Number Appearing Introduction, by Justin Wightbred

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This blog is periodically re-posting Number Appearing which was first written by Justin Wightbred for the Dungeon World Kickstarter and is available on the Dungeon World site. The full-colour art for this entry is by Mike Wight. The drawings of the cowering goblin and triumphant ogre are by Ed Heil. Justin is currently working on the second edition of Number Appearing, so please post suggestions and ideas in the comments.DW NumberAppearing Cover

The copper age of legend…

It used to be better in the shining copper age of legend but then we were cast down by the sunlovers to this. Now this is what we’ve got: you sleep in water and filth; you get some rotten biscuits to eat if you’re lucky; you only get to go outside so the sunlover butchers can kill you; the only weapon you have is a rusty knife; all your so-called allies are all on your ‘list’; and the Chief whips you if you complain.

But you can fight back! Marauding Hordes swarm across the ploughed cuts the earthcutting sunlovers make in their fields and loot and pillage their farms. Lycanthropes rush in and drag down the forestlurkers before they can sing their cursing songs. The Small & Sneaky races slip in quietly behind the goldkissing longbeards and snatch their purses and slit their throats. The Hungry Dead smash in and start to feast on the fatbelly hairytoes before they can swallow their mouthful and scream. Towering Brutes push over the tower and crush the fleeing sunlovers. And through it all the Restless Dead sit up on the hill laughing without lungs.

This is what we’ve got, yes. But what are you going to take and hide for yourself?

This document is a supplement for the Dungeon World roleplaying game by Sage LaTorra and Adam Koebel. These let you play characters from some of the monstrous races. This version was finished on 25 July 2012 as a stretch goal for the Dungeon World Kickstarter.

You can use this document to:

  1. Play a character transformed into a monstrous race during play, because they are cursed or affected by a spell.
  2. Play a character of a monstrous race in a normal party. It is usually best to talk this through with the group to check your character will fit in, as the inclusion of even a single character from a monstrous race can change a game completely.
  3. Play a whole party of monstrous creatures, starting with the included adventure toolkit.

In this document you’ll find…

Simple playbooks to use with the standard classes to play:

  1. Marauding Horde races like orcs
  2. Small & Sneaky races like goblins
  3. Towering Brute races like ogres

More complicated playbooks (with more mature concepts and art) to use with the standard classes to play:

  1. Lycanthrope races like werewolves
  2. Restless Dead races like skeletons
  3. Hungry Dead races like vampires

Each of these playbooks include:

  • Things to replace choices on any of the standard class character sheets: name, look, bonds and alternative racial moves.
  • Possible true facts or other details about your race to help you define it.
  • Some relevant compendium classes. These are either: suggestions relevant to the particular race but that any race could take; or classes that have a race as a prerequisite and will further define that race.

A “real monster” section detailing the opponents that a party of monstrous characters is likely to encounter.

A magic section with two new magic items and the reincarnation Cleric spell.

An adventure toolkit so you can play a party of monstrous creatures. This toolkit includes:

  • A quick summary with adventure ideas
  • Sample fronts
  • A two-part dungeon worksheet to help design the player’s dungeon home
  • Sample maps of a forest dungeon home and its surroundings to use in one shot adventures.


Transforming characters

A character may be transformed into another race in a number of ways:

  • Through an animate dead spell a character could become a zombie (Hungry Dead).
  • Through the use of the reincarnation or permanent polymorph spells a character could become any other living race.
  • As part of a deal with Death through the last breath move a character might become a Lycanthrope, Restless Dead or Hungry Dead.

For example, on a 7–9 with the last breath move Death will offer you a bargain. If the GM chooses that bargain could be transformation to another race. For example:

  • A Lycanthrope, particularly for characters recently bitten by one of the Lycanthropic races.
  • A Restless Dead, particularly for evil characters, those who committed unspeakable crimes or those who leave a great task unfinished.
  • A Hungry Dead, particularly for characters killed by one of the Hungry Dead races or those who have given in to unnatural lusts.

If you are transformed you are considered to be that new race, gaining all its abilities and replacing your race move with appropriate race move(s) of the new race.

Some tips on using other races

When choosing a set of racial moves to represent a character with two races use the rules for the undead race first then the more complicated race. So a goblin werespider should use Lycanthrope rules. But if it became a zombie use Hungry Dead rules instead.

Part of the reason for writing Number Appearing was to act as inspiration for others to design new races. There is good advice on how to make your own race moves in the Dungeon World book, but Adam’s advice on RPGnet is a great summary:

It’s really simple to add new races to each class. Just think about what makes a class of that race different, unique or how they connect to what that class “means” in your setting and write a quick rules-change or neat trick they can do.

Don’t feel you have to describe each race in perfect detail in the moves, just focus on the one or two key things that make that race most interesting. I also recommend that you don’t worry that the ogre can’t carry more than a goblin, or should do more damage, unless that is the cool thing about being an ogre. Rules for large characters to carry more and small less could be made up if you really want. But think about whether this rule will make the race more fun, and don’t include it if it doesn’t. The fact that your race is tall or short and other details of their size will naturally come up in the fiction if it is really important.

If it helps when dealing with smaller or larger races, think of the weapons as being made for their size. What a giant calls a dagger, is a sword to an orc and a two handed sword to a goblin. You don’t need special rules for this, just cover it through the fiction.


Justin Wightbred wants to thanks to these excellent people (and point you to their work):

  • The most excellent artists and collaborators you could hope to work with: Mike, Ed, Michael, Demolition and Russ.
  • These people for ideas, suggestions or playtesting: Stras Acimovic, GT, Jim, Radium, Marshall Miller, rubiconium, Phil (Murgh Bpurn), Keith Stetson, John B, Flashback Jon, Jeremy and others from the Barf Forth and Story Games forums.
  • Russ Nicholson (Warlock of Firetop Mountain) again for drawing the images that made me want to play a goblin and zombie.
  • Bruce Heard (Orcs of Thar) for showing a way to do this in a traditional system.
  • David Petersen and Luke Crane (Mouse Guard) for an award winning comic and game that drew us to other indie games.
  • Jeff Lower (Giants RPG draft) for the cool idea of drawing up a map together at the start of the game. I’m hoping Jeff will finish his great game one day.
  • Sage and Adam (Dungeon World) for putting out a cool hack and taking up the idea of this supplement as a Kickstarter stretch goal.
  • And mostly Vincent Baker (Apocalypse World) for writing a game that is brilliant to play AND hack. ‘The copper age of legend…’ is a spoof of the back cover of Apocalypse World.

Some Mature Content

The topic covered means some concepts and art in this document are intended for more mature players. Please check through it before using.



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