What to do with all that coin!

In the several BitD campaigns I’ve run coin has always been the carrot on the stick, and the crews have always had just enough to pay off their downtime activities and fictional requirements, with maybe a little extra to put into stash.

Until now. My current crew is a Bravos gang who decided to concentrate on amassing territory (turf and claims). Over the course of nearly thirty sessions they have managed to collect (among other non-coin generating claims/turf) a card room, a drug den and a fighting pit. They are Tier III at this point, so now, during downtime, they are rolling 3d for each of those claims and collecting that much coin (minus Heat, which they are careful to get rid of as much as possible). After their last score they rolled a six for each claim, and with no Heat they ended up with a whopping 18 coin! They actually managed a second score during the same session, and the second downtime gave them an additional 15 coin.

Of course they are paying off the Hive three coin every downtime to let them do business, but this is still a LOT of coin.

It hasn’t been a true problem, per se, but it does put them in the weird position of actually earning far more coin from their holdings than they make from scores, which doesn’t exactly motivate them to accept scores, except to make it to the next cash cow downtime.

Given their Tier and history and the two rather large cohort gangs they have to maintain to guard these holdings, they have quite a few expenses. But still, they find themselves with a surplus of coin most time. I think one of them has actually filled all of his stash bars.

I know that Blades isn’t really built to deal with gangs at these levels, and to me, this is an indication that we’re almost ready to retire this crew and start a new one. But they still have some story lines we’d like to see wrapped up, so we’ll continue to play through for a bit. Also, they are enjoying the feel of becoming true mob bosses. But it’s coming dangerously close to, if not breaking the game, at least straining it a little. Also, I worry that they’ll want to do the same thing with their next crew now that they realize how lucrative the coin generating claims are.

Has anyone else had this experience? Am I missing a rule that would head this off a bit? Are there other ways I could be draining their funds (without penalizing them for using the system)?

And just to be clear, there doesn’t seem to be a specific time when the rolls for these claims should be made during downtime, so I’ve been allowing them to clear Heat and then make the rolls. The easiest solution seems to impliment a house rule that demands the rolls before Heat is cleared, but again, that seems a bit of a harsh penalization, and I try not to make too many house rules since Blades doesn’t really need them, and I don’t like to nerf unless absolutly necessary.

I would question, if they don’t have to do scores for money, what can they do for free? What do the characters want out of life? Are they their to fill their stashes and retire, become kings of the underground, or do they have powerful enemies to take down?

You could be moving toward retirement, and maybe that’s a satisfying end for this crew, but I think there are two alternatives you could explore to get more mileage.

One is shifting hard to faction play. That much success ought to put a target on the crew’s back. Other crews will be looking for ways to knock them down a peg. The authorities will be looking for ways to control them. Those are both avenues for different narrative trajectories, and open up opportunities for scores based around fighting off challenges that threaten to bring down the empire they’re building.

The other is to break weird. If the players are breezing through the crime game, then maybe the supernatural will successfully shake things up for them. Put it directly in their way by making the weirdness directly related to their business: a popular new drug is turning users into writhing fungoid masses. One of the gang’s drug dens is an irrecoverable mess. It’s cutting into their profits, afflicting some of their henchmen, and generally recking havoc in the city. How do they deal with this problem?

2 Likes

Thank you for the replies.

I am already doing quite a bit of what was suggested. We are very much leaning into the faction game, and there are at least two demons in play at this point, so things have gotten plenty weird.

Like I said, it’s not so much that the PC’s having so much cash is breaking the game. What I’m more worried about is how it will effect future games from a meta perspective now that my players understand how to make the big bucks.

I mean, if I was a player at this point, I’d get right on the road map to riches.

Step 1: Go after coin generating claims.

Step 2: Get some thug cohorts to guard those claims.

Step 3: Keep the Heat to a minimum.

Rinse and repeat.

Now, my players are pretty good about not meta gaming and certainly all of their future characters will not be all about those fat stacks. But still, knowing what they know now, it wouldn’t surprise me to see them go down that road.

So I guess what I’m looking for are ways within the system to offset the coin+ claims. Things to spend that coin on. The easiest and most obvious example is having to pay off a higher tier faction, which I’m already doing. I also have a Blue Coat clock that, when it fills, has the coppers come knocking for a little taste.

I’ve thought about maybe giving them some charges for ongoing legal fees. They always have a few sacrificial lamb cohorts in Iron Hook working off the crew’s wanted levels, so maybe they need a solicitor on retainer to keep working on their cases.

1 Like

A couple of thoughts come to mind. First, I feel like this is a point in the story where you can start asking the crew what they want. Do they have rival factions they want to destroy? Do their allies need help against their own rivals? How do they cement their momentary dominance? Trying to change the world to match your desires is expensive. Who do they have to pay? What do they have to buy or create? How do they leave their mark in the world? Or is sliding offstage to live quietly in luxury the end they want?
Second, as someone else said, all this success is going to breed jealousy and respect. You can (and should) move against the crew beyond the dictates of heat and complications. You can decide which factions become aware of their preposterous wealth, and which try to rob them, claim their turf, hire assassins to take revenge after the crew put them out of business, send demons after them, etc… A consortium of rivals might start making life difficult (requiring downtime actions just to figure out who they are and what’s going on). Or the Hive might recognize their success by telling them its time to step up and help them with some major project (Dominate the city council? Put the Ministry of Preservation in their place? Possess the governor with a ghost under their control?), or else.
Basically: big moves, hard consequences, and tough choices (with the occasional war thrown in) seem to do the trick. A campaign I just finished running saw the crew burn all their stashes and throw their entire carefully-built tier-3 organization to the wind in a gamble to outsmart the emperor and break out of the sunless hell of the Shattered Isles.

2 Likes

Yeah, all of these are good ideas, and I don’t think the game system has a RAW mechanical answer because Blades really isn’t set up to run a crew into those higher tier/big money situations. Fair enough.

My main problem with coin is that it’s too powerful to use 1 coin for 1 extra downtime action. My players are almost always topped up and storing coin in the stash is practically useless. Why not spend coin as soon as you get it? It’s not like there’s a shortage of actions to be had (recuperation, personal projects, training for XP…). Other than having 2-3 coin on hand for large bribes or flashbacks, there’s no reason not to use coin as soon as you get paid.

A thing that I regularly neglected to use in my game was personal tier. If you ignore stash the characters (excluding any slides) stay noticeably impoverished and lower in status than pretty much everyone else.

1 Like

I’d just love if that bit was mechanized. It’s almost the only thing I dislike about the game, there’s a gap in there that should have a rule somehow.

It is already mechanized, just easily overlooked, pretty much relegated to the fortune rolls. But, when I had a penniless player try to cross into Whitecrown you’d better believe I used it. I also neglected to mention this in my previous response, but crew tier can take a significant chunk of change and has more pronounced mechanical effects

Could you expand on this a little? Specifically about characters going into richer areas of the city. My players do put coin into Stash and at this point at least one of them has all Stash bars full and the others are not far behind.

Tier can be expensive, but they do have the patron special ability so the only thing keeping them from easily going to Tier IV is rep.

Simply put, Doskvol is a highly stratified society, with both incredibly wealthy nobles and the poorest of the poor within it’s borders. And, generally speaking the wealthy don’t want to see the penniless beggars, addicts, and scoundrels outside their homes, accosting them on their way to their favorite cafe; furthermore, they can use their power to get the Bluecoats to do something about it. So, when a PC with nothing in their stash tried to cross into Whitecrown, the wealthiest district of the city, I had them roll their lifestyle in order to not get harassed by cops

1 Like