Natural disasters are tragic events, no matter how they’re spun. Many people have died due to tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, and other disasters throughout the course of time. That being said, these events are never something to be taken lightly in our day to day lives. In fiction, however, tragic events like this go a long way towards making the fantasy feel more grounded and realistic. From a GMs perspective, making the world as real as possible is usually the end goal for a longer campaign due to the level of investment from the players. This article will cover three reasons why a natural disaster (or pandemic) is a good late game addition to a story driven campaign.
With every campaign, a major struggle for the GM is to convince the players to take the world seriously. Players, myself included, tend to feel a high that comes from being an incredibly powerful creature. This high can lead to an unnatural recklessness and tendency to live separate from the world. If the GM introduces a city or a community that the characters have some sort of personal investment in, it will usually help the players to settle out quicker and become a bit more grounded with their decision making. The threat that anything might happen to these people becomes a very real and very close worry for the players at that point.
2. Pain of Loss
This one is a little dark, and can get deep if your players have personally lost family. Be sure to have a clear understanding of taboo topics before you throw one of these into your games! Assuming you have a group that is willing and able to deal with this topic, having an NPC that the players have a personal investment in be hurt or lost somehow can be a good way to gain the party’s emotional investment as well. More often than not, humans are creatures of emotion and the more emotionally invested we are in something the more likely we are to act on its behalf. Throwing a plague in the area of the team’s “home base” not only creates a clear, linear story, it also demands a personal investment in the protection of the area. +2 INT for the GM.
3. A Chance to Rebuild
After any plague or disaster hits, there needs to come a stage of rebuilding. Before we get too deep into this, we have to understand that those who help recover from a disaster are often hailed as heroes in the community that they assist. As a GM, the ultimate goal is to make your players feel like heroes! Do you see where I’m going with this? Allowing your players the choice to be the heroes in the story is the best test of character you have. Is your world real enough for them to love? Are they invested enough to earn the title of “hero”? You, as a GM, have done all you can to help them make the right choice and now it is all up to the players.
Thank you for reading this article! If you enjoyed it, please let us know by tweeting us @nblogcollective or @Skunkosourous! If you’d like to support us and what we do here, I encourage you to take a look at our Patreon page for more information. Thank you again for reading, and as always…