Zero Rep and Heat?

Greetings folks! In the alst month I started running BitD for one group of friends, and this month I tarted ANOTHER game with some work colleagues! We’re having great fun so far, although it bothers me how quickly both groups start talking about using bombs…

Anyway, the work group are processing through their first lot of downtime and one of them asked an interesting question. I explained that:

The Payoff from the job you did for Bazso Baz was 4 Rep (2 base Rep plus 2 for each point of Tier your target is above you; the Red Sashes are Tier II) and 4 Coin.
However, if you decide this was a silent operation (i.e. no one knows it was your crew who did it), your Rep payoff is reduced to 0 - up to you.

One of them then asked, “I would assume that if we chose that it was silent in this case, we wouldn’t get any heat?”

Although I advised that the rules as written don’t indicate this, the question does make me wonder. As increasing Rep has some mechanical benefits, i.e. increasing Tier/Hold, should there be some mechanical benefit (to Heat or otherwise) for deciding to forgo it?

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I believe no Heat should be taken, and that the intent is so as well - BitD is a narrative-driven, thereby innocent words sometimes hide mechanics.

Furthermore, if mechanics don’t much the narrative, it is better to ignore or alter them, so follow your thoughts in such scenarios

Reduced Heat, perhaps. Doskvol is crowded. Someone is always watching, even if they aren’t connected or savvy enough to name names. And so even if the Crew keeps it nicely on the down low, there’s always the chance that someone, somewhere, is going to remember them at an inconvenient moment. Much depends on just how quiet they were…


We play it as “get the heat anyway”, because Rep is a personal thing like “The Bloodletters are awesome” because without the personal connection you don’t get any advantage because nobody knows you.
But heat is more unpersonal up to a certain point:
“There’s something fishy in the Nightmarket, someone blow up a warehouse!”
“Do we know who?”
“No, we don’t. Should we tell an inspector?”
“Are you nuts, don’t we have already enough work …did you collect the money from the tailor alreay? No? See what I mean?”
But even if nobody knows, if the Heat is too much piling up, the inspector or someone else will start an investigation. Heat is a more abstract “someone will come looking” measure.

Or an counterexample:
“OK! We had a big explosion down by the docks, wild & chaotic!” (lots of heat)
“Do we know who did it”
“Ok, then it’s not a problem, let’s forget it”
… Sounds a bit strange, or not?


This is a famously-unclear bit of the BitD rules, people often ask about this on the internet, and you will find many different answers (most of them, clearly wrong :stuck_out_tongue: )

The way I understand this is:

Characters are assumed to usually “boast” or at least allude to their scores in the underworld; this is how they get Rep and become more and more respected and influent.
If they want, though, they can choose to perform a particular operation silently; if they do so, they get no Rep, and very little (if any) Heat. They may also avoid getting negative status with the Gang(s) affected by their score
This also needs to be supported by the fiction, though - ie, if they rob a bank with no face coverings and tons of witness, or if they talk about it to NPCs they cannot trust, I will remove the option of being “silent” about the Score.

Your tastes may vary; I think that the intent behind the rule was to give player (in some cases) an “hard choice” between becoming more powerful more quickly, and not making too many enemies.

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