Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2013/05/17/tabletop-review-the-giant-a-dungeon-world-playbook/
DHGF: I recently played Dungeon World, a fantasy re-skin of Apocalypse World by Vincent Baker. There are some things I like about it, but I have to say it does feel a bit like 4th ed. Dungeons & Dragons. Maybe it was the scenario we played. The idea of “playbooks” is cool, as it makes character generation a breeze, and playing the game with a playbook in front of you makes it easy for you to access your moves and see what’s possible. In this review, I’m looking at a playbook for a giant. Not an “official” one, but a fan-made one.
In general, the Giant is just like other characters – no big bonuses to strength or anything you might expect (there’s an explanation for this: the strength stat represents the Giant’s control over his might). However, there is a side effect to Giant strength: your “Larger Than Life” move gives you two successes AND two consequences when you succeed in it. So what can end up happening is you smash something and send something else across the room, but at the same time you can hurt somebody you didn’t mean to, and maybe even hurt yourself.
You can choose how big of a giant you are, and you can also choose your natural heritage. Essentially you can be at home among the forest, the hills, the snowy mountains, or you can be a bridge troll. Yep, somehow one of the Giant heritages can be of a bridge troll. With your heritage you get some special abilities that are magical in nature. For instance, as a “Jotun” you can freeze water and cool fire; as a “Treekin” you can make plants grow immediately to a huge size.
When You Grow Up
Your main move is the aforementioned “Larger Than Life”, but you’ve also got starting moves with magic, camouflage, eating, and throwing stuff. Advanced moves include “Gentle”, which can take consequences off of your “Larger Than Life” move; moves related to controlling your pet (there are pets?); “Mixed Heritage” allows you to choose another of the four heritages; you can even get “Colossus” that allows you to possibly smash a building when you succeed in your “Larger Than Life” roll. A lot of these advanced moves are really cool and powerful!
So, would I want to play the Giant? Absolutely. I don’t know about a dungeon crawl, but if there is going to be a lot of outdoor activity I would definitely like to use this playbook. This would be a great one to keep around for a cameo appearance every so often by the token Giant character. I mean, if one player is always a Giant the party might get a little overpowered, so I think pulling it out every so often makes more sense.
This is a good playbook, it’s thoughtful and has lots of influence from myths, legend, and standard fantasy. The Giant has the chance to be overpowered, but his or her main move is counterbalanced by the addition of consequences for everything the Giant does. I worry a bit about the “Gentle” advanced move which can completely remove the consequences from “Larger Than Life”, which in my view possibly makes the Giant lose its gameplay balance. I can see a player angling for that move and then just going nuts. Still, I think this playbook is well done and can provide a lot of fun at your table. The $2.50 price point seems a bit high, but if you’re not worried about cash then check it out!