Monday, August 20, 2012

The Perfect Storm

Dungeon World
I love Dungeon World.

This is not a review of Dungeon World, this is a love letter. Few, if any, gaming sessions have moved me as this one did, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Yesterday was the last day of GenCon 2012. My sons and I had only one scheduled event that day: a 4 hour slot of Dungeon World run by co-creator Adam Koebel. My sons and I sat down to play with two other players and a very tired Adam. Being the last day of the con, with it's melancholy mix of joy and sadness, energy was low as we began.

I have played several sessions of Apocalypse World, the game on which DW is based, so I thought I knew what to expect:

  • Classes & Moves
  • 2d6 resolution mechanic
  • Collaborative story and setting creation
  • Dungeons & Dragons tropes
What was unexpected was the magic that was created at that table: the perfect storm.

I'm not going to go into the details of the setting and our characters because that was part of the magic of that moment; magic always loses something in the translation. I will say that as character creation took place the shared world we explored began to grow with a seeming will of its own. It was a product of no one person, everyone added elements which quickly added up to be something more than any one of us could produce on our own. The storm clouds gathered.

As the world and characters took shape, Adam and all the players became energized. Adam led us through the world we were creating with the simplest of techniques: he asked us questions; lots and lots of questions. Play continued as world and characters became more defined by player choices. Thunder rumbled in the distance.

As we moved on and up, we heard and saw lightning in the distance. We were well aware of the frailty of our protagonists. I could tell by the look in the players' eyes that there was doubt that the characters would complete their quest. And a quest it became as dark deals were made and specters of the past were disturbed. The storm was here.

In the final moments lightning struck, the barrier between life and death was crossed and a grieving heart was set to rest with one merciful stroke. The perfect storm passed and healing rain washed over the world like a cool panacea.

This is not a review of Dungeon World. I love what this game can do. I know I can't recreate the magic of that perfect storm, but I now have the tools to make my own.

I love Dungeon World.


Follow Your Bliss,


  1. I'm excited to hear that you and your boys were able to play Dungeon World – it is my son's favorite RPG at the moment.

    Fantastic to hear how the game played out for you. Some of the techniques are really easy to bring into play for any game. Others, not without some work.

    The game really clicked for me when I played a late night game with the Games on Demand GMs. Everything was folding back into the story. In fact, the character introduction created much of the defining characteristics of the world. The fireplace where the bard was playing, the ranger's grand entrance from the snow, the bag of books carried by the wizard.

    It was great to meet you at Games on Demand. I had a great time playing Fiasco and Durance with you and your boys.

    1. Jeremy! Awesome to hear from you. My boys are still talking about the Fiasco game we played. You and Kit have made real Fiasco converts of them. We picked up both books before we left the con.

      I agree, character creation defined so much of what Adam brought back into play. All the players in our game continued to build on what was established by our Bonds. It was amazing how something as small as a simple sentence about a relationship could have such a big impact on play.

      I'm about to jump into a play-by-forum game of DW. If you're interested, I'll let you know how that goes. The mechanics seem well suited to that style of play.

  2. Hey there! I was so excited to see this, and to have been a part of the game. My wizard continues to work on his courage and to follow the path of suffering, as your cleric insists. :)

    1. C.J., I'm glad you found this. I think the deal you made to further your power was so key to the growth of your wizard. I want to see what happens next.