Dungeon World at Gen Con 2011

If you’re going to Gen Con, there’s a game I’d like to to check out. It’s called Dungeon World, by indie publisher Sage Kobold Productions — Sage LaTorra & Adam Koebel.

After a year of PDFs and incremental releases, Sage Kobold Productions will proudly have the Dungeon World Basic Game on sale at GenCon through Indie Press Revolution (IPR, booth 413) for $15. It’s a striking red book featuring four classes playable to level 5, all the rules, equipment, and an included adventure. The cover is by Edwin Huang, artist of the wonderful Skullkickers comic.

The included adventure is really something special. It’s the first time we’ve tried to write a module for DW and it’s pretty great. It features a wonderful new map by Tony Dowler and an awesome contribution from none other than Jason Morningstar, designer of Fiasco and many other great games.

(Click for the rest of the press release.)

If you’ve been following me over the years, you know that normally I would never tell you to check out a pay-for “preview edition” (or playtest edition, or ashcan) of a game. They’re usually unplaytested, unfinished crap that someone’s trying to get out early so they can claim some indie cred.[1] But I’ve been watching the game & the twitter streams about it for the last year, and it’s clear to me that Sage & Adam have actually Done The Work. So I’m likening it more to incremental products like the Dragon Age RPG box sets from Green Ronin, which I think is a pretty neat model.

I’m showing some love to Dungeon World because they’ve take ideas from the old school revival and from Apocalypse World, and have made it their own. It’s like a sweet little idea baby from an odd but loving marriage. I hear they’re doing interesting stuff with layout, which excites the fuck out of me because I’m looking at doing similar with Mythender. And they ended up inspiring a fix for a problem I had in Mythender — Bonds came directly from Dungeon World (though they do things differently in terms of mechanics, the language around the idea solved a lot of stuff). And Sage tweeted about having an editor, so yay!

Granted, that doesn’t say shit about the game play. And I haven’t had a chance to play it myself — every time I’m at a con where a game’s happening, the fucker fills up fast. But I got to hear an entire group be Excited As All Hell at the May #BarCon[2] in LA. Colin Jessup ran the hell out of Dungeon World down there, and all of his players came back with that sort of high you get from an exciting, phenomenal play experience. Them raving about it makes me want to play Dungeon World. Maybe at Gen con.

It’s a sweet, sweet idea baby. Go check it out. Flip through it. Play it at Games on Demand. And if it look like it’s up your alley, like it’s worth your $15, buy it & take it home for your group to play.

– Ryan

[1] Which I did when I participated in the Ashcan Front, and which is what the ashcan model in 2007-2008 felt like. It was a place where several people wanted spotlight without Doing The Work, which was a shame.

[2] Which mortals call Gamex.


8 Responses to Dungeon World at Gen Con 2011

  1. They have definitely Done The Work. The abbreviated edition they are putting out for Gen Con represents the game’s rock solid core and has been played to death. I’ve played and run DW a lot (and enthusiastically contributed a little something to this release!) and it is just great.

    • Sage says:

      What Jason and Jaywalt said!

      We had a few options: put out something that had a solid core but rough edges, or wait. The core was too good to sit on, but the edge were too rough, so we ended up with this great middle ground.

      We’ve worked hard to make this not only a strong core, but a product that’s still valuable when the full game releases. We’re really proud of it.

  2. Totally agreed. I played a short game of DW at GPNW and it totally sang. If I was going to GC, this would be on top of my list.

  3. jaywalt says:

    Based on our own publsihing experiences, me and some other folks convinced Sage and Adam to release a preview edition at GenCon rather than the entire game, precisely to avoid the publish-and-regret problem. I’m looking forward to it!

    • Ryan Macklin says:


      This is one of those cases where I think it’s a good idea. It’s one that can be done very, very poorly, but I think they’re being smart about it. Which makes all the difference in the world.

      Thank you for helping guide them. I know that you & John Harper & other folks have been guiding them through the turbulent waters of being a first-time publisher. Rock on. *fist bump*

      – Ryan

  4. Newton says:

    For those of us who are interested in purchasing the game, but cannot make it to the convention, where can we buy the game on-line? (E.g. RPGNOW, etc).

    • Sage says:

      There will be a PDF release following PAX, roughly September. Other than that, we don’t plan on doing more print. This is, after all, the Preview/Basic edition.

  5. Newton says:

    Any .pdf release would be great (I’m up here in the middle-of-no-where Canada, so we don’t get much exposure to Conventions, and heavily rely on web-based .pdf sales). From what I’ve seen on the boards, as well as the free download, this looks like a great game.