Fine Blueprints - Tips for GMing Blades in the Dark

Hey there Scoundrels,

Inspired by the Lessons from the Dark game jam happening right now on itch, I’ve put together 9 tips for running Blades in the Dark. These could also be used to help run games like Scum & Villainy and Band of Blades but primarily about our favourite haunted city and all the ne’er-do-wells within.

Fine Blueprints can be found here. Includes such topics and opinions as:

  • Harm is good, actually
  • Let the players describe their successes
  • Don’t call for actions during action rolls
  • And other GM do’s and don’ts that have served me well.

I am down for this. Even when it’s stuff directly from the books, I like the concise set of notes. Who doesn’t like a list?!

The one thing I struggle with is “don’t keep secrets”. I think this is coming from a place of helping keep the fiction collaborative, but like with DW I keep a set of fronts which the players can get hints of during other scores or down-time so that there is an epic quality when the larger elements are revealed. I don’t necessarily feel I’m doing that right per se, but as the one hold-over from more GM vs player style campaigns I think my group enjoy not knowing everything and there being surprises when something gets revealed. At least I am trying to spring these a little earlier so that they are more like things in my back pocket that I can then bring out as in “hey, as a complication what if the whisper here actually turns out to be that witch that stole you as a baby?” I get your point that it might be resisted, so there’s no point in pouring loads of time into it though.


If I had more than 2,000 words I definitely would have gotten into this. The last time I ran Neon Black we wanted the game to have a more noir feel, with a mysterious conspiracy unfolding around the main characters. The players explicitly said they didn’t want to know, they wanted to be surprised.

And that’s still good! The point is to be explicit about what information is shared and what is not. Blades in the Dark gets into this a bit with the entanglements. You can do it in the open or in secret, but don’t do it in secret if the PC’s would rather know.

It’s when it becomes this one-upmanship with metered out plot where people are trying to show off how clever they can be that’s just so exhausting to me. I don’t want to play a game where I’m trying to figure out the story the GM already told, I went to help tell a story.


As a fresh new player and possibly GM, I think I’m going to appreciate this along with other things that come from the game jam. I’m particularly open to setting neutral advice and further tips for wrapping my head around the “fiction first” approach to Forged in the Dark stuff.