Hacking Beyond the Wall to use something like World of Dungeons resolution mechanic

(Oooh, first thread! :upside_down_face: )

There is a lot about Beyond the Wall I can’t wait to try: The communal character and setting creation, its nifty Scenario packs and so on.

What I struggle with when reading it is some of its OSR/D&D mechanics. The basic resolution methods are fine on their own, but the fact that there are 2-3 of them? Less so. Sometimes it’s roll-under, sometimes not, sometimes attributes matter, sometimes they don’t. These small inconsistencies rub me the wrong way and so I thought of ways to hack things a bit.

So far, my idea is to liberally take BtWs chargen (+Village-gen, etc.) and bolt it to something like Dungeon World/World of Dungeons 2d6+attribute modifier -> 6-/7-9/10+ mechanic, while retaining most of the mechanical bits around it. So there would still be spells/cantrips/rituals, you’d roll them when appropriate, damage and hit points could stay as is, and so on.

So far my idle musings have identified a few issues with this idea and I’d love to get some input/ideas here.

  1. Modifiers:

BtW uses modifiers a lot, especially in its magic system, where they are used to allow Cantrips to do more for increased difficulty or buff other characters with stuff like Bless. Since 2d6+Stat has a much smaller range and weighted probabilities its more sensitive to both bonuses and penalties and something like a +/-1 has a much bigger influence than a +2 on a d20.

Maybe something like advantage/disadvantage could work better here, but dunno? :thinking:

  1. Skills:

In BtW, skills are a thing. The skills you get matter a lot in shaping your character and sometimes you can get the same skill multiple time, showing that you’re REALLY good at that and providing stacking bonuses.

PbtA doesn’t generally do skills, tho. Either they are absent (Or codified on a different level as Moves.) or provide non-numeric advantages, like the “Can’t fail even on a Miss, just gets a bigger consequence” of World of Dungeons, or “just” matter for narrative positioning. (Allowing you to do things unskilled people couldn’t do.) When they appear, they tend to be binary, ie. you either have a skill or not.

Since I want to keep the chargen as much as it is in BtW as possible, I’d prefer not to change the fact that there are skills, that they matter mechanically and that they can poentially stack, but I’m struggling with how to keep that and use the simple PbtA-style resolution mechanic.

Maybe different skill levels could give different Bonuses like “Roll with Advantage” or “Can’t Fail on a Miss”, but it all seems kinda meh.

  1. Combat, BAB and the Fighter

The Fighter’s thing is he’s good at combat and that’s def. something I want to keep, but that means figuring out whether I want to keep BtWs combat as with stuff like BAB (and if I don’t whether I should keep the Fighter something to compensate/highlight its “Better in Combat” nature) or if I should change it to be closer to PbtA combat. (Less strict initiative rules/more fluid order of events, armor as damage reduction, etc.)

Well, those are my ideas and issues so far. Has anybody else thought about doing something similar? Any ideas or comments are appreciated. :slight_smile:



I know that @RichardRuane has been doing a bit of hackery in this realm. So maybe he’ll have some ideas…

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I’ve given this a little thought, myself. Largely, this is me saying “sub,” but a couple things jump to mind right away.

Firstly, WoDu characters are basically defined by:

  • 6 stats (no 3-18 stuff, just the -1 to +3 modifier)
  • 2 skills (1 from their class, 1 picked from a list)
  • 2 special abilities (almost all of which are only 1 sentence long; usually, you’re picking 2 from 4 available to a class)
  • Their starting equipment

Wizards have a special magic system, but there’s no reason you’d have to keep using the stock one from there.

Point being: I think the key to this would be to change the Beyond the Wall playbooks and character creation systems to generate those elements. I actively wouldn’t worry about carrying over much of the specific mechanical elements of BtW, but I would think about how you assigned the special abilities, what the skill list would be, etc.

Though, something I’ve always wondered about the BtW… a number of lifepath choices give you skills that seem… unhelpful. “Fishing” and “Weaving” come to mind. Do they actually get much use in a BtW game?


We did a procedural character building/classless WoDu game (that eventually morphed into Dark Designs in Verdigris): https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Nacvcpg6ILJ9qYuajvdJsd2cBoB3xQO6mwlEF8XwCCY/edit?usp=sharing

I think you can simply modify the math in the existing playbooks to account for the loss of a skill system, or else just write in the WoDu skills and abilities.

Most of the stuff I’ve been doing lately has been to create lifepath playbooks for either @Diogo_Nogueira’s Old Skull house system or else Whitehack.

There are rumors afoot that @Chris_Wolf and @Thoobn have each separately been working on a more procedural approach to Troika! character creation.


Interesting topic! I’ve been quite curious about Beyond the Wall for some time, for many of the reasons you list.

One note:

There’s lots of fun things you can do with PbtA-style rolls and different die types (I’ve fooled around with this a lot, and designed a handful of games based on this concept - e.g. The Bureau, but I’m not aware of any way to use advantage/disadvantage tricks with the dice to get finer gradations of bonuses and penalties. (For instance, advantage on a 2d6 roll - i.e. rolling 3d6 and keeping the best two - is in the ballpark of a +1.5 or so.)

If you do end up wanting to use PbtA-style moves in a d20-based system, you can do so with almost no modification (including being able to use all the stats and skills and modifiers without any change):

  • Roll twice (2d20).
  • If both rolls succeed, that’s equivalent to a 10+ result.
  • If one succeeds and one fails, that’s a mixed success, or a 7-9.
  • If both fail, that’s a miss (equivalent to a 6 or less).

This allows a pretty painless import of PbtA moves to a d20-based system, with odds that are pretty close to a 2d6 roll, where rolling 11 or better is roughly like rolling with a +1, and adding or subtracting 2.5 points is almost exactly equivalent to a +/-1. (So, rolling a 6 or better is like rolling at +3.)


Another way to do this is to use ironsworn’s roll 1action die (+modifications) + 2 situation dice, and see if the action score is greater than both situation dice (10+), only one (7-9), or none (-6). What I’ve done in my pbta hack Middle World is having the situation dice being d8s. But if the player has an advantage, they become d6s, and if they have a disadvantage, they become d10s!

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Thanks for the interesting ideas, still digesting them!

I thought about that but since I actually like many of the mechanical elements (or at least their story implications if not their specific implementations) more than how World of Dungeons does these things, I’m hesistant. I might steal/adapt some of WoDuns abilities for stuff like Knacks, but WoDuns skill set in particular is kinda meh, IMO.

Don’t know if they get much use but I quite like that the lifepath generates results that can seem odd, mundane or less useful.

For one, BtW seems like a game about finding clever ways to solve the problems at hand, so characters having skills that can be situationally useful seems appropriate. Also, it reinforces the idea that these are young adults from the village, so many of them should know some craft or other. And last but not least, BtW seems like a game where solving the issues of murderous fae by having a beautiful singing voice to sooth the Ogre Kings grief or challenging enemies to a boat building contest would be in genre.

Ooooh, this looks very interesting, I’ll check that out.


Considering that you will have to convert all three mechanics (attack/skills/saves) over to WoD’s 2d6, another option would be to keep the d20 and the one mechanic you like, and modify or flip the other numbers to match.

For example if you like the roll-under stats mechanic for skill checks, add 10 to all your attack bonuses and now you roll under Attack to hit. Get your new Save scores by deducting the old ones from 21 (so 15 would become a 6) and now you also roll under your Saves to pass those too.

It’s not WoD 2d6, but it’s a much simpler fix.


Wait, what? I’m working on something?

Thanks to @Michael_G_Barford, I have something very like that merged with cool skill economy, just waiting for testing before I put it out for free download… Every time someone mentions the mechanic, I kick myself for not having it publicly available.

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I thought you’d said you were working on some Troika life path tables, but I’m easily confused.

Interested in this. I bought Beyond the Wall based on recommendations that it would make a good entry level RPG for my niece, but after reading it through I realized it would definitely not be for her. We ended up getting Ryuutama however, and it’s beautiful. So, yeah, I think a hack to port BotW things over to something more PbtA-ish I’m very interested in. (That said, I’d be more interested in porting BotW things into Ryuutama, if only I had the time :slight_smile: )

It wouldn’t be hard to port BtW characters made with the playbooks across to Ryuutama. BtW characters end up with six stats which could be converted as below, a handful of skills which could be swapped for their nearest equivalent in Ryuutama, and a bunch of relationships which will work as is.

I think the collaborative campaign building systems in Further Afield could work really well with Ryuutama’s travelling rules.

As for the stats:
If BtW Strength 13+, set Ry Str to d6
If BtW Dexterity 13+, set Ry Dex to d6
If BtW Intelligence 13+, set Ry Int to d6
If BtW Charisma 13+, set Ry Spt to d6
If BtW Constitution 13+, increase either Str or Spt one step
If BtW Wisdom 13+, increase either Dex or Int one step
Anything else is set to d4.