Long Term Project Discussion Thread

I couldn’t really find many examples of clock lengths for Long Term Projects. In Blades in the Dark they’re mostly 8-Clocks to Discover and then 8-Clocks to build, but mostly in Band of Blades they seem to be 4-Clocks. I thought it might be cool to have a thread for GMs and players to help spitball Clocks for different projects? (And just talk about Long Term Projects in general!)

Here are some my players are talking about, and I wonder what other folks think.

  1. Build a Supply Cart?

I said 4-Clock, because it’s pretty simple. It’s mostly worse than Aquire Assets for it, but Laborers can build it passively.

  1. Build a Siege Engine?

This seems like it should be harder than Build a Cart. It’s a fine good instead of a standard good. But, a 6-Clock represents 3-ish Aquire Assets actions, which seems like too much for 1 Asset. So I guess it should also be a 4-Clock?

  1. Train Guard Dogs? (The Legion gets three uses of Dogs. When they use them, they get dogs on the mission for zero load. The dogs protect against ambush, help find things, etc. They also add a threat 1 dog if they let it fight in combat.)

I said 4-Clock, this doesn’t seem too hard. Laborers can’t help though.

  1. Create an Intensive Training Program? (ITP: The Quartermaster can spend a Campaign Action training. When they do, two troops can either receive a skill advance or, if eligible, a Playbook advance.)

I’m leaning toward saying 4-Clock, because the main cost is the Campaign actions to power it? A supply can make recruit get 3 recruits and 2 soldiers instead of 5 recruits, so this cost is already “about right”. The main question is whether it’s too good to turn soldiers into specialists or keep upgrading specialists? Also, the Chosen powers that do training are 3 XP * specialists, so 15 XP to the troops, and more as your number of specialists increases. So, two upgrades seems on par or slightly worse than the Chosen training powers.

What do y’all think? What are some examples of projects you’ve done/seen in your game and what did they cost? Were you happy with those costs? Did you have a project that “broke” your game in a cool way? Did you have a project that “broke” your game in a bad way? What were they?

I did the same with supply cart and siege weapon (trebuchet) - both 4clock. We did also one 6clock for Mobile Workshop (change one materiel into another in 2:1 ratio AFAIR)

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In my opinion, given the limited length of Band of Blades campaigns, 4-clocks should probably be the standard go-to. Without assistance (or a crit), a 4-clock is going to take a minimum of two campaign actions to finish, and could take four, which is actually a lot of time in a Band campaign – most campaigns run about 16-20 full sessions, making four campaign actions 1/4th to 1/5th of the entire game. That can be a lot of a very limited resource.

I would suggest a 4-clock is a good choice for a project to gain or produce something, or have an effect that is equivalent to an existing QM action. (Such as acquiring a unique asset, or rehabilitating shell-shocked troops into Legionaries, as per examples from the book).

Yes, players might crit and be able to finish the project immediately, or the Legion might have finally gained enough Laborers to make a quick turn-around on a project likely, but so be it! The Legion are a bunch of hard-asses with a long-and-storied history of doing-what-needs where no one else could. (Plus, Laborers can only work on projects engineers, carpenters, and blacksmiths could produce; otherwise you have to use a Specialist, who then isn’t available for missions that cycle.)

I can see a 6-clock used for more involved situations, where a Specialist shouldn’t be able to handle its development quickly (a couple days to a week), even with a bit of luck. So it could be for special-circumstances-really game-altering stuff, but you’ll note even the example “Quality Libations” project is only a 4-clock in the book.

A 6-clock might be something like creating a “Zora’s Purifying Blood” action to design a ritual that duplicates “Living God’s Kiss” and involves imbibing a burning drink brewed with drops of Zora’s blood. (Maybe you could get this as a 4-clock instead if those imbibing also take a Lesser Harm?)

I feel like once we get into the realm of 8-clocks for LTPs it pushes an LTP past the point of usefulness, if only because that’s a lot of dedicated campaign actions – presuming a 4/5 average, with an average of 2 ticks per campaign action, that’s four-to-five actions, and could be as much as 1/3rd to 1/2 of the campaign (and thus just as many campaign actions).

As to “breaking” the game in a bad way…I don’t think there is such a thing in this case. It’s really hard to “break” fiction unless you step outside the bounds of your group’s chosen fictional constraints. The GM also has a say in how the results of the project actually work, or if there are any consequences to it (such as alchemists gaining Corruption for all alchemy-related research/development).

Remember, LTPs are meant to break the normal rules: their results should reward player cleverness in the face of the brutality of the rest of the core mechanics.

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Generally agree with all of that, thanks for your thoughts!

One quibble is that I think you can “break” the game by breaking the economic tension. There’s supposed to be fear and a feeling of shortage governing the game. If there’s too much scarcity and a bunch of bad things happen, there’s the “death spiral” that Stras has said shouldn’t happen as long as people are within a few SDs of average dice results. But, on the other hand too much positive value, a “virtuous cycle” can take all of the challenge out of the campaign portion of the game.

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Agree. My fault for not being clearer, that’s what I meant by “step outside the bounds of your group’s chosen fictional constraints” – a big part of that agreed constraint in BoB is the pressure of a desperate military retreat without enough resources.

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Like all good things FitD, the size of a long term project clock depends on fiction. What resources and expertise does the Legion have to draw on?

As for examples of the size of such clocks, you can see what the designer @stras does in their Band of Blades Actual Play game. Here are some links to relevant clocks. I think we’re missing some of fictional context for some of these clocks, but most seem around 4 segments.

E2 Part 1 13:00 https://youtu.be/MKeT51vckRc?t=779
4-clock: Mobile farms to provide 1 Food when a Time clock fills up

E4 Part 1 27:06 https://youtu.be/_UMiutTiBkc?t=1626 & 35:23 https://youtu.be/_UMiutTiBkc?t=2123
3-clock: Build a siege weapon, Scorpion, to kill specific Elite undead

E5 Part 1 5:20 https://youtu.be/L-VjHd3xK7w?t=320
4-clock: Rehab soldiers from Western Front into squad of rookies

39:50 https://youtu.be/L-VjHd3xK7w?t=2390
4-clock: Build a liquor still so Liberty action recovers 4-stress

E6 Part 1 38:26 https://youtu.be/p69pPUvuYUQ?t=2306
6-clock: Turn refugees into 1 Labourers

E7 Part 1 1:10:53 https://youtu.be/iEf-BXG-Vqg?t=4253
8-clock: Develop and build steam engine wagons to generate horse-power with alchemy

E8 Part 1 1:03:54 https://youtu.be/KKnxwNDiomU?t=3834
Alchemy 4-clock: Convert coal into coke to fuel steam engines

E10 Part 1 50:44 https://youtu.be/RagQO-uWzDM?t=3044
4-clock: Building siege weapon, stolen parts reduced from 6


Useful and interesting listing. Thanks !

You and Greyorm both say that the “quality libation still” (to increase Liberty stress relief to 4) is a 4-clock LTP. But in the book (page 259) the example makes it a 6-clock LTP. I guess once again it’s up to the table !


Where do you get that Specialists aren’t available while working on Long Term Projects?

(Plus, Laborers can only work on projects engineers, carpenters, and blacksmiths could produce; otherwise you have to use a Specialist, who then isn’t available for missions that cycle.)

@A_B So it is! I could have sworn there was an example in the book somewhere with it set as a 4-clock. That’s really going to bug me now.

@Alexander_West Thanks for catching that. This must have been a house-rule by another GM that made it into my brain as “obviously” in the rulebook.