Rule clarification: Is it possible or not to indulge vice during a Heist?

In page 156 in “Indulging your vice” it reads: “This indulgence takes time, so it can only be done when the crew has downtime.”
At the same type, in page 132 in the Flashback section there’s this: “If a flashback involves a downtime activity, pay 1 coin or 1 rep for it, instead of stress. (See page 153 for details about downtime.)”
My players used it during heists 2 times, I guess. Session 7, first season, three heists until now - and no one got trauma. Maybe I’m making things too easy, or maybe they can’t indulge vice during heists at all. It doesn’t happen of course that the characters aren’t playing their character like they’re on a stolen car, but whatevs.

Personally, I would not allow indulging a vice to be done via flashback. Mainly because how likely you are to have complications arise from indulgence.

Now, gaining an asset or information, which are normally downtime rolls, are fine for a flashback and fit the heist genre of the game.


Yeah, I think letting players use a flashback to indulge vice undermines the play value of the stress and trauma system. Blades already gives you so many ways to resist consequences, this runs the risk of dispensing with one of the ways failure actually affects characters.

You could let players make their vice part of the fiction of a flashback — e.g. a player says their character arranged for some help from an NPC they often meet in the drug den they both frequent. In that case, I might even give the player an advantage on their roll (say, +1d on a Consort roll). I wouldn’t, however, let them roll to reduce stress — presumably, this flashback is occurring during their last trip to the vice purveyor, so they’ve already rolled on that trip.

Plus, allowing Indulge Vice in a flashback complicates bookkeeping on the “two actions per downtime” rule. Could get messy quick.


It’s not 100% clear in the rules, but I think flashbacks to vice indulgence downtime actions mess too much with the stress/vice/trauma economy.

I would disallow this.


I agree with the other posts here – I think indulging vice via flashback mid-score would mess with the intended design of the game.

The key rule of flashbacks is that they can’t rewrite history. They can only add to a scene (in ways that make sense), not subtract things that are already established. Most of the mechanical elements in Blades are set up to encourage that sort of play. Items aren’t declared until you need them (a sort of mini-flashback) for instance.

But Stress is so key that we are given an explicit number at every moment. If you have 4 Stress at the start of a score, then that’s established mechanically and fictionally for that moment in time, so changing it is off the table.

Of course, if a player got so excited about filling their project clocks that they didn’t remember to indulge their vice until they went to push themselves during the next score, I’d almost certainty allow them to flashback to do it – the number hadn’t actually been used in play yet, so why not?

1 Like

In my humble opinion, they are more guidelines than rules (a bit like the Pirate code). It’s not GM v the crew, like DnD. The players have a responsibility to make tge scene and the story realistic. If they get a great advantage, then they should have a great consequence. Vengeful spirit, heat, attention of bigger crews etc. You could point this out to the players and ask them what the consequences were. Maybe a revisit of the scene from another camera perspective to see what witnessed their success…

I’m with you here - if someone wants to do a flashback to clear some stress that they carried into the adventure, that seems ok to me.

I’m not sure whether the original poster was allowing flashbacks to clear stress accumulated during the adventure? That doesn’t seem likely but I would say that is definitely wrong if it were the case!

I’m still on team “no flashback indulgence,” but the other point that I think needs to be made here is that stress and trauma aren’t developments to be avoided at all costs. They are, among other things, rules for character and narrative development. Looking for a way to sidestep any consequences has the effect of constraining the character to a fixed state when, in practice, it may be more interesting to let them take the trauma and role-play that change to their personality.

Even if they’re not on the verge of taking trauma, letting stress pile up rather than letting them walk it back during the action could make for a more interesting score. If they don’t want to take for stress, they have to make choices that avoid it, and that tension has narrative potential. I’d go so far as to say that those choices are the point of the stress system. Fudging that saps some of the daring out of the game.

The other potential hitch is overindulgence. If a player asks for a flashback to adjust their stress in the middle of a score, and they end up overindulging, the consequence potentially rewrites parts of the already established fiction. Unless they’ve done absolutely nothing im the score so far, “Lost” doesn’t really work, since that would take them out of the score for which they’re having the flashback. “Brag” could be a problem if you’ve already used their Heat rating to determine parts of the score or the faction game. “Attract trouble” is maybe workable if you delay the entanglement — or you could maybe introduce it as a complication to the score, but that’s a can of worms. Which pretty much leaves “Tapped,” which is fine, but not much of a choice. Just let them know that they’ll have to use a future downtime activity to Aquire another purveyor.

That said, it’s your table. If you want to allow players to indulge their vices via flashbacks, go for it. I’d recommend keeping a record of downtime actions so that you’re not inadvertently giving them free actions, let them know that the choices for overindulgence are limited and potentially more costly, and maybe tack on a small extra cost so that the general preference is for making that move during downtime rather than a flashback. Seems like a lot of extra effort to me, but it may be worth it if it keeps the table happy.

1 Like