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[FEEDBACK] Blades

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(mwthecool) #184

I love Blades in the Dark. It's my go to TTRPG system. It was actually my first time GM'ing too. That being said I've only seen two episodes of the Roleplay show because of the timing mostly. It ends at a pretty bad time for me, and Tuesday's are just bad in general. Sunday will probably be much better for YOU in viewership, but not personally for me in timing. It's just the hours, nothing to do with the show.

It's worth noting I'm east coast NA.


(leovaeg2) #185

That reminds me, that's the other thing that irks me on the system, even though its a cool original mechanic. Having X dice to roll to hit a target range, either 4+ in controlled, 5-6 risky/desperate, seems (and pardon me my math sucks) to be an easier difficulty roll than other games' difficulty-ratings or AC/Saves
Anyone have the "Math" on this System?


(DasCoomas) #186

As with most, the time is difficult to work around as it's a 2 am start, but I am really enjoying the show and the different experience John brings as a GM. The cast is great and works really well together so that is another big positive. The game system is great and lends itself in pushing characters into trying more dangerous and extreme opportunities which I enjoy as a narrative.

Only thing I would say that I feel is missing is the mechanical feeling of danger for the characters. I know the desperate roll mechanic is how the blades system inters this, but it is a very different way of showing threat in a situation. One more striking example is where there is a situation in week 10 in most other RPGs there would be more dire consequences to a character, but in this system the penalty seemed much less and fitted very awkwardly into the narrative to bend to the game mechanics.

However, I do really enjoy the show, the cast, the GM and wish it to continue and the reason for me not catching the live shows would be the timing of it.


(tangent42) #187

My disconnect from Blades came from a build up of factors.

1) The scheduled time is difficult for me because it's so late in the evening. However, I watched the first 2 shows live, so that wasn't the fatal blow for me.

2) Second episode, the vice of Geoff's character turned me off. I'm burned out on graphic dark characters and since that seemed to be a potentially core part of exploring his character, I didn't necessarily want to watch since I didn't know how dark things would get. I tried asking how much it would come up and got a "Don't know, maybe every downtime" response, which made it hard to judge if I'd be common enough to interfere or not with my enjoyment, which demotivated me from watching.

3) There's something about John's GM style that doesn't work for me. I super admire him as a game designer, but I had a similar problem with the other Blades game he GMs. I dislike writing this because I've struggled to pin down what about the style doesn't work for me, so it's not helpful criticism because I can't say what would need to improve to rope me back in. I get the feeling he might be a fun GM to play with, but his style might not translate as well for games meant to be watched?

When I think about the Breakers one-shot, I remember a) the player characters, and b) the map/graphic John designed....but next to nothing about his voice/energy in the game. It might be the difference between someone who GMs a lot and someone who is used to casting/advertising/public speaking, the entertainment X factor?

4) Nebula Jazz. When I have limited time to keep up with a show, Nebula Jazz is at the top of my list. I love how unpredictable, goofy, and fun the show is.

I think for me it's the combination of these factors that stopped me from watching Blades after episode 3.


(firefoxx0017) #188

The time of the show isn't great for me but even still I've always watched Vods when that happends

Real issue for me like some others have said is a sense of danger both from RP standpoint and the mechanics of the game. The guys and gal do a great job Rping but there is never any conflict that is serious I feel. Other Roleplay shows have had this and it adds somethings to it. Also the sense of omg Total party kill whats going to happen can they pull it off? I aint going to jail!!!!!

Blades just doesn't have that for me I get that the game is designed sorta that way to make it so the party is a team of pros and this is how they handle business but i mean after awhile its like watching oceans 11 for the 3rd or 4rth movie. Like yea its entertaining but I'm not going out of my way to change my schedule so I can watch it or give up playing a video game/ watching something else. So I dont commit to the show and never watch any of it even when I do have time since I'll just be lost to the story and what the hells going on.

I love the cast I do they are great and so is the DM it just loses its luster after awhile.


(Zandivya) #189

I don't think Blades is ever going to pull as many people as a CoS simply because it's a fiction focused and somber themed show. I enjoy Blades the most of the three Rollplay shows but it has a few things holding it back from popular acceptance.

Most new viewers are likely going into the show with either no rpg experience or having only played DnD. Blades, as a game focused around rp, doesn't give a lot hooks from classical gaming (hp bars, easy to understand win/fail conditions, long term single objective story arcs). I think this means Blades has a larger barrier of entry for new viewers approaching the show. You pretty much had to nab all the viewers you could within the first couple episodes. To think of it in television terms a person who started The Wire in the middle of the second season wouldn't have had the time to get into the gang politics with associated character development and would be less inclined to continue watching.

This rollplay emphasis also necessarily slows down the game. The players and GM want to position themselves within the narrative to be optimal mechanically but also setup possible future scenes for character development and that takes time. That pacing is going to split away viewers that don't have the attention span for this sort of drama.

The drama itself is another roadblock to Blades. This game world is a melancholy one with drug dealers, assassins and thieves being the main protagonists. It doesn't lend itself well to lightheartedness and that's always going to be a blow to the viewer count of any show (on twitch or television). I certainly appreciate the change of tone but I think the average twitch viewer (of a potential viewership already whittled down as discussed above) may just see the blood, torture and pain and think this isn't want he/she wants from a stream.

Again, I greatly enjoy Blades and would like to see it continue but even with a new time slot I don't think it will ever have as many viewers as the other shows.


(Karamor) #190

You're deeply involved.
For most people they're more likely to get into a regular viewing habit than actively following the schedule. Especially when it is announced that a show won't be on for weeks. At that point it's more likely to forget which week the show'd come back on and missing it can lead to not having the time to catch up.

You can see the same with actual TV shows, a several week break will nearly always be a viewer loss. Regularitiy is very important.

Also I'm guessing having the special on a different day only enforced the impression of irregular shows to any casual viewer.


(Karamor) #191

The thing is, a 5 is supposed to only be a partly success, something that still carries a consequence. You see a similar thing for the 7-9 results in Apocalyps World.

The problem here is that people can resist consequences and if they roll really well on those resists they walk away untouched and that is what happened a lot here, making several of the quite dangerous results look harmless.
Without the resist mechanic, Rune would most likely be dead already.


(Womprats) #192

I'll start this by saying that I absolutely love Blades, and I watch (well, listen to the mp3's. Are you able to see download stats for those?) every episode, so any critiques in here are just me spitballing and only because you're askin for it :P. As a GM who loves reading and listening about GM'ing (the zines, Office Hours, articles, etc), John is great to observe and listen to. I feel he really embodies the "be a fan of the players" style that he mentions in the Blades in the Dark rule book, which I can tell is amazing for the players as they all talk plenty about how much they enjoy playing the game (and inspiring for me, I picked up Blades and after running a session of it, my players loved it too!).

However, I do think that some of the other commentators are not off base in their feeling that this style can lead to a sense of a lack of danger. I think John wants the players to do the dope shit they want to do, and is sometimes a bit lenient with the consequences. I don't particularly mind this because I like seeing the characters do dope shit also. However, I will say (and this is my only personal critique in this write-up) that I would like to see things not go specifically Carriless' way quite as well as they have. Carriless is super cool and @iNcontroLTV made a hell of a character, however I feel like the only significant character flaw (his vice not really being a "flaw", since he totally owns it) we have seen is his hubris (a fun flaw to have) and that hubris has gone mostly unpunished which feels to me like a bit of a lost opportunity from a character development perspective.

I also feel that the feeling of no driving opposing forces in the game is a fair viewpoint. I think John puts it on the players to be the driving force, which I think they do a great job of, but GM-controlled antagonists that persist through episodes/arcs go a long way from a show/spectator perspective in my opinion. We get to know the PC's super well, but the enemies really only exist as a focus of the PC's goals and desires.

As for the game feeling like it's just going through the motions, I think the well-defined mechanics that facilitate downtime / scores are awesome for giving actual structure for the players to decide what happens. If you plop some characters into a town in D&D or onto a spaceship in Stars Without Number or something and just ask them "what do you do?" they'll be at a loss, since the games don't have rules for helping them decide what to do. In CoS, when the PC's got to the monastery town and bought their apartment, the player's did not really have anything to do until Adam put the town thugs situation in their faces. In Blades, due to the well-defined options available to the players in downtime, it is a lot easier for them to figure out what their characters spend their time doing when there isn't an obvious "quest" to do. I really appreciate this and think it has helped a bunch, but I can understand how it can feel repetitive or forced from a viewer perspective.

Anyway, those are my thoughts and observations on why Blades might not necessarily be as appealing to as broad an audience as the other shows. I'm just a rambling amateur though, would find it interesting to hear @AdamKoebel and @OneSevenDesign 's thoughts on it all! But I totally get if that would not be super comfortable to discuss publicly. Thanks for being open in your search for feedback @itmeJP !


(SavageSamurai_Xbox) #193

The show is really good. The characters are lively. I mainly watch VOD so time doesn't matter to me.


(Olf_Himself) #194

If you watch it on a computer the Twitch VoD will continue from where you stopped watching live.


(Twitch: PerilousPlanet) #195

Same as most in the thread being from EU watching it live can be a pita. That being said it is definitely one of my favourite Rollplay shows, maybe even my favourite. I mostly watch the VODs for all the shows any hoo.


(Mirthless12) #196

well.. first off.. i am european and due to timezones.
I am not able to watch it live.

Also ever since the party did the mission for Wheats character the main plot is just nowhere to be found. The GM in myself says that the players need more investment in the world so they can have better defined goals. ill be honest.. i dont know what the main plot is right now.. the flashback episode was cool to fill in background and maybe to generate some investment for Anne and Zeke.


(Fnejk) #197

I've watched every episode up until the latest one but have found myself not really that interested for quite some episodes now. And to be completely honest, there is just no energy in the show. The players constantly have to be reminded of rules, pushed by the GM to actually do things and seem to lack a distinct motivation to actually play their characters.

I also find half the cast not to gel with eachother that well, Zeke and Anne are awesome together but there seems to be a dissconnect between those two and the rest of the cast. They do have a clear path for their characters and know how to play them, as soon as they are in the spotlight the story and energy of the show picks up.

The first episode was amazing, a lot due to Geoff's clear direction in how the episode was supposed to go and over all being more structured when they did the score. And also the sidestory with Canter was great! Once again, because it was a bit more structured and railroaded. I think the open nature of the show's structure does not work when not all players are super hype about the show.

Now i may be wrong about all of this but that is the over all impression i have gotten from this.

Also the timeslot, i cba to be awake until 7AM


(Twitch: cyan_83) #198

First off: the show has had amazing, memorable moments; all the cast members are great roleplayers and I love to see them interact; John has a refreshing GM style, that nicely contrasts with Adam's, it's nice to see variety there.
However, here is why I am not very hyped about the show.

  • The time slot makes it impossible to watch live. This is no deal breaker for me, I am used to watching most of my Rollplay on VODs.
  • I am really not into the setting. This is a personal thing, I can't stand steampunk. For reference, I love SciFi and can warm myself towards some Fantasy settings.
  • There are more and more references to the other campaign (Bloodletters I think?). I am not watching that show and every reference makes me feel like I am missing something. This is probably very cool though for those watching both shows.
  • The system. I know it has been hailed as the next big thing in RPG forums and I am very interested to try it myself (probably when one of the stretch goal SciFi hacks release), but man, the artificial distinction into downtime <-> score really yanks me out of any immersion* I might have had. That, plus every roll they make they have to seemingly elaborate on a plethora of stuff before making even a simple roll (position, bargain etc) just makes it a chore to watch at times. It's probably very different and engaging when playing yourself, but as a viewer, this does not make for the best experience.
  • Lack of plot. Maybe I am not seeing it or we just didn't discover it yet, but I am missing an overarching story arc. For example, Swan Song, my far and away favorite Rollplay show, was extremely free form, the players could do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, but there was also the feeling of a developing world around them, and with Pi's adolescence and Warmind's threat, there was always the sense of a long time development, which I am sorely missing at the moment in Blades.
  • The show tends to be very somber and, well, dark (hue hue), very much by design. I am fine with a morally "dark gray" group like Higgs' crew, but an outright evil troupe is something I cannot root for. There are no light moments at all, I find myself never laughing past the first half hour of pre-show non-sense (except maybe for the occasional ecellent Aldo deadpan delivery by Zeke).

Sorry that this has been a rather long post and probably has been either said already or is a matter of taste, and thus very subjective. I also want to stress that I think the whole cast is doing a great job and there are great roleplay moments, it just doesn't seem to click for me as a whole personally.

*or versimilitude, don't wanna trigger Adam


(BIGKEVC) #199

For me it all boils down to the system and the DM.

I'm not a fan of the system that is used for the game. Much like the cast I never understood when something needed a roll, what the role was, what a successful one was, etc. The worst part is that this guy is the creator of it so he should have been able to express how it works much easier to the team let alone the viewers. Also because of this the characters stats don't mean anything to me and thus I'm less interested in the characters and don't understand what they are doing to be challenging or easy. When I'm watching CoS I know that if Berg gets put into a situation where Adam makes him roll something on Intelligence or Charisma it will be a huge challenge for him and that can help build tension in a situation which makes for great viewing and storytelling. Maybe it is just me that doesn't understand the system but so far any show that has a non d20 based system just doesn't work for me.

The second issue that I have is the DM. To me his style is too laid back and again I'm not sure if it is the system but it leaves too much on the players plate to do things. When your players don't know what they can do or should be doing and then you have a world where you have to pry them to do anything it makes for boring content. Don't get me wrong I love the roleplay that the characters do but roleplay without plot just doesn't keep me engaged.

Take my words for whatever you feel they are worth. I was only able to get through 3 episodes of Blades before I gave it up. I do love Court of Swords and try to watch it live (well from 4:30 on).


(banned) #200

That's the weird thing I've found. If you've made something you internalize so much of it that you can rarely explain it very well. I think the players are getting the hang of it, at least as much as they're going to. I mean remember that in Swan Song players still didn't know all of the system by the end of it or even a lot of the parts that involved them. Same with any system and players, some pick it up easier than others.


(putridcheese) #201

I watch vods mostly for everything jp related as I'm working most of the time when you're live.


(kiipsitrill) #202

I started watching Blades in February after hearing the hype on Twitter and AnneMunition's discord, and watched until I caught up on 1.5 speed on Youtube. I just did a search in Discord to figure out when I started, and here are some excerpts:

2/1/2017:
[12:11 PM] ■ Kiip ■: Ok, how many hours is blades

2/1/2017:
[6:26 PM] ■ Kiip ■: blades is fantastic

2/2/2017:
[9:01 PM] ■ Kiip ■: I don't have groundhog day ripped
[9:01 PM] ■ Kiip ■: I'm gonna have to find the disc
[9:04 PM] [Redacted]: that sounds like work Klip
[9:04 PM] ■ Kiip ■: yeah I think I'll just keep watching Blades instead

2/6/2017:
[12:01 AM] ■ Kiip ■: so I want to do something with Blades

2/9/2017:
[8:55 PM] ■ Kiip ■: Blades is so cool

2/19/2017:
[8:15 PM] ■ Kiip ■: blades is amaaaaaaazing

The Sunday time should work better for me.

I suspect that this Tuesday had a worse turnout than normal because Horizon: Zero Dawn released, Anne was at GDC, and GDC's NVIDIA panel thing (and waiting for it...) was taking up the same time.

Blades is the first rollplay I have started watching, but I was blown away by how excellent everyone is at acting, how fluidly the system works at getting the characters through situations (especially combat), emphasizing the story elements, setting, characterization, setting up future conflicts.


(Xence) #203

I also feel John's GMing style just isnt for me. I think Blades has produced some of the best RPing i have seen from any of the shows that's perhaps only trumped by Swan Song. However, while the RPing is amazing i'm just not drawn into it. I know the rule set for Blades is such that PCs don't really have a risk of dying. For me personally, it makes care less for the PCs. Others may enjoy this more though!

Just my two cents