Boy, I post a lot on this forum, but that’s because I’m really into the premise of the game. I hop it’s not too bad.
Anyway, one challenge I have with games I have over a long time is staying hyped about it. In other games, I usually am able to achieve that through a stead source of usually lore or mechanical supplements. The publisher ships adventures, lore books, new mechanical solutions and they inspire me to try new things out in the campaign and refresh my interests.
In case of BitD it seems like the game is very self-contained. There are no lore books about districts, factions, new spells or character creation options. How do you folks stay hyped about the game over a longer time?
I tried watching Peaky Blinder again and while I enjoy it, it didn’t spark a ton of creative ideas. What are some other low effort things I could do (I don’t have a PC or a console to play Dishonored, so I am somewhat limited). Are there some books or other game supplements you found that helped you keep things fresh?
I think that before you say you have seen everything about the game, you should check the many resources that are available on the website itself…
For example here http://bladesinthedark.com/blades-supplements
I think a key element of excitement in the games I’ve been running is focusing on the characters’ relationships and goals. The city is cool and the scores are dangerous, but what really powers the game is the hard-won loyalties, the long-term hatreds, and the desire to build, discover, or make something new.
The game doesn’t tell you what that stuff is, but it gives you and your players the tools to make it up for yourselves. Rituals and inventions can shift the whole world. Faction moves and wars can change everything. Encourage the players to make the changes they want, and let the world try to stop them.
I’ve found that keeping allies, rivals, enemy factions, and friends deeply integrated into the story helps. It needs to be about things the characters (and players) care about. Letting consequences, bargains, and clocks seed trouble into those relationships goes a long way toward keeping a story interesting.
Season shifts are also a good time to play with new ideas. We recently had a session just discussing what’s happened in the world between seasons, prepping a conflict where the city’s constructing a new lightning wall that only protects half of what it used to (leviathan blood is getting scarce). The crew’s turf (all of Crow’s Foot… they’re the ward bosses now) - and that of their allies’ turf - is outside the boundaries of that new wall. This was a combination of faction clocks ticking away, player actions, and a long chat about what sounded fun. The player of our whisper, recently freed from Ironhook, suggested a demonic attention entanglement came from a horrific, ancient ur-demon that he discovered bound in the foundations of the prison itself - starting a new relationship and potentially a whole new plotline.
If you’re looking for an outside source of inspiration, I would go with the Gentleman Bastard books by Scott Lynch, Starting with The Lies of Locke Lamora. They’re about con-men in a renaissance Venice type fantasy world.
The discord and subreddit are both pretty active and worth checking out for more Blades discussion/inspiration. The discord especially has tons of stuff to dig through.
I re-read the three books just after I started DMing Blades. Really helped me with the flashback idea more than anything else, Lynch folds them into his plot in a really masterful way.
Especially in the second, the flashbacks with the chairs could fit perfectly into a score
Let me try reading the books by Scott Lynch! I haven’t tried it before.
I’d also definitely recommend Lynch for Blades inspiration.
Another idea going off what @Scaramouche suggested: I have seen other games successfully keep it fresh by switching up the characters for a game or two. I don’t know if your players would be into it - ask them - but you could have them play some of their cohorts, or a different gang, or even do a score in a different place (Ironhook escape, U’Duasha intrigue [see the special edition for details], riding the rails, whatever). You could have the outcome of that tangent feed back into the main game, and if the new characters are allies, they could serve as alternates going forward.
I also find Blades (like Apocalypse World etc.) easy to get hype for - I just look at my clocks and the faction sheet and ideas jump out at me. If you aren’t seeing those, maybe you need to focus on making some interesting faction or character clocks. Having a few of those on the table usually works for me!
Final point - it’s ok if you are getting tired of running the game! Ask if any players want to GM (let them get hype!), try a FitD hack, or play a different game for a while. Nothing wrong with that.
Someone already mentioned this but switching your character is a great way to change it up. Also, one thing that has kept my players and myself IS the lack of lore. Being able to create the lore with everyone is awesome (to me at least) and allows everyone to contribute and be more engaged in everything. It’s made my players wonder and ask about NPCs they helped create, businesses they have helped or hindered and think of how they will help shape the narrative of Doskvol.