I’m pretty new to the game. Loving it so far.
However, I was thinking of a possible issue: at higher levels, a PC can end up having 4 points in an Action Rating. Thus a PC could, theoretically, always be getting 6s. Does this happen in practice? What are your experiences with higher level play in Blades? Anything else to watch out for?
A scoundrel can get four dots in an action rating (even multiple ratings), but that doesn’t immediately suck the tension out of the game.
First: four dots in an action doesn’t much matter if the position/effect for using that action is dire. “I’m going to try to leap across this chasm by propelling myself with a grenade! Four dots in ‘Wreck!’” “Okay… That’ll be a desperate action with zero effect. Would you get +1 effect from somewhere on this roll?”
Second: the crew’s Tier and the Tier of their opposition still influence the fiction and the position/effect negotiation. A Hound could have four dots in “Hunt,” but if they’re using a T0 rifle and trying to pierce the breastplate of a T6 Imperial Military sergeant… well, their effect is still going to be limited/zero.
Third: scoundrels that have maxed-out action ratings are usually scoundrels that have been in the game for awhile. That probably means they/their crew have made enemies, possibly powerful enemies. In my experience, “season” two or three of a Blades campaign is a good time to lean into NPCs/factions that have a grudge with one or more scoundrels.
If my Cutter has a history of raiding Ministry of Preservation trains, the Ministry is going to eventually strike back, and they won’t strike back on the Cutter’s terms (by, say, sending some toughs to kill her). Instead, they’ll bankrupt the Cutter’s friends, buy up the Cutter’s family estate, and generally use their influence to attack the Cutter where she’s weakest.
TL;DR: Scoundrels with maxed action ratings should be good at that action. But just being good isn’t always enough, especially if a scoundrel is dealing with an unfamiliar situation, high-Tier opposition, or opposition that knows how to get around the scoundrel’s competencies.
@KidDublin pretty much nailed it, but the other thing I wanted to add is that a 6 isn’t always the end of the story- even when you still have Standard Effect (heck, even Greater Effect!).
Remember that you ought to use your GM Actions whenever it is your turn to contribute to the “Conversation at the Table.” Well, when a player rolls a 6, it’s your turn to contribute which means it’s time to make a GM Action! You can make any Action from that list. The only (very important) caveat is that it ought to follow the fiction. So if it doesn’t follow the fiction/ it wouldn’t be honest to initiate action with an NPC, then don’t do it.
This also follows the same notion as Consequences on a 4/5, the Consequence should never negate the Effect the PC got (though they may lessen) the Effect. As such, if a player rolls a 6, your GM Action shouldn’t necessarily be a “Cost” in the same way a “Cost” works for a 4/5. Rolling a 6 means they got their Effect Level without a direct Cost (like Heat, Harm, etc.). However, if plausible in the fiction, there are times where you can still begin to introduce new problems after they’ve cleared the old ones thanks to that 6.
Now, admittedly, you should always be giving players their dues (good and bad); and sometimes that means- with enough 6s being tossed around- they’ll be at a point where there aren’t any (immediate) obstacles left to throw- which is fine! In situations like those, like Sean said- there’s always those background Clocks you can start ticking!
Lastly, when PCs really are getting to a point (which admittedly, isn’t always “easy” to get to if you’ve been laying down appropriate Consequences along the way) where they’re just tearing through everything you send at them, you may be at a point where the only interesting thing left to do is maybe call it an “end” to the game. Make some Fortune Rolls to see where the Crew and PCs go in the future and call it then and there!
The more powerful they become, the smarter the GM has to become, I suppose. As KidDublin already hinted at, use their weaknesses to your advantage. Determine the PCs weaknesses and go after them. Have a powerful faction plant evidence on them, so they’re being taken down for a high-profile crime they didn’t commit; have an enormous bounty on the PCs’ heads, so everyone in the street wants to take them down; insert a “Dark-Knight Joker” who changes how the underworld operates; rob them blind etc.
I think you underestimate the chance of getting 6’s - it is good but not that good. For 4 dice you have the following chances
Critical = 11.50%
Success = 40.27%
Partial success = 41.98%
Failure = 6.25%