I heart World of Dungeons 1979 (let’s read them hacks & drifts)

Bryan reads, and talks about what he loves in the many WoDu Hacks that he comes across…as he finds them. Come join us to nerd-out.

What? WHY?
Okay, so I’m not new here so much as I am a major lurker. I have admired the Gauntlet from afar since the G+ days, and eventually came here because members of the community like @yochaigal have created a lot of great discussion around WoDu (World of Dungeons 1979), and DW (Dungeon World) … how to GM very light systems, how to Old School your non-D&D games…all topics that are dear to my heart.

As I was reading, one of the many WoDu topics i’ve bookmarked, I got super hype and started typing an enthusiastic response to one of the linked WoDu hack documents…at about the 2 paragraph mark I started to feel guilty…I felt like I was swinging way OT, and just nerding out about the design of the hack I’d just started reading…and now I’m here…starting a thread where I can just…read and respond to each WoDu I find as I come across it.

It’s like a “let’s read” and we can just be safe and lose our shit over how fun running hacking this game is.
Welcome! Thanks for reading!


First up, the hack document that got me all hype this morning and my response!

@Tam talks about
this hack

Here’s what I think:

I just read through your WoDu hack, and I have to admit that I was startled to see the number of pages it totaled. I don’t know if I have any “notes” for you on it, but I do like it. The section on binding / summoning got me hype just reading it.

As a Hazard Die GM, I also fully support its addition and use here. I pretty much use Brendan’s systems whenever I can remember to. I think the Hazard Die is a nice, neat companion for the Die of Fate! I don’t think I’ve seen the Combat Hazard Die before but I now I want to try and use it. There are a number of things in your doc that I will be copying into my Little Game Book journal to remind me to bring some of these elements into play more often.

It’s very cool, and I will be borrowing from you. I’m envious of your layout and design elements…I just don’t have the chops or patience for nice looking drafts!

Here’s my reaction to seeing Hazard system mentioned:


I love WoDu hacks!!!

My work in progress, on a kinda fuller version, if anyone’s interested:

Definitely not complete, very much a WIP, but it should be fully attributed and it’s playtested solidly at my own table on parts of Stonehell and plenty of dungeons of my own devising.

I feel like any parts you loved must probably be from one of the other hacks, but I do think it goes together pretty well. :smiley: Just hit me up on Discord if you want templates for LaTeX, always happy to share.


Thanks for linking in the most recent copy! I see my cut / paste link game is off. I’m really struggling with posting here in a technical sense…fixed that link. :upside_down_face:

Even if it’s only a WIP, I like what you’re doing. Collecting a lot of really instructive best practices and guidance in one spot. :fire::metal:

I first encountered World of Dungeons sometime around the start of the year. At the time, I didn’t really get what all the fuss was about. It seemed a little too minimalist and rules-light to me. Nonetheless there were approximately 18 bajillion hacks out there, and I compulsively download free RPGs, so a bunch of them wound up on my hard drive.

A few weeks ago I decide to give Streets of Marienburg a spin, and suddenly I see what the the hype was about. I’ve been thinking about how I’d adopt many different games and settings to the framework, but the only one that has much concrete work done on it is Delta Green.


World of Dungeons is definitely a catchy and exciting format for lite roleplaying. I also haven’t played the game as written, myself, although one of my more popular games is - even though it doesn’t necessarily seem like it at first glance! - a sort of World of Dungeons hack:


Krikey that is wonderfully rules lite!!!
Interesting, thanks for the share and the (very short) reading material.

The Bureau is really interesting, I’m intrigued by the dice mechanic. It’s obviously close to the core WoDu/PbtA system, but with an original twist.

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WoDu and it’s descendents are a really interesting phenomenon. It’s true WoDu itself in particular is so minimalist it’s just barely playable, but then that’s also true of the earliest versions of D&D. Famously white box was pretty much just a collection of notes and bits of rules, and the Holmes blue book was only incrementally better. It was the Moldvay and Mentzer Basic editions that were really the first properly explained and ‘complete’ games but still very bare bones. They really relied on cultural transmission of the way they are supposed to be played. This is why so many other ROGs were spawned so quickly, people who didn’t learn gaming by playing with existing gamers had to fill in the gaps, and often paved over the few existing mechanics in the process.

Of the early editions of D&D itself Moldvay Basic is by far my favourite. The later Mentzer edition quickly eclipsed it, but the Moldvay edition had one secret weapon hidden in the DM notes at the back, just a single paragraph titles “There’s always a chance”. Basically to do anything not covered by the rules, just roll 1D20 and try and roll under an appropriate stat. Boom - instant minimalist heroic roleplaying very much in the WoDu spirit all the way back in 1980. Interestingly The Black Hack is a great recent lightweight OSR game based on the same mechanic.

Anyway, back to WoDu and it’s descendents. I think Breakers, the first WoDu Turbo game, was a real watershed. It’s a much more complete game, ditches the legacy stats and has an up to date and highly functional character sheet design. It even comes with a handful of monster stats. Leading on directly from this is Rovers from Aviatrix, a really awesome Traveller mini-clone, complete with starship design system and a world creation system. Rovers completely floored me, next time I feel like running Traveller, or a Firefly or Dark Matter inspired game this is what I’m reaching for. Yes you get less than in any edition of Traveller, but terseness and simplicity are by themselves incredibly valuable attributes.

Another game I can’t pass by without comment is Streets of Marienburg. It seems to bypass Breakers mechanicaly, but it still one of the most complete WoDu hacks out there, even including a setting! Character Generation is appropriately expansive for a WHFRP inspired game, and it has a nice mini magic system.

Breakers was still quite minimalist, but focused on a specific premise that made it feel much more complete than WoDu. Rovers and Marienburg though both bring a lot more to the table, fleshing out the game with extra options and mechanics that add flavour and focus on a specific setting or activity but still in a super stripped-down way.

My one criticism of all these games is that you really need to already know how to play an RPG to really make them sing. That’s absolutely true of WoDu itself. As a kickstarter stretch goal for Dungeon World it was aimed squarely at people who already knew how to not just play RPGs, but PbtA games specifically. Breakers, Rovers and Marienburg, and I’m sure other games too it’s just these are the ones I’m most familiar with, take a little more space and effort to provide a more complete package. Still though, they rely on a lot of existing knowledge and experience in the reader. That’s not a bad thing, why repeat a lot of ‘boiler plate’ introduction to roleplaying stuff unnecessarily?

All of this is particularly interesting to me because I’m working on a hack of my own. I’m not quite ready to share it, but it’s really come together in the last 2 weeks. While Marienberg is a love letter to WHFRP and Rovers is a love letter to Traveller, this is a love letter to Runequest. It’s called Runeslingers and I’d like to say it’s 80% done, but knowing how project estimations work that probably means I’ve got about the same amount of work left to do fleshing it out and tightening it up.


Streets of Marienburg was the first WoDu I actually played, and it pretty much instantly sold me on the system. Prior to that, WoDu had struck me almost too minimalist; as you say, its aimed pretty squarely at people who are already comfortable with role-playing games and their tropes. I think most minimalist RPGs benefit from the kind of focus you describe - when I read through Rovers or Marienburg, I have a pretty specific idea of the sub-genre it’s supposed to mimic and the flavor its going for.

As someone who has always been intrigued by Glorantha (I was exposed through the game King of Dragon Pass), I would be very interested to read your hack.

@Simon_Hibbs that is some serious knowledge you dropped there!! I have to read that again after I finished the paperwork from my second job. Thank you and thanks for the links! Like @alanmfox I too would be intrigued to read your hack, though @alanmfox seems to have more knowledge in that area, I am just a 1E (and earlier) grog so I’m not sure how helpful (though I would want to be :slight_smile: ) I would actually be. Be well!

Thanks for the interest, Im hoping to have Runeslingers in beta state soon, when the systems and text are close to finished and are ready for comment and feedback. That will be in the game design forum, but I’ll be sure to link to it here.

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Thank you to everyone who’s getting into the spirit, and nerding out over the topic! I appreciate the participation and welcome you!

Today I want to talk a little about @elStiko’s very light remix of WoDu, the World of Dungeons, Single Sheet Edition…

I love the playbook / all in one handout vibe. I like the aesthetic nod to the classic composition notebook! The use of the Dungeon World class glyphs and the coherent character sheet are just really great touches. There’s a little more guidance here on running and playing which I like too.

If only I’d known this was a thing sooner.

This is exactly the kind of thing I’d dreamed of when my extended family and coworkers and non gaming nerd friends would talk to me about “playing D&D” … this is the kind of thing I can just print, fold and show up with to give people a taste of what TTRPG adventuring is about without them needing to buy expensive books or find dice.

In fact, I hacked together something very similar into a sort of “pop up game night for first timers” kit.

We do see a few changes from RAW WoDu, but they’re nice, tight, things…things that make sense: XP on misses being the one that jumps out to me the most. This sort of tightens the game up a little closer to Dungeon World and makes this version more of a taster / teaser / quick start rules package.

As a total package, I find it elegant. Certainly the kind of thing I’d print and stick into Christmas cards and birthday gifts…or folded inside print copies of @DavidPerry’s Principia Apocalyptica


Aw! Thanks!!
You describe my aims and convince me they were achieved!

PS: I just added a small collection of My Other Work for anyone interested. Both items are free.


That single page design is really nice. I love the use if the DW class glyphs as well.

The playbook format has always been a big advantage for PBTA games by putting so much if the character generation system right there on your sheet, along with all the rules that make your character special. This largely does the same trick for WoDu.


Thanks, Simon!

I’ve experimented a lot with various die types with PbtA-style mechanics, and I really like the probability spreads that result. Here’s another example:

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I just put out a beta of RuneSlingers and posted about it on RPG Design. Here’s a link to the thread: