Creating Opportunities?

Hi folks. I’ve been running two separate gangs (but am handing one of them over to another player/co-GM and concentrating on the second) and one thing I’ve struggled with is creating opportunities for the crew to select from for their next score, especially ones as fully fleshed out as the author’s example on page 189. I’m hoping you good peop0le can help me get in the mindset.

So far, my gang of Bravos, the Dirty Goats, have pulled two scores. In order to start quick, we kicked off with with the War in Crow’s Foot starting situation before creating the group. They signed on with Baszo Baz with full intent to play both sides against the middle (Baz has his suspicions about their commitment; there’s a 4-clock, “Bazso Baz calls the Goats out,” running for that) and stole the war chest of the Red Sashes at Baz’s behest.

During gang creation in the following session, they took the Elite Thugs option, and I suggested the Red Sashes as the faction that organised the thugs; the players paid the extra coin to take the +2 status with the Sashes, who gave them a job to destroy a Lampblack drug den, which they did.

After that session, I sat down and worked through the NPC/faction downtime actions and decided the following:

  • The Lampblacks are hitting the Gondoliers up for information on the demon (Setarra, the Whisper’s friend) who showed up at the drug den, trying to find out who was behind the hit. (Perhaps the whisper’s new friend as a result of a long term project, a spectre, may get word back to the Whisper about it.
  • After helping local businesses by wrecking the Lampblacks’ drug den, The Red Sashes start shaking said businesses down for more tithe in order to rebuild their war chest (the Hound’s vice purveyor, Mardin Gull, will likely mention that).
  • The Whisper’s player introduced a workers’ riot in the Docks, which spilled over into Crow’s Foot in order to cover their escape. Commander Clelland of the Bluecoats uses the riot and the murders at the drug den to start agitating the City Council for military-grade equipment (I was thinking Conway, the gang’s contact, may pass word back, but now I think it’d turn up in the papers).
  • The Gray Cloaks drive some of the Circle of Flame’s extorters out of Six Towers (the spider’s vice purveyor, Chef Roselle, would mention that to him).
  • The Circle of Flame, the Whisper’s vice purveyor, commences seeking the Eye of Kotar out in earnest and would probably order her to assist as part of her obligation.
  • The Billhooks, from whom the players swiped their combat rigging, kill the nephew of a Charterhall magistrate in grisly fashion as part of their campaign to get Tarvul out of Ironhook (either Mardin Gull or another news article).

Which suggests some bare-bones opportunities:

  • The Gondoliers want to get an agent into Bellweather Crematorium to speak with the spirits of the dead Lampblacks before they’re dissolved, and the agent needs an escort. Do the players take the opportunity to hide evidence by instead making sure the bodies ARE dissolved?
  • The Circle of Flame want:
  • some muscle to put the Gray Cloaks back in their place.
  • someone to execute a smash and grab
  • The businesses who originally went to the Red Sashes for help with the drug den are now looking for assistance against the Sashes. They may go to the Lampblacks - and Bazso might take the opportunity to see how loyal the Goats are with a direct hit on the Sashes.
  • Maybe the Lost get word of the Goats’ involvement with the workers’ riot and decide to recruit their assistance with hitting a workhouse.

Targets and locations aren’t too hard to puzzle out, but how would you create situations and “obvious vectors” which I usually find not to be so obvious, let alone obscure vectors and secrets/alternate opportunities?

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:wave: :rat:

First off, good job in the downtime. It’s a neat and overall explanation on what’s happening in the background. Since I normally do these with 2 or 3 factions, I was quite impressed when I read yours.

Well, from what I understood, my mindset is a bit different from yours. You gave me the vibes that you need a fixed list of opportunities which players will choose one of the options. While it’s a good to have some ideas, it’s important to not force them upon the players.

What I normally do is to have this “list” but let player’s do whatever they want. Spread a few rumors, such as the purveyors you mentioned, and let them gather information. Literally, I am referring to the “gather information” section in page 189. From these, ideally some “obvious vectors” should arise and, if they don’t, maybe it means there is no vector and it wouldn’t make sense for this to happen.

For example, the gondoliers want someone in the Bellweather. If both gangs don’t know each other, it’s really hard to imagine they doing any business. Unless, for example, the gondoliers mentioned it to Baz, which in turn mentioned it to some lampblacks, which one character ended up eavesdropping while gathering information.

But sometimes, the gang just does whatever. Maybe they decide to hit the Lampblack again to keep the momentum going. Maybe they see the military grade equipment and be like “oh, we want this for ourselves, let’s steal the Bluecoats”.

Another option is to have “scores” for vectors. That sounded a bit weird, but let’s say they saw the new bluecoat equipment in the newspaper and wants to steal it. Sure, but they don’t know where it is, how to get there, etc etc. So a score could be getting these information, like a “set up score”. They could kidnap some bluecoat general for info or a hostage situation, for example.

In general, you already have a lot going on in the background, now it’s time to let the players explore and figure out by their own. Remember to “play to find out what happens”! Let them come up with what they want to do and them let find out how to do it.

Well, at least that’s how I try to play around with my players. In my last session, I had “planned” (as in, I expected) the players to help the lampblacks against the crows, spread rumors on how the crows could be problem if they grew too much, but they just “oh, the crows are attacking the lampblacks? Nice. And the red sashes are still weak, no? We will finish them off then!” and off they went to kill the remaining red sashes.

I hope this can help you somehow, if at least give you a different perspective on scores (=


Thanks, Rattman. It’s interesting; the vibe I get off that section in page 189 is that an opportunity needs to have those key components (target, location, situation, vector) defined so the players have enough clarity to decide whether to go for it, and also choose a plan and approach. Gathering information can potentially turn up connected factions, less obvious vectors and secrets/opportunities.

Let me see if I can work one or two up:

Target: The Gray Cloaks
Location: A run-down apartment in the North Mistshore neighbourhood of Six Towers
Situation: The Gray Cloaks took over the place from the Circle of Flame, whose agents were forced to leave some documents on not just their local operations, but also their expeditions into the Lost District seeking the remnants of Kotar, behind. The Circle want the documents back, but they also want the Cloaks to learn a lesson about whom not to fuck with in Six Towers.
Obvious vector: Let’s say Storm’s new spirit friend was found in Six Towers; they may know the North Mistshore area well enough to give the Goats a way to get the drop on the Cloaks, in return for the Goats wreaking some later vengeance on the spirit’s behalf…

Target: The owners of a Coalridge workhouse.
Location: Their Old Quarter residence in Charterhall.
Situation: The Lost need some additional muscle to help in their quest to bring percussive justice to the cruel masters of the workhouses. They managed to identify the whereabouts of one such, but don’t have the spare thugs to get to Charterhall themselves.
Obvious vector: Conway may be able to give the crew a way into the building.

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The examples on Page 189 are very detailed, and enticing, but I am certain that you are not expected to flesh out every opportunity to that level of fidelity for the game to work.

Here’s a key passage:

The GM helps organize the conversation of the game so it’s pointed toward the interesting elements of play. The GM isn’t in charge of the story and doesn’t have to plan events ahead of time.

I would also point out this passage:

The other avenue for getting the game going is to follow the player’s lead. This is just like providing an opportunity, but in this case you listen to the opportunity presented by the players rather than describing it yourself. Ask them clarifying questions to flesh out their idea so you end up with a target, a location, a situation, and a vector for a plan. Then ask if they want to investigate further (potentially inviting trouble) or go ahead to the engagement roll.

The trouble with spending hours detailing several juicy opportunities is it can make the game feel like a pick-a-path, whereas Blades is a wonderful system for player-driven action. If you dial back on the opportunities, your players will feel emboldened to follow their own lead and suggest their next score off their own initiative.

I say all this because I also enjoy doing prep, and so I have done exactly the same thing as you. And in my experience, when presented with a full menu the players will always choose off the menu rather than surprising you with some Iron Chef improvisation. More’s the pity.

I think your list of “bare-bones” opportunities are exactly the level of detail opportunities should have. Targets and locations. You can have a conversation at the table about locations and vectors if the players show an interest in one or two of them.

As for vectors, when the book says obvious I think it really means whatever seems most obvious. Take this opportunity; “someone to execute a smash and grab”. Let’s say the target is a jewellery store. The obvious vector to me is to kick in the front door and take the jewellery! Doesn’t need to be any more complicated that.

As for “obscure vectors and secrets/alternate opportunities”, definitely don’t prep these ahead of time! These should be informed by your players’ approach as they Gather Information. If they consort with the jewellery store staff, maybe they learn of a disgruntled employee who could be bribed to help with the score. But if they decide to scope out the jewellery store from the sewers underneath, maybe they find a secret entrance from below. Or maybe your Whisper talks to a ghost, and you have no idea what interesting vector might be uncovered. Before they roll, you could just ask what they’re hoping to find out.


@rattman and @timdenee gave some great responses. I’d add that, while it’s important for the gm to understand what’s going on in the fictional world (faction clocks, etc), Blades really encourages them to let the players help drive the story.
When moving toward a score, I find it really helpful to remind the players that we’re looking to choose the details and vectors that sound like the most fun and intriguing – not necessarily the safest or smartest. Then, I’m improvising with them, offering details based on what questions they’re asking while they gather info. It creates a back-and-forth conversation, where we have a better chance of getting to a score where everyone is engaged, is participating as an active instigator, and is a little surprised and excited by how it’s going.


If you look at the opportunities listed after each crew type, you see a much sketchier form. The first opportunity listed for the first crew type is

Two feuding noble houses put out the call for hired killers.

The first in the second group is:

A crime boss is facing serious charges and the inspector can’t be bought—kill the witnesses.

The target and situation is very sketchy in both instances and there’s no location or obvious vector. I tend to roll with these kinds of opportunities, maybe adding a detail or two relevant to the crew’s exploits so far.

For instance, for my crew, one opportunity is that Unity Day celebrations are coming up. That’s it. The crew is already in with Ulf Ironborn and they just realized the spirit bottles they took from the rogue Spirit Warden contain the ghosts of the murdered King of Skovlan and his heir. I have no idea what the vector or location is going to be or even if they’ll do anything with this information. Maybe they’ll cause mayhem to feed a demon’s dark desire. Maybe they’ll make a deal with Ulf Ironborn, who helped them with their Silver Nails problem recently. Who knows? I haven’t made up parade routes, districts, feasts, parties, dignitaries, or the kind of propaganda the Ministry will be dealing. The Leech is in with the biggest group of fireworks experts in town—maybe they’ll play off the fact that there’s bound to be fireworks at the celebration. The Hound is ex-military on the run—maybe he has scores to settle. The Slide is a Skovlander. But maybe they’ll just ignore Unity Day and go with one of the other dozen opportunities they have.

I never know what’s going to happen when I show up to GM! It took some getting used to for both me and my players after playing D&D-like games since the 1970s. The friends I’ve been playing with since high school in the 1970s really don’t like Blades. And it’s not because they don’t get it—they were actually really good at playing it (here’s the AP reports I posted). They just don’t want to concentrate that hard—they want to sit back and have the GM tell them a story and ask them to roll a lot of dice and build towers of dice when I read the read-aloud text and all the other things they’re used to from 40 years of D&D-like games.

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Could you say more about how player-driven opportunities would work in practice? Does the player say something like “I’m tired of the Fog Hounds messing with us. I wanna do something about it.” And then I respond “Cool, what do you have in mind, how do you go about getting more info?” and then basically use the player’s gather info actions to shape/improvise an opportunity?

I ask this because I’ve been running it as “pick a path” in large part because my players tend to struggle a bit when not basically served up something already baked-in. Maybe I’ve set the wrong expectations here, but I’d definitely like to adjust how we’re setting up scores, if I can.


I mean, yes, you have it exactly right in your example! The players brainstorm an avenue they want to pursue (whether that’s messing with another faction, or working towards something on the crew sheet like more turf, or whatever) and then you can discuss together what that opportunity might look like. Using their Gather Info actions to shape it certainly helps, but even before any dice are rolled you can have a bit of a writer’s room discussion about the possibilities. This is the Blades GM at their most facilitator-like; you’re asking leading questions of the players, and helping them to arrive at their own answers as a group.

For example:

  • I’m tired of the Fog Hounds messing with us. I wanna do something about it.
  • Did you have anything in mind? Maybe you could hit them at their HQ… or steal one of their shipments?
  • Messing with their shipments sounds fun… What if we intercepted one of their scores and got the payment ourselves?
  • Perfect! It sounds like you’ll need to gather some information about their upcoming smuggling operations, then.

And from there you could have some Gather Info scores and flesh it out as you go - pick a couple of factions (one as the client and one as the target), decide what the macguffin being smuggled is (drugs are always my default), and BAM you’re into engagement roll and then flashbacks as needed.

But to jump back a bit -

I ask this because I’ve been running it as “pick a path” in large part because my players tend to struggle a bit when not basically served up something already baked-in.

What I would do here is try not to show up to the session with a menu of scores to choose from, but instead with some very broad prompts about avenues they might consider exploring. For example:

  • The Foghounds did you dirty, maybe you want to take them down a peg?
  • You haven’t claimed any turf in a while, is that something you want to do?
  • You picked up that ancient tome a couple of scores ago, was there anything you wanted to do with that? Find a buyer, maybe, or find someone who can help you decipher it? [This could be a long-term project, obviously, but sometimes it’s fun to do this kind of thing a score - really foreground it]
  • Here’s a recap of what you know about what the local factions in your neighbourhood are up to - did you want to get involved at all, try to shape events to your advantage? Did you want to help one faction or another, or try to stoke the conflict without picking a side?

Basically it’s very similar to presenting a bunch of scores to choose from, but you’re keep the outlines very open-ended. The more often you prompt this kind of discussion, the less you will need to - I find that players get in the habit of making their own schemes and picking their own scores pretty quickly.


So many helpful points for me to chew on. Thank you for your detailed response! I’ve already warned my players to likely expect an adjustment in how we approach opportunities and scores.


Thanks all for your replies! Definitely a lot to mull over.

One of my challenges is that I’m GMing for an online group on a work weeknight; as we usually only have two hours to play, we often need to cut to it so we can get the score and downtime done.

Let me try something. I’m working on tonight’s game. The crew are the Dirty Goats: Bricks (a Hound), Guile (a Spider) and Storm (a Whisper). Last session was pretty much pure free play as Bricks had to pull out; I gave Guile and Storm some interesting rumours that I’d generated from the factions they’re connected with forwarding their clocks.

The Goats seized on a murder of a magistrate’s nephew and went to talk to the magistrate, who said it was a direct threat from the Billhooks to get hi to pardon their leader, Tarvul (a “you’re next and it’ll be worse” kind of threat). The Goats offered their services for Coin; the magistrate agreed.

Where next? Well, I still want to see if I can flesh a full opportunity per page 189 out. So, let’s see.

Target is the Billhooks, obvi.

Location - not sure yet. Lets skip to the next stage.

Situation - Hmm. The Billhooks are Tier II, so I want to offer a possible weak spot for the players to exploit. We know the gang has a leadership struggle between Tarvul’s two kids, so maybe one of them is preparing to beef their side up somehow-
Oh. The Goats stole their combat rigging, which put them at -2 status with the Billhooks. Corran, Tarvul’s son and second to his sister Erin, the gang’s captain in Tarvul’s absence, has decided to avenge the insult; he’s bringing his immediate gang (say, his two bodyguards plus about four assorted bloody aprons) to the back rooms of the nightclub that the Goats operate out of to get their gear back.
Let’s say the Goats get word about the impending assault through their crew contact, Conway (Corran told the Bluecoats to keep clear of any disturbance at the club).

That makes for a few location possibilities - the back rooms, the club itself (a bar room brawl sounds appropriate) or maybe even the streets of Doskvol if the players try to ambush Corran on the way there.

To carry the line of thought through, what obvious vectors are there for a plan?
Well, there’s the home turf of the club; they could set an ambush there.

Is any better info available?

  • Guile’s enemy, the Bluecoat archivist Jeren, may be hitting the books, looking for ways to grant the Billhooks further advantage.
  • Maybe Steiner, Bricks’ assassin enemy, has been employed to give the Billhooks some extra oomph?
  • In terms of slightly less obvious vectors, maybe Conway can put them in touch with Erin and see whether she’d be amenable to foregoing the grudge in favour of taking Corran out of the leadership competition - she tells the Goats where Corran’s marshaling his goons and the Goats can strike first.
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That all sounds great to me!

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Sadly, I won’t get the chance to test the opportunity out. One of the players has had some instances of no-showing and as the other two have full schedules, they’ve pulled out for the moment.

I’ll leave seeing about putting a new crew together until early 2023.

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