Knights of the Dinner table has interesting storylines with it, sometimes giving ideas for campaigns or encounters and other such developments, so it’s not surprising that my first point to talk on comes from them. The Kryton Principle.
Page 8 of Issue 42, ‘A Hack In Time Slays Nine’ has Weird Pete, the owner of ‘Weird Pete’s Games Pit’ converses with main character GM B.A Felton, who just told him that his players had killed an influential NPC and were now running roughshod over his plot. His comment is that the GM had forgotten a comment from their Hackmaster GM Survival Guide that states ‘A man with power, money, friends or enemies fills a void in the world around him. Remove that man from the world and a vacuum is created.’
The idea behind that principle is that a number of people would love to replace the NPC as being the big powerful hero or villain they are, plus people would like to stop anyone else from filling that role either. As well, there would be friends, family, or even servants who may wish to do something about the loss of this person.
You see this a lot in crime dramas where they look at wanting to use the little criminals to lead them back to the larger ones. Use the drug dealers to lead back to the suppliers so they can bust the suppliers, because if they just bust the dealer someone else will take their place. Same with taking out that dealer only to have someone else take their place.
How can you apply this to an in-game situation? For B.A.,. it was to have the various armies of the Gnome Titans and other power groups like the Circle of Sequestered Magick and the Dragon Council showing up for the Winter Summit that is taking place at this Lord Flataroy’s Mansion the players have been using as a base of operations. Soon enough, they realized that they were on the losing side of the battles that were coming and figured it was time to cut their losses and run.
Now, what does this principle mean with your game? Not only does it make a good example of Summon Bigger Fish when your players get out of control, or a way to make it so that when your players defeat one evil villain someone else picks up the slack or has some bigger and badder scheme. Maybe they were in cahoots, maybe it was just they realized their opening. Video games have this happening as a way to either increase the challenges in a single game, but usually as a way to sell more games. Your hero quests through, defeats a few small big bads, all related in some way, then the major big bad is destroyed, and peace exists for a while. Then sequel time comes out and hey, someone else wants a piece of the action. It can happen on the small-scale or large-scale, like taking out a few thieves in an area, someone else will expand territory, or take out a kingdom, someone else will expand uncontested. At least with examples like the last one, it is not always bad. Maybe Camelot is expanding into the valley that Lancelot and the other Knights of the Round Table just cleared of bandits, instead of Evil Count Malvoisin growing his slavery empire.
Hope the Principle gives you a few ideas of things you cam do, either as a policing method for your campaign if it gets out of track or a way you can make the stories you tell more interesting.