"Freelancer" Custom Downtime Activity

Hello, Good day to all.

Basically, one of my PCs has the classic “came from a rich family but lost all the money” background and thus, his main object is to have a big stash to regain his lifestyle.

We are already a few sessions and he already intents to get the Slide’s “Something from the Side” ability and while crew reward is a thing, it’s a small cut so he wants more. Together, we thought about a “Freelancer” downtime action so he can get some money from the side.

Right now, the rules are:

Work a contact (that is willing to pay) for some extra coin on the side. You get coin equal to the Contractor’s Lifestyle at the end of the downtime phase. Roll a trait. The results indicates the outcome of the job (Crit: You are beyond expectation, gain additional coins at GM’s discretion; 6: You perform well and nothing special happens; 4-5: Some complications arise, choose one job inconvenience (see below); 1-3: The job is botched, you and the GM choose one job inconvenience each).

Job Inconveniences:
Workplace Injury: Take one Level 1 Harm;
Tiresome Day: Take two stress;
Underperformance: Pay is reduced at GM’s discretion (but never to 0 or less!);
Rising Irritation: Advance a 4-tick clock “(NPC’s name) had enough”.

Older versions

Version 0.1 (Original Ideia)

Work for one of your contacts for some extra coin on the side. Roll a trait. The results indicates the outcome of the job (1-3: The job is botched, select or roll an additional entanglement; 4-5: You do what you must, gain (Contractor’s Lifestyle - 1) coins; 6: You perform well, gain (Contractor’s Lifestyle) coins; Crit: You are beyond expectation, gain (Contractor’s Lifestyle + 1) coins)

We haven’t tried it out yet, so I wanted to share this idea and know your opinion on it.
Is it interesting? Are there other options in the book for this?
What could be improved?


This sounds cool. But I’m wondering about the roleplay aspect of it. How might you keep it from being a purely mechanical exercise where your player is just gambling a downtime activity slot for Coin using a fortune roll?


The problem I see is that Downtime Actions can be bought with Coin.
So it could potentially spiral into infinite Downtime Actions and infinite coin for the crew.
Freelance action -> get coin -> buy another freelance action -> get even more coin -> buy another…

I would add some limits to this to allow it only once per downtime,
or force them to use a different action and have them describe what they do each time,
or award stash instead which can’t be converted to coin in the same downtime phase (which is already covered by Something from the Side).

Alternatively, let them run one or more appropriate long term projects along the lines of ‘Reclaim my fortune’ and reward them on completion with stash as you see fit or agreed on.


That’s a really important point you’ve brough. After thinking about it for a while, two things sprung in my mind:

How much you roleplay during downtime actions varies depending on the action, the GM and the player. In my group, we mostly roleplay long term projects, while vice just gets a “fast description”, and training is pretty much “ok you trained, get your XP”. What i mean is that it’s really up to the group to see how it will be roleplayed our or not.

One point that I noticed while comparing is that all downtime actions “give you something”. Even if you roll poorly in long project or healing, you still get one clock tick. Even when you over indulge, at least you get a clean stress bar. Considering this, I am starting to consider chaging it to something such as “you get a coin. Roll. 1-3 complication happens. 4-5 minor complication. 6 everything goes fine.” or something.

For the second thing, how it could be roleplayed, I have a few ideas in mind.

  • First and foremost, you need a NPC who can employ and pay you. In my group, the Hound (the person who wants the money) filled a long term project to make contact with a Ringleader (both to a Circus and as well as Smuggler) and have an agreement for him to work as a freelancer.
  • Having that, the scene would run something like “ok, I want to freelance for the Ringleader”, “Alright, he needs a man to work as a bodyguard during a smuggling operation.” or “Sure, can you train his lions for the circus presentation?” Followed by a “what do you use for this job.”
  • I believe most of the roleplay might come into action if the roll is botched. Flavor can be given on successes (eg. “Oh, you performed beyond expectation, what did you do? Did some Blue Coats tried to intervene and you stopped them?”), but the complications would be the things to have a more “long lasting effect.”

Either way, thanks for the pointer! I will take it in consideration when using the action in the future.

Yes, indeed! I thought the same while considering Hosidax’s comment.
I guess I would probably limit it for only once per Downtime, since working takes time and Scroundels don’t have a lot of “free time”.

Nice catch.

That’s also a valid ideia, however, in his case, I don’t think it’s applicable. His backstory is that he stole his family riches and spent it all throughout the years.

I guess it could just be a “Get Rich” project. Well, I will check his opinion on it.

Thanks for the idea.


@Hosidax_Hosidax and @Sura, I’ve created a new version of the action based on your feedbacks (in the original post).

For one, I’ve made the payment only after downtime ends, this should avoid infinite recursion of actions for the time being.

Another, I tried approaching it more to the style of the existing actions, specially vice (job incovenience is a toned down overindulging). I believe these should balance the skill cost / reward a bit more, while possibly opening some roleplaying options.

I would love to hear your opinions on it once again, if you have the time (=

1 Like

The others had excellent feedback on the downtime activity. Which is probably how to do it! But just to spark thoughts…What if instead of a downtime activity, you run a play by post and/or run a separate session with the player. Let them do freelance stuff in freeplay, then you don’t mess with the downtime activity economy.

There’s some good feedback from others already on how this action could work/be tweaked.

My thoughts are a little more about what this will do to the atmosphere and economy of your Duskwall. The base game assumes that life is hard, that “regular work” does not give enough reward for most people to get ahead, and that is why this brave group of characters have banded together to seek fortune. Crime (the crew reward) is their best bet at having a life that doesn’t suck.

If they can make more coin with other activities (Something on the Side and/or Freelancing), why would anyone risk Duskwall’s horrendous criminal justice system and its awful punishments? Everyone would just get a job and go about their normal life, worrying only about whether they have a tiresome day or are judged as underperforming by their supervisor.

I think the desperation for coin is purposeful in Blades, and that the players who want more stash are encouraged to dream up bigger scores and take bigger risks. Let them start pushing their crewmates toward robbing higher tier targets and ignoring scores with small payouts. Being safe won’t make them rich, and fighting for their goals (instead of just going to work) is what the game’s about.

One last thought – when the crew does go after a big, juicy, dangerous target it’s your job as gm to give them that big payout to justify the risk and reward the work.


Thanks for your thoughts on the matter.

Freelacing would not be doing something usual, ideally. You’d still be risking youself doing “crime” but for other gangs instead of your own. In my case, the Hound is not going to work at the selling booth of the circus, he works for a smuggler and he will have to smuggle highly illegal stuff, for example. Underperforming here won’t be a simple “oh, you fired”. He is dealing with other gangs, so I assume it would be something such as “You’ve been causing us a lot of losses, dog boy. Do you rather paying with coin or your organs?”

I will admit that, upon rereading the description and inconveniences, they do undertone the idea and seems like he just goes and work a part time job in some store. No, Freelancing should be more like doing extra “mini” score after the score, every risk included. Maybe the drawbacks should be higher, not sure.

Plus, I wouldn’t say this is just about having a tiresome day or whatever. You have to spend one of your downtime activities on it, so it’s one less vice indulge, one less healing. They are overworking themselves, little by little.

That’s one strong point you bring to the table there.

While I might spend more time considering it, I agree with you. At the same time, freelancing could be considered taking a risk. Again, maybe the drawbacks are not as bad, but I see this as a way of his character going “I want to spend every opportunity I have trying to get more coins.” The risk here is, again, not doing something else (plus the work problems), not indulging or healing and so on.

I suppose the main issue could be that the character simply uses the coins to heal in the next downtime. Might consider sending the coin to the stash, if thats the case.

Yes, indeed.

Even so, most of the times they do scores with 3 to 4 players. Considering a big payout being 12 coins, thats 3 coins per person average, which means they need about 3 to 4 scores to get a single stash tier.

In a sense, this goes back to your previous quote. Of course, this could also be because they decide to split it evenly, maybe the Hound should go and try to get a bigger part for himself.

Dunno, I consider 12 coins a big payout due to the book.

Either way, once again thank you for your thoughts on the matter. It’s always nice too see some different views on it and take them into consideration.

I am still unsure how to handle it. Guess the best to do right now is to check the hound’s opinion on this.

If you’re imagining real risk for this reward, I think I’d make these “extra-curricular” jaunts part of freeplay, using action rolls with potential consequences instead of a new downtime action (fortune rolls generally are for things that don’t carry danger).
A couple of rolls (or more if required) to see how a job goes, coming from the fiction, with the possibility of harm, stress caused by resistance or seeking advantage, or complications (Do his solo activities become trouble for the larger crew? What if new enemies start hunting him down at inopportune moments?).
That might be the simplest way to show the pressures of burning the candle at both ends. What happens when he shows up for a crew score with a fancy new coat, but his arm in a cast or no stress to spend?
Working alone is dangerous (no teamwork actions for one thing). I’d celebrate that, and let it be part of the story.

But thats what I planned to do with the downtime action.

I normally roleplay the actions with the character, a bit more “zoomed out” than the rest of the stuff, but played nonetheless. Part of the idea of making it in downtime was turning this free play into a more concise and concrete action.

Using it in free play might be better, mainly due to downtime actions economy (mentioned by Paul) and since downtime should be a “rest” for the character without downsides (let’s pretend overindulging is not a thing).

To be honest I guess I will just talk to him and see what he prefers, but might increase the consequences if he decides to stick with the downtime.

Thank you for your insights and help on the subject (=

1 Like