One of my players just came at me with a suggestion so cool, I felt the need to share it with you all!
Last session, I described the present situation (read: fronts) in character to the players via their patron. The players elected to travel far south to investigate why the vital trade caravans were not arriving, and chose to leave the disappearances at a Lumber Camp for now.
One of the players won't be able to make it this week, and we really didn't want to play without him in the main story.
So, a player suggested this:
"Can we not play the normal troops the patron will dispatch to investigate the other Front instead?"
It. is. perfect.
So next week, the players will be playing a squad of regular soldiers (who are not NEARLY as potent as Heroes) using a custom playbook for said generic soldiers.
They can pick the skills each soldier has (they will likely play 2 each) and Play to Find Out what happens when people who are NOT demi-god-like larger-than-life soldiers confront unspeakable evil.
So, instead of advancing the front, revealing the portents etc. They get to watch up close, from the eyes of people who are definitely not Heroes, what happens.
Also, likely half the soldiers will get maimed, exsanguinated, or otherwise released from their moral coil.
We will keep the survivors (if any), replenish the fallen, and have the newly named "Doom Patrol" on hand for future absences.