Band of Blades AMA


(Stras) #21

@Duan rad :slight_smile: If you want to post about your game at some point, I’d love to hear about it.


(Duan Bailey) #22

It sure does! I can’t wait to see what you do with them. That does raise another question, though: in subsequent campaigns, do you add additional Chosen (and/or Broken) to the existing Legion, or do you only ever have one Chosen / 2 Broken at a time?

Right, I must have heard it on the actual play you did last time. As is becoming a running theme, I’m always up for more lore/options so I’ll keep my eye out for Alice’s work.

Thanks for this answer, but especially for this. I really like learning how people design and how they put some of themselves into their designs. I didn’t get all the references but I appreciate that they helped to make the game feel more full, even though you really just get a brief sketch of the world - at least in the quickstart.

Was studying these things what caused the last Emperor to be killed by a Chosen? Does it have to do with granting immortality in general, or undeath in specific, or is it more encompassing than that?

Thanks again for all the answers :slight_smile:


(Mr Hollins) #23

Hi Stras! I have really enjoyed reading Band of Blades and I cannot wait to see the final version.

One thing I’ve noticed about both Scum & Villainy and Band of Blades is that you like giving playbooks equipment where the use isn’t immediately obvious or isn’t spelled out in the description. Sometimes these are obviously just for character development such as the Mystic or Speaker’s Mementos where they take up 0 load and just represent something from their past. Sometimes they are fine items that aren’t immediately useful such as the Scoundrel’s Fine Coat but you could guess at a situation where they might come in handy. Sometimes they are incredibly useful 0 point Fine techniques such as the Stitch’s Fine Bedside Manner or the Muscle’s Fine Martial Arts Style.

And sometimes they are 100% inscrutable! You have given all Rookies in Band of Blades a “Naive Sense of Hope”. I love this! But I have no idea how I would treat it mechanically. Could it be used as armor like a Ghostbane Charm in Blades in the Dark? Should I destroy it as the GM when I think a Rookie has had a particularly harrowing experience? What do you see these types of equipment as being used for mechanically?

Similarly, what is the point of putting something abstract and ephemeral like a Fine Bedside Manner or Fine Martial Arts as equipment? Is this just a way of getting an extra “power” into a character through the equipment sheet? Could you “lose” a Fine Martial Art? One common consequence I like to inflict in Forged in the Dark games is equipment loss, which doesn’t seem really appropriate here.


(Justin (He/Him)) #24

Not an official answer to your question, I know, but I personally love those choices of gear. They make for really interesting arguments/discussions at the table.

“I really feel my ‘naive sense of hope’ should give me extra effect here!”


#25

I’ll be interested in hearing the official answer, too! On first thought, I’d consider letting the Rookie use it like Armor and allow them to resist an appropriate consequence. I haven’t thought yet if it would be a one-time use or if they could use it again in future missions. :wink:


(Stras) #26

@Duan those hot questions :slight_smile: Let’s do this.

Q1. In the second campaign maybe not, but if we ever make it to the eastern kingdoms there are fronts and theaters of war. Your Chosen leaves you and you fight under whomever runs that particular area, and against whomever is there on the Cinder King’s side. That’s the short answer ^_~ But I hope it whets your appetite.

Q4. Yes. The first and the second are somewhat related. It’s more encompassing, but at this point you might have to wait to find out pieces you’re missing to put the whole picture together ^_~ (But I dunno, you guess pretty well).


(Stras) #27

@Udanchik We do!

Let’s talk about gear! Sometimes, gear is a thing you need in order to function. Like a Heavy probably needs a serious shield and armor right? You give people those things so they can do their jobs, or so they can be better than the common person at their job. You’re not going to hire a Mechanic in SaV to hack on a job, when they don’t have a decent hacking rig. So you give most characters functional gear.

Some character classes are really gear dependent. You can’t be a good muscle without some weapons. So we often have more ideas for their gear than we have room for (we had to cut a couple).

But sometimes you have classes like the Mystic, who don’t depend on their gear. You can MANUFACTURE gear (like focus crystals or some nonsense) but that’s adding gear where it’s neither genre appropriate (yes, clearly Pa’u Zolta Zhann can’t function with 30 griblies that give +10 to some skill or another >_>) nor necessary. However playbook design has these spaces that you don’t want to feel are empty. So let’s talk about the OTHER thing gear does.

We have to communicate setting and character to players in an INCREDIBLY short amount of space. Things like Forgotten Realms bypass this by having 30 novels, and tomes full of world detail that are the size of encyclopedias. We have some genre constraints and references. How do you paint a world in 7 lines with roughly 54 characters per line? A bunch of our decisions are incredibly space constrained (and let me tell you often that’s a challenge).

So what does a typical scoundrel LOOK like? What makes a Rookie a Rookie? Gear is INCREDIBLY flexible. It can be a concept, it can be a skill. It’s painting a world, and what an individual in that world looks and acts like. Mystics have offerings, and simple robes frequently. It says what they look like (they’re not nobles, they’re not dressed in finery) and what they value (not usually the physical) which is a way we can communicate tropes, even if the gear doesn’t actively do much in say a fight.

Finally, you have to realize that designers are not these deep introspective people who change one letter and nod because it speaks to the deep meaning of society. We’re goofballs who love games. We make jokes and have fun. I think our first pass on the Muscle had a weapon in every gear slot, and a weapon in every friend slot. We laughed so very hard, but it was enough for a first playtest. We throw out stuff and polish stuff as we go, but sometimes touches of these jokes remain (see the handgun which is in the friends column).

Sometimes it’s not there for a specific mechanical reason. Sometimes “naive hope” is there because it tells you who a rookie is. And because when they let their friend die in order to survive themselves, all our hearts break when the GM tells them to cross out that line permanently on their sheet. And that’s a powerful moment, without it being special armor, or adding quality to a roll. And we don’t think that removing it for another gun (or worse nothing) is worth it.

Maybe you agree :slight_smile: And if not … … well I often say I design games for me and my table. If others happen to like them GREAT!

I will say though, hearing people rise to the challenge, and use gear that wasn’t obvious is usually a great story though.

@Dissonance We have done this in Pc v Pc arguments, where a rookie tells a commander they LITERALLY refuse to give up hope, and abandon people.

@andurion That’s a cool house-rule.

NOTE: Thanks to everyone chattin’ it up and giving likes to the good questions above :slight_smile: This whole thread’s been super fun.


(Scott) #28

Naive sence of hope is a great set up for a devils bargain or action consequence.


(Duan Bailey) #29

Okay, some questions on Mythology!

  1. Will we ever get more information on the Bartan pantheon? What’s the deal with the blue-skinned goddess?

  2. Will we ever see more information on the Living God? To be clear, it is one entity that happens to Choose multiples at any one time?

  3. Are the Orite gods of civilization all responsible for alchemy, or does that “belong” to only one of them? Will destroying Blighter cleanse alchemy or is it more complicated than that?

  4. Where do the supernatural threats come from? What do the citizens of the world think?

  5. A single God Choosing multiples is rare (which is why it’s noted as unusual that the Living God does it). Is this a hard limit, or just usually not a good idea. Does this speak to the Living God’s power, or overconfidence, or something else altogether?


(Stras) #30

What’s up Duan!

  1. Yes. Third campaign. Assuming you survive you’ll descend into Barta. One of the goals of the game is to get the players to detail what their versions of the kingdoms and their cultures are like … but we’ll do broad strokes kind of like we did with Aldermark in the core book and leave the rest to the tables. So there won’t be a 300-page world-book, but there will be some maps and helpful info to let your game detail more of those lands. That particular goddess has a Chosen ^_~ She was one of the nine that rode out, and unsurprisingly survived.

  2. Yes. It is one entity that Chose a multiple set, once. Though I’ll cheekily ask what you think the Broken are. It’s not dissimilar ^_~

  3. They all have “access” to it, though it’s source is tied to Blighter. One of them has closer ties to clockwork components. One refuses to Choose (don’t tell the Orites this, but I think they might be hiding ^_~).

  4. GOOD QUESTION. People just assume bad shit happens. Giant dragon? Who knows. Hopefully a Chosen will show up. Who can know how such things happen? There are no wizards to study magic. For us the players though—if you look long enough, and hard enough, every supernatural problem in the world can somehow be traced to the gods. Giant dragon? Probably a Chosen corpse rotting in a swamp that some alligator ate. Horrible curse? Eh, probably some earthquake shook it loose from some ancient god war.

  5. Something else. I will say nature. :slight_smile: There are some clues in the book, but this is a big spoiler, so I’m being a little cagey.


(sythmaster) #31

This amuses me in the sense that the gods are merely tech-support and mainly go “uhhhh, oops.” and then start a ticket to resolve said issue. lol. Which… I guess is kind of how most pantheons work, but an amusing change of pace with it.


(Stras) #32

The Legion fights for the Users. (That might be a deep cut sci-fi movie reference >_>)


(sythmaster) #33

CK might have CLU’d into that. :wink:


#34

Hello!

I’ve recently picked up BoB and I’m really enjoying the read, and looking eagerly forward to getting it to the table once I’ve finished digesting the book. As I’ve been digesting it, some questions have come up that I was hoping I might find answers to here. I’m on my second reading so far, having found the first a bit hard to process. I thought this time I’d keep track of my questions as I went.

(If at any time I sound more critical than “I effing love this book and can’t wait for more, but here are some bits I’m confused by,” that’s a result of poor word choice on my part, and neither intentional nor accurate).

  1. How closely are the Chosen/Broken supposed to be identified with their holy portfolio? The text mentions using Shreya and Blighter as a good choice for a campaign about “revenge.” Is that supposed to be because a Healer vs. a Flesh-blighter are particularly nasty towards one another because of their respective portfolios? Or is there something else playing a role here that I’ve missed so far? It wasn’t stated explicitly in the passage that recommended choosing Chosen-Broken pairings to support your theme, so I feel like I’m missing something.

  2. How does Blight work in play? There’s no entry on the page explaining Corruption, like in trauma, that involving these things in play is optional, but that doing so bags XP. Nor does it intuitively seem optional: I don’t see how you can escape consequences for having “divine power burn you.” That’s not just a matter of how you play the character. … but then, something like Rage is.

  3. What’s the design goal behind Corruption/Blight? To show how soldiers burn out? That staring into the darkness, etc. etc.? Isn’t that what Trauma Conditions do? How do I use this to its full intended effect? If it’s a metaphor, I guess I don’t get why it’s parallel to Trauma. If it’s just color, I don’t get why you don’t get XP for dragging it into play, and why it’s a mechanism for removing PCs from play. (Neither the Blight page nor the XP pg 68 mention Blight conditions triggering any XP gain)

  4. Mechanically, how does Blight build up? By which I mean,

You fill seven points of blight. You mark off one level of blight (say, patches of rotting flesh at level 1), and one condition (uh… let’s say, Rot?). Are these two related? I mean, if I choose Rot as my condition, but “Boils” as my level 1 blight, that means … ? Am I less rotty?

So, PC: Level 1 Blight, Rotting Flesh; B Condition, Rot.

You fill seven more points of blight. Here’s the question: what happens to my level 1 blight? I mean, does my “patches of rotten flesh” now increase to level 2 severity? So:
PC: Level 2 Blight, Rotting Flesh; B. Condition Rot, B. Condition Rage

(total of 2 levels of blight)

Or do they stay at level 1, and I add a new level 2 blight (“Claws”)?

PC: Level 1 Blight (Rotting Flesh), Level 2 Blight (Claws), B. Conditions Rot, Rage
(total of 3 levels of blight)

What’s the difference in having a Rotting Bits of Flesh blight vs. a Rotting Condition? Or do all your Blight bits have to be concordant with your Blight condition?

  1. There’s a couple different spots throughout the text that give variations on the description of “Threat”, but it’s never the whole shebang, and it gives different impressions of what Threat is and what it’s for:

–Pg 21 suggests using a Chosen’s Threat level as their die pool
–Pg 28 enemies give Corruption equal to Threat

Why do they have a Threat level rather than an Effect level? Is this to specifically distinguish their baseline effectiveness from the utilization of their Holy powers, which would add further Potency?

–Pg 42, the Effect one-pager, describes threat as 1/3 of Effect, alongside Scale and Potency. There’s a line in the sample text of “She’s outclassed in threat, so the effect of her blows will be limited.” I’m cool with leaning into the fiction here, but since it becomes mechanized later in the text, maybe that should be either discussed here, or a follow-up page mentioned?
–Pg 50, the Harm description, “your level of harm suffered is based on the difference in threat and scale.” Why only two out of the three components of Effect? Why not just the difference in Effect? It has a reference to pg 228 for follow-up.
Pg 104, the description for Panther-like Grace, makes an explicit reminder that it’s “the difference in Threat”.

–Pg 228 circles back to Effect Factors. Potency is described as being present or absent, although our black shot is specifically “1 point of potency”. Is it dichotomous or is it a quantity? If it’s dichotomous, how does that plug into Effect, which is otherwise a quantity (levels of scale, levels of threat)?

Here we have that differences in scale go into differences in Harm; as do differences in Threat. It would seem these just add up and we’ve got differences in Effect level (barring Dominant Factors)…? The sample text on pg 229 seems to support that; e.g., the Marchioness Rodano has back-up against the Chimera, and her possible harm is 2 to start, +1 for Threat, -1 for scale. In fact, Potency is the only factor not worked into the examples here, which otherwise all read as deltaScale + deltaThreat.

As I go through the text, I feel like Threat is used in different ways in different places, and at some points is interchangeable with Effect and at some points isn’t. This really makes it hard to digest.

  1. Pg 48 mentions relevant armor reducing Corruption taken, e.g., armor mitigating bites. This puts appropriate armor on a similar footing to reliquaries for potency. Is that intentional?

  2. “Also like harm, corruption is assessed in levels, where each level represents a point of damage on your corruption track. As a rule of thumb, an undead monster should deal as much corruption as its threat level. Level 1: exposed, gouged. Level 3: hexed, covered in ichor. Level 5: Touched directly by the Cinder King.”

I thought Corruption was like a Stress track. Here we are referring to it as damage. I’d think that was just a word choice issue, but then the actual values for Corruption include that the “direct touch of the Cinder King” is worth 5 points. Considering that’s not even enough to get you a level 1 blight - basically a bad Resist roll - but it’s a pretty hefty damage, that seems like… well, damage. I may be reading too much into the example, where I just assume that the direct efforts of the Cinder King would be devastatingly effective.

The character sheet only has a Trauma/Stress-like Corruption track, no Harm-like Corruption Track, so I take that to answer my question. My suspicion here is that the corruption scale is compressed downward, so that PCs don’t burn out too quickly. Am I right in that conclusion?

  1. The Harm section mentions non-physical harm that’s only effective in certain contexts, or only briefly. Is this supposed to be recorded in the Harm track and play a role in determining whether a PC dies? The section on non-physical harm doesn’t say, but I could see it going either way.

Thank you for your time, and for this great game,
-A


(Duan Bailey) #35

Probably a little bit because of their portfolios, but I suspect it also has to do with the fact that Shreya and Blighter were previously lovers before this whole Broken thing. I think you need to look at what theme each will bring to your particular story and there are probably multiple angles you can take - for example Shreya’s portfolio is all about healing and mercy but she’s utterly merciless to the undead. You could focus on the healing aspect and contrast with Blighter’s experiments where she twists bodies in experiments that are a mockery to medicine.

My players avoided corruption like the plague (heh) but I think its there to show the corrupting influence of the undead horde. You don’t just have to worry about the dehumanizing effects of war, but that the claws of that abomination over there might have literal evil coursing through it. I suspect the reason not to have xp triggers is to regulate xp gain. I guess a compromise would be to say that you can get xp if a blight OR a trauma comes into play, to cap it.

The blight track is a pacing method similar to the harm/Trauma track. Since you can’t take much harm before losing the character, its another lever to push on that is still a consequence to failed actions.

I would treat blight conditions as fictionally true things, so they could figure into consequences (“That’s a 1 on your sneak. Okay, you try to prowl through the enemy camp but that mouth on the side of your neck opens up and starts chanting curses at the top of - your lungs”) or fictional positioning. (“You can try talking to the merchant but he’s going to be freaked out by your tentacle. I think this a a desperate roll”)

I don’t think the blight level and the blight condition have to be related, but they could be (and maybe even usually are?). I think that if you can justify it in the narrative, go for it. If it makes it easier, think about what happens in the fiction, and what happens mechanically - they should be intertwined. Mechanically, all blight level is is a clock counting down to you losing your character. Mechanically, conditions are the effects that will actually change your gameplay. Narratively having boils or rotting skin will be more meaningful to the characters but only affect fictional positioning, I think.

As for threat, if you’re familiar with the base Blades in the Dark, it’s pretty much analogous to Tier. It encompasses a general level of competence/effectiveness as a shortcut and it can be modified (by fine implements, potency, etc). So it works as damage/harm level, difficult to overcome an obstacle, and so on. So you use Threat to help determine how much harm a soldier or enemy dishes out, how well they are able to defend themselves, and their general badassery.


(Duan Bailey) #36

Missed this one. In a narrative focused game like this, the description of the harm is actually important. If your harm is “Broken arm”, then when your rookie goes to climb that tree I’m going to make that a desperate action, and/or with reduced effect, as well as apply that -1 die penalty. If your rookie is just doing a scout in that he’s looking around the area, I might not apply any of those since he doesn’t need an arm to investigate. Does that make sense?


#37

Oh, I get how fictional positioning works. I just mean, like I said, how does this interact with the harm track in terms of PC death?

I try to lean into what game designers intend for their game, to try to get the most out of it. The designers here seem to want transient harmful fictional positioning to play out as part of their Harm mechanic rather than just be incorporated into your consideration of effect/positioning, so I’m trying to understand how it involves the Harm mechanic.

If I ignore the Harm mechanic, then it’s really just fictional positioning, and we wouldn’t treat it like Harm, right?


(Duan Bailey) #38

Sorry, I missed the part where you were asking about how transitory Harm interacts with PC death. I haven’t used that so I can’t say. Whoops :slight_smile:

The way I would play it would be that transitory harm might go away at the end of a “scene”, but if you took enough harm before it went away you would still die, yeah. Same with non-physical harm. I would say that the additional non-physical burden made it that much harder to shrug off/ overcome/ recover from this last hit.


(Stras) #39

Akrades,

First off welcome to the blades community! :slight_smile:

Second - this ama is for asking me questions about design, mythos, etc. You should probably post rules questions in a different thread rather than just tacking them on here.

But let me try and address your Q’s here.

  1. Duan covered it. Also go read the relationships at the end of each chosen section. They give you a good motivation and starting point.

  2. Blight’s pretty simple. Once you get it, you have it. It’s fictionally there. People will treat you differently. Rolls will be different. It’s not optional. It’s not your decision, much like wounds/death are not your decision. This is a physical factor, not a personality one. I don’t think Rage is optional. I believe “ever-present” covers that. You have it, it makes interactions fraught just as much as having an arm weakened through rot is. I’ll roll your XP Q into the next answer.

  3. You got blight right. Thematically (sort of from an art perspective) it represents the corruption of war, and how it twists people over time (though more specifically the touch of the gods meddling in the whole thing). Staring into the darkness etc etc. Battle-scars and so on. More concretely (ficitionally) it has to do with the Cinder King’s state (there’s story bits that will show up later). Trauma is about people getting the shakes, and how war might effect personalities. It’s tied into some real-life stuff. Blight is a straight up penalty. It’s like death (not optional, when you get that 4+ harm you die). The message isn’t “maybe if you join the cinder king you’d get XP” or “If being wounded sucks, you get XP”. It’s pretty clearly: Yo, this is bad. Incentivising it is… yikes. It’s really off brand for the message. You can choose how you go out. Do you blight out? Or do you resist and trauma out? It’s got a lot of fictional components (how does zora eat it with one of her powers? Why does Alanna hate it?) that can be tied into the mythos and how gods/chosen influence people both in concrete (blight) and religious senses. You should never want blight. It’s not a cookie. It’s just a cost of war.

  4. You get some corruption. You get blight (1). You pick a blight condition (Rot). You now have level 1 rot (small rotten patches appear on your skin, talk about it and figure out where and what they look like). You get more corruption. You get Blight 2. You take a blight condition (Anathema). You now have level 2 Anathema and Rot. Your lesions are large, there are probably whole sections of you necrotized. You smell. Reliquaries start to boil when close to you. Duan had some rad fictional position examples on this :slight_smile:

  5. If you’ve played Blades Threat is Quality (it influences effect, it’s clearly not effect). Since we have no Tiers, Threat wraps that concept of Tiers/Quality into one phrase far more usable at the table. Is that a two-skull or three-skulls opponent—is easy to parse and grok. When we tried using other terms people were confused. Haven’t had any trouble with the format (I’ll point out that we’ve had over 3-digits in sessions of playtests). When teaching you want to introduce a concept, then repeat it, then remind folks. Most people get the concept on 42 and get the details in the mission chapter, reminders in later examples (there’s a bunch of other educational stuff like keeping concepts in two page spreads etc). Scale (like Threat) is also scaling. Potency is basically advantage (+1). You can have it or not, but trying to mechanize “advantage” into tiers of advantage just gets clunky and weird. There’s no good fictional way to imagine it. People get “scary, scarrier, super-scary” monster levels, and they get “small, medium, large” group but “advantage … advantage-er … advantage-est?” is a lot harder to parse. It’s not concrete. If you want to work through an example (or five) to help clear it up, start a new thread and I’ll be happy to jump in ^_^

  6. If you don’t get bit, you don’t get corrupted. It’s a fictional thing. There’s no vector for the corruption to get into your body. If you get hit by a lightning-bolt summoned by Breaker, the reduction in damage isn’t going to effect corruption, reliquaries will. Same thing if you eat food that’s been treated by Blighter’s Alchemy. This is a “talk it out at your table” type problem.

  7. You’re reading too much into the example. You’re right on it being like a stress track.

  8. Duan is so fast on replies—and he covered this pretty well imo. If you take more damage before this damage expires … so do you! ^_^

Hope that helped.


#40

Sorry! I think of mechanics questions as design questions; I didn’t mean to crosspost. I’ll not fudge it in the future!

And thank you for taking the time to clarify and inform.