[Dungeon World] Changing of Plans

use-with-dw-OnLightSome time ago I wrote about my ideas of creating the fronts for Dungeon World. Since then we have managed to squeeze in only one gaming session but still it inspired me to talk more about the fronts. As the game went on I knew that I had to get creative of how I interpret my plans. So this time I’m going to share my ideas about how to let the Fronts live with the game.

At this point I must add that this is the first campaign I’m running with Dungeon World so it is all new territory for me.

As our group is almost gone through the first two Fronts I’ll give them here for simplicity’s sake. (Note: for further explanation of what these thing mean, consult the Dungeon World corebook.)

Front 1 – The Cult of the Spider Goddess

Thieves Guild (Ambitious Organisation)

Impulse: to take by subterfuge

Grim Portents:

  • Spiders acting strangely
  • Enormous webs
  • Cultists find the characters
  • Swarm of spiders attacking the characters
  • Giant Spiders find the characters
  • The Goddess attacks!

Impending Doom: Impoverishment


Front 2 – The Lord of the Iron Spike

Lord of the Undead (Arcane Enemy)

Impulse: to seek true immortality

Grim Portents:

  • Open graves with missing bodies
  • Dark clouds gather around the Necromancer’s Lair
  • Land around the tower dies
  • Magical energy is drawn to the Necromancer
  • Dead from all around are drawn to Necromancer

Impending Doom: Pestilence (of undead)

I created the first Front right after our first session as I was quite sure that the Spider’s Cult would be a major player in the campaign. The second Front was created as a kind of an additional sidetrack that could be ran in a single session.

As I’m sure all have already guessed –  that didn’t happen.

The party ventured forth and moved away from the influence zone of the Spider Goddess. That was fine by me and I introduced the Iron Spike to for a quick oneshot. Aaaand naturally we have been at the Necromancer’s Tower for three sessions now.

While GMing roleplaying games I have grown accustomed to the fact that plans have to change. Usually without any time to think things through. So I had no problem of making the Necromancer the main threat and the Spider Goddess a secondary one (and burying the main Threat for the whole campaign for a while…).

This did however prove to be a little problematic when I tried to follow the rules.

There is not a single entry that would have suited my needs to establish the Spider Goddess as a revengeful beast that sends minions to kill the characters that wounded her. So I cheated. The Cult was changed into a “Revengeful Goddess (hordes)” that allowed me to use the moves from the Hordes’ list. And naturally that meant that I was pissing on the grim portents of the Threat…

I have already shown spiders acting up strangely (portent1), spiders following their moves (portent2), spiders attacking them (portent3), goddess’s envoy attacking the party (portent4). This means that I need to up my ante for this Front or it escalates and resolves during the next session. I really do not need that.

Mainly because the second Threat already went sideways (considering the party).

Some sessions ago the characters approached the necromancer’s tower. I “knew” I wanted this to be a quick one so I spend most of my moves to go through the portents from this Threat. Fast forward a session and tell the characters that what ever is going on in the tower is likely to peak “tonight”. What do they do? Set up a camp and wait it out…

As Apocalypse World (and thus Dungeon World) games are “finding out what happens” I have no problem with this per se. I’m willing to send the Spider Goddess to attack the party now that they are down (the druid died a hilarious death during last session). But I also need to turn the impending doom from the Necromancer’s threat into a new one. Without much thinking (or spoilers for Aki) it is quite apparent that there is going to be a Plague of Undead (Hordes) in my campaign sheet from now on.

Considering these two Threats I have noticed two things:

A) The first threat sucked from the beginning. It was the least interesting of my ideas and I could have just used it to fill in some possible gaps in the story. I need to either reconsider it or abandon it (for now).

B) You should not be afraid of meeting the Impending Doom. If the players do not do something to prevent them from happening you can get a new interesting Front in exchange. Fronts are not necessarily there “to be solved”. They just are.

All in all I think I have learned a lot from this campaign I hope I can use this to make the game even better.

Clipart, click for original

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