Tuesday, October 9, 2012
The thorn plague is spreading. The wave of undead is ravaging the countryside. The elves are restless in the forests. The xenophobia of the townsfolk is starting to get violent.
All these are Threats. They represent bad stuff that's going to happen to the town of the players don't intervene. They don't have to intervene, but, come on, they're heroes.
To make a Threat, identify or create something that threatens the town itself, a group in the town, or a person in the town. See the above. Have a few going at a time.
Now think: what's the end game? What's the terrible thing that happens of the PCs don't stop it? Write that down.
Then write down some way to introduce the threat. If the thorn plague will kill off the whole village and spread for its endgame, think of a way to introduce the threat to the players. Maybe a few kids are coughing like crazy on the street. Write that down.
Your got a beginning and end; now full in the middle with at least one escalation: more people get sick, the first few deaths, more deaths and sickness, massive death and sickness. Then the end.
Write down each step in a list. Each step is called a threat level. Use a 3x5 card for this, maybe.
Whenever the PCs take an extended rest, mark off a threat level and show as soon as possible how the new threat level is affecting people. You can choose or randomly determine which threat to advance.
You may also advance the threat levels whenever it seems necessary. If the PCs haven't taken an extended rest in a week, and you KNOW the plague would have spread more by now, go ahead and knock it up a level. Make it seem real.
So why use threats?
Threats give you something interesting to say when the PCs resupply and blow off some steam at the tavern. Threats are a way to make the town & dungeon combo seem dynamic. They force you to include NPCs and give the players opportunity to take an interest in them. They encourage the party not to take extended rests since, meta-game, the players know things will get worse topside if they do.
(Threats are based off Poison'd's Cruel Fortunes and Apocalypse World's Fronts.)