What happens if you don't Dig for Leads?

From my reading of the Town chapter, it seems like players are expected to use Digging for Leads during the Town phase to set up their next adventure. What happens if a party doesn’t, and doesn’t have any information that might lead to another adventure? Are the Adventure Hooks at the end of the phase supposed to make sure there’s always a new adventure? If so, what’s the benefit of Digging for Leads? Is it just for following up on stuff you’ve already found (rumors, maps, etc.)?

I’m not sure what the official intent is, but I always treat Digging for Leads as a way to get extra information about the next thing to do. For example, I’ll tell my adventurers that they hear a rumor of new ruins being uncovered in the Westerlands. They don’t need to do anything for this information. Otherwise, we might hit the end of a Town Phase and have nothing to do. Depending on how much time I have to plan, I’ll sometimes give them multiple rumors to choose from.

If they want to know anything more specific, they’ll need to use the Digging for Leads options. I think this makes sense, as the various factors almost all refer to questions about a “place,” as if the PCs already have a place in mind.

The intent of Digging for Leads is to gain additional information about an adventure they already have some level of knowledge of - a rumor, name, or some other bit of information will suffice to start Digging. Digging for Leads is generally optional, unless the lead that they’ve been given to start with offers no clue as to where to begin. Knowing about a particular death trap, hidden treasure, secret entrance, or dangerous monster ahead of time can make a big difference over just stumbling in blind and hoping for the best.

You are correct in your interpretation of Adventure Hooks. By always having some new situation engage the party upon leaving town, there should always be at least one option available to them.

More often than not your party will come limping back to town without having fully explored or looted a dungeon, and if they decide to pursue another adventure rather than return it is an excellent opportunity to change the environment of the dungeon and introduce a new rumor about the consequences of the adventurers’ actions. This is an excellent way to both give a fresh experience to the players and make them feel like they’re in dynamic and interactive world. And maybe give them a second chance to find that precious treasure that was right under their noses the first time.

Additionally, it is often a good idea to have hooks to other adventures within a dungeon. Perhaps a map, letter, book, graffiti, organization of monsters, overheard conversation, curse, half of a powerful relic, object whose function must be uncovered, etc. provides a lead to some other location. Many of these things can arise as treasure or twists, and throwing in even one per adventure helps ensure that the party has meaningful choices when next they leave town. For a new group starting out, maybe try to ensure that a couple find their way into the players’ laps on their first outing so they feel like they have something to build upon.

With the above combined together, the adventurers should have an ever-growing number of leads to follow for adventures. My group has been on something like 6-8 adventures and have at least ten leads to pursue, with options generated from all of the above categories. On top of this, more enterprising players may even strike out from town toward unfamiliar regions in the hope that the wilds may provide them with unexpected adventure (spoiler: it generally does). Getting lost while foraging for supplies just after leaving town could evolve into discovering some dark and forlorn place just over the horizon that the locals dare not even talk about.

What Glory to the Short Folk said!

I love this community. Thanks, that’s awesome advice.

Shucks, thanks Hirram.

I’ve also left out the other town options for adventure hooks and leads.

Rumors table in the Tavern: As long as they’re willing to keep adding +1 Lifestyle they can line the bard’s pockets to hear something useful. Your Friends/Enemies/Mentors are always up to some kind of mischief…
Find Work: An adventure that actually promises treasure? Sign me up.
Go Visiting/Searching For Someone: Maybe a previous contact or someone you’ve heard of can provide you some fresh ideas on where to start Digging.