How do you handle different types of harm?

(Spenser (he/him)) #1

I’m two sessions into GMing my first Blades group and I’m wondering how “fiction-first” others play harm.

On the one hand, it makes sense in-fiction that some harm might “heal” with time. Obviously, no one’s gonna talk their way out of a gunshot wound, but to take some examples from the book of harm that might go away without filling the healing clock: “Trashed,” “Exhausted,” or “Seduced.”

On the other hand, in the book I don’t think there’s any reference to healing harm beyond the Recover downtime action and the Lost overindulgence option, and it’s not obvious whether allowing fiction-first healing for some types of harm would throw any of the game’s gears out of alignment.

Thoughts? Does anyone play this way already?

(Justin (He/Him)) #2

I seem to recall the book DOES call this out but the way I’d handle it: just tell the player that a consequence of this action will be that they will be temporarily dazed, briefly weakened, made afraid, etc. Don’t worry about a mechanical option similar to actual harm, the fiction will naturally skew the position/effect dials for you.

(Felix (they/them)) #3

As far as healing, I’m pretty easy - I let my players heal 1 level 1 harm for free at the end of the score, within reason. If they’re beat all to hell and have all their boxes full, they’re not getting that free heal. It also only applies to level 1 harm - a broken leg or some such isn’t going to heal on its own, but a bloodied nose can. I also try to take it in a case-by-case basis in general. If someone leaves shrapnel in their shoulder for weeks on end, that’s actually going to worsen, not heal up. Imo, it greatly depends on what their actual injury is, and how much you want it to impact the players. I didn’t want them to have to waste time on the little things, so 1 heal-with-time injury fit the bill for us.

(Matthew G) #4

Welcome to the Blades GM club!

I won’t point you to a page number, but I find room in the game’s text for having some kinds of Harm heal “faster-than-default” according to the fiction and to what makes sense to the table. When thinking about things like heal rates, consider that the Resist dial for Consequences ranges from completely avoided to merely reduced. I find and apply that same spirit throughout the game text.

Peripheral: Some find the “default” Harm recovery overly punishing for their table. That may or many not be but one thing GM’ing many sessions of Blades has taught me is to consider mitigating Harm where it makes sense into lessened Harm and one or two ticks on a Clock (existing or newly invented). Harm is sometimes the least interesting consequence, so why tend towards making it long-lasting unless you’re looking at a big showdown with a major foe?

Consequences occur during a Desperate situation where violence is in play? You could go with 3 Harm, but maybe the fiction as easily suggests 1 Harm AND starting a new Danger Clock (e.g. a new 4 segment countdown clock with 1 tick already marked on it) AND adding +1 Heat. Consider that out as the GM, particularly while players are learning the system. If this feels overly generous at first blush, consider that each of these Consequences would have to be resisted separately. Expensive!


I think some “harm” is actually just stress. At my table, you don’t actually start taking harm until you’ve run out of Luck. This is either superficial harm or the players’ve done something that avoids harm they would otherwise suffer.

(Spenser (he/him)) #6

How do you track luck? Do you use clocks?


Luck is equal to the sum of your Insight, Prowess, and Resolve ratings, and takes the place of stress (which gives between 5 and 12 Luck to play with). You can push your luck which is equivalent to push yourself in base Blades in the Dark, when you would take harm you can resist (what I call react) and spend Luck to reduce the incoming harm, and the way I handle Traumas is if you suffer a tier 4 harm that doesn’t kill you, then you gain a trauma that’s attached to that injury. Unlike base Blades, if you lose all your stress you don’t run away with a new trauma - you just enter a fail cascade where you take worse and worse harm. If you suffer 2 tier 4 harms you narrate how you buy the farm and either retire the character or your buddies grab your Cryptos (in base blades it would be the equivalent of a team mate snagging your ghost directly before it manifests itself).