Help me "get" Forged in the Dark.

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Am I asking for trouble if I do this with 5 players? Long story short was I made my initial pitches one potential player was unavailable so I gave his seat to someone else. He is now available again and wants to play, but that would take the PCs from 4 to 5. He's a good player, and game for anything so he is valuable to have at the table. What are the consequences of too many PCs in Scum and Villainy or FitD in general?
More work for the GM.

The best way I've heard games like Blades/S&V described is as a game of spinning plates (from the PC side). The trick is to keep the plates spinning and not let them fall and to try to put them all down safely. The GM is adding plates (especially when you've managed to put one down), and bumping you, and yelling suddenly, all to make keeping the plates up a challenge.

When you add more players, the GM's job gets more spread out and they have to work just that little bit harder to keep the pressure up. This is why I said upthread that the stress isn't on the system but on the human parts of the game. It's a personal tolerance point, though. I'd not want to run for more the 4. But that's me.
 

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A question about campaign structure. Note: this probably isn't relevant to Band of Blades but seems relevant to Scum and Villainy.

The book suggests a campaign length of 12 or so jobs. Is that intended to be a hard limit (and therefore built into mechanics like xp) or is a "campaign" more like a season of a TV show. Is it not possible or practical to play FitD games for longer periods than a quarter?

Scum and Villainy suggests up to 20 sessions. My sense is that, because of the faster pace of FitD games in general, and SaV in particular, you might feel like you've gone as far as you want to at that point. There's so much more total narrative per session, and you might actually feel like you need a break from FitD anyway. It really can be a bit of a sprint, but a rewarding one.

But I also think a 12 to 20 session campaign of FitD (maybe setting aside BitD, which is a little different) lets you do a narrative that has something like a definitive ending. You've mentioned a Boys-like hack—I recommended FitD for that when you first posted about it, and I still think it's a great idea—and that seems like a campaign that should absolutely not be open-ended. Also, I forget if this has come up already, but in FitD you tend to rack up Traumas over time, and at four your PC is out of the game. To me that's a good overall indicator that, one way or another, the story is coming to a close.
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
Sure, that's my plan. I'm just commenting on how it feels.

But the games also seem to inspire and invite homebrewing (which is probably why there are so many FitD games/hacks out there). I am already trying to figure out how to do a "The Boys" inspired game with it but know I need some solid experience to begin with.

Yeah, Galaxies in Peril is a solid supers-based version of FitD. It has three different types of teams and about seven playbooks. If you wanted to do The Boys, you’d probably do it as Outlaws. The playbooks assume super powers and/or super gear, so you’d have to decide how you wanted to handle that. But whatever you decided, I expect the game would work with maybe a few tweaks.

Am I asking for trouble if I do this with 5 players? Long story short was I made my initial pitches one potential player was unavailable so I gave his seat to someone else. He is now available again and wants to play, but that would take the PCs from 4 to 5. He's a good player, and game for anything so he is valuable to have at the table. What are the consequences of too many PCs in Scum and Villainy or FitD in general?

Five is a lot. It’s a good deal of overhead for the GM and you have to work to keep everyone involved. I started my first Blades campaign with four players but then a fifth joined about five or six sessions in. It was manageable, but was a noticeable difference.

So I think you’d be better off with your first game being for a smaller group as you got your feet under you and as the players learn… but if it’s set at five, I think you’ll still be okay.
 

@Reynard Echoing others that five is a lot, but I think one way of handling it is to do what other games/systems passively discourage—split the party, often and aggressively. FitD and PbtA both excel at that, since resolution is fast, including and especially for combat, and by constantly switching back and forth you can give yourself time to think about consequences (someone rolls, you see the result, you cut to the other half of the team, resolve their actions, cut back with the consequence, see how they react, then back to the others). I actually think FitD can be a little more complicated when PCs don't ever split up. If you establish in a session zero or intro that the players can lean on tropes from movies and TV, including splitting up for tactical or dramatic reasons (after all, even in The Boys how often are they all in one place?) I think that should help.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
@Reynard Echoing others that five is a lot, but I think one way of handling it is to do what other games/systems passively discourage—split the party, often and aggressively. FitD and PbtA both excel at that, since resolution is fast, including and especially for combat, and by constantly switching back and forth you can give yourself time to think about consequences (someone rolls, you see the result, you cut to the other half of the team, resolve their actions, cut back with the consequence, see how they react, then back to the others). I actually think FitD can be a little more complicated when PCs don't ever split up. If you establish in a session zero or intro that the players can lean on tropes from movies and TV, including splitting up for tactical or dramatic reasons (after all, even in The Boys how often are they all in one place?) I think that should help.
Yup. If the party ain't split (with 4 or 5), then you need to split them up somehow! Introduce competing complications.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
@Reynard Echoing others that five is a lot, but I think one way of handling it is to do what other games/systems passively discourage—split the party, often and aggressively. FitD and PbtA both excel at that, since resolution is fast, including and especially for combat, and by constantly switching back and forth you can give yourself time to think about consequences (someone rolls, you see the result, you cut to the other half of the team, resolve their actions, cut back with the consequence, see how they react, then back to the others). I actually think FitD can be a little more complicated when PCs don't ever split up. If you establish in a session zero or intro that the players can lean on tropes from movies and TV, including splitting up for tactical or dramatic reasons (after all, even in The Boys how often are they all in one place?) I think that should help.
Just to overemphasize this, the technique of getting a roll, seeing the result, then cutting away is a really good one for FitD and PbtA play. It gives you time to consider and keeps the players on the hook, so to speak.
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
Yeah, definitely split them up a lot more than you would compared to other games. Think of the kinds of movies/books/shows that the game is inspired by, and think about how the team is often separated to do different tasks.

I think it also helps to keep that kind of fiction in mind regarding rotating amongst the different characters or groups. If you start thinking of it like a TV show or movie, that helps to know when to cut from one group to another.

The books use terminology from TV/cinema to describe these things…scenes, seasons, etc… and it’s a good idea to try and carry that through. So while one character is trying to hack open the bunker door, you get the roll result and either cut away, or maybe introduce a consequence and then cut away, moving to another character who’s sneaking aboard the ship or what have you.

This can also buy you a little time. If you’re not sure what complication to introduce on a 1-3 for the bunker door, you can cut away to another character. So something like “Okay, it’s Risky position for Standard effect, make your Hack roll. Oof a 3? Okay…we’ll see what happens in a minute. First, let’s jump over to…”

This gives you a little time to decide on a complication. It also means you can see what else is going on, which then maybe offers some new ideas on interesting complications.

You’ll kind of get the hang of this over time, but I think splitting the group up and rotating around makes a lot of sense for this size of a group. Think about how shows and movies handle these kinds of scenes in layers, jumping from one to another as needed, creating little cliffhangers as they go.
 

pemerton

Legend
The books use terminology from TV/cinema to describe these things…scenes, seasons, etc… and it’s a good idea to try and carry that through. So while one character is trying to hack open the bunker door, you get the roll result and either cut away, or maybe introduce a consequence and then cut away, moving to another character who’s sneaking aboard the ship or what have you.

This can also buy you a little time. If you’re not sure what complication to introduce on a 1-3 for the bunker door, you can cut away to another character. So something like “Okay, it’s Risky position for Standard effect, make your Hack roll. Oof a 3? Okay…we’ll see what happens in a minute. First, let’s jump over to…”

This gives you a little time to decide on a complication. It also means you can see what else is going on, which then maybe offers some new ideas on interesting complications.
Just to comment on this - again, not from a FitD-specific perspective but from the broader perspective of GMing this sort of character-focused, narratively "rapid" game: I think interweaving your consequences between the different groups is a really good technique for reconciling splitting the PCs with we're all in the same game/story.

It also means keeping in mind that consequences don't have to flow purely from the internal causal logic of the PCs' actions and their immediate physical environment (which is the typical way of narrating consequences in D&D and similar games). They can flow from external causes too (in AW terms, "thinking offscreen") - and playing out a second scene can help generate compelling ideas for the "offscreen" events/actors that then feed back into the first scene that is sitting on its cliffhanger, awaiting narration of its consequences.
 


Reynard

Legend
Random thought I had today:

One genre I am always trying to figure out how to do in the RPG space is the R rated sex comedy. I have run a few as late night invite only con games, including a really great Paranoia game and a bawdy Wizard College one using a variation on Dread but it was lust not fear.

Anyway, it occurred to me that the "writer's room" approach of FitD might be a good tool for that. Because it is a degree removed from more immersion focused games, it feels less "squicky." Plus, most sex comedies are just capers in disguise, which is obviously something FitD does well.

Once I have more experience with the system I will have to explore the idea.
 

MarkB

Legend
Random thought I had today:

One genre I am always trying to figure out how to do in the RPG space is the R rated sex comedy. I have run a few as late night invite only con games, including a really great Paranoia game and a bawdy Wizard College one using a variation on Dread but it was lust not fear.

Anyway, it occurred to me that the "writer's room" approach of FitD might be a good tool for that. Because it is a degree removed from more immersion focused games, it feels less "squicky." Plus, most sex comedies are just capers in disguise, which is obviously something FitD does well.

Once I have more experience with the system I will have to explore the idea.
It's not FitD, but some of the PbtA systems do include sexual themes, including outright sex moves. Monsterhearts comes to mind, it's basically teen sexual-identity drama/comedy with some species identity thrown in for extra allegorical juiciness.
 

It's not FitD, but some of the PbtA systems do include sexual themes, including outright sex moves. Monsterhearts comes to mind, it's basically teen sexual-identity drama/comedy with some species identity thrown in for extra allegorical juiciness.
Yeah I think PbtA is probably a much better choice for a sex comedy game than FitD. @Reynard In addition to Monsterhearts you might want to check out the sex/intimacy-related moves in Apocalypse World and Thirsty Sword Lesbians. I think the latter takes most of its romance-related mechanics from Monsterhearts, but it’s a cool game nonetheless, and a less aggressive take overall…the more I think about it, it’s an interesting read if you’re thinking sex comedies.
 

Reynard

Legend
I decided I wanted to run this as close to "at the table" as possible so even though there are Roll20 character sheets I am just going to use Zoom or something similar. I picked up a Wacom One so I can draw clocks and stuff, but otherwise I want to get away from automation and distractions.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I decided I wanted to run this as close to "at the table" as possible so even though there are Roll20 character sheets I am just going to use Zoom or something similar. I picked up a Wacom One so I can draw clocks and stuff, but otherwise I want to get away from automation and distractions.
That's probably a very good idea. FitD runs best 'at the table' IMO.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I decided I wanted to run this as close to "at the table" as possible so even though there are Roll20 character sheets I am just going to use Zoom or something similar. I picked up a Wacom One so I can draw clocks and stuff, but otherwise I want to get away from automation and distractions.
Perfectly cromulent. Having some sort of permanent chat to post things like NPCs and clocks and faction status and notable events and keep them in one place can help a lot as well. I play via discord, so we have a channel set up for things like that.
 

Reynard

Legend
Perfectly cromulent. Having some sort of permanent chat to post things like NPCs and clocks and faction status and notable events and keep them in one place can help a lot as well. I play via discord, so we have a channel set up for things like that.
This is explicitly a 2 session playtest so I can get a sense of whether the system is for me, as a GM. If so, I will then decide which flavor of FitD I want (still leaning toward trying to emulate The Boys in a grimdark fantasy world).
 

MarkB

Legend
I decided I wanted to run this as close to "at the table" as possible so even though there are Roll20 character sheets I am just going to use Zoom or something similar. I picked up a Wacom One so I can draw clocks and stuff, but otherwise I want to get away from automation and distractions.
Fair, though I will say that the Roll20 BitD sheets are generally a thing of beauty, very well implemented.
 


hawkeyefan

Legend
I decided I wanted to run this as close to "at the table" as possible so even though there are Roll20 character sheets I am just going to use Zoom or something similar. I picked up a Wacom One so I can draw clocks and stuff, but otherwise I want to get away from automation and distractions.

Probably a good idea. One of the things I like about Blades in the Dark (and the other FitD games I’ve played) is that in play, you need very little. Character sheets for each player and a Crew sheet for the crew, some D6s and that’s about it.

There are likely google doc or other electronic format versions you can find that can be shared.
 


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