Grell Review: Dungeon World

Dungeon World is a fantasy roleplaying game published by Sage Kobold Productions. The game is Powered by the Apocalypse, meaning it runs off of a modified Apocalypse World engine. I’ve played a few PbtA games, but full disclosure: I’ve never actually played Apocalypse World. I digress. Anyway, Dungeon World is PbtA, but its design goal was to emulate old school fantasy games, such as AD&D, but with modern rules. And I think it does this well. More on that in a moment. A friend introduced me to Dungeon World, though oddly enough I played it before he got the chance to. Anyway, let’s get into that great Grell stuff that keeps you coming back… to this third blog post… a year after the last…

What Pleases the Grell
There are a lot of things I really like about this game. I will start by saying that it has a specific game model in mind, and it does it well. That is, it seeks to recreate the fun and wonder of old school games. Not the mechanics, but that sense of fun and wonder we felt when we were younger. Not too long ago I dusted off my AD&D books. I got that feeling I got when I was a girl, that giddiness. The smell of the book. The art. I started reading, plotting out all of the fun things I was going to do. And then I hit the mechanics. And the wonkiness. And the… well… AD&Dness of it all. And I remembered why I stopped playing the game that introduced me to table top, the game that used to inspire me like no other. But Dungeon World takes that nostalgia factor and adds simple, elegant rules. The muddy bookkeeping is gone, the fifteen minute workday is gone. But the sense of wonder and excitement is there. It feels like AD&D used to, even if it runs nothing like it.

It’s important to keep in mind that DW was made for a specific game style. There aren’t a plethora of races, and the ones there are have class restrictions. The classes are somewhat linear, though they are customizable enough. The game’s level based, and has the normal D&D stat range (strength, dexterity, constitution etc.). The game, however, doesn’t have the illusion of customization that similarly inspired games like Pathfinder have (I may write a blog about that later). This doesn’t sound like a plus, this sounds like negative things, is what you’re thinking. Probably. But the thing is, because DW is supposed to feel like old D&D games, these are actually big pluses. They go a long way toward facilitating that feeling. Like, when I open the book, look at it, it feels not only like AD&D, but it immediately recalls other fantasy things I loved when younger (and still do), like Slayers and Record of the Lodoss War. Like, if I want to run a game that feels like that, I am going to run Dungeon World. Elves do elf things, dwarves do dwarf things, and all kinds of tropes that I otherwise hate in games. But I love them in this game.

So, systemwise, it’s pretty simple. Roll 2d6+relevant stat. 7+ is a success, 10+ is usually like a critical, 6 or less is a fail. If you fail you get 1 exp and the GM gets to use your failure against you somehow. There are a bunch of moves, and generally you roll on whatever move is closest to what you want to do. There’s an SRD you can check out, so I am not going to spend too much time going over mechanics. The core book is inexpensive, and a little over 400 pages, most of which is game stuff. There are a plethora of monsters, as well as all kinds of tips on making your own. In fact, there are tips for making your own everything. One of the other stand outs to me is that the book either addresses the reader directly, or when not referring to a specific character, used gender neutral pronouns. Honestly it’s such a small thing that has a huge impact. I think anyway. Also, I enjoy the fronts mechanic, which are kind of just simple note taking mechanics, but they’re pretty helpful. And the little easter eggs. Like James Ninefingers. I mean, that’s just amazing. I couldn’t even when I read that.

What Displeases the Grell
This game is up front with what it is, what it wants to accomplish. And honestly, because of that, I can’t think of anything that really displeases me. Like, it’s not my go to for roleplaying, or even fantasy roleplaying. It is my go to for wanting to do like a classic D&D game, where the world is fresh and ready to explore, and there’s action and drama and comedy and weird stuff going on. Because the game tells you what it is, and doesn’t masquerade as anything other than a game that wanted to be D&D PbtA, there isn’t a lot I can fault it on. It’s laid out well, things are explained. There’s a lot of transparency, and it’s really a riot to run. I haven’t really gotten to be a PC yet, but that looks fun too. I mean, there are even muscly orc women in there! So yeah, I guess the closest thing to displeasure is that it’s not universal and it’s not meant to really feel like anything other than what it is? I wouldn’t run a gritty sword and sorcery game with it, but you’re not really supposed to anyway, so that’s not even a fault.

The Grell’s Verdict
If you want to play AD&D or any other oD&D but you don’t want to dust those books off, remember how THAC0 works, or wade through a bunch of unnecessary encumbrance rules, this is likely the game for you. Like, it feels like I am playing D&D and Slayers and just… for the job it sets out to do, it does it with no complaints from this Grell!

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My ESO Characters

I really enjoy Elder Scrolls Online. Like, way more than I thought I was going to. Initially, I got it when I got my PS4 for my birthday. My mom got it for me so I’d have a game, otherwise it was just going to sit there and collect dust until Fallout 4 came out. I got it because, though I’m not really an MMO girl, I had a friend playing it and I like Skyrim. Plus, I mean, it was a free game for me so I wasn’t about to say no. It’s been over a year, I’ve managed to get a bunch of other friends into it, and I am even lucky enough that I can play it with my Girlfriend at the same time!

Anyway, these are my six characters. I have two others but I am thinking of deleting/changing them, so they don’t get to get a feature right now. A little about each of them, and some headcanon (because ESO, while a lot of fun, doesn’t give you much of a backstory. Then again TES games never do)

Zawadi
Zawadi is the first character I made. She is a Redguard Templar who I play like a paladin. She focuses in weapon and shield, medium armour, and has a secondary healing staff. She’s currently wearing Hollowjack motif, so you can’t see her impressive musculature, but she looks really cool in it so it’s okay.
Zawadi is physically very strong and cut. She’s also very butch, but has a hard time with letting women know she’s interested in them. She’s very reserved, stoic. She’s got her eye on a certain woman, but has no  clue how to broach the subject. Before she was sacrificed my Mannimarco, she was royalty in Alik’r. She took up arms against the Ra-Netu,which is forbidden in her land, but she felt she had no choice. During the course of battle, she fell by Mannimarco’s treachery. When she returned to Tamriel her former family no longer recognized her. Perhaps something to do with being in Coldharbour for so long. But she has continued her work as a paladin, righting wrongs and helping those in need. She’s done some things she never thought she would do, but has not broken her moral compass even though she has been tempted time and again.

Zædra
Zædra is adapted from a table top character. Her ESO personality is a little different than her table top version, and her magic works differently, but she’s pretty much the same character. She’s wearing the Dark Seducer costume and focuses in dark magic, daedric summoning and elemental magic.
Zædra is a very femme Altmer who doesn’t remember much from her time before Coldharbour. She generally has a good disposition but is self-serving above anything else. She can often be seen around Tamriel with her summoned familiar, and sometimes her boytoy Maau.

Àilleag
Àilleag is a Dominion dragon knight, focusing on heavy armour and two-handed weapons. She is wearing Merchant Lord’s Formal Regalia and this stupid hat I won in a loot box. She likes it though. She’s kind of a soft butch, generally outgoing and happy, and has the fastest cat alive. Aside from her personality, I don’t have much headcannon for her yet.

Jhaelë
Jhaelë is a sorceress who focuses on weapon and shield style and medium armour. She’s currently in some Bosmer style medium armour.
Jhaelë and her wife Eilisif live in Pact territory. Although Jhaelë is a sorceress, she learned to defend herself with a sword and shield after a Nord woman came to her aid when she was attacked by bandits. Taken with the Nord woman’s physical prowess and willingness to help her for no reason other than it being the right thing to do, she decided to put her arcane studies on the back burner and learn to fight with a sword and shield. The two women began adventuring together in Stonefalls, and their adventuring took them to Bleakrock Isle and Bal Foyen. They married soon after aiding in the evacuation of Bleakrock Village. Currently, the couple are traveling to Deshaan to see what adventures lie ahead.

Ilithwen
Ilithwen is a templar wood elf that focuses in healing and restoration staff, and is an excellent cook. She was created to adventure with a character my Girlfriend made and a character our friend made. We only play them when we’re all together, they’re a small adventuring party. They don’t have much of a backstory yet, and she doesn’t have much of one yet either. But she is kind hearted and the moral compass of her group.

Seyali
I made Seyali specifically for the thieves guild DLC. My Girlfriend plays Seyali’s Boyfriend, and the two have misadventures in Abah’s Landing and throughout the Dominion. She focuses on stealth, using either two daggers or her bow. She is pretty much always in her signature Pirate First Mate’s Outfit.
Since a young age, Seyali has dreamed of being a Princess of Thieves. She was taken with tales of daring-do as a child in the Empire, but once the Empire fell apart she found herself homeless, and soon stranded in the Aldmeri Dominion. A stranger in a strange land. She did what she had to to survive in Vulkhel Guard, mostly taking odd jobs, working at the inn, and honing her speech craft. One day she met a dashing bard that she found herself rather attracted to, and using that silver tongue, she convinced him to join her in her quest to make a name for herself. He was enchanted by her beauty and charisma, and soon the two set off for Hew’s Bane, where Seyali had heard that the Thieves’ Guild was attempting to rebuild. The two of them have been instrumental in restoring the guild, and they are currently helping to expand the Guild’s influence, as well as investigating some happenings in the Gold Coast.

Yup, so that’s a thousand words about Elder Scrolls Online, haha.