Last week we talked about starting to plan an arc. We did this by defining three NPCs that will be key to the characters, and then defining three things about those characters to help figure out their goals and what it was exactly that they were going after.
The last step is more or less here now. We have our key characters, all that's left is to figure out what their opening moves are.
The Cleared Obstacle
If you remember back to the second day, one of the things we defined was why the character is able to make a move for their goal now when they couldn't before. You want to keep that in mind. Obviously, you also want to keep in mind what exactly it is the character wants.
The First Steps
The first steps is more than just the literal first thing. Consider it more "the plan as it starts." No plan survives contact with the PCs/enemy, but that doesn't mean it's not good to have one.
If a character's goal is to become King, and they've now got all the pieces in place to make that move, they should have a plan in place and you need to have that plan in mind at least.
Don't Consider the Other 2 NPCs
Unless for some reason an NPC already knows about the other 2 NPCs and what they're going for - or that they'll be acting against them - don't keep them in mind. This is the plan the NPC has not knowing about the other plans. This doesn't mean don't plan contingencies. If a character would have them, great. If not? don't make them.
Figure Out Where The Plans Intersect
Once you have all three plans, figure out how they intersect. These are going to be natural conflict points, and a great way to get the PCs involved. Also, they're going to be where the plans get thrown into chaos, contingencies come in, and the NPCs start to scramble to make things work. Up to here you need to have a solid idea what is going on. Past here, you don't need as much because it is going to change.
Three Ways It Can Go
Finally, you want three ways that intersection point can go. Your PCs may add more, but you want to have at least three ideas in mind.
Don't map them out too much. The idea here isn't to kill you with planning. The idea is to have 3 ideas very loosely sketched out in your mind so that if the situation starts to go that way you have some mental pathways already mapped out to run down.
Remember one of the key ideas from the lazy DM: the more time you put into planning something, the harder it is to throw away. So keep the planning light. You want sketches, not a super polished final work of art. Don't make anything you're not willing to throw away.