View Full Version : Alternative Classes for Dungeon World - in progress

2018-12-05, 09:00 AM
There are a great number of things I really like in Dungeon World. Being Dungeons & Dragons converted to the Apocalypse Engine makes it quite accessible to new players. But like many people I feel that it tries too hard to mirror D&D and doesn't use the opportunity to include many of the most exciting things from the original Apocalypse World system.

There are two main shortcomings I see in Dungeon World, and both lie in the character classes. Even though the Apocalypse Engine is fundamentally about "fiction first" and making the rules adapt to what's going on in the events and the world, Dungeon World still uses the general principle of spell slots and preparation. Which for countless players for many decades has always felt like a mechanic that just doesn't match with what they feel should be going on in the fiction of the campaign. The other thing is that the great majority of character advancements for all classes are slightly better odds for things they can already do. And frequently even just replacing the bonus with a better bonus.

Since I like the system of Dungeon World, but the classes are either not fitting the style of campaign I want to run or a very boring, I decided to make a new set of character classes to completely replace those that come with the game. To do that, I slightly changed the format of what element a class has. By default, a class has a few starting abilities and an additional 18 to 20 abilities from which players can pick one when advancing to 2nd to 10th level. For most classes, one or two of these options consists of learning an ability that belongs to another class. Coming up with 20+ abilities for each class is really difficult, which I think is actually the reason why most abilities in the game are boring minor bonuses. This is a huge contrast to the original Apocalypse World, where all characters can learn only 4 abilities from their own type and 2 abilities from the other character types, but almost every ability gives the character interesting new things to do that change how they play. Since I want to stick as closely as possible to the Dungeon World system, I am going somewhat of a middle way:

Every class consists of 8 class abilities.
On 1st level, the character gets any 2 of these class abilities.
On 2nd to 10th level, the character can gain another class ability 5 times, or an ability from any other class 4 times.
Instead of gaining an ability, a character can gain a group of loyal NPC followers, or a stronghold.

If you really want to, you can pick new class abilties on 2nd to 6th level and have 7 out of your 8 class abilities.
But you can just as well decide to first pick abilities from other classes and get followers and a stronghold and still only have your 2 starting class abilities at 7th level.
It's a very flexible system in which the character class doesn't put much restrictions on where your character ends up as the campaign progresses.

Instead, the main purpose of the classes is taken from what they do in Apocalypse World. The classes are archetypes that help players with establishing a personality for newly created characters. I didn't just want to have Fighter, Cleric, Thief again, and have drawn my inspirations for the classes primarily from the d20 Conan game, mostly because I think they are a better fit for the fiction that I have in mind for my own campaigns. I tried to make use of as many of the abilities from Dungeon World that are fitting with the class concepts. Not super happy with the names yet, but I think they get the ideas across.

Myrmidon: A heavy frontline warrior.
Kensai: A martial arts master with swords and spears.
Wanderer: A wilderness warrior with survival and hunting skills.
Scoundrel: A troublemaker with social skills and sneakery.
Noble: A diplomat and leader.
Sage: An alround category for healers, herbalists, and alchemists.
Shaman: A spellcaster with a focus on divination and summoning,
Sorcerer: A spellcaster with a focus on mental control.

*Ability copied over from Dungeon World.
**Ability copied over from Apocalypse World.

The Myrmidon
HP 10+Con; Dmg d10.
Bend Bars, Lift Gates*: When you use pure strength to destroy an inanimate obstacle, roll+Str. On a 10+, choose 3. On a 7-9 choose 2. (It doesn’t take a very long time, Nothing of value is damaged, It doesn’t make an inordinate amount of noise, You can fix the thing again without a lot of effort)
Armored*: You ignore the clumsy tag on armor you wear.
Interrogator*: When you parley using threats of impending violence as leverage, you may use STR instead of CHA.
Iron Hide*: You gain +1 armor.
Bloody Aegis*: When you take damage you can grit your teeth and accept the blow. If you do you take no damage but instead suffer a debility of your choice. If you already have all six debilities you can’t use this move.
Staunch Defender*: When you defend you always get +1 hold, even on a 6-.

The Kensai
HP 8+Con; Dmg d10.
Setup Strike*: When you hack and slash, choose an ally. Their next attack against your target does +1d4 damage.
Death Glare (Dangerous & sexy**): When you enter into a charged situation, roll+Cha. On a 10+, hold 2. On a 7–9, hold 1. Spend your hold 1 for 1 to make eye contact with an NPC present, who freezes or flches and can’t take action until you break it off. On a miss, your enemies identify you immediately as their foremost threat.
Battlefield instincts**: When you listen to the voices of the spirits for advice, roll+Str instead of roll+Wis, but only in battle.

The Wanderer
HP 8+Con; Dmg d8.
Hunt and Track*: When you follow a trail of clues left behind by passing creatures,roll+WIS. On a 7+, you follow the creature’s trail until there’s a
significant change in its direction or mode of travel. On a 10+, you also choose 1: (Gain a useful bit of information about your quarry, the GM will tell you what; Determine what caused the trail to end)
Camouflage*: When you keep still in natural surroundings, enemies never spot you until you make a movement.
Follow Me*: When you undertake a perilous journey you can take two roles. You make a separate roll for each.
A Safe Place*: When you set the watch for the night, everyone takes +1 to take watch.

The Scoundrel
HP 6+Con; Dmg d6.
Charming and Open*: When you speak frankly with someone, you can ask their player, a question from the list below. They must answer it truthfully, then they may ask you a question from the list (which you must answer truthfully): (Whom do you serve? What do you wish I would do? How can I get you to ______? What are you really feeling right now? What do you most desire?)
Nimble Defense (Divine Protection*): When you wear no armor or shield you get 2 armor.
Through Death’s Eyes*: When you go into battle, roll+WIS. On a 10+, name someone who will live and someone who will die. On a 7-9, name someone who will live or someone who will die. Name NPCs, not player characters. The GM will make your vision come true, if it’s even remotely possible. On a 6- you see your own death and consequently take -1 ongoing throughout the battle.
Tricks of the Trade*: When you pick locks or pockets or disable traps, roll+DEX. On a 10+, you do it, no problem. On a 7–9, you still do it, but the GM will offer you two options between suspicion, danger, or cost.
Backstab*: When you attack a surprised or defenseless enemy with a melee weapon, you can choose to deal your damage or roll+DEX. On a 10+ choose two. On a 7–9 choose one. (You don’t get into melee with them; You deal your damage+1d6; You create an advantage, +1 forward to you or an ally acting on it; Reduce their armor by 1 until they repair it)
Connections*: When you put out word to the criminal underbelly about something you want or need, roll+CHA. On a 10+, someone has it, just for you. On a 7–9, you’ll have to settle for something close or it comes with strings attached, your call.
Escape Route:* When you’re in too deep and need a way out, name your escape route and roll+DEX. On a 10+ you’re gone. On a 7–9 you can stay or go, but if you go it costs you: leave something behind or take something with you, the GM will tell you what.

The Noble
HP 6+Con; Dmg d6.
Voice of Authority*: Take +1 to order hirelings.
Connections*: When you put out word among the nobility about something you want or need, roll+CHA. On a 10+, someone has it, just for you. On a 7–9, you’ll have to settle for something close or it comes with strings attached, your call.
Reputation*: When you meet someone important (your call), roll+Cha. On a hit, they’ve heard of you, and you say what they’ve heard; the GM has them respond
accordingly. On a 10+, you take +1forward for dealing with them as well. On a miss, they’ve heard of you, but the GM decides what they’ve heard.
I've heard that name before (Everybody eats, even that guy**): When you want to know something about someone important (your call), roll+Cha. On a hit, you can ask the GM questions. On a 10+, ask 3. On a 7-9, ask 1: (How are they doing? what’s up with them? What or who do they love best? Who do they know, like and/or trust? When next should I expect to see them? How could I get to them, physically or emotionally?) On a miss, ask 1 anyway, but they hear about your interest in them.

The Sage
HP 4+Con; Dmg d4.
Scholar's Lore (Bardic Lore*): Choose an area of expertise: (Spells and Magic, The Dead and Undead, Grand Histories of the Known World, A Bestiary of Creatures Unusual, The Planar Spheres, Legends of Heroes Past, Gods and Their Servants) When you first encounter an important creature, location, or item (your call) covered by your scholar's lore you can ask the GM any one question about it; the GM will answer truthfully. The GM may then ask you what tale, song, or legend you heard that information in.
Connections*: When you ask around among scholars and priests for information you need, roll+Int. On a 10+, someone can tell you. On a 7–9, you’ll some pointers or it comes with strings attached, your call.
Know-It-All*: When another player’s character comes to you for advice and you tell them what you think is best, they get +1 forward when following your advice and you mark experience if they do.
[Healing Skill]
[Alchemy Skill]

The Shaman
HP 6+Con; Dmg d4.
Divine Guidance*: When you petition your deity according to the precept of your religion, you are granted some useful knowledge or boon related to your deity’s domain. The GM will tell you what.
Words of the Unspeaking*: With a touch you speak to the spirits within natural things. The object you touch answers three questions you pose, as best it can.
Disguise*: When you have a few minutes to meditate, you can create a magical disguise that will fool anyone into thinking you’re another person or creature of about the same size and shape. Your actions can give you away but your appearance won’t.
Bonefeel**: At the beginning of the session, roll+Wis. On a 10+, hold 1+1. On a 7–9, hold 1. At any time, either you or the GM can spend your hold to have you already be there, with the proper tools and knowledge, with or without any clear explanation why. If your hold was 1+1, take +1forward now. On a miss, the GM holds 1, and can spend it to have you be there already, but somehow pinned, caught or trapped.
Eyeless Sight: When you try to sense the presence of invisible forces, roll+Wis. On a 10+, ypu locate and identify the source of any supernatural presence. On a 7-9, you merely sense the presence of a superatural entity nearby. On a 6 or lower, you still sense its presence, but it also becomes aware that you detected it.
Walk Unseen: When you try to remain undetected, roll+Wis. On a 10+, you remain unnoticed by anyone. On a 7-9, you still remain unseen but leave traces of your passing.

The Sorcerer
HP 4+Con; Dmg: d4.
Banish Spirits (Turn Undead*): When you unleash your sorcerous power against spirits, roll+Int. On a 7+, so long as you continue to project your power, no spirit may come within reach of you. On a 10+, you also momentarily daze intelligent spirits and cause spirit beasts to flee. Aggression breaks the effects and they are able to act as normal. Intelligent spirits may still find ways to harry you from afar. They’re clever like that.
Manipulation (Unnatural lust transfixion**): When you parlay with someone, roll+Int instead of roll+Cha.
Sorcerous Insight (Casual brain receptivity**): When you discern realities about a person, roll+Int instead of roll+Wis. Your victim has to be able to see you, but you don’t have to interact.
Enthrall (In-brain puppet strings**): When you have someone at your mercy you can plant a command inside their mind. Roll+Int. On a 10+, hold 3. On a 7–9, hold 1. At your will, no matter the circumstances, you can spend your hold 1 for 1: (Inflict 1d8 damage (ap); They take -1 right now.) If they fulfill your command, that counts for all your remaining hold. On a miss, you inflict 1d8 damage (ap) upon your subject, to no benefit.
Your Felings Betray You (Deep brain scan**): When you have someone at your mercy, you can read them more deeply than normal. Roll+Int. On a 10+, hold 3. On a 7–9, hold 1. While you’re reading them, spend your hold to ask their player questions, 1 for 1: (What was your character’s lowest moment? For what does your character crave forgiveness, and of whom? What are your character’s secret pains? In what ways are your character’s mind and soul vulnerable?) On a miss, you inflict 1d8 damage (ap) upon your subject, to no benefit.
Mental Assault (Direct-brain whisper projection**:) You can roll+Int to get the effects of hack and slash, without going hack and slash. Your victim has to be able to see you, but you don’t have to interact. Your mind counts as a weapon (1d8 damage ap close).
Gaze into the Abyss: When you gaze into the Realms Beneath and Beyond for advice, roll+Int. On a 10+, ask the GM about any topic and get usefuel clues in return. On a 7-9, you get vague hints instead. On a 6 or lower, the Abyss gazes into you. Answer whatever question the GM asks you.
Unnatural Flesh: When you heal the wounds of an injured creature, roll+Int. On a 10+, you heal 2d6 damage or one disease. On a 7-9, you heal the damage but the creature suffers a temporary debility. On a 6 or lower, the healing causes unnatural corruption. (Causing a permanent debility is always a nice option.)

This is the state of things so far. I'm actually really happy with how things are looking so far and I'd like to hear what others think about it and if you might have cool ideas to fill the remaining empty spots.

2018-12-06, 08:33 AM
Definitely needs more work, but at the same time I am excited about where this is going. I have a couple of particular points:

On Improvements: Any stat improvements? I believe Dungeon World does increases to base every level and only some of those result in a change in modifier. Apocalypse World does stat bonuses instead of new moves. It also doesn't standardise anything it wants to change, so each playbook has a unique, but often quite similar, list of upgrades. For example The Chopper doesn't get more chopper moves, because it starts with both of them (same with The Hardholder). Do you think you will do anything like that?

On #N: Do you have any thoughts one what sorts of moves you want to go here? I see a couple of [Short Note] slots, but what about the others? Any additional thoughts? I would love to bounce ideas around but I don't have time right now. Am working on the summoning rules for my system.

Other than that you missed a couple of archetypes I would of hit, but I will save that for my Dungeon World variant.

2018-12-06, 01:39 PM
Stat improvements stay as default. I also want to use bonds, but I want to go to that at the end when the classes have taken their final shape.

The empty slots still need filling. 8 really is the minimum to prevent classes running out of options before they reach 10th level. What to do with them, I don't know yet.
Myrmidon, Scoundrel, Shaman, Sorcerer are pretty much set. But Wanderer and Noble both still need a second leg that complements their current abilities. I don't think giving them more of the same stuff they already have would be very interesting.
And with the Kensai I am obviously still at quite a loss. I'd like some kind of monk with weapons, but don't know how that might look like as a non-magical class that fits with the other classes.

2018-12-07, 08:51 AM
Maybe an animal companion for The Wanderer? ... Not sure but that is better than the nothing I have for The Noble.

I have an idea for The Kensai which is to bring in the other meaning of the monk inspiration and actually put some religious or spiritual stuff in there. The Cleric of Dungeon World or The Hocus of Apocalypse World. You seemed to of avoided that generally so far so maybe it isn't what you are going for. Personally some of my favourite rules in Powered by the Apocalypse (a large multi-way tie if I am honest) are the ones that give a character a place in society. Something like that might be good.

2018-12-08, 10:33 AM
I'm digging this! The Sorcerer feels a bit off because of the heavy Brainer influence, which isn't quite what I expect from the character type.

2018-12-08, 09:43 PM
On The Sorcerer: I will agree there, it might be a good class but it feels more like The Psion. I'm not quite sure what the a more traditional sorcerer might have. My best idea so far is some sort of wild magic that lets the MC make harm roles against you (roll+harm dealt), but I'm not sure if that would be good enough to use or interesting to resolve.

On The Noble: And other social classes. How about you drop the maximum number moves you can take and also give a few upgrades to improving strongholds/followers/gangs? I'm not sure if it is what you want but it is an idea.

2018-12-09, 02:36 AM
For the noble it certainly makes sense as an alternative advancement option. One that other characters can't take as a multiclass move.

The sorcerer, as it is, is build around certain assumptions of my own setting, which is all magic being based on telepathy. For a more generic setting, a more generic sorcerer would make sense.

With the Wanderer i want him to be something other tha a ranger. Problem is, i am not quite sure what. Some kind of lone gunslinger type would be interesting, though without anything related to guns. Maybe shift some of the Driver abiities from AW over to him. Getting in and out unexpectedly would seem fitting.

2018-12-09, 10:03 AM
To Yora: Is this a setting you have posted somewhere? Or could you give us a couple of major points? That might help in creating the characters and abilities for it.

What moves are left to make:
Myrmidon: 2 more
Kensai: 5 more
Wanderer: 4 more
Scoundrel: 1 more
Noble: 4 more
Sage: healing and alchemy and 3 more
Shaman: summoning and 1 more
Sorcerer: first draft complete

The sage doesn't have any healing stuff right now. The Sorcerer has some burst healing, so a slower but safer version of that might be good. Dungeon World's The Barbarian has some ideas about being an outsider that might work for The Wanderer if that is what you are going for.