DM Deep Dive with Adam Koebel on Dungeon World

by Mike Shea on 11 March 2019

Back in November 2018 I had the great pleasure to talk with Adam Koebel, a co-creator of the mind-blowing RPG Dungeon World, to talk about his game and what it meant for D&D.

You can watch the whole interview on Youtube, watch it below, or listen to the podcast on the Don't Split the Podcast Network.

The rest of this article contains notes from the show.

Three tips from Adam Koebel on running great D&D games.

If you're a new DM and you don't feel like D&D is telling you how to run the game—you are not alone. (some people wrote a whole book about this!)

Turn over as much of the the mechanics to your players as you can. You don't have to know all of the rules, let the players help.

Play other games. Try out a bunch of different games (Burning Wheel, Apocalypse World, Fiasco, Microscope, Stars Without Numbers). Your D&D game will be dramatically different once you've scoped out other games. 5e gives you a big hole to fill when it comes to running the game.

What's Good about 5e D&D?

The D&D Starter Set is the best starter set Wizards has ever put out.

"Fifth edition is everyone's second-favorite version of D&D." - Sage LaTorra (according to Adam).

5e is easy to get started and easier to master the mechanical complexity.

Where does 5e not hit the mark?

Inspiration sucks. It feels detatched from everything else and has the same name as another ability "bardic inspiration". In groups where everyone's running really well, no one gets inspiration. If someone is shy and someone else has an Irish accent, the accent guy gets inspiration. Your players aren't kindergarden students.

Mike uses inspiration to reward players who choose to go into danger to move the story forward.

Where did the principles for GMs come from in Dungeon World?

We stole it from Apocalyse World. The principles and agendas in Dungeon World are there to steer the GM and player to the style of game that Dungeon World offers.

Pushing characters with challenging monsters and throwing monsters at the characters to look awesome are the same thing.

Not all systems are designed for all types of games. There's not a lot of five-foot steps in Game of Thrones.

"Be a fan of the characters" doesn't mean they get everything they want. It might mean pummling the shit out of them and watching them come back from it.

Your job is to put characters in rough situations and letting them come out of it.

D&D struggles with how lethal or not lethal it should be.

On Fronts

All of Adam's GM prep includes fronts. They're the one part of Dungeon World that Adam would like to rewrite.

Fronts are a great way to make the game feel like a bunch of spinning plates.

Fronts are not for every game. Not all games work well with the anxiety of fronts: "glad you finished that one thing but two other things went to shit".

What would happen in the world if the characters didn't show up?

What are three RPGs in the past two years one should check out.

Adam

Mikes:

What does your PC look like when you have time to play.

Adam:

Thanks to Adam for a wonderful interview!

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Article Keywords: dungeon world, adam koebel, width 100, starter set, inspiration, game, fronts, stars, lethal, height, interview, shit

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