Fronts in NSR-landia

To anyone with PbtA experience, does anyone have experience with using PBTA-style fronts with NSR games? I’m sure it’s easy enough to use, my questions is whether it’s a viable resource to reproduce the NSR feel?

I’m not sure if there is one thing to call “The NSR Feel”, but faction play tends to be important to the NSR, and as such it’s definitely portable. I tend to use it or things like it.

The only catch seems to be that some NSR games, if not most (?) the players might not care if their actions bring forth the apocalypse, as long as they can opportunistically gain loot. Which is fine. The players might enjoy seeing the repercussions of their own actions.

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So, playing for loot is the only thing that’s played for in NSR games?

I don’t think that’s always the case (as I said there doesn’t seem to be just one type of NSR), but it seems to be a driving factor how most of the games are written, with the gold for XP (in the OSR and alike) or paying off an otherwise unplayable debt that would be violently enforced if ignored (in Electric Bastionland).

But obviously some of the fun is exploring what lines the characters are willing to cross to get money. (Which fronts can be used for).

Another big, driving factor is exploration, because that is fun in itself, but there should be a reason for the characters to do so. Fronts there could be things unwittingly awakened, etc.

Great. Thanks for the clarification.

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I think my biggest conflict would be between the way Fronts are played in PbtA and the way NSR would need them to be played. NSR is much more concerned with the narrative being emergent around player/character decisions, where fronts are external effects brought to bear on the world around the players. I think this is resonant with @TheBeardedBelgian’s comment that “most players might not care if their actions bring forth the apocalypse”, insofar as NSR approaches tend to be about Characters pursuing Character Goals.

Now, if you write fronts that are a little more personal, a little more pointed at and into the player characters and their immediacy, and that challenges their goals directly, then it’ll work! But that’s not what Fronts do “in text”. In text, fronts are about how the world behaves in the PC’s absence, and it’s an opportunity for PCs to interact (not for their own benefit, explicitly, but to resolve the Front in a way they would prefer it to resolve).

NSR front design can exist. Probably does. I don’t use it but others probably do! I just think you’d have to refocus it a bit, find a different angle at which to offer the same service.


Yeah, it seems like there’s an issue of emergence, but I think fronts could be bolted on to a NSR experience (whatever that may be) as a reactive element that a GM could use in/as part of prep. The different angle might be the GM asking “now that the players did Y, how is X affected?” rather than something like, “X is happening in the world. If you [the players] don’t respond, Y will happen.”

I mean, there’s an extent to which fronts already exist in yhe NSR/OSR, it’s just a question of when they advance (to get at @SidIcarus 's point). I’m running Where the Wheat Grows Tall now, and that has a few ticking clocks. The race in Deep Carbon Observatory is alot like a front. It’s not exactly the same, but we’re in the ball park.

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