Addiction mechanics

I noticed that none of the drugs in the game have any “addiction” mechanic, unless it is your character’s vice. I’m debating adding powerful items and making one of the consequences “addiction.” But what can addiction be that will introduce interesting fiction? My first few attempted design were… very complex. Complex is not generally fun!

Just wondering if anyone has played with this kind of material. Thanks!

I feel the fiction would come with either securing more doses and the conflicts/scores that would result from that or attempting to free themselves from dependency.

The mechanics to push them in either direction don’t need to be complicated, a long-term project to free themselves with how addicted they are/drug potency determining segments or a score for some kind of counteragent. When they can’t get a dose before a score give them either filled stress boxes or a level of harm that is cleared automatically once they get a dose to represent the withdrawal symptoms, harm could also describe physical effects like the jitters for more flavour. As an aside I’d personally make a fortune roll with the tier/potency of the drug to determine if the pc gets addicted.

First, welcome to the community!

Second, thanks for the feedback. I particularly like your idea of a fortune roll to determine if someone gets addicted, afterall that can be resisted! My ideas were around creating addiction clocks and having drugs contribute to those clocks in proportion to how addictive they were and giving them an addiction point cost… yah… WAY too complex! Your fortune role proposal is drop dead simple and so very attractive.

Now I’ll riff on some of your other suggestions for something a bit more complex… still not sure if it is BETTER than your elegantly simple solution though!

A “Functioning addiction” 4-clock that gets one tick per tier of the drug when used. The clock goes down by one tick per score naturally. When the clock is filled the character has a functioning addiction and must get a fix via a downtime action or else take 2 stress, they also start a new 4 clock “Severe addiction.” To remove the functioning addiction requires a long term project or score.

Severe addiction follows the same pattern, but the stress cost is 4 when it is not satisfied.

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Thank you very much for the warm welcome and response. One of the things I love about Blades in the Dark is the clocks, a visible clock can be a great tool to direct players without railroading them as well as creating tension and the functioning addiction clock would be a clear example for the risk and reward balance of using the drug.

One thing I would suggest is again using a fortune roll to decide how many segments if any are filled rather than a set number, it may be the gambler in me but there’s always a certain thrill when the dice are rolled it adds to the drama of the moment and making it less predictable makes it harder to game. While there should be a strategic decision in using a potent drug by adding an element of randomness to the consequences depending on the player/character’s personality it will also affect how they use it, cautious ones will be more hesitant while reckless ones will trust more to their luck.

Ultimately though it’s how you and your table feel about the mechanics that matters, if when used they feel off and reduce the enjoyment of the game then it’s always ok to say there was a mistake take feedback and change them to work better for the group or even drop them.

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If you’re looking for a simple mechanic, how about starting an “Addicted” clock which, when filled, changes their vice to revolve around the substance they’ve been using? It may be pleasure, stupor, obligation (or if you want a totally focused thing, a new vice simply called Addiction), but the key is that it’s only indulgeable by using that substance?

The size of the clock is based on how addictive you think the drug is. Using the substance adds one tick, which is a side effect/consequence that can be resisted. Devil’s Bargains and normal roll consequences could add extra ticks at other times.

Easy, simple, stays within the scope the main rules.

If you want more nasty effects after addiction begins, start a new clock, like “the drug takes its toll.” When it fills (same rules as filling the original addiction clock), you figure out what that means. This could be different every time it fills, like “You wake to find all your coin is gone,” or “While you were on a bender, you beat up your key crew ally.”

Long-term projects could remove ticks from any of these clocks, or work to recover from/beat the addiction (change their vice to something else.)

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I would just use the Vice & Overindulging mechanics, honestly.
If a player wants their character to explore addiction in depth, it just makes sense for them to express that through the Vice they select.
Perhaps you could devise a “nastier” list of Overindulging consequences, and/or a possibility the player will have to roll randomly on it rather than choose?

I’m debating adding powerful items and making one of the consequences “addiction.”

This feels a bit too… DnDesque / weaselly to me. Because “addiction” is a long-term problem, and only a potential and quite vague one. While in the book, the consequences of special items tend to be pretty immediate.

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I hear you. I have a lot of D&D habits to undo!