I’ve been trying to work out this “scale of peril” concept. In my mind, heroes face small perils on a daily basis — not every day mind you, but often enough, and in line with the chore of taking out the garbage. These revolve around their lifestyle, be they mighty warriors, cunning rogues, or wizened mages.

It could be that they’ve stockpiled such a quantity of magical knowledge that it seeps into the cracks and alleys and “infects” local strays and beggars with odd maladies. Maybe their status as legendary swordsman brings in challengers on a regular basis, or being “the ghost who walks” sends assassins of all colors and stripes knocking.

These kinds of events would tend to scale both with the character’s reputation, and with their relative power level. Generally, they would fall within a few levels of the character in question, though occasionally they’d get a challenge that exceeds their abilities. Such an encounter could well be the basis of a full-blown adventure.

Generally, however, these “daily perils” are just what the hero has to put up with in their downtime, which gives them something to do when they aren’t doing something that affects the fates of those around them — without affecting the fates of those around them. Sometimes things can get out of hand, … but usually not.

The part I see as difficult is creating an effective bridge between the two. Some bothersome things can get out of hand if ignored, and some big things can become less of a problem over time. For the most part though, you have your minor perils and your major perils, and you can easily distinguish between the two.

Now, when it comes to major perils, I see those on more of a weekly, or even monthly basis. And we still aren’t talking about end-of-the-world type stuff. Heroes who fight off the apocalypse just don’t appeal to me as much as what you might call the “working class hero.” They’re the ones who “sweat the small stuff.”

Not every hero graduates from fighting goblins and kobolds — some of them fight goblins and kobolds their whole lives, as average heroes of lesser fame. Someone has to leave behind a local legend to inspire new heroes, and you can bet that a lot of them were “average” heroes. Not that they’re any less heroes than the big names.

Once-in-a-lifetime quests crop up from time to time, and those are the quests that really test a hero’s mettle. Maybe they have what it takes … but usually not. How many heroes fail the quest before even one of them succeeds? I want to tell the story of the heroes that don’t make the cut, the ones who fall short of becoming legends.