During downtime, if a player has killed, the crew gets +2 heat. Is this an absolute (like magically happens) or does it require the body to be found? (In Doskvol, there’re those magic homing crows, so this question is moot, but my game isn’t in Doskvol). If it requires the body to be found, then who in their right mind is not going to hide the body (if they can)? It has made my players terrified of killing, so I haven’t had to decide yet - so I guess that is a plus . What do you others do?
The rules state “Add +2 heat if killing was involved (whether the crew did the killing or not - bodies draw attention)”. So, yes, +2 heat. There is no requirement that the players hide the body. Even if they did someone else would find it sooner or later.
Also, heat isn’t necessarily about direct evidence. Heat is a meter that can be caused by rumors, street gossip, partial evidence, etc. “If” the meter is filled then there is enough for the Bluecoats to issue a wanted level. If the meter doesn’t fill all the way then it is nothing more than rumors, etc. and the Bluecoats aren’t going to react to every little thing. They have so many other things to worry about.
I take the +2 heat as something that says Killing is serious so there is a minor penalty associated with it. I say minor because many times a crew can handle taking 2 heat and not raise their wanted level. Then they can loose that heat with downtime moves.
Killing is serious because most people would abhor killing, the Bluecoats or Inspectors might have to deal with it and usually the Spirit Wardens deal with the body or spirit. It is also serious because it could cause a new ghost to emerge.
But none of this says that players should necessarily avoid murder at all costs. Maybe you really hate that NPC or you need to kill to accomplish something. I mean there is a crew type called Assassins!
Killing shouldn’t be taken lightly, for a number of reasons, but that just means you should have a good reason for it - as you should in any game.
The primary issues (some covered above):
- Killing rings the bells. This means that everyone around knows somebody died, no matter why.
- Death attracts the attention of the Spirit Wardens.
- If the body is found, the authorities see what they died of.
- If the body is not found, you have a ghost in the near future.
- It’s hard for people to just go missing in Doskvol, since travel out of the city is not exactly easy.
If they want to kill, they just have to be prepared for the problems that come with it. If they REALLY want to avoid those problems, they can take the according Assassins crew advance.
The mechanics suggest that it’s mostly the death-seeker crows that do it. Assassins have a few abilities and claims that are relevant:
- Crow’s Veil: Due to hard-won experience or occult ritual, your activities are hidden from the notice of the death-seeker crows. You don’t take extra heat when killing is involved on a score.
- Hagfish farm Body disposal, +1d to reduce heat after killing
Ofc this is mechanics, not fiction, but the mechanics reflect the fiction, so…
If you are not in Doskvol with its magic crows, then I guess it is up to you. What I think I would probably do in the circumstances are
+2 heat if a player has killed and there is a body to be found OR it was witnessed.
+1 heat if a player has killed and there is a body but no witnesses
There would be many situations where for one reason or another it won’t be possible to dispose of the body (consequences!) or there have been witnesses which you may or may not know about (consequences!)
But then again, you could just assume that +2 heat abstracts the whole thing nicely, and assassins have a special ability or two that get around it, so it’s all just good.