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Adam Minnie
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Adam Minnie

Discussion  - 
 
I'm curious why coin and hold gained from a successful score  are rolled as a single move/action
My other two recent questions about PC crew hold and NPC faction downtime actions circles back to the long thread by +Duamn Figueroa (https://plus.google.com/u/0/+DuamnFigueroa/posts/9NSHAivGdH1) about rewarding PCs for what they earn in terms of more chance for coin for particularly profitable scores.

These issues cause me to wonder if the coin + hold gained from development rolls are linked set values for design or balance reasons. Or, what if players could choose either to specifically pursue coin or hold at the expense of the other.

For instance, if we pull a score that was mainly intended to fill our coffers, why can't we have a full success give us 4 coin and 0 hold (or 3 coin and 1 hold) rather than 2 coin and 2 hold? Meanwhile, at other times your crew may choose scores that are almost completely meant to solidify your hold (such as whenever you raise your tier and reset to 1 hold): why couldn't the development roll grant extra hold in place of the coin you might also have earned?

While pg 5 of the QS (under "Gaining Hold") says that 1 hold is generally worth 1 coin, it looks like the development roll assumes hold may be more valuable than coin, or else perhaps gaining more than 2 hold from a single successful score would let the PCs' faction grow stable too quickly. While I expect asymmetry since PCs are cooler than NPCs, PCs could much more quickly grow their hold than NPC factions (elaborated in my NPC downtime action question on a separate thread).

Question part B) So then I wonder: Why are coin and hold linked in a single development roll (other than for simplicity, elegance)? I can see plenty of legitimate reasons why hold could be gained dependent on crew effects other than Resources. Sure Resources elegantly explains how much of our coin we retain after all our expenses etc, but why can't we leverage our gangs or our morale help strengthen our hold? Even transport could work if you spend time establishing vigilant and well-supplied patrols of your turf or invest in smuggling fleets, or investing in a better lair could believably enhance hold.

Since getting 1 entanglement always happens no matter what, why not separate coin and hold gained into 2 similar but separate development moves,  perhaps called Profit (coin) and Development (hold)?
2
Nathan Roberts's profile photoJohn Harper's profile photo
5 comments
 
Yeah, good point, Noofy. I'll have examples for that stuff in the full game.
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Adam Minnie

Discussion  - 
 #PC
 
I had 3 semi-connected questions about PCs' hold, NPC faction downtime actions (pacing and targeting the PCs' crew), and why development rolls combine profit and hold together, but I'll divide them into separate threads for more clarity of discussion.

PC Crew Losing Hold
Other than occasionally on entanglements, and optionally to gain additional downtime phases, how else does the PC crew lose hold? Could losing hold result from a nasty Devil's Bargain (the QS suggests stress or heat, but not hold)? Could the PC crew lose hold as a result of NPC faction downtime actions?
1
Adam McConnaughey's profile photoDaniel Helman's profile photoJohn Harper's profile photo
3 comments
 
You can offer a loss of hold as a DB, yes.

NPC downtime actions can reduce PC hold (see page 20).
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This may be a silly question, but why are there hexes/circles in the center of the faction countdown clocks in the Scenario page of the QS? Does that signify something to check off once they actually complete that objective? Or is it just decorative?
1
George Pitre's profile photoMike Underwood's profile photoOliver Granger (watergoesred)'s profile photoBrad Elliott's profile photo
4 comments
 
As did I - my assumption was that they're countdown clocks for the specific goal each faction is trying to achieve. With the opposed faction clocks, the completion of the one means that the other faction has broken up and its members either dead or fled.
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Adam Minnie

Hacks and Add Ons  - 
 
In case anyone wants to play BitD in Fallen London, a gothic, industrial fantasy setting very much like Duskwall, but with a bit more levity: http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com

Blades in the Neathy Dark:
Welcome, delicious friend.

Since a great deal of Fallen London's appeal lies precisely in discovering what the blazes is going on in the setting, detailed knowledge of the following and therefore your use of them depend on how much of the game (or spoilers) you have encountered. Likewise, I am probably missing plenty, since I doubt I have seen even half.

Factions (sorted by tier and then hold rather than by type)
Masters of the Bazaar IV-10

The Constables III-9
Hell/Devils III-8
The Duchess (and the Court) III-7
The Great Game III-6
Society III-5
Criminals III-4
Bohemians III-4
The Church III-4

New Newgate Prison II-8
Velocipede Squad II-8
Unterzee Zailors II-7
Dockers II-6
The Relickers II-6
Secret vendors II-5
Ambitious Journalists II-4
Clay Men II-4
The University II-4
Rats II-3
Tomb-Colonists II-2

Black Ribbon Society I-7
Unfinished Men I-7
Mr. Inch’s Hunters of Dangerous Prey I-5
Revolutionaries I-4
The Fisher King I-3
Urchins I-3
Rubbery Men I-2

Story-ripe Locations
Watchmakers Hill
Wolfstack Docks
Labyrinth of Tigers
Ladybones Road
The Forgotten Quarter
The University
Veilgarden
The Shuttered Palace
Empress’ Court
Spite
The Flit
Mahogany Hall
House of Chimes
The Echo Bazaar
Mrs Plenty's Most Distracting Carnival
Broad Unterzee (including various islands)
Tomb Colonies

The Mirror Marches
Royal Bethlehem Hotel

A fun additional tidbit: Fallen London's main stats of Dangerous, Watchful, Shadowy, Persuasive equate swimmingly with BitD's action categories: Blade, Book, Cloak, Mask respectively. That doesn't equate to any mechanical significance, it just informs the approaches and emphases of various factions and locations.
A web-based game of exotic greed and villainy.
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John Harper's profile photoAdam Minnie's profile photoJon Cole's profile photoIvan Vaghi's profile photo
8 comments
 
Thinking more about Fallen London, I was appreciating the varied currencies in the setting. While they basically equate to various forms of story-grinding in the original game, in BitD it might make scores much more interesting if you're stealing various options among the following, rather than just coin or generic expensive stuff:

Secrets/gossip, blackmail, souls, valuable wines, rostygold, amber, moon pearls, Nevercold brass, relics from the previous cities, infernal contracts, rats-on-a-string, candle stubs, memories, map portions, glim, secluded addresses, passwords, mysteries of the elder continent, favours in high places, prisoner's honey, romantic notions, rag scraps, primordial shrieks, etc.
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Adam Minnie

Discussion  - 
 
Maybe a silly question: Does the Connected upgrade on the Hawker's crew sheet just reduce Wanted level one time when taken? I'm guessing it can only be taken once since there's only one tick box?
1
John Harper's profile photoAdam Minnie's profile photo
2 comments
 
One time when taken makes sense.

Reducing it once when taken is already permanent in the sense that gaining Wanted is also permanent except through this advance.

If it lowered your Wanted cap, there seem to be two outcomes: If Wanted is like Trauma in that when it's full your crew has to retire/fold, then lowering your wanted cap would be a bad thing. I don't see that Wanted works that way though, in which case, you just would never be able to be at Wanted level 4.

That makes me wonder both 1) does anything mechanical happen to crews after they max out their heat with Wanted 4, and 2) What if the Connected crew upgrade instead affected heat gained per score or Heat reduction rolls?
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Adam Minnie

Hacks and Add Ons  - 
 
Not really a hack, just a recognition:
All the Assassin's Creed games are basically Blades in the Dark stories starting with the Templars as a Tier IV, Hold 9 faction at the top, various era-appropriate groups in the middle, and a solo Hound at the bottom that builds a Brotherhood Crew against the man. (Rogue just has Assassins at the top.)

The outward similarity yet ideological opposition of the Assassins and Templars makes me think that discovering and refining the nuanced ideologies of the various factions will probably be one of the more compelling parts of Blades in the Dark for me. Every gang pulls scores, but the details of why is what keeps them separate and competing.
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Dan Hall's profile photohari capra's profile photo
2 comments
 
Great words there: " Every gang pulls scores, but the details of why is what keeps them separate and competing."
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Question about NPC Faction Downtime Actions (pacing and targeting the PC crew)

Pg 20 of the QS says that for each downtime phase, NPC factions both advance their agenda clocks, and can do their own downtime action. What is the difference between planning an operation and executing it? By which I mean, do factions have to spend a downtime action to plan an operation first before they execute it? If so, then in order for Faction A to reduce Faction B's hold by -1, they would need to invest 4 downtime actions: plan to make B vulnerable; execute operation; plan to reduce hold of that now-vulnerable B; execute operation. Am I reading that correctly?

Question Part b) Is there any reason NPC factions can't execute operations similarly against the PC crew to reduce their hold or make them vulnerable? Does executing operations against the PC's work differently? I would guess the PCs can and would resist and play out such operations, rather than just returning to their turf to see trouble has befallen them and thus their hold is reduced. With regard to the PC crew, the concept of "vulnerable" as used in the Faction Downtime action list is maybe too vague. If another faction has succeeded on an operation to make the PC crew vulnerable, what would it take in play to end that vulnerable condition? Does the answer to that question always depend solely on narrative context?

The following thread of questions by +Chris Boyd raised the issue of the value of a downtime phase in terms of coin, but if NPC factions can pull off operations that easily reduce the PC crew's hold, then each phase of downtime becomes much more valuable, and therefore spending hold for another downtime phase may be sufficient (but spending coin is still rather cheap): https://plus.google.com/u/0/114451952512667903737/posts/idLkBSdb2EA
1
Dan Hall's profile photoDaniel Helman's profile photoJohn Harper's profile photoAdam Minnie's profile photo
6 comments
 
Great thanks for the responses. These are what I was hoping would be the best tack.
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Adam Minnie

Discussion  - 
 
Shifting My Mindset: The Tale of the Unreliable Narrators
In trying to 1) truly give power to players to call for rolls and actions and 2) use clocks to record narrative efforts rather than challenges presented to the players, as I think the game intends, I am finding I must restructure my mindset to more of the following (which is refreshingly different from most other games I'm used to):

In my gaming group, I am GM, but we are all telling the story of what happens when this crew tries to rise to the top. However, we are also all unreliable narrators.

As a result of our unreliability as narrators, the actual events of the scoundrels' story are often quite different than how we initially tell it. With the dice, and through play, we find out how the story really goes. Are we really playing a metagame of the retired scoundrels sitting around reminiscing about the tales of their attempted rise to glory? Perhaps not, since that implies everyone lives.

So in practice, as GM, I set scenes. Players narrate the PCs doing things, impacting the world. Whenever the PCs face challenges or threats, I as GM can stop them and say "Wait a minute, tell it right, it wasn't so clean and easy. You can't forget the dogs." I then describe whatever outcome of the threat seems natural, reasonable, and interesting: The PCs get face-gnawed by electroplasmically enhanced canines; or they set off alarms, get shot, drop the haul, kill their witness before he spills the beans, overpay on their debts or vice, fall head-over-heels in lustful folly, trash their fancy clothes, get tossed in Ironhook, etc. This is just like the rules' example of the GM saying, basically, "The Unseen warned you not to meddle with their shipment. They firebomb your lair while you sleep. You wake up choking on thick smoke and trapped in by collapsing, blazing timbers. You roast your arms trying inneffectively to pry your way free, and soon after die ingloriously."

Whenever players don't want things to happen as indicated, they may "call for a roll" appropriate to their rationale for what really happened. They say, "No way, I would never let my gorgeous face be chewed by those wimpy mutts. Sure they pounced, but I laid them all out cold with my bare hands before any of them so much as yipped." Another player says, "Well, you actually took about a whole 10 minutes to tussle them into submission, but lucky for you, I had formerly made a deal with the local spirit to dampen all the havoc you were raising. (Flashback)" "Oh yeah, right. Thanks for that."

The Teamwork mechanics also seem to reinforce this mindset of authority bouncing among unreliable narrators. I say my piece then pass point (the narrator baton) to someone else. Other players, including the GM may (and likely will) change my story as needed, with backp actions, flashbacks, obstacles, or devil's bargains.

+John Harper has said a number of times that this game is a conversation, but what is key about saying that (to get my mind right about it at least) is recognizing that it's a conversation among unreliable narrators mutually discovering what "really happened" through collective iterative narration and correction. That is why I as GM don't need to call for rolls and don't need NPC stats of any kind; I just need to state feasible and enjoyable outcomes and the other players can decide if they accept my take on the story or object. Players can also simply state outcomes similarly, but I may object or dice may indicate there is still more to discover of what really happened.

Conclusion
This perspective of playing as a troupe of unreliable narrators is likely not new or surprising to many of you, since it may in fact be the core of what makes something a "story game." Nevertheless, while I have many gaming influences, this game seems to demand an exciting mindset that is not quite like any of those to which I'm accustomed. Therefore, I thought I'd share in case this musing on mindset might benefit others in a similar situation.
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Michael Prescott's profile photoAdam Minnie's profile photoJeffry Crews's profile photoRichard Robertson's profile photo
7 comments
 
+Misha Polonsky +Patrick S. 
Yeah, this is a brilliant perspective!  Thanks so much for taking the time to share it so thoroughly!
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Adam Minnie

Actual Play Reports  - 
 
I'll be running a game with a Cult crew type on Monday. Has anybody else run a Cult? Did you use the Quick Start scenerio as is or modify some things?

I'm considering giving the Red Sashes a ritualist flavor (intertwined with their fighting styles) so there are more immediate supernatural or ideological connections for the crew, but otherwise keeping to the basic QS setup to see what happens.
4
Jennifer Fuss's profile photoJohn Harper's profile photoAdam Minnie's profile photoStras Acimovic's profile photo
12 comments
 
I want to add just one bit of food for thought.

We played a zero whisper cult game last Wed. Namely you'll note the cult starts with Adepts. We played non-mystics who were chosen, and the cult provided our magical backup.

Wards on the enemy's area? No problem. Our adepts are here, I clear the guards and motion Kira (adept cult leader) over who then uses the Gangs background as my effect die.

The cult is super flexible. You can totally run it like you're the muscle arm of a religious group. Remember that in the original thief the Hammerites (Machinists in 2) and the Pagans were totally cults. Make the flavor suit your game. 

I expect you'll have a blast (please write up an AP report here) and hope the random ideas helped! ^_^
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Adam Minnie

Discussion  - 
 
My lingering question when considering 's underwater temple scenario (in this thread: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+DuamnFigueroa/posts/9NSHAivGdH1) is that all the effort of a multi-score endeavor doesn't specifically move you toward raising your tier, though it does give plenty of coin and xp. That makes me wonder, though, if it is actually too easy to "raise your tier by doing a job for a higher tier faction with whom you have +3 relationship"?

I've not run the game, but on my first read-through I must have glossed over that option and therefore got the impression that the faction tiers are zero-sum slots that you can only get into if you knock someone out first. I can see how a 0-sum game on each tier could be problematic due to factions bouncing up and down all the time and leaving vaguaries for what happened to their 'slot'. 

Nevertheless, I found some appeal in the tone of making and then competing to fill power vacuums. I suppose still mostly works with the option or raising tier by exploiting a higher vulnerable faction. That clause still makes it valuable to help Faction A whittle down Faction B until you can swoop in and make the best of B's weakness (while probably burning some bridges with A)
1
Jeff Johnston's profile photoJames Stuart's profile photoAdam Minnie's profile photoOliver Granger (watergoesred)'s profile photo
9 comments
 
Great ideas here
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Adam Minnie

Discussion  - 
 
I'd love to hear from anybody who tries BitD via play-by-post. It's likely too soon, but I'll be curious what works well or less well.

Possible Pros: Since players choose positions/actions/effects, I can see that being a smoother asynchronous conversation than waiting for GM to call for specific rolls and then spell out outcomes. Tracking character and crew stats, advancement, and upgrades should be no trouble.

Possible Cons: Soliciting devil's bargains may be slower than at a table, but also likely juicier since everyone has more time to consider good options. Likewise, negotiating how to pass point will likely slow down new teams until they can trust each other to pass point to strategic players without negotiating.

What else?
1
Kevin Tompos's profile photoJennifer Fuss's profile photo
2 comments
 
The devil's bargains could be done in an OOC stream parallel to the actual play, probably being mixed in with the rest of the OOC banter? ^^;
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As far as the QS goes, heritages don't have any mechanical effects right?
Backgrounds can boost Actions and Fine items can boost Effects, but heritage appears primarily narrative (and powerfully so).
2
John Harper's profile photoDuamn Figueroa's profile photo
2 comments
 
One the things we discussed after the second group of playtest: I believed that it served as a narrative background that would let the players introduce new elements into play or try to take advantages during a test (my parents were miners, I can navigate the abandoned mines under the manor). But then one of the players talked about the idea of factions going after the character's family. 
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Imaginator, explorer, and synergizer in God's spoken world
Introduction
Put me in circles about: Digital art, tabletop gaming, game design, rpg hacking/re-skinning, GMing, digital tools for tabletop rpgs, expanding imagination/creativity, blogging, writing/editing, exploring (travel, learning, experimenting), appreciating beauty (food, drink, nature, bizarre critters), higher education, interdisciplinary collaboration, MLIS/Information Science, human development, humanities (literature, history, philosophy), theology, dance, marriage, parenting, Jonathan Edwards, dubstep, acoustic music, quantum physics, How Things Work, languages/linguistics, metaphor.

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