I’m getting ready to DM my first game of Blades and setting up experimental situations to see if I can translate them to the Blades rules. I’ve found one thing particularly tricky: Limited Effect on something that I would consider to be a binary outcome.
For instance, picking a lock. If you have Standard Effect and roll 4-6, the door opens. If you have Zero Effect, the door won’t open unless you roll a crit or manage to boost effect some other way. But how do you express Limited Effect on picking a door? The lock either opens or it doesn’t.
I’ve considered the following options:
Firstly, doing whatever it takes to make the outcome nonbinary instead. In our example, I could say something like “you’ve gotten all the pins in the correct place, but halfway through rotating the tumbler it gets stuck,” and let the players do an additional Finesse roll to get the tumbler all the way rotated without resetting the pins. I see two problems with this approach: It seems to maybe violate the principle of not making the players roll twice for the same thing. Additionally, I might have to think up some really convoluted reasons (in the heat of the moment) how I can add an extra halfway-there outcome. Thinking up convoluted unlikely outcomes seems to go againt the idea of fiction-first gaming.
Secondly, avoiding these kinds of sitations at all. Any lock the players encounter will have their Tier adjusted so that the effect is Standard or Zero, whichever makes more sense for the place they’re invading. Doing enough prep that for any category of obstacle that would be too easy (because it got adjusted down), there’s an additional obstacle revealed. In case of our example, after picking the lock and trying to open the door the players would find out it’s also secured by a deadbolt. This option seems like it would feel fairer towards the players, because their success doesn’t get negated, the road to the prize was just a bit longer than anticipated. It would mean more work for me as a GM in terms of preparation, and BitD is designed to be low-prep.
There might be other ways to address this that I haven’t considered. What do you think I should do? How do experienced GMs deal with this?