Players aren't proactively resisting

Hey nerds.

When I read and picture how Blades resistance system works, I imagine it could/should be this really powerful narratively interesting thing, where the GM describes the consequence completely as if it’s happened, and then the player, if they want, can just say no and recut the scene and then roll to see how much stress it costs. So cool.

Problem is, my players (God bless em) STILL always forget to do it! They are so baked into the D&D model where what the DM says goes, that I always find myself describing the consequence, slowing awkwardly while I wait for them to jump in and resist, realizing they still don’t get it, then having to stop and say “so if you want, you can recut that if you resist…”

We’ve played about 4-5 sessions.

Anyone else experience this? Did they finally get it, or is that ideal flow in my head just a fantasy?


honestly, i’ve just gotten into the habit of saying something like “or maybe you want to resist that?”. it’s become as ingrained as ‘what do you do’ for me, at this point, because i’ve definitely experienced this thing. In the heat of the moment it can be difficult to remember, so you can simply remind them!


Our group is pretty used to Blades by now. We’ve played 4 campaigns, including one of S&V. We’ve used resistance in the past, but we’re fairly risk averse as a group and prefer to keep stress spends for emergencies. One of our players tends to panic if he’s on 3 stress, for instance.

So, yeah, even though we know about resistance, and have used it, we mostly don’t. As a GM, I’d keep doing what you’re doing, suggest that they might want to roll resistance, or say: “oh, you’re going to go with that consequence, are you?”

Or, if you want to push it, you could press them with some hard choices;

“Ezabelle, or was it Melina, you’re not sure - the air in the Sisters’ house is thick and heady - commands you to draw your knife. You can think of no good reason not to. Or would you like to resist that?”


I’ve been playing Forged in the Dark products since the first Blades books shipped, and I still have to remind my veteran players that they can resist. Eventually it will just be a part of your GM banter: “Your cheap gun jams and the bullet explodes inside it, blasting open the barrel and blowing off one of your fingers, unless of course you resist that…”

One thing I feel helps players get into the mood for Blades Resistance rolls is if you play really fast and hard. In most games damage is a process of slow attrition as a pool of HP or dice gets slowly wittled down to 0, this also encourages resource hoarding. If you strike out really hard in the beginning, “On a three the gang toughs all pull out pistols and shoot you full of holes, you’re mortally wounded and possibly dying, unless…” Then your players know that they’ll need to Resist danger tactically to get through the scene.


Good to know I’m not alone! Yeah, it seems like it would in their best interest to remember this wonderful power they have, but you’re right, they get caught up in the story. Maybe it’s hard to turn the “yes and…” brain off, even when the game wants you to! Ha!

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Yes! Great advice. Because ideally you’d think you’d want to make the choice to resist a slam to be a bit difficult and force long-term vs short term thinking etc, but by sprinkling in good dose of moments they very obviously should be resisting, it will help get them into the spirit of and flow of the game.

I think it’s just a super innovative and kind of backwards damage system for a lot of groups coming from more traditional games. Some of my players still tend to think that rolling resistance is like rolling a D&D saving throw. Maybe the hardest thing about game design is designing around our own gaming habits.


Yes! Great advice. Funny enough, I think my group doesn’t resist because they are risk-takers. They are mostly all very daring masochists, and feel like if they aren’t half-dead by the end of an adventure they did something wrong. :sweat_smile: So for them, saying no to getting shot seems like saying no to something exciting. Interesting how this game works with different groups and styles!

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In addition to all of the excellent advice already given, I found that inflicting instant death on a particularly desperate action usually gets resistance rolls across. “So you make the jump but the creaking scaffolding can’t support your weight and you plummet through the boards as the rival gang opens fire on you. You end up 4 stories down, your broken body peppered with bullets. You die. Would you like to not die.”


I second this, none of my players really got it in the first season until they had to weigh up a choice that could end with them dying. In the second season a player said, “Wait, you can do that for anything!?” in the maybe the 2nd or 3rd session, and they all got it from then on. Usually I wouldn’t throw challenges at the crew that could end up with level 4 harms willy-nilly, but my second season players are mental.

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Love it! Plus it’s fun! Who doesn’t enjoy seeing a beloved character die horribly before you can hit the undo button.

My players have also mostly come from a strictly D&D background, and yeah I’ve had a lot of the same issues. Mostly they’re still risk-averse, and really focused on optimization.

Whenever consequences manifest, I just offer them the opportunity to resist. That’s helped somewhat. I’ve been trying to get them more involved by asking lots of questions, but it’s been a slow process. They definitely still expect the top-down type of game.


All good advice above. Pushing hard and asking if they want to resist really helps players get it. I also introduce Resistance Rolls as just like Saving Throws.


I was just thinking about this. In a recent game I got to have the following conversation:

GM: You’re right, there is something strange about that old woman, and unfortunately for you, she knows that YOU know. With her eyes glowing with unholy energy she reaches out and grabs you by the jaw and rips the mandible off of your skull. You are dying of blood loss with your tongue lolling out.
PC: I think my armor would protect me here.
GM: Absolutely, her supernaturally strong hands make contact with your skull. You are unconscious with a fractured skull, rank 3 harm.
PC: No, I’m pretty sure I told you that I had a shield in this scene, so I’ll use that to block some of the blow.
GM: The shield catches the worst of the hit, you’ve lost a lot of teeth and your face is bruised and mangled beyond recognition, rank 2 harm.
PC: Yikes, okay, I’m still resisting.
GM: Okay, you’ve lost some teeth. Rank 1 harm.


real nice!

The resistance mechanics just ‘clicked’ for us during the last session. One player brought it up just before we started playing, and suddenly everyone was resisting everything :slight_smile: This had two interesting effects on how the game went:

  1. We stopped reveling in chaos - up to this point a lot of consequences were spiraling the action out of control which led to wild chases, increased tempo and explosions (yay!). This time there was still a lot going on, but players were able to take control more firmly on what is happening. All in all - both ways are great fun :slight_smile:
  2. Two people ended up with brand new traumas (we had one in entire team up till now) - let’s see if they will be more careful with resisting next time
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