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Grade the Forged in the Dark System

How do you feel about the Forged in the Dark System?

  • I love it.

    Votes: 27 27.6%
  • It's pretty good.

    Votes: 16 16.3%
  • It's alright I guess.

    Votes: 16 16.3%
  • It's pretty bad.

    Votes: 5 5.1%
  • I hate it.

    Votes: 2 2.0%
  • I've never played it.

    Votes: 27 27.6%
  • I've never even heard of it.

    Votes: 5 5.1%


I'll quote myself for attention, as there are several people familiar with S&V in this thread, so perhaps someone could answer my questions? And also tell me does it have similarly annoyingly overlapping and vague skills than Blades?

Scum & Villainy has a setting, but it’s pretty basic. Easily reskinned as needed. I know of folks who’ve played straight up Star Wars with it (@Grendel_Khan or @kenada , sorry I forget who it was).

The selection of which ship matters. That kind of determines if your game will be like Star Wars, Cowboy Bebop, or Firefly. I don’t see why you couldn’t do Wh40k, but my experience with Warhammer is minimal, so others could perhaps offer more specific advice on that. I’d be surprised if there were any issues, though.

There’s an additional Crew Resource called Gambits, which you can gain and spend from a shared pool. It’s put forth in Blades as a potential optional rule and is folded into the core rules of S&V.

The Action Ratings are largely the same, with a couple of significant differences and a couple of cosmetic ones. Doctor, Hack, and Helm are swapped in. Doctor is for aiding others or doing generally scientific things. Hack is for overriding security measures and general computer related actions. Helm is for piloting and maneuvering vehicles. These are more genre appropriate actions. Survey, Wreck, and Hunt are removed.

Tinker becomes Rig, Prowl becomes Skulk for sneaking and Scramble for physical maneuvers, and Skirmish becomes Scrap. These are pretty cosmetic changes, except the splitting of sneaking and moving.

The Actions are maybe a little more specific than in Blades, but not a whole lot. They’re meant to be a bit mutable so that there are potentially multiple ways to do something.

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I'll quote myself for attention, as there are several people familiar with S&V in this thread, so perhaps someone could answer my questions? And also tell me does it have similarly annoyingly overlapping and vague skills than Blades?
So, difference one is that there are only three types of crew in the setting, each linked to a different starship, which serves as a combination of transport and base - the Stardancer for smugglers, the Cerberus for bounty hunters, and the Firedrake for rebels.

Despite the space-based setting, the play area is still constrained - a set of four star systems linked by jump gates, with a few worlds, moons and space stations in each. That's kind-of a necessity given the nature of the game, with its factions, heat etc. - no point in making local connections or worrying about local entanglements if you'll be on the other side of the galaxy tomorrow.

These four systems, known collectively as the Procyon Sector, are a frontier backwater of a galactic empire, one which is perhaps not quite as overtly evil as the Star Wars Empire, but is if anything more bureaucratic and uncaring. They technically control the sector, but their presence is limited, making them merely some of the more powerful among the factions in the region.

It is entirely possible to re-skin the setting, but you need to do a thorough job of it - a similarly diverse set of stratified factions, each with their own goals and relationships, and a setting that provides varied regions without being so immense that you could effectively play a hundred sessions and never visit the same place twice.

And yes, there's still some overlap in skills, most particularly the social skills, with Command, Consort and Sway being the eternal "well, can I argue that this one applies?" candidates.


Thank you @MarkB, as well. You both mentioned starships. Does the game have dedicated ship combat rules?
Yes, somewhat. Each ship has a set of stats, which can be upgraded through crew XP, and they may be equipped with certain armaments which provide specialised capabilities - the bounty hunter ship has grappling cables, for instance, while the rebel ship has a heavy cannon that allows it to punch above its weight class.

But the means by which you apply these is basically the same as for in-person combat, using the same actions and mechanics.

Personally I found that the ship combat rules could have used an extra pass. It's often unclear whether a player can use their own skill (particularly Helm) or if they should be rolling the ship's rating in a particular stat instead. Still, they served reasonably well for a few encounters.

I'll quote myself for attention, as there are several people familiar with S&V in this thread, so perhaps someone could answer my questions? And also tell me does it have similarly annoyingly overlapping and vague skills than Blades?

@hawkeyefan answered most of your questions, so I'll just add that:

-I really dislike the "Wreck" action (aka skill) in Blades, which I think is the source of a lot of overlap issues, and SaV thankfully gets rid of it.

-There's a slick, fan-made 40K hack of BitD, called Blades of the Inquisition. Check it out, it's free!

-That said, I think SaV could do 40K very easily, if you set it in an area where the Imperium has a pretty strong presence, and aren't your pals. The rules for Xenos, meaning a member of a species with weird enough physiology that you want to provide special mechanics for it (like as a power, beyond just making it part of the fiction) can do a lot of work—it's partly how we did a droid character in the Star Wars campaign I ran. The other part was saying, because he was a Super Battle Droid, that he was effectively always wearing a spacesuit, and usually had his arm cannons equipped—meaning two pieces of loadout locked in, giving him less flexibility in bringing other gear for a job, or looking less suspicious. SaV's existing buttons and levels are enough to not have to do much house-ruling, ime. But for any gaps you think need filling, Blades of the Inquisition could provide inspiration.

-The biggest reason SaV could work for 40K, imo, is how it easily scales to different situations and tech levels. No need to calculate a Space Marine's armor and HP—just work out, in the moment, generally how likely a PC is to slow down a Space Marine, much less hurt or kill him, given what they have available and what they're willing to risk. In FitD it's much easier than a lot of systems to resolve a scene where, for example, PCs want to try to pin some marines down or even use their clunky, heavy armor against them, in the process of getting the hell out of the situation. Or maybe they get their hands on a real-deal chainsword, and two PCs are going to do stuff to distract or knock over the marine, while the lunatic with the chainsword goes in for the kill. FitD can do that perfectly, and in a way that's satisfying for everyone, not just the person doing the main attack. You could even have a situation where the PCs are fully armored up themselves, and you don't need to worry about tons of stats—they're just now on an even playing field with similarly armored NPCs, in terms of the effect their actions will have, and the position (the risk). That scaling and flexibility seems great for a setting where you can go from over to underpowered in a blink.

-Finally, the most tweaking you might have to do is related to the Mystic playbook in SaV—they were the most work for me in the context of Star Wars. But if swapping out their Jedi-like (but not quite) combat abilities for something more directly Psyker doesn't work, the whole playbook can also just be ripped out of the game. There are enough other options, and in my campaign two players picked the same playbook (Mechanic) and to my surprise, they felt very different and it worked out great. They actually became a pint-size team—a vicious Jawa and even more vicious Ewok, waddling and sneaking around to wreak lots of havoc, no special rules for short dudes or language issues needed.

Also, re: starships, they pretty much follow the rest of the game's framework, which is that everything is about the effect a given action a PC will have, and you position (or risk) that action puts them in.

Some of that is purely based on the fiction—if the GM establishes that there's a wide gap between two buildings, escaping a pursuer by jumping that gap is going to have a position based on how big it is (not like on a given number of feet or meters, but like is this a big leap or not) and what the result of failing could be. In other words how much of a drop are we talking? The effect, meanwhile, is probably standard, meaning you should be able to do it on a success or partial success. But if you've taken an injury to your leg that reduces the effect of related actions, now you're looking at Limited effect to make the jump. You'll need to do something else to clear the gap, like possibly increasing the risk, in order to increase effect up to Standard. Now a Risky, Limited action becomes Desperate, Standard.

But there are a lot of cases where you get into different mechanical factors, all of which are relative, and all add up to some reduction or increase in position and effect. In the case of ships, there are a couple of these that might come into play pretty often:

Scale (as in size, how big your ship is compared to another, or number, like how many are you trying to escape from attack, etc.?).

Quality (the quality of your relevant ship system, compared to the other ship's)

In the case of NPC ships, the GM probably won't stat up a bunch of ship systems like you do for the PCs' ship. So quality might be based on the Tier of the faction that's using the ship, with some adjustments up or down based on the fiction.

So if your PC ship has Engines at quality 3, and the enemy's ship is from a Tier 3 faction, maybe your attempt to outrun the NPC pilot starts off pretty even—no reduction or increase in effect for that roll (or for multiple rolls, if you're doing the escape as a Clock).

But if the fiction you've established is that the enemy ship is a small, fast starfighter, with faster engines, then now you're at a disadvantage, and will have Limited effect on escape rolls. Time to either deal with those not so great odds, or do something to change them—the Mechanic trying to overclock the engines, someone firing at the starfighter to force it into evasive maneuvers (but now opening up new potential consequences, like the fighter returning fire or calling for reinforcements).

So it matters, sometimes a lot, which ship systems you upgrade, and it matters, always, who you're up against. Maybe you decide to use your larger ship's scale against the fighter, and ram the thing. If you pull it off, you could have greater effect toward smearing it than if you were in a similar-size ship. If you were to ram a massive dreadnaught, though, the difference in scale would mean you have no effect—unless you do something fancy, risky, etc.

Granted, SaV uses some pretty confusing terminology related to ships, and they're by far the most complex (and poorly presented) part of the game. But if you just think of each system as a specific degree of Quality, relevant to one situation or another, it all works out (imo).


Scum & Villainy has a setting, but it’s pretty basic. Easily reskinned as needed. I know of folks who’ve played straight up Star Wars with it (@Grendel_Khan or @kenada , sorry I forget who it was).
We played in the default setting. My character really hated the Church of the Stellar Flame. I wanted to train assassin orphans, but the GM wasn’t really having it. 😅

I think some clocks absolutely must be player facing. Mostly, these are any kind of in-Score countdown… like, “Alarm Sounded” or “Bluecoats Arrive”. Players should see those dangers mounting so they can act accordingly. Also, obviously anything related to Long Term Projects or similar player goals.

I’m a little less certain on others. Some Faction Clocks may be okay to not share. Like if the action is truly happening fully “off-screen”. I don’t hide them myself, but I don’t think it’d be a big deal if a GM did.

I also don’t think the book comes right out and says that all clocks shoukd be visible. It’s certainly implied at times, and so e of the principles and best practices kind of imply it, but I don’t recall it being explicitly stated. I certainly could be wrong on that, though!

One of the things that I like about sharing clocks openly is that it makes it seem like the characters are living people with lives in the city and they hear about things or get hunches about things and so on. I find clocks to be a great way to kind of support the lived in feeling.
I could see it going either way, but I would want to STRONGLY insist that the reason you might not put clocks 'out on the table' is not because the players should have information withheld from them! It is simply an artifice of presentation. If you can present the requisite information without saying "the clock ticked to 7" and instead describe it as some sort of rumor someone heard, etc. that's cool, and I can see arguments for doing that. However, I agree that hiding something like an LTP clock, no, I don't think that's a good idea at all.

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