Unassigned Specialists on Missions?

Hey all! I got a BoB rules question. We’ve got 3 non-GM players, and everyone really loves playing rookies. The Marshal assigned two players to rookies and one to a specialist last mission, leaving a second specialist as an NPC. I couldn’t find rules in the book for what happens in this situation. My guess is the GM plays the specialist as any other NPC and just treats them as a higher threat level person than a typical rookie?

With only 3 players and the game clearly designed to support 4, I’m inclined to just let the players hop in to make rolls for the NPC specialist even if technically no one is assigned to them, and maybe even give XP to them. It doesn’t seem like it’d break the game to let the three of them play 4 characters.

How would you handle this?

I have a similar situation. I have 3 players and they assigned 3 specialists (+ medic) to a mission. I assumed specialist had to be played first over rookies and didn’t let them play a rookie. Probably an incorrect interpretation of the rules - but kept me from having to control the extra specialist and/or sharing the duties of that specialist with the players.

The rules say that you have to assig UP TO TWO specialists to a mission.

And you have to assign AT LEAST one from the required Speciality (or get a malus to the engagement roll).

But you don’t HAVE to assign two Specialists.

So with three players, you can perfectly play 1 Spec. and 2 Rookies, or 2 Spec and 1 Rookie. You don’t have to send a second Spec as a NPC. Or… you can Play 3 Rookies ! See below.

Iit’s not written in the rules, but somewhere on this forum you can find something by Stras that says that you can send Specialists as NPCs, and/or a Medic too : it’s here https://community.bladesinthedark.com/t/npc-specialists-and-attache-questions/706

This. It’s pretty straightforward. You know what they can do, they’re just a Threat 2 npc technically. Means you don’t get the benefits of a lot of their stress and abilities, but it works out ok usually. And if a rookie dies someone can pick them up.

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Please allow me to jump in. I have additional question :slight_smile:

If Specialist is being played as NPC does it mean that any dealt harm is killing them outright just like Rookies and Soldiers?

That’s actually a really good question @Kayne.

I generally go with ‘no’ but let me break down the why.

The reason rookies and soldiers are treated the way they are is for speed of game, adding some reality to the scenario, and reflecting similar outcomes on secondary missions. Most rookies are just names, so you don’t want to make 50 sheets to keep track of wounds—the game would bog down in paperwork and it would be a nightmare.

Specialists have sheets always though. And take wounds on secondary missions. So my gut says “check the fiction”. If a heavy NPC tells the rookies to run, and they’ll handle this small swarm of rotters, I’d probably make a fortune roll, or apply harm that makes sense. Follow the fiction as it were. On the other hand if an Infamous Devourer drops out of the sky onto an NPC sniper as a result of a failed roll, yeah it’s a bloody mess and instant death imo.

“Do what feels appropriate” is a cop-out, but roll 2 (Threat) fortune dice if you are feeling uncomfortable making a call based on fiction alone. Maybe add 1 or lose one for gear or position. If your players don’t want to play the specialists, that’s generally how it goes.

Does that make sense? This is generally how I’ve handled it (on say the rookie only special mission in Calisco).


Thanks for a such quick response, @stras!

To be honest this is exactly the way I wanted to handle it. I just wanted to know what ideas are behind the people who designed this game and how should this be handled in the spirit of the game. And I’m happy that I had the same conclusion :slight_smile:

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