Dungeon World: Classy Questions

Something that I've done in both A Sundered World and Dungeons & Delvers—that the playtesters have really enjoyed—is include a series of race and class questions for the players to answer, in order to help flesh out both their characters and the world.

Here are some from the shaman's list:

  • What is your spirit’s name? Where did you find it? How do you both get along?
  • Is this your first spirit? If not, what happened to the other?
  • What function do you serve for your tribe?
  • What other noteworthy spirits do you know?

And here are some from the kobold:

  • Where do you live? Are you bound to someone’s home? A ship? Do you have your own shrine?
  • What spirit are you on good terms with? What about bad terms?
  • What is the most precious offering you've received? Who gave it to you?

Though I don't like many of the "official" Dungeon World classes (certainly not substantial portions of them), I figured I could at least compile a (non exhaustive) list of questions to give GMs and players something to work with (if you think of more, lemme know in the comments). Obviously you don't have to answer them all, at least not right away (some can wait until a character uses or gains a move), and some answers might in turn lead to other questions.

If people like this sort of thing, I'll start including them in our playbooks (and go back and add them into previously published ones).

  • Arcane Art: How did you learn to weave song and dance into magic? How does your art manifest? For the other questions, how does it feel to be empowered by the bard's art?
  • Bardic Lore: How did you learn what you know?
  • A Port in the Storm: Whence have you traveled? You can further flesh this out by asking the bard what he saw or encountered during his travels.

Another somewhat interesting bit about the bard are the instruments, in that unlike most starting gear they each come with the hint of a story hook: you can ask them about the noble that gave them their lute, who they stole their horn from, and so on.

The Deity move doesn't go into a lot of detail, but depending on your campaign this may be all that's needed. In case it matters you can figure out other details, like what your god looks like, religious holidays, sacred animals/plants/weapons, and so on. You can also flesh out whatever church you came from, where it's located, and members of the clergy.

  • Divine Guidance: How does your deity convey this information to you? Does it just appear in your mind? Do you hallucinate? Do you hear whispers on the wind? A vision in the reflection of your blade? Does your deity (or other divine servant) take over your body and speak?
  • Turn Undead: What does this look like? What happens to the undead?
  • Commune: What does it feel like to commune with your deity and gain new spells?
  • Cast a Spell: What does your magic look like?

  • Born of the Soil: Where is your land (assuming you don't start the game there)? What important features and creatures can be found within it? 
  • By Nature Sustained: How does the druid sustain him/herself? Do you just draw on sunlight? Do you hunt, or do animals willingly sacrifice themselves to you? Do plants just grow from the ground (or from your flesh)?
  • Shapeshifter: What does it look like when you transform? How does it feel?
  • Related to both Born of the Soil and Shapeshifter: What sort of animals do you commonly transform into?
  • Gear: Was the token given to the druid? Was it claimed as a trophy from some strange beast? Was it discovered in a mysterious cave?

Something else you can establish is whether you are part of a tribe or clan, or if you are a lone warden of your land.

The fighter has the strange distinction of being the only class whose most meaningful move is a weapon. Even so, there are a number of non-weapon questions you can ask.

  • Signature Weapon: How did you acquire your weapon? What does it look like? 
  • How did you learn to fight?
  • Why did you take up the sword (or axe, or spear, etc)?
  • What is the most powerful monster you've ever slain?
  • What fight(s) have you fled from?
  • What do you fear?

The paladin is a bit contradictory: it mentions the "sweet killing blow of the gods, you are", and your gear includes a "mark of faith", but only if you take the Divine Favor advanced move does it tell you to dedicate yourself to a deity.

Personally I prefer Dungeons & Dragons's (4th Edition, of course) cavalier subclass, which champions a virtue (with the examples being valor and sacrifice), as that helps conceptually differentiate it from the cleric. I take this to mean that you don't need to be devoted to any particular god, but if you go that route just refer to the cleric's Deity move above for questions.

  • How did you "become" a paladin? 
  • Human: When you discover evil, how do you know? Is the source surrounded by an aura? Do you feel nausea or agony? 
  • Lay on Hands: What does it feel like to heal someone? What does it feel like to take their wounds and debilities?
  • Quest: What sort of rituals do you go through when you dedicate yourself? Are their any signs or changes (which could be based on whatever boons you choose)?

The main thing about the ranger is the animal companion, though you can also ask occupation-related questions.

  • Why did you become a ranger? Was it by choice or necessity?
  • How did you learn to survive in the wilderness?
  • Which environments are you familiar with? Which are you ignorant of?
  • Animal Companion: How did you meet your animal companion? What is its name? How do you get along? You could expand this to ask how it gets along with the rest of the party.

If another player is playing the druid, maybe they both know each other. If the adventure takes place in familiar territory, you can ask the ranger questions about it: what lives and/or can be found there (whether he has encountered it, or has only heard of it in legends)?

Everything about the thief's moves can be summed up with: how and why did you learn your skills? Were you part of a thieves' guild, did you learn it all on your own, were you taught by a mentor, or was it a mix of all the above? Here are a few more questions:

  • What's the most valuable thing you've stolen?
  • Who have you abandoned or sacrificed to make a clean escape?
  • Would you betray your companions? What would it take?

Depending on what the campaign is about, you can flesh out a thieves' guild, one or more members of a watch that the character has a "history" with, rivals, an ill family member that the thief has to take care of, a treasure that the thief really wants to get her hands on, and the like.

  • How and why did you learn your magic? Were you self taught, were you instructed by a mentor (if so, who was he, how did he treat you, what happened to him, etc), or did you attend a magic academy?
  • Spellbook: What is it made of? How big is it? What language are your spells written in?
  • Prepare Spells: As with the cleric, how does it feel to prepare new spells?
  • Cast a Spell: Also as with the cleric, how does it feel when you cast spells? What do they look like?
  • Spell Defense: What does this look like (it could vary by the ongoing spell you end)?

You can also ask the wizard about any magical mishaps they've witnessed and/or caused, spells and magic items they hope to find, a magic item they want to create, etc.
We've got a bunch of awesome stuff going on this month:

Finally, you can now sign up for this month's Mythoard, which features a Dungeon World adventure written by me.

In addition for every 50 subscribers I'm going to add a discount link for one of our products. So far The Witch is being included (and will become free at 200 subscribers), and when I asked about it yesterday there were over 70. The cutoff date is the 10th, at which point I'll have to send the files out for printing, so spread the word!

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