IN BETWEEN SESSIONS
If you’re playing a story that goes for more than one session, take some time after each session to organize your thoughts. Write a few notes about the session you just played, so you can remember what happened. Then think of some characters, scenes, or problems you could introduce in the next session.
Like before, don’t plan too much! And definitely don’t plan further than the next session. The players, the rules, and the dice will always take the story in unexpected directions. Besides, most of the story should happen in real time with all the players.
When planning the next session, pay special attention to your “Story” sheet. Go through the Mystery questions and try to think of some possible answers for them. It's good to come up with more than one answer to each question. If one of your Mysteries is “What's in Professor Moody’s flask?”, you could say “It’s a healing draught, to help with his old wounds”, or you could say “It’s Polyjuice Potion, because he's someone else.”
If you can't think of any answers to a Mystery question, that's fine too! You and the players are smart enough to figure it out by the end of the story.
Don't get too attached to any of your answers. You might answer the question “Why was Snape muttering an incantation at the Quidditch match?” by saying “Because he was cursing Harry’s broom.” But if the players answer “Because he was blocking someone else from cursing Harry’s broom,” you should go with that answer.
However, if they say “Because he was cursing a Bludger,” and there were no rogue Bludgers in the game, that can't be the answer. Always go with the players’ answer unless it goes against something that already happened in the story.
Lastly, you should write down some Threats. Threats are things like “Voldemort is returning”, “Students are being petrified”, or “Everyone needs a date for the Yule Ball”. They're how you track the problems that the main characters face in the story.
The main characters might already know about a Threat, or they might discover it in a future session. When something strange or unexpected happens, it's usually because of a Threat. Threats can also be the answers to Mystery questions.
Threats can be big things, like “Dementors are loose in Hogwarts”, or small things, like “There’s a Potions exam next week”. As long as it puts something the characters care about at risk, it's a Threat.
Threats have four parts. First, a title. This is a short sentence that describes what the threat is, like “Sirius Black escaped from Azkaban”.
Second, a short list of the characters who are threatened and the characters who are doing the threatening. This usually includes all the main characters, but not always.
Third, what's at stake. This is what the main characters will lose if the threat wins, like “Harry’s life”.
And fourth, the threat’s next steps. You should always show signs that a Threat’s next steps are about to happen and give the main characters a chance to stop it. However, if they don't stop it, the Threat’s next steps will happen.
Make sure you update your Threats after every session. Any one of the four parts could have changed, depending on what happened in the story.
That’s it! You know everything you need to play the game and create your Hogwarts story. Make your moves, stick to your agenda and principles, and have fun!