Dungeon World: Pointless Portents

I saw this post from the Dungeon World Tavern Community over on G+ (because someone plussed it of course):

Ok, I'm a veteran GM but Dungeon World still is something new to me. I mean, I've read the book three or four times, read the Guide, and even played as a player once. Yet, when I think of adventure design I feel I may be at odd with "play to see what happens."

My main problem is with the portents and its dangers (sorry if I confuse a term or two, but my DW book is in Portuguese). While they are great in theory (from a standpoint of someone who still needs to play as a DW GM), they seem to lead me to a trap. Let me explain.

If I make a list of 5 escalating problems to the players and they are able to defeat the threat in the 2nd step, what I believe it can happen: a) Problem solved for the players. World is a little safer this time. But as a GM I've wasted 3 other problems that won't see the light of day; or b) Okay, they solved THAT part of the problem, but as there are 3 more problems after that, they somehow shoehorn themselves in the game: it's a railroad, so it defeats the the purpose of "playing to see what happens."

I can live with a). Have done this for years (love hexcrawls and sandboxes, even when there's some epic plot buried there to be found--or not). But when I'm on a sandbox, for example, I rarely plot the steps of something bad happening: I usually give it a trigger and, when it comes into play, I develop the next step (if there's need of one) on the fly. It's an improvisational style.

So, TL;DR: -How do you advise me to deal with this a) and b) situation? -Can you provide some links to a campaign setting tailored for DW that could act as a good example of DW setting design?

While I'm not a fan of the whole Danger, Grim Portent, and Impending Doom structure in general (I can't recall ever using it in actual play, but that's something for another blog post), I think option A is fine because the players probably want to resolve the Danger as soon as possible, certainly before it ticks through all of its Grim Portents and kicks off the Impending Doom. So, for example, if the characters stop a lich before he completes and drops a necrobomb on a huge city and kills everyone within, good for them!

Option B is garbage, and isn't something you should do in any game whether or not it contains the phrase "play to see what happens" (though I'd argue that playing to see what happens applies to more than just your Grim Portents bullet list).

Really though this isn't an A-or-B dilemma: just because the players stop a Danger early on, doesn't mean that the Danger must goes away (and "waste" the rest of your Grim Portents). If it makes sense then great: take a bit of time to cook up some more Dangers/Grim Portents/Impending Dooms, and keep playing. But, and we'll call this option C, sometimes a Danger can shift gears and keep going: maybe the lich had an assistant who will continue his work, or maybe the lich comes back (either as a demilich or because the players didn't smash the phylactery).

Maybe the necrobomb (possible Arcane Enemy/Sentient Artifact) was completed and is now just sitting there, waiting for someone else to find it (what if the players get it and need to find a way to store it/dismantle it/keep it safe from a number of power-hungry individuals), or maybe it wasn't completely perfected and is unstable, liable to go off at any moment, though not necessarily where the lich intended. I mean sure, it's not in the city, but its hexplosion could still create a desolate, undead-haunted wasteland (which could be another Danger).

If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

A Sundered World: Player Fragments, the first supplement for A Sundered World, is finally out!

If you're looking for a class that lets you play almost any were-thing you want (plus a bunch of related extra content), then check out The Therianthrope. There's also The Dragon, a class that lets you play almost any dragon-ish thing you could think of.

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

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