What are the major innovations in Dungeon World compared to D&D 3.5/Pf/4e?

In various comments on this site, DW was mentioned as

[Dungeon world/Apocalypse World] is really more required reading for any designer today working on innovation in mechanics

Having read the ruleset, I do not (yet?) see why some posters feel this is such a major step forward.

A few examples of mechanics mentioned as innovations are those:

Moves, unified power mechanics

There is a unified mechanic for ‘doing stuff’ called ‘moves’. Reading the moves, this sounds like 4e powers or 4e monster powers to me. While this unified mechanics is certainly a good thing, it’s hardly an innovation of DW. What makes moves special?

Hard boundaries on scaling

There is (almost) no scaling, and hit/miss is not dependent on enemies, but only on attacker. A cornerstone of many rules-light games, and something that can certainly be seen as a good thing. What’s different or noteworthy about DW’s implementation?

No initiative

Why is this a good thing? I know it from rules-lite games; when I’ve experienced this it often lead to a situation where a small part of the group had the majority of the spotlight.

Less tactics

No flanking etc. In-combat positioning and grid-based combat are a cornerstone of dungeon crawls and D&D forever, war game roots and all. How is this supported in DW? Does it even make sense to use a battle mat or grid for DW combat?

XP for misses

Trying to soften the blow on failure is certainly a good goal, but again – nothing unique. It also reminds me a bit of Burning Wheel’s “You can only advance through failure” – which I felt was detracting from good game experience.

So…what am I missing? What are the major innovations in Dungeon World compared to D&D 3.5/Pf/4e? Why is Dungeon World (or Apocalypse World) considered a seminal work for innovative mechanic design?

A good answer would contain a short discussion of each of the major innovations of DW over older D&D variants, and what problem this change solves. This also applies if the mechanic itself is not new but is used in a novel way.

Starting with D&D: Starter Set vs Dungeon Master’s Guide

For some time I have been GMing Call of Cthulhu 7th ed. and now, to try something different, I would like to go with D&D 5.0 since in a few weeks it will be available in my native tongue (the DM Guide is coming in few weeks, the Monster Manual and Starter Set are already translated and easily purchasable).
But I wonder if I should buy the Dungeon Master’s Guide or should I start with Starter Set?
I don’t mind waiting for the book to be available so it’s not an issue of any sort.
I just wonder if it’s better to start with the Starter or the Guide?
I suppose the Starter is easier to swallow, but what is your experience?

Is there an official treasure generation method to limit magic item rolls based on dungeon level or some other factor?

I’m running an AD&D campaign for a party of usually-three PCs, who were first level until our most recent session. (As for what they are now, we’ll get to that…) I have the 1e DMG (door cover) and Unearthed Arcana, and a Monster Manual that might be older than that, judging by its condition. The players are using the 2e PHB; these are all inherited books, and the previous owner only ever DM’d in 1e and PC’d in 2e.

My issue is with treasure generation– I’ve been using the standard dungeon generation tables from the DMG, and it works well except for the outcome of treasure rolls. Specifically, magic items don’t seem to be segregated by dungeon level. That first-level party happened upon a Mirror of Mental Prowess, which had some fairly powerful effects but nothing game-breaking, and was worth five thousand experience. Divided among the party, this alone was enough to bring the priest and rogue to second level. Combined with the remainder of the treasure, those two reached level three, and the ranger reached level two.

Now building a dungeon for a later adventure, another magic item roll came up, resulting in… a Ring of Three Wishes. I simply vetoed that and re-rolled, getting something more reasonable this time, but now the question is in my mind of whether this is actually correct.

So, the simple version of the question:
Is there a method in AD&D to limit magic item rolls for treasure based on dungeon level or some other factor, or does this need to be created manually by the DM?


Note that this is not the same question as “What can I do when I accidentally gave out an overpowered item?” This relates purely to the RAW methods for generating magical treasures.

Dungeon of the Mad Mage: What is the best favored enemy type for a revised ranger in DotMM? [on hold]

I’m working with a DM’s approval to help a player choose a revised ranger favored enemy without spoiling the player on Dungeon of the Mad Mage. In this agreement, I’m doing to spoiler-seeing work.

I am trying to find what would be the best choice of favored enemy for this player’s revised Ranger, based on what’s in DotMM. I’ve found a list of the population by level on reddit, which could help to find which type is the most common, but I don’t know if the best option is the most common type or the most dangerous type. What’s the most useful choice?

Dungeon of the Mad Mage room ceiling height?

I am playing in the Dungeon of the Mad Mage and in the text for room size there is the text for the rooms on page 11:

A room’s ceiling is at least as high as the room is wide, often higher. If a room’s ceiling isn’t specified in the text, assume it’s the minimum height.

What I am wondering is what dimension do we use to figure this out? For example: a room is 30ft (N-S) x 40ft (E-W) with a door on the North wall and a door on the West wall.

Would this room be 30ft or 40ft? Assuming the room height is not specified.

How to handle the harder encounters in the White Plume Mountain dungeon?

I plan to incorporate the White Plume Mountain into an ongoing campaign, and there are two encounters that bother me.

One of them is the golem puzzle which I fully expect them to fail, and the other one is the vampire. Am I supposed to use the MM templates for there? Because if yes, I don’t see how I don’t just wipe the floor with them.

For people who ran the module before, how did you handle it? Scale down these fights, or use an alternate template? Is it just fine to have unwinnable encounters, and encourage the players to run away?

Dungeon World first aid move feedback

I was looking for a first aid move but couldn’t find something I liked, so I tried to create one myself. I would like to get some feedback on it.

First Aid

You are trained in first aid. When you tend to someones wounds roll +INT, on a 10+, they heal 2N HP, on 7-9, they heal 2N HP, but you also have to pick one:

  • you expend more resources than expected.
  • it takes a long time.
  • something bad happens during the treatment.

N refers to the item used for healing. so for example bandages would heal 8 Hp.

Until now I used defy danger with Int when someone wanted to use bandages or herbs for healing – I didn’t like how easy it was to heal each other.

What is the spell save DC for this item from Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage?

There is an item in Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage and its description states:

However the eyebite spell states:

One creature of your choice within 60 feet of you that you can see must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or be affected by one of the following effects of your choice for the duration…

What is the spell save DC used when casting this spell?