What would 'Epic' [Dungeon World] Look Like?

edited November 2012 in Story Games
I was flicking through the Epic Adventures Dragon Magazine issue from way back and thinking about how unsatisfying I found 3E's approach to epic levels. I guess the breaking point for me was an 'epic' prestige class which, at one level, gave the character an extra 30 feet of darkvision. Not exactly earthshattering.

Since DW is my dungeoneering game of choice, I was wondering what form you thought Epic Dungeon World could take.

* Would it need any structural changes at all? There isn't the numerical escalation that there is in D&D.
* Would some numerical escalation be worthwhile?
* Could you change the basic moves themselves, create a whole new epic suite of basic moves?
* Would epic levels be better handled by compendium classes, or expanding the base classes?
* Could you keep the current spell system, or would a build-your-own-ritual system like in 3E be a fun addition?

I'd love to see your thoughts on this!

Comments

  • Apocalypse World lets you advance basic moves so they do something really cool if you roll 12+. I also thing you could just make another tier of powers that do more expansive things.

    You could take some inspiration from AD&D 1e and 2e. At just about level nine-ten, you get to build you own castle and have a standing army. Wizards start getting things like Meteor Swarm, which can hurt an army. Fighters get an actual army. The game if it goes on, switches to courtly politics and epic wars rather than dungeon crawls. I could see this being a really good fit with Dungeon World's established assumptions.
  • Dungeon World is pretty epic as it is.
  • Epic compendium classes you can only take at upper levels?
  • You'd see more moves like Apotheosis. Things that change the characters in dramatic, ridiculous ways. Scale would increase. Can you kill 1 monster now? Epic characters can kill 10 or 100 at a time. Spells bend time and space on a bigger, broader scale. You speak and the gods listen, you know?
  • The thing that strikes me about Apotheosis is not so much that it's dramatic or on a different scale, but that it's open-ended. Do you think that could be part of the shift—towards more player discretion?

    Another thing that could be fun is drawing out some elements of the implied setting—like the Black Gates of Death.
  • Can you kill 1 monster now? Epic characters can kill 10 or 100 at a time.
    After I was thinking about unnecessary escalation I started using 3:16 rules for monsters of much lower level: you roll for the number you kill, not the damage done to one.

  • Can you kill 1 monster now? Epic characters can kill 10 or 100 at a time.
    Monster sedorners whisper in hushed tones as the butcher of Dingledale stalks the hallowed halls of the Iron Keep. What dark pact with the devil has she made that gives her such preternatural murdering ability? Do the souls of the dead torture her dreams? Or does she enslave them? Feeding her lust for death?

  • You could start out epic in Dungeon World. The Queen needs you to travel beyond the Black Gates of Death to bring back her King, who's soul has been taken by a terrible man who calls a demon his master. Make up some level-appropriate appropriate monsters, have your group travel the River Styx and fight out ghouls and spectres and worse, and make their way into the Obsidian Kingdom where they'll find the demon (or maybe just his mortal puppet) and the soul of the King. Bam, you could do that at first level. Maybe make up some appropriate badass custom moves, go all-out with descriptions of the place, encourage the PCs to act like the baddest asses in the realm, etc.

    You can always take the Apocalypse World approach and have the Wizard be THE WIZARD TO END ALL WIZARDS, the only capital-W Wizard in all the worlds that are, and so on. The Fighter is literally THE FIGHTER, master of all forms of combat, brilliant tactician, grizzled veteran of a hundred wars. There are wizards and fighters, but they aren't protagonist-caliber (anti-)heroes.

    tl;dr: Dungeon World doesn't need any modifications to be epic. Just make the fiction epic, and the mechanics won't get in your way at all.
  • Some great ideas, folks. Keep them coming!

    To those of you saying that DW is epic from the beginning, I think you're right that DW can be more easily made epic than, say, D&D. I don't agree that DW is inherently epic or easily made epic, though. There'd be no point going to level 10 if level 1 fulfilled that need. Unfortunately I haven't had a chance to play high-level DW yet, but I suspect it feels different to low-level DW and I'd like to cultivate whatever it is that makes it feel different.
    Apocalypse World lets you advance basic moves so they do something really cool if you roll 12+. I also thing you could just make another tier of powers that do more expansive things.
    I had a go at this yesterday. Let me know what you think.

    = NEW MOVES =
    Level Up to Epic Level: Instantaneously upon reaching XP equal to (or greater than) 17, you become epic. You must be level 10 to use this special move.
    * Subtract 17 from your XP.
    * Increase your level to 11.
    * Choose a new epic move from your class.
    * If you are the wizard, you also get to add a new 11th-level spell to your spellbook.
    * Choose one basic or special move to upgrade to an epic basic or special move.
    * Choose two of your stats and increase each one by just enough that it changes your modifier. Changing your Constitution increases your maximum and current HP. Ability scores cannot go higher than 20 (+5).
    * Your HP resets to maximum and you lose any debilities you might have had.

    Pursue Your Epic Destiny: If you are epic level, instantaneously upon reaching XP equal to (or greater than) 10 + the number of epic moves you have, subtract that number from your XP. You gain a new epic move. Choose one basic or special move to become an epic basic or special move. Your HP resets to maximum and you lose any debilities you might have had.

    = EPIC BASIC MOVES =
    Hack and Slash and Volley: On a 12+, you kill the enemy. No ifs, no buts, no fooling around. You’re playing for keeps.
    Defy Danger: On a 12+, you not only defy the danger, you nullify the threat for yourself and those you care about.
    Defend: On a 12+, you spend hold to do all four options, not just one of them. You still Hold 3.
    Spout Lore: On a 12+, you tell the GM something interesting and useful about the subject relevant to your situation.
    Discern Realities: On a 12+, you ask three questions. They don’t have to be from the list.
    Parley: On a 12+, they do want you want and expect nothing in return.
    Aid or Interfere: On a 12+, they automatically succeed on their roll.

    = EPIC SPECIAL MOVES =
    Last Breath: On a 12, you bring something back with you from the Black Gates.
    Undertake a Perilous Journey: On a 12+,
    * the quartermaster reduces the number of rations needed to 0,
    * the trailblazer significantly reduces the amount of time it takes to reach your destination,
    * the scout will allow you to avoid any trouble you might face, or get the drop on it if you decide to confront it.
    Carouse: On a 12+, you get all four options and in addition something remarkable happens during your carousing.
    Supply: On a 12+, you find more than what you’re looking for, and at a remarkable price.
    Recruit: On a 12+, exactly the person you need puts themselves forward as a recruit.
    Outstanding Warrants: On a 12+, the trouble that you got caught up in has created an opportunity for you.
  • I like this. I don't even have a plan to play a normal Dungeon World campaign any time soon, but this makes me wish for the chance even more.
  • Last Breath: On a 12, you bring something back with you from the Black Gates.
    oh hell yes.
  • Last Breath: On a 12, you bring something back with you from the Black Gates.
    oh hell yes.
    Yeah, this is bad ass. Bringing something back by accident is a pretty normal Last Breath thing but doing it on purpose? Shit.
  • * Choose two of your stats and increase each one by just enough that it changes your modifier. Changing your Constitution increases your maximum and current HP. Ability scores cannot go higher than 20 (+5).

    Pursue Your Epic Destiny: If you are epic level, instantaneously upon reaching XP equal to (or greater than) 10 + the number of epic moves you have, subtract that number from your XP. You gain a new epic move. Choose one basic or special move to become an epic basic or special move. Your HP resets to maximum and you lose any debilities you might have had.
    Quick notes -- overall, this looks pretty awesome! But, you hit level 12 (11 exp needed) faster than you hit level 11 (17 exp needed.) Is that intended?

    Also, even a +4 in apocalypse world is really strange -- it makes it very difficult to ever roll a miss (1/36 chance,) and +5 means they will never roll a miss. Even at a +3 it's pretty low, 3/36.

    I guess what I'm getting at is, stat adjusting past +3 might be less fun? Especially as the moves in DW tend not to have overtly negative repercussions on a 10+.

    I really like your 12+ moves!
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