Quick Intro/One-Shot advice?

Convinced my normally non-D&D averse group to try Band of Blades. They’ve never played a FitD game, and for that matter, I have never run one.

So, I think they will really like this game but also, if they don’t enjoy the first session then it’s also probable that they won’t be interested in playing further.

So I want to make sure this session really pops and showcase it more as a one-shot than as session one (or session zero) of a full campaign. If they like this first session I think it will develop into a full campaign but we can also restart or incorporate events from this one-shot if they really dig it.

Any advice here?


After literally just doing this, albiet with a group that really was interested in playing, I would suggest just group choosing the your Chosen and Broken and doing the intro mission. All the missions are really set up for relatively quick play and the very nature of the ruleset is straight into action.

As a side note, every one of my players want to keep campaigning. It’s the crack cocaine of narrative rpgs


Yeah. Follow core Blades principles and jump straight into the action. Blades iterations excel at starting In Media Res, so start with a bang. Quick intro, make specialists (don’t let analysis paralysis affect things) , and then to the starting mission as everything may or may not be going wrong.

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Maybe we can come up with some extra maps or props for the starting missions? To impress the new players?

Have some scenarios set up ahead of time that let you demonstrate some of the unusual mechanics in Forged in the Dark.

The Black Oak Knights have caught you in a pincer ambush. Ballistas and grenades have been trained on your position. Would you like to flash back to an earlier time? Maybe the scout wasn’t walking with the rest of the squad and was ahead of the group? Maybe you’ll call out a warning? Or maybe your officer was reading the maps earlier today looking for likely places for an ambush

Okay, the trap goes off and releases a torrent of acid from the ceiling killing you. I’m guessing you’ll want to resist that, what’s that look like? Superior reflexes so you can start moving away as it goes off? You noticed the trap activating before it went off?

My only other advice for FitD games is that you have to make sure all the players “buy in”. It’s less of a problem in Band of Blades because you’re playing a military organization, but the game is so free form that you need to make sure that everyone is on the same page in terms of goals and ideas.


Do you know which Chosen you’re running? Tips vary from mission to mission :slight_smile:

Also, I have a few links to videos you can watch of first sessions if you want to take notes of stuff you like.

They picked Zora.

Should be interesting.

How much do y’all use maps and such?

I use chicken scratch maps at best while playing Blades, or do something like Fate zones. Having just read the BoB book, I can imagine wanting a little bit more since there’s likely to be a bit more focus on combat and tactics. I’ve also found clocks to work well in place of detail on a map (segments = distance traveled / snuck past / etc etc).


I use maps as setting for driving stories. There are a couple of big benefits, even if it’s just chicken scratch.

  1. Everyone is starting from a shared setting. Having maps and visuals allow you to shortcut a ton of 'I thought you meant … ’ discussions.

  2. It gives folks a shared framework for building narratives. " We sneak over to that Central building and try to climb it to get a better look around".

  3. They help me as gm to generate a larger set of possible outcomes, as I am drawing them. In our recent intro mission I realized the Hamlet where the caravan stopped is a very small logging town, but only after I drew a small river running through it, surrounded by Forrest. Unlabeled maps are a giant brainstorm for me.

@tomlommel A mix. I have a dry-erase book at home which we usually sketch stuff out on, but we also do make up some maps (I have some handy if you want to use them).

You can see me run the Zora mission here: https://youtu.be/YjmIwhDNUR0

It’s a 3-hour session so I usually watch that stuff on like 1.25 or 1.5 speed. And I prefer 4 hours so this has some crackerjack pacing (I really had to push the timing).

Steal whatever you think works well :slight_smile:

Zora first mission notes:

  1. I like teaching folks the blades mechanics through demo (sometimes sneakily). So I look for an opportunity in the first part (the sewer pipe) to ask people if they want to resist a thing that happens (an undead grabbing their leg) on a bad roll, or to flashback to something they prepared (like acid to eat through bars). These are not common mechanics in other games so it’s good to get them in the mindset early.

  2. Blades invites players to paint the world a bit, so I love to pause the fighting to ask about their feelings about the commander. It makes the stakes higher when they get to them and have to decide whether to off them or not.

  3. You may want to establish where the Legion is getting their info (did a majordomo of the keep escape? And did the squad going on the mission get a chance to ask questions?). This helps make flashbacks more plausible. Forex: Oh you have a scout and they want to find a safe spot to hide in this undead infested keep? Good thing they know about the false bookshelf or the escape hatch in the fireplace from that interview.

  4. A good pacing mechanism for the fight outside is 2 set rolls (when they reach the end of the sewer, when they get into the keep and you want to montage going room-to-room) and look for opportunities to say “you can do that but it might take some time” and give the battle outside another roll on a 4/5 or 1-3.

Good luck! I’m always here for more Qs :slight_smile: That’s my favorite opening mission to run! I’d love to hear how it goes.


Thanks for the tips, I’m watching the AP now.

FYI, I found a couple great maps of a chateau in this thread on the ICE forums that I’m going to use. It’s in a village (not as isolated as I pictured) but I think that still works.

Two set-up things I’m curious about:

  1. How many rookies accompany the PCs? If I’m reading right, the squad is just five people, so on the opening mission if I have 3 PCs then there are 2 Rookies helping out? Or am I wrong about that?

  2. Can you give an example of how the Zora/Undead clocks advance on a sample roll? I saw you roll 4 dice for Zora and 3 dice for the Undead + Infamous. How big are those clocks?

EDIT: In the sample mission it says to set one 10-clock for Zora and an 8-clock for the castle alert and a 10-clock for the commander breaking. In the AP it looks like there are just two racing clocks? Obviously if the undead fill Zora’s clock, she abandons the assault. Trying to picture what Zora is rolling for. If she gets successes, that fills ticks on a clock, but which one and to what effect?

I think that’s all I have for now. Excited to run this tonight.

Hi Tom,

I’m curious too about the answer for the clocks, but for hte rookies I can answer .

On the starting mission you have the specialists, one per player, and a full squad, five rookies. Exception would be if players play PC Rookies, but in any case you have 5 rookies, PC+NPC.

For the following, “normal” missions, it is 2 specialists and a squad. So, if you had 4 players, 2 would play Rookies (or soldiers if sonme rokies have already been promoted). If there is a doctor, it can be 3 specialists.

BUT if the squd the Marshal sends on the missions already has had some Rookies killed and has not been replenished by new recruits, the you would not have 5 rookies. The Marshal could of course reassign the rookies to always send full squads, but then there could be morale, discipline problems inside the squad…

Some special missions allow or request qdditionnal specialists, or only rookies, etc.

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These are probably late but I’ll leave them here for posterity.

A_B was right. Five rookies (one squad) acoompany the PCs. The usual deploy (1 squad + 2 specialists) is 7 individuals.

So for clocks Zora won’t be able to take the whole keep with her and 1-2 units. They have a fortified position and siege weapons. So her clock is for holding their attention. As long as she has that there should be fewer enemies, noise outside, and a good chance the PCs can use the commotion to escape. If the clock runs out, there are a bunch more squads patrolling, and that sneakiness (or speed) becomes much more paramount, because there are vastly more reinforcements.

In an open field, I might do two clocks for Zora and her troops AND the infamous, and zora’s rolls would fill the infamous’ clocks up. Because she has an active chance of defeating them.

So let’s do a quick example:

Zora’s got a 10-clock in front of her. We know the undead will roll (they roll a 4/5) so they’ll fill up 2 ticks of zora’s clock. But how do we interpret that? I can say “they have made some progress” (which is true) but when I don’t know the answer offhand, or I want to divine things a bit more I roll a fortune roll. In this case Zora’s. So she rolls 4 dice (her threat) and gets a 6. So Zora got a 6, and the undead a 4/5 so how do I interpret that? Well I think they hold the undead attention mightily. Though those monsters are making headway with siege weapons and the like, the legion is landing prime shots with blackshot and Zora is protecting them with her flaming sword. I’d probably describe her being awesome here.

Let’s try a different example. Zora rolls 4/5, undead roll 6 (3 segments). I’d say here that the Legion holds firm, but a nasty hit by a siege weapon leaves 3 rookies wounded, and zora defends a bit of a fighting retreat. When you return to camp you might find a few folks having their heads bandaged up, but maybe grinning, and Zora commending them on their bravery.

PS. How did the game go? :slight_smile: