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Thursday, 7 September 2017

Blades of Earthdawn Design diary 2

In which I discuss some systems tweaks for this implementation of Blades.

I have tried to stick to a general principle of only making changes that support the narrative and avoided those that make major system modifications. This project is not a redesign of Blades but an adaptation to fit the fiction of the Earthdawn setting.

The only change here is a cosmetic exchange the Weird approach to Arcane as this better fits the fiction.

Karma and Effect
One of the factors that Blades does not model by default is a central plank of the original Earthdawn system, Karma. Karma is a hoardable, currency used to purchase dice and activate effects. In practice it has only been a rare occurrence in any of the games that I have played in that anyone has run  out of Karma, especially if well planned which in some ways is disappointing. In this implementation Karma becomes a rundown clock. Once filled you have run out of Karma and must use a downtime action to recover before if can  be used again. The size of this clock is determined by your character's race.

Monday, 28 August 2017

BitD Episode 3 - the palimpsest


I've been trying to ensure that the setting is as important a player as the players so I'm now running a load of clocks both background and foreground. Background clocks are things that are going on mostly independently from PC actions and unknown to them. Foreground clocks are either things the PCs are involved in, are affecting or have an awareness of.

So I was really pleased this score that a whole load of them advanced without prompting.

The Score

This episode things got weird. The crew, who still need a name (I am making this a prerequisite for advancing to tier 1), decided that the would cement their alliance with the Wraiths by carrying out a job for them.

As a test of both aptitude and commitment their contact delivered the instructions on a slip of vellum. Their very own mistress of mystery attuned to the note and read the words "The Black Swan" before discovering the note was a palimpsest.

Her companions noticed nothing other than the lady was becoming increasingly pale and short of breath. Never one to stand idly by if a damsel is in distress, brave Fizz manfully destroyed the evidence with purifying electroplasmic flame.

Having identified their target the companions decided that in the true spirit of the setting a weird approach was the best to take. Through some clever use of flashbacks they set up a steam carriage in which Lady K could Whisper to a local ghost and haunt the bejeezes out of the current inhabitants.

A number of terrible deaths later the entity settled itself into the property like a malign, cantankerous elder into an old leather armchair.

Luckily Fizz was on hand to injure himself on behalf of the crew by driving a steam contrivance filled with the recently departed and an ice picked lampblack into a stanchion near the red sash hideout after disposing of the remainder of the bodies to science.

That left if up to Liv to encourage looky-loos and rubberneckers to move along a the scene as the establishment was closed for a private function.

6 coin and 6 rep for these shenanigans with plans made to turn the Swan into a going concert as a bawdy house.

Blades of Earthdawn Design diary 1

In this design diary I take a look at the three phases of play and how they might be adapted to Earthdawn.

There are three distinct phases to play in BitD. More or less these run cyclically through Free Play, The Score and Downtime.

Free play in the context of Earthdawn is more or less the default play style for the the game as written. The main difference is that there is a sense of pressure to get things done not really present in the source. Free play in the blades adaptation is about lining up resources, touching base with contacts and setting up the next Score.

Skipping over to Downtime, this is the phase where our heroes lick their wounds, spend some coin indulging their vices and working on long term projects. In Earthdawn these can be relatively mundane or more mystical in nature, such as spell research or the discovery of key knowledge.

Scores in Earthdawn present themselves in a number of guises. Bringing a caravan to its destination through bad country, raiding a kaer, taking out a Scorcher camp are all good Scores, each with their own challenges and all supporting a variety of different approaches.

In summary, although it might not seem the obvious fit, for certain types of game play BitD is a suitable vector for storytelling in the Earthdawn setting. I'm interested to see how this stacks up against the arguably more open Fate Core (one of my all time favourite systems) and also against the new edition of Cortex.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

BitD Episode 2 - milking the hagfish

This week was divided up into downtime from the last score and crew creation.

Our proto-gang took a haul of 4 coin from the score and despite a quiet entrance made a heck of a racket once they were there so drew down almost enough heat to achieve a wanted level on their first day out.


Pidge won big at the tables and then spent the rest of the night losing it while boasting about how they had cleared the place and Baszo could forget a payout. The result; wanted level 1.

Fizz started work on his spring-loaded shotgun derringer project, "Icepick's farewell"

Lady K tapped out her vice purveyor, presumably by refusing to leave the baths or more likely not paying. So who knows how she'll get her pampering now perhaps a new line of supply might unblot her copybook?

The only member of the crew to be injured on the score, Icepick sought treatment, eventually, and then began researching some modifications to his long rifle.

Liv was absent, presumed overindulging in her vice of beating up pimps.


A matter of some debate and that very much in character. Eventually by assent the final decision was Hawkers, Lady K proving her silver tongue too quick to argue against. Natural talent or insidious Skov sorcery?

Having decided that they were having none of Baszo's gunpoint diplomacy the gang went all in allying with the lampblacks enemies in the red lantern district where their sales territory is. Adding a boat house to the lair seemed a sensible upgrade alongside loadout.

Finally the time came to decide on a commodity to hawk. After passing around some great ideas about rare, semi-legal options an off colour hag fish joke caused near fatal asphyxia through laughter and led to Giggle Water.

Cheering up the Dusk, one shot at a time...

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Blades in the Dark - First Play

The very lovely Kat and Jake have joined the regular games night crew so rather than shoehorn them uncomfortably into an existing game we are playing John Harper's Blades in the Dark. It's published by Evil Hat.

The Book

Well it's gorgeous. I have the standard hardback and it's both well constructed and well laid out. The artwork really reflects the feel the author was aiming for and Ryan Dunleavy's map is top notch. You can find detailed more of his maps at patreon.

Getting Going

I trailer the setting and pen portraits of the playbooks out to our Facebook group in the week before so the guys could begin to come up with some ideas for who they would like to be.

On the night character creation was the fastest I have ever seen for 5 new characters with 2 novice players as we managed to get that done and a short score in less than three hours.

We didn't do crew creation though which would have extended that a bit.

Really interesting characters with lots of hooks for me to tie them into the story. Some, looking at you icepick, have less well defined areas to their character which works really well in this setting as the other players are imagining their worst.

Leaving details to come out in play enabled us to get into the action faster and I expect will lead to more depth over the longer term.

Let the Bodies Hit the Floor

I've seen a number of posts elsewhere on crunch comparisons, especially with Fate Core. Here's my take. More crunch but lower friction than Fate Core. Crunchy bits optional but add flavour and texture. I'll decompose this in a later post.

What happened when we did roll dice was awesome.

The crew were to take out a drug house for Baszo, leader of the Lampblacks.

Icepick scouted the job and identified an unwatched garret entrance. Breaking in they ticked the alert clock by bouncing the window from its frame on a partial roll.

Once inside they scooted quickly down the stairs and took out the balcony guards before Icepick managed to get himself in an awkward position on the stairs.

Fuzz let fly with his purloined shotgun only to find it loaded with birdshot and then things started to get loud.

Everyone on the crew got into the mix-up. Special mention to Liv for wrecking everything and everyone she could get her hands on.

Downtime next week.