To all people that managed to play a full campaign up to the 10 level: what threat escalation sequence have you been…

To all people that managed to play a full campaign up to the 10 level: what threat escalation sequence have you been…

To all people that managed to play a full campaign up to the 10 level: what threat escalation sequence have you been using?

What ideas did you use to make the pcs feel in danger trough the fronts without powering up the opposition?


This is meant in keeping with the needs of respecting :Fill the characters’ lives with adventure; think dangerous.

I think that weak opposition is not really adventurous.

28 thoughts on “To all people that managed to play a full campaign up to the 10 level: what threat escalation sequence have you been…”

  1. Jason Morningstar yes, it is IMO: Fill the characters’ lives with adventure; think dangerous.

    Making fronts that don’t get more dangerous doesn’t do those two things, IMO. The characters grow in power, and things that were adventure and dangerous before became commonplace and uneventful.

    There are many ways of creating conflict, but that’s a very fictionally important part of danger.

  2. Have the Apocalypse Dragon wake up, and cry out “THIS WORLD HAS SEEN PERFECTION OF MORTAL POTENTIAL, AND ITS TIME IS THUS AT AN END.” And then ask them what they do.

  3. Well, the non-joking way of putting it would be… as you say, fill their lives with adventure. If powering up the opposition is what it takes, then do that! They probably shouldn’t be fighting sickly lone kobolds at level 9, certainly. But hopefully by that point, having played a full campaign, you should have a little experience eyeballing how much of a problem a given pack of monsters will be, and can select something appropriate given your agenda and principles, yeah?

  4. Tim Franzke I prefer to advance a front with 6- when the players mess up in contrasting it, or when they ignore it purposefully, to have a consequencial effect.

    My question refers to more menial management:

    If I have a front with ogres invading, with each front advancement the invasion gets worse, but I can’t just throw more and more ogres on the characters to make the danger adequate to the increased characters’ skills.

  5. How many ogres are we talking about, with a full invasion here? Are there ogre shamans, ogre champions, ogre warlords? And if a character just charges into a mass of ogres, you can go “What, so, you’re letting yourself be surrounded? That means at least, I dunno they’re kinda big, three or four are gonna going to have a free opportunity to pound on you as you’re fighting whichever is in front of you.” (Tell them the possible consequences and ask.)

    And your front shouldn’t just be “the invasion gets worse”. It should be things like “outlying villages get ransacked”, “raiding parties are seen in the heartland” “ogres besiege the king’s castle’s walls”  Escalation doesn’t just mean ‘more monsters, harder monsters’, it can mean what is at stake if the PCs fail. Give the players choices, not just “fight these ogres… or…. not?” but “are you going to fight the ogres attacking farmers, or are you going to do something about all those burning houses, maybe?” “How do you convince the nobles to support the war effort when they clearly want to cut and run and let some OTHER fool waste their coin footing the bill?” “Do you accept the ogre champion’s challenge for a one on one duel, or take her out with the usual bardic-empowered-bloodfest?”

  6. Ben Wray my fronts are more involved of “the invasion gets worse”, but the details would become too specific.

    The things you wrote could be made in a list of things one could do to keep a Horde Danger up to date:

    Have different monster with different skills and power inside the horde.

    Hordes can surround the characters with numbers.

    Attack places the character have connections to.

    Destroy character’s supplies.

    Attack two places at a time, give players a hard choice.

    Overpower them, but show them possessible allies to enlist.

    Give them the chance to make epic style duels instead of field battles.

    Make the characters lead army vs army fights. Give them hard choices about battles.

  7. The thing is, in Dungeon World, you really need those specific details. Start and end with the fiction, right? Look at the front, not just as a pile of monsters to be defeated in a fight, but as a bad situation that could escalate to something much much worse. And you can always delegate! Like, ask the PCs “Okay, you’ve been hearing rumors of an ogre invasion, and need to prepare for the worst. What, specifically, are you each going to prepare for?”

  8. The problem also often is not “can i deal with these enemies” but “can i deal with these enemies way over there before they do X, and what do other forces in the world do meanwhile”. The scope should be ever expanding. Also the characters get more famous and so enemies start to adapt to them 

  9. Ben Wray Ok. Those would be specific examples, which would be very useful. But I (personally) prefer to discuss patterns, that are general and can be specialized according to the situations.

    It’s really a matter of tought process.

  10. Tim Franzke could you elaborate on what scope exactly means for you?

    The fame thing could be written as:

    As the characters get more powerful, so they become famous, and their tactics and possible weakness start becoming public (trope of superheroes).

  11. Sure! But my suggestion would be, work with the specifics. Build on details. Think about the actual situation at the table, extrapolate, daydream about how things might go. It’s a lot harder to think “How do I make monsters more dangerous to high level PCs?” than it is to think “How do I make THESE monsters more dangerous to THESE PCs, in THIS situation?”

  12. While my recent campaign lasted only till level 7, it actually happened the opposite of escalation in terms of epicness and character power. We started with blasting powerful entities thay threatened the entire country, but as the campaign went on, we undestood the involved characters on a deeper level, we cared more and more about their goals, so basically the end campaign threats were all about personal matters, blood relations and whatnot.

  13. Rereading it, the list of things that keep the game dangerous looks very similar to a list of ways to apply practically in game the moves from the danger, often with the side effect that the danger becomes permanently greater after.

  14. If they are ‘mowing through’ opposition quickly, introduce a front (obstacle) that can only be overcome by non-violent means, that threatens the very essence of one or more PCs.  Ask stake questions about it so that you drive toward the answer in play.

    Don’t forget that as characters advance, the player moves selected involve choice; sure they are flags to what they are interested in encountering in the game, but sometimes its great to show a downside of their class.

    I also like to throw it back on the players… When someone hands you a golden opportunity, ask one of their fellows: ‘What’s the worst thing that could possibly happen right now?”

    Make it so. Also, at higher levels encourage Compendium Classes that have other responsibilities other than dealing with the fronts at large. Push-Pull the PCs between the impending doom and their obligations.

  15. I honestly don’t understand what do you mean, but I’ll try to answer anyway. If it isn’t satisfying, try italian, maybe I’ll get it right 🙂 anyway, when talking about fronts and whatnot, I always build them onto the answers the players give me, and from then on, I just follow what’s happening in the setting. Sometimes I elude too much my role and ask too much questions, but that’s because I’m lazy and I like being entertained by the players!

  16. Alessandro Gianni I meant:you had a role in the evolution of the campaign towards a more character oriented game, or  all the players spontaneously decided to follow their character personal interests?

  17. Nathan Roberts the fact that most of the moves in the playbook are mostly physical conflict oriented allows to challenge the players (more than the characters) with obstacles that have to be solved by non-violent means.

    A list of possible challenge that have no possibility of being solved by violence would really be a useful GM tool.

    I find more difficult to  imagine challenges that could be interesting for players that prefer a more action oriented style of play (as opposed to strictly social challenges).

  18. Hmmm. So you have to cater to your group ok? I can’t presume what fantasy flavour you guys jazz on, but let’s go with your physical conflict obstacle as a possibility….

    So say you have a bunch of level 10 badass fighty types who’s every move is geared to make hack and slash, defend and defy danger Dex/Str easy as.

    Tie into their bonds. Have a monster that they need, yet hate. They want want want to destroy this monster with their swords and spells, but their motives, their needs, their alignment or their promises make that a very very bad thing to do.

    Give your monsters soul, give them wants that only the characters can supply. Make them endless and unforgiving. So you killed the Minotaur King? He was allied to the Dwarvish stronghold don’t you know?

    Giving them a difficult choice can be far more reaching than the one scene, make it count across a whole campaign front.

  19. Paride Papadia I don’t know, my role was on par with that of every other player I guess? I mean, really it’s not for me to decide what a pc’s goal is. I just make fronts that threaten what they care about, be that “saving the world” or “showing those I care for I’m one to be trusted”.

  20. Nathan Roberts up to date, the players haven’t shown great interest in getting involved with npcs or politically on a personal level. But neither I was presenting straightforward options. That’s a thing that deserves some brainstorming.

    Alessandro Gianni You can just follow what the players want when you are in the fiction, but when you have to choose a hard move, you shape the events deeply. And it’s not possible to advance a front every miss. Do you have a preference for some specific gm moves ?

  21. I honestly don’t know. Like, I rarely use “separate them” and I go heavy on “show signs of an approaching threat”, but really, I don’t know if that makes a preference. Now that you ask me, I’ll try to pay attention on this sort of things (well, it’s like asking a player if he has a favorite move, so I don’t know if that really makes sense). I don’t understand what you’re trying to get from me that may help you figuring out your doubts, but really, as I said, I think my contribution to the game was the same of the other players. It may help that incidentally the campaign I talked about is the same I reported in here:

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