Dungeon World: Evolution of the Playbook

Our first class, The Vancomancer, was originally very much like other Dungeon World classes out there: a cover, two pages for the class, and another page or two for spells (I forget if I was able to fit them all on one sheet, or if a second one was needed). It's since seen a very hefty overhaul, making it more inline with the rest of our classes.

At the time I was just looking at what others were doing and following suit. The only tweak was that I included an extra page that touched on some of the fiction and moves, to give those likely not familiar with The Dying Earth a better handle on what the class was going for, in particular the spells and sandestins.

Our second class was of all things The Skeleton. It started as a kind of joke, but thanks to Melissa, feedback, and actual playtesting it eventually blossomed into a usable, entertaining class. As with The Vancomancer, I ended up including an extra page talking about the concept and fiction, since the end result wasn't just any old skeleton that you'd find in a dungeon.

In addition, this was the time where I started adding little custom graphics to our sheets (changing the black bars into bones), and including some extra moves that we deemed less interesting/useful than the rest. I reasoned that it's not like people have to print this stuff off, and maybe they'll like them more than the default moves, so why not?

With The Mummy and The Ghoul we decided to make it a point going forward to include a kind of behind the scenes look at our classes, as well as add any moves that we thought of during the design process, but couldn't fit on the actual sheet (and The Mummy is noteworthy for being our first class to also feature new magic items).

The Pirate was when we yet again changed how we do things. Thanks to InDesign I was able to easily create "digest" pdfs to go with each class. This allowed us to better organize the core class, extra moves, any new bits of gear, design notes, and in some cases compendium classes and monsters. This digest pdf is now a standard for us, and we've since gone back and updated our original classes to also include it.

Now, something that's often presented an issue is making sure that all of the advanced moves fit on the back of the sheet. The expectations were (and still are) that each class gets at least 20 advanced moves, and sometimes it's not easy to do. But by reducing the font size, space, and/or word count I've been able to make it work...up until The Cultist, that is.

Thankfully I'd already been working on an alternate character sheet layout, because there was just no way to get all of the advanced moves on the "classic" sheet. I'd entertained the idea of just putting the 2-5 advanced moves on it, with blank space to write in the rest, but thankfully when I laid it out using my new sheet everything fit.

I continued using the new sheet as-is for The Oni, but during the design process for The Swashbuckler I made another tweak. Sometimes Melissa forgets which advanced moves she's taken and how they impact her other moves, and I'm sure many tables have someone that similarly forgets things on the back of the sheet (especially if said thing isn't used very often).

So, I added some check boxes underneath the starting moves as a reminder and reference:

Now if she takes an advanced move that modifies a starting move, a quick glance tells her how it's affected. The descriptions are abridged, but at least this way she'll have an easy reminder, and if she needs clarification she can always flip the sheet over to get the full explanation. I have another idea for a character sheet layout, mostly applicable to classes that have two kind of "modes". I'll probably start out using it with a werewolf class, and see where it goes.

At any rate, I'm curious what people think about our playbooks and character sheets, what you like and don't like about them, and what you wish we'd do (either differently, or even add to the mix). I chatted with one Owen Karr: apparently he's also in the habit of stuffing his playbooks with extra content in order to give you more bang for your buck.

As of this post we hit our funding goal a while back, which is pretty exciting for us. Since there's still several days left, I wanted to reiterate a few things:

First, you can increase your pledge to get additional classes at a discount.

We're doing this because people have asked us to include additional classes that we've created, like The Bard, The Psion, and The Pirate. The problem is our classes are really popular, and we don't want people to pay for content they already own.

This way you can get exactly what you want at a discount. It should be noted that any classes you buy through the Kickstarter will be sent out at the campaign's conclusion: you won't have to wait for the rest of A Sundered World to get them.

Second, per someone's suggestion, I'm going to write a kind of promo adventure for A Sundered World in time for GenCon. It will be about Lichfield in length (so that ideally you can wrap it up in a couple hours), and will feature pregen characters, one of which will be of a race I haven't talked about before. Everyone backing at the $3 level or higher will get this when it's ready.

Finally, there're going to be comics, short stories, maybe even novels (backers of any level can see the first page). The art is currently going to be done by Melissa and myself, and the writing will be by Brannon Hollingsworth. Everyone backing, even at the $1 level, will get the first comic when it is ready.

Non-Kickstarter News
  • The Swashbuckler is out!
  • The art for the Dungeon World GM Screen is done, and I've ordered some proofs. If they look good, expect it up in the next week or so.
  • It looks like the next class we'll be doing is The Golem. Personally I was hoping for The Rakshasa or The Fighter, but the people have spoken.
  • The crew from Mythoard have graciously allowed us to put up Lichfield for public consumption at the start of next month. So if you missed out on it, you won't have to wait until October to get it!


  1. I like the checkbox addition on the Swashbuckler; I know a few people who could really use that sort of reminder.

  2. @Svafa: A lot of our playbooks have your advanced moves build upon existing moves, so it's something else we'll have to go back and fix (in addition to converting them all over to the newer format).

    Is there anything else you or your players wish sheets would add/do differently?


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