. Bonds will give you just enough context on why everyone's there, and off you go. Don't be afraid to make up things as you go, the rules are built to help you do just that. Even if the adventure isn't literally a descent into a dungeon, open the action at a point where things are about to happen: peeking from the bushes at an enemy encampment, about to present a case to the local Duke, whatever. Bonds are a great tool for skipping right to the action.

    Depending on your level of humor and gonzo-ness, I'd recommend reading Dingledale's Finest as a source of inspiration. There's also some good AP, question and suggestion threads on the DW forums.
  • Thanks guys! I have a good idea of what to do as far as prep goes, and reading this thread and the AP reports has been a good indication of what play looks like. Rad!

    Sage--thanks for the monsters! I'll let you know how they work out in game. I'll also check out Tony Dowler's maps.

    Woohoo! Getting excited now. I'll let you lot know how it goes.
  • edited February 2011
    I only just logged on after a few days Hiatus and saw this thread. I hope I catch you before you start playing.

    Dude! You'll be O.K. Just draw on your newfound AW skills and vast repotoire of D&D goodness. Ask questions like crazy, in fact answer the players questions with questions (especially about the setting). Collect all your D&D ephemera and have it at the table. Encourage the players to peruse it, it will give them (and you ideas). Tie the ephemera to moves.

    'Hey, this book has a whole section on traps! You mean you can have traps in a dungeon?!'
    'Sure, sounds like you're discerning reality here, are you interested to see if your wisdom on Phoneix Mt. is solid? Make with the dice mate.'

    The last session was at home (not camping) so for the Mt. Phoenix Dungeon, we busted out the tiles and minis and built the layout on the fly. I had no idea what shape the place was going to be or turn out like. I simply had my threats in the dungeon (the Front) and their emotive based motivations aimed at increasing PC scarcity and off we went. They grabbed tiles, sorta matched it to one of tony's maps and explored old skool style. When I made a hard move, it was a denizen, trap or twist in their path. It worked awesome.

    Good Luck. Please let us know how it goes! DW rawks.

    edit: also Dyson's maps and the griddle map maker.

    Oh, and re-incorporate everything the players mention. Say Yes a lot. In fact say Yes and then Why? Over and Over and Over.
Sign In or Register to comment.