Dragon World Hack (v0.1)

Dragon World is my Apocalypse World hack for stuff inspired by 90s comedy fantasy anime, and to a lesser extent the silly parts of a typical D&D campaign. I was most directly inspired by Dragon Half and Slayers, but quite a bit of other stuff crept in. This is a very silly game, and the MC (or rather the “Dragon Master”) section is in part a distillation of what I learned from running Toon and Maid RPG.

I decided to put a rough version of it up on the site for people to enjoy and hopefully play a bit. This is the “hack” version, which lacks explanations of some of the basic rules, such that you’ll need a copy of Apocalypse World (or at least to be well-versed in the basics of AW) in order to play. It’s had a little bit of playtesting, such that I refined the basic moves and the Pure Sacrifice, Dumb Fighter, and Conniving Thief character types a bit, but there’s also a lot of stuff I finished up in one big rush over the weekend.

Download Dragon World Hack v0.1 (PDF)
Dragon World Hack Playbooks and Basic Move Reference Sheet

Other Ideas
I’m pretty happy with the selection of character types here, but I literally have about 30 ideas for others, plus I’ve found that the game very frequently inspires people to suggest new ones as well. If I publish a proper book, there’s a very good chance I’ll end up doing some kind of compendium of character types as a supplement. I’m also going to be working more on a few other possible things for the rules, and a section with setting and NPC ideas.

“Story moves” are kind of a neat little thing I came up with the other day but haven’t implemented yet. I’ve been reading through the Discworld novels from the beginning (which is why stuff like Failed Wizard, Oblivious Tourist, and Octogenarian Barbarian crept into my list of possible character types), and in the first two books there’s the thing about how Rincewind has one of the eight great spells from the Octavo stuck in his head and all the trouble it causes. A story move is a thing like that, represented as a special move that at turns helps and hinders the character, and also has an end condition of some kind, after which you lose the move and get a free advance.

Steven Savage suggested adding a wealth system, which would basically be a special stat shared by the group that would fluctuate depending on when they bought major stuff or found treasure, and there would be treasure with associated custom moves to make their lives more interesting. It could fit in nicely with Temptations and make room for some kind of merchant character type, but I’m still thinking about it.

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16 thoughts on “Dragon World Hack (v0.1)

  1. This is delightful! Now I have to find someone I can bribe and/or blackmail into running it for me. Or I suppose I could run it for my game tasting group, but I don’t know if they have the background. But I still remember watching Slayers and Rune Soldier with my kids, and now I want to run an Exploding Mage with Big Bang, darn it!

    1. Apocalypse World is an excellent game in itself, and its system of moves is *incredibly* adaptable to other stuff, on account of basically being a kind of tight interface between rules and fiction. There are actually quite a few people working on various hacks (take a peek at the AW forums), the most complete of which is probably Dungeon World, which looks amazing.

      (Of course, now that there’s a “Dungeon World” and a “Dragon World,” someone’s going to have to make an “& World.”)

  2. This is one of those rare finds that immediately lights my mind up with possibilities. I know I could run this, and I’ll let you know if anything comes of my burning desire to do so. Meanwhile I for one would be glad to see anything else you create for the system. Dragon Half! Man, it’s been years…too bad there’s only two episodes…

    1. Thanks! I’ve been having fun with it so far, and I have a fair number of nifty things I want to add in the future, notably the aforementioned wealth and story move rules, plus ideas for setting stuff and NPCs.

      S. John Ross is also apparently nearly done at long last with his new version of Uresia, and I’m contemplating writing some Dragon World/Uresia crossover material, maybe with Sporting Chef and Emerald Knight character types and whatnot.

      Dragon Half was supposedly going to be a longer OAV series, but didn’t sell well enough. If you liked the anime I definitely recommend checking out the manga though. It’s got a long, epic story that’s every bit as silly, and there are scanlations out there too.

  3. So, the scheduled GM was out sick, so I ran a one-shot for Dragon World for the two other players. It worked pretty well and much silliness ensued. The random event tables were *very* random!

    One player thought a list of faiths for the Nutjob Cleric might have been nice, although the NC’s player had no trouble coming up with one.

    We ran into lack of rules for wealth/money/barter at one point, and the lack of rules for mobs at another. We just winged the money, and I treated the mob as a negative adjustment to Kick Some Ass.

    It did seem that it moved really fast, particularly with just two players, and we burned through a lot of story and color elements in just two hours. Everyone had fun, and I am strongly considering running it again when my turn comes up in the rotation.

    1. A few further thoughts. I did find the binary nature of falling down a bit of a limitation. For instance, in one scene, a character tried to dive into a cave filled with coins in the time-honored fashion of Scrooge McDuck, and of course, pancaked. I had him roll Endure Strife, and when he blew it, had him fall down. Which meant that when the giant worm emerged from the treasure a few seconds later, he missed the fight. Now, I suppose I could have considered that scene break, but it might have been nice to have a degree of “damage” between fine and fallen down for PCs outside of boss battles. Maybe it should go fine/dazed/fallen down? After all, in AW, PCs can take more damage than NPCs.

      And, despite it not being anime-related, I would think an excellent reference book for the Dragon Master would Diana Wynne Jones’ “A Tough Guide to Fantasyland” which contains practically every fantasy cliche in a handy dictionary-style reference book.

      BTW — there’s a Royal Privilege move for the Pure Sacrifice in the main book (but not the separate playbook document) that I suspect you meant to take out.

      1. I had a couple of thoughts about PCs and damage in preparation to running my first game. Nothing original, just the usual stuff you see in many contemporary games, but useful to write down. Pick one or use a combination:

        1.) Only ask the PCs to roll dice in fights that are more or less on equal terms. If the fight is unequal, either add a modifier to the roll (not true to the AW spirit, but whatever) or just narrate the result (or allow the player to narrate, especially if they’re just stomping a couple of mooks). Depending on the player group, I might narrate some combat, take turns trading descriptions of moves back and forth with the player, and only ask for a roll at the end, AFTER both parties are a little bruised up, with the roll representing the result of Goku’s final Spirit Bomb attack or whatever. If the roll fails, the Bomb misses, and Goku will be KO’d by a devastating counter. This is very similar to Wushu RPG task resolution.

        2.) Consider imposing a consequence instead of making the character fall down (aka the “You Drop Your Lightsaber” rule). Maybe better yet, consider “falling down” as one of several conditions that can be imposed on a character who fails such a role. It’s appropriate to the genre, too. From Dragon Half: “You’re okay, but your bra is destroyed by the attack, and everyone in the crowd gets a good look.” Ask the player for suggestions and you’ll usually get a good one. Potential problem/thing to keep in mind: if you begin to impose condition after condition in the same encounter, you’ve entered Boss Mode, potentially by accident.

        3.) Like you suggested, each PC has two hit points. I suggest a spectrum of: Fine / Heroic scratch on cheek / Fallen down.

  4. Any chance of you getting any more of this up in the next week? I’ve been asked to run Dragon World for my daughter and her college friends (it being spring break for them next week). No big deal if you don’t, since it ran OK with just what you have up now.

    1. Sorry, but I have so much on my plate that there’s no way to make it happen. I have a good idea what I want to do with Dragon World next (most notably, reworking experience, connections, and falling down), but that’ll be enough work that even with an empty schedule getting done in a week would be pushing things.

      But regardless, I hope you guys have fun!

      1. And now this weekend may or may not happen… Which is a pity, as I was looking forward to running this.

        However, a couple of things that occurred to me as I was rereading the rules and also reading Dungeon World in preparation for running Dragon World:

        (1) In the last game, a player character got a clue about another player character — what does this mean? Maybe they get +1 ongoing against that character for the rest of the scene?

        (2) Not a complaint, but Kick Some Ass looks to be a lot more forgiving than Dungeon World’s Hack and Slash (and let’s not even get into AW’s Go Aggro or Seize by Force!), since it looks like there’s only a DM move on a 6-. This means that Dragon World characters are real badass!

  5. The last two stat sets for the Dumb Fighter:

    Bloody-Minded+1, Charming+1, Eldritch-1, Mighty+2, Shifty+1
    Bloody-Minded+1, Charming+1, Eldritch-1, Mighty+2, Shifty=0

    Only differ in that the second one has a slightly worse shifty. Is that how it’s supposed to be?

    1. No, that’s a mistake. Every set of attributes should have a +2, two +2s, an =0, and a -1. That first one should be Bloody-Minded+1, Charming=0, Eldritch-1, Mighty+2, Shifty+1.

  6. OK, the game did happen, and it was … insane (see Bite Sized Actual Play on story games). Once again we noticed that you go through a lot of plot fast in this game. There seems to be some potential for imagination fatigue like I’ve heard of with Wushu.

    Advancement was pretty rapid, first because I deliberately highlighted frequently used stats (expecting the game to be a one-shot), and second because there was a lot of events. I’ll be interested in seeing your new experience system when you get around to it.

    I’ve been asked to consider running it again next weekend…

    (BTW, it looks like two of the Nutjob Cleric’s stat choices are actually the same.)

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