#RPGaDay2015: Most Surprising Game

 Posted by on August 4, 2015  Filed as: Editorial  Add comments  Topic(s):
Aug 042015

Day 4 of RPGaDay asks what was the most surprising game for me.RPG-a-day-2015-Twitter-2

The game that surprised me the most was Dungeon World by Sage Kobold Productions.

108028After about 30 years of role-playing, I thought I understood what gaming was and this was the first game that let me play a game, but got out of the way to let me play.

Now, in all fairness, Dungeon World is Powered by the Apocalypse, so really I should be saying that Apocalypse World by D. Vincent Bake is my most surprising game, but I haven’t played that game yet and Dungeon World was my first exposure to that game system, so Dungeon World it is.

To explain what I’m trying to say is that most RPGs are designed around either a simulationist approach, where they try to simulate the real world for game play or a narrativist approach, where they try to tell a story.

Simulationist games fail in that they keep intruding on role-playing and the story with game mechanics. Narrativist games also fail, because they don’t have enough mechanics to make it a satisfying game, it’s just story-telling.

Dungeon World’s simple mechanic of rolling two dice, adding them together and that gives you a result of fail forward (i.e. move the story forward despite failing), succeeding with consequences or a twist and fully succeeding, was revolutionary to me.

Here was a simple mechanic that got out of your way and let you tell a story. It was the first time I found a game that was simple enough to run, but had enough depth that it wasn’t just story-telling.

Simply put, Dungeon World surprised me, in a very good way. Haven’t looked back since.

More awesomeness...

Justin Schmid

Justin started tabletop gaming in 1983 with Basic D&D (red box) and never looked back. He runs and plays in a wide variety of games, including Savage Worlds, Dungeon World, Trail of Cthulhu and many, many more. He also writes professionally for role-playing games, including writing and creating Night's Edge an Alternate Reality Universe for Cyberpunk 2020. He went on to write eight more adventures and sourcebooks in the Night's Edge line, adding vampires and other supernatural perils to the already dangerous world of Cyberpunk. As a freelance writer, he wrote The Bermuda Triangle for Call of Cthulhu, Shadows of the Mind, and Psi Wars for Conspiracy X and contributed to Last Unicorn's Star Trek RPG, as well as to Cybergeneration sourcebooks, and many other games. When he's not creating imaginary worlds for his daughter, he's running games for his friends and writing new adventures or designing new game systems. He currently lives in Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

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