Starting level for new characters

How do you deal with new characters being introduced to the game in terms of XP? When you have cohorts and experts, they rise in effectiveness in line with the crew’s Tier. Would you do the same for new player characters, so if someone dies for example and makes a new character, they start off with enough XP to reflect how far the crew has advanced and not leave them trailing behind the other players? Or just make them start off as total newbies?

I find giving everyone’s character time to shine is more important than XP count. Scores depend on teamwork, burning stress, and mad hijinks. So I don’t really worry about it. Plus characters get pretty tiresome when they collect too many upgrades, no room to grow.

But I like to negotiate: one special ability per trauma taken. If the player’s particularly itchy, offer two special abilities per trauma.


During my campaign, we introduced several new characters, from both new players as well as existing players bringing in additional characters. Each time we brought them in, they were just starting characters, no XP boost, and there was absolutely no problem. Unlike D&D, Blades is not the sort of game where XP balance or level parity is really important at all. But yes, spotlight time is very important.


Yeah, characters in Blades have a pretty level playing field - Tier is a much bigger indicator of effectiveness than a characters individual action dots and special abilities. I’ve never found this to be a problem, over multiple campaigns.

That said, if you or the rest of your table does find it to be a problem, it’s simple enough to give a character some extra abilities and action dots, and that won’t break the game either

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Joining the chorus. New characters won’t have as many action dots as old characters but that turns out to not matter as much as you might think most of the time. And new characters get to draw on all the abilities of the crew sheet, including ones like Chosen and Everybody Steals, and the crew’s higher tier equipment.

I think it helps that characters out of the box feel pretty powerful. They don’t feel like level 1 greenhorns. They got history, talents, powerful gear, and a crew backing them. On top of that pushing more (which compensates for low dots) can get you to your first trauma which then increases XP gain. Other characters can also assist the newbie more to prop them up so they feel more potent.

Starting with 2 or 3 (if you have the related crew upgrade) dots where other characters don’t yet have that many can also make a new character feel strong and differentiated.

It’s also worth stating that players basically have to choose to kill their own character as they can always resist lethal harm and even if they die they can choose to play a ghost.