I'm making a hack of Dungeon World/Apocalypse World- its fantasy based, but very dark fantasy. I was tending towards using the Harm Clock, or something as in your face deadly, but wondered if the Hit Points in Dungeon World served another more subtle purpose than I might see.

Other than an archaic affectation, do Hit Points serve another purpose in Dungeon World?


1 Answer 1


Hit points are more than just a nod to old-school D&D, but yes, that heritage is the only reason they're in the game. The Harm Clock would have worked equally well from a mechanical point of view. It just wouldn't have had the right "feel". For darker fantasy the Harm Clock would be very well-suited.

Dungeon World was made to play D&D-style adventures without the fuss that the authors personally found disagreeable, but still retaining the feel and style of D&D at its best. Hit points made the cut.

One notable difference to watch out for between Apocalypse World and Dungeon World is how the full combat rules makes it a fixed three-round affair in the former and there is no such fixed counterpart in the latter. Combat in Dungeon World is always a part of the ongoing fiction-move flow. The fixed-round combat is tuned so that it works well with the Harm Clock, and the fluid combat in Apocalypse World apart from full Battle emphasises the fragility of humanity; the fluid combat systems in both tend to be much more variable, but in Dungeon World it is tuned to work in concert with the small graduations available with hit points for a more heroic style. Neither choices are incompatible, but you should keep in mind that each injury subsystem developed in the context of their own combat assumptions (or the other way around), so when switching things up, look especially hard there for unexpected interactions during play testing.

My only source for this is observations and conversations during DW's development about sacred cows, Adam's particular frustrations with their AD&D game, and Tony's Apocalypse D&D hack that started it all. For what it's worth.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Could you tell me where you are finding the three round combat in AW? I had the impression that, given combat is mostly Going Aggro, there was no limit. \$\endgroup\$
    – Timonides
    May 3, 2013 at 0:27
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Timonides Thinking that Going Aggro is "the combat move" is an easy misconception to get, but it's just a move that triggers when influencing with the real threat of violence. (You can have a whole fight and never Go Aggro!) A full-on fight can be done with basic moves fine, but there are also the battle moves and the three-round battle clock starting page 212, for more significant/deadly conflicts. \$\endgroup\$ May 3, 2013 at 2:03
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ OK you are thinking the optional battle moves. I have never actually used those. You are quite right - Going Aggro is actually AW diplomacy :-) I need to play or run some AW now. \$\endgroup\$
    – Timonides
    May 3, 2013 at 17:10
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDir laughs Yes, I couldn't agree more. It's a great place to find settings and systems that resonate with how you like to play. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gaxx
    May 3, 2013 at 17:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Combat in AW is Seize By Force, not Going Aggro. You know how action movies usually have a bit where someone's got their gun in someone else's face? Yet somehow that gun usually doesn't go off? That's Going Aggro. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 22, 2014 at 17:37

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .