Band Of Blades Simplified Rule List for review

I ran my first session of Band of Blades and ended up with a bunch of notes of what I didn’t understand. So going through the various forums and the rulebook I put together this list of rules as a kinda cheat sheet of how it all works. Have I got the rules right?

BAND OF BLADES RULES SIMPLIFIED

Remember to play Fiction First. Not everything a character does warrants a dice roll. Is it Risky and Uncertain? Action Roll. Is it just Uncertain, but no Risk? Fortune Roll. Are they reducing the severity of a Consequence? Resistance Roll. If it ain’t any one of those… it probably isn’t triggering a mechanic!

TOPICS

ROLLING DICE

You will roll 1 or more dice. Take the highest die result. The result of your roll is based on your position (aka how dangerous the situation is) and the effect (How well a success will affect the situation).

1-3, you fail and there is a consequence
4-5, You succeed but there is also a consequence
6, you succeed and avoid any consequence

Action Roll

An action roll is typically called for when the character is taking action to deal with a situation when the outcome is uncertain. Unlike a fortune roll there is some degree of risk involved that affects the current situation

Fortune Roll

Used when PCs are not directly involved or there is no immediate risk and the outcome is uncertain. This can be used to gauge the outcome of an event or the use of a specialist’s skill.

These actions are used for fortune rolls when outcomes are uncertain, and not completely within the control of the characters.

Travel, A chance something might be available, gathering info and other actions that failure doesn’t result in harm. It is more a gauge of how fortunate they are.

Resistance Roll

When you suffer consequences you don’t like you can choose to resist. Just tell the GM, “No, I am resisting that.” Then describe how. This can be to any of the consequence results or to taking Harm.

The number of dice you get to resist is the number of skills with any pips in them. (usually, the diamonds marked on the left of the line.) Then add any bonus dice you get to resistance for that attribute. Finally, you roll your dice and subtract the highest die from 6. that is how much stress you take.

POSITION AND EFFECT

Position is how dangerous a spot the PC is in. In most situations the session starts with the PCs in a Risky position and have standard effect. From this the fiction, gear and rolls may put the PCs in a even riskier spot so they have a Desperate position or they get better control of the situation and end up in a controlled position.

Effect

Effect is based on scale, potency, and threat. Effect goes up or down based on who has numbers, the right gear, and who is the bigger threat. It ends up being pretty simple to figure out if you go step by step.

Potency is based on if you have the right equipment for the situation. If you do then the effect level is unchanged. If not effect goes down. If the equipment is perfect for the situation then effect level goes up.

Scale Who has more people. If the enemy has more scale, aka numbers, then the effect or position is lowered.

SCALE DESCRIPTION
1 One or two people. A Shadow Witch’s hex. A Spitter’s caustic bile.
2 A small group (3-5). A squad. A grenade. A Horror. A Gut-Sack’s explosion. One of Render’s shredder-mines. A pack of Hounds.
3 A medium group (6-10). Fire Oil. A pack of Rotters or Gaunt. Blighter’s poison mists. A banner of Black Oak Knights.
4 A large group (20). A platoon. Black Rotting Gale’s miasma. A pack of Burned. }
5 A huge group (40). A squadron of cavalry. Bell of Keening.
6 A massive group (80). A company. Breaker’s Fog and Storms.
7 A colossal group (160). A battalion.

Threat Who is the bigger threat. Legionnaire recruits are T1. The entire squad or one specialist is T2. Enemy minions are T1. If an enemy has more threat then effect, or position is lowered.

Don’t fret with Position and Effect setting. Remember, everything is Risky/ Standard unless otherwise warranted. Use your gut instinct. Is it not going to result in a big problem? It’s Controlled. Is it really gonna hurt them? It’s Desperate. Will they “do the thing and more”? It’s Greater Effect. Will they “do the thing, but not as much or as well as they wanted?” It’s Limited Effect.

Don’t fret over how long it takes to set Position and Effect. It’s supposed to take a hot second when you start off. The more you play, the quicker it gets. It’s all about setting expectations, if it’s done “right,” there should be no confusion of arguments when the dice roll and the GM says “alright, here’s what happens…”

Talk it out! It’s the way Position and Effect were intended. Don’t agonize. Don’t get hung up. But talk it out. Why is it Desperate? What does Standard Effect look like here? “Hmm, both Tinker and Wreck are applicable here and I think it’s Standard either way, how does each manifest in the fiction?”

Clocks

Clocks are for complex situations only. Not complex? No Clock needed. Don’t forget that Clocks are visual tools. Don’t just stop at “that’s 2 ticks on the Clock…” remember to end in the fiction!

Clocks are advanced when there is a complication. Explain the complication but advance the clock to show escalation. 1 tick for minor complication and 2 for a standard/normal complication. The fiction will inform which level of complication it is.

Consequences…

The Consequences can be resolved in a few ways.

Reduced Effect

The result of the action has left the PC on the back foot. Their actions will have 1 less effect.

Corruption

The PC takes corruption equal to the threat of the enemy. This can be modified down 1 for physical attacks or up 1 for, particularly nasty or magical attacks.

Complication

Things get real. The situation changes in some way. A new threat, A new obstacle, or the ticking of a clock. Fill 1 tick for minor or 2 for normal/standard complication.

Lost Oportunity

Something changed that prevents the current actions from working. The PCs will have to find another way to accomplish their goal. The lockpick broke off in the lock. the rope bridge snapped and fell into the gorge and the like.

Worse Position

The situation has left you in a worse position. Was it Risky, well now it is desperate. It can’t go above desperate so use reduced effect after that

…Harm

Harm can come in several forms. From actual damage to a squad or specialist. Or as non-physical effects such as ruined reputation or mental afflictions from a hex, concussion, or the like.

Describe the harm. fiction first. Show what is about to happen to the PC. The player can say “No I resist” and describe how they are going to resist. If it is a physical attack they can use their armor to take a level of harm. Then resolve the resist.
If a PC takes level 3 harm they are incapacitated. They are unable to act unless they use stress to take a herculean effort to act despite their wounds. of coourse pushing yourself this way could mean using up all your stress and causing a trauma condition.

squad

As a group, each member is worth 1 harm. so if the squad takes 2 harm. two of them are killed in the fight. The harm can be divided as the GM likes between the squad and one or more PCs involved in a skirmish. If a specialist can prevent the harm they can instead take some or all of the harm and resist it. It must make fictional sense.

Specialist

When a specialist takes harm they can use armor and shield to absorb some of the damage. mark off the appropriate box on the harm part of the character sheet. If no boxes are left they instead just take the harm. They will need to roll resist to lower the amount of harm they take.

STRESS

You use stress to push yourself or resist consequences. If you run out of stress you take Trauma.

2 stress gives you +1 die, +1 effect or take an action when incapacitated by consequence or harm.

TRAUMA

When you take trama you are taken out of the action. You also take a trauma condition. The fiction will inform the kind of trauma condition the PC will take.

CORRUPTION AND BLIGHT

An attack that gives corruption does an amount equal to their threat. When you take 7 corruption it is reset to 0 and you gain a blight.

Blights are visible signs of corruption. The Fiction will inform the description of the

HEALING

Healing harm is done through the Quartermaster’s rest and recuperation campaign action.

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  • The entire squad is still T1, but Scale 2. Most of the time, the result will be the same, but not always. See the Spitter example on page 229.

Also Specialists are not always T2. Depends on their specific equipment. For exemple a Medic or a Scout in melee combat will mostly stay T1. Some tables however don’t go to this level of detail.

If an enemy has more threat then effect, or position is lowered.

No, it’s not automatic for Position, and in fact it has to be done carefully. It’s more “If an enemy has more threat, then position could be lowered.” Threat, Scale inform/impact Position and effect but do not decide them. What is automatic is that you have to add/substract the difference in Threat/Scale to the Harm you take, derived from the position, or the effect you inflict. It’s not exactly the same thing, and it is why Harm can shoot up higher than Level 4. See the recent discussion about this: https://community.bladesinthedark.com/t/band-of-blades-confused-by-relation-of-threat-to-harm/2223/3
What you need to do is to take care to avoid systematic “double cost” from a difference in Threat/Scale.

You use stress to push yourself or resist consequences. If you run out of stress you take Trauma.

You can also use stress to assis or to trigger some special abilities.

You do not take Trauma when you run out of stress (that’s in vanilla Blades). You take Trauma when you should take stress but can’t. Which, in practical terms, gives you one more stress available.
_

For the Squad’s Harm, the description is correct but it lacks the case when a squad member is a PC.

Clocks are advanced when there is a complication.

That’s one kind of clock, the “problem” clock. The other kind of clock are those which are advanced when there is Effect, the “task” clock.