log in or register to remove this ad

 

What is the point of GM's notes?

I wonder if anyone here has experience with versions of this as part of a more traditional RPG?

There is a GURPS supplement called "Impulse Buys" which allows players to use earned character points (or, alternately, other pools of points) to affect the game state in ways that go well beyond the usual sorts of character spells and powers. I haven't read it carefully yet, but I think it is an attempt to mechanically support more narrative control to the players while still remaining compatible with the balancing mechanisms of GURPS. I see more references on the GURPS forums to people playing hybrid "PBtA-style" (for example) GURPS games. I'm curious how that might play out. I've been surprised over the past few years how much I enjoy allowing some meta-currency in my games, both as a player and a GM.

I like the idea, in theory, of allowing flashbacks even in dungeon crawls (which can have heist-like qualities).
Pathfinder 2e has a prescient planner feat that lets you 'have bought' things as you need them to simulate super-preparedness, but its not a big part of the system.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Pathfinder 2e has a prescient planner feat that lets you 'have bought' things as you need them to simulate super-preparedness, but its not a big part of the system.

That sounds similar to some GURPS advantages that let you pull minor gear out of your backpack (or pockets or whatever). Usually, you can do it a certain number of times per session. My players tend to love advantages like that, but it doesn't seem like it's quite up to the level of the flashbacks mechanic from Blades. It's probably time to buy the game and read it. (After following so many of these 1000+ post conversations, I'm quite curious about this side of ttrpgs that I've never fully experienced.)
 

That sounds similar to some GURPS advantages that let you pull minor gear out of your backpack (or pockets or whatever). Usually, you can do it a certain number of times per session. My players tend to love advantages like that, but it doesn't seem like it's quite up to the level of the flashbacks mechanic from Blades. It's probably time to buy the game and read it. (After following so many of these 1000+ post conversations, I'm quite curious about this side of ttrpgs that I've never fully experienced.)
I actually just bought a copy myself, lol damn debate driven impulse purchases, i go to PBTA for a very different experience than PF2e, but thats a far cry from not liking them, i just play them on their own terms and get the stuff i can't get from them elsewhere.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
For me, its contextual-- Blades in the Dark is probably trying to simulate the literary device of a flashback as its used in a heist movie, you see the thing happening and either a suspensful question is posed (did that person really die? why is the person doing that? how'd we end up here? is this really it for our heroes?) and then we're shown the parts of the story that answer our questions. It builds tension because when we lack the set up, we don't know all the information that might reframe the events.

Basically, its a way of building towards a 'conclusion' when that conclusion takes place before its consequences (the heist itself,) by framing it this way, we get a standard build up of tension, followed by a pay off that answers the questions being posed by the action. The flashback itself is a way of ensuring the Questions precede the Answer in the telling of the story, when preparation definitionally takes place before the thing being prepared for.

So, "Did Rodney really just kill Joey and betray everyone, is the heist a failure, is our hero dead?" is a question that allows the preparation where "Rodney and Joey faked Joey's death to gain the mark's trust, and are using that to turn the tables and pull off the heist" to function as a plot twist, and a payoff for the tension build up, even though Rodney and Joey preparing the trick takes place before the scene where Joey is seemingly shot.

Great Pretender on Netflix is an excellent case study of the technique.

BITD is cool for including such a storytelling device as a mechanic, because its basically the protocols and techniques for TELLING heist stories and similar fiction projected onto a role.
Flashbacks are a little different than you describe above. First, and importantly, there is a cost in Stress to Flashback, and stress is a dear commodity in Blades, so there's a real decision point involved, not just a narrative desire. Second, they are more limited in scope than your post suggests. You cannot change a part of the existing fiction with a flashback. For example, if a character dies, as in is now currently dead, a flashback won't bring them back to life. Nor would a flashback make a locked door disappear. What flashbacks will do is allow the character and GM to collaborate on a scenario that would allow preparations for an obstacle. So if you encountered savage dogs you could flashback for drugged doggy treats, or if there's an unexpected guard you could flashback to engineer a diversion. Essentially flashbacks cover things that would have been planned for if an extensive planning session had been held, and is a device to help maintain a level of professionalism and competence in the characters while still driving toward Blades' desired roll and get stuck in model for scores.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
I wonder if anyone here has experience with versions of this as part of a more traditional RPG?

I like the idea, in theory, of allowing flashbacks even in dungeon crawls (which can have heist-like qualities).
There is a 5E hack for some Blades rules, flashbacks included, that was done to support running Dragon Heist. I used it once and it worked pretty well. As for more general use, or dungeon crawl use, you would want that idea to be an integral part of the rules I think, not something just bolted on. That 5E hack could be a model there, but it kind of depends on your desired play experience. If you're aiming for skilled play and resource management it will work counter to what you want, for example.
 


Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
No but a flashback might allow for a key or a set of lockpicks etc... It's about putting your thumb on the die roll to your advantage which as you said has a cost, in this case stress.
That kind of example was in the post you quoted yes. Not that you'd have to do that anyway, Blades doesn't use a set equipment list for much the same reason it uses flashbacks. I don't know about putting your thumb on the die either, that pretty blatantly indexes the idea of cheating, which is a odd thing to say when you're playing by the rules. Maybe that wasn't what you meant?
 

Flashbacks are a little different than you describe above. First, and importantly, there is a cost in Stress to Flashback, and stress is a dear commodity in Blades, so there's a real decision point involved, not just a narrative desire. Second, they are more limited in scope than your post suggests. You cannot change a part of the existing fiction with a flashback. For example, if a character dies, as in is now currently dead, a flashback won't bring them back to life. Nor would a flashback make a locked door disappear. What flashbacks will do is allow the character and GM to collaborate on a scenario that would allow preparations for an obstacle. So if you encountered savage dogs you could flashback for drugged doggy treats, or if there's an unexpected guard you could flashback to engineer a diversion. Essentially flashbacks cover things that would have been planned for if an extensive planning session had been held, and is a device to help maintain a level of professionalism and competence in the characters while still driving toward Blades' desired roll and get stuck in model for scores.
Ah, but we don't know if they're dead, that's the point, the way the scene is framed makes it possible they aren't actually dead, the obstacle/danger of that whole scene happening is the trigger point for the flashback. Like, Rodney having to shoot Joey to prove loyalty is a problem to be solved, the flashback just established they prepared to fake his death. I guess the rules might disallow the reveal from technically happening after the firing of the gun itself, so you'd have to flashback right before the trigger pull, I'd need to see the rules text of the actual feature to see how exactly its bounded.

I was talking about the technique's role in storytelling and how that relates to the the kind of stories BITD is designed to tell, anyway, not the letter of the mechanics in the game.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
That kind of example was in the post you quoted yes. Not that you'd have to do that anyway, Blades doesn't use a set equipment list for much the same reason it uses flashbacks. I don't know about putting your thumb on the die either, that pretty blatantly indexes the idea of cheating, which is a odd thing to say when you're playing by the rules. Maybe that wasn't what you meant?
@Emerikol can speak for himself, but I interpreted it as shifting the odds in your favor, in ways specifically allowed by the rules.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Ah, but we don't know if they're dead, that's the point, the way the scene is framed makes it possible they aren't actually dead, the obstacle/danger of that whole scene happening is the trigger point for the flashback. Like, Rodney having to shoot Joey to prove loyalty is a problem to be solved, the flashback just established they prepared to fake his death. I guess the rules might disallow the reveal from technically happening after the firing of the gun itself, so you'd have to flashback right before the trigger pull, I'd need to see the rules text of the actual feature to see how exactly its bounded.

I was talking about the technique's role in storytelling and how that relates to the the kind of stories BITD is designed to tell, anyway, not the letter of the mechanics in the game.
That's also not really what flashbacks in Blades do. They only effect established scenes in the fiction, specifically the current scene. You could flashback for some blanks for the gun in your example, but only if the shooting scene was currently playing out and the trigger hadn't been pulled yet.
 

That's also not really what flashbacks in Blades do. They only effect established scenes in the fiction, specifically the current scene. You could flashback for some blanks for the gun in your example, but only if the shooting scene was currently playing out and the trigger hadn't been pulled yet.
But you couldn't flashback to set up a bulletproof vest with red dye in under their suit so when the bullet hits the vest and they stumble and fall back off the boat, they swim safely down and away instead of not having the vest on and dying?
 
Last edited:

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
But you couldn't flashback to set up a bulletproof vest with red dye in it so when the bullet hits the vest and they stumble and fall back off the boat, they swim safely down and away instead of not having the vest on and dying?
Sure you could, but that's the other character, so it might be a separate flashback if you're doing both. It really depends on the events leading up to the scene, as the GM's first point of adjudication in Blades is always to respect the established fiction and it's consequences, so the nuance of the actual game we're spit-balling here would have a significant impact on the decision making process. If that other character had been searched, for example, you couldn't retcon in a vest that would have certainly been found, for example. Or if the gun had been given to you by someone else you couldn't just retcon in blanks, you'd also have to make some kind of slight of hand move to to swap the ammo. Am I making the difference clear there?
 

Sure you could, but that's the other character, so it might be a separate flashback if you're doing both. It really depends on the events leading up to the scene, as the GM's first point of adjudication in Blades is always to respect the established fiction and it's consequences, so the nuance of the actual game we're spit-balling here would have a significant impact on the decision making process. If that other character had been searched, for example, you couldn't retcon in a vest that would have certainly been found, for example. Or if the gun had been given to you by someone else you couldn't just retcon in blanks, you'd also have to make some kind of slight of hand move to to swap the ammo. Am I making the difference clear there?
You aren't making the differences clear because there are no differences (which in general, not with you in particular, is a recurring theme today) that's how I figured the game works, it uses the unestablished elements of the fiction as a resource to establish things that happened in the past.
 




That one example, within those listed constraints, yeah. But you floated a bunch of ideas upstream about what flashbacks were for that aren't really examples of how it works.
I did not, we're discussing (in the abstract) the "Rodney and Joey Fake Rodney shooting Joey" example, the only distinction between that and your clarification is if the flashback specifically had to be established before the gun was fired. There weren't really any other examples at work.

Unless you're talking about: "Blades in the Dark is probably trying to simulate the literary device of a flashback as its used in a heist movie, you see the thing happening and either a suspenseful question is posed (did that person really die? why is the person doing that? how'd we end up here? is this really it for our heroes?) and then we're shown the parts of the story that answer our questions. It builds tension because when we lack the set up, we don't know all the information that might reframe the events."

Because if so, I was discussing the story structure of the technique being used, as in heist movies, not Blades in the Dark's mechanic (since again, I have no idea what it says.)
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
I was just clarifying about the timing and onscreen vs offscreen possibilities, none of which were clear in your example (through no fault of yours). That literary example was one I wanted to address as really not what's going on, as the Blades mechanic is more specifically modelling the kind of flashbacks you see in Oceans 11, not flashbacks more generally, which can take many forms.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
You must have a huge beef with heist movies or any movies that play with the linear story sequences.
Not at all, as there I'm watching someone else's story and as long as it's entertaining they can tell it any old way they like.

Huge difference from a situation where I-as-character am moving through time sequentially; and when action A leads to consequence B or C or D then IMO action A has to be done first rather than starting with consequence C and backfilling how things got to that point.
 


An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top