Just started up a BoB campaign on Monday night that I’m GMing, and excited to get deeper into it.
I generated our first set of missions last night, and it occurred to me that I’m not sure how much mechanical information I’m supposed to present to the table about the missions upfront. My instinct was to tell the PCs all the mechanical penalties and rewards associated with each mission, but I also noticed some special missions throughout the campaign have rewards and penalties that don’t make logical sense to present ahead of time (i.e. if the point of a mission is to find a mysterious Chosen artifact, the legion probably shouldn’t know ahead of time what that artifact is capable of). I’m now thinking I shouldn’t tell them anything mechanical, and maybe just lay out hints as to what kinds of rewards / penalties are in store for each mission via their flavorful descriptions.
Thoughts? What, if any, penalties and rewards are laid out in your games?
I provide all mechanical information to the Commander ahead of time, unless withholding it would be harmless AND fun. If it is a Special mission, I may be more withholding and merely hint at the rewards so that the discovery is more fun. As special missions always have better rewards than standard missions, it works out fine with a little ambiguity, but I think this is a bad idea for regular missions. It does not take long in Band of Blades to develop a severe resource scarcity, whether it’s Morale, soldiers or materiel. Forcing the Commander to guess which mission would solve their Morale problem seems needlessly cruel.
This is a military oriented game, and half of the fun during Campaign Phase is acting like military staff officers. Without knowing the penalties and rewards, your Commander doesn’t get to make an informed decision, which makes the Commander’s ability to choose the missions somewhat meaningless. Narratively, the Commander’s training should allow them to know what rewards/penalties are coming. “We’re attacking this forward operating base in the hopes of gaining valuable intelligence, but if we fail here the Undead will be able to swarm our position.”
Because at the strategic layer the players make decisions based on resources they need, I let them know at mission selection what the rewards and penalties are. Because I roll the missions up at the table, sometimes I tell them the rewards and penalties first, and they help me figure out what the actual mission is. I also take the rewards and penalties as a starting point. If the mission goes pear shaped, maybe they don’t get all the rewards. If the fiction drives them in another direction, maybe they get an additional benefit. For example, in the forest, at the moon-fragment, due to a series of increasingly improbable critical successes, the players managed to befriend and recruit the moon-people. They have the crown, but it’s currently fused to a moon-person’s forehead. They’ll score points for it, but don’t have the mechanical advantage of being able to weave moonlight unless they bring dude along, but they gained some additional followers with weird skills, who I’m collectively treating as a unit of labourers.