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Why play Dungeon World?

First, to see the characters do amazing things. To see them explore the unexplored, slay the undying, and go from the deepest bowels of the world to the highest peaks of the heavens. To see them caught up in momentous events and grand tragedies.

Second, to see them struggle together. To gather as a party despite their differences and stand united against their foes, or to argue over treasure, debate battle plans, and join in righteous celebration over a victory hard- won.

Third, because the world still has so many places to explore. There are unlooted tombs and dragon hoards dotting the countryside just waiting for quick-fingered and strong-armed adventurers to discover them. That unexplored world has plans of its own. Play to see what they are and how they’ll change the lives of our characters.

How to Use This Book

This book is going to teach you how to play Dungeon World. If you’re going to be the GM, you’re going to need to read the whole thing, though you can skim through the monster stats for now and save the Advanced Delving chapter for later. Try printing the play aids too, they’ll help you see what’s most important. If you’re a player, you might not need to read more than Playing the Game—a lot of the rules in Dungeon World will be contained in the character sheets you use during the game itself. You’ll come back to the text a few times throughout your game to refer to certain rules, but it should be a rare occasion.

Setting Up

To play Dungeon World, you’ll need to gather yourself and 2–5 friends. A group of 4 to 6, including you, is best. Choose one person to be the Game Master (GM). Everyone else will be players, taking the role of the characters in the game (we call these the player characters or PCs). As you play, the players say what their characters say, think, and do. The GM describes everything else in the world.

You can play a single session or string together multiple sessions into a campaign. Plan accordingly if you plan on playing a campaign, maybe setting aside a night of the week to play. Each session will usually be a few hours and you’ll be able to start playing right away within the first session.

You’ll need to print some materials. Before you start a new game, find or print off at least:

  • A few copies of the basic and special moves
  • One copy of each class sheet
  • One copy each of the cleric and wizard spell sheets
  • One copy of the adventure sheet and GM moves
  • Miscellanea such as: pens and pencils, scrap paper for maps and notes, maybe some index cards

Everyone at the table will need something to write with and some six-sided dice. Two dice is the minimum but two dice per player is a good idea.

You’ll also need some specialized dice: four-sided, eight-sided, ten-sided and twelve-sided. One of each is enough but more is better: you won’t have to pass them around so much.

What’s Dungeon World Like to Play?

Playing Dungeon World is all about finding out what happens when your characters encounter dangerous and exciting monsters, strange ruins, and unusual people on their quest for gold and glory. It’s a conversation between the players and the GM—the GM tells the players what they see and hear in the world around them and the players say what their characters are thinking, feeling, and doing. Sometimes those descriptions will trigger a move—something that’ll cause everyone to stop and say “time to roll the dice to see what happens.” For a moment everyone hangs on the edges of their seats as the dice clatter to a stop. Tension and excitement are always the result, no matter how the dice land.

As you play your characters they’ll change from their adventures and gain experience while learning about the world, overcoming monsters, and gathering riches. You’ll discover how they feel about each other and where their moral compass points them. When they accrue enough experience they’ll gain levels, becoming more powerful and having more options to explore.

You can play Dungeon World with the same group, session to session, over a long series of adventures, watching your characters change and grow together. You can play it as a self-contained game in a single-session, too. Whether a long campaign or a one-shot, Dungeon World’s rules are here to guide you and help you create a world of fantasy adventure. Time to get out there and explore it!