Help me "get" Forged in the Dark.


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Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
So, say the PCs are gathering info and ask about the layout. Does a bad (1-3) result in false information, or a layout that is troublesome and makes things harder for the PCs?

Related: as I understand it, this is something that can also be done during a flashback?
Info gathering is a big divergence from trad play, in that it's not about finding details about what scenario the GM has prepped, but rather creating the game as you play. I'd never, ever use false information as a low rest. One, this creates secret information, and two, the PCs are expected to be competent, so this isn't really in line with that. 1-3 results should be information that is challenging to the PCs -- little to no upside, significant downside or challenge. 4-5 is good intel with a twist -- something is missing/harder than expected/surprising and unwelcome. A 6 should be good info -- if it's about an established challenge, give good details on it, if seeking info, be forthcoming and nail down some useful details that the PCs can leverage. On a crit, provide something extra and useful -- an added bonus or a shortcut through anticipated danger or a way to knock down the danger if leveraged (like maybe a virus installed that will shut down security for a minute or two at a critical moment -- doesn't autowin the job, but makes an interesting play available).

This isn't at all locked in, though, it can be anything. The point of info gathering, though, is that it's info gathering and that's important to play. So don't block, go with the questions asked, feel free to establish small things that make sense (it's supposed to be a challenge) and follow the questions the players are asking and the dice.
Resistance rolls are more about going back and changing the fiction. A solid hit from a blaster bolt becomes a light graze, setting off the alarm becomes noticing the sensor at the last moment.

With a flashback, you've already accepted the consequences that led to your current setback, so the facts of the scene are established. But by using a flashback you may be able to change the context of the scene to something more favourable.

Let's say you're trying to break into a building and a clock's been filling up called "caught in the act." You fail a lockpicking check, and a patrol trooper comes around the corner. Nobody resists that (maybe the clock was so full that even a mitigated failure was going to add that last segment) so that's the situation you're facing.

And then you declare "Hey, I know this guy - it's Jeff! We met at a cantina last week while he was off duty, got to talking, I hooked him up with a supplier for some sweet contraband, so I have some dirt on him and he owes me a favour. Should be a cinch to persuade him to walk away."

That's a pretty major flashback, so at least 1 point of stress, probably 2, if the GM is willing to let it just work. Maybe mitigate it down a point if they're willing to let success depend on a Sway roll, or throw in a cash bribe.
So, I like this, but some quibbles. I look at resistance rolls not as retcons, but as efforts to prevent the obvious consequence coming in. If you require the players to tell you how they resist the consequence, then you just roll that into the narration. Like, "oh, a 2? And desperate position? That's gonna be harm 3, badly burned chest from his blaster bolt catching you." Player: "ouch, I'm going to resist that with Prowess." "Sure, you can resist that down to Harm 2, what's that look like?" "Okay, I twist away and the blaster bolt only scores along my chest instead of catching me full on, so still a nasty burn, but not like my whole chest, just a line." "Cool."

On flashbacks, it's a judgement call, but I'd say that was a normal flashback instead of a serious one. My metrics for flashbacks are:
0 -- minor detail established allowing a move that doesn't change the situation much. So, like placing a piece of specialist gear in a good place that was accessibly prior to the mission, or having a cohort show up in an easily arranged way/place/time, etc.

1 -- significant detail that allows a new way to address a problem. This is where I'd put the example above -- it allows you to move from "guard raise alarm unless you shoot/silence him" to "can try and talk your way past the guard." It's changed the situation to allow a new way forward but hasn't resolved the problem or really made any headway to resolving the problem.

2 -- major detail that resolves a problem or makes significant headway towards resolving the problem. For example, I'd modify the above example to "Oh, that's Fred, I met him at the bar last week and paid him off to let us pass." That's 2 stress.

The other major thing to remember about flashbacks is that they still require a check and they may have associated costs. If you pay someone off, you need to give the coin (and doing so may remove the need for a check). If the check on a flashback is a 1-3 or a 4-5, introduce the complication now, in the scene. So, with Fred, if the meet to get him friendly so you can talk him down has a failed check, then Fred is pissed about the merchandise sold because it turned out to be broken/fake/bad in some way and so he'll listen, but you'll also need to overcome him being pissed at you as well. As an aside, you can also let some consequences be pushed into the future, like "okay, you tell Fred that you'll make good, and have convinced him, so he'll look the other way for now, but I'm starting a 4 tick clock that I'll be making a Tier 2 check against every downtime until you clear it that represents Fred losing his patience and turning you in to (whoever is scariest). That means 2d6, so it can go off in one go if it crits, you good with that?"
 

Reynard

Legend
Let's talk about Stress for a minute. It feels really weird that I can find the Stress threshold under the part of the book that explains what stress is and how to use it. I feel like there's major pacing issues associated with Stress but the S&V book at least doesn't seem to enumerate it well.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Let's talk about Stress for a minute. It feels really weird that I can find the Stress threshold under the part of the book that explains what stress is and how to use it. I feel like there's major pacing issues associated with Stress but the S&V book at least doesn't seem to enumerate it well.
As GM, you do not care about stress. You don't consider it, unless being asked to assign a cost to a flashback. It's not your bag at all. Managing stress in on the players. Really, don't even worry about it.

ETA: this feels weird, but seriously, don't worry about it.
 

MarkB

Legend
Let's talk about Stress for a minute. It feels really weird that I can find the Stress threshold under the part of the book that explains what stress is and how to use it. I feel like there's major pacing issues associated with Stress but the S&V book at least doesn't seem to enumerate it well.
So, Stress is essentially a resource to be spent in the course of doing a job. It's something the player can expend deliberately, by the basic methods of Push Yourself, Help or Lead a Group Check, or other character-specific special abilities if they have them.

But it's also your buffer against Bad Stuff happening to you - if you want or need to resist a consequence, you could be finding yourself getting hit with up to five Stress in a single go if you get a bad roll.

So players need to manage their Stress carefully during a job, using it as needed but not overspending. If they come out of a job with Stress nearly maxed out, they may well wind up having to use all their downtime on Indulge Vice, or have none to play with next job.

Don't be afraid to challenge the players with the potential of exceeding their maximum Stress, especially near the end of a job. If they get taken out and acquire a Trauma, that can be a good opportunity to add some character development.

In my experience it's rare for a character to accumulate enough traumas to be completely taken out of a campaign, but it's worth having backup characters to step in occasionally for when one character is either overstressed or unavailable.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
Gather Info isn't a non-trad thing at all. I've been doing stuff like that for decades. Blades does it a little differently, mechanically speaking, but the idea isn't new at all. The difference is that Blades does it without a lot of the baggage that other systems bring along.
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
Let's talk about Stress for a minute. It feels really weird that I can find the Stress threshold under the part of the book that explains what stress is and how to use it. I feel like there's major pacing issues associated with Stress but the S&V book at least doesn't seem to enumerate it well.

Stress is something that only gets spent by the players. It’s never inflicted on them; the players always choose when to spend stress.

It’s a big part of why you don’t need to pull your punches. If a character is facing significant harm or consequence, they can reduce it by resisting and spending some stress.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
Stress is something that only gets spent by the players. It’s never inflicted on them; the players always choose when to spend stress.

It’s a big part of why you don’t need to pull your punches. If a character is facing significant harm or consequence, they can reduce it by resisting and spending some stress.
That said, it is a reason to pay very careful attention to the number of players. If you're playing with two PCs you need to dial things back a little as they don't have the same group stress pool to spend on mitigation.
 

Reynard

Legend
Stress is something that only gets spent by the players. It’s never inflicted on them; the players always choose when to spend stress.

It’s a big part of why you don’t need to pull your punches. If a character is facing significant harm or consequence, they can reduce it by resisting and spending some stress.
But I still don't know how much stress causes a trauma.
 


hawkeyefan

Legend
But I still don't know how much stress causes a trauma.

I believe it is 9 for Scum & Villainy as well as Blades in the Dark. Band of Blades is 6, but more can be gained through an advance.

The character sheets of each game have a track that the players can use to track it and when they mark the last box on the track, they're out of play for the remainder of the scene, and they gain a trauma.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
That said, it is a reason to pay very careful attention to the number of players. If you're playing with two PCs you need to dial things back a little as they don't have the same group stress pool to spend on mitigation.
I'm a touch confused by this, because that's not my experience at all. You do not worry about pacing or stress as a GM. I mean, if this were a thing, and given how open these games are about how to run them, where is this in the books about how to pace the game?

Instead, you follow the fiction, the principles, and the agenda. Scores end when they end. It's not your job to bring them to a close, nor is it your job to extend them if things go really well. If you're honoring successes, you'll get to the end in a reasonable loop, absent terrible dice, and, well, that's how that rolls. PCs trauma out or are killed.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I'm a touch confused by this, because that's not my experience at all. You do not worry about pacing or stress as a GM. I mean, if this were a thing, and given how open these games are about how to run them, where is this in the books about how to pace the game?

Instead, you follow the fiction, the principles, and the agenda. Scores end when they end. It's not your job to bring them to a close, nor is it your job to extend them if things go really well. If you're honoring successes, you'll get to the end in a reasonable loop, absent terrible dice, and, well, that's how that rolls. PCs trauma out or are killed.
I'm going to guess you haven't been a player in a two PC game, otherwise you'd be more aware of the paucity of resources two PCs have to manage the overall mechanical game play. Stress is a per PC resource that is used to affect results, so the less PCs you have the less stress you have and the harder the game pushes that particular button. That's not a complicated idea. Why you'd suggest different is beyond me.

Edit: That wasn't meant to sound quite as confrontational as it sounds as I read it back, sorry.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I'm going to guess you haven't been a player in a two PC game, otherwise you'd be more aware of the paucity of resources two PCs have to manage the overall mechanical game play. Stress is a per PC resource that is used to affect results, so the less PCs you have the less stress you have and the harder the game pushes that particular button. That's not a complicated idea. Why you'd suggest different is beyond me.

Edit: That wasn't meant to sound quite as confrontational as it sounds as I read it back, sorry.
Yes, I have. Thanks for asking. Run for two as well. The GM should not be engaged in pacing or monitoring stress. It's not necessary, and the game that puts all of it's "how this works" cards on the table doesn't mention it. Follow the principles and agenda and fiction and it works fine.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
Yes, I have. Thanks for asking. Run for two as well. The GM should not be engaged in pacing or monitoring stress. It's not necessary, and the game that puts all of it's "how this works" cards on the table doesn't mention it. Follow the principles and agenda and fiction and it works fine.
Well, sure lets compare anecdotal evidence I guess. I've found both playing and running 2 PC FitD stresses the system rather a lot of if you don't manage it. My experience says it does not work as advertised. You say it does. We can't both be right. Happily, math is on my side. Do you have anything specific to say about that other that 'yeah it works' when even the basic math suggests it gets far more difficult? I'm really reaching to find the middle ground here my friend, but I'm struggling with that dismissive attitude you seem to put on sometimes, even in face of equal skill and experience. But, I guess, sure, go ahead and tell me again I don't know the game or how to run it if that's what you meant. We can agree to disagree.
 

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