Kingbeast's Lair

Growling about the RPG industry and my gaming life. RPG and anime reviews from a passionate fan. (Formerly John's Hero HQ.)

Running Blades For 6 Players

December 28, 2018 By: John Taber Category: Blades In The Dark, Games

—there are just too blasted many of you! The National Security Council can’t even keep track of who’s coming and going!

Hi Gang!

This is the first of a group of posts that I will make between Sessions 1 and 2. In this post I wanted to relay the salient points of a thread that I started on one of the Blades In The Dark social media sites. I think it was MeWe. 🙂 On MeWe I asked the following question.

I will be running Blades for 6 players. I have run it for 4 players and it went fine. I have run it for 2 players and it was fantastic. I am worried about running it for 6 players. I feel based on the way actions push the fiction that adding players will make the system considerably harder to run. Does anyone have any advice for running Blades with 6 players?

The entire first replay stream starts with this simple response, “Don’t.” This very articulate author then follows this up with solid arguments why running Blades for 6 players is not a good idea. He also points to the rule-book which actually says Blades should be run for a max of 4 players. I had not noticed that point on my first reading.

One of his points reflects the concerns I raise in my question above. In PBTA actions from the players (aka rolls) drive the fiction forward. After the player takes action the GM responds with complications from the setting. This could be in the form of damage, new threats, etc. With 6 players this means between each player action the plot will push forward. This can make it difficult for the GM to share the spotlight in critical scenes. The players need to wait their turn as the world pushes forward sometimes at a rapid pace. This started to happen in our first session when one of your noted, “How come the bad guy did all that and some character did not get a chance to act?” Actually in Score 1 the fact that the PC were in two groups actually helped. It made it easier for me to apply complications to each group instead of having to throw it all at a single entity.

Another argument against running for a large groups of players is doling out damage and stress. This is one I have spoken to Chris about at work on and off again. Since it happens in all PBTA games Chris and I have some experience with it through other systems. The idea is simple, in Blades terminology after every mission if the GM is doing their job there should be some wounds on characters and/or at least some stress use from everyone. If more players are present that means there are more characters present to absorb ill effects. It follows that the GM then has to add more threats to handle more characters.

Feat not…all is not doom and gloom! After this discussion he then also went on to give some pointers. One really good one he said is found in a Dungeon World podcast called Discerning Realities. (Since getting this advice I started listening to Discerning Realities and a series of podcasts they have on learning Dungeon World.) In this podcast they recommend checking the location of each PC when the action is starting to get heavy with rolls. In their example the group of plucky adventures enter a hiddle temple of some ancient god then a giant snake and several goblin worshippers appear. They carefully ask the PC the position of their characters after describing the scene. This allows the GM to start considering the flow and how complications might happen. It also naturally helps point out the character that should start the action. For example, maybe the thief who is leveling his crossbow or the mage who is readying a spell.

Others also mentioned dragging characters into danger so that other characters can spend their actions pulling them out of danger. Again this makes it easier to drive the fiction forward based on the consequences of the actions. They used examples of a PC felling a goblin only to be in the path of the snakes massive maw.

So as you can tell I did not let the advice of “Don’t” win the argument. 😉 I think we can get this to work given some practice and patience from the group.

How about a question o’ the post…

Question #1 – The Pen Is Mightier Than The Sword! – Did folks enjoy the newspaper?
Doing the newspaper will obviously take some of my time and I do not want to do it if folks do not think it is fun. I think it will be a great way to show the effects of the Crew on Doskvol in an amusing way. I also think it can promote more player buy in on the setting which is an important aspect of Blades.

I have a few topics that I could do next…no hints yet…I’m not sure all of them will turn out…watch this space for more Blades goodness.

( FYI. Brownie points of someone can tell me origin of the quote at the top. 🙂 )

Leave a Reply