[Challenge] How would you write The Hobbit as a Front?

  • 5 Replies
[Challenge] How would you write The Hobbit as a Front?
« on: December 16, 2012, 11:11:07 AM »
I'm crap at writing Fronts, so I thought I'd put this out as a challenge to see how you, bold adventurers, would do it.

Re: [Challenge] How would you write The Hobbit as a Front?
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2012, 03:52:47 PM »
I thought The Hobbit was kind of backwards for a front. Which was thus the solution:

The Theft of the Hoard

An Ancient Wizard, a Band of Renegade Dwarves, and a Sneaky Thief

A Thief is recruited, and a map revealed
The band is equipped by Elves
A Ring of Invisibility is aquired by guile
The thuggish band arrives in town
The thief sneaks, invisible, through a secret door; an item of great value is stolen
A weakness is discovered; the Dragon is slain, the renegades steal the treasure

It's actually got the same issue I've had with some of my putative fronts, in that Smaug's not going to be aware of any of the portents until Bilbo's grasping mitts are making off with the Arkenstone, and it's all too late - everything happens way off-stage. I think fronts work for some things, but for many standard adventures they just don't apply. I'm willing to be convinced otherwise, though

Re: [Challenge] How would you write The Hobbit as a Front?
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2012, 08:17:15 PM »
I'm not sure you can really write the Hobbit as a Front, as Smaug doesn't really have any plans. He just snoozes.

I'm actually running a game loosely based on the Hobbit at the moment, and to make the dragon more proactive I had a sorceress convince it to lead an army of orcs to get treasure.

Danger: the Dragon, larger than all before it, a wily Sorceress, multitudes of Orcs, Frost Giants, and an order of amoral wizards.

The Sorceress speaks to the dragon of rulership and dominion.
An army of orcs is gathered, other allies are asked to join.
Orcs are sent to gather tribute, by threat of Dragon.
An elvish spell of dragon-slaying is stolen (and kept by the sorceress)
Shoulder dragon eggs are taken and used to make Dragonspawn
The Frost Giants defeat the northern dwarves and march south to join the Dragon's army, bringing winter with them
The Brotherhood of the White Tower join the army, bringing horrible monsters
The army marches forth to claim the world.

EDIT: I realize this isn't terribly helpful, so here is  The Hobbit as a Front:

Danger: Smaug.

the dragon continues to sleep on a bed of treasure
« Last Edit: December 17, 2012, 08:25:27 PM by Zartes »

Re: [Challenge] How would you write The Hobbit as a Front?
« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2012, 11:03:54 AM »
I love tolkien but I'm not an expert, so take my words with a grain of salt; all of this is just speculation.

Everything in the hobbit happened because of gandalf. He lead the dwarves into killing the dragon, so the orcs moved into attacking erebor, and the resulting war cemented the alliance between the three races. All of this while he was driving sauron out of dol guldur, and acquiring other small advantages (like killing the goblin king, befriending Beorn, recovering orcrist and glamdring, and so on).

So, what would have happened if gandalf wasn't there?

First of all, the ring would eventually have returned to his lord's hand. Sauron himself could have extended his dominion all over mirkwood. The free people probably would have slowly estranged one to another, to the point that they would have never fought together against the common enemy. Dale would have never been rebuilt by its one true king, nor could have been a new king under the mountain; during the upcoming war of the ring, sauron would have had an easy time with a dragon on his side and no one defending that zone. He could have burned mirkwood to the ground, killed aragorn in a blink and then annihilated rivendell... Eventually, he would have proceeded in crushing between anvil and hammer lothlorien, rohan and gondor.

One could extract a cool front out of this, but it won't be tolkienesque. Tolkien is full of deus ex machina and arbitrary coincidences. Something totally incompatable with dungeon world.
Oh, the things we tell ourselves to feel better about the long, dark nights.

Re: [Challenge] How would you write The Hobbit as a Front?
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2012, 09:37:42 AM »
One could extract a cool front out of this, but it won't be tolkienesque. Tolkien is full of deus ex machina and arbitrary coincidences. Something totally incompatable with dungeon world.
This; the amount of deus ex machina in The Hobbit makes it a poor adventure for roleplaying purposes, without major reworking (read: removal of the dependency of deus ex machina).

However, I think some of you have the font a little backwards. You are writing the fonts as if Smaug is the player. If this is intentional, fine, but I still think it would be more helpful if the font was written as if the players were the 13 dwarfs, Gandalf and Bilbo.
I just recently started a blog on my gaming experiences on www.partialsuccess.wordpress.com



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Re: [Challenge] How would you write The Hobbit as a Front?
« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2012, 01:30:53 PM »
I think the key is to determine who the PCs would be and who the NPCs/dangers/monsters would be.

I'd assume that the PCs are part of the Thorin's expedition, though you'd have to establish what they were in it for.  I think you might need to drop the larger "Sauron is returning" theme related to the One Ring and Mirkwood.  I'd also drop Gandalf (at the most, I'd make him a PC that was maybe 2-3 levels higher than the others).

Thorin himself and maybe some of the other dwarves on the expedition would probably be a danger.  Probably something new, like Rogue: Ambitious Hier.  Danger moves that involve rallying support, alienating allies, putting others at risk, acting irrationally.  Doom: Tyranny (lording over others in the region)

For other threats, just spitballing here...

If you use the movie, you've got the Pale Orc hunting Thorin (Horde: Wandering Barbarians).  Doom: destruction (of Thorin & his dwarven followers).

You've got the Misty Mountains & their Goblin King (Horde: Underground Dwellers). Doom: Impoverishment (company is plunged into slavery).

Mirkwood could easily be a Cursed Place (shadowland). Doom: Pestilence (as the darkness spreads into the realm of the elves and beyond).

The wood elves, probably an Ambitious Organization (Misguided Good). Doom: Usurpation (of the dwarve's ancestral home)?

Smaug is clearly an arcane enemy (dragon). Portents: ravens return to the mountain.  Some fool wakes the dragon.  Someone steals from the dragon.  The dragon attacks Lake Town.  The dragon lays waste to the entire region.  Doom: destruction. 

Biggest problem I see that is that many of the largest dangers in the story are just obstacles that need to be overcome.  The Goblin King and his people aren't going to do much more than sit in their hole and defend it, take prisoners, and eat them.  The only reason they're a problem is because the company passes through their territory and falls into their clutches.  So it's hard to come up with Grim Portents that aren't reactive to what the party does.  Same thing could be said about Mirkwood... it's just an obstacle to be traversed & overcome.  You'd have to give it more agency than is presented in the book to make it really become a Danger or a Front.

The key is that Thorin needs to be a problem almost as much as an ally, and thus a front.  And you need to have other parties capable of waking Smaug, possibly because of relatively widespread knowledge that he's been unseen for 60+ years and the telltale signs of birds returning to the mountain.  Then it's not just a delve into the dungeon with a dragon in it, but a race against time and possible diplomatic nightmare as a number of interested parties try to do likewise.