Our background:

I've wanted to play an RPG for several years, and I'm finally going to get to schoolmates friends of mine together for about 5-6 hours to try out Dungeon world. Originally I was interested in D&D 5e, and I have the PHB and Starter Set, but after a lot of reading, I think that Dungeon World is a better option for me to start on, given its focus on collaborative storytelling and simpler rules than D&D. None of us except for me have played any RPGs, and I've played very little, but I, as the GM and pretty well acquainted with the Rules.

My Question

So, what should I have my players read before they come? I've seen some people who have successfully started a group entirely new to DW as character creation goes, so is that the way to go? Keep in mind, while I have read the rules to Dungeon World many times (and also the Guide, alligator ritual, and 16 hp dragon), I've never GMed/played the game, and I've only tried (not successfully) to GM Dungeons and Dragons: in some regards, I'm as inexperienced as my players. I still have a week, and I think that it would be advantageous for my friends to not come in blind.

In conclusion, what materials should I point my players towards in order for them to have the best grasp of what to expect with this first session (a one-shot)? All of the SRD? Nothing? I'm interested in knowing what has worked for some of the people here.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Note- I'm trying to get everything that I'm wondering on paper, so feel free to point out how I can make my query more concise and clear/edit out redundancies. \$\endgroup\$
    – Teralynx
    Jan 10, 2018 at 1:04
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure if your question can be clearly answered (meaning that it might not be good for stackexchange) but it certainly would make for some good discussion. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joe
    Jan 10, 2018 at 2:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Joe Would a better wording be something more along the lines of "What are the advantages and disadvantages of having my players read the rules before our first session ever?" Or "How does Dungeon World benefit from extensive reading by the players pre-first session?" Basically, I'm nervous, being a new GM, and want to point my players to specific parts of the rulebook/helpful advice if it would be worth it (about which I'm unsure). Another question I might ask, if it is "good for stackexchange", is about what I should make clear to my players before the first session, like setting, tone... \$\endgroup\$
    – Teralynx
    Jan 10, 2018 at 2:26

3 Answers 3


My latest group is mostly longtime roleplaying gamers and one relatively new gamer. I emailed them this, a link to the play kit, and a private share of the pdf:

You don't have to read anything, but if you feel like reading something, read the Basic Moves (our bread and butter) and skim the classes to see what interests you.

The players who want to read rules can dive into the pdf. The players who are curious can pick a class. Everyone else will pick up the game pretty quickly in the first session. Review the Teaching the Game chapter of the book to remind yourself how to pitch the game and introduce Dungeon World to new players.

  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for asking them to read the rules if they want, and then expecting nobody to do it. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 10, 2018 at 4:42

When I run Dungeon World for a new group, I don't expect them to read anything before the game. I bring character sheets, and I always take a few moments to address the common points of confusion.

"Okay, so you'll notice that you have two sets of stats. There are numbers in this fine print above your stat blocks, and you're going to assign the larger number to the full-word box and the smaller number to the circle. For example maybe your Constitution is 13 but your CON is +1. Most rules will care about your CON but there are a few that care about your Constitution -- in particular your hit points are calculated based on your Constitution. Also, note that there are some decisions to make on the back of your character sheet. Your carrying capacity is based on your STR, not your Strength."

I don't ask people to read before the game because (1) the rules are pretty simple and I can explain them at the table, and also (2) inevitably some of them wouldn't do it. On occasion I have players who drop out of the game (at the last minute!) to avoid having to admit they didn't do the homework. It's better to not assign homework.


As a player, you can pretty much play Dungeon World with nothing more for reference than the basic move sheet and your class playbook, both of which are provided in the standard play kit. You don't really need them in advance, but the curious aren't going to lose anything from having a look.

But at game time, what you, as a GM, should be giving them to read is a second copy, and keeping one for yourself. You'll be talking them through using it to create a character and frequently referring to it in play, and it helps if you have a copy in front of you that isn't upside-down and backwards.

Also having a copy of all of a class's moves in front of you will help you remember how they shake out in play and judge what opportunities best fit a class's abilities.


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