Help me "get" Forged in the Dark.

MarkB

Legend
I've been a player in a long-running 5-player campaign that dropped to 3 players partway through, and we definitely felt the squeeze, both in the lower total available stress and the narrower selection of core competencies. I could easily see that effect being exponential when dropping to two characters in play.

We were able to mitigate the effects through selection of stress-management abilities as we progressed - Forged in Fire is amazing, and the Spider's Functioning Vice helps to max-out those downtime stress reductions - but we might have chosen different options if it had been less of a concern.
 

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Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
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.
By math I assume you mean counting stress boxes and saying "I have more" because there isn't any other math. And that only matters if you're making the assumption that the same stress pool will be applied to the same circumstances, which it should not be. The agenda and principles of play are about applying pressure to characters, not building out scores with fixed or standardized lengths or actions necessary. You follow the fiction as makes sense for two people, and two should be taking on scores that require two people, not four. It's all in the fiction, principles, and agendas.

There seems to be some legacy "this is what an adventure looks like, and if you don't bring enough resources, it's gonna be tough" going on here. But this shouldn't be applicable.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I've been a player in a long-running 5-player campaign that dropped to 3 players partway through, and we definitely felt the squeeze, both in the lower total available stress and the narrower selection of core competencies. I could easily see that effect being exponential when dropping to two characters in play.

We were able to mitigate the effects through selection of stress-management abilities as we progressed - Forged in Fire is amazing, and the Spider's Functioning Vice helps to max-out those downtime stress reductions - but we might have chosen different options if it had been less of a concern.
Narrow selection of core competencies is a good observation, and can lead to a stress problem. This comes more down to players making choices to put forward their core competencies and to go after scores that allow this.
 

MarkB

Legend
By math I assume you mean counting stress boxes and saying "I have more" because there isn't any other math. And that only matters if you're making the assumption that the same stress pool will be applied to the same circumstances, which it should not be. The agenda and principles of play are about applying pressure to characters, not building out scores with fixed or standardized lengths or actions necessary. You follow the fiction as makes sense for two people, and two should be taking on scores that require two people, not four. It's all in the fiction, principles, and agendas.

There seems to be some legacy "this is what an adventure looks like, and if you don't bring enough resources, it's gonna be tough" going on here. But this shouldn't be applicable.
If two jobs last roughly the same amount of time, and involve roughly the same number of checks, then they'll both involve roughly the same amount of stress expenditure, in either boosting checks or resisting consequences, since in most cases a single player will resolve each check, barring a few group checks.

But the job being done by four characters has twice the available stress to spend as the one being done by two characters.

I'm not sure exactly how you can have a group of two characters getting to the end of a job with the same amount of unspent stress per character as a group of four characters, unless the group of two were making half as many checks - which equates to their job taking roughly half as long.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
If two jobs last roughly the same amount of time, and involve roughly the same number of checks, then they'll both involve roughly the same amount of stress expenditure, in either boosting checks or resisting consequences, since in most cases a single player will resolve each check, barring a few group checks.

But the job being done by four characters has twice the available stress to spend as the one being done by two characters.

I'm not sure exactly how you can have a group of two characters getting to the end of a job with the same amount of unspent stress per character as a group of four characters, unless the group of two were making half as many checks - which equates to their job taking roughly half as long.
Why would the first two things be true?
 

Reynard

Legend
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.
Now that I have the PDF with the playbooks I see that. I find it a little odd that the playbooks aren't in the actual physical book. Anyway, not a big deal. i just found it strange.
 


amethal

Adventurer
You could establish the droid crew ahead of time, as something the PCs learn when getting or researching the job. Could maybe do the same for layout, possibly making one or both of those details part of the engagement roll result. But the emphasis is on what the characters know, rather than what you've established for yourself, and then hidden, to be revealed during play. Most of the game world doesn't really exist until they encounter it.
I'm also very new to this type of game (and this thread has been very helpful, thank you).

Can I just clarify that (usually, anyway) the only way the GM knows in advance that the ship is crewed by droids is if the PCs found it out as part of their preparation?

But the GM might have thought of "some/most/all of the crew are droids" as a possible complication which could be used as appropriate if the situation calls for it?

Unlike in a traditional game, where the adventure has already set out that the crew are droids, and the GM knows that the PCs are going to have to ditch their original plan almost immediately, since it was based on the false assumption that the crew were lifeforms.
 

MarkB

Legend
I'm also very new to this type of game (and this thread has been very helpful, thank you).

Can I just clarify that (usually, anyway) the only way the GM knows in advance that the ship is crewed by droids is if the PCs found it out as part of their preparation?

But the GM might have thought of "some/most/all of the crew are droids" as a possible complication which could be used as appropriate if the situation calls for it?

Unlike in a traditional game, where the adventure has already set out that the crew are droids, and the GM knows that the PCs are going to have to ditch their original plan almost immediately, since it was based on the false assumption that the crew were lifeforms.
Pretty much. The GM can have some details in mind, so that he can provide extra detail and colour without having to make it up on the spot, but he should be flexible and ready to adapt.

For instance, if they're having trouble finding away to get aboard, and a player declares a flashback to having arranged an encounter with one of the crew and pickpocketed his access card, you should go with that and abandon the idea that there are only droids on board.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
By math I assume you mean counting stress boxes and saying "I have more" because there isn't any other math. And that only matters if you're making the assumption that the same stress pool will be applied to the same circumstances, which it should not be. The agenda and principles of play are about applying pressure to characters, not building out scores with fixed or standardized lengths or actions necessary. You follow the fiction as makes sense for two people, and two should be taking on scores that require two people, not four. It's all in the fiction, principles, and agendas.

There seems to be some legacy "this is what an adventure looks like, and if you don't bring enough resources, it's gonna be tough" going on here. But this shouldn't be applicable.
Well, yes and no. Yes, there are more stress boxes, which is indeed important, but that's only half the problem. The other half, and maybe the more important half, is that rather than acting every third or fourth action (I'm making assumptions about equal spotlight, obviously) you're acting every other action. Far more actions per session than with more players. The more rolls you make the more stress you're going to end up spending to push, resist, and whatnot. This made even more true when you consider that with fewer PCs you will inevitably be rolling more often on less dice more often than with 3 PCs because you (in most cases) have less skills covered at multiple dots.

Taking on scores for two doesn't really change the above, although that part of your argument I completely agree with. However, I think bad decisions there only exacerbate an existing issue rather than being the core cause of it. 🤷‍♂️
 


Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
If they're not, then don't be oblique - explain why they're not.
Um. Why would they be was the question, turning it around doesn't seem like fair play. But, okay. Scores in Blades, or missions in whatever, are not planned, fixed length affairs. There is no target number of actions to resolve, or length of activity. You cannot find anything in any of the books that suggests this. In fact, you have this bit:

"A score can be long and involved or short and sweet. There might be lots of rolls and trouble, or just a few actions to resolve it. Play to find out what happens! A score doesn’t need to fill one session of play every time. Let it be however long it is."

This clearly indicates, with reference to "play to find out" that there shouldn't even be really a plan for how long a score is going in. So, yeah, there's no reason that a score for 2 would look anything like a score for 4. Because that fiction is different, and what happens in play is different.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
Um. Why would they be was the question, turning it around doesn't seem like fair play. But, okay. Scores in Blades, or missions in whatever, are not planned, fixed length affairs. There is no target number of actions to resolve, or length of activity. You cannot find anything in any of the books that suggests this. In fact, you have this bit:

"A score can be long and involved or short and sweet. There might be lots of rolls and trouble, or just a few actions to resolve it. Play to find out what happens! A score doesn’t need to fill one session of play every time. Let it be however long it is."

This clearly indicates, with reference to "play to find out" that there shouldn't even be really a plan for how long a score is going in. So, yeah, there's no reason that a score for 2 would look anything like a score for 4. Because that fiction is different, and what happens in play is different.
Wouldn't that same set of quotes also suggest that there's no reason that it couldn't be just as long or complicated for 2 players? No one was suggesting that there was a plan either way I don't think. We can probably all agree that we should be playing the fiction as it happens though.

I was actually specifically talking about the nature of 'play to find out' as a significant component of the problems facing a 2 PC crew.
 

MarkB

Legend
Um. Why would they be was the question, turning it around doesn't seem like fair play. But, okay. Scores in Blades, or missions in whatever, are not planned, fixed length affairs. There is no target number of actions to resolve, or length of activity. You cannot find anything in any of the books that suggests this. In fact, you have this bit:

"A score can be long and involved or short and sweet. There might be lots of rolls and trouble, or just a few actions to resolve it. Play to find out what happens! A score doesn’t need to fill one session of play every time. Let it be however long it is."

This clearly indicates, with reference to "play to find out" that there shouldn't even be really a plan for how long a score is going in. So, yeah, there's no reason that a score for 2 would look anything like a score for 4. Because that fiction is different, and what happens in play is different.
Yeah, but nobody's arguing for a fixed length. Your original statement was that no consideration should be taken of pacing or available stress when running for smaller groups. If you're now saying that jobs for smaller groups are, in fact, likely to trend shorter than ones for larger groups due to available resources, it seems like that means that available stress is being taken into consideration.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Yeah, but nobody's arguing for a fixed length. Your original statement was that no consideration should be taken of pacing or available stress when running for smaller groups. If you're now saying that jobs for smaller groups are, in fact, likely to trend shorter than ones for larger groups due to available resources, it seems like that means that available stress is being taken into consideration.
Um, no. The GM should not be considering stress available at any point. The system works out well such that stress handles itself, but that doesn't mean it's part of the GM's overhead. FitD really makes this very simple: the GM needs to follow the agenda and principles of play, and then just follow the fiction and player actions. Nothing in the books tells you that you need to be actively managing player-side totals of anything, and you should not. A player with no available stress is their problem, not the GM's.

The only reason you'd be pacing based on stress would be to deliver some form of curated, GM-led experience where the PCs are meant to succeed after some acceptable amount of tribulations. This is NOT what these systems are meant to deliver, at all. And they tell you so. This push to consider the PCs, or to consider stress available, is not part of the process. The system is built to give players plenty of cushion and the need to make choices that matter. Let them. Don't worry about it. Pacing is not something the GM is supposed to be doing in FitD.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
A serious question @Ovinomancer . You seem to be suggesting that the rules and principles of play should work as advertised regardless of how many PCs there are. That seems very counter to most systems, which do indeed have a specific number of players at which the system works well, and then that system works less well as you raise or lower that number. I just wanted to clarify whether you were arguing that FitD specifically works fine for 2 PCs, or that FitD works fine no matter how many players there are. I ask because a lot of your posts seem to be addressing the latter while my posts, and those of @MarkB seem to be more specifically about the mechanics at the 2PC level.

I don't want to misunderstand or put words in your mouth.
 

I'm also very new to this type of game (and this thread has been very helpful, thank you).

Can I just clarify that (usually, anyway) the only way the GM knows in advance that the ship is crewed by droids is if the PCs found it out as part of their preparation?

But the GM might have thought of "some/most/all of the crew are droids" as a possible complication which could be used as appropriate if the situation calls for it?

Unlike in a traditional game, where the adventure has already set out that the crew are droids, and the GM knows that the PCs are going to have to ditch their original plan almost immediately, since it was based on the false assumption that the crew were lifeforms.

Just to add a small point to @MarkB 's response, I don't think you have to police your own thoughts and general/casual prep—if you think of some neat stuff, go ahead and use it, either in a current/upcoming session or one further down the line. Just don't go super deep with prepping anything in particular, and be ready to drop or change those ideas in a heartbeat. FitD (and PbtA) can be stressful to run at first but it's great practice for killing your darlings.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
A serious question @Ovinomancer . You seem to be suggesting that the rules and principles of play should work as advertised regardless of how many PCs there are. That seems very counter to most systems, which do indeed have a specific number of players at which the system works well, and then that system works less well as you raise or lower that number. I just wanted to clarify whether you were arguing that FitD specifically works fine for 2 PCs, or that FitD works fine no matter how many players there are. I ask because a lot of your posts seem to be addressing the latter while my posts, and those of @MarkB seem to be more specifically about the mechanics at the 2PC level.

I don't want to misunderstand or put words in your mouth.
I am 100% representing this. I don't understand where you're getting that they wouldn't, except to bring your understanding of how other games work into it. In other words, you're the one bringing in outside assumptions, specifically the one that it is incumbent on the GM to curate the game by adjusting difficulty on the fly to match up to current PC-side resources. I reject this assumption being universal, or being applicable to Blades/S&V in particular.

As for working fine with any number of players, I'd absolutely say that once you go past four, the effort necessary on the human components begins to become rapidly unsustainable. This isn't saying anything about the system mechanics, just that it's hard to effectively follow the principles and agendas of play the more you split the necessary attention.
 


Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I am 100% representing this. I don't understand where you're getting that they wouldn't, except to bring your understanding of how other games work into it. In other words, you're the one bringing in outside assumptions, specifically the one that it is incumbent on the GM to curate the game by adjusting difficulty on the fly to match up to current PC-side resources. I reject this assumption being universal, or being applicable to Blades/S&V in particular.

As for working fine with any number of players, I'd absolutely say that once you go past four, the effort necessary on the human components begins to become rapidly unsustainable. This isn't saying anything about the system mechanics, just that it's hard to effectively follow the principles and agendas of play the more you split the necessary attention.
Um, yeah, my understanding of other RPGs certainly informs my opinions about FitD. Why wouldn't that be the case? Different sets of mechanics work better and worse at various numbers of players. The better you understand the nuances of how that works the better able you will be to target the 'correct' number of players. That skill is best gained from playing many games and understanding many mechanics. 🤷‍♂️

Also I was not, in any way shape or form, suggesting that the GM specially curate anything. What I was suggesting is that the FitD rules fall down a little bit when played at 2 PCs due to the mechanical stress placed on generally insufficient resources. In my opinion at 2 PCs it's hard to effectively follow the principles and agendas of play because of resource shortfalls generated specifically by the GM following those principles and agendas. Rather that suggesting a curated game, I was suggesting that people avoid playing with 2 PCs.

The above said, I do think that 2 PCs (one fewer than the ideal 3-4) is a better idea than playing with 5 or 6 PCs, so we agree about that bit anyway.
 

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