(I think) I finally figured out what bugs me about Fronts.

(I think) I finally figured out what bugs me about Fronts.

(I think) I finally figured out what bugs me about Fronts.

I’ve had a long history of struggling with Fronts in this game. I said in my RPGnet review that I wanted that chapter revised one more time, and I’ve played with different ways to try to make it make more sense for me.

But looking at AW again, I think I may have figured out my fundamental problem here. It’s that in this game I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT A ‘FRONT’ IS. Dangers I totally get. I can make dangers all day, and I see their use. 

But what’s a Front?

In AW, a Front is an expression of a fundamental scarcity, which is what the game is about. So a particular Front might have mutants and a disease and Tum Tum and a cult in it, but what pulls it together and makes it a Front is that it’s about water and the need for it. 

In DW, the Fronts chapter never (that I can find) defines a Front in that kind of way. It’s like they’re just…file folders. There’s no fundamental reason for it to exist or to pull all these dangers together. The example front in the book is kind of a location, kind of an event. And it’s out of context. 

So for me, as a big-picture-first kind of person, I think that’s my problem. They say “first choose Adventure Front or Campaign Front” and I say “Campaign, of course” and then they say “Choose 2-3 dangers” and I say “But what is this thing?” and I’ve never gotten an answer to that, at least not one that makes sense enough to stick with me.

12 thoughts on “(I think) I finally figured out what bugs me about Fronts.”

  1. Well, the book calls them a “collection of linked dangers” which seems fair. That said, I agree with what you’re saying. When I first wrote one, I frame it around an incident — and that felt unsatisfying.

    In a recent example, I believe Adam Koebel used different types of orcs in an Orc clan on the warpath. This certainly makes a lot of sense, but does feel fairly narrow compared to the example in the book.

    But! I’m pretty sure all are correct! As long as all the Dangers are being jerks and are associated in some way, I don’t think you can go wrong. I even think a scarcity would be a valid connection for the Dangers in a Front.

  2. While I agree the Front’s chapter is not entirely straightforward and requires a few read-throughs (at least for me), I found you’re Front explanation here (‘ an expression of a fundamental scarcity’) considerably more confusing.

    Could you elaborate a little bit? 

  3. Tony Kelly In Apocalypse World, all Fronts are considered representative of a scarcity.

    That is: all problems, threats, and conflicts in AW can be said to result from Need/Want.

    Oh no, all this water is irradiated, so Tum Tum’s gang is butchering people and taking their water rations — also the River Ghouls are shambling nuclear zombies — also also the people of the community are getting sick from ‘Filter Plague’ (meaning the water filters are breaking down).

    In AW these three threats would (possibly) be one Front. These three threats exist because there is no clean water available. It’s pretty straight forward to pick a scarcity in an AW community and extrapolate what threats exist because of it.

    DW doesn’t have any convenient anchoring points to draw its dangers from, at least not in the same way.

    Did that help at all?

  4. I’ve never played AW but it sounds like that type of classification of fronts would be very useful. It sounds like it would link everything together to help maintain a tone for the game.

    Which may be one reason why it is not included in DW.

    The old school fantasy troupe is a battlefield amongst those who play it and to say “this is the only tone,” is to paint a target on your back and cut out a lot of people who don’t see it that way.

    All that said, I’m crazy interested, what are some possible front unifying truths like the one in AW?

    I’m an amateur so ill just try to identify those I’ve seen in movies or books:

    The evil within ourselves (Lord of the Rings)

    The fight for power (Game of Thrones)

    The dark side (Star Wars)

    Do these seem about right?

    Any others?

  5. It is my understanding that fronts rather than being driven by the need/want of scarcity are instead driven by an instinct. example front The hordes instinct is to spread, to do so the horde has some specific moves, Yes fronts have moves all their own. The front using these moves creates specific dangers , or have associated dangers that tie into the front.

    So, the horde.(of goblins ) dangers could be,

    1 the emergence of Gorum a giant the goblins are controling through magic (horde move create a champion )

    The assault on the holy abbey of St crispy. (Horde move assault a bastion of civilization )

    If the hordes champion isn’t brought down the horde will claim the abbey and the sealed away artifact the black banner ( horde move abandon an old home and find a new one)

    So there are your dangers created by and tied directly to the fronts moves and instinct.

    Does that help?

  6. They’re totally file folders. They’re dangers linked by whatever you want to link them by. Location, time, whatever.

    This is intentional! You could totally get by just tracking dangers with no fronts, but we found that fronts helped organize adversity, is all.

  7. I agree with this. Also Thomas Roberts I think you’re getting fronts confused with dangers, and dangers confused with grim portents. Each danger has an instinct, but fronts only have stakes.

    I also think the example front in the fronts chapter is a terrible example. Instead of linearly planning a plot that will happen if the PCs don’t get involved, it should be about exploring dangers that came up organically in play.

    For example, if in the first session the paladin’s church gets attacked by an opposing religion, you would therefore have a religious organisation danger. You might also have other dangers associated with that, such as: the disease they spilt into the water supply; the guards who intervene in fights without a care for who started it; etc.

  8. Michael Walsh actually, that’s exactly what a Front should be – what would happen, in order, if the PCs don’t get involved.

    That way, you can either track them as the PCs fuck around elsewhere, and when they’re finally interfacing with the Front, you know where it’s at.  Alternately, if the PCs get sidetracked, the Front can continue along the path you’ve set it on.

    Don’t assume the Front are static, though. 

    You may tweak or adjust your fronts during play (who knows when inspiration will strike?) but the meat of them comes from preparation between sessions.

    Things change – the PCs get involved, something happens and now the path to Impeding Doom has changed. The Grim Portents alter based on the new course.

  9. Oh I know that’s what a front is, my point is that you get better fronts from exploring dangers in play than from creating them beforehand. That’s the whole point in having a front-less first session.

  10. It’s useful to plan out Fronts after the first session – especially if you’re not the kind of GM who takes easily to improvisation.  You can look at any monster or NPC and what Danger or Front they belong to and say “how can I make this next Grim Portent happen”.

Comments are closed.