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20 Feb 2015

I'm On A Boat! (Dungeon World Review)

I’m On A Boat! 2nd Edition by Joe Banner is a short adventure pack for Dungeon World. It is available at DrivethruRPG as a Pay-What-You-Want-product. Alternatively, you can download it from the official Dungeon World’s Dropbox folder. The PDF is 14 pages and gives you a framework for running a seafaring adventure. The layout is modern and nice looking with good use of icons and fonts. The look doesn’t distract from reading. Design-wise it’s definitely a good product.

Getting Started and Introduction

The book has a short “Getting started” section for the GM. This is some short paragraphs with tips. The author acknowledges that you as a GM might need more content to run this game. He refers to the GM Agendas/Principles of the core rulebook:

It’s worth remembering that in Dungeon World, you play to find out what happens and ask questions and build off the answers.

So, basically the adventure is build on the premise that you get (world-building) input from your players. It achieves this by giving you a list of questions which you can ask your players.
The starting point of the adventure is that the players are onboard the merchant vessel Salty Mare. The initial questions aim at finding out how and why the players got there and flesh out the boat, i.e. What did it cost to book safe passage?.
I like that there is an introductory Custom Move for the player who booked the passage. The move sets up some interesting complications.
It’s a clever way of setting up play.

The Salty Mare

The next chapter explains Cast & Crew of the craft, some Stakes and a minimalist map of the ship. There is also a random table for cargo boxes with flavorful items. These are mostly for fun.
There is a full page of Custom Moves for being on a boat:

  • when you set sails
  • when you take the helm
  • when you take part in a drinking contest
  • when you chart a course
  • when you boost the crews morale

Mechanically the moves are crafted nicely. Notwithstanding, the setup is a bit sparse if you’re not a magician at improvising and/or have awesome players who drive the game with a shared narrative authority. That’s why two Dangers included. You will want to use at least one in your adventure.


Infected rats try to breed and multiply and will ultimately consume everyone (including the players!). The author gives you some questions to tie the players into the situation.
The Danger with its Grim Portents is included, of course. There are two monsters, the Infected Sailor and Chuckles, the infected cook. Furthermore, a Custom Move for the disease itself! This is a straightforward disease-scenario. It gets a bit more interesting because the players are in a contained space but otherwise it’s pretty up-front.
I’m sure it will be fun in conjunction with the second danger:

The Black Flag Rises

Pirates! Arr!
Of course, an adventure in the high seas couldn’t go without them. The captain is a woman (as well as the captain of the Salty Mare) and has this weird Master of Gulls on boat, a sea gull sorcerer.
The setup includes the Danger, its Grim Portents, some stats for the opposition and some unique items on two pages.


The adventure sets up an initial situation and with the two Dangers you have some information on how to fill it. The Fronts are in line with typical tropes. The Master of Gulls is an interesting twist as he adds an unusual, magical element. All in all, very solid but nothing really ground-breaking. This adventure only gives you a framework, that’s for sure. It’s one you can work with. As it seems consensus in Dungeon World it relies heavily on player buy-in and input so you’ll need to ask lots of questions and hope that you’ll get something interesting out of it. Otherwise the GM will need to do a lot of legwork on her own.
Some GMs might find it too barebones to run as written. It certainly helps to have more maritime materials at hand for the worst-case scenario. With I’m On A Boat you get a straightforward sea adventure scenario with some input on how to spin it. With PWYW you can get it for free and see for yourself if you like it. I would have liked to see some additional content and some more things that are out of line of the typical pirate tropes.

I’m On A Boat! 2nd Edition (aff) Alternative Download Joe Banner Dungeon World