Alternative to Dungeon World?

Hi! What game would you recommend as an alternative to Dungeon World?

I’m looking for a game with “traditional” classes, to just trow at my D&D friends when we are together and want to play a session. What would be a good PbtA for this? Or should I go OSR?

I wanted to try DW for the past year, but right now I don’t like the idea of supporting Adam Koebel



My go to alternative to DW is One Shot World

It’s really nicely reducing DW to the bare minimum.


I really liked Freebooters on the Frontier 2e which is being actively discussed on the forum. I think it would take me a while to figure out how to express exactly why I prefer it so strongly to Dungeon World. But FotF 2e is only like thirty-ish pages so might as well look it over and see if it speaks to you. I ran it with a group of people completely new to RPGs recently and they picked it up really quickly.


Freebooters is one of my favorite games currently. I’ve always put it that where DW suffers by trying to be both PbtA and D&D, Freebooters succeeds by learning harder into the (O)D&Disms and subsequently manages to do both parts better.

That said, I don’t know if I would recommend it as good for just throwing at players when they want to play a session–it’s pretty explicitly built for campaign play imo, and has a pretty involved collaborative world generation process.

For something that’s quick to the table, I’d also recommend One-Shot World or, my current go-to, Homebrew World. Both are great and both are free, so I’d recommend looking them over and seeing which feels like a better fit.


Old-school D&D is definitely a fun way to go, and there are so many good games in the OSR sphere these days. If you’re interested, ask, and you’ll get some great suggestions! Labyrinth Lord, Into the Odd, and The Black Hack might offer a good starting point for looking at your options.

World of Dungeons is a game some people really enjoy, as well, although it’s much lighter in structure.

Another fun alternative is Red Box Hack (more whimsical) or Old School Hack (more structured, more polished, more standard fantasy) - one game is a variant of the other, and both are free. I prefer a lot of things about Red Box Hack, but Old School Hack has more of the traditional D&D thing going on.


Homebrew World is, in my opinion, a superior version of Dungeon World, anyway. I see little reason not to use this if you want “as close as possible to DW, but better”.


Looking at Homebrew World, I’m surprised it uses advantage/disadvantage as opposed to the typical +1. My understanding is that a/d takes away a lot of the opportunities for a 6-, which might take away from some of the excitement.

I’d hate to reduce 6- results by that much of a margin. What do other people think?

some thoughts:

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I can say that, with close to 100 sessions under belt (both playing and running) DW-adjacent games that use advantage instead of +1 forward, that there have been no shortages of misses, and definitely no shortages of 7-9 results pushing the stories.

Yes, advantage is a significant boost. When you’re starting with a +0 or +1 modifier, it’s closer to a +2 than a +1. It’s more like a +1 than a +2 when you start off at +2 or +3 in the first place. And in most cases, doesn’t hugely alter the frequency of 7-9 results, which IMO is the result that tends to make most PbtA games hum.

Reasons I like advantage:

  • It doesn’t stack, so you don’t have to worry about accumulations of +1 from here and +1 from there
  • Failure is always at least a little possible
  • It’s very clear whether a +1 bonus only actually affected a roll, and only ~1 in 4 rolls are actually affected. So more often than not, it feels like that +1 modifier you got “didn’t matter.”
  • It’s much less clear whether advantage affected any given roll (even if you roll a special die, it still feels like it might have mattered. Thus, advantage feels like more of a boost.

Thank you all! Seem I have plenty to check over the weekend. Homebrew World and One Shot World seem the closest to what I was looking originally but all of these options look great.

I particularly like the promise of Labyrinth Lord about combat resolved quickly. And Red Box Hack being more wuxia.

Right now I’m checking Freebooters. A lot of effort has gone into this, and it shows


I’m actually the creator of the above-mentioned One Shot World… and I wouldn’t actually recommend it for you here.

For PbtA I’d push for Freebooters, but if you ARE interested in OSR, these days I’d suggest playing around with Maze Rats, Knave, The Black Hack, Troika! and Into The Odd. I’m a huge fan of Into The Odd: Electric Bastionland, if the setting is your kind of thing. I also think it does a really great job of providing that perfect balance between problem solving, exploration and character growth so many games strive at; it’s also so much easier to learn than most games these days.


Maybe checkout Vagabonds of Dyfed, which kind of marries OSR and PbtA.
World of Dungeons is really minimalist but very well-designed and great for fantasy 1-shots.


I hadn’t realized World of Dungeons is from the same designer of Lady Blackbird. I’m going to check it out!

And YES Electric Bastionland is exactly my kind of setting. I’ll be checking most of this games this week. Really all of them seem great, while not all of them “for me” I’ll still check One Shot World, because I like the concept, even if as @yochaigal said, it might not be great for my D&D friends


Maybe I can also pitch Fantasy World :slight_smile:
The rulebook is freely available here: tiny.ccFantasyWorldRPG

It’s focus is dramatic fantasy (exploration of setting, characters and personal themes) rather than the action action action typical of DW.

It is also written and designed to be way more explicit and clear than most PbtA, taking nothing for granted and baking “good advice” and “best practices” directly into the game rules and procedures.
For someone unfamiliar with PbtA games I believe it is the best game to teach them how to play this kind of games. Especially coming from more “trad” systems there can be a lot of unspoken rules that more “indie” gamers (and rulebooks) take for granted and don’t really overtly explain :stuck_out_tongue:


You could try something vintage and lightweight like the Advanced Fighting Fantasy. There is a V2 that came out recently. It was interesting to look at again recently because I discovered its a bit like DW, in that you let the players describe their actions some combat feels more loose and narrative driven. The basic D6 rules also align a little but are opposed rolls.

I did a review of the 1st edition from 1989 with some actual walk-through play at the end of the video for a flavour of the combat, however I hear good things about the v2 which is still in print. I now own V2 so I need to get another video organised of the gameplay.

Shadow of the Demon Lord is a simple “oldschool RPG but with modern design principles” system designed for very fast character creation with deep customization options as you level up (and is intended for short adventures and short campaigns). It’s got cool stuff if you’re into its darker tone.


I would echo many of the other suggestions but I would also add Barbarians of Lemuria for a fun 2d6 system OSR. It is swords and sorcery…so not exactly D&D equivalent and 3 variations of difficulty. I prefer the Legendary version to the newest. The newest is more like D&D 5e than OSR rules.