True Tales of a Gaming Harlot: Dread, Dungeon World, and Paranoia

 Since we last met, I’ve had the opportunity to “get around the block” if you know what I mean, gaming-wise. I was lucky enough to attend a small, private event that was a veritable smorgasboard of new games to try. So many, in fact, that I actually had to turn down games I’ve wanted to play for awhile in favor of other games I’ve wanted to try for an even longer while. I know, poor me, lamenting the overabundance of choice that plagues my life!

While I would have loved to try Dogs in the Vineyard or the new Marvel RPG, instead I chose to play a session of Dungeon World, followed by a session of Paranoia, and then wrapped up by a session of Dread in the wee hours.

I could probably cram all three reviews into one post,  but even I prefer bite-size chunks of gaming goodness, so we’ll just tackle these in order over the course of a few posts!

Dungeon World

From the site:

Dungeon World is a world of fantastic adventure. A world of magic, gods, demons, Good and Evil. Brave heroes venture into the most dangerous corners of the land in search of gold and glory.

You are those heroes. You go where others can’t or won’t. You conquer the unbeatable and laugh in the face of Death. There are monstrous things lurking in the world. Are you ready to face them?

What is Dungeon World?

Dungeon World is a roleplaying game by Sage LaTorra and Adam Koebel. It’s a game of epic fantasy with rules based on the Apocalypse World system. It’s also pretty awesome.

I’d have to agree with that last sentence. I know a lot of games attempt to capture that OSR feel for pre-4E D&D, but I’ve never played in one that snagged it so effectively, minus the flotilla of fiddly bits. In fact, it was so effectively old school D&D in feel, I kept checking my character sheet for extra math I had to do.

Seriously, it put me in exactly that place with D&D where for every action I wanted to take, I reverted to checking my sheet to see if I could do such a thing, and it actually hindered my ability to play the game. See, Apocalypse World is more of the “story game” genre, where the basic motto is “if you do a thing, you do it,” skipping over all the math and tactics and rules and such that help a person determine the exact length to which she could throw that chicken.

Discussing it with the GM afterwards, he basically put it like this: D&D broke my brain. I probably disagree with the broken part, but certainly D&D has so deeply shaped the way I think about that kind of high fantasy that it actually becomes a barrier to playing that same high fantasy in a story game.

I did like his solution to this “broken” bit, though: just take the rules away altogether. If you decide to run this for any kind of D&D grognards (and if you have any familiarity with Apocalypse World and D&D, I highly recommend it), it might be for the best: don’t give the players any rules to fixate on except the rule of cool. If you want to do a thing, just go ahead and do it.

What about you? Have you ever played Dungeon World or another Apocalypse World variant? Did you enjoy it or not, and whyso?


Part idiot. Part old man. All geek. Author and artist for the Vanity Games webcomic (www.vanitygames.com), a retro-futuristic post-apocalytpic romp through a land of broken science and corrputed magic. A lover of all games, tabletop, board, video, or otherwise, and an avid consumer of nerd / pop culture.


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About J. J. Sloane

Author and artist for the Vanity Games webcomic (www.vanitygames.com), a retro-futuristic post-apocalytpic romp through a land of broken science and corrputed magic. A lover of all games, tabletop, board, video, or otherwise, and an avid consumer of nerd / pop culture.
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