So. Tomorrow is game night, and for the first time I want to try my hand at some Fronts. As usual, I turn to you guys for advice.

My single campaign front at the moment is embarrassingly cliché, but still fun for us as first-timers: the lizard priest cult wants to bring the blood god Groth back into the world. So the doom is “usurpation”, and the grim portents are obvious, I think: 1) find a victim (cult already did this), 2) find magical battery doohickey for ritual (heroes thwarted this first time around), 3) perform equinox ritual, 4) Groth manifests into victim’s body, 5) the world burns.

First question: I suspect that the Abbot of the cult is secretly plotting to subjugate Groth once he manifests, so that he (the Abbot) will become the true ruler of the world. Would I best represent that as an additional Danger in the campaign front, or is it better to turn that into its own Front once the manifestation Front is complete?

Next, I need to translate the ongoing story-so-far into a couple of adventure fronts, and that is causing me a bit of a headache. Is the big bad forest that the heroes have already passed through once and which has various monsters and dangers inside it a Front of its own, or is it a Danger in the scope of a larger “return the kidnapped girl to her parents before she gets sacrificed” Front?

Is the imminent arrival at the abbey of two surviving lizard priests from an earlier encounter a couple of sessions ago a grim portent in the “Groth usurpation” campaign front? Or is it also a Danger/Portent in the aforementioned “Kidnap rescue” adventure front? Or is it maybe its own Adventure Front?

The Abbot is also trying to get the heroes to retrieve the battery doohickey for him (they’re on to him, but playing along for now), and some of the monks in the monastery are suspicious of the Abott and have asked the heroes to help them uncover the truth. (The heroes have so far not followed up on that request.) I am having trouble placing events like these (which just arose naturally on the spot during game play) in a Front.

I understand that the beauty of Fronts is that they are just flexible groupings of ideas that are allowed and expected to move from one grouping to the other, so I suspect there’s not real One True Way of answering my questions, but I’m nevertheless curious: do you have any guidelines or rules of thumb for how and where you incorporate events such as the ones I mentioned above into your Fronts?

As always, many many thanks in advance for your feedback!

5 thoughts on “So.”

  1. I don’t do fronts and dangers as described in the rules, mainly because I’ve been so confused by them that I gave up trying. So what I’m going to describe is how I do it, although it’s not correct.

    I make a single front; a Campaign front. I give it a name, a description that’s as long as it needs to be, a cast of characters (which can and will change) and a list of questions to ask the players. I’ll finish with a few stakes questions. This gives me grounding for the first session as well as ideas for dangers. And then I can fill in the details with my Q&A and first session.

    From there, I add dangers only. I don’t add adventure fronts. Each danger has a name, type and subtype, impulse, grim portents, and an impending doom.

    That eleviates all of the “which front does this go under” BS that I was struggling with, and each danger has enough detail to run several adventures.

    So my way would be to make the big story – trying to bring Groth back – the Campaign front. Then everything else is just a danger within that front.

    So while this is not the correct way to do it, it has really helped me design and implement fronts and dangers.

  2. I like to follow the rules of the book but agree it can be really confusing. However, I do think you get the hang of it once you’ve put the time and effort into them a couple of times. After that you realize their value.

    To me the Abbot feels like a Danger in your existing front because he is trying to execute the same grim portents. Keep him in your back pocket as a twist for the characters, or if they are able stop Groth at the end of the session do an “epilogue” for them that shows the abbot digging up the magical battery from the ashes of their battle (or maybe a shard of it) and disappearing into the darkness. Create a front around him now that’s similar but different.

    The forest is only a front to the extent there are Dangers within it that have an impulse that conflicts with the characters or the world they care about. Is it minding it’s own business? Probably leave it as an interesting area that you send them back to for rare ingredients. Or is it expanding unnaturally fast and overtaking a nearby city? Then it might raise to the level of a front. Go through the list of impulses in the Fronts section of the rule book for inspiration. If you can’t peg one to the forest AND the various denizens within, then I wouldn’t call it a front.

    The arrival of the surviving lizard priests I think is a GM Move for you to definitely write down and include with the Front. Use it when you think it’s a good time to “reveal an unwelcome truth” or “show signs of an approaching threat”. I understand the confusion because yes, it is dangerous to the characters but I don’t think it’s a Danger in the context of Fronts.

    Regarding placing the Abbots and Monks requests into fronts, I wouldn’t. Just put those in your GM notes and maybe a few ideas about how the Abbot and Monks will react when the PCs succeed, fail, or betray them. These types of “events” are you following the GM Agenda; filling the PCs lives with adventure.

    I do think it’s totally okay to have one front for a bit, but you will eventually want to flush out a second one that puts tension on the players to make difficult choices about what they will focus on. If they spend a bunch of time on one Front move some Grim Portents along in another and have them find out the changes to the world in an interesting way. Using the forest example above: On their trip back they could have sworn there was a town right here! Now it’s just dense Forest. What happened to it and its inhabitants? Showing them that the world is ever changing, even in their absence, helps to meet another part of your agenda: Portray a Fantastic World.

    Hope these points helped and good luck!

  3. Andrew Alwood​, you’re right, I feel like if I had just stuck with it I’d have gotten it down correctly.

    Shaken, Not Stirred​, you’re right too. Fronts and dangers are there to help organize your ideas. I use the basic framework, I just organize them a little differently.

    Leo Breebaart​, having said all that, I recently started re-binge-watching 24 with my gf, and it offers a great model for doing Fronts and Dangers correctly (rhat is to say, by the rules), and I wish I’d started watching it sooner.

  4. I use fronts in city adventures where they work as a charm. In dungeons however they feel super clunky because a) fronts are originally designed around scarcity and the weirdness of the post-apocalypse as opposed to the heroism of Fantasy b) need an ecology of factions that pushes and pulls the PCs and c) forces you to introduce a ticking clock – none of which would “naturally” appear in a dungeon. You can try to make them work (have a demon being summoned – again!) but at least for me it feels artificial to use them.

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