Band of Blades vs. Blades Against Darkness

Hi, gang,

Finally engineering a quarantine bubble here for some in-person gaming soon, and going to pitch a BitD and SaV game, but if folks are more into fantasy gaming, will present Band of Blades and Blades Against Darkness (or maybe do a Dark Crystal homebrew… I’m thinking “Blades Against The Darkening”…).

Oh gosh; I just remembered Mutants in the Night, too.

Anyway, can someone give me the elevator pitch to go over the differences between the Forged in the Dark fantasy games? I don’t own either, but will buy whatever my group wants to do if I don’t own it already.

Compare and contrast, please, and share opinions. I just really like the Forged in the Dark system and would like to stay in the player-/fiction-driven realm.



Has Blades Against Darkness reached a release state? Is it going to be printed in hard copies?

Haven’t been keeping up.

The best I could find was a pinned tweet on Dylan’s page with links to the PDFs. He’s on the forum somewhere here, too, I believe.

Have you played either? I’m about to start reading.

Band of Blades is a completed Forged in the Dark game about a Shattered Military Unit making its desperate retreat to a stronghold before winter starts while the ever growing forces of the Undead are biting at their feet.

You play as two characters: A consistent member of the Legion’s Command Staff who is part of the important decisions about how the Legion will advance to Skydagger Keep and as different Specialists, Soldiers, and Rookies among the Legions dwindling numbers. You are aided by a Chosen- a demi-god of sorts as you contend with the Broken, fallen demi-gods that serve the Cinder King and lead various Undead Forces.

Band of Blades has a built in campaign starting as you collect yourself from the defeat at Ettenmark Fields all the way to the final push and hold at Skydagger Keep. IIRC, supplements of the game will provide new campaigns, but also IIRC- I’ve heard a few fan made ideas being pitched around here and there.

While a “fantasy” setting, you won’t find your Elves, Dwarves, dragons, etc. It tends to have a darker tone with variable levels of horror as it relates to the Broken you opt to fight against.

Similar to how Blades in the Dark is about the Crew in the long run, Band of Blades kind of triples down on this. The life of an individual Specialist, Soldier, and/ or Rookie- while still important- is nowhere near as important as the overall success of the Legion. As such, you generally aren’t pursuing individual desires and projects, but rather pushing towards the success of the Legion as a whole.

Mechanically, you’ll find plenty of similarities to Blades in the Dark- but there are some changes. Some notables:

  • Corruption and Blight as other hampering elements for the PCs
  • Specialist Actions that provide Uses for cool things Specialists and Soldiers can do
  • Specialists and Soldiers have 2 Trauma before they die and Rookies have 1 (with Special Abilities allowing for extra Trauma Slots).
  • 6 Stress to start instead of 9
  • And several others

Blades Against Darkness is a WiP Dungeon Crawling Hack of Blades. Inspired by Darkest Dungeon, Dungeon World, and the like; you enter into all sorts of strange Dungeons to loot the precious findings in each one.

The game takes a slightly different approach to Action Rolls, Resistance Dice Pools, Load, and Character Advancement as a whole and also adds in a couple of nifty ideas- such as a “Reverse Engagement Roll” (of sorts) to exfiltrate from the Dungeon once your work is done… just to name a few things.

The bottom line is, as for the “fantasy” FitD listed, both take wildly different takes: a Military Campaign akin to something like the Black Company for Band of Blades and a Dungeon Crawling experience akin to Darkest Dungeon for Blades Against Darkness.

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I’m currently running a couple of Band of Blades campaigns. I haven’t played BAD.

It sounds like the choice between these two is probably already made for you, BAD isn’t ready yet…?

Super helpful, @Sully5443 ! Thanks for clarifying. In fact, that synopsis of Band of Blades covers more than a casual glance at the back of the book provides, and might actually be the tone my players are looking for. I will grab a copy from my friendly local gaming shop and give it a real read.

And to @Barlimain : You’re totally right. Blades Against Darkness is still in beta. But it’s seen at least one revision that I can tell. After reading Scum and Villany and playing BitD, I’d bet if my players found any flaws that needed reworking, we could likely agree on a temporary fix.

If I’m lucky, we’ll play them all! :grin:

For now, the one request from one of my players is eldritch horrors a la Lovecraft, and the other players are just excited to play in person again. (We’ve been carefully engineering our bubble these last few weeks, prioritizing the safety of the game and our families.) I think we’ll start with just a traditional Blades game with a little more footprints from the Forgotten Gods to try to kick up the numinous fear.

And then we’ll see where the next game takes us!

Thanks again to you both!

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