Tracking squad of rookies XP on first mission

Hi, just GM my first Roll20 Band of Blades game and I have a question:

Should I track the experience for the NPC rookies on the first mission (or on the next primary missions) ?

Since we haven’t yet created any character pages for those rookies I didn’t write it down anywhere. I also noticed that the Quartermaster page on Roll20 only tracks harm and stress, but not XP.

I don’t believe you track XP for Rookies who aren’t being played, even if they survive a Primary mission. (I couldn’t find anything in the book about it at any rate, and XP isn’t listed on the Marshal’s sheet for tracking the status of squad members.)

So, yeah, non-player characters don’t earn XP.

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That seems a little harsh, especially as they do gain XP (well, promotions…) for secondary missions. It seems a little unfair to chew them up in the primary missions with no such reward.

I’m tempted to give them at least the “1 point for surviving” and the “highest level threat” points.

I’m tempted to give them at least the “1 point for surviving” and the “highest level threat” points.

Why not? But you will get many more Soldiers this way, and the equilibrium of the whole campaign, the fragile balance between needs and resources, will be impacted. After a while you will have easier engagement rolls, more Specialists promoted from the ranks etc. You will not have to ponder the very difficult (sometimes) decision of having to kill two Rookies on secondary missions to have one promoted. etc etc. You will lose a lot of the gritty and “barely escape defeat” feel of the whole campaign.

Yeah, there’s a tricky balance there. It may need adjustment.

But I still like the idea that a rookie who survives a primary mission gets something, rather than solely promoting those on secondary missions.

In practice, they’ve still got to survive multiple primary missions to have any chance to promote via accumulated XP - and the existing promotion system for secondary missions doesn’t get accelerated, as it’s all-or-nothing and doesn’t stack with XP. Especially if you reset the XP clock if they promote in that way.

(I’d be tempted to rule that when rookies promote on a secondary mission, the ones who do are the survivors with most XP, if any have XP. I don’t think I’d factor this in when deciding which ones die, though)

If you want rookies to promote you need to play them.

How far are you in the campaign? In the beginning you might not play a lot of rookies but as you progress the played PC’s will start with already filled in stress (like 2-3) and trauma out quickly and “jump” to a fresh Rookie.

We had a player trauma out his specialist and jump into a Rookie for only dice roll in the end of the mission, but that Rookie was still eglible for XP as it had been played, however briefly.

As Band of Blades is a game about following the characters even into ruin, we almost have a running thing with fresh Rookies coming in at critical points in a missions and burning through their stress like crazy to resist all the bad stuff, so trauma’ed out specialists and soldiers survive the mission. It gives very much a “Band of Brothers” vibe, where people go to great lengths to stick their neck out to save others.

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Well, I’m not sure that is the way it was intended to be played. Although one can play as one wants.

Trauma puts you out only for a scene or a few scenes. So Specialists and Soldiers who trauma out will probably be reanimated after a while and continue being played. It is not then that players are supposed to change characters and play a Rookie (although, why not if the GM decides that the “tramping out” whit last for the remainder of the mission. It could happen fictionally, but that’s harsh).

You’re supposed to jump to another character only when your initial character dies, not when they trauma out. On page 41 : “When your character dies, you can immediately play one of the unplayed
Rookies or Soldiers on the mission, if any are remaining. This means you
won’t be out of the action for long, often able to pick up mid-scene after being killed.”

I think that’s one of the mental shifts from Blades in the Dark - from memory, that setting makes it pretty clear that if a scoundrel picks up a trauma on a score, they’re out of action for the rest of the score.

Whereas Band specifically says “at least a scene”, as noted.

In fact it’s not that different between both games. In Blades in the Dark it nowhere says you’re taken out for the rest of the score. It says (p. 13) “You’re “left for dead” or otherwise dropped out of the current conflict, only to come back later”. So everything depends on how you interpret a “scene” or a “conflict”. But it’s probably not the whole score (except if it’s the last conflict in the score).

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