A downloadable game

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World of Dungeons is a simple, quick-play, dungeon crawling game, using one of the core mechanics from the Powered by the Apocalypse rules system.

It's compatible with Old School Renaissance and original D&D monsters, dungeons, and adventure modules.

Number of players: 2-6
Age of players: 10+
Length: 2-4 hours per game session
Page Count: 3
Release Date: 2012

CategoryPhysical game
Rated 4.9 out of 5 stars
(85 total ratings)
AuthorJohn Harper
GenreAdventure, Role Playing
TagsDungeon Crawler, Exploration, Fantasy, PbtA, Tabletop


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Click download now to get access to the following files:

world_of_dungeons_1979.pdf 10 MB
world_of_dungeons_1979_bw.pdf 582 kB


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How do you determine how much damage your character takes when trading attacks?  For example when fighting a wolf vs fighting a bear?  

How long does a wizard have to wait before using a spell?

Are there any spells of ongoing effect ( like the light Gandalf makes with his staff for hours)?

Hello there,
First, thanks for all your development (recent and past - I am into reading Deathmatch Island since the release), very inspiring.
I checked World of Dungeons to play with my nephew.

Is there a specific mechanic for combat; like when does one deals damages?  Or it is dealt in the same manner as with other skills?  Would you say the rolls are "double duty" in this game, or do you make attributes for enemies?

Many thanks!


Combat is resolved same way as everything: roll 2d6+attribute. 6- miss/fail, 7-9 Partial Success, 10+ full success.

So, if you attack an enemy and get a 6-, you might receive damage, or be at his mercy, or in a hard position. 7-9 maybe you two trade blows and you deal and receive damage, or maybe you just deal half damage. 10+ you get what you wanted to do, if it was damage, deal it at no adverse consequence.

I printed this off a few years ago. Literally thought this was a thematic supliment for Dungeon World! Hehe! Now I know its q game, and will add it to myy games to try. Playing another one right now.

What hacks of this exist?

Fist is very inspired by this

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【规则译文】超轻量级OSR《地下城的世界》by John Harper

I made a Chinese translation. I wish you know that Chinese players will also love this game.

Thank you!


https://tibbiusgames.itch.io/absinthe-gin-sage ...

A Tibbiusgames hack of Jason Tocci's 2400, John Harper's World of Dungeons, and Ben Milton's Maze Rats.

It's compatible with Old School Renaissance and original D&D monsters, dungeons, and adventure modules.

Let's take a hill giant from 1e:
AC 5, HD 8 (i.e. also attack bonus)

How does the skill system from WoD work with those values? Do I take AC as armor points and light weapons (d6) only do damage on a 6?

And the other way around: does the hill giant always hit me (lowest roll 2 plus 8 attack bonus >= 10, always a full success)?


See John Harper's comment below about handling fights. You don't roll for the giant but for the PCs only: if the result is less than a full success, the character takes damage.

For one, I convert AC to armor in the following way: AC<2, armor 3; AC 2-5, armor 2; AC 6-7 armor 1; AC 8 or more, armor 0. 


The character sheet is spellbinding. That design alone is worth $. The game is also well reasoned, creative and tight. 

Do tell: would you mind making the character sheet available please for tweaks/modification in PSD or Illustrator digital format? Thx!

Is it legally possible to use these rules in a video game ?


love it. all a player need in just three pages. 

Question. Clerics Cure: How much would this heal? d6+lvl or what is the intention?



Yeah, I'd do 1d6+level, but they have to make a roll to attempt it. On a 6-, something bad happens (maybe they do some damage to the character instead of healing them or maybe they lose their healing powers for a day).

thx for the quick response and thx for this easy nice system!

okay, that's exactly what I thought I would do, just wanted to know what the basic idea was for this.

Its open common, yes? so you don't have a problem if I do something with it, as long as I mention its your creation, right? (want to translate it to German and perhaps create some additional material).

Yep, it's Creative Commons (CC-BY).

"roll all your hit dice and keep a number equal to your level to determine your hp" - this sentence confounds me: am I supposed to roll and keep the result or is the number of HP always identical to my level?


If you're level 2 and have 4 hit dice, you'd roll 4 dice and keep the best 2 to determine your HP.

oh well that makes sense, thanks for the reply.

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Hi there :)
How does the 5th ability gained at level 9 work? As there are only 4 per class.

Thx in advance and kudos for the amazing work!

You can take abilities from other classes (or invent new ones).

OK, thanks again :) makes sense considering the PbtA feel of the game.


I've been playing it solo for awhile! It is really good.
Thanks for it!

Glad you're enjoying it.

There's no monsters? How do I create monsters using this book?


Monsters only need hit points and for you to have an idea of what damage they do or effects they cause when your players fail a roll

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If you want a reference or compendium to use it together though, you can use Dungeon World's monsters and rules for monster creation. You'll only have to translate other dices to d6 (you can change d8 to d6+1, for example). Also it might not be hard to use monsters of other old school rpgs, like Old School Essentials


Love this system.  Fast and simple and just about perfect.  


Hi! I've prepared a Polish translation of the rules, is it ok to share it publicly?


Yes, that's fine.


Thanks! It's available here for anyone looking in the future :)



is it a base game or does it need other regulations?


It was made as a companion to Dungeon World, but you don't need DW to play it.

Is there a heap of stuff people have made for this game? I've got a module in the works and I want to "finish" it before long. If I could share it, I thought that'd be kinda cool. Maybe this is the place for the thing?


Yeah, putting it on itch could work. Ping me on Twitter and I can help draw some attention to it when it's ready.

Probably the Dungeon World reddit would be interested in it, too.


I cant really tell how combat works from these rules. Do you roll 2d6, or your hit dice? How does armor work? The only thing I can see is you either have 0,1, or 2 armor. Do you reduce damage by the value, or roll or what?


When you fight, use the rules for doing something risky (2d6+stat). On a 10+, you deal damage. On a 7-9, you trade hits with your foe. On a 6-, you get hit.

(That's one way to interpret the roll. It's not totally set in stone and is flexible by design. Let the situation guide your judgment calls.)

Your armor value subtracts from damage you take.


Thanks for the swift reply!


John, thanks a bunch for WoDu... I was running it in my campaign... then came the hacks; then came a new magic system; then it became... Beasts & Barrows. https://casadeocio.itch.io/beasts-barrows

Can't thank you enough!

Looks good!


Hi there! Love your work! I'm a Canadian teacher and I've translated the game to French so my students could learn it. I'd love to share it with the french community and wondered if you are ok with it? 

Yep, that's fine!

Mind If I publish it on my Itch page, available for free with mentions of you and the original work everywhere? 

Yeah, that's ok.

Thanks a lot!


This is a beautiful game. It was recently shown to me by a friend and honestly, I'm very much in love.

I'm curious as to what fonts you used, mostly because I'm pedantic and would like very much to use the same ones when I actually take the time to write out my adventure paths.


Glad you like it!

The fonts are Souvenir and Univers LT.
(You can find out what fonts a PDF uses by opening it in Acrobat and going to File > Properties > Fonts tab.)


This is honestly one of my favorite games. If you are an experienced GM then this is perfect for introducing new players to the hobby. Brilliant writing.

Hi John! I love runining World of Dungeons but I'm looking to make a swedish translated character sheet. Would that be ok?

Yes, that's ok!

Is the PDF available to edit somewhere? Again, thanks!

John, does this game's license allow hacks?


Yep! It doesn't say it in the text, but it's licensed the same way as Dungeon World: Creative Commons, attribution.

Wonderful. :)

Hi John! Did you actually design this in 1979, or is it part of the name?


That was just a bit of fun. It was made in 2012.

Ohkay! The game seems interesting to say the least. Too bad I don’t have people to try it with :(


I think this is an logical invitation to test it on solorpg. There is already an oracle. You just need to ask additional questions with two optional answers and go with the result of dice.

I will try it these days.

Have a great time.

Hi John, is there anywhere someone (me) could download the cover art too?

Not quite sure what you mean... there is no cover.

Just the cool image with the title and the map that is on the banner of this page.

The banner is the only place that exists.