Game Pitch: Blades in the Dark

So I’ve looked through Blades in the Dark (and, by extension, Scum & Villainy), and read some review (both positive and negative).

  • The mechanics sound awesome. As I find planning the attack/caper to be the boring part (or, rather, the part that takes me out of the RP too much), that part alone is a plus to me.
  • I read conflicting notes on the actual RP and character stuff – some reviewers seem to think it works awesomely against the rich setting, others seem to feel that it gets overwhelmed by the mechanics.
  • Playing crooks of various flavors isn’t necessarily a deal-killer to me. It depends on the tone – are we talking about Garth Ennis-style gutting someone and tying their entrails to a tree to see the hilarity when they try to stagger away, or just studied bad guys with little loyalty except to their own pockets and kinks like Thieves World, or about conflicted con artists like Hustle, or heroes-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-law like Firefly or something in-between. (It also depends on the length of the campaign.)

Specifically depending on that final question and what everyone else is comfortable with, I could be all-in or, at worst, let’s see how it turns out.

That was certainly my first impression in reading the descriptions. The character sheets posit folk who are a bit more vice-ful, but TPJ is a favorite here in this household (all three of us), so …

How about this as a tone: Steampunk Victorian Leverage. Because that’s my preferred tone for any sort of heist-related stuff.

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It’s not Steampunk per se but easily could be, and it’s potentially Victorian if you mess with it a bit, but…

“They say humans are the real monsters. I say that ‘monster’ is just a label we assign to the non-conforming or the dangerous.”

The Universal Consulting team is a close-knit group of supernatural creatures, who use their skills for their own purpose. Sometimes they help the downtrodden, while other times they commit a complex heist for their own ends.

  • The Mastermind: Niles Freund, an ancient Egyptian mummy. A priest while alive, he understands politics and planning at a high level. Undead and immortal, with assorted sorcerous abilities.
  • The Hitter: Siobhan Wagner, a werewolf. Able to control the change between human and wolf-creature. Mild healing factor and superior physical attributes, all greatly enhanced by the transformation.
  • The Hacker: Earl Kent, a ghost. May possess computers and devices, or even manipulate mechanical objects with psychokinesis. Able to enter the dreams of the living to learn their secrets.
  • The Grifter: Helen Brown, a vampire. A centuries-old double-dealer with mesmeric charm and a sensual side.
  • The Thief: Griffin Whalen, an invisible human. An accomplished cat burglar and second-story man who is permanently invisible thanks to a serum.
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Yeah, one could probably make that work.

(Something like that sounds triffic fun.)

I feel like this might come down to mechanics familiarity - example being Dogs in the Vineyard, which came off very intrusive and artificial the first time we tried it, and totally organic and natural the second time, several years later and with more weird games under our belt.

The reviews are good, but it help “helps” to know enough about the reviewer to know if they’re more a trad gamer or hippy indie gamer. (Helps, except then you have to know about all those damn gaming factions…)

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Blades strikes me as THE game to play something like Six of Crows, if you’re looking for a tonal example.

Or, if we set out to do it - The Palace Job.