Any tips on writing custom moves for Fronts?

Any tips on writing custom moves for Fronts?

Any tips on writing custom moves for Fronts?  I read the chapters on the different kinds of Moves that could be implemented but it seems like maybe I’m either unimaginative with my adventures or the standard Moves as-is cover everything that could happen.  Should I focus on special effects with custom Front Moves?  Or should I focus the special effects on Stakes to play to find out what happens?

9 thoughts on “Any tips on writing custom moves for Fronts?”

  1. Re-reading that post, Jeremy Strandberg, I think the list of questions is the relevant bit of that post. I think the way to use them depends on whether you’re writing front moves for your own game, or to share with others.  I’m a subscriber of (I think) Jason Morningstar’s idea that the purpose of rules is to help a group play differently than it would otherwise. With that in mind, if you’re writing for yourself, it’s no surprise that the existing moves seem sufficient!  Any idea you have can easily be handled by simply narrating.  Converting things to moves involves crystallizing your own opinions into little reusable bits of rule, so that other people know when to incorporate your opinions.

    In your own group:

    “I strike the tarbaby!”

    “Aw man, your sword sticks into it, and you can’t pull it out!”

    For another group:

    When you hack and slash with a tarbaby, on a 7-9, your weapon sticks fast.

  2. …and my real post was eaten twice now.  3rd time’s the charm?

    Like David Guyll says, if the basic moves are covering youneeds then don’t worry about it.  That’s their job, really, and what makes the system so solid.

    That said, I tend to make custom moves when:

    – I want to gloss over boring stuff and get to the good parts (e.g. when you try to find something in the labyrinth, roll +INT…)

    – I know it’s gonna come up and want some prepared outcomes (e.g. when you chase someone through the streets of Shadizar)

    – I expect the players and I to have differing opinions about what could or is likely to happen, especially in a really dangerous situation, and I want to put us all on the same page and let the players make informed choices.  Hold & spend moves are great for this. (E.g. when you take a deep breath and plunge beneath the waves, hold 2+CON. Each time you make a move underwater, spend 1 hold or mark a debility if you have no hold.)

    – I have a really dangerous situation in mind and I want to prevent myself from pulling punches. A localized set of grim portents works here (e.g. each time a PC makes a move on the rickety bridge over the lava, one of the following happens…)

    – I want to screw with what’s normally allowed and accepted vis a vis the rules of the game and the conversation and where player control begins and ends (e.g. when the Graystone imposes its will on you, roll +WIS. On a hit, you can resist if you want but mark XP if you do what it wants.  On a 7-9, resisting takes effort; you stand still for a few moments visibly struggling and take 1d10 damage. On a miss, you come to your senses a few moments later having done whatever the GM tells you.)

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  3. Michael Prescott: Totally agree. I will add, though, that crystalizing your opinions into reusable bits of rule is (or at least can be) a useful thing to do for yourself as a GM and for your own group. 

    Doing so gives you permission to play hard as the GM. It frees you up to improv more effectively during play. And it can help align everyone’s expectations during play.

  4. Thanks for all the advice everyone.  I feel like I have a good idea what to shoot for.  The Front background goes a little something like this: A band of Goblins has kidnapped the Governor of an up and coming town leaving a ransom letter that leads the city council to deduce where they are located: The ancient caves within Mount Dragonwall.  But what nobody knows is that the ever growing caves within the mountain are from a growing Purple Worm who has slept for quite some time over the ruins of the civilization that once lived within the mountain (yes, he ate them) and now all these Goblins are threatening to wake him from his deep slumber.  But the ruins below the mountain aren’t entirely abandoned.  A lone prison stands untouched containing an imprisoned Djinn who just might be the best friend a Goblin runt has ever had.  So friendly that the runt will gladly search the ruins of the Worm’s destruction for the Staff of Rifts to set him free.  

  5. Basic moves define the world and how it works. Character moves define the characters – what makes them different from the rest of the world.

    So I see front moves as character moves for NPC’s, monsters and locations.

    A front is what stands between your PC’s and their dreams, needs and longings. It is the Antagonistic Force that keeps them from being self fulfilled.

    So what differentiates this Antagonistic Force from the rest of the world?

    Villian move: (the Undead King)

    Version # 1: Instill terror in simple minds.

    The GM can interpret this as he wants. Lets say he decides to let the PCs Defy Danger (Wis). So everybody in the party has Wis=2 or 3. This King is a bit of a wuss because he’ll scare nobody.

    But you want your King to be different from the rest because he is really, REALLY scary.

    So here comes version # 2:

    When the Undead King adresses you roll + Wis.

    ☆On 10+ you are scared, and cannot attack for a moment until you muster your courage. Also take -1 forward to your next attack roll against him.

    ☆On 7-9 you are so scared you cannot attack or defend for a moment untill you muster your courage.

    Also take -1forward to your next roll against him.

    This second version differentiates your Undead King from the rest of the world. He is now truly a scary bastard.

    So think about your front. What makes it different? Codify that in a tag, a simple diceless move or a move that requires a roll.

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