Agreed - I am admittedly a new GM in BitD, and I’ve been working hard to keep things dramatic, and in line with the mantra “everything has a price”, rather than just hosing the PC’s with Harm. At the same time, I regularly remind them that Doskvol is a dangerous place, and surviving / thriving as a scoundrel is an uphill climb.
If I were playing a Whisper on a crew that wasn’t encountering a lot of supernatural enemies, I would probably lean heavily on this part of page 170: “When you attune to the ghost field you can see echoes of recent events or sense things beyond sight.”
Viewing into the past is great so solving mysteries or collecting blackmail material, and a social-oriented crew of Shadows or Hawkers could do a lot with that. Smugglers and Assassins might get more value from the ability to check for guards by scanning for spirits. You could even allow for a kind of “aura-reading”, and let people Attune to perceive someone else’s current emotions or state of mind. Nothing I’ve seen in the book indicates that “auras” are a thing in Doskvol, but I don’t think they’d be out-of-place to include in your version.
If you’re changing the way things are working, like if you had them suffer harm as they see a ghost and now it’s “just” a fictional position change, you can just tell them at the beginning of session. I do that sometimes myself. “I’ve been thinking about this thing we’ve been doing and I’ve come to some conclusions bla bla, so I think this is what we’ll do from now on”.
It’s not a big deal, the GM has to make judgments all the time, and explaining your reasoning helps the players understand how the world will work from now on when they’re thinking of things to do.
Precisely. And in Blades, changing a judgment call is even playing by the rules as written.
Another thought: if the Whisper really loves summoning ghosts, the rest of the crew could support that by taking Iron Will (p. 86) as Veteran advances. At that point, they’d be set up to mess with the supernatural when and as they wish.
We did this with an entire session.
“Well, the vibe last week was all off, I think we could do better. Let’s pretend it never happened and start over from the engagement roll, okay?”
I had this problem early on with the Whisper, but fairly quickly worked out a few things the character could do and how we’d play it. Most of the time the character did the summonings as prep for a score, or during a pause in the action. In a lot of games having powers that only work outside of direct action doesn’t work well, if it’s not zap pow it’s not much use, but in Blades powers like this and scrying and such are much more useful. I think it’s the pacing of the game and density of the setting, and the way the players really need a stronger plan and strategy than door, monsters, treasure. Having said that, I’ve a story for another post.
Anyway, he took Tempest and Warded early on which game him a lot of extra options. Dense fogs to cover an attack or retreat, electrical discharges, rain to obscure their tracks, etc. We never really got to explore rituals, dang it.
I’d also say that they would likely counter-act (or at least lessen) their fear if they are already Potent in the situation: a Slide calms his nerves when negotiating with Ghost Voice, the Cutter is composed when attacking with Ghost Fighter, the hunting pet will actively seek out and confront spirits as a Ghost Hunter.
I like this as a possibility, though I’m not sure it would work in the games I’ve been running. I’ve really been playing hard on the supernatural dread – devils of all kinds are absolutely spine-chilling (using the rules from the book – resist or freeze/flee). Even the Whispers at my table have to resist that fear response until they take Iron Will.
Iron Will being an available advance is what led me to this interpretation, in fact. It says to me that without it, you have to resist fear or take the consequences. We’ve had some fantastic moments where a player has to decide whether standing up to the supernatural threat and being a badass is worth the potential trauma, and either answer makes for a great story. I like the idea that even though a Cutter’s fists can tear through a ghost, the character still has to overcome that base, reptile-brain fear before moving toward it.
I have a couple of players getting close to taking some Ghost abilities, and this is something I’d consider allowing after a couple of encounters with supernatural elements and a growing familiarity with their new abilities. (Or some flashbacks/downtime actions to show their practicing/exposing themselves to these dangers). This would be great for games where the players want the characters to be a little more chill in the face of these dangers.
From the games I’ve been running, though, and scariness of the supernatural we’ve been building in our tales, I also see the fun in requiring Iron Will as an advance before any character can easily face a devil. It really reinforces the power of the unknown and the work (experience) it takes to make yourself strong enough to face it.