I know this is a PbtA thread, but what are the differences in Forged in the Dark?
Different dice mechanic for a start. You still have the division of failure / success-with-cost / success (with Critical Success added on top), but it uses a dice pool mechanic, and it also has the concept of Position and Effect.
Different mechanical structure. The dice work differently, but the main new feature is position and effect, set by the GM with input to the player. Position sets the danger level of complications (controlled, risky, desperate) and effect the impact of success (limited, normal, great). This adds more nuance to rolls and clearly communicates outcome spaces. Other large change is the Resistance roll, where you resist a complication either mitigating or neutralizing it. This can cost a lot or a little depending on the roll (it's a random element so it's always a bit risky to resist). Otherwise a different injury system and a much more codified structure of play (freeplay, score, downtime). It builds off of PbtA such that it should be immediately graspable by someone familiar with PbtA, but has a lot of changes in mechanical structures.
Is this something any of the rules sets point out? I don't recall seeing that guideline anywhere in Masks - and when it comes to Masks, if you're trying to emulate teen super-hero teams you're going to have 4-7 characters.
I'm personally way more comfortable with FitD's generally more structured (but still very very open-ended) approach than with PbtA, because I'm still a trad little baby at heart. But they share a lot, especially the common dice roll result of success-with-consequence, and the overall emphasis on consequences driving the entire play loop, instead of constant GM prep.
Thank you for the responses. I can see how the additional mechanical support helps some folks, but I really like the ambiguity that PbtA provides. I'd have to see FitD in action to get a good feel of it.
Sounds a lot like Sons of Anarchy the board game. (Not a bad thing in my opinion)One more thing, which is kind of the original elevator pitch for Blades in the Dark.
A lot of FitD games have something that's basically a character sheet (or playbook) for the group. In Blades it's the Crew Sheet, where you mark off the territories and gambling dens and police-on-the-payroll and other elements you add to your criminal empire, as well as a separate crew XP track and crew abilities. In Scum and Villainy you have a Ship Sheet, where you pick upgrades to your ship, and your crew, etc.
But in both of those games those sheets are also where you mark down your current Heat points, and your related Wanted level.
To me, Heat (or its equivalent) is what makes FitD sing.
Kill someone during your heist? More Heat than usual. Kill a cop? Loads of Heat. At war with another crew or faction? More Heat for every score/mission you do. Need an extra die for a crucial roll? The GM might offer a Devil's Bargain, a one-time bonus that comes with a consequence, such as extra Heat (you leave evidence behind, etc.). The more Heat, the higher your Wanted level, meaning more and better authorities coming after you, and possible consequences or story beats to try to reduce Wanted/Heat.
It might sound like a super specific mechanic, but think about how many RPGs feature PCs as criminals or rebels of some kind. And it's a single rule that ripples out to touch on so many other mechanical elements of the game, but it also helps establish the consequences of being a loose cannon or pack of murder hobos, and sets up even more play loops. It's the first system I've come across where being a criminal feels criminal, and where the idea of being at war with another group has a cost (in addition to getting more Heat during a war, you make less money and have fewer activities during downtime phases--being a tough guy better be worth it).
In other words, FitD's structure and mechanics might make it seem narrower or more specific than PbtA, but what it does, it does really well.
I had no idea that Forged in the Dark is a take of PbtA. I own Blades in the Dark and Scum and Villainy as well and I'm pretty sure (and excited) that Blades will be the next thing I run, but that's still a way off.
A couple of my players are more introverted, at least when gaming, so I am developing concerns if these games will be ideal for them. Since they tend to go along with whatever game I want to run a short game to feel everyone out may be in order.
Extremely deft and contentious. At every moment of play. That feels…exaggerated. I’m pretty sure the entry level learning curve isn’t quite that steep, for most of them. Am I misunderstanding what you’re trying to say, here?While these games are not remotely GM-less (they require extremely deft, conscientious GMing at every moment of play), the requirement of players is what is most unique.
Extremely deft and contentious. At every moment of play. That feels…exaggerated. I’m pretty sure the entry level learning curve isn’t quite that steep, for most of them. Am I misunderstanding what you’re trying to say, here?
The one thing that leaps out to me is differing expectations from many RPGs about who's rolling the dice.And I guess this is why it doesn't work for me. It says that the focus is "see what your characters do" but in practice, because much of the time any action results in success with a complication, it seems more like the focus is "see what the world does to your character". When I play Fate, if I fail to interrogate a suspect, I can choose simply to fail and then try something else, or I might decide to use one of my character aspects, or I might succeed with a complication -- but the focus is on my character and what they do. When I play a PbtA game, that has not been the case. Very often my dice roll results not in a choice over what I do (accept failure, put in more effort, accept a consequence) but in the world taking over focus and doing something.
As an example, from AW p137 "Act Under Fire" the suggestion is that if you roll 7-9 on dragging a friend to cover, you offer the player a choice between one of the two of you getting shot. That sort of thing I found frustrating. There's no option to say "this is important to my character, I'm willing to burn something just to make it work", there's no option to say "I'd prefer to simply fail and try a different approach". There isn't even the suggestion that a player could choose a complication (although I'm guessing most GMs would allow that).
This is made more noticeable because when your character does something well, it's over fast -- you did it, you narrate it, next player. When you are in that intermediate state, there's a pause while the GM explains what's going on and your alternatives, and then you might have a question (like, how badly is my character going to be shot? Will my friend potentially die?) The focus has switched from your action to the complication. And because it takes so much more time, I found that when I played PbtA games, most of the time was not spent on seeing what my character did, but instead on understanding and reacting to what the world did when I didn't succeed completely.
I really, really want to like PbtA, and I've played maybe a dozen variants in home games and at cons. But it often feels like I'm along for the ride; there's no need to think or plan or worry about what my character would actually do, because a complication will come up and I'll just be reacting to GM intrusions.
I found this really true. The "action economy" idea from other games doesn't come into play the same way in PbtA so the automatic scaling of power with more players isn't as extreme. And PbtA can easily run with the party split, and a lot of times that makes the most narrative sense for a scene.One final note ---
As a rule, PbtA favors smaller groups than other systems. A GM with 2-3 players is very much supported, and possibly even preferred.
4 players is do-able; 5 players would stretch the ability to account for the various character agendas. I personally wouldn't want to GM a PbtA group with more than 4 players, and the sweet spot would definitely be 3.