Coming up to what feels like the third act of my blades in the dark campaign where the crew is looking towards tier 3 as probably a retirement ending point, there are lots of story threads hanging waiting to be knotted together. A couple of things are happening:
- There are so many repercussions waiting to fall on the group that this is all I am using the entanglements for so I asked the group to swap out their special ability which allowed them to choose a specific entanglement as these were becoming quite heavily narratively specific.
- Some free scenes and repercussions are so big in act 3 of any story that they tend to take over from scores which are more of an act one and two structure. So I’m starting to think creatively about what constitutes as a score and about the players’ agency.
My question is whether anybody has found this same need and leaning towards reincorporation when the end of the campaigns is in sight, and if this has caused any complications in what constitutes a score?
The main issue is that when free scenes and entanglements expand to fill whole sessions and take up resources like stress and harm then the characters needs downtime but when is it allowed when they are not initiating clear “scores”?
The obvious definition is when the team decides on an objective with a payoff and follows through. Sometimes a player a missing from a session so only the partial group does a score and I could see this extended down to the point that one could have a single player score. Perhaps that extrapolates too much. But for the sake of argument if a single player can initiate a score, then an extended free scene that ends up with risk and resources been expended should be considered a score especially if there is a reasonable payoff or the chance of one.
We are just coming into this region so I am very much aware that blades in the dark is all about player agency so I am attempting to only set up hooks and mergers of story threads that will be engaging and to allow them to make choices but it feels like a slightly firmer hand is needed to tie things up at all - this definitely matches my experience of improv marathons where the first two acts (18 hours) can be setup to allow players to expand scenes and initiate plots as they wish but the last act (9 hours) is driven much more by the caller who sets up the scenes. And indeed the last few scenes will be by often quite didactic to insure a conclusion.
Perhaps there is no need for a conclusion in a blades in the dark campaign but when so much has been character-driven and introduced so many plot elements and fascinating characters with emotional ties to the players, it feels like it would be underwhelming to just finish on on a score (no matter how good a payoff) and leave most of the threads hanging. I’m not saying that everything has to be tied up in a neat bow but it would be good if at least something from each characters’ arc could be completed, and that needs more steering than in the early game.