Bending my convictions regarding “Dungeon World”

I don’t play “Dungeon World”.

It isn’t that I have anything against the game itself, as it is a fine ‘Old-School Renaissance’-style Tabletop Roleplaying Game (TTRPG), which uses the ‘Apocalypse Engine’ as its core system. I bought it some time ago, and was eagerly awaiting a chance to play it, either alone or with friends.

… and then the whole thing occurred.

Which is to say, DW co-creator Adam Koebel made a massive blunder on an actual-play podcast he GameMastered for, sexually harassing a female member of the cast. Koebel then failed to actually apologize for his actions, and the entire cast of players of said podcast quit. To my knowledge, Koebel continues to unapologetically skirt any responsibility for what he did.

While he has faced some consequences for his harassment (as well as other sordid treatment of players in his games in the past), for the most part, life continues on for Koebel mostly as though nothing had happened.

This rather soured me on “Dungeon World”, not to mention any other project he has been connected to as a creator. While I know that playing or running DW won’t profit Koebel in any way at this point (I bought my copy before this scandal ever occurred), it still feels like it would be wrong to promote his work by playing it, especially on my own solo actual-play podcast, “Ronin Roleplaying“.

But as time has moved inexorably forward, as it is prone to do, I have been thinking more and more about “Dungeon World”, and whether I should rethink my stance on the game. There are a few good reasons for this, in my mind, anyway:

  1. Sage LaTorra (the other co-creator of DW) has – to my knowledge, anyway – been a perfectly respectful and responsible human being, and there is no reason to punish him for the actions of his former design partner.
  2. As I said before, “Dungeon World” is a perfectly enjoyable roleplaying game, and it has a really interesting take on fantasy OSR roleplaying.
  3. I have plenty of TTRPGs to feed into my solo actual-play podcast for content, but it feels a bit weird potentially leaving out one of the most influential “Powered by the Apocalypse” games in the world.
  4. On top of that last point, DW remains a very popular game, in spite of what Koebel did. Apparently the TTRPG community has determined to large extent that they are able to separate the Art from the Artist… So why shouldn’t I be able to do the same?

That all said, I still have reservations about it, that are pretty hard to shake. As I’ve said before, I really like DW as a TTRPG, and want to support LaTorra, but – whether or not many want to admit it – this means supporting Koebel, in equal measure. You can’t have one without the other, at least in this case.

So, what to do, then? Well, I am still extremely reluctant to play “Dungeon World” on my podcast. That simply seems wrong, at least for now. It’s been roughly 18 months, and I don’t see Koebel changing his attitude towards his transgressions anytime soon, and as such, I don’t see myself playing a game he had a hand in on my show. Period.

But might I give it a go, just to have some fun? Maybe run it for my wife, if she were so inclined? Perhaps, but at the same time, I have shelves and shelves of games I’d rather play or run for her before we did DW, regardless of how good that game might be.

Anyway, it’s a quandary.

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