Ok…I need a little design help.

Ok…I need a little design help.

Ok…I need a little design help. I am working on a one-shot adventure for running at Conventions. I dont want to give away the real plot so lets us this example.

The PC’s have been hired to get an artifact from a dungeon.  They know that another party of adventurers have also been hired, and are also in the dungeon.

I want to have a series of escalating steps of the other party getting closer to the artifact, eventually reaching the artifact. So the escalation steps could be:

– Discover signs of a rival party

– Stumble into a trap by the rival party

– The way is blocked by the rival party

– The rival party is getting the artifact

– The rival party is leaving with the artifact

I also don’t want to just escalate the actions of the other party when I feel like it. I want something like being able to only escalate as part of or as a move. So that I as the GM don’t know if the other party will be in the artifact chamber when the players get there.  Perhaps the players are efficient and move through their challenges quickly and outsmart the other party.  Or perhaps they do not do as well, and when they arrive in the chamber its empty with scrape marks showing the artifact has been dragged away.

Here is my question.  How in Dungeon World do I model this? 

Is this an Adventure Front? If so, would I use a move to (and which one) to escalate it?   Or is it something totally different?

6 thoughts on “Ok…I need a little design help.”

  1. You could combine a custom move and the Grim portents. i.e.

    When the party enters a new area of the dungeon, Roll 2d6. On a 10+, they are ahead of the other party. On a 7-9, they are stalled and get minus 1 ongoing until they score a 10+. On a 6-, they have fallen behind and encounter the next Grim Portent.

  2. What you have is a Danger with five grim portents to it, and it looks great! You still need an Impending Doom for what happens when the rivals get out with the macguffin. But maybe you already have that too, and you just didn’t say?

    Okay, now the hard part: when to escalate and present the grim portents.

    If you have, say, three dangers total, put their grim portents on cards and stack them up in front of you. Whenever the PCs pause, spend time to recover, or fail to get past a dungeon obstacle (trap, monster, etc), choose a grim portent from the top of one of the stacks you didn’t pick last time and present it, then remove that card. Or present whichever one would logically make sense to come next. If a portent happens just because of the fiction and whatnot, remove it and move on to the next one. You can play around with this format, use lists on a piece of paper, etc. but this way you always have the next grim portent of each danger in front of you so you know what the next step of each plan is without having all the other steps there to distract you. And you pick them based on when it is your turn as the GM to say something. So not just because someone missed a roll in the middle of a fight, but of they miss a spout lore roll while trying to decypher runes in a hallway, or when they make camp, or when they spend time haggling with the lizardmen on level four.

    If you want to use just one or you want really strict rules for advancing the portents, then you’ll have to write them which is work! But I would say pretty much similar criteria: Look at which obstacles and monsters in the dungeon are important–if they fail to get past one of these in good time or they have to go a different route because of it, present the next grim portent. If they pause for a significant amount of time, present the next portent. Stuff like that, I would think.

  3. Snaked the DW comparison right out from under me. I second what Johnstone said. You have basically created exactly what DW calls a danger and grim portents. Niiiiice

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