I’m trying to write my first Fronts and Dangers for a new campaign.

I’m trying to write my first Fronts and Dangers for a new campaign.

I’m trying to write my first Fronts and Dangers for a new campaign. I think I get the basic idea, but I’m struggling to determine how much detail to define in advance. I’m also uncertain how the Campaign and Adventure Fronts interact. I’d like to run this by folks and see if I have the right idea.

So, in the context of an overall demonic ‘invasion’ campaign Front, I’ve put together this Danger:

Danger: Opportunistic cult of mages seeks power

(Ambitious Organizations)

Impulse: To gain power from the planar forces that have recently become active

Impending Doom: Destruction (the power cannot be contained)

Grim Portents

– The cult becomes active, seeking information and experimenting

– New magics are wielded, powered by energy from the demonic plane

– The mages begin construction of a device to pull even more energy from the planar rifts

– The device becomes operational, resulting in vastly powerful spells brought to bear

– The device overloads, resulting in massive destruction in the surrounding area

Is this the right level of detail or am I defining too much up-front?

As far as how this plays out in the campaign, I’m guessing the progression of Grim Portents basically spins off Adventure Fronts to explore the details? So, some early adventures might be encountering the cultist experiments and learning about what they’re doing. Then later, if left unchecked, we learn about the device they’re building and maybe get a chance to stop it?

24 thoughts on “I’m trying to write my first Fronts and Dangers for a new campaign.”

  1. Dan Bryant I think you’ve hit the sweet spot. You’ve given enough detail so that you know what you’re doing but none of the details box in the plot beyond a general framework.

    When you develop your adventure fronts, which you have the right idea about, you draw inspiration from whichever campaign front you’re currently exploring. Depending on how the adventure front resolves, you may find that some aspect of the adventure front gains enough threat to become a campaign front itself.

    For example, let’s say that the party encounters some cultists early on (first portent). Perhaps one of the named cultists, Alvor, is highly intelligent and obsessed with his own power and beauty. The party ends up mucking up one of his experiments leaving him horribly disfigured. He becomes obsessed with fixing himself instead of follow the orders of the cult leaders. His pursuit of a cure and/or revenge, could become a secondary campaign front, resolving in a number of different ways.

  2. Ari Black So if I’m creating an Adventure Front based on this Danger, should I basically start with some questions (the Stakes, I think?) describing what I want to learn about the Danger’s next portent?

    My first session was kinda haphazard (encountered a bunch of different threats, but nothing really tied together), so I want to have a better sense in this next session of what I want to discover. I also want to introduce some NPCs (there was a random cultist in the first session that might’ve grown into a character, but the players killed him pretty much straight away.)

  3. Dan Bryant I think that’s a solid way to start, especially given the specific grim portents in your campaign front.

    Like, I’d make the next adventure front about showing the cult in action and doing their experiments. But I’d zoom it in, get local and personal, and ask yourself: what will that experimentation look like? Who will be affected and how? If their activity goes unchecked, what are the immediate local consequences? Make an adventure front out of that.

    Later, the campaign-level grim portents can become the Doom of individual adventure fronts. Like, a race against time to prevent the cultists from activation their device.

  4. Dan Bryant I’m still here and you’ve got the attention of Jeremy “The Sentient Weapon” Strandberg, so why don’t we jam on your adventure front and see what we can come up with.

    You said they killed a random cultist, does this get a response from the cult itself? If so, perhaps this is your first adventure front portent. If not, what about the questions Jeremy Strandberg posed?

  5. I’m thinking the cultist they killed was a bit of a loner, as he was out in the deep woods by himself, making blood sacrifices of the woodland creatures to bring imps through a small portal and bind them to his service. What I really didn’t expect was for the Ranger to pick up the cultist’s body and drop it on the sacrificial altar. I left the first session on a cliffhanger with the human blood on the altar triggering some sort of violent reaction…yet to be determined (yeah, I needed some time to think about that one…)

    So I have a pretty good jumping off point. I’m debating between taking it either down the Danger I posted here or a different Danger that has to do with the corrupting influence of the portals themselves on the lands and creatures near them (thinking to tie that into exploring the Druid, in particular.) For now, I’m leaning toward the cultist angle, seeing as how they just killed one.

    I’m guessing the cult won’t care that much about the guy dying, but I think they’ll be very interested in the magical energies released when his blood hit the altar. Hmmm….

  6. Okay, have something percolating now about how this lone guy was an eccentric who had crazy theories about how life energy from blood could help catalyze extraction of energy from the strange rifts that have been observed lately. His buddies in the local mage’s club (not really a cult yet per se) shunned him for his crackpot ideas. I think what the Ranger did may actually be the trigger that kicks the whole cult thing into motion. Oh, this is fun… 🙂

  7. Have a first stab at part of the Adventure Front. Trying to figure out how to scale it to within the scope of a session or two. I do need some more Dangers to resolve in parallel though. This particular Danger is difficult to stop (since Emil is a public figure.) It’s possible they’ll just end up killing him, but that would definitely kick off all sorts of other interesting consequences. The cult would probably still form elsewhere, though would certainly delay it.


    How will the discovery of blood magic change the town of Waldemarr?


    Clarimonde Soll – The mage killed by the Ranger and placed on the sacrificial altar

    Emil Geibach – Leader of the local mage guild who knew Clarimonde and is actively researching the rifts

    Danger: Rise to power of Emil Geibach

    Impulse: To grow

    Impending Doom: Formation of the rift-drinker cult

    Grim Portents

    – Emil learns of the power of blood magic

    – Townspeople begin to disappear in order to power experiments

    – Mage guild attracts new followers and grows in size

  8. They don’t have to kill Emil to stop the danger though – they could discredit him somehow, or convince him (or trick him) that blood magic is too dangerous. Or, you know, shove him through a demonic portal 🙂

  9. True. Knowing my party though, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they try to kill him. 😀 [which, come to think of it, means they probably won’t.] I think what I may do is throw in another adventure front dealing with some of the rift corruption elements (sickness, animals turning into monsters, etc.), so the players can act either toward more intrigue or more combat, to taste. If they ignore the intrigue, it will develop into plenty of opportunities for fighty stuff later.

  10. That first grim portent is a bit of a given, right? Like, it kicks the whole thing off? If the PCs prevent that, the danger never really gets going. At least not yet.

    With that in mind: how does Emil learn if the magic of blood power? Like, if the PCs just walked away right now, how would he find out?

  11. I’m thinking what happens at the altar is going to leave quite a mess. So even if the PCs don’t end up talking to Emil and telling him what happened, I expect he’ll find out eventually.

    It does seem like this might wind up being something that takes some time to get rolling, so I’ll need to think of something more immediate to engage with.

  12. I think it would be pretty sweet if Clarimonde’s body was possessed by a demon that can’t yet bring its physical form onto the mortal plane, but the altar let it transfer it’s will into his body. Then Clarimonde (or at least the demon in his body) could start your cult. It would make sense since the demon would know how to open the rifts and he would want to so he could bring his true form into the world.

  13. Scott Selvidge

    Hmm, very interesting.  Takes things in a different direction than I was originally thinking, but could definitely result in some cool long-term conflicts.  Has the same nice effect of having the Ranger be the one who helped create this particular Front’s Big Bad.  The main problem is that it doesn’t tie in to the original Front idea very well, since the demon would be more interested in using the rifts for the overall ‘invasion’ plot rather than trying to exploit the power from the rifts and would probably know more about the consequences of trying to draw on them excessively.

    Still, will have to mull that over.

  14. Dan Bryant Your idea of showing the corruption from the portal is a great way to hint at something going on. One way that you could tie the two dangers together is to later have the corrupted animals fall under the control of the cult (or the demon).

    Does anyone else notice a strange ticking noise whenever they read a post by Jeremy Strandberg.

  15. Ari Black

    I think the corruption aspect is going to be very important for the development of the characters, as well.  Since my PCs are the Druid and Ranger, I really want to tie in something related to nature and its reaction to the demonic threat.  Also, my Druid has been shape-shifting like crazy, so I have some evil ideas brewing about things that might happen to him on a miss near an active portal.

    I’d also really like to get the Druid to help shape nature’s reaction by asking him to describe what’s happening to the land.  My players come from a tactics-heavy D&D 5E background, so as part of showing them how DW works differently, I want to encourage them to participate more in developing the way the world works.  Eventually they should start to catch on to how much power I’m giving them when I ask those questions.

  16. Instead of the demon controlling him he could just bring the cultist back to life and be sort of back seat driving, feeding him information on how to build the device and tap into the power of the rifts. He knows what the consequences of harnessing the power are, but he has little regard for the cultists and their mortal lives. Some demons just want to watch the world burn 🙂

  17. By the way, thanks everybody for all the great ideas here. The second session is tonight and I’m eagerly awaiting it. The first session started with the idea “Druid and Ranger are in the forest, some sort of bad stuff is happening” and after just a few hours, a whole world of possibilities had opened up. I’ve got a couple different Adventure Front Dangers ready now, touching on both the corruption and cultist themes, so should be able to start dropping portents as golden opportunities arise. Looking forward to finding out what happens next. 🙂

  18. Perhaps dumping Clarimonde’s body on the altar gave him a chance to make a bargain with a demon to return to life as he stood at the Black Gates. So basically the same as Scott Selvidge’s idea with the demon back-seat driving, but with a Faustian twist. Clairimonde is still himself and still interested in blood magic, but he now has an incorporeal demon hanging around to whom he owes favours (and which has an agenda to open the gates, although it’s perfectly happy to let the blood magic cult get started too).

    That might make Clairimonde a more interesting cult leader than Emil, in fact. But that could be cool – maybe the first few grim portents could reflect a power struggle between them. If Clairimonde wins, you get a blood-magic cult whose leader owes favours to a demon, if Emil wins you get the rift-drinker cult forming.

  19. Ari Black It went really well. It’s kinda ridiculous how much can happen in just a few hours. I did have Clarimonde escape and run at supernatural speed in the rough direction of the town, though we don’t know yet how he’s involved. They rolled several misses while still in the woods, getting several chances to see the corruption in action. The Druid still rolled ridiculously well on all his shape shifting, so didn’t get to unleash any of my surprises. He loves to turn into a rhino to help resolve combat situations and that’s so totally going to backfire on him eventually.

    They wound up meeting Emil and decided to give him Clarimonde’s journal (detailing all of his experiments) in return for 200 coins (is it riches at a cost if they don’t yet know the cost? 🙂 ) I kinda lapsed into a D&D style ‘talk to people in town’ sequence. Worked out okay, but the players didn’t really trigger any moves (except an occasional Discern Realities or Spout Lore), so stalled a little bit. Eventually I remembered to start throwing some more danger their way.

    We ended the session with them meeting another druid who told them about a glade housing a bear spirit who might be able to help with repairing the damage to nature. They each reached level 2 and now the Ranger has taken God Amidst the Wastes. I’m still curious to find out which god and how that might tie in to the story.

  20. Dan Bryant If the bear spirit is powerful or is connected to some powerful nature deity that would be a smooth transition for the Ranger. All in all it sounds like you did a great job! It sounds like the session would have been a lot of fun.

Comments are closed.