Help With Fronts and Threats

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Help With Fronts and Threats
« on: April 02, 2012, 10:38:55 AM »
So I've been staring at the notes I scribbled down from our first AW session last week and am trying to figure out how to turn this chicken scratch into an interesting Front and a few Threats. Nothing's really jumping out at me though. This might be because (due to busy schedules) our sessions only last for an hour and so I, the MC, don't know the PCs in the game well enough yet. I know the players just fine, but I've only traveled with Dust the Hocus, Tor the Faceless, and Garber the Touchstone for a little over 60 minutes so far. However it's a poor carpenter that blames his tools, so I put most of the blame on myself as MC.

I tried something new for this game and specifically bought a Tarot card deck to do readings on MC characters and situations for inspiration between sessions. My amateur interpretation of the cards revealed that the caravan (the players came up with a mobile hardhold) had an experienced and successful leader and was now reaping the rewards of a period of hard work. However the course of action indicated was to delay, which would lead to unfulfilled hopes and disappointment. I decided that this meant the caravan had become complacent after a very successful foraging/scavenging autumn season and will foolishly attempt to winter at an abandoned coal mining complex. The Dark Future of this decision will be absolute disaster, as supplies run out, transportation becomes impossible, and the people descend into cannibalism and God knows what else.

Now I've started a Fronts Sheet that expresses either fear or ignorance (haven't decided which yet as both seem appropriate). Both could cause the hardholder (an MC character) to remain in one spot for too long leading to this fate. I wrote up the first Threat, an Affliction: Delusion, and made a countdown clock that represents the people settling in (3 to 9pm), refusing to move unless threatened or manipulated (9 to 11pm), and eventually being immobile (12am). I'm just worried that the triggers are too passive; I'll simply tick down the sections every time the hardholder goes among the populace preaching about how great the new settlement will be and the PCs keep silent about it. If the PCs vocally agree with the hardholder in front of a lare section of the population, then the clock jumps right to 9pm.

That sounds right, but I'm having trouble coming up with other Threats to spin off from this situation. Adding to the problem, one of my players has already asked, out-of-character, if their PCs can leave the caravan. I told him of course, then outlined some general pros and cons of a small group of 20 souls breaking off from a group of about 100. If my players do decide that their PCs will leave the group I of course won't try to stop them. But then I'll have to come up with a whole new front (or modify my idea for the abandoned hardhold). I've also read on the forums here that PCs need groups of MC characters to interact with, or things get boring. So I'm trying to think of ways to potentially tie them to the caravan more strongly. I won't force them to stay of course, but give them choices that potentially tangle them into the lives of some MC characters around them and give them a reason to stay with the group.

So... that was kind of rambling. Apologies. In a nutshell, any general advice on how to create Threats and Fronts and PC-NPC-PC triangles?
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Re: Help With Fronts and Threats
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2012, 12:57:08 PM »
The tarot card idea is amazing.  I will probably have to steal that. 

I mostly wanted to point that out, but I guess I can at least make an attempt at your question. 

A good way to get people interested in groups (or anything) is to give them choices.  Off the top of my head, maybe there is a more pragmatic npc that thinks the hardholder isn't planning enough for winter and/or just thinks the hardholder is a terrible leader in general.  Maybe this npc gets a few others to listen to him and a tiny faction is born. 

As the new faction gets bigger/louder (perhaps aided by the fallout from the winter) the PCs get to choose who they should back as leader.  Make sure to make them both seem like good candidates though.  If you go down this route, make sure that the current leader of the caravan is still redeemable or likable even after his (her?) unfortunate decision that leads to rough times. 

There are probably a million other ways to get the PCs more attached to npcs, but I for one love the quasi-political stuff.  It might work for a player or two of yours too.

Re: Help With Fronts and Threats
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2012, 11:56:55 PM »
Thanks, David Jay. By all means, go ahead and steal my idea. I've been wanting to use Tarot cards in some capacity in an RPG for a while now, even more so after reading about the Oracles for In A Wicked Ageā€¦ I did a seven card spread I found on the internet that is supposedly good for answering the question "What is to be done?" The seven cards determine: the past, the present, the future, what to do, outside influences, hopes/fears, and the final outcome.

I didn't include it in my initial post, but the card I pulled for the outside influences element was Strength in a reversed position; indicating weakness, sickness, and/or a lack of faith. I was originally thinking about putting some kind of bacteria in the water or having toxic fumes slowly leaking from the mine tunnels that sickened people. But your suggestion of a dissenting MC character who forms a rival faction is much more interesting, as the PCs can interact with it. The MC character is acting a bit like a sickness anyway; weakening the cohesion of the group by spreading a lack of faith in the hardholder's leadership among the population.

So that's actually four Threats I've got now, all inside the handhold, all hovering around the Fear/Ignorance scarcity; the hardholder and his crew (Brutes: Enforcers), the rival faction that'll spring up to oppose him (Warlord: Prophet), the twisted depths of the ruined mine shafts (Landscape: Prison or Maze), and the complacency/fear the general population starts to succumb to (Affliction: Delusion). Now I just need to create some count down clocks and maybe a Front to represent the weather conditions and situation outside the hardhold. Time to get cracking! Thanks.
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