I’m designing a PbtA game that has horror elements. Most of the design has come along nicely, but I’ve run aground on how to handle PCs running away from a threat. I’ve written and playtested many options, but they’ve all fallen flat one way or another. Any thoughts from all of you would be very much appreciated!
Ideally I’d like for such a scene to emulate chases in horror films—the protagonist runs here, runs there, hides in a closet, gets found, runs again, trips over something, sprains an ankle (of course), risks trying to temporarily disable the threat (e.g., with an improvised hairspray blowtorch), and finally gets away.
Assuming Apocalypse World as our baseline PbtA ruleset, how does the MC determine when the PC has escaped? What’s the timer? If there’s a countdown clock, what actions by the PC translate to ticks on the clock? If multiple PCs are trying to escape, or PCs and NPCs, how does that change the equation? What if they run away en masse versus breaking into groups? What if the escapees need to get to a safe place that’s far away versus just getting out of the house?
The easiest solution is a move like: on a 10+, you escape; on a 7–9, you escape with complications; and on a miss, you’re caught with no chance of escaping again. This is simple and direct, and it’s my fallback if nothing else works, but it’s too abrupt and not really what I want for this genre.
Have you MC’d a chase/escape scene like this or designed a ruleset to handle it? What works and what doesn’t?