I never intended for this “drift” of Dungeon World to the setting of Earthdawn to take so much of my attention, but here we are with yet another iteration.

Version 1.5 exists because I wanted to explore questions of: if you make the rules of the Perilous Wilds required, what does that force you to do to the playbooks and the rest of the game? How does it allow you to change the game?

This already drifts away from standard Dungeon World farther than earlier versions, but that wasn’t quite sufficient. Passions needed some love. I also blame Jeremy Strandberg for some other changes made in the version. He has been working on his own variations of Dungeon World: the one-shot focused Homebrew World and “hearth fantasy” take on the game called Stonetop. Over the last year or so, he’s been noodling publicly on G+ about changes he has been making, and Fourth World has benefited tremendously from the resulting discussion. Not least of which: this version totally steals his versions of the Defense and Parley moves. So thanks, Jeremy!

Version History

Version Release Date Concept
0.5 2 Sep 2014 Alpha/proof of concept.
0.8 8 Seb 2014 Original public beta. First PDF layout.
0.9 1 Nov 2014 Integration of Mounted Combat. Airships
1.0 12 Feb 2015 Tinkering. Only released privately.
1.1 20 Feb 2015 Tinkering. Only released privately.
1.2 15 Mar 2015 First public "official" release.
1.3 20 Feb 2015 Replace bonds with flags, and collateral changes.
1.4 7 May 2017 Creation of steps. Changing playbooks to take advantage of changes to aid and hack & slash. Large playbook overhaul, particularly culling of vast majority of "take +1" stuff.
1.4 23 Feb 2018 Move to a 6x9 layout, using the same text.
1.5 today Passions. Integration of Perilous Wilds. Changes to Defend and Parley.

Changes in 1.5

Significant changes in this version include:

  • Passions mechanics made more abstract and interactive. Instead of working like alignment moves, now function more like icons from 13th Age, giving the GM a currency to spend to pull Passions into the narrative. XP gain no longer about hitting that “alignment” move, but examining how you measure up against the ideals you claim to follow.
  • Replaced overland travel moves with those from Perilous Wilds. Playbooks, particularly the Scout, changed to match.
  • Embraced the followers concept from Perilous Wilds (also written by Jermey Strandberg). Turns out this can replace more than just hirelings. Several weird one-off subsystems in Dungeon World replaced with unified follower mechanics, including summoning spells, mounts, companion animals and so on.
  • Replaced Defend (as mentioned above). It now gives a named type of hold called “readiness”. Various parts of the playbooks were added or changed to use readiness in various ways.
  • Replaced Parley (as mentioned above) with a version easier to use at the table.
  • Spellcasting changed to add a type of hold called “focus”, which can be spent to counter some of the mathematical brutality of requiring multiple tests for a single spell. Each casting discipline also gets a trick for doing something with focus.
  • Added examples of how spellcasting is intended to work in game and clarifications about what else you can do while weaving.
  • Removed discipline details from the main book. Everyone just looks at the playbooks anyway. In their place are advice sections to the GM about getting the most out of each discipline, with questions specific to each one.
  • Added a similar section advising on what player choice of species might signal, and how it can inform other parts of the game.
  • Leveraging the hack & slash rephrasing from prior versions, each discipline now adds a choice to the 10+ list, allowing each one to fight a tiny bit differently.
  • Added lots of examples of follower beasts and spirits.
  • Added some obsessions.
  • Added some monsters.
  • Playbooks are now generated from XML data, allowing new styles of playbooks to be constructed from a single data set. This uses XSL and FOP, based around my Corax data standard for RPG data. (I may make this standard more complete, open, and documented in the coming year. Maybe not.)
  • Most disciplines streamlined a little, reducing the number of moves slightly.
  • Was very temped to eliminate XP, but instead just give some advice on how to do so if you should want to.
  • General reorganization of book, changing chapters around.

The Future

In the short term, there may be future 1.5.x versions, to fix typos and such. There will probably be some additional playbook formats (starting with an A4 version of the minimal format).

Long term, this will definitely be the last in the 1.x series. If there is a 2.0, it won’t be based on Dungeon World. I think I’ve pushed the drift as far as it can go without breaking, and have already broke it a little. If a future PbtA version is in the cards, it will be much closer to Apocalypse World 2. There’s also a chance it wouldn’t be PbtA at all.

If you want to pick this seed up and plant it somewhere else, let me know. With the demise of G+ screwing up roleplaying, I’ll be harder to find. If you are on the Federation (diaspora, Friendica, etc.) or the Fediverse (Mastodon, Friendica, etc.) you can follow me at here. If not, but you are interested in trying a distributed social network that isn’t controlled by corporations, join one (such as an rpg-friendly Mastodon or Diaspora node).


  • fourth-world-1.5.pdf (8.7MB): rulebook.
  • fourth-world-crib-1.5.pdf (1.3MB): several page summary of the basic and special moves, spellcasting, etc.
  • fourth-world-build-ref-1.5.pdf (186KB): an experimental kit to build-your-own reference pages. Each “page” in this document is a one-sixth six page. If you have a PDF viewer capable of doing “6-up” printing and can specify arbitrary page ranges, you can do both of those things to select six of the pages in this document to print on a single piece of paper as a reference. Pages include: forms for tracking Passions, followers, steadings and so on; obessions; relics; basics, like lines or a dot grid; basic moves; etc.
  • fourth-world-playbooks-1.5-legal.pdf (8.7MB): single page playbooks, using US Legal (8.5″ x 14″) paper. Style is similar to prior versions, somewhat following the font aesthetics of third edition.
  • Minimal playbooks, with a style vaguely similar to Brennan Reece’s “minimal” style playbooks. Intended to be printed double-sided, then folded in half:
  • fourth-world-sources-1.5.zip (forthcoming): the InDesign and other sources used to build all this stuff.