When you design Fronts, do you usually set your 1st grim portent as happening right now?

When you design Fronts, do you usually set your 1st grim portent as happening right now?

When you design Fronts, do you usually set your 1st grim portent as happening right now?

I’ve noticed that I have a tendency to do so when writing fronts.

Is it correct to do so? If not, does it have any effect on the game at all?

Also, do you have a sweet spot on numbers of fronts in your campaign?

At which point does it become unwieldy / you forget about them in play?

7 thoughts on “When you design Fronts, do you usually set your 1st grim portent as happening right now?”

  1. I sometimes write something that’s “happening right now”, but that’s usually just to clear the pipes for the bangs that may or may not unfold at the table based on player actions.

    It’s like writing something on your to-do list and checking it off immediately. It’s not as useful at the table, but it might get you (as the GM) where you need to go in the fiction to push the grim portents closer and closer to their impending dooms.

    There is a time when it’s more productive to get down grim portents that are “happening now”, and that’s when they happen off-screen, but you need a reminder to show the characters. In that case, I try to put the grim portent in terms that they are most likely to see it in action.

    Like, instead of saying “The Black Gate is closed, and the orks aren’t dying anymore”, I put it down as “they see an ork get violently brained in combat, but it keeps fighting”.

  2. Depends if I want to incorporate otherwise isolated events the party already encountered. Example would be if I pull up my book of random encounters and decide l I like “Ork noble and his human servant stranded on road side” and have the party come across it while they make their long trip to the capital. At first, it will be isolated cause it was just a random thing I put in to spice up their trip, but once in the capital that ork might reveal to not have been stranded and was fleeing from assassins, or maybe he did something illegal and the party just aided his escape.

  3. Well i see it as almost like knowing a town exists. If they dont know that town doesnt exist then sure it doesnt but then its only a bullet point but once they go to that town you can use it to add adventure.

    Having a front adds to the world someway and as a gm by having it wfitten down can use that prep to make it more available to the players.

    Or you can do what Adam Koebal does and describe a cinematic where players are not present but allows them to know whats happening in the world to say this front exists.

  4. I certainly often find myself writing the first grim portent as the thing that’s happening right now or already happened. Like John at Deep Six Delver says, it’s like putting a thing on your To Do list that you’ve already done… it can give you a sense of progress and momentum. If that’s helpful, great. I cannot perceive any possible harm it could do.

    The biggest “aha” I’ve had about fronts is that they are effectively meaningless categorizations. The AW 2e concept of a “threat map” is way more useful for me.

    If I do still use fronts, I basically only use two:

    1) The current adventure front, which includes dangers in the PCs immediate area, perception, or sphere of influence. The grim portents here tend to be tangible and specific, like

    [ ] Shadikar arrive on the scene

    [ ] Shadikar gain access to crypts

    [ ] Shadikar make a deal with Ghoul King

    [ ] Shadikar get the Star of Algol

    [ ] DOOM: Shadikar escape with the Star of Algol.

    I might further categorize the dangers in this ‘front’ by location or faction or something, but even just merge their grim portents/dooms into a single track. But that’s all pretty organic and not very intentional.

    2) The campaign front, where all the off-screen stuff lives and happens. Grim portents here tend to be slower-burning and a bigger deal. Each grim portent might be an adventure on its own. Stuff like:

    [ ] Shadikar bring the Star of Algol home

    [ ] The Temple of the Cold Sun is consecrated (lunatics mutter warnings of doom)

    [ ] The Three Hundred Days of Release begin (omens appear across the realms)

    [ ] The sky is rent by a dark purple chasm

    [ ] DOOM The shadikar lead an army of the dead into the world

    If an danger from the adventure front goes unresolved (e.g. the PCs just ignore it and leave, or never notice it), I’ll keep my notes on it and assume that it’s Doom has come to pass. If I think there’s more trouble that could come out of it, I might move it to the campaign front and write up some more, bigger Grim Portents and a new, doomier Doom.

    Or not. Maybe I just have in my notes that the Shadikar made a deal with the Ghoul King and they have the Star of Algol and if the PCs ever return to the Crypts of Kravenghast the Star isn’t there anymore and the ghouls now all spend their days and nights supping at the Eternal Marrow of the Dead God. And if the PCs ever come back, they’ll find that the ghouls aren’t really a problem anymore because they just get high on divine ichor all the time, but boy is that weird.

    As for how you use these faraway portents unfolding, you’ve basically got two options:

    1) Use them as fodder for GM moves, actively revealing them in play, directly or indirectly. They spend a few hours in the town library trying to learn about the Crypts of Kravenghast, and biff the Spout Lore roll? Well, you might show signs of an approaching threat by telling the wizard that after hours of poring over obscure books and coming up with bupkiss, she feels a weird… ripple in the fabric of space-time, like something just popped through the veil between worlds. And it came with a deathly chill. What do you do? (That’s me showing that the Shadikar have arrived, but telling the wizard that in a way that begins and ends with the fiction they can perceive.)

    2) Use them after-the-fact, when the PCs return to or arrive in an area that would be affected, as a way to demonstrate that the world is alive and changing.

    Like, if the PCs spent a bunch of time in town preparing the raid the Kravenghast crypts, I might decide that by the time they get there, the Shadikar have already arrived and gained access to the crypts. Cool, I mark off two of my grim portents and and I point to a looming threat, telling the PCs that they see weird footprints of frost through the grass, and the door to the crypt has a narrow crack in it, too small for a person to squeeze through, but it’s lined with hoarfrost in and out.

    Or, after the Shadikar escaped with the Star of Algol and the PCs pack up and voyage back to the city, I might decide that by the time they get there, the next campaign-level grim portent has occurred and mark it off, revealing it when the get into town and the local beggar isn’t even asking for change, just muttering that “An eye in the darkness opens! An eye! An eye! The sun closes, and there will be signs! And wonders! Mortify the flesh! Purify the spirit! Death looks upon us all!”. And there’s a pall over the town, and friends of the PCs whisper that it’s been like this for days, all the crazies in the city talking nonsense like that.

  5. Agreed that the wording of Fronts is overly complicated for no reasons in the book.

    I like your way of having just a front and a list of grim portent and having the last portent effectively be the impeding doom. Way easier to wrap my head around. I’ll take a look at your Stonetop fronts!

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