25 thoughts on “First draft of “threads” for Freebooters 2e”

  1. Solid.

    Two thoughts:

    1) might be useful to emphasize that the last knot should be something substantial and world changing. Like, instead of “the dead reach town” (okay, so what?), have something more like “the dead lay siege to town” or “the dead terrorize town.”

    2) I’m seeing the shape for something like “forks” or “tapestries,” where a single thread might split into multiples or merge with other threads. The forks and mergers could even be points to ask stakes questions.

    E.g. The Tomb Curse might merge with Salvatore’s Bid for Power, with Sal’s thread ending in him rallying forces to oppose the undead scourge. And where those two threads meet, you leave a question mark. Or ask “will Sal’s posseovercome the dead? At what cost?” and you leave it as something to resolve later.

    Not a fully thought out idea, but possibly useful?

  2. “Snipping a thread” immediately suggests that the PCs have defeated the danger and further “knots” will not come to pass, to me. I don’t get the connection between a knot coming to pass in the fiction and the thread being snipped, that seems weird.

  3. I’ve also got a bit of confusion about snipping a thread – that implies you’re cutting a thread prematurely, rather than having the thread continue. That said, I like the mechanic and description, and I enjoy similar mechanics elsewhere (Blades in the Dark’s clocks, Planarch Codexes’ countdowns.)

  4. I thought the same thing as Johnstone Metzger and Joe Banner. “Snipping” made me think cutting away a thread that’s no longer in use. I then saw that this wasn’t the case and thought, OK, maybe threads have their culmination at the top, and events would be snipped away from the bottom (like hair) until nothing remained but the fulfillment. My metaphor maker is broken tonight — I can’t really suggest a better word that’s still thready. Im left with threads that progress….advance…develop.

    As far as the idea itself — I’ve tried but I’m not very good with using this kind of prescriptive series/cause-and-effect mechanic. I’d love to have something like a page or two of generic examples for threads across classifications like War, Intrigue, Arch-Enemies, Monsters, Magic, Deities, Artifacts, Dungeons, Prophecies, Disasters, Hostages, Madness, Transformation, Love, Honor, etc.

    Ooo… all of a sudden I am thinking about threads with forks, unions, and intersections!

  5. I always like the ideas of fronts and clocks. I’ve just never got them to work smoothly in the fiction.

    That being said, a list of common threads would be handy.

    Like: Exposure(Countdown until you burn stats)

    Hospitality(Countdown until your thrown out by the locals.)

    Edit: What font is that btw? I like the new look.

  6. Yeah, the terminology’s not right yet. That’s what running with a metaphor will do to you. I should probably just forget about being “clever” and use more direct language.

    Jeremy Strandberg those are great suggestions, I had been thinking of similar permutations. If I include them they will probably be in the Advanced Freebotoers book.

  7. Timothy Stanbrough I’m going with Adobe Calson Pro for the body type\. It doesn’t get more stock than that, bu tit seems to work pretty well with the Oldstyle headers.

  8. To clarify, I like the ‘thread’ terminology, just not the ‘snipping’ part. The move you describe feels more like, I dunno, a knotting, or twisting, or something. Cutting a thread is like the GM saying “screw it, rocks fall, everyone dies!”

  9. You could use the terminology in the text headings without tying it to moves; for example, sub-title a paragraph about Jeremy Strandberg’s ideas ‘teasing out the thread.’

  10. Personally, I’d be satisfied leaving the final point of the thread as simply ‘X happens, and this is a Bad Thing’ without needing to specify the whys and wherefores of how it’s bad til it happens.

    The dead reach town – so what? Well, the dead reaching town is clearly not a good thing. We (the GM and the players together) will find out exactly how that is a Bad Thing together, in play.

  11. Metaphors work great when they help people remember processes and stuff better, but it can be a bit of work getting them to fit with the game and also make internal sense. I’ve used stems and blossoms, where each segment of stem is part of a villainous plot, and the blossom is when a disaster becomes public. I’ve used the five fingers of doom, which is basically five grim portents and once they assemble, the hand of doom strikes. But I think everything still needs to be explained with plain language, so the flowery prose is just a garnish that helps make it interesting.

    Like, knots is good because it reflects the bullet points in grim portents and countdowns. You could play with phrases like loosing a knot i.e. letting it loose in the world, for when it goes from notes to a reality in the fiction. And when the PCs snip the threat, all existing knots become impossible. The tapestry is a good metaphor for when threads and their knots interact with each other (and even fight with each other). And if none of that stuff works, at least you have the basic explanation so that people can still use the method, which is what really counts.

  12. Because I like the intrusion of metaphor and poetry into rules: snipping does indeed currently sound wrong. Like people have said, that sounds like forestalling a threat.

    But when you advance a thread, are you “following” it?

    The idea of a campaign of threads being a “tapestry” is lovely.

  13. Going to use this tonight to plan for my vanilla DW session tomorrow night. Maybe I’ll also use it for a FotF con game I’ve been considering running. Which brings up a good thread topic I’ll post elsewhere.

  14. Hi Jason Lutes. Ok, I tried to use Threads for my DW game yesterday. Here are some thoughts.

    Unfortunately, for my purposes yesterday, it seemed that it wasn’t going to be useful. This was the final episode of our long campaign, and I just needed to make sure the high notes were covered. Any interesting bits the party may have come up with would be deferred way down the line when/if we ever played in this world again.

    Starting at the high level. It doesn’t seem like Threads are exactly like a replacement for Fronts. The way I use Fronts (when I use them) is as a way to prepare for an upcoming session – in particular if I, as GM, have a specific idea or threat that I want to see happen in the course of a session, adventure, or campaign. This may or may not play off of something the players do; but always is something that I want to “find out what happens”.

    Threads, in contrast, seem like a way to formalize the process of taking something interesting given to me by the players and thinking it through to its logical conclusion.

    So, if you are taking recommendations: I would somehow have a paragraph or section on how to use both Threads and Fronts in a game. They seem complimentary, not exclusive of each other.

    That brings me to my 2nd point as I started to dig in. Every example you provide has the GM explicitly telling the players she is starting a thread. However in the actual text, you never call out that a GM should tell the players that she is starting a thread. Is that a rule that you want to have around threads? If so, I’d call it out.

    But – I’m not so sure that the GM should tell the players that she is starting a thread. A Thread seems like a GM Move, with a new trigger. “When the players do something interesting, start a Thread”. One of the rules of GM moves is to never actually speak the move; or even refer to the move happening. So it felt strange in the examples that the GM actually says “I am starting a thread”.

    Those are my thoughts. Overall, an intriguing idea, that I may use the next time during play.

  15. Late to the topic, I just discovered the forum, but… One of the things that I’ve really appreciated about your work, Jason Lutes, is the use of plain language when describing the system. So I’d say trust your gut, it’s been leading you on the right path so far. And as another option to consider – what about “pull a thread”? You are, as the Judge, pulling the thread closer to it’s end, those knots add a good grip. There is the “pulling the thread, watch the sweater unravel” angle which has its own TV trope tvtropes.org – Pull the Thread – TV Tropes . Incidentally, I’ve been using the word “plot” in my DW games, which works from the fiction angle, as well as the BBEG ‘plotting’ angle. I do like ‘threads’ though.

  16. Second the thread pulling. I’ve gotta say that it’s really refreshing to finally see someone explain Fronts at the most basic level. It seems to me that most PbtA games try to re-brand Fronts and tie them to setting specific elements, making an overcomplicated and restrictive hierarchy.

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