Saturday, October 13, 2012

RPG Review Recess - Dungeon World (Proofs Copy)

I admit it. I will sometimes bow to peer pressure. That's why I backed Dungeon World when I had money, good times that. I backed it because a lot of people I know and respect backed it. I backed it because a lot of those people were touting this as an amazing thing that did amazing stuff. I figured, if they liked it there's a good chance I'll like it.

Now, I want to say right now that I don't dislike this game. I think it looks like a lot of fun. I just ... don't get it. I don't get why it's the AMAZINGLYAWESOMEELEVENTY! that people have said it was.

For those of you not running in the same peer circles as I am, let me explain, no that will take too long ... let me sum up. Apocalypse World is a game that takes a post-apocalyptic future. I haven't played it, or read it, but from what people say it's pretty awesome in that things rarely happen without consequence and there's a lot of character drama in a post apocalyptic game. It's not a pretty game, but the harshness is a feature and not a bug (and I agree with that). The basic mechanic is that you roll dice (I'm pretty sure that it's 2d6, but that's because I'm reading Dungeon World ... again this information is reverse engineered since I haven't read AW) and 10+ means you succeed, 7-9 means you succeed but with a cost, and 6- means you done fucked up good.

That's awesome. I love any mechanic with built in dramatic tension when it fits, and AW totally fits that mold.

Then, there is sex in the game. It's a part of the whole thing, but I'm not going to talk about that for AW. I'm going to talk about sex moves with Monsterhearts because I have read that game. Monsterhearts is that teen drama movie/show/book you've read and always wanted to play. The drama is high, people are fighting each other all the time, and sex is rampant in the game. My friend Mikael, who runs Hammercon (a great local con if you're in the Greater Toronto Area), complains that, "I can't get my characters to stop fucking each other." It works too, there's all these consequences when people have sex with each other in Monsterhearts including turning into their darker selves because of it. It's just fucking brilliant in the way it handles those kinds of relationships. Amazing.

This leads me to my kind of ambivalence about Dungeon World. I walked into it with that kind of set up, primed from Monsterhearts and with all this amazing commentary going on in the background. Then I read it and went, "I don't get it."

It's a fantasy game that uses the AW mechanic, which is fine. It's interesting that combat is such that if you get the 7-9 you'll face a counter attack. It's good at giving you a part with complex bonds between them as they go forth. It's got a fun old school feel at times? I mean it works, and it's all very neat and together but I don't really get a sense of why this game over any other fantasy game. The moves here don't really feel as necessary as they do in Monsterhearts, if that makes sense. In Monsterhearts you're dealing with a lot of hormones and a lot of bad things so codefying that makes sense. In Dungeon World it just kind feels a little like it's just there.

Again, I want to point out that I like this product so far. I'm just not particularly blown away by it. Maybe it's because my expectations are higher? People talking it up and I'm expecting more than I should? It talks about epic fantasy but I don't quite feel that the game supports that. To me it feels that it supports a more gritty fantasy game.

Would someone like to explain to me why this game is amazing? I really do want to understand.

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