Potency/Scale/Threat - Help via example

I’m having a hard time internalizing how potency/scale/threat work. So I wanna go through a couple basic examples to see if I’m understanding correctly or if I’m way off base.

Intentionally keeping any fictional specifics from the example to keep things straightforward.

Example 1: Sniper vs Horror
Potency: Let’s say the Sniper is using Black Shot. So they’ve got potency.
Scale: The Horror has Scale.
Threat: Horror is Threat 2. The Sniper is using their fine long rifle, so they are also threat 2.

Let’s assume a default Risky/Standard. Threat is even. Potency and Scale kind of cancel each other act. So it stays at Standard effect, correct?

Example 2: Heavy vs Wailer (Infamous Horror)
Potency: Let’s say they don’t have anything to grant them potency in this case.
Scale: Let’s say the Heavy uses an Anchor to even things up.
Threat: Wailer is Threat 3, Heavy with a fine hand weapon is threat 2.

Starting with a default Risky/Standard. Scale/Potency have no effect, but the Wailer has a higher threat. So down to limited effect, correct?

Expanding on that, what about roll results?
On a crit: Heavy would do increased effect. So an extra tick on a clock to take out the Wailer.
6: Stick with limited effect.
4-5: Could go with reduced effect (so no effect). And/or harm. Normally that’d be a level 2 harm, but the Wailer is 1 higher threat, so a level 3 harm, right?
1-3: If harm, would also be level 3. Other results as fictionally appropriate.

Did I miss anything or get anything wrong?


These are all correct. One thing that I’d add is remember that the clocks are also tied to fictional effect (they’re not just HP), so the crit would also possibly put the heavy into a better position and the fiction of the situation would change.

If you want to talk about fiction remember that not all of this is inherent (the horror gets scale from being 14 feet tall and made of a dozen bodies). So if you could get the horror to a place where they can’t leverage their size (say a hallway, or an extra sturdy doorway) you might be able to negate that advantage.

But if you want to keep it simple you’re doing it right!


Hi Stras

If I may ask further on this question: you are saying that the OP is basically correct. But what the OP says is that he could take down Wailer, an infamous Horror (threat 3), with a standard effect (limited + increased effect from a critical). The problem is that on page 20 of the rules, you write : “A typical threat 2 monster, such as a Shadow Witch, is eight segments, while a threat 3 monster might be ten.”

So this is a huge, huge difference, between a “2-segments” clock monster, and a ten-segments clock monster. It changes the level of difficulty of the game, not just a little bit, but radically.

EDIT : sorry, I read once more and in fact I was wrong; the OP does not say 2 segments would be enough to take out the Wailer, but that it would be 2 segments on the clock to take it out. So no real contradiction here.

But on the same subject I have another question. The examples on page 229 bother me. The Marchioness is threat 2, but when helped by a squad of rookies, the group (Marchioness+squad) is only threat 1, lower than the Marchioness alone… and the group, even on a Risky Skirmish, does only one tick of effect against a threat 3 Unedead, same as the Marchioness alone in a Desperate Skirmish would do… This is not consistent with the fiction for me. I would say that in this instance a group’s threat should be t least the threat of the highest threat individual in the group.

Perfect! I wanted to make sure I understand the purely mechanical stuff first before worrying too much about fictional position/effects since there are so many ways that could change things up.

@A_B: I’m not sure where I gave the impression that I thought the Heavy would take down Wailer with standard effect, but I didn’t mean to imply that.

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Hi Jeremiah, I read your post again and Indeed I was wrong.


Remember that threat for PCs is largely based on gear. So the Marchioness (threat 2) is one person. She’s got an axe made of some alchemical metal that can bite into iron, plate that has dings in it from where it has stopped bullets, and a shield that can take a punch from an arm the size of a boat-anchor. She’s scary right?

However she’s 1/6th of a squad+her. Imagine that rookies have leather armor. They’re trained but shaking in their boots at that horror. They grant her SCALE (which is like threat) but they’re not all equipped like that. The MAJORITY of attacks will hit someone without plate. Will get counter-attacked by someone who doesn’t have that wild axe/hammer/whatever, etc.

To see how this makes more sense think about enhancing scale by a few categories. If you have an army of 1000 soldiers the marchioness’ gear and training can’t even hold a flank. If you want a Threat 2 unit, assemble one out of soldiers. Then you’re good-to-go. :slight_smile:

Remember that I also say in the book to discuss whether the Marchioness is enough to sway the unit threat rating. In a hallway where she’s holding the door and they’re just shooting over her … maybe her threat and gear account for the majority of the conflict and you’ll grant that Threat 2 status even though it’s the exact same people. It’s hard to have perfect, hard, fast rules in blades with no fictional position to evaluate (that’s why I accepted Jeremy’s caveats up above).

It’s a fair question though!


Thanks for this answer. I see what you’re saying even if I still don’t agree…

In fact I think part of my problem comes from this : “Remember that threat for PCs is largely based on gear.” The emphasis on gear is much too much for me. I would base PC’s threat on their Skirmish rating rather than on gear. In the current rules, an hypothetical Officer with 0 Skirmish would be higher threat than a Rookie with 2 Skirmish, which is contradictory for me with what Skirmish is, ie the ability to hit and avoid being hit and to inflict damage.

The game is incredibly good but there are a few things like this that I know i will have to hack before GMing it.

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I invite disagreements :slight_smile: Let me give you a different way to look at the problem.

Actions are an example of skill. If your action rating is high you’re more likely to hit and not get hit. Threat is a factor outside of actions. Let’s look at this with an example.

Soldier A (3 Skirmish) is fighting Soldier B (3 Skirmish). They both have the same skill. The same ability to hit and avoid damage. But Soldier B has an Orite machined pistol accurate past 20 yards, armor that deflects the crude iron of Soldier A’s blade, and better range of mobility on the articulated joints. Soldier A and B have the same skill (represented by action) but a different level of threat represented by gear.

We wanted both factors in our model.

A rookie with skirmish 3 can go against Soldier B as an NPC opponent, and though Soldier B is scary, they can still roll a 6 (hey! higher skirmish! It’s likely!) and take no damage. Just that when that Orite machined gun lands its shot it’ll hurt more. And they may have to close first (set up) in order to land a single-blow finisher (limited + setup = standard effect). Or risk a desparate move (as they charge to shift position and gain effect).

I hope that helps. And if you still disagree, it’s cool! :slight_smile: You can change it up for your table, just realize that will also shift the tone of the game.

We cheat a little bit on monsters because some of them have integrated skill/physical-modifications so the line can get blurry, but “Threat Rating” is an english parse-able phrase that’s played well in playtests.


Related aside: Our emphasis on gear over skill is a choice about the story we’re telling. It’s a choice to deemphasize heroic skill to focus on the tactical prudence. If you make the change to derive Threat from an action rating (and more power to you, tell the story you want, and I hope that you and your table have a blast) then you end up in a much more hero-based story that’s about individual skill. It shifts the tone from military to fantasy.

That may be what you want! All I’d like to mention is that the design choice to derive things from gear rather than skill here was very intentional for the tone we’re trying to set. :slight_smile:


GASP! It’s the elusive John! ^_~


One case I noticed above. If you choose “reduced effect” as a consequence with Limited Effect, that would cause the player to fail while rolling 4+, which isn’t allowed in Forged in the Dark. Does Band of Blades change that somewhere?

If not, then you should stick to consequences that worsen the player’s position or inflict harm. This emphasizes the fail-forward part of the system.

First, thanks a lot to Stras and John for helping us better understand the game and the motivations behind the design.

For now I still have difficulties accepting such a big gap in capabilities between normal gear and fine gear, but I understand the choice John explains, the difference between military style campaign and epic fantasy.
I will try playing with the rules as written, I’ll wait and see if my players have the same kind of objection or not.

I have some other questions but I will open a new thread.

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I think that’s okay. It’s not a Failure in the game mechanical sense, the end result is just No Effect. A similar thing happens if a PC suffering from a level 1 Harm makes a roll in which Reduced Effect is the consequence. In these cases, in order for the PC to make any headway they need to push themselves for Effect.

Well, specifically I’m referring to this bit
“Don’t inflict a complication that negates a successful roll. If a PC tries to corner an enemy and gets a 4/5, don’t say that the enemy escapes. The player’s roll succeeded, so the enemy is cornered, but maybe the PC has to wrestle them into position and during the scuffle the enemy grabs the PC’s rifle.”
But I suppose that is in the “Complication” section rather than “Reduced Effect”.

I guess I just think of “Failure” and “No Effect” as different things. IMO, a 4/5 on a roll with Limited Effect and imposing a Reduced Effect consequence isn’t failure because it doesn’t negate the success of the roll. It’s just that the PC’s action didn’t do anything beyond whatever fictional associations it implies.

As a simplistic example, because I can’t think of anything better at the moment, if a PC hits a heavily armored opponent they might end up having No Effect on their roll, but that doesn’t mean the PC didn’t hit the opponent. Any fictional ramifications of that fact may not have occurred if the PC had outright failed the roll (that is, rolled a 1-3).

Had the PC rolled a 4/5 and the GM said “Okay, as your complication you completely miss the heavily armored guy,” I think that would a complication admonished by the passage you quoted. In this case, the complication negates the successful roll completely - it’s not even No Effect, just a whiff.

In any case, I think it’s also important to note that with No Effect on a successful roll the player can still choose to push for Effect after the roll has been made. The player doesn’t necessarily have that option on a Failure.

The player is able to resist the Reduced Effect (unlike a failure), but I don’t think you can push after rolling. You certainly can’t in Blades in the Dark, and I didn’t see that anywhere in Band of Blades.
I do agree that the option to resist makes it mechanically distinct (and better for the player) than an outright failure.

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Technically Harper has an example in the Blades book where he lets someone do that (it’s not explicitly in the rules per se, but it’s clearly allowed by example)—but we try to streamline the flow for our games because pushes can also give you a completely different fictional position (say with War Machine) and stuff gets really fuzzy and weird at that point. It’s definitely not a rule in SnV and BoB.

A note on the zero effect—I think it’s a legit call, and some people have shown why (pushes and resists being key here). However just for clarity when such things are on the table I usually make sure to explicitly call out what the outcomes might be before the roll so players aren’t surprised when such things crop up.

And remember one of the core rules is that you don’t stay in the same fictional position. You roll to change the fiction. So even at zero effect, the person might not be wounded, but their armor might be dented. They might be driven back five paces and thus closer to a ledge. Do you want to try a different action to shoulder check them? Do you think that’s more or less risky? You could spot something you didn’t notice before in their fighting style. The fiction and the actions change where you are. The fact that you’re rolling requires you to consider what that looks like and push forward. Don’t just keep status quo. You didn’t swing-and-miss. You swung an hit, but didn’t manage to get a killing blow in (or whatever the expected effect was). Make sure to push forward.


This is a really important aspect to keep in mind, and it’s not always obvious. I’d like to make an effort to ensure that everyone at my table understands this rule, and even encourage them to get involved with suggesting how things might turn out, even with zero to limited effect.

I think this is what I love most about forged in the dark games — they’re always moving forward. The result is never “nothing happens.”

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Yeah, the example in Example of Play in BitD must of where I got it from. However, I had assumed this was an FitD thing and have been using it in my S&V game. :laughing: Having run it this way for a while, I think I prefer the spending Stress before the roll.

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Hi Stras

I’ve been thinking about this argument of yours and I’ve reached a conclusion which, I think, is quite satisfying (at least to me) and respects the fictional logic.

In this discussion we have a (Heavy + Rookie squad) group. The question is : should the group be Threat 1 or Threat 2 ? Indeed you’re right that the majority of the Infamous enemy’ strikes will land on badly protected Rookies. But at the same time, the Rookies distract the enemy, and that makes the Heavy even more likely to land a good “Threat 2 hit”, right ?

So the logical solution in this particular case is to treat the group as Threat 1 for its vulnerabilty, and Threat 2 for its effect against a single ennemy. It’s perfectly fictionnally consistent and, mechanically, adds very little to the complexity of the discussion.

Of course this logic doesn’t hold for much bigger units, as you rightly say, but it does not matter because we will not play on this scale with current BoB rules.

Morituri te salutant !

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