Dungeon World is by far my favorite tabletop rpg.

Dungeon World is by far my favorite tabletop rpg.

Dungeon World is by far my favorite tabletop rpg. But the one thing that I can’t seem to do with any success is using the Fronts.

I think I have a difficult time conceptualizing the long term outcomes for events.

I love the idea of Fronts, and I’d love to incorporate them effectively not only in Dungeon World, but some of my other favorites.

Am I alone on this?

15 thoughts on “Dungeon World is by far my favorite tabletop rpg.”

  1. Can you show us an example front you used and what went wrong?

    Also, you’re allowed to update your fronts. Often and all the time. The Dark Lord Korgoth needed the Eye of Elysium to summon his hellarmy and the PCs destroyed it? Well what are his plans now? New way to summon the hellarmy? Revenge against the PCs? Both?

  2. As I see it, it’s hard to come up with good ideas for bad things that happen and it’s even harder to come up with good ideas that tie together into interesting, coherent story arcs. Fronts are an organizational tool to help relieve some of that burden by doing some up-front prep of possible doom scenarios so that it’s easier to flow the misfortune and terror into the rapidly evolving narrative at the table.

    What I’ve been finding as I play is that I don’t always use all of the Fronts I’ve put together, nor do I necessarily keep them the same between sessions. Sometimes things happen that open whole new Fronts and sometimes Fronts become less relevant as the focus of the campaign shifts based on the character’s actions and interests. My main overarching campaign front right now has only progressed a little bit, so it’s quite possible that it will wind up changing dramatically before the next grim portents come into play.

    Basically it’s a cheat sheet to help guide and spur along creativity, like most of the other tools in Dungeon World.

  3. It’s good to work backwards from the story: Sauron will command a fearsome army on the field of Pelennor (impending doom). Not only hosts of orcs and men, but Smaug and the balrog will be there as well! The Rohirrim will be neutered, the steward of the white city will be driven insane and isengard will attack from the east as Sauron descends from the north. Sauron’s victory will be complete and overwhelming!

    Front: The mighty Smaug will awaken and the goblin tribes will unite unless Gandalf can figure out a way to get some dwarves and a thief to start a chain reaction that brings men and elves together.

    Front: wormtongue will render the Rohirrim devided and weak, unless the heroes can rally the forces at helms deep.

    Front: isengard will join the attack unless the heroes can convince the treants to join the forces of weal.

    Front: the balrog will lead saurons fell army unless the heroes somehow deal with it.

    All of those work within the steadying rules. Raising the stats on lake town, dwarves kingdoms, Rohirrim steadings all through completing quests associated near those steadings means that at the final battle (played out in the steadings rules) each of those steadings can send aid to Minas Tirith in addition to removing heroic villains from the final confrontation.

  4. yeah, Fronts are really an outline of “what are the bad people/things trying to do” and “how are the bad people/things trying to do the bad things.” I’ve kept them really loose and refer them more like guidelines. My problem is creating too many Fronts, and so my games get too sprawling and unfocused.

  5. I am so grateful for this thread! I am new to DW and I was really having trouble with reckoning how Fronts tied into any other GM prep work. This settles it for me nicely. Thank you to Keith Lau for asking, and for the clear answers from the respondents!

  6. Think of it this way.

    Fronts are there mostly to answer one question: what happens if the PCs don’t stop a baddie? If the Orc King’s army is massing at the western border of Janksylvania, and the PCs aren’t there to stop him, what happens? Well, he’s probably not concentrating his army there because he’s throwing a fab party for all his BFFs. He’s probably preparing to invade. And if the PCs don’t stop him, he’s going to.

    What might be tripping you up is the Grim Portents thing. You might be saying to yourself, “Sure, the Orc King invades, but that’s pretty much it, right? The Doom happened, and Fronts are supposed to be able to get worse.” But the invasion isn’t the Doom, is it? He’s still gotta conquer the kingdom. That’s where Grim Portents come in. They’re the ever-ticking doomsday clock foretelling what happens if your PCs either don’t get involved or fail to stop him. So you might have “Invades” as your first Grim Portent, “Conquers Hamletburgshire” as you second, “Conquers Capitalville” as your third, and “Captures and subjugates Janksylvania” as your Doom.

    As for Dangers, those help you flesh out your Fronts by turning them from generic baddies into multifaceted groups full of potential threats to the players. The Orc King might be your first and foremost Danger, but Grand Vizier Kratt is the real power behind the throne, so he’s another Danger. It’s also worth remembering that Dangers are like live grenades – they can just as easily blow up in an enemy’s face as the party’s. First Lieutenant Dongle might be an unrepentant slaver and murderer, but he might also want to be crowned Orc King himself, and the PCs may be able to exploit that desire for their own ends. If he allies with them temporarily, though, that doesn’t mean he stops being a Danger. It means he stops being a threat… for now. He might come back with an even bigger army in a few months, and they’ll comprise a whole new Front with its own Dangers.

    The ultimate goal is to have multiple Fronts operating at once. Dungeon World is like other PbtA games in that it’s about making hard choices. So the Orc King’s army might be massing at the western border, but the PCs might be busy finding a little girl who got kidnapped by cannibal trolls as this is happening. Once they hear about the Orc King’s invasion, they have to decide between potentially letting the girl die and letting the Orc King subjugate a town, and both of those might be orthogonal to the Campaign Front of stopping the Dark Wizard Lorthax from acquiring the Raiments Of Power and becoming a god. This is how Fronts help you “fill the player characters’ lives with adventure.”

    Does that explanation help you at all?

  7. Aaron Griffin​ I never complete a front. I usually write down an NPC list. I write down some monsters that are likely to show up.

    I write out a few facts about what’s going on.

    Each of these gets a dedicated index card. Nothing has a conclusion though.

    I recently designed a little scenario based on the Walking Dead. I had stats for zombies, NPCs in the town, and some example situations the players could find themselves in.

    At the start of the game (a quick session 0), I asked the players who they knew in the town, added the answers to my NPC list and ran it.

    Ultimately, I followed the fiction from the players choices.

    But what I lacked was the two of the separate fronts closing in on the PCs. So they didn’t have any hard choices to make.

    They encountered boarded up houses and a small church with protective wards.

    It ran beautifully. The players had full agency with their decisions.

    The group was comprised of first timers. They loved it.

    Any time they didn’t know what to do, they looked at their sheets for inspiration.

  8. In your Walking Dead scenario, you don’t necessarily need a front right away. The best Fronts come from the play – maybe the zombie horde can be a Front (Doom: Zombies overrun everything), and another Front could be some leader of another survivalist group (Doom: Herr Drumpf’s walled-in area becomes an authoritarian slave town), and yet another Front could be the illuminati that caused the zombie plague. All depends on what the PCs do and uncover (and also what you have going on offscreen).

    Fronts are the “what happens if the PCs don’t intervene”, Dooms are the end line of Fronts, and Grim Portents are the ticking clock. These and PC actions can all beget new Fronts. What if Herr Drumpf joins forces with the Illuminati, once driven out of his fort by the PCs?

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