FitD for a more traditional/classical fantasy RPG?

After watching RollPlay Blades on Youtube I was in love with this new game called Blades in the Dark. I love the mechanics and how they work, I find it interesting to have a crew “character” and I really dig the Clock mechanic. It does generate a very specific feeling and BitD also has a very structured game-play with the different “phases”.

I’m pretty excited for all the FitD stuff that is happening. I was wondering, what do the veteran gamers of BitD (and other FitD games) think, is the basic rules structure of this game viable for a more vanilla fantasy game? I know Band of Blades is a fantasy FitD game, but for my tastes it is too narrowly focused. I want wider possibilities for stories and play. Do you think something like that is viable with the “motor” of BitD? Or would you tell someone like me to better look for something else?

If I want to formulate my question very provocatively : can i do DnD with FitD?
This is a bit extreme (and I’m not talking about dungeoncrawling here, imagine more of a Critical Role kind of campaign via BitD/FitD rules), it’s not exactly what I have in mind, but i do wonder from now and then if pursuing this idea is even viable/sensible.

Did you play “bog standard fantasy” with BitD/FitD? How did it go?
Any other comments and/or advice?

Thanks in advance for any advice, opinion and/or account of own experiences.

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Part of the “power” of Blades/ FitD as a of “second wave PbtA” is that element of “focus” (in my opinion). In my observation and perusal of various games (PbtA and FitD; both “full games” and “smaller hacks” of existing one)- the “strongest” ones often tend to be the ones that dedicate themselves to a particular focus.

D&D isn’t necessarily an unfocused game (fight monsters, take their stuff, become more powerful, repeat), but it is certainly more open when compared to other PbtA/ FitD. Even Dungeon World has a slightly tighter focus than D&D does, and FitD games take that focus to a new level.

Would it be impossible to try and get a D&D/ Dungeon World/ Fellowship experience with Forged in the Dark? I don’t think so(?). I mean Blades Against Darkness shows you can fairly effectively use the FitD model to perform Dungeon Delving and at the end of the day- D&D, in the vein of “adventuring” as portrayed by Critical Role and the like, is really just “large dungeon crawling” (areas of adventure).

A Fistful of Darkness (the first one that comes to mind, I think there are others) effectively uses a “Doom” Track and “Riders of the Apocalypse” Track in place of Heat and Wanted Levels as a solid method of “keeping pressure” on the PCs (which I think is a staple of most FitD games- a pressure to spend your resources on to keep pushing forward “or else”). Given the fact AFoD also does a solid job of exploring the Weirdness of a Wild West Setting (as opposed to the “constrained” nature of something like the setting of Doskvol for Blades or The Procyon Sector in S&V), it isn’t impossible to replicate a more “open exploration” model for FitD.

I’m sure there are folks here that are far wiser and more experienced than myself- they can give you more information. I will say that it will likely take some elbow grease; given the fact that the Dice Mechanics, Harm, etc. and the like do not alone make a FitD game. Most likely if you use elements of Dungeon World mashed with some Fellowship and then wrench it altogether with methods from Blades Against Darkness- you’ll probably have a solid framework.

Anywho- that is my 2 Coin- your mileage will likely vary!

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Well, to start, what is it you want from this game you’re imagining? Blades-based games are basically about a team of motivated people doing dangerous jobs together for some kind of gain. Sounds pretty DnD to me :stuck_out_tongue:

If you want the more tolkienian fantasy with orcs and dragons etc you’ll have to hack or find a hack. Blades Against Darkness is a dungeoneering hack, but I haven’t read a lot of the rules. The latest version should be this one? https://community.bladesinthedark.com/t/blades-against-darkness/448/37?u=tubal

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So, Blades Against Darkness is sold pretty hard as a Dungeon Crawl, but I’d argue it’s less about 10 X 10 Squares and more about Swords and Sorcery adventures. It’s about a band of sword-slingers working together to accomplish jobs in a fantasy world. My weirdo setting is also baked pretty hard into that game. The playbooks are the setting. But I’ve made more generic playbooks in the past and if doing so would solve your problem then hold tight for a couple of days.

I think @Tubal right to ask, what do you want from this game you’re imagining?

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Thanks for the answers so far.

What kind of game am I imagining? Good question! I often only daydream about this stuff, not seriously sitting down and put “pen to paper” so to speak. But the main thrust of my inquiry really is along the lines of using the BitD mechanics for a classical fantasy setting and game. If you know what Matt Mercer does with his Critical Role, you have a pretty good idea.

And that’s also where the game probably would diverge from being a true FitD game, if you want FitD only to apply to games that have a pretty focused idea of the gameplay. I’m not even sure if I need a crew sheet for a vanilla fantasy game. I mean, depending on what you want to do, it certainly can be used!
For example if you want to play “A Thief-guild and its adventures in Waterdeep”, then you probably could use BitD pretty much as is. Maybe tone down the grittyness/darkness a bit (or not, depending on how you imagining the Forgotten Realms).
I do like the idea of still having downtime scenes for stuff, but I don’t think I need the strict adherence to the phase cycle as much in a vanilla fantasy rpg (as i see it).

So to answer the question a bit more directly, I just want to tell fantasy stories in an open world. My players are pretty hardcore into character-play and immersion, so we do not use the mechanics that often. But i do like the BitD mechanics quite a lot (that’s why I am always wondering about this ^^ ). And i DO think that the feel of a session will differ if I use BitD mechanics (even if I do not use all of them) vs. for example DnD 5e.

And yes, for the moment I do imagine using a pretty standard fantasy world for this. So imagine the Forgotten Realms with it’s kitchen-sinky setting with Dwarves, Elves, Orcs and all the other classic fantasy stuff.

Having said that, I stumbled upon this thread on these very forums :
KLICK

This looks already very interesting and I think I need to take a closer look at this. The least this thread does is telling me that I am not alone in thinking about this kind of thing (for whatever that’s worth :wink: ).

Thanks again to all of you. And if you have opinions, experiences or advice, please, I’m all virtual-ears!

Tbh if you take away the Crew and the phases you don’t have a lot left except a resolution mechanic :stuck_out_tongue:

You could consider looking at Dungeon World (or Truncheon World), or Genesys maybe? Genesys has granular resolution on rolls like blades does, but it’s a “generic” system with a few different settings.

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My primary reason for including a crew sheet in my FitD work (ironically a part I’ve yet to actually finish) was more meta than anything built into fantasy itself. The idea of a crew or something similar struck me as a way to get a group of players to gel, to think of themselves as a team rather than a bunch of individuals. It would also provide some direction in terms of what sort of story was going to be told, by coming up with a cohesive goal. It could be episodic, such as traveling a particular circuit with unrelated encounters at each stop. Or it could be a story arc with a long term goal, a destination at the end of the journey.

Your mileage may vary, but it struck me as a way to deal with a problem I’ve encountered repeatedly in my groups: half a dozen people who all want their story told and have zero interest in anyone else’s.

Beyond that my major goal with using FitD is that it’s not D&D; reading through Blades for the first time was an epiphany, providing me with entirely new perspectives on what an RPG could be. It provided lots of flexibility (no more being limited to what a table in a book says you can do with your XP) while still having enough structure that I felt that a group used to D&D could understand how to use the mechanics to create characters and thus become invested.

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Based on some fantasy hacks I’ve played, I put together this ultra barebones rule set to cover adventurers running around doing adventurer stuff in any setting where you can describe the Actions. Lite Fires Everywhere

Thanks for the replies, you all.

I don’t want to get rid of the phases. If you read it that way, I must have done a bad job at explaining. I just said that in some sessions I might not need a strict adherence to the phases. The only thing I was thinking about not using at all, was the crew sheet. And that also very much depends on the particular campaign that I’d be running. Again, with a set up like “You are a part of a thief-guild in a big city”, I’d probably use BitD more or less unchanged.
But if i wanted the usual “here we have a group of very diverse adventurers that go wandering about the country-side and getting into troubles and epic adventures” then I might not need the crew sheet. Although I really like the explanation Stormcaller gave us why they are using the crew sheet in their fantasy version. It’s true, it does make you think more about the things that hold you together (or at least should hold you together).

It’s true, on a first look, I might mainly be in love with the basic resolution mechanics of Blades. It is pretty nifty. I also like the attributes the actions and how resistances work and the narratives that it kind of produces with it. As said, phases I can totally see in there, no problem.
A lot of the resource management-ish stuff, we don’t use that often in our normal games. But again, so far it was a lot of just peripheral daydreaming about stuff. I admit that this is all not that well thought out so far ^^

I personally think the Blades mechanics are great for “doing D&D”, although more in the vein of sword-and-sorcery like in old-school D&D, than like superhero fantasy of newer edition. If Dungeon World can do the trick, then BitD can, too, being a little bit more crunchy and foucused on Actions. If you remove (or soften) faction games and structured play, there is still so much left!

I really love the focus that BitD-based games have, but sometimes I just desire a free-form fantasy game without genre constraints. I want my fantasy game to be not just about dungeon-delving, or wilderness adventures, or thief heists, or politics. I want to be able to change freely between those inside the same campaign. When I want to play a game like that, I look at Dungeon World or an OSR game like Whitehack or Old-School Essentials. They are all great games, but I always have a feeling that the Blades mechanics could handle the genre a bit better, at least for me personally.

I’m developing a Blades hack for it, which I’m calling Heart & Glory. It’s still very much work in progress (and I’m not sure how far I’ll go with it), but you can find the latest version here.

Those are only reference sheets and only three playbooks so far. Here’s the gist:

  • There is no faction game, although I may include one crew sheet which will handle Tier advancement and upgrades, but not limit the kind of adventures the party can have. I want that choice to be emergent through play.
  • The PCs may take downtime but it is not forced upon them. Instead, stress and (slow) healing happens during the adventure, when they rest.
  • Only certain classes have access to magic, which is non-vancian.
  • There is a rudimentary resource management system, in the vein of OSR games.

The game is (for now) for my own personal preference and gaming needs, but I’m sharing it because I started developing it to answer almost exactly the same question as the one you’re asking. If you take a look at it, let me know what you think :slight_smile:

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I think there is basically nothing stopping anyone from calling a Cutter a Fighter and a Whisper a Wizard and playing an open world fantasy game with Blades. Crew sheets are very much there to answer the question of “who are we and why do we work together and what are we trying to achieve.” But DnD games have been answering (or ignoring) that question for years so you can probably just ignore crew sheets too.

Engagement, flashbacks, resistance, stress, trauma, position, effect, downtime, all that can be ported over without incident. Grab some friends and try it!

There is absolutely nothing wrong with making the game work on just the core mechanics.

Speaking as the guy who has been writing that game for years I can tell you Blades will alter the way that game is played. Engagement alone will change how you approach adventures and make wilderness exploration weird. Resistance and trauma will make running out of stress away from your vice supplier very dangerous. The gear system doesn’t feel very right for wilderness exploration, dungeon crawls, or planar adventures.

I’d also argue such an approach misses a big part of what Blades is about: the fact that the sandbox is a pressure cooker of other groups you have to contend with. Outside Doskvol is a baren wasteland filled with ghosts. There is litterally nowhere else to go. You have to deal with the factions. It isn’t just about can you make it to the top of the pyramid, it’s about how do your characters live in a world where they can’t just have picaresque adventures wandering from place to place killing monsters and taking their stuff and getting more powerful. Its about having to live with other people in the world that the characters make by their actions.

This is all part of why Blades Against Darkness has taken so long. Because it’s about trying to view one game through the lens of the other, not just about making the mechanics work.

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I’ve been thinking about a Blades hack in a more general fantasy style, but I’m not convinced that the territory isn’t already admirably occupied by Torchbearer. Torchbearer is a beautifully structured game with distinct phases and the mechanics serve to build a distinctive narrative and character flavour.

Blades might however lend itself to a feudal faction game. Feudal lords were basically gangsters, right? So I can imagine a FitD game around the struggles of nobles, magnates and kings. It could be very specific in the first instance to feudal Europe, but there’d be no reason not to go Chivalry and Sorcery on it and have wizards and monsters too.

Or Ars Magica played with the FitD system. The Covenant as crew.

And this would be why I’ve taken a cleaver to the core mechanics, removing (and occasionally adding back) various parts, then questioning whether the resulting assembly suits the end result that I’m trying to create- and at the same time, looking at the sources of inspiration for where I want to go, and asking whether particular elements therein are actually something I want/need, or just tropes that are along for the ride.

Blades is carefully crafted to suit its goal, to be sure, and that means that all the articulation (as I think of it) matches up with the needs of the setting and genre that Blades is trying to embody. But just as you can’t accurately model a dog with a human skeleton without some serious editing, the further you take the Blades rules from their source the further you need to modify things to make it all work properly.

Oh yes, I expect the game-experience at the table to be altered if I use FitD instead of, say, DnD 5e. Of course! Especially if I do use BitD and change very few details (or even none). I mean that’s kind of the point, right?! I admit, I am a mechanics person that also just loves how different games work, mechanics wise. So yeah, I’d be tempted to use BitD/FitD even if it did not change a thing in how the game is played ^^
But I do expect a very different feel. I’m just not sure it will be what I hope it’ll be…but is it ever? The only thing i know for sure is that i really really loved how the game felt when watching RollPlay Blades on youtube (but granted, that was an awesome cast and the GM was John himself…I don’t expect it to flow so smoothly with my crew, if i ever get to try it).

On a totally different topic (and if you are already contributing to my little thread here…thank you, btw) : the artwork in your Blades Against Darkness file is absolutely awesome! Who’s the artist for those characters?

The artist is amazing and he can be found here:

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