Dungeon-Starter: The Duke’s Men

Happy New Year!

Here’s an abbreviated dungeon-starter for Dungeon World, building somewhat on the material that I came up with for The Duke’s Men.  Agenda, Goals, and Dungeon Moves are at the top as per usual.  This is mostly focused on cultists and such, as the game itself was, but the basic storyline offered in my previous post could easily be altered to deal with any number of different kinds of threats.


  • Make the world fantastic
  • Fill the characters’ lives with adventure
  • Play to find out what happens


  • Establish details, describe
  • Use what they give you
  • Ask questions
  • Leave blanks
  • Look for interesting facts
  • Help the players understand the moves
  • Give each character a chance to shine
  • Introduce NPCs
  • Fill out your worksheet

Dungeon Moves:

  • Change the environment
  • Point to a looming threat
  • Introduce a new faction or type of creature
  • Use a threat from an existing faction or type of creature
  • Make them backtrack
  • Present riches at a price
  • Present a challenge to one of the characters


  • What do people say lives in the heart of the Blackforest?
  • Why are folk afraid of cutting down these trees?
  • What mineral that runs beneath these hills is valuable enough to make people live here?
  • What would people in the Blackforest kill for?
  • What stories do people outside the forest tell about the people who live here?
  • What stories do the people who live here tell about the things of the forest?
  • What do you think has been killing the village’s Headmen?


  • a narrow track winding through the tall trees
  • dark and forbidding forest surrounding you
  • comforting birdcalls, chattering squirrels
  • sudden silence and a feeling of being watched
  • trees untouched for centuries, tall and strong
  • gloom and darkness beneath the trees
  • dense canopy overhead
  • a small town, surrounded on all sides by trees
  • meagre fields, carved out of the forest
  • close horizons shrouded by the woods
  • wooded hillsides and rocky cliffs
  • a small shrine at the base of a thick tree
  • strange claw marks torn into a tree’s bark
  • a rutted road with no one on it
  • strange lights moving deep in the woods
  • an empty hut
  • an eviscerated corpse
  • several cairns, close together
  • tracks leading up to a blank cliff face
  • the sounds of picks and shovels, echoing faintly from a distance
  • a dark mineshaft shored up with fresh timbers
  • tailings and broken stone beside a mine’s entrance


Custom Moves:

When you interrupt a spell being cast by cultists of Gralloch, Defy Danger with Wis. to avoid being terrified by the results.  Miscast spells go terribly awry: some random number of people (possibly including the spellcaster) are turned inside out or suddenly find themselves vomiting up their entrails.  People will be terrified and cultists may suddenly go berserk.

When you venture into the Blackforest without a skilled woodsman, Defy Danger with Int. to avoid becoming lost.


Iron Golem – as per the monster entry in the book

Cultist [6 hp, 1 armor, d6 damage with knives and cudgels, group, intelligent]

  • throw themselves on the foes of their deity
  • encircle and flank their opponents
  • sacrifice themselves to protect their leaders

Mage-Smith [12 hp, 2 armor, d10+3 damage with hammers and horrific spells, intelligent]

  • gradually forge an iron golem from raw materials
  • rally followers and advance
  • surround a battlefield with a shrinking shell of terrifying magics

Cult Priests [12 hp, 1 armor, d10+3 damage with horrific spells, intelligent]

  • curse foes to be suddenly eviscerated
  • conceal their nature with magic and lies
  • strike from ambush

Perhaps other opponents may be more appropriate for your game.


Amulet of Gralloch: 0 weight, makes the bearer nauseous, but hides its wearer from any things created by Gralloch’s priests.

Magical Iron Ore: 4 weight, extremely valuable, this ore can be turned into something that will repel magic or it can be made to hold magic far more effectively than most other sorts of metal.


Gralloch, god of the hunt, god of slaughter, god of disembowelment

Pelicas, goddess of safe passage, goddess of journeys and travels to the afterlife, The Wayfarer

Shrike, goddess of the wastes, goddess of the wild places






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