I don’t write much about Dungeon World; that’s largely Delos’ department. I prefer Fate, but there are quite a few little parts from Dungeon World that I really like. This article is about one of them.
Failure = XP
In Dungeon World, whenever you make a failed roll, you gain an experience point. It’s simple; it’s elegant; it’s logical. Why don’t more games do this? Why does success always have to reward experience? Even besides this making sense, something wonderful comes from this simple mechanic: when a player fails a roll, they quickly (VERY quickly) go from disappointed that what they tried to do failed to happy that they got an experience point. Literally every time someone realizes that they earned XP, they get gleeful. It’s a strange and powerful thing, never truly being disappointed by a roll.
On top of the XP, if you have a decent GM, they make the failure interesting in some way, making failure almost more fun than success, which is how it should be.
I’ve had a couple sessions now where I’ve rolled mostly 10+s, several 7-9s, with only one or two 6-s. While it’s nice to succeed a lot, I would have really liked to see the interesting things that come from failure (and leveling up again would be nice :))
Learning From DW’s Successes
I’m going to look into trying to add the failure = XP system into Fate, and once I’m completely satisfied with it, I’ll share it with you guys.