So, how do those of you who adapt modules to DW handle the whole “don’t create fronts and plots yet” part of the…

So, how do those of you who adapt modules to DW handle the whole “don’t create fronts and plots yet” part of the…

So, how do those of you who adapt modules to DW handle the whole “don’t create fronts and plots yet” part of the game?

I kind of want to run a published adventure (Death in Freeport) using DW, but I’m not sure how to go about it. Suggestions welcomed!

27 thoughts on “So, how do those of you who adapt modules to DW handle the whole “don’t create fronts and plots yet” part of the…”

  1. I’m running a game in an area I’ve adapted from the old B2 module. I don’t have fronts yet, but I’ve prepared a large relation map of all the monster clans and human factions, with no links or goals yet. I’ll create fronts as needed, as soon as the players start interacting with them.

  2. Stephanie Bryant, fronts are the things you do after the first session. So, when running a published adventure, get the first session going, then see where things are at the end of that session and make fronts.

    You could make fronts ahead of time, but they are there as notes to yourself on what could be going on – and since the published adventure already includes that, you may find the exercise redundant.

  3. The book gives some guidance on this very topic, pp.382-387.

    I’m in the process of prepping The Temple of Elemental Evil for our DW game. In general, pull out the primary NPC movers and shakers and build Fronts around those. There’s nothing in the DW rules that are going to fight you in presenting a “module” in this way. If the module is heavily scripted for certain events you may see your game diverge but that’s okay and fun. Turn the scripted events or timelines into Grim Portents. That’s what they are anyway.

    Now I’m of the opinion that if you wanted, you could flat run a published module exactly how you would in any system and just drop in the DW die mechanic and probably have a blast. Others will consider this heresy.

  4. The reason the game says don’t make front until after the first session is because who the PCs are is supposed to matter to the game. If you make fronts before you find out who the PCs are, you may discover that they are not appropriate, they disagree with the backgrounds of the PCs, or that the PCs are not interested in them.

    In (some versions of) D&D, PCs that don’t care about the dungeon don’t play. In DW, we follow the PCs, so the dungeon that doesn’t matter to them is the dungeon that doesn’t show up in play. A front plays out over the course of multiple sessions so it’s not super-necessary for the first session, where you are doing a lot of setup anyway, so if you write only the ones you need after that session, you don’t lose an work.

    If you use a module or adventure, organizing the bad guy plots into dangers with grim portents and impending dooms makes for less GM handling time during play. If you know you’re going to use it, it is okay to do it before hand, but leave some spaces for where you can connect them to the PCs so that they care about stopping them.

  5. Thanks for the link, gents!

    I agree with you, Chris McNeilly. In any case, fronts aren’t vital to run a session – they just make your life easier as a DM. People have been running open-ended/sandbox scenarios long before Vincent Baker 😉

  6. Absolutely Eric!

    And don’t think you have to avoid the module information, fronts, and plots ahead of time Stephanie. I mean, you’re using the module for a reason…if you don’t get that stuff in there then you’re not getting to experience those elements that you wanna play with. You’re just starting out further along the DW trajectory. I think I would mention some of the elements to the players ahead of time to judge interest though. Seriously, read the section I mentioned above in the appendices. It will put any fears to rest after seeing what Adam and Sage recommend.

    Also, I’d wager you could create any of the module elements you wanted with the “from scratch” method with good leading questions in the first session.

  7. Yeah– there are definitely parts of the module (I’ve run it before a few times) that I’d have to adapt to fit a specific group anyway. The start of the mod is a good example– you start with a fight, but you’re supposed to ignore the guys who started it from then on (for the rest of the adventure). It’s not ideal, in my opinion, because it basically sets the PCs up for “let’s have conflict with someone, but never resolve it.” I’d add those guys as a front that the PCs could encounter later on, when they need a distraction from the main published plotline.

  8. Is that fight necessary then? Can you replace it with something or a faction of more central importance?

    Or can it be bypassed altogether with questions during character generation?

  9. It sounds like one of the hard moves in the first fight would be to introduce an even worse threat than those jerks.  Later, any situation could be made worse by those jerks showing up to disrupt their plans or make a bad situation worse.

  10. The first fight is basically a set up to get the adventure started with some action, and to introduce an NPC who witnesses the fight and is impressed by the PCs and hires them. It’s not necessary to the plot as written. However, as I said– it can make for a great side-plot, a front of thugs who keep screwing up things the PCs are trying to do, or who are menacing the PCs and the people they care about.

  11. Don’t start with that fight. Start with the impressed dude hiring them. Let the players tell you how awesome they were in the fight as part of their backstory, ask them to buy into being hired by this dude as part of the initial setup of the game, and you can write up that dude’s sub-plot as a danger in advance and know you can use it for the first session while you get the PCs tied into the main section of the adventure. Then once you know what they care about, write that stuff up as fronts before session 2.

  12. I like the idea, but isn’t it usually a good idea to start with some action, though? I suppose if it’s in the “near backstory,” though, it’s as if it’s in the middle of the action anyway.

  13. I like it too. I was gonna recommend moving last it as well and handling the NPC with leading questions as well. “Fighter, when NPC Alonso asked you to do X…what about his offer compelled you?”

    Depending on X there’s any number of ways for characters to tie in. Then start in the middle of the action of the first step toward X.

  14. Stephanie Bryant: I’ve been confused by this (both in your comment / the book / references elsewhere on the tubes). Do you start with decontextualized action? Do you start with “you’re in the middle of a battle with orcs. Why are the orcs attacking you?” When do you ask questions compared with when you start the action. Can you expand your methodology a little, please and thank you?

  15. Good question. Since I haven’t run DW yet, I’m not sure of the answers.

    In general, if I start in the middle of action, I start with a little setting, including asking “why are the three of you at the docks together?” to give the PCs opportunity to describe their own motivations. Then I move on to what the baddies are doing, whether the PCs see them approach, etc., and how the action starts.

    In this particular case, the action happens with little explanation in-game– it’s a press gang, trying to grab some “recruits.” You can roleplay it out a bit, but the PCs don’t really even know why they’re being targeted.

    With DW, I suspect I need to be a lot more hands off, in terms of driving the narrative forward, than that, perhaps bringing the PCs together in some other way, or, as Johnstone Metzger suggested, having the fight occur in the recent-backstory, so the PCs can describe how it went, and what they’re doing now.

  16. In my experience, some players really like to know why they’re in a scene before they start playing it, and starting “in medias res” can throw them for a loop.

    If you have players who will dive right into an action scene and not worry about why they are there until you ask questions or do a flashback afterward, then go for it! But the scene you mentioned sounds kinda like a James Bond intro, and itself won’t lead to more stuff, which is pretty bad if the players get really attached to these NPCs are their deal and want to pursue it further and the GM wants to go in the other direction and run the module!

    So that’s one reason to only prep stuff before the first session that you know you are going to use.

  17. ” But the scene you mentioned sounds kinda like a James Bond intro, and itself won’t lead to more stuff…”

    You put your finger on exactly what bothers me about that scene (and what has bothered me every time I’ve run this module). It runs flat and the PCs don’t have any investment in it.

  18. At the start of my campaign, I handed over a short story hook, written on a piece of paper, to each player. The fighter got “you were hired to guard this temple and you saw a lot of unusual activities. What did you see exactly ?”. The thief was hired to steal some valuable books from the same temple and I asked him about what he decided to do exactly, and so on. I let each player think about it for a while and we had a 2/3 minutes private conversation about it before play. Then I started RP In Media Res, when the city guards showed up at dawn to arrest them. They figured pretty fast that they had been framed for a crime they didn’t commit and had no choice but to run for their lives. From there, the story branched out into the adapted module. This way, I was able to combine a little backstory and start In Media Res without prepping any front, just the hand-outs. By the way, the hand-outs had nothing to do with the actual module I was adapting, the idea beeing that I will use the players’ answers later on to flesh out some unexpected dangers on the campaign and adventure fronts, dangers that were not part of the initial module.

Comments are closed.