294 Applying Pressure/Tension

After last nights Mothership session, one of the players commented how the game plays to my horror narrative strengths, unlike dnd, where I was using madness in Out of the Abyss to little effect.
I think some of that has to do with how Mothership uses saving throws and stress to add tension to the game. Any fantasy rpgs do that well? I saw someone mention Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay which I’m not familiar with.

1 Like

@Roger does WHRGP facilitate this?

The third edition published adventures really support the tension track. They give suggestions of how long to build it and at what points to set what events along the track. For an easy example, during an investigation, set up a app slot track. Whenever they get a clue, move the tracker up. When they have enough clues, the endgame can start…whether the party is prepared or not. That means it’s also good to help remind everyone that stuff happens in the fantasy world whether the PCs take an active part in it or not.

Does that make sense, or am I merging too many ideas in one topic? :slight_smile:

I had fully planned on using it when I ran my next game, but since it turns out I’m running via Zoom instead of at the table, I don’t know how to set it up so the players can watch me advance it in reaction to what they do.


White House: thr role playing game?

Yeah, that makes sense. Thanks!

Catching up on some older episodes and the anecdote Brett mentioned where vampires are compelled to count things made this guy make a lot more sense (how did I miss this?)CountvonCount_Web_1024


Hello all, osrry it took so long to chime in on this one.

A nice way to quietly but visibly apply the pressure is with visible timekeeping.

I found the concept here at the AngryGM (It Cannot Be Seen, Cannot Be Smelt: Hacking Time in D&D | The Angry GM).

Scroll down to the “Time Pool” is you want the original article.
I find the “persona” in which he writes his articles a bit much (YMMV) - but I liked this idea.

Summary of how i use it: put a container out on the table.

  • Tell you players you’re going to check for an encounter 1/hour.
  • Anytime the characters do anything (search the room, check for secret doors, waste time debating choices in the middle of enemy territory, pick a lock) you add a die to the pool
  • Each die denotes that 10 minutes have passed (you hand wave this and assume some things take a few more minutes, some less)
  • Anytime you have 6 dice in the pool (representing an hour) - you pull them ALL out, roll them, and if a one comes up on any die - encounter/event/complication - whatever fits for the story or from your encounter table.
  • The generic system uses d6s for the pool - but if they are successfully sneaking about, add a d8 or a d10, if they are ransacking rooms and talking loudly as they wander about add a d4. Having a mix works.

There is more detail at the AngryGm site - I like its as it is a simple way to show that “time wasting” activities in the adventure can lead to complications.

You could use the same idea if you need pressure on a day by day basis. If the party is using downtime, and can’t decide what to do - use the time pool & set it to 1 dice per hour, or 1 per day - at a preset period roll the dice - a one comes up and their lives get complicated (maybe the penanggalan attack…)

I know we can just choose to decide when to goose the players, but having the visible mechanic puts the outcome in the hands of the dice gods and the players are less likely to whine that you are being a evil rat bastard GM.

(Which you are, or you would not be applying pressure - but they don’t need to know that do they…)



I realized the post below also applied to this thread…


Holy Crap @Rumble! I’ve never thought about that either. Man, I’m dense.