19 thoughts on “I’m trying to wrap my head around campaign/adventure design.”

  1. Looks about right. This visual aid doesn’t fit my personal preference, so it took me a bit to understand where you were going, but if I understand your logic and not just trying to force the diagram to fit what’s in my mind eye, you look to be on track.

  2. Critique of the diagram: Each danger has it’s own impending doom and grip portents, so grim portents should be nested under each danger, leading up to that danger’s impending doom. So, like:


     – Cast

     – Stakes

     – Danger 1

         – Type (and moves)

         – Impulse

         – Impending Doom

              – Grim Portent 1a

              – Grim Portent 1b

              – Etc.

     – Danger 2

         – Type (and moves) 

         – Impulse

         – Impending Doom

              – Grim Portent 2a

              – Grim Portent 2b

              – Etc.

  3. They’re not complicated. In reality they’re no different than the threats in any other game, just more clearly defined for ease of tracking. If front is ignored, grim portent 1 comes to pass, then 2, and so on. PCs may ignore a front altogether, but the world should reflect the consequences through the portents.

  4. Also, I don’t think putting Campaign Front in the middle is quite right.  You can theoretically have adventures and adventure fronts that don’t really pertain to the overall campaign.

    I like to think of Campaign Fronts and Adventure Fronts as two different “scales.” Like a continent map vs. a regional map.

    Adventure Fronts include here-and-now threats: The Kidnapped Child, the Siege of Fort Drussik, the Slave Revolt.

    The Campaign Fronts would include long-term, slow-burning, probably world-shaking threats: The Age of Demons. The Dragonborn Nation. The Collapsing Empire. (It could also arguably include fronts that included more personal threats/issues that play out over the long term, like “Sigurd’s Marriage” or “The Paladin’s Faith.”)

    In my experience, you play the first session or two without fronts at all.  You establish the world in play and identify what’s interesting about it. Then you write up your first adventure front, based on what’s been established, what the players find interesting, what’s left unresolved so far.

    As play goes on, you realize that certain adventure fronts/threats represent larger themes at play. Like, the adventure front of “The Kidnapped Child” involves cultists that have stolen away a child to serve as a vessel for a demon prince. But in play, you realize that there’s something larger afoot! These cultists are just a symptom of the growing demonic influence, of the stars aligning and the Age of Demons approaching. 

    The Age of Demons becomes a campaign front, where you sketch out the broad path of things to come. Maybe this first adventure front represents one of the early grim portents: Mudjucai, the Harbinger of Demons, takes a mortal vessel! 

    Meanwhile, the adventure front the PCs are working through might have a danger of the cultists with grim portents like:

     – child is kidnapped

     – the Blade of Khels is stolen

     – the old temple is reconsecrated

     – the child drinks the blood of men and is corrupted

     – the summoning begins

    DOOM: Usurpation: Mudjucai takes the child’s body as its vessel.

    The PCs might stop this! But that doesn’t necessarily stop the Age of Demons. Maybe one of the cultists escaped with the Blade of Khels; maybe there are other cults out there in the world preparing for the coming Age. You put that campaign front to the side and focus on something else for the next few sessions. Maybe you revise the grim portents, too. What do the cultists and their demon masters do now that their original plot was foiled?

    Then, later, when you need a new hook, when you need to reveal an unwanted truth or show signs of an approaching threat, you go back to that campaign front and grab something from it. Maybe you reveal that one of those grim portents has come to pass while the PCs where doing something else.  Maybe you show signs of one of those grim portents getting underway, and when the PCs oppose it you turn it into an adventure front. Back and forth, zooming in and out as necessary.

    I dunno if that helps or not, but it’s how I think of the two types of fronts.

  5. Note that you do not dogmatically have to follow the book when it comes to making adventures.

    You can go more or less freeform, depending on what you are comfortable with, the dungeon world DM section gives you tools and a framework to help you in your duties.

  6. Martijn Vellinger This is true. I use the fronts as a skeleton overview. My players are always coming from D&D and often don’t want the agency DW gives them to create the world, so my game ends up being a hybrid. I still (unbeknownst to them) use things they say and do to inform my adventure development, but I end up having greater creative control over the fronts than the natural DW evolution. That’s fine, it works for my group.

  7. Soul Stigma I’m in the same boat you’re in. I just elect to use the framework presented in the DM section where it makes sense, and ignore it when it doesn’t; I’m pretty sure that’s the intent anyways. Rule zero and all that.

  8. I think of fronts as story boarding. You are just writing the outline of a story presuming the PCs don’t exist. Think of the “campaign front” v “the dangers” like a TV show. Each ‘danger’ is an episode, whereas the ‘campaign’ is the Big Story going on throughout the season. The ‘dangers’ are basically your grim portents for the campaign. To visually see dangers, it might be cool to put them directly on your GM map. 

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