The Engagement Roll

I liked the BitD game mechanics, so my group tried that this year. We don’t play in Darkvol,
so I excised all the world-specific stuff, and use only the BitD base rules.

My style of GMing is very “sandboxy”, and so my group often ends up with a bunch of jobs
running simultaneously. Currently, they have five on the go. A game evening can have them
switching between several jobs. So this aspect brings up my question:

Should I treat one job as one score, so I make a single Engagement roll and that
covers that whole job and all its parts, even though that score can be interwoven with other
scores and played out over several evenings (thus you would carry-over the original Engagement roll)?

Or should I split the job up into multiple “scores” (for each time the party does one piece of that job), even if a score might only be a tiny chunk (like only one Action roll)?

Note that we only do the pay/heat/rep/downtime at the end of a job (not a piece), so that implies the former. But not necessarily.

Because of this, I often forget to do an Engagement roll at all (in effect “always Risky”), so maybe my question is moot. But there are some playbook feats that give Engagement roll bonuses, so they would suffer.

Hi Andrew. The Engagement roll does not cover the whole score, and you don’t need to “carry it over”. The Engagement roll only covers the first (or the few first, depending on fiction) actions of the score; it deals only with the first obstacle, or the next one if they get a CRITICAL. You of course don’t stay in the position determined by the Engagement roll for the whole score.

Also it seems, but I could be wrong here, that what you call a “score” would in fact be a succession of scores in Blades. See page 125: “A score is a single operation with a particular goal”. It is not a complex operation like “Bring down the Grinders”, or “Establish a whole network of informants”.

If your players are able to switch between several scores during each session, I would make the hypothesis that they are going from one “single operation” to another, each part of different overarching “complex operation”; they are in fact not “switching scores”, but going from one completed score to another. In that case they would have to roll their engagement each time.

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To me it seems like these scores are indeed part of a big operation instead of a single unity of actions like @A_B said. I think the biggest problem you may encounter with this approach, however, is when to have the downtime phase. The game isn’t degined in a way where you go Score 1 > Score 2 > Score 3 > Score 4 without stopping to lick your wounds. Mainly because 1) it needs characters to relief stress and 2) it needs to give time for the factions to react to what the players just accomplished (or failed to accomplish). The whole pitch for Blades is that you don’t plan in advance and I think this still applies in the bigger picture too. I can’t remember how many times the players were like “ok, we are doing X, Y and Z. We gonna be rich!” and go do X just to get to downtime and have factions react in a way that derails their entire plans. Honestly, Blades is all about course correcting.

What you could do here is introduce a situation where the players must decide when to “rest” and give factions the time to react to their scores. This could change the usual flow of the game which is “Score > Downtime > Faction Response” to a game where you are measuring how much stress and harm you have before going into scores so you don’t have to deal with factions understanding what you are doing.