Tag Archives: Core Mechanic

Dungeon World – Core Mechanic

Dungeon World


The core mechanic of every action in Dungeon World (that requires a roll) is to roll 2d6 and add a bonus. This bonus is generally a character attribute, such as Strength or Dexterity, but sometimes it comes from something else, like the loyalty of a henchman. Since there’s a 2d6 roll involved, the results of the roll are not linear, and the system takes advantage of this by having three categories of success for every roll: 10+ is an unequivocal success, 7-9 is a partial success or success with a complication, and 6- provokes a “GM move.” This mechanic really puts the focus on the player characters, and the GM is given a great deal of flexibility to determine what happens on the 6- and 7-9 results of die rolls.

There are a few things that result from the way this mechanic is structured.

1. The mechanic is simple and fast to execute

2. It gives the GM great flexibility to tell the story and keep the game moving

3. It’s a standard template for all moves of the game, making the game easier to extend through custom actions or “moves” as DW calls them.

4. All rolls have a consequence of failure (6-) meaning that players will rarely train rolls like they would in D&D (all 5 players make perception checks at every door, lore checks at every opportunity, diplomacy checks, etc.)

5. Replaces GM rolls. Basically, if you attack an enemy and roll a 7-9, you hit them and they hit you. If you roll a 6-, they hit you. This doubles the speed of the game since the enemy attack is also built into the player attack.

The rule book is very clear about making sure that these “moves” are all connected with the fiction of the game. A player cannot take a move without having qualified for taking that move through the fiction. Likewise, the player must take the move if their character triggers that move through the fiction. In other words, you cannot Hack and Slash if you don’t have a weapon and you can’t Parley if you have no leverage with which to Parlay.

Just about every action the player mechanically takes outside of the fiction follows the same template. There is a move for taking watch at camp, fast traveling, and even leveling up (although the level up move doesn’t require a 2d6 roll).

What to like about DW Core Mechanic:

  •  Homogenous throughout the game
  •  Easy and fast to execute
  •  Non-Linear
  •  Varying levels of success
  •  Effectively reduces overhead on GM

 What not to like about DW Core Mechanic:

  • Low range of results means characters improvement cannot be very granular or cover wide range of skill
  • Difficult is not really factored into the core mechanic.  This is hard to get your head around at first.  Essentially, this makes a goblin as “easy” to hit as a demon.



Dice Chart Porn

There’s a nifty little site called AnyDice that lets you play with some dice probabilities and makes pretty charts and graphs for you.  You can do some basic stuff pretty easily, and with a little bit of programming, you can model some pretty sophisticated probability curves.

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Post #100 and FATE

This was an initial goal for the blog.  I didn’t really know if I would hit 100 posts, but here I am.  I’m traveling, but I thought I’d fit a quick post in today anyway, and maybe not one that’s just self-congratulatory for an accomplishment many have surpassed long ago.

So, I was thinking about FATE and how you roll 4d6 and count success as +1 and failure as -1, defined generally by a 1-2 = failure and 5-6 = success.  I was thinking about how that compares to other systems, and how it might compare to 2d10.

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It’s a Monday.  I’ve hit a point where I’m not quite sure how to continue with Lost Worlds.  I may take a break from this whole thing for awhile and come back to it with some fresh thoughts.  I may play in Andy’s game for awhile and review how I feel about the game from a player perspective rather than a GM perspective.

Barring some flash of insight (no, I’m not about to crit you with a cyclops Brian), I have two choices: wait and think more on my core mechanic, or design the game using the core mechanic I have and borrowing heavily from familiar systems.  I’m not sure which route I want to go.

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English: Six dice of various colours. 4-sided ...

Zak has a post praising the elegance of Basic Role Playing‘s d20 system as implemented in the Pendragon RPG.  I think it’s fascinating to see what people have to say in the comments.  Zak is right when he talks about the system being elegant from a simplicity standpoint.   If you’re too lazy to RTFA, here’s a summary.  Your skills are rated on a scale of 1-20 (or whatever die you’re using for the core mechanic).  You attempt to roll under your skill to succeed at a check.  Opposed checks try rolling as high as possible, while still rolling under your skill.  While the comments are all over the place, most of my objections to the system are covered in some way:

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Rebuilding the Core Mechanic

I’m in a little bit of an internal battle with myself.  On the one hand, I’ve built out a core mechanic that I liked with the 2d10.  Add them together, you get your attack against a target defense.  Trigger special powers off of one, and deal damage with the other.  I liked the mechanic, but I also like the idea of dropping the attack roll altogether.

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