[Dungeon World] Creating Fronts

use-with-dw-OnLightAs Tonpa asked it we deliver it. This time I’m going to discuss about creating fronts for Dungeon World (and at the same time tackle a bit the question about building on the first session). I may need to add that while I have been running AWengine games for a year I have not ran Dungeon World as a campaign previously. So what follows is strictly my personal feelings and experiences of how it can be done. I think I must also add that while I talk about our current campaign I make only vague references to actual game play as we have had only three sessions thus far. And I know that at least Aki might be reading this and I really do not want to give him any hard pointers.

When we started our campaign called the Knights of the Woodland Realm I did not have much to go on. I knew I wanted the whole action to take place in a forest plane (using MtG terms) and I had collected some pictures for it into a specified tumblr gallery. I also had collected a list of nature deities, a random chart for tavern names as well as a big list of ent names (as I figured those would be useful). But considering the campaign I actually had nothing. And for me it was as it should be.

During character generation the Woodland Realm came into being my understanding of it and how the players wanted to perceive it grew. I knew that the warrior was from a family that had battled against fell spiders so I knew that I had to include them into the campaign. I knew that the thief (Aki’s character) was about crossing borders – both in literal and figurative sense. This I took as an advice to introduce different steps that while intriguing and rewarding will most likely descend into hell… From Ville‘s druid I learnt that there were ancient secrets, ruins of an elven city and a something horrible that lead into the fall of the elven race in the worlds past.

As the guidelines of creating fronts and campaign structures suggest that three different threats would be ideal for starting a campaign I went with those ideas. They are more or less what I learnt from the players.

First two threats were introduced during the first session. The characters faced a spider goddess (an actual gigantic spider) that got away. They also found evidence of an esoteric cult that worshipped fire and were waiting for the end of days. Keep in mind that these two were introduced in the middle of the game. I was just trying to throw as many balls around as I deemed suitable and kept record what the players caught.

So after the first session I had the spider thread and the arcane secret thread. Now I only had to come up with one that involved passing borders.

I actually created two additional fronts. Both were specific adventures as I wanted to keep the campaign structure simple to actually reach the finish line at some point. This decision also influenced my thinking of other the two original threats as well. As we get to play about once a month I decided that I would be using my random moves to advance even though they would not be linked to the current events (seemingly).

What I mean by this is that I created the “main threat” (arcane secret about the prophecy of fire) so that I could advance it whenever I liked. This is possible most visibly by Planar Forces. I already knew what the force would be and what was its Impending Doom – the end of the world in flames. So what I needed was a suitable track of Grim Portents. Luckily doomsday prophecies are abundant so I only needed to list a number of them, decide their order and add a last fighting chance for the players to intervene and the main threat was done.

After I was happy with it I got back to the other three. Spider threat was easy to write. The PCs had destroyed the spider’s cult, cut off one of her legs and driven her away. Of course she was thirsty for revenge! Looking through the example dangers I went with Ambitious Organizations – Corrupt Goverment. I knew that the cultists of the spider goddess were not happy about the events. I planed the Portents, came up with the Impending Doom and was happy with the results. Until I re-checked everything.

The main threat was about a cult of doom. And it was going to be the one on the background while the other threats should be more or less adventures. Corrupt Goverment just did not seem right. I did not want another cult and another background scheme. The Portents and Doom were ok but I needed to change the Danger. I thought it from the spider’s point-of-view and came up with the “Thieves Guild”-danger. But that too lacked the straightforwardness as its impulse is “to take by subterfuge”. I rethink the whole thing for a third time and came into a pleasing conclusion only after I had written the last threat.

I mentioned that I came up with two threat in addition to the arcane secret and spider threats. One dealt with a necromancer and one was about a Tree of Knowledge. As either did not get mentioned during the first session I did not want to decide which one I was going to use. I just chose interesting Dangers added cool Portents and left them hanging. They were only frames that I could improve after I knew which one I was going to introduce.

During our first session the party left the first steading and ventured fort to Saniaislinnoitus (Finnish for Fernkeep – I decided to uses Finnish names to increase the sense of not-too-dark adventure). As the rolls and players required information to be given I quickly noticed that we would be dealing with the necromancer threat.

So it was only after the second session I had “finished” my campaign threats. I abandoned the Tree of Knowledge (though I still know it stands there and can use it if necessary) and built the necromancer threat as an adventure. After I was done with it I knew how I should handle the spider threat and found a suitable Danger for it.

So it took two sessions for me to get into the core of our campaign. I know it could have been done in much less effort but I really liked this approach. It allowed me to be excited about the coming events as I was not sure what would follow. It also helped me (hopefully) include things my players will enjoy.

After we are done with these threats I will post them here.

2 thoughts on “[Dungeon World] Creating Fronts

  1. Pingback: [Dungeon World] Changing of Plans | Guild Blog

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