Besides the genre differences and the setting differences implied by the genres, there’s one major difference between these two games: in Dungeon World you don’t get to use the moves against the other players. Sure you can attack them, but I don’t think that’s meant to be a key to the game. On the other hand, in Apocalypse World, the moves are written in such a way that you can clearly and freely use them against the other player characters.
The way Dungeon World handles the intra-party relationships – and thus conflicts – is actually quite elegant and definitely has its own strengths, however I do enjoy how Apocalypse World brings the intra-party conflicts to the forefront.
In Dungeon World, the relationships between PCs are a list of bonds. You get experience at the end of session if you and the other party consider one of them resolved. This is quite a beautiful system. Its very simple, it brings depth to the relationships, you have an incentive to pursue them, but you won’t get bogged down in one relationship, and those relationships always move forwards, because once you resolve a bond, you get another one.
Admittedly some of the bonds the characters start with probably have a tendency to take the relationships into certain directions (for example, the Thief has ‘I stole something from…’, which doesn’t necessarily have a lot of room to work with), but since you don’t have to act these out, but can just drop them if needed, this is not a real problem, as long as you don’t feel obligated to work everything out. You can just come to the conclusion that this isn’t something we want to pursue and if the other party agrees, mark down experience and replace it.
In Apocalypse World, relationships are represented by Hx, which ranges from -4 to +4. Any time you reach the lower or upper end of the scale, the Hx moves to -1 or +1 and you mark down experience. These are dependant on the other players. At the end of each session, each player makes a call on who knows his or her character better based on what happened during the session and that character then receives the +1 to Hx. This encourages people to interact, but since the relationships are very abstract on paper, this leaves a lot of room on how the PCs interact.
However, the moves bring their own flavor. Since you get experience from using stats, you are encouraged to use moves. This combined with the incentive to interact with other players means that those moves are often used on other players. Since those moves don’t generally include hugs and/or kisses, the relationships between PCs are usually quite strained, or they are outright enemies. And with the right group, that’s great, especially if despite the strained relationships, they have to work together for one reason or another.
Maybe in four or five years I’m going to be completely behind some other system or engine, but right now I feel the AW Engine is just great. It seems to bend to your needs. All the systems I’ve played are great, in huge part because the engine allows for these hacks which bring totally different feel to the games.