Well, I read some of the previous threads about Fronts and don’t feel much better about it…so rather than thread…

Well, I read some of the previous threads about Fronts and don’t feel much better about it…so rather than thread…

Well, I read some of the previous threads about Fronts and don’t feel much better about it…so rather than thread necromancy:

I ran my first DW game last week. It went pretty well, I went in with only one statement to the players about the world: “Forget everything you know about geology, as far as you’ve ever heard you live on a thin crust over the top of a an endless labyrinth.” It very much had the feel we wanted out of the game, and played quicker (excepting us fumbling a bit with rules here and there.) However…

When/how do you need to make a Front? I’ve got a pile of dangers and interesting encounters set up for them to delve into, but I’m not sure how that becomes a set of portents and whatnot. The idea of portents seems counter to the “play to see what happens” idea, to me.

I guess I just don’t have a good handle on what purpose the Front is supposed to serve beyond “Note to self: Ogres in southern hills”. The Fronts chapter and the Guide leave me a little befuddled about these.

9 thoughts on “Well, I read some of the previous threads about Fronts and don’t feel much better about it…so rather than thread…”

  1. Piotr Cichy  Sure, but how is that different from me (as DM) planning to hit ’em with some ogres and just coming up with an impromptu hook/threat to drag the party into the hills?

    Or is it different? People seem to talk about Fronts as if they are something more than that.

  2. In many ways it is like a list of monsters with their combat moves, but on a larger scale. It’s a way to organize that information so that you can quickly make a move (a grim portent) when needed and in a specific order.

    The consensus I’ve gathered here is that some folks find them useful and some don’t. I wouldn’t lose much sleep over it if you don’t see the value in them.

  3. Fronts are a bit difficult to explain in depth in this shorter framework, but here’s a longer post discussing them. 


    Basically in your current scenario, the ogres are one danger within some larger front facing the PCs. Portents (such as “a trade caravan from the south never arrives”) are things that your danger does which have consequences apparent to the PCs. PCs can cut off a danger before any number of these portents come to pass, or they can ignore it completely and its impending doom will happen.

    This doesn’t violate the “play to find out what happens” principle; you wouldn’t say having gravity violates “play to find out what happens” because things always fall down when they’re unsupported, would you? If PCs don’t catch the vase, it will fall and break. If PCs don’t grab the mayor, he’ll plummet off the balcony to his death.

    The same goes with your danger. If the PCs don’t intervene, then things will get steadily worse and it’s totally up to them how to respond to that. The danger’s list of moves, impulse, and stakes questions also help you frame its responses to the PCs if and when they try to thwart it.

  4. A front is a playbook for the GM. It has moves, just like character sheets, but unique to that particular Front. It has motivations, looks, names, (since you’re writing down a description of the cast after all) just like a character sheet — but specifically for that Front. Its an organizational tool, that you reference whenever you have the opportunity in play, for the factions that are Up To No Good in your game.

    Differences from more typical GM Prep: its not a story, its an outline of who is up to what; it contains specific custom moves within hands reach so you don’t have to go digging; it includes countdowns so you stay honest about what happens when the PCs steal the lich’s crown (or whatever); it has stakes questions, reminding you of the short list of things you’ve promised not to decide on your own.

    A Front is just a character sheet for Big Badnes that the GM gets to play with, using limited space to make you focus in on what matters. No 100 page DM journals of story/plot/stuff. Its, maybe, four pages. Only write what matters.

  5. you need to make a front when you have some  (thematically) linkd dangers, who start to move by themselves. You make a front so you can remember what is the goal of the danger, and which steps it will (presumably) take to reach it. In the fiction, the “front” doesn’ exist; it IS a note to self. But it is also a map of dynamic situations. Someone is moving towards something.

    Breaking it into dangers and portents helps you to have moves ready, instead of making them up in the heat of a story. What if you decide to make a GM move which looks like two? Instead you advance a portent.

    Portents can be made too strict to “play to find what happens”, but only if you’re unwilling to change them as the need arises (example, if the players break them to pieces). A good advice (DW guide) is to make a portent which can be averted by the PCs. Something they can interact with.

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