Dungeon World is a game changer. It brings the focus of the fantasy rpg back to being immersed in the story rather than needing far too many reference books just to move a character. Since that’s what D&D was long ago, I suppose Dungeon World is a game changer-backer. No surprise then that I made the switch and am now using Dungeon World for a Dark Sun campaign. With so much lore available for Dark Sun (preferably from 2e) it was an easy switch, but I made a point to not make any rules that weren’t necessary.
Other than using some Dungeon World Dark Sun classes to enhance the experience, the players needed a defiling special move. The defiling option of the Dungeon World Dark Sun wizard from the other version of the wizard upon which the above classes are based was more of a penalty with no advantage to defiling (Cast a Spell:.. On a 7-9, the spell is cast, but choose one:… defile the land, withering plants, sterilizing soil, and fouling water around you). In a previous post I ran through the history of defiling and mentioned how defiling has consequences that are hard to write as rules, but in the fiction-driven Dungeon World, defiling as a choice fits quite readily. So the group house-ruled the removal of the “7-9” wizard defiling option and put in place a new option for wizards. The option is adapted from the wizard adept from the Dungeon World hireling section:
When you choose to defile when casting a spell, the spell’s effects have greater range, duration, or potency. Casting of the spell results in plant life and the soil near the caster to be drained of life resulting in an area of black ash. The more barren the landscape or the higher the spell level the greater the area defiled. The exact effects of the spell and the area defiled depend on the situation and the spell and are up to the GM. If the area is already defiled then the defiled area expands. The GM will describe what effects the defiling assist will add before the spell is cast. Any negative effects of the casting are focused on the caster first.
Simple and open to interpretation based on the situation. More importantly, it begins the conversation:
How does the character feel about having to defile?
How do the other players react to the defiling?
How do NPCs react to the defiling?
How do monsters react to the defiling?
With this option, one might think it could be abused, and they would be right. But that’s part of the story and can even drive it forward. Perhaps the heroes are no longer considered such because of the defiler in their midst. Perhaps sorcerer-kings, their agents, or the veiled alliance begin to seek out the defiler (new front!). Perhaps the character must wrestle with the option and perhaps hides his defiling from others (think of the bonds here!). The point is that this mechanism of defiling is more in line with the Dark Sun fiction and makes for a better story.