Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Aftermath

Wow - Sounds menacing doesn’t it. This isn’t about “the” aftermath; it’s about every aftermath. Every adventure that your players go on should have consequences. OK, some of the consequences might be so minimal that no one notices them, but that isn’t always true.
So what? OK, let’s think about that question. Fairly standard mission: The party has to go out and stop a group of bandits who are plaguing the “North Road”. OK, let’s say they kill every last one of them - pretty standard fantasy RP, right? Then what? Well trade should increase, right? No bandits means lower risk means lower prices in the city. That could lead to more adventure as some products from the north might be better or cheaper than the local stuff. Maybe it will lead to taxes and tariffs on goods from the north. Maybe it will run some of the locals out of business. Maybe it will bring a wave of immigrants from the north.
What about the gap in the crime terrain? Will another gang of bandits see this as an opportunity? Now that those bandits are gone, will another expand their “turf” to include the North Road? Especially with all that new trade coming through, it seems inevitable, unless the local government establishes better permanent security. Maybe they pay for that with the new tariffs. Does that mean that there will be workers needed to build the new tax booth/fort?
What about the bandits themselves? Did they really kill every single one of them? No one was home visiting a sick relative or on “leave” for a couple of days? Did any of them have a big brother who is now very upset that someone killed his little brother? Any fathers with vengeful children? The party was probably lauded as heroes after accomplishing the job; they shouldn’t be hard to find.
What about the loot? Had the bandits fenced all their goods already? Did the party simply get coins or did they get some stuff too? jewelry? When the party sells all that stuff, do they raise any suspicions? Maybe the daughter of a murdered merchant asks them specifically for a piece of jewelry that they know they have. Return it to the rightful owner or break it down into its component jewels so no one will be wiser.
Are there any reputational issues? If the party was praised as heroes, that should help them in town. If a group of guards goes out to clean up the mess and finds throats cut, does the party get a reputation for being murders instead of heroes? The public can be very fickle about its heroes; they might turn on what they believe to be non-heroic tactics.
Do you need to figure out the effects of destroying a bandit unit on the cost of beer in your game? No, but if your campaign is going to have more of a real feel and some consequences to actions, some manner of aftermath is necessary.
Anyone out there with examples of how they’ve made this work for them?

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