Adventure World Chassis

The Hobbit

A spectrum of table styles with two extremities: crystalized and fluid.

Crystalized. The world is set in stone. The GM or an intellectual property has declared its boundaries. Details are made ahead of time like calendars with holidays and festivals, towns with maps and points of interests, major factions with motivations and rosters, magic systems with rules and such. If you’re running a setting Middle-Earth or Hot Springs Island or an adventure like Stonehell, it’s pretty crystalized. Much of the content is already there. I think of Old School Essentials as a game with plenty of crystallizations. I mean, the game has over 40 years of time settling. High prep.

Fluid. The world is in development. There are many blanks on the map. The GM asks players leading, open ended questions: “Which forgotten god is this temple dedicated to? How long have you been adventuring without a weapon? Which other player character did you immediately connect with and how?” If you’re running your own homebrew campaign and it has a lot of player input, it’s more fluid. Dungeon World is one of the most popular fluid games. Low prep. Solo games are highly fluid, many of the details being made as the player goes.

A fluid game, if run long enough, would eventually become crystalized. More details are set, more laws declared, and patterns emerge.


I’m finding myself more drawn to fluid, collaborative styles the less time I have to prep. Re-reading Dungeon World and it’s GM guide made me nostalgic for it. Allowing for high levels of player input decreases the GM workload but increases the chance of a total trainwreck. Could be fun either way.

Anyway, here’s a quick game I dreamt up based on Dungeon World, although you should also check out Bound for Glory.

Adventure World, the bare-bones

Base assumptions of vanilla fantasy. Get out your copies of Maze Rats and Adventure Hour!

Something uncertain, roll 2d6. The GM may tell warn the player of possible consequences of good and bad rolls before the roll.

  • 6- is bad, bad, bad. Epic fail home videos kind of stuff.
  • 7-9 is good, but there’s a cost, choice, or consequence. Scrappy adventurer kind of stuff.
  • 10+ is awesome. Treat this like rolling a natural 20 in D&D. Swashbuckling hero kind of stuff.

Everything has three strikes. Use a rope three times? You’re out of rope. Sword gets damaged three times? Needs repair. Your body take three strikes? You’re out of the action. Armor and shields each add one strike each, but remember, they’re heavy or take a hand to use.

Monsters may have more or less than three strikes. They may also deal more than one strike in a single hit.

In combat, a 7-9 roll usually indicates an exchange of blows with both combatants hitting each other.

Remove strikes in sanctuaries like towns.

Character Creation

Roll d66 once and read across the column or roll four times, once each item column (then come up with your own Archetype name if you like). Finally, give your character a name.

d66ArchetypeItem 1Item 2Item 3Item 4
11DiscipleSling and rocksExpandable fish netParalysis wandLoaves of bread
12FriarFrying panFire-starting kitJar of greaseJar of honey
13InitiateHeavy songbookInstrumentPolymorph potionPortable hole
14MonkBo staffLeaping bootsCalming incenseMassage rock
15PaladinLanceBright shieldTruth serumHorse whistle
16PriestMorningstarMetal plate armorBandagesSymbol of light
21BarbarianBroadswordSkull helmetEnergy potionBone collection
22BlademasterTwin swordsMetal chainLightning wandBladestorm scroll
23GladiatorTridentMirror shieldGlue pelletsTrapping net
24KnightLongswordSquire attendantMedicineBlast horn
25MercenaryOversized keyWinged shieldStink bombsAnti-magic potion
26PiratePoisoned cutlassLoyal petDelicious applesOak barrel
31BeastmasterBow and arrowsAnimal companionIrresistible treatsSoap
32Bounty HunterCrossbow and boltsHandcuffsSmoke powderGrappling hook
33DruidTransform ringSunrodBird seedTea set
34SurvivalistCrossbow and boltsLumber axeBarkskin wandLantern and oil
35TrapperShovelBear trapFireworksNet
36WardenSling and stonesSpike armorCamping setRamming shield
41AcrobatThrowing knivesLiving ropeCircus makeupBag of fruit
42HermitFireblowerMagic contractSize wandSewing needles
43PoisonerCane swordVial of poisonRationsLoaded dice
44SaboteurBlowgun and dartsSpark stickTiny bombsRoyal crown
45SpyHidden knifeDark cloakWeb wandClimbing gloves
46TricksterSlingshot and rocksInvisible stringFake jewelsGremlin in a jar
51ArcanistBig bug netMagic missile wandSleep powderTeleport scroll
52IllusionistDaggersSwitcheroo orbMirror image wandInvisibility dust
53Water MageWooden oarFishing rodIcestorm wandInfinite waterskin
54Earth MageStonefist gauntletsGem helmetStoneshape wandTremorsense boots
55Fire MageFlaming swordFerret petFire shield wandCircus rings
56Air MageBoomerangHover cloakGust wandGolden flute
61Sea ElfLightning spearSeaweed ropeWaterform potionRotting fish
62Wood ElfBow and arrowsCamouflage cloakAlluring perfumePaint set
63Mountain DwarfPickaxeHeadlamp helmetGlow chalkThunderstone
64Moss DwarfBoulderSpore maskMushroomsFairy friend
65Hill HalfingUmbrellaInfinite string spoolHot piesSheriff badge
66City HalflingWooden batWig disguiseFire kitUnbreakable lasso

Game Master

Remember: give information!

Draw a map with blanks. Label areas and select points of interest but leave the details unexplored. It’s vague, but this step is to taste. Know your level of comfort and discomfort with leaving things open.

List three or more treasure opportunities. They’re located in interesting and dangerous places on the map.

List three or more factions. Start with at least one lawful, one neutral, and one chaotic. Give them reasons to like and dislike adventurer types from their past history, present troubles, or prophesies of the future.

List three big approaching dangers, be they monster-summoning rituals, plagues, famines, invasions. Things that can be prevented, but are on their way. Keep these hidden, but hint at them over the course of play.

At the start of play, have players create their characters. Then ask questions, use the answers.

Show them the impact of their choices.

Adventure on!

One thought on “Adventure World Chassis

  1. Where did you find that Hobbit image?

    This is great stuff, almost a mini-zine worth of cool mechanics.

    If I get the chance, I’ll have to try this and let you know how it goes!

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