Blades in the Dark
- Blades in the Dark is a tabletop role-playing game about a crew of daring scoundrels seeking their fortunes on the haunted streets of an industrial-fantasy city. There are heists, chases, occult mysteries, dangerous bargains, bloody skirmishes, and, above all, riches to be had — if you’re bold enough to seize them.
- You and your fledgling crew must thrive amidst the threats of rival gangs, powerful noble families, vengeful ghosts, the Bluecoats of the city watch, and the siren song of your scoundrel’s own vices. Will you rise to power in the criminal underworld? What are you willing to do to get to the top?
Mechanically, it's a cousin to Apocalypse World; Blades has Agenda, Principles, playbooks, and actions that snowball. It has different dice mechanics and no fixed Moves.
The two things that are neat are planning and stress.
The assumption is that all the PCs are competent scoundrels, and so plan effectively. But that's really dull for the players. In play, we cut straight to the opening of the action. All planning is done retrospectively as flashbacks, as and when needed and not before. The same applies to equipment: you have a bunch of equipment you might carry, you say how much you're carrying on a job, but you only say what it is at the exact moment you pull out a lockpick or a knife or a coil of rope.
Scoundrels get into all sorts of tricky situations, and Stress is how they avoid the consequences. You'll still suffer the direct outcome of a failed roll, but you can take Stress to avoid other effects. For instance, you're fighting Lenia of the Red Sashes gang on a drizzle-slicked rooftop. You lose and are pushed off the roof, to crash to the cobbles below. Take serious harm. Oh no, you say. You roll, take some stress, and avoid the harm. You're still off the rooftop (you failed that roll), but perhaps you're hanging from a windowsill just below, or you fell in a canal, or something else that means you take no harm.
These two things together mean that the game plays as fast-paced action. There's no downtime for long planning sessions, so stuff happens. The stress mechanic means PCs can take large risks without worrying too much about the consequences.
It is a very, very fun game.
We played a playtest long-block campaign of the game in 2015, and quite a bit of the feedback from that game ended up in the rulebook.