How do you play World of Dungeons?

Inspired by this post, I’d like to ask: how do you play your personal version of World of Dungeons? This is the sort of thing I’d love to hear answered by folks like @elStiko, @jasoncordova or @jasonlutes, @Tam and @Michael_G_Barford, if you guys have the time…

Specifically, I’d like to know:

Do you use the Magic system as-is (essentially bottled spirits your Wizard can Summon)? Or do you do something else? Maybe you use the same mechanic, but theme it differently, perhaps making some small change in the mechanic? For example, Quicksilver could be less damaging, rituals take more/less time or perhaps you include spells like Advanced WoDu?

What about classes? Standard set, or do you let people mix & match?

Do you use anything like Keys, Drives, Bonds or Flags? Flaws?

What about XP on fail?

Adventuring Gear or abstracted items?


Hit Dice/Damage?

Custom Character Sheet?

DW GM Moves?


I’m just curious how folks deal with the “rules-lite” nature of the game, especially after having come from heavier systems. Homebrew or hack recommendations are welcome. I’d also love to hear some best practices!

I’m thinking about using Knave’s 100 Level-less spells; it seems like it would work pretty well. Or Marvels & Malisons. I’d also like to look into rolling up a character randomly, like Into The Odd, especially for one shots.



I rewrote the magic system, so now it keys on HD and abilities/moves, essentially granting uses of them. Works very well in practice and it makes it so easy to come up with new spells.
I feel like you could make any old school magic system work just fine, with a bit of work – I’ve been considering working up something like The Magician as a general magic system, for example.

I expanded the classes, adding a few new ones and vastly increasing the moves you can choose from. I consider classes to be “packages” and don’t care if people mix and match or make their own packages, both at generation and over time. Take what reflects your character’s skills and experiences! Levels 10+ you start getting custom moves out of it, even.

I use standard XP for coin, and it had some advantages, but also felt like a “flourish” more than a necessary aspect – I think XP on fail would work just fine and be a lot less bookkeeping/negotiating. I don’t use any keys, drives, bonds, or the like, but I could easily see Keys working here (I used them in Calypso) and will probably settle on those as my “default XP method” for this WoDu hack.

I use Adventuring Gear, and expand that to all sets – tools, dungeon gear, etc. Just easier that way.

Inventory is purely fictional and common sense based.

I pushed HD up and made it clear +CON is not actual HD, just a bonus. That allows the spell damage and backstab modifiers to key off it.

Did not do a custom character sheet. I’ll put it on the List.

I did mix in DW Agenda, Principles, and Moves, much simplified. I also added in a Hazard die and some time-keeping stuff, to give it that “old school dungeon” feel.

As far as setting goes, I keep it agnostic – there’s an implied light fantasy setting, with some tech (I just loved A-WoDu’s Gadget too much!) but you could use it for any setting with some light skinning. Of course, you know building in setting is something I tend to do lightly and obliquely, for better or worse. :smiley:


Magic in World of Dungeons is actually very interesting! The Wizard is one of my favorite classes in WoDu because it does things differently. The Fighter and Thief are basically more boring versions of their Dungeon World counterparts (like, Signature Weapon is one of my favorite DW bits and it’s painfully missing from WoDu’s Fighter), but the Wizard is its own unique take on the archetype. It feels much more occult, mysterious, dangerous. And, it does away with spell lists, a personal bugbear.

I love the ambiguity of the Ritual ability. You start with two known rituals…that is all the rules have to say about that, and it lets me work with players to populate interesting content into the world with easy implied questions: “What rituals do you know? What do you need to do them? Where did you learn of them?”

The Summon move is also very cool. It makes it clear that magic is dangerous and alien, something that mere mortals really should be leaving alone. But it also takes up a whole sidebar, something no other ability does, which makes it a little unwieldy. To be fair, it’s probably one of the shortest magic sections in any RPG I’ve read, but when the rest of the playbooks fit in a single paragraph it is a notable exception.

Here’s an alternative set of Wizard abilities I’ve used for one-shots and cons that works pretty well and requires less explanation:

Kinesis: You can cast Mage Hand, Floating Disc, and Force Field
Illusion: You can cast Invisibility, Charm, and Hologram
Premonition: If you spend some time in quiet contemplation, you can receive a vision of the future
Arcane Missile: You can summon a magical projectile that deals d6 damage

The base classes help to lessen analysis paralysis but mix and match is fine with me! I’ve also used WoDu for “Interdimensional Travellers” and let folks use any ability and reflavor to their liking. We ended up with a beat cop, a space Steve Irwin, and other fun weirdos without much difficulty.

WoDu doesn’t have much to say about itself, but this one line always stuck out to me: “…mainly it’s about the looting.” I personally really enjoy seeing interpersonal discussions and relationships between characters, but I don’t usually leverage the mechanics to do that. I look for downtime scenes and moments of implied intimacy to ask leading questions. @jasoncordova’s Perilous Journey questions from the Discern Realities Annual are a particular fave, basically along the lines of, “What’s something another party member does at camp that is particularly annoying or endearing?” When it’s time to use a ration to heal, whom do you share with? If you’re applying bandages or laying on hands, what are the two of you feeling right now? etc.

I like XP on a fail, but it doesn’t fit into the base WoDu XP structure very well. When you’re hacking/homebrewing WoDu, that’s the bit I would recommend you turn to first, especially if you have specific themes you want to reinforce. If you use DW’s list of questions or a similar system you can incorporate XP on a fail pretty easily.

For some people budgeting for every torch and length of rope is half the fun! I’m not one of those people. I use adventuring gear or “kits” (like a thieves’ kit which probably has lockpicks and probes or a disguise kit with conveniently appropriate wigs, etc.)

Here’s some fun things you can fiddle with for Hit Dice:

  • During character creation, a level 0 character starts with 1d6 HP, level 1 starts with 6 HP, level 2 has 6 + CONd6, level 3 has 6 + (CON+1)d6, etc.
  • When you make camp somewhere that is unsafe, inhospitable, or evil, if your recovery roll is less than your current HP you must still accept it to reflect your fitful sleep. Otherwise, you don’t have to accept it and keep your current HP.

For damage I also like to use weapon tags from DW, including the ammo tag. When you’re using an ammo weapon, I’ll let you wager ammo to grant “advantage” on damage (like a Light Weapon does) - on a 7-9 you’ve used up your quiver.

Also, the rules don’t say what Armor or Speed actually do - I have Armor act as damage reduction and Speed is usually just used for fictional positioning.

Here’s one I’ve printed on 4x6 index cards for one-shots at cons (notably missing references to levels and XP among other things):

Here’s some online character keepers as well:
Automated + Simple XP:

All of them! And all the advice from Discern Realities! The big difference is that instead of “surprising” you with a move on a 6-/7-9, we talk it out first. That’s an important step that is pretty easy to forget. A WoDu GM can benefit a lot from reading DW and becoming familiar with its GM moves and the effects of the various results from the basic moves.

WoDu is deceptively challenging because coming up with those 9- moves can be tough over time! When in doubt, share that cognitive load with your players. “What’s the one thing you’re most worried about happening as a result of your action?” If there’s nothing that really scary to think of, maybe you don’t need to roll and can just keep moving forward. If there is something scary, think about how things can go even worse on a 6-.


the previous response is pretty spot on. Very comprehensive.

I run the game much more barebones having never used WoDu for anything more than a one shot.

Come up with a cohesive story and run with it. Make characters and set the scene. To determine the pressure of the scene, roll a 1d6 like you would an engagement roll in blades. 1 is desperate position and 6 is controlled for the players.

Then just talk and play as you normally would apocalypse world or dungeon world. Every roll besides damage is just defying some sorta danger.


Yep, but kids don’t like hearing they’re out of quicksilver.

Standard fits the fast-to-table attraction of the game, but the ability to cutsom build is there whern you have the time/inclination.

Not in this game, just slows things down. Actually would love to improve bonds in DW for that matter, but never fell in love with any replacements. I think I’d love to use bonds and just fix the aid move to not tie to roll+bond.

Yep, unless it’s a convention one-shot, but I’d love to implement a spend-xp-to-reroll or something instead for those sessions where leveling is out of scope.
I prefer to just make it 10xp per level if I want a game this simple.
I don’t use money to level because Death to Capitalism!

Specify the interesting ones, abstract the mundane.

After discovering Adam Koebel has never used the encumberance rules for DW, I tend to let max capacity slide by unless someone really takes advantage.

I like to simplify the damage into 1/2/3d6 based on difficulty, assuming 1d6 to be trivial and 3d6 to be a big deal, and wing it during play.
HD is not a big deal to leave as-is, but I personally have a grudge against the term and the obscure way they’re used everywhere.

You know it. I simply can’t stop making them even though I adore The Harper Original.

The Things We Did All Along, Then Someone Reminded Us And It Got Easier

Best WoDu I’ve run with adults was a sidequest from my lunchtime DW campaign after a TPK. We switched to WoDu sheets to explore and escape the afterlife and get back to their bodies in Eberron. WoDu ports of the characters was a great way to simulate being shades, and the currency of the place was the faint memory of your class moves. Failure over there would slowly strip them of moves and drain stats until the sheet was essentially blank.


Those indexers are sweet! Love the innovations. One of these days I want to make something between yours, the black hack 2e sheets, and the indexers I saw for Old School Hack


Do you the Magic system as-is (essentially bottled spirits your Wizard can Summon )? Or do you do something else? Maybe you use the same mechanic, but theme it differently, perhaps making some small change in the mechanic? For example, Quicksilver could be less damaging, rituals take more/less time or perhaps you include spells like Advanced WoDu?

Answer: I run it as written.

What about classes? Standard set, or do you let people mix & match?
Answer: we use the standard classes or folks can make their own following the guidelines in the rules.

Do you use anything like Keys, Drives, Bonds or Flags? Flaws?

Answer: I used to do Flags, but I stopped. I find my groups don’t really need mechanical incentivizers to interact anymore.

What about XP on fail?

Answer: I do XP as written.

Adventuring Gear or abstracted items?

Answer: I do it as presented.



Hit Dice/Damage?
Answer: I also do this as written, though I add a Black Hack-style “Last Breath” procedure when they hit 0 HP.

Custom Character Sheet?
Answer: I only play online, so I use a custom Google Sheet character keeper, which is typical for Gauntlet Games.

DW GM Moves?
Answer: I guess so? It’s all pretty internalized at this point. I don’t actively think about it.

Answer: I strictly run old school and OSR modules in order to support my podcast, Fear of a Black Dragon.


I’ve never played World of Dungeons! There was a time when we were playing a fair number of John Harper games, and if I recall correctly there was a juncture where we decided to give Bootleggers a spin over WoD. By the time the possibility arose again, I had a draft of Freebooters on the Frontier in hand, so that became our go-to old-school game.


wodu-osr wip

This is my personal cobbled together hack of World of Dungeons and some OSR stuff and some other stuff (mostly existing WoDu hacks). It’s still rough but it’s literally how I play WoDu (usually play-by-post).

  • Dungeon turns and a table to roll on every so often. Wandering monsters for the win!
  • More abilities, more class packages.
  • Two or three magic systems and a crafting system.

Feedback is welcome, please feel free to share it as well!


I used it to run a one shot a little while back, though I made quite a few quality of life changes to the game, removing a lot of the more mechanical elements like:

  • removing damage rolls
  • abilities and skills do the sme thing, (now if you have a skill/ability, it tells us what you’re good at, colouring the fiction) with descriptions for only the not self explanatory
  • removed the buying items element of character gen (replaced with choose 4 items or 1 plus a magic item I wrote) because it always slowed the process down.
  • removing rolling stats, fun but too slow for a one shot
  • added a character introduction questionnaire and starting relationships
  • put discern realities on the character sheet

I have the pdf if anyone would like to critique it: WorldofdungeonsHack


Thanks, this is wonderful. Two questions:

Do you have any of the original files used to edit the playbook (presuming you didn’t just layer on top of the PDF)?

And second: How do you handle damage? I would love to hear about that bit.

I just used the basic world of dungeons pdf as my base and edited it in adobe acrobat, which did a pretty acceptable job, even if it was a bit inelegant.

For damage, players take numerical harm, NPCs don’t. If i need a rough scale: a player is hit by a punch they lose 1hp, a weapon 2hp, a serious weapon 3hp, a boulder 4hp, a building 5hp. Light/heavy armor reduces it by 1/2 hp respectively.

For enemy npcs, if the character could feasibly die to a single blow (goblin, wolf, zombie), then a success when directly fighting the enemy. For a more seriou enemy, they must create the fictional positioning which allows for the killing blow: bring the ogre down the ground, disarm the master swordsman, etc.


I’m building a homebrew WoDu, blending it with Dungeon Crawl Classics, Apocalypse World 2e, Freebooters 2e, & Blades in the Dark, with some hints of Maze Rats & Freeform Universal. It’s designed to be printed landscape, with the basic moves on the back of the character sheet. The presentation is dense, but I can fit just about everything I need to guide a group through an evening of play in 8 pages; half player-facing, half judge-facing. Two of the 8 are print-outs from Maze Rats & Apocalypse World 2e.

The adventure design is heavily influenced by Jason Cordova’s Paint the Scene technique. Each “statblock” is a few threat moves (drawn from AW2e) linked to leading questions about the creature. I also use hp, armour (as damage resistance), and WoDu weapons as a guideline for creature damage.

(Also, you’ll find some text in light grey; I want to leave space for player dictation, while also having something up my sleeve as a backup.)

Please critique!


How do position and effect factor into the resolution mechanic?
Or are they just fictional considerations?

1 Like

Back in the days of Story Games, someone made this lovely compendium, based on all the conversations:

If you are a fan of the game, it is definitely worth taking a look at!


Hey @Paul_T thanks for bringing that up! I made that compendium a few years ago.
Some of the new stuff is not there and it needs some organizational effort, but I am very happy to give editing rights to new curators.


If I may be so bold… You should let @Tam manage it. She’s the best, and loves WoDu hacks.


Tank you @yochaigal!

@tam are you interested in taking over the WoDu compendium?

Definitely, I’d be happy to! If you feel like discussing in depth I’m on the DW Discord too. :slight_smile: And thanks @yochaigal for giving me the heads up on this.

1 Like

@Tam I am not using discord, but I will DM you here in the forum with my contact details and we can have a chat.