So, a couple of thoughts here:
In 5 Sessions there has only been 1 Job? On one hand, this is great! There is a sometimes, but not always, “problematic” approach to FitD games where every session must to be a Score. It’s a really good habit to let sessions breathe and let Scores develop and begin whenever necessary and not feel forced to make every session a Job.
That said, 5 Sessions and 1 Job to me seems like:
- The Job itself is probably going on for way too long
- There is so much time spent outside of a Job (which is fine!), but this has a catch 22 that the Players don’t have the resources to Indulge their Vice. It’s totally fine (and great!) that y’all are (hopefully) sticking to a fiction first mentality: follow the fiction and bring the appropriate mechanics to bear. It is totally fine to make Action Rolls and earn Stress while not being on a Job! However, when you don’t have Jobs- you don’t get the fictional positioning for 2 Free Downtime Actions and you don’t easily have Cred for Extra DTAs!
So if the Stress Accumulation is from Point 1, then the solution is quite simple: Try to tighten the focus of the Job. A Job doesn’t have to fit nicely into 1 Session, but most probably will. Go a little easier on the number of obstacles. Try to “zoom out” a little more and get a little less granular if you’re getting into the nitty gritty of each nook and cranny for a Job.
If it is because of Problem 2, try to focus the group a little bit on trying to settle on some Jobs. Again, not every Session has to have a Job, but going 5 Sessions with only 1 Job is a bit much. It may also be beneficial to remind them of Debt as a mechanic in the game if they aren’t big on doing frequent Jobs but need cash for their Vice. I’m not sure if it is the intent of the rules, but while it seems earning Debt is similar to “Acquiring an Asset” I don’t make it cost a Downtime Action, I let them go into Debt whenever the hell they want.
Engaging With the Mechanics Too Much
This is a problem I see in more “traditional” PbtA games. One of two things happen:
- Players are advancing way to quickly because you often get XP on a miss in many “traditional” PbtA games
- GMs are struggling to think of problems when players roll a 9 or less
Realistically, what is actually happening is that GMs (or perhaps even the table as a whole) are calling to use the mechanics way more than they are needed.
You need to ask yourself if you are really playing Fiction First… is the fictional approach in the game really triggering a mechanical support structure? If so… which one? Because unless it is an Action Roll (which can lead to a Resistance Roll), Stress isn’t a concern (as you can’t use Stress on Fortune Rolls which themselves don’t have “Consequences” that can be Resisted).
The more Action Rolls being called for (possibly unnecessarily), the more the Stress can rack up.
Be very conscientious about what mechanics you are bringing to bear in order to support the fiction. Not everything the players do will warrant a dice roll.
Fall in Love With Consequences
As has already been mentioned, there is a chance that the players are Resisting almost every time and they don’t need to! Reinforce the Players Best Practices. The players will get so much more out of the game if they accept that Consequences are okay and not every single one needs to be resisted.
On that same note, the “end of the character” should be okay with them as well. Everyone should keep that Best Practice of “Hold on Lightly.” Not every character’s story will be fully explored or get wrapped up in a satisfactory bow and that is okay.
Games like Blades and S&V are- in the long run- about the nature of the Crew and not any one individual character. On the Session to Session basis, sure- we care about those Characters and it is nice to see them evolve and learn more about them… but we ought to all “Hold on Lightly” and collectively “Play to Find Out” what happens next. Treat the characters like a Stolen Car and you will get so much more out of the game that way.
Hope that helps and hope that makes sense.