The Best Thing About Dungeon World

Blog   Garrison Benson   Monday, October 31, 2016   Dungeon World, tabletop RPGs   Comments


I'm two sessions into a new Dungeon World campaign. I could write praises all day about Dungeon World and its underlying Powered by the Apocalypse engine. But here's the best thing:

A low die roll (a "miss") does not mean failure.

Like much of Dungeon World, it's such a paradigm shift that it takes a while to really grok.

In most RPGs, a bad roll means failure—the character failed to accomplish the task. Often this clashes with an awesome character concept, and repeated failures turn the game into a Keystone Kops-esque slapstick fumblefest.

In Dungeon World, a bad roll—6 or lower on a roll of 2d6 plus an attribute modifier—means trouble. As per its GM principle "Be a fan of the characters", a Dungeon World game master's job on a "miss" is not to make the player characters look incompetent. It's to make the world dangerous. (Another GM principle: "Think dangerous.")

Even partial successes are improved: Where in many games a tie or partial success means nothing much happens (e.g. combatants harmlessly exchange parries), in Dungeon World it means success with complications. On every roll the story changes and presses onward.

In summary:

  • On a hit (10+): Your character is a straight up badass!
  • On a partial success (7-9): The plot thickens!
  • On a miss (6-): This foe/dungeon/adventure/world is dangerous! (And thus your character is a straight up badass.)

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