Do PCs you're not using heal during downtime like cohorts?

Hello, all.

First-time BitD player, though I’ve been a fan for a while.

Our GM decided that we should all make two PCs by default to start, so we’d have folks to play in case one got lost during stress recovery or somesuch.

Just finished a job with my Cutter, and am sitting with two level 1 Harm. Doubled up on healing during downtime, but botched both rolls, and am stuck with two wedges left on the clock.

So I floated the idea, because I’m the Cutter and these are physical injuries, of benching this character and swapping to another PC for two jobs, and asked if the healing clock could tick a wedge per downtime in the background until he was healed up.

My GM seemed to feel like this was antithetical to the spirit of the rules. I’m not sure precisely why, but I also didn’t interrogate it a whole lot, because it was late.

It’s still sticking around in my head, though, so I thought I’d poll the collected wisdom of this group and see if any of y’all had games with multiple PCs per player, and how you handled this.




Hi, Leonard! Welcome to here!

First game is super exciting! This system takes a little adjustment, but once it clicks for a group, it really takes flight.

For this question, I’d look to the overindulgence in Vice rules for guidance. The Vice rules offer a variety of consequences for overindulgence. One is:

Lost. Your character vanishes for a few weeks. Play a different character until this one returns from their bender. When your character returns, they’ve also healed any harm they had.

It doesn’t seem like bending the rules too much to say “Cutter John is pretty seriously injured, so he’s going to sit this score out. Let’s treat this as if it were a deliberate overindulgence in Vice (Convalescence) and I’ll play Xephia the Leech this session. Maybe a couple sessions if it feels right for the story.” And then then have the Cutter eventually return with stress and harm cleared. (Note that this could easily be a lot more healing than the mere 2 ticks on the recovery clock per downtime you proposed! But then, bed rest seems at least as restorative as multi-week drinking binge.) This also feels in spirit with the GM’s idea of preparing a backup character.

A collaborative conversation with the group at the beginning of the next session when you’re rested and fresh seems like the way to resolve this. Figure out what will be the most fun precedent to establish and follow. What would feel contrived or artificial? What feels real and makes a good story?

It seems to me that an intent behind the Lost in Vice rule might be to encourage players to experiment with holding characters lightly and to engage with the story in a more authorial stance – to treat the campaign more as the story of the Crew than as the story of individual characters.

From this perspective, I think a house “Lost in Recovery” rule is in the spirit of the design.

But of course we don’t have guess! Blades in the Dark’s designer hosts this forum and we can just ask him.

Hey, @John_Harper!

What do you think of sidelining a character for a few sessions of recovery? Would you be comfortable sharing some of the design intent behind the “Lost in Vice” mechanic?

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The two PCs per player idea is something that I was thinking about doing, once I can get a group together. It seemed like a good way for people to see more of the possibilities of the game, and as you say, they have a backup already prepared if something goes wrong.

I’d wondered about the options of healing while the other character is on a job. I can see that (taken to an extreme) this could be abused - I’ll just run a different character for each score until my first is fully recovered. On the other hand, it would be counter to the story to freeze a character when they’re not in play, and have them still at level one harm when your other PC has done three scores and could have fully healed from level two.

My thought was to let a PC who wasn’t on a heist take one downtime action instead (and they wouldn’t get the normal two at the end of the score). Possibly they’d have to pay the price in coin or rep for it. I do like bonkydog’s suggestion of using the lost in vice option though.

I can see your GM’s point - giving free healing away is going to make the game a little easier on the PCs. But the difficulty of the game is largely set by the group - every table is going to interpret the rules and the situations slightly differently, and the group will face different consequences (that’s the fun of RPGs!)

I think, in the end, my question is: If your GM has let you have two characters, what are they doing the rest of the time when they aren’t in play?

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@bonkydog: My sneaking suspicion is that the root of the issue is a big mismatch in expectations between me and the GM as regards what “the spirit” of the game is. There are a bunch of ways to justify what I was asking for, and a bunch of ways to handle it mechanically. So I think you’re right that it comes back to having a conversation that moves away from “what is the spirit of the game” and “what’s most fun/plausible/etc for this table.” Because that first thing? Trying to even debate it is madness, even when you’re not on the Internet. :slight_smile:

@Steve_the_Lurk: Yeah, I mean… honestly what surprised me the most about my GM’s reaction is that I was just going from basic fiction-first principles. It makes sense that if a PC takes a break from doing jobs, they’d be able to spend time healing up.

And I’m not sure if it’s that much of an exploit, because any job that PC doesn’t do means they miss out on the Coin, XP, and other assets or resources they might otherwise garner in the course of a normal job and downtime. Like, in the “abuse” scenario you mention, the end result is that the player in question has half a dozen PCs, all of whom are still basically at their starting stats, while the crew and everyone else’s PCs are moving up in tier, etc etc. And like… that also makes sense, right?

Both y’all’s feedback suggests, at least, that my ask was a pretty reasonable one. So, thanks. :smiley:

in the “abuse” scenario you mention, the end result is that the player in question has half a dozen PCs, all of whom are still basically at their starting stats, while the crew and everyone else’s PCs are moving up in tier, etc etc.

The exploit here is that while the other PCs are progressing in strength, they’re also progressing in Trauma. Taking the example still further in the direction of ludicrous, eventually everyone else has lost their two starting characters, and you’ve got six who just inherit a relatively powerful gang. Admittedly, you’ve also annoyed all your friends and no-one wants to play with you any more… :smiley:

One thing occurred to me to ask - you said that you’d created extra characters, but what’s their status in the fiction? Are they other members of the gang already, who don’t get spotlight time but are ready to step in if an existing member gets taken out, or are they just potential recruits who will only join the gang if there’s a vacancy in your ranks?

If they’re already in the gang, do they get downtime actions? If not, what’s the in-game justification? They’re members, they aren’t apparently doing anything else - why not? But that really could unbalance the game - the spares could do all the information gathering, while the active PCs can spend all their DT recovering from the last score. That could very much skew the game away from the tension of trying to balance harm, stress and continuing to make progress.

The game is explicitly meant to be a hard setting - whatever you’ve managed to grab for yourself in Doskvol, someone is always going to want to take it away from you. But it’s also explicitly a fiction first situation.

As you say, this comes down to different people having different expectations. And the answer is going to be to talk it through - hopefully before your next session. Good luck!

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Splitting my reply into two to try to keep each bit relevant…

Thinking about my idea of having two PCs per character some more: The way I’m seeing it, every PC would get one DT action, but ones that participate in the score get one extra. This does mean that the crew gets 50% more free DT actions, but at the cost of half the PCs losing out on xp. Alternatively, the others could be out on a separate job at the same time, which brings in extra coin and rep (and gets them their extra DT action), but also increases the crew’s heat faster than either set of characters is levelling.

It seems workable to me, but are there any thoughts from the more experienced?

Hi @baneofcows @bonkydog

On this particular point there’s no need to ask John, because the question is already treated in the rules.

It is perfectly RAW to allow your first or main character to “get lost in his vice” and bring it back after one or two sessions, perfectly healed and free of stress. You don’t even have to do the indulge vice roll.

See page 156: "This indulgence takes time, so it can only be done when the crew has downtime. Alternately, you may choose to release your character to be “lost in their vice” during a game session, allowing them to indulge off-camera while you play a different PC.


They’re already members of the gang, but at present, they’re essentially locked in stasis until they get chosen for a job. We don’t really talk much about what they’re doing “off-camera.”

Hah, seems like my usual talents for going over rules with a fine tooth comb have waned lately. Thanks for this.

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@A_B Ah! Good catch!