When should PC's lose Items?

Greetings scoundrels,

Revisiting Blades after a hiatus, and while reviewing notes from a previous session I came across a somewhat intense discussion with some of my players, regarding items and retaining access to them. Specifically, some players believed they should always have access to special consumables (e.g. the Slide’s Trance Powder, the Spider’s Fine Bottle of Whiskey) after they’ve been used, or can replenish a Slide’s Fine clothes and jewelry for free after they were given away to bribe an NPC. I’m curious to hear how you all handle the use / loss / expenditure of playbook-specific items in your games.

My approach was:

  1. If a Standard Item (CRB p.88) is lost / broken / etc. due to consequences from a roll involving the item, or from a Devil’s Bargain, the PC loses access to that item until after their next downtime. Standard items are common enough that the Crew likely has a stash of various blades, pistols, climbing gear, etc. in their Lair.

  2. If a Fine Item is lost / broken / etc. due to the aforementioned circumstances, the PC needs to Acquire an Asset ^to replace it. They could potentially fix it themselves as a Long-Term Project.

  3. Any item that is used-up / lost / sold or traded in the narrative is gone - even if it’s a special item for a given playbook. How it gets replenished / replaced / repaired requires Acquire an Asset or a Long-Term Project, unless the player comes up with a cool (and plausible) explanation of how they get more - a Leech has crafting powers, for example.

The rules for Devil’s Bargains (p.21) specifically call out “Sacrifice Coin or an item” - which to me means the item is gone, the PC must take Downtime Action(s) to acquire another one. Some of my players disagreed, saying they could never “lose” an item that’s listed on their playbook, it just isn’t available for the rest of the Score. I prefer a grittier game, where “sacrifice” is more than a temporary inconvenience - curious to hear how you all do it.

In all the games I’ve run and played in, the items on the character sheet refresh during downtime. Unless we’ve made a specific point to change that, e.g. a devil’s bargain or crafted a unique item or similar.

When I think about acquire an asset, I think about its connections to the Tier rules. When acquiring, for example, a higher Tier rifle, you only get it for one mission. Not because you lose it, but because you don’t have the means to properly maintain, repair or replace it. But when you increase Tier level, you spend a bucket of coin to get access to all the things you need to have all your gear at a higher level permanently. So, for example after increasing to Tier 2, I think you do not just have one Tier 2 rifle and the means to maintain it, but also the means to repair and replace it should you lose or break it.

Why do I think that? Well, look at the rules for acquire asset. They specifically discuss using a crew upgrade or a clock to acquire an asset permanently. If you need to use the acquire asset move every time you use up an item, then where’s the benefit to acquire it permanently. It looks like a lot of effort for little benefit.

And I think this logic extends to common items, special items specific to a playbook, etc.

At character creation, sure - this is the Character Creation Summary, not a discussion of Consequences / Devil’s Bargains, though. One of my players pointed to this sentence, because they felt it proved they couldn’t actually lose the use of any items - but section is summarizing chargen, and they were taking it out of context.

If something breaks in the fiction, it’s broken. If something is stolen or used up in the fiction, that actually happens. If a character is disarmed as consequence of a roll, they can’t just ignore that outcome because of the above line in the book. That’s my approach to fiction-forward play, anyway.[Edit: I would add that these scenarios are what Resistance is for - don’t want to lose that Fine dueling sword because you rolled a 1? You can Resist, take some Stress, and hold on to your blade. Without risk of your sword being broken or lost, it creates an edge-case where the Resistance/Stress mechanic becomes worthless. By my read, anyway.]

I definitely think the rules meant to be flexible, otherwise they’d be more specific. But if losing an item never matters for more than the duration of a Score, why even track Load at all? What if an Item is lost during free play? IMO it creates more problems than it solves unless common sense is applied.

Granted, it will also be a drain on PC resources, which may not fit the tone of game others are going for…

You can certainly make harsher consequences if you want, but I don’t think this about fiction first. So much of the rules are highly abstract, they let you gloss over the details you don’t care to get into. Downtime rules are often not fiction first: you look at your resources and pick a mechanic, then colour in the fiction after (if you like). You don’t need to know the fictional situation to do a vice roll.

Similarly, as I described, you can play Tier as letting the characters have the means to maintain, repair and REPLACE equipment. It’s Tier that lets you gloss over how your enterprise, the crew, lets you always have appropriate tools on hand, albeit shitty Tier 0 or fancy Tier 3. This more than just the inventory, but all the suppliers, smugglers and thieves you regularly get your gear from.Tier can, if you want, let you be hyper competent crew without having to sweat every detail of the process.

Also for the rules of Loadout, they’re about assuming the characters know more about what they need than the players. I think this includes all the dog work of refilling their item inventory between missions. And in that way, page 57 isn’t just for character generation, it’s the rules for every score.

No doubt you can rip some logical hole inconsistency in this approach. That’s cool, but I think it’s well supported by the rules. I really just wanted to let you know that refreshing items during downtime has worked for me for years.

If you’re still curious, I’m happy to answer clarifying questions, but if you don’t like what I like, ok. Have fun.

I can see Tier being a mitigating factor later in the game, sure. But I’m also not assessing a cost for replacing / repairing mundane gear, so in the early game it’s not that big of a burden.

I think we’re just seeking different tones of play, and that’s cool. Appreciate the feedback either way.