I was wondering about one thing. Is it possible to do the same downtime activity twice in the same downtown phase? The book doesn’t say anything about it, either for or against, and there are a couple of details thar make me think it may not be allowed:
It is possible to improve the results of a downtime roll using coin. It is also possible to use coin OR rep to have additional downtime actions. Seeing that rolling again is always better than simply adding 1 level to the result of one roll and you can also use rep for the additional action, there’s no point in improving rolls with coin, except for the acquire asset action, where you want to aim for a certain level of quality.
It’s a bit strange to create a clock for a new long term project (ie. 8-clock “uncover the conspiracy”) and clear the whole project in a single downtime phase just by buying additional rolls with rep / coin.
Once the crew has saved a bit of rep / coin and is decently settled, it’s very difficult to create resource-related tension. There’s always a bit of rep or a bit of coin to lower the heat/stress/damage all the way down to 0. My crew is level 3 and they almost always start new scores completely clean, which makes playing actually less tense than when they were just starting and they had to actually make choices about what to do with their actions. Rolling 3-4 dice for everything and being able to just roll again for the same thing with 1 coin or 1 rep and maybe hope for a double 6 really esases things out.
In Band of Blades (I know, it’s a whole different game with different balancing) it’s not possible to repeat campaign activities.
Now, we’re doing consequences and narrative tension purely through roleplaying, and that’s great, but the rules support for resource-based tension is something we’ve mostly lost since with just a bit of rep+coin and high rolls it’s very easy to keep the crew maxed up. Of course, nobody saves anything to their stash.
So, again, my question is if it’s possible for a character to use rep/coin to do the exact same downtime action in a given downtime phase?
The only one with an explicit limitation is training. Other than that, follow the fiction and the player desires.
Example: if they’re uncovering a conspiracy, ask them if it’s important that they know this for the next score. If so, cool. They’re paying for their expenses as they’re following leads instead of going for other sources of Coin. If not? Gently suggest that they might want to leave the rest of the clock for after the next score while they have contacts follow up on leads or what have you.
I’m pretty sure the rules explicitly say you’re allowed to do Downtime actions multiple times.
Yeah, so do I, but I’ve checked again and didn’t see it, and the whole system feels a bit broken once you get past rank 2 crew.
We’ve played allowing duplicates, and there are some niche cases where the PCs prefer to pay to upgrade rather than roll again - Assets as you’ve mentioned, but also long-term projects. They’d rather make sure to change a 6 in a critical for 5 ticks, rather than risk rolling a 1 on another roll. Then again, my players are quite unlucky…
If they’re so settled, on one hand - good for them, they deserve some stability if they reach Tier 3. Remember that this is the starting tier of the Bluecoats ! It’s already impressive. The only thing left to do is to have ambitious projects that deserve 12-clocks, keep hitting higher and risking 4-Harms, and stashing cash. After all, if they don’t have any a lot of stash, they look like beggars and commoners and live in dirty, small apartments. Is it really worth risking your neck to sleep on a bad bed next to your Imperial Army grade weaponry ?
Also, at this point it’s likely that they have high attributes, thus high Vice rolls. Overindulging should be common, unless they all took Functioning vice, which can lead to entanglements. Unquiet Dead and Demonic Notice are entanglements that they can’t pay off, and can get them in risky trouble. And Overall they’ll make greedy enemies, too.
Overall, if they follow the player principles of embracing scoundrel life, not being weasels, and falling in love with trouble, they won’t stay settled too long. And if they like being settled, well, they should be happy !
tl:dr Duplicate actions in downtime are allowed. And if your PCs are not hungry anymore, maybe it’s time for them to get really, really greedy.
Thank you. There are a few kinks: they can’t overindulge because they have a crew advancement that prevents this (they are a sect). Also, it’s difficult to reconcile in the fiction that they are a city-wide known sect, with lots of turf, a very large gang of socialite cohorts, allied with minor nobles, a cathedral, vault, and sleeping quarters and at the same time they have literally 0 saved coin.
They have ambitious plans and they perform interesting scores, we’re all happy with the way the game is going, but in the last few sessions, we’re noticing the downtime phase is really letting us down because it’s way too easy to “get everything done”. They don’t get entanglements because they can lower heat to 0 after almost all missions, same with stress and damage, so the only way to add pressure is to make scores so difficult they end up with a straight trauma or wanted level, which is not something I enjoy or consider fair as a GM (some scores will be like this, obviously, but that should be an exception).
A standard reward is 6 coin + 2 rep, that means 8 extra actions. When rolling 3 dice per action, it’s really easy to keep everything perfectly under control.
Found the reference, by the way: page 193, second paragraph “You may choose the same downtime activity more than once.”
For what it’s worth, I strongly considered hacking Downtime to only allow each action once per character for my current campaign. The only reason I didn’t do it is that all the playerrs are new, so I didn’t want to complicate things. Also, I think Recovery would require a bit of hacking to make it work.
Zanchito, for what it’s worth, I don’t find that fiction difficult to reconcile. Of course they don’t have any saved coin if they have such a big operation - they’re spending all their money keeping things running smoothly, so they can’t save anything.
If you want to increase the pressure, there are a few options - consider how much Heat you’re assigning at the end of scores. Maybe you’re going to easy? Likewise, you can offer more heat as consequences for action rolls and for Devil’s Bargains.
Also consider whether you’re having the NPCs react appropriately to their actions. Are you lowering their faction statuses with people they act against? Are you appropriately assessing position and effect for outlandish actions? Have they gone to War and did you make it hurt?
If the answer to all those things is “yes”, congratulations! The players are winning. They should pat themselves on the back.
Also when you’re Tier III, you start looking like a juicy target for a score for a lot of up and coming Tier 0 gangs.
Entanglement can happen at any time, as per the description. You can wait until they are happily done spending coins on downtime and etc. and unleash the hell on them. Or you can do it before they have the chance to make those activities to reduce the heat and etc. It is allowed by the rules, entanglement is phase 2, after payoff and heat allocation.
If they are tier 3 now, they must have some factions and officials plotting against them. Bluecoats, Inspectors and other can ruin even a T3 faction, especially if your guys are not having coins stocked when shit hits the fan. As others said - demons are something that they won’t be able to beat and it is just another way to make the life hard.
There is never such thing as gang too powerful.
Thanks everybody. We’re already doing plenty of complications derived from bad standing with factions. Aiming for higher targets is fine, but since they are themselves rather large-ish, the level difference is not so much.
Narratively speaking, we’re all very happy with how things are going, and we love the mechanics, this campaign has been going on almost weekly for two years. It’s just that in the last few sessions, since we got to rank 3 crew, we’ve noticed the downtime mechanics feel a bit too “easy”. It’s clear from the pointer Thomas Berton gave in page 153 that the same action can be repeated (I had recollection of it, but couldn’t find the source), so we’re playing as intended.
Still, the main problem is they can use 90% of their health, stress and heat (which they regularly do due to the afformentioned complications) and lower everything down to 0% in the downtime phase using the standard rewards. So the only way to create additional tension is for them to receive 100% damage (get a trauma / earn a wanted point). Any less than that and they aren’t going to feel it. Since we’re using the rules adequately, that leaves little room to argue, mechanically speaking.
Maybe it is time to move to a grand finale of this epic?
Yes, we actually are! It’s still going to take a bit of time, but they plan to bring down the Empire and create a new world using a magical painting by a dead artist and breaking the covenant between his holy majesty and the Stars Above. Cultist stuff, you know.
For what it’s worth, my longest running campaign felt similar around Tier 3. We did the finale right around then. It sounds like it’s probably time to wind the campaign down.
Yep, sometimes a crew will actually succeed and achieve their larger goals. That’s cool, and is usually a sign that the series is over.
Also, the order of operations in Downtime is kind of important. The GM assigns Heat and rolls for entanglements before the PCs get Downtime Activities to lower it (p. 145).