General ideas for score obstacles

As the title says I’m looking for obstacles to throw in the players’ way during a score as I want to have something other than generic guard #345 coming at the scoundrels or having eight locked doors bar their way.
Thanks in advance!


Horrific beasts that have been surgically altered with sparkcraft augments to make them (mostly) controllable through pain training or creepy direct modification of ther neural reward structures.

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Paralytic field generators. Guards have some kind of bypass shunt.

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Electroplasmic marker dust squibs. Victims are marked invisibly to normal sight, but blaze brightly and leave an easily traceable trail in the ghost field. Decontamination requires time, fancy equipment, or involved rituals.


The Heist Deck by @AndrewShields has some great obstacles and complications.


Really like the dust squibs. You could even have an advanced version which makes the dusted person more attractive to ghosts until they’ve been through the decontamination process.

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I guess it really depends on what kind of score you’re running. Social, assault, stealth?

Try to think of obstacles more broadly and ideally chose obstacles that don’t already imply a specific way to overcome them. Leave room for your players to be creative. I will still try to give some concrete examples like you asked:

  • finding a certain person in the crowd of a masquerade ball without drawing attention to yourselves
  • getting the warden off your back for a few minutes to talk to in private with an Ironhook inmate
  • finding Dunvil’s secret lab in the catacombs below the church of ecstasy
  • a well guarded elevator is the only obvious way to the lower levels of the cellar
  • get an important piece of information out of a slumming noble
  • place false evidence in a believable fashion
  • make an Iruvian scientist arriving at Gaddoc station climb into your carriage to kidnap him
  • lure a party guest out to the balcony
  • get past a lightning barrier
  • convince someone to sign a ghost contract
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When the players went with a smuggling crew last season I found it useful to sit down and figure out some complications in advance (with a lot of help from the Discord), since I quickly found out I don’t really have a lot of ideas for making transportation interesting.

Here’s the list I compiled, if it’s helpful. The first five are general score types and the rest I used both as consequences and starting obstacles.

Setting up smuggling jobs
Acquire goods.
Prepare the goods

High speed chase.
Vehicle breaks down.
Cargo too large/heavy for vehicle.
Dangerous cargo.
Time constraints.
Gang wars
Conflicting Clients
Heavy cart crashes down into the catacombs/mines/river.
Magic ritual takes control of the goats/vehicle.
Double-crossing clients.
Leaving the city is required.
Traffic Jam

I’ve also noted down a few from Uncle Aldo’s Devil’s Bargain Emporium (found on the G+), there’s a lot of inspiration there for consequences. They’re pretty heavy as bargains go, at least as MY bargains go, but I’m still going to try them on the players :smiley:

One I’m particularly interested in since the crew is Daring (or “Ambitious But Stupider” as we also call it), is: “Once more unto the breach: No one trusts your judgement. For the rest of the score, no one can Assist you.” (slight wording change by me)
They do assists all the time, but it also makes sense for the other characters to get cold feet when things like dumping explosives into vehicles while driving, or sitting backwards on motorcycles, or being the Driver that’s always drunk keep happening :smile: (we’re playing Glow in the Dark the postapocalyptic hack)

Hope it helps somehow!

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Everything the scoundrels steal with somehow belong to some other faction. Look over what they do and how they do it and jot down ideas.

The Dimmer Sisters might have an alarm system made of networked feral ghosts. Scurlock might have ancient wards. The Hive will have hired security in dapper uniforms with the latest weapons but likely nothing (yet) to counter whisper’s magical stuff. The Imperial Guard might have patrolling War Hulls and guard dogs that can smell ghosts. The Lampblacks might have a few off-work coal workers with cudgels and knives. The Red Sashes, a few Iruvian martial arts students practicing their swordplay and maybe some foreign Iruvian security measures that we don’t see in Duskwall very often.

I just look at the map, see who has gangs in that area and go from there.


Maybe it’s fine if I don’t limit the idea not only to obstacles/complications but take a more broader approach to prep for the next session.
I saw a cool idea at @CasterShell 's BaD and created (what I called) “Scenes” from it. Dylan described zones in this format and I liked the idea to give different zones/scenes a different flavor. I liked this a lot because I’m pretty guilty with using the same and the same complications again and again, missing some specifics of the situation (as someone already posted above).

So, a scene in a swamp should feel like swamp. A scene with a hag should feel different than a fight vs. a vampire etc. This scenes describes not only complications, but opportunities, tick-a-clock, telegraph dangers as well. Some has lots of text, some don’t.

So, without further ado, here is an example of a scene from my aFoD hack:

“Give us vengeance or give as death”

They say that a gang of brothers Mark, Matt, Luke & John were buried here. They were called "The Four Evangelists". Only a silly name, right?

Dark clouds on the horizon, the night starts early today (Telegraph Danger). People say that a hint to a secret stash is hidden somewhere in their graves (Provide Opportunities). Looks like heavy tomb slabs are covering their graves. These are too heavy to lift without proper tools and you brought only shovels (Complication). You feel that the spirits are restless at this place (Tick a clock). You feel an ice cold hand reaching for your heart (Harm: Possessed). You watch in horror as your hand reaches for your gun, drawing it on your allies (Complication). One of the tomb slabs is slipping sideways all by itself. Or is this a hand pushing from below? (Tick a Clock).

So, useful as a starting situation or as general GM prep. Just writing them up front gives me a more solid base to draw from during play, even if I don’t use them at all.

Again, credit to @CasterShell for the original idea and you may guess where the scene was stolen.


Hooray! This was useful for someone!

This is essentially what I do when I prep a session. I sit down and visualize the scene and think up cool images. Inevitably lots of them are also GM Moves.

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Keep in mind that Duskwall is built on an estuary. There are tides. There may be passageways that are only accessible at low tide. Start a tidal clock.

Any time we are underground there is the possibility of flooding. (Ask anyone from Coalridge – they’ll have a terrifying subterranean flood story about someone they know. )

(I like to imagine that there are canals at different levels, accessible via a complex system of locks. My Duskwall has canals that cross each other on different levels. Brightstone is up on a plateau – its canals are fed by a freshwater spring and used primarily for recreational boating.)