Score to reduce heat

My crew decided that they want to reduce their heat level by pinning some of their crimes on a rival gang. I haven’t seen a mechanic of reducing heat outside of downtime - does the mechanics support in some way? How much downtime action should this be worth?

Use that narration to colour downtime actions that reduce heat. They can throw money or rep to reduce more heat if they want. That’s what downtime is for.

Leave scores for activities that achieve other aims and generate heat.

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The pinning-the-blame-on-enemies idea could also be used, as a score, to reduce their wanted level (if and when they have one high enough that they’re worried about it).

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How much downtime action should this be worth?

Base this on the plan the crew propose and the target of the “frame job” score.

If they’re laying the blame on some rinky-dink faction without powerful enemies, they might remove, say… five heat? (Devoting a full score to something like this is a big investment, after all.) If the crew tried to frame a major faction (who undoubtedly have major enemies that would love to see them take the fall), you might let the crew clear a full bar/wanted level. But, naturally, that latter score would be much riskier than the former one.

I think it’s fine if the crew want execute scores for bigger rewards than what’s available via downtime actions. But, you need to be honest with the fiction. If the crew are pulling a score to frame another crew, that means they’re not pulling a score to get coin—so no standard cash payout. This isn’t the kind of thing a crew can do indefinitely.

I am a little confused - if the party can execute the score to reduce a wanted level (effectively all levels of heat for one wanted level), why can’t they reduce partial heat? It seems they can reduce the worse consequence, but not the harder consequence.

They could do either, if it makes sense in the fiction. My point above is that the amount of heat/wanted they remove should (usually) scale with the nature of their plan and the tier of their patsy. A score to frame a lower-Tier faction should reduce less heat, and a score framing a higher-Tier faction should reduce more heat/reduce a full wanted level (if the crew have a wanted level).

It is based on the mechanics at work. Heat is a simple mechanical representation of the Crew’s infamy and as such, it is reduced through a simple mechanic: Reduce Heat Downtime Action. Either do it for free as one (or both) of your Post Score DTAs and/ or spend 1 Coin or 1 Rep to do extra DTAs.

If you’re doing a Score, you’re doing something that is inherently risky, dangerous, and profitable. There would be little to no reason to do a Score to Reduce Heat when it is a matter of a Fortune Roll for a Downtime Action.

Wanted Levels on the other hand? Wanted Levels don’t go away so easily. Either someone needs to go to Jail or the Crew needs to take the Risk to find a way to pin the crime on someone else or perhaps pull off some other daring mission (maybe ransom a Magistrate’s kid? Maybe the lead inspector behind the case suffers an unfortunate accident or gets caught in the cross fire of a gang war that “just so happened” to occur during the inspector’s travel out of town? Maybe a threat is made to someone very powerful to pull the strings for you? Etc.)

Reducing Heat doesn’t need to be a drawn out process. Ya got Coin or Rep? Cool, you can reduce your heat. The analogy here is that you are doing a Score to break into a gun store to steal a rifle you could have just done an Acquire Asset DTA for the same gun.

Wanted Levels? You need to take the more drastic route. So it makes sense we would dedicate a Score for the process if the Crew doesn’t want to send anyone to jail.

Now at the end of the day, will the game stop you from doing a Job to reduce Heat? No. However, it would probably be a “waste” of the Crew’s efforts and resources to spend a Score to reduce Heat when the same end goal can be covered in 1 or 2 DTAs.

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You can, go for it. But I just don’t see why you would; you’re fighting the system.

Why risk all that stress, injury, and complications trying to reduce heat through a score? Also you have be extremely quiet to actually make it worthwhile, because scores generate heat.

Instead just spend a downtime or two, a coin or two, and you likely reduce heat by 5 or 6. You still get to narrate the same crazy action and risk nothing.

@watergoesred
You would need to ask my players, this is their plan :wink:

I think they are worried about the consequences of their first wanted level and they didn’t have heat reduction actions after the last game. Also - they thought it would be cool to pin some evidence on their enemies. Why would I say no to doing something they think is cool?

I’m really not sure why you’re asking any more.

If you’re asking how the game works, I think that plan is counterproductive. Scores generate heat, so doing a score to reduce heat is going to end poorly if you play by the rules.

If your asking what I’d do, I reckon it’s a bad idea that will end in tears. Some players get deeply frustrated when they have made poor choices because they didn’t grok how all the game systems interconnect. I’d do my best to guide the players to spend a rep, a coin, or some stash and narrate a cool downtime montage instead.

If you’re asking how to make it work, you could hack the game so this type of score doesn’t generate heat. That would at least make the score actually end up reducing heat.

If you’re asking for permission, you don’t need to.

I’m asking in order for the following:

  1. Is there official or semi-official guidance for running this kind of scores?
  2. If not, did anyone have experience with players running such scores?
  3. If not, what are some suggestions how to handle it?

For 3) suggestions “don’t do it” will not work for me for three reasons: 1) we are already in the middle of the score 2) this is the first score my players conceived themselves (instead of me bringing it to them) and they are very excited about what they come up with, I don’t want to take it away from them 3) most importantly, this doesn’t seem like a game where I am supposed to say “You are not allowed to do it.”

What would be useful for me is (examples):

  1. “This trades heat for stress/consequences. Generally speaking it should be trade 1-1 or 1-2” (because reducing stress is harder than reducing heat)."
  2. “Use faction tier to for fortune roll to determine heat reduction” (that mimics the suggestion about requiring higher tier for achieve the result)
  3. “Since the players are not getting coin from the score, be gentle with consequences.” (or maybe not)

I’m looking for practical advice from real games.

Hmmm, right. That’s all good context that I never had. Also, all my advice has been practical advice from real games, so I don’t know what you mean by that.

I would probably say the score can remove all heat if they fill clock A, but then have other clocks were they run out of time or other pressures grow. I’d probably drop the heat generation routine after the score, but tell them you’re hacking it and maybe explain how much heat they would have earned. And I wouldn’t give them rep or coin at the end either.

Otherwise I’d run it straight.

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I’m not aware of anything official or semi-official.

Having said that, we know that 1 coin can buy 1 downtime action, and that the Reduce Heat downtime action clears somewhere from 1-3 (or rarely 5) heat.

So if it were me, I would roughly calculate the size of the score according to the guidelines (https://bladesinthedark.com/payoff), subtracting 1 coin for every 2 heat they want to clear. So let’s say they have 6 heat - that’s equal to something like 3 downtime actions, or 3 coin. A small job earns 4 coin, so maybe you size the score as “small” and let them have an extra coin as a bonus (say, they loot the cashbox while they’re planting the evidence) as well as clearing their 6 heat.

I would not be gentle with the consequences, and I would calculate extra heat at the end of the score as per usual. In other words, in order for this to be a smart strategy you would want to pull off this score without generating more heat - there are plenty of moves and tricks in the book that help the players achieve this (e.g. many of the Assassins crew abilities help them to finish a score silently).

If the players do finish the score but leave several dead bodies, loads of witnesses, and a burning building - well, I think that’s kind of a funny outcome and I would make them live with the fact that they’ve come out with more heat than they started with. Maybe next time they should just use the “reduce heat” downtime activity…

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Thanks a lot, @timdenee! This is very useful!

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There are some good answers here.

I’d add that, if my players pitched a score like the one you mentioned, I’d spend some time interrogating them about what they’re hoping to accomplish. This is a cool move, and the players picking a direction to take should be encouraged and played out. That’s where the real joy of this game lies. So ask questions, make suggestions, take the opportunity to suss out what they’re interested in and what kind of story it can lead to.

The score they’re pitching could reduce heat, but it could also have huge, story-creating effects and repercussions.

  • Does the faction they’re setting up have allies or enemies that would benefit or suffer because of this change? (Are these new allies/enemies for the pcs?)

  • is the evidence strong enough that the bluecoats and inspectors (or anyone that the evidence says were wronged by the framed group) would go to war with them?

  • Can the pcs use that potential conflict to put themselves in an advantageous situation? If the framed gang is getting attacked on all sides by bluecoats, that could be a great time for the pcs to go after their claims.

  • Is there a chance in the score (by clock, consequence, or bargain) that the soon-to-be-framed group figures out what the pcs are doing? Is there a clock post-score for the same thing? If they do figure it out, what’s their response?

Like others have said, there is an easy mechanic for getting rid of heat. If the crew is doing a score to that end, it seems like it could reduce heat and have a greater effect on the world. (If they’re successful, of course!)

@Scaramouche Yes, the crew has additional reasons to pin some evidence on Silver Nails. They have very poor relationship with them (-2) from the initial setup of the game and the Severosi recently roughed up a witch that the Whisper is friendly with. They wanted to kill two birds with one stone.

Perhaps this is a score where the primary motivation is to hurt an enemy faction and the heat removal is just a secondary effect.