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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%

Yes and it’s why it’s so darn frustrating to me. It seems like it should be an unmitigated good. Has it caused any problems in your games with theme? No matter how minor?

I really think I’m just going to have to experiment and see how it works out for me. Who knows, given how great it should be, I might become a full convert.


You might be onto something. At the moment though I’m just confused because my intuition (player clocks bad) and my reason (player clocks good) are so conflicted. I mean normally I go with my intuition because ‘creating art’ and all that but it’s not like my intuition hasn’t been totally wrong before.
I am much more into "I'll collaborate with the players on running this game" and I THINK I'd run a BitD game in a manner where the players and I are kind of agreeing on what the clocks are, their conditions, endpoints, etc. I'd note that AFAIK when @Manbearcat ran our game all the clocks were of this nature (but maybe he had some hidden ones? I don't think so). Now, perhaps if we were playing face-to-face and not on Discord, maybe it might be easier to do it differently? I don't think so, but I'm open to the possibility.

In a sense it is telling to me that you feel so strongly that having things like this player facing is 'wrong'. Gygax throws a LONG shadow!
 

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hawkeyefan

Legend
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.

Yeah, I don’t think I’ve actually hidden any clocks in play. As I said earlier, I know I’ve put a few into play without knowing exactly the endpoint, but even those I shared and had the gist.

I just mean that if a GM did hide some faction based clocks, I don’t think it’d cause play to come crashing down. Nothing active in a score, but faction progress stuff.

It takes some folks… both GMs and players… some time to adjust to such transparency of they’re not used to it.
 

thefutilist

Adventurer
I am much more into "I'll collaborate with the players on running this game" and I THINK I'd run a BitD game in a manner where the players and I are kind of agreeing on what the clocks are, their conditions, endpoints, etc. I'd note that AFAIK when @Manbearcat ran our game all the clocks were of this nature (but maybe he had some hidden ones? I don't think so). Now, perhaps if we were playing face-to-face and not on Discord, maybe it might be easier to do it differently? I don't think so, but I'm open to the possibility.

In a sense it is telling to me that you feel so strongly that having things like this player facing is 'wrong'. Gygax throws a LONG shadow

Well I’ve been thinking about this mostly through the lens of Apocalypse World and I think I’ve found my problem with visible clocks.

As a player I think you want fuzziness in how consequences will play out.

I’m not a huge fan of this framing but there’s at least two kinds of escalation in stories.

The thing the character did failed to work, now what?

And a series of escalations by someone else, which can be framed as ‘even now?’


I don’’t care about mutants

Ok but there’s this guy called Isle who really seems to have a problem with them

Yeah so what

Alright but now this guy called Isle is loading up on guns

Yeah so what

Now this Isle guy, he’s saying you need to banish the mutants from the holding

Yeah so what

The Hardholder has refused to hand over the mutants and Isle claims he’s going to attack but it’s still really only the mutants he wants

Yeah so what

Ok Isle has taken over the holding and true to his word he’s not unleashing a reign of terror on everyone but some of this men have dragged the mutant Squidface out and squid face is crying and his lips are quivering and they look as if they’re going to kill him

Hmm. I go and shoot Isle’s men in the face. (for whatever reason), it could be far more complex than ‘just’, oh I care about mutants now, when the consequences are being brought home.



So that’s one very good reason you don’t want a clock.

The other is incidental conflicts of priorities. So one tick above is:

Now this Isle guy, he’s saying you need to banish the mutants from the holding

I may not care about the mutants but Isle can naughty word off if he thinks he can just walk into the Holding.

So that’s another reason you might not want to see the clock.

Does that make any sense?
 
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MarkB

Legend
Well I’ve been thinking about this mostly through the lens of Apocalypse World and I think I’ve found my problem with visible clocks.

As a player I think you want fuzziness in how consequences will play out.

I’m not a huge fan of this framing but there’s at least two kinds of escalation in stories.

The thing the character did failed to work, now what?

And a series of escalations by someone else, which can be framed as ‘even now?’
The issue here is that, while those escalations by someone else might be something purely GM-driven in other systems, in FitD the thing that drives clocks forward (at least within a score) is always and only the players' rolls, and the effects and consequences that derive from them. The GM doesn't get to tick off that "time until bad things happen" clock unless a player incurs a consequence that would relate to that clock and chooses not to resist it. And they can't decide whether or not to resist it if they don't know it's there.
 

I find this topic kind of awkward. Blades and Scum are awesome, but not every FitD game is great just because of the mechanical chassis any more than every D20 game was great because of the chassis.

That's fair, but I think you can still assess mechanics either in isolation, or as they relate to the kinds of play experiences they support.

For example, I personally think D&D-style d20 is a nearly useless chassis for any game, due to the total swinginess of a single d20, plus how damage is generally handled (a separate random roll), leading to tons of rolls where nothing happens, even when you hit (sorry about that 1 damage!). So if we look at a given system or set of mechanics in terms of what they do in best-case and worst-case examples, that seems legit to me.
 

thefutilist

Adventurer
The issue here is that, while those escalations by someone else might be something purely GM-driven in other systems, in FitD the thing that drives clocks forward (at least within a score) is always and only the players' rolls, and the effects and consequences that derive from them. The GM doesn't get to tick off that "time until bad things happen" clock unless a player incurs a consequence that would relate to that clock and chooses not to resist it. And they can't decide whether or not to resist it if they don't know it's there.

Yeah I should have been more clear that I was talking about Apocalypse World rather than Blades. I can see how the two are different, given that in Blades clocks have mechanical interactions.
 

Well I’ve been thinking about this mostly through the lens of Apocalypse World and I think I’ve found my problem with visible clocks.

As a player I think you want fuzziness in how consequences will play out.

I’m not a huge fan of this framing but there’s at least two kinds of escalation in stories.

The thing the character did failed to work, now what?

And a series of escalations by someone else, which can be framed as ‘even now?’


I don’’t care about mutants

Ok but there’s this guy called Isle who really seems to have a problem with them

Yeah so what

Alright but now this guy called Isle is loading up on guns

Yeah so what

Now this Isle guy, he’s saying you need to banish the mutants from the holding

Yeah so what

The Hardholder has refused to hand over the mutants and Isle claims he’s going to attack but it’s still really only the mutants he wants

Yeah so what

Ok Isle has taken over the holding and true to his word he’s not unleashing a reign of terror on everyone but some of this men have dragged the mutant Squidface out and squid face is crying and his lips are quivering and they look as if they’re going to kill him

Hmm. I go and shoot Isle’s men in the face. (for whatever reason), it could be far more complex than ‘just’, oh I care about mutants now, when the consequences are being brought home.



So that’s one very good reason you don’t want a clock.

The other is incidental conflicts of priorities. So one tick above is:

Now this Isle guy, he’s saying you need to banish the mutants from the holding

I may not care about the mutants but Isle can naughty word off if he thinks he can just walk into the Holding.

So that’s another reason you might not want to see the clock.

Does that make any sense?
I'm not sure I grasp why a visible clock would undermine that, but I could be just not seeing something obvious. The clock I assumed in this case was an 'Isle Clock'. Now, there may definitely be better and worse formulations of that clock. Like, do the players, or even the MC, know exactly what Isle is up to? Or is it just a 'he goes off at midnight'.
 


Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
That's fair, but I think you can still assess mechanics either in isolation, or as they relate to the kinds of play experiences they support.

For example, I personally think D&D-style d20 is a nearly useless chassis for any game, due to the total swinginess of a single d20, plus how damage is generally handled (a separate random roll), leading to tons of rolls where nothing happens, even when you hit (sorry about that 1 damage!). So if we look at a given system or set of mechanics in terms of what they do in best-case and worst-case examples, that seems legit to me.
Well, sure I guess. The chassis is fantastic provided people design games around it that work to it's strengths. It's not, for example, a chassis that generally does long term games or huge ranges of character progression. Thus someone trying to foce it into a longform type approach a la most D&D systems will find the system pushing back. I think the chassis is at its best when the game models pretty competent PCs from the get go and doesn't project them to far (Blades does this very well). This is also why a lot of FitD systems have retirement mechanics. Tied to a somewhat narrow genre focus with super evocative setting and details (Blades and less-so SaV) the system rocks out.

That said, you can push the chassis pretty far and its possible that I'm simply not familiar with games that have successfully managed the above.
 

Well, sure I guess. The chassis is fantastic provided people design games around it that work to it's strengths. It's not, for example, a chassis that generally does long term games or huge ranges of character progression. Thus someone trying to foce it into a longform type approach a la most D&D systems will find the system pushing back. I think the chassis is at its best when the game models pretty competent PCs from the get go and doesn't project them to far (Blades does this very well). This is also why a lot of FitD systems have retirement mechanics. Tied to a somewhat narrow genre focus with super evocative setting and details (Blades and less-so SaV) the system rocks out.

That said, you can push the chassis pretty far and its possible that I'm simply not familiar with games that have successfully managed the above.
I don't know of any PbtA games which have quite the scaling of, say 4e D&D, but I don't know a reason why it is not possible. I'd also say that DW, for example, can do a pretty big range of thematic scaling. And you probably can develop a similar type of game that would allow for the sorts of 'forever game', or several year long campaign that is a staple of D&D. I mean, DW games can easily go for 30 sessions or more as-is. It's not a huge stretch.
 

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