Not to be trifled with + Tempest

So there I was, daydreaming about a huge Tycherosi Whisper with Tempest, being all Prospero from… well, from the Tempest, and one of my fellow players muttered the words:

“Not to be Trifled With,”

And my daydream was tinted by the thought of this dude lobbing lightning bolts like a one-person Tesla coil.

Thing is, both NtbTW and Tempest both call for a push, and NtbTW specifically calls for a “physical feat” (though the second push effect, act on par with a small group is really what I’m going for).

So what do you think;

  • Would a Whisper with NtbTW and Tempest be able to benefit from both things with a single push?
  • Am I nickel-and-diming things too much?
  • Should I just invent a ritual to give the quality I like from NtbTW to Tempest?

If a Whisper had both moves I think a single push would cover it, as long both triggers happened fictionally. So, engaging a small gang on equal footing in close combat and unleashing a strike of lightning? Sure. That also leads to some crazy stuff if they have a bad roll. Harm to self, collateral damage, etc.

The alternative is that you treat them as separate moves each with their own rolls, results and consequences. With a separate push for each one.

However, this brings up another question for me. If I am reading the rules correctly NtbTW and Tempest are in two different playbooks. For the Tempest to get NtbTW they would need to make 3 upgrades to “Veteran”, yes? That would take numerous sessions to achieves.

Meanwhile if you allowed for a ritual to give the Whisper the NtbTW move that could occur much faster. An 8-segment project clock could be cleared in a single downtime if they put both downtime moves into ticking the clock, had lucky rolls and bought more downtime moves with coin. Maybe it lakes longer but still, that seams like a huge short cut compared to 3 special ability upgrades.

If the player was really into it I would probably go the Ritual route and make it 2, 8-tick clocks so it would take some time. The first clock to study and gather resources. The second clock to practice and refine the ritual. Something like that.

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Or did I read “veteran” wrong? does it only take one tick mark to get a veteran special ability and you can have up to 3 veteran special abilities? or does it take 3-tick marks to get one veteran special ability?


You’re reading Veteran wrong, it’s just one upgrade.

Also, 3 is a soft limit. There’s no built in niche protection in Blades.

sure. that makes sense.

So, for your original question, I would say it comes down to if you are judging it to be a single move, or two different moves, with one push per move.

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I would think that calling down lightning already counts as acting on par with a small group. It’s like a bomb, if it goes off in a crowd, it’s not just gonna hit the one guy. Not to be Trifled With’s second effect is more about being an action movie star, physically fighting six people at once, and having it be an even fight.


I think taking the two abilities together is fine, and I think that only one push is needed. You would decide which “push effect” you want, and then describe your action accordingly.

If you are blasting a demon with lightning, that’s straight Tempest. If you’re in a swirling melee and push yourself to use NTBTW, you can describe your Tesla coil effect, or your sword and shield made from lightning, or whatever. We know you can use lightning, and that right now you are taking on a small gang without scale being an issue. There’s nothing to say that you can’t apply the first in a novel way to achieve the second. Tell us a good story about how the mechanical effect manifests in the fiction. Maybe tell us about how your character figured out how to do this thing, or what effect it has on them to do it.

This could lead to some interesting conversations (do you get increased effect or better fictional positioning on your roll because you’re using lightning, or does exercising this much control over the electroplasm lessen its punch?), but if you’re approaching it with an open mind (and it seems like you are) then that’s just fun.

Here’s an old G+ thread relevant to your first dot point
where John Harper points out:

The meta-rule in Blades is: If there’s no rule for it, then there isn’t a rule for it. You can make a ruling for your table as you see fit.

There’s also some interesting views on why you may or may not allow multiple abilities on a single push.

For Not to be Trifled With to kick in you need to be in close combat. Sure you can also use Tempest, but in most situations firing off lightning at near point blank is likely going to be desperate positioning. That means that purposely combing the two would end up a wash - higher effect but worse position, which you can always trade around.

I suppose if you were already going to be making a desperate action, then it is a small boost to avoid reduced effect.

To be a bit of a contrarian here: nothing in the ability actually says you call down a bolt of lightning - it says you use lightning “as a weapon”, which is… well, it’s quite broad. That could be charging your sword with lightning and hitting someone with it, that could be a bolt of lightning from the sky, it could be a continuous “force lightning” from your hands, it could be a glowing gun made out lightning that shoots lightning bullets. It’s all up to the player and the fiction, and if anything about the move is ever unclear, i would simply ask them.

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This is another one of those ‘table interpretation’ situations, i guess. Personally, i’d allow a player to use Tempest on a group without NtbTW, they’re wielding lightning as a weapon after all. But maybe if they also had NtbTW, they could benefit from improved position or effect hen they would otherwise? If you had both i’d find it unreasonable to get in the way of you leveraging those cool powers against a multiplicity of unfortunates.