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[RollPlay: Blades Q&A] Episode 9: Tears for Fears


(quite_vague) #41

@Deabaker : And just a little more musing on how Carriless's kill really drifted into execution territory for me:

Hypothetically speaking, Grace could have been much less helpless than she was.

  • The fact that she was easily duped into meeting in a dangerous place, was a GM call. John played Grace as very secure in her own invulnerability, to the point of not even taking the most elementary precautions. That's a choice.
  • Grace being willing to play straight with the Last Word was a GM call. She could have been crafty and duplicitous, as she'd been with Aldo so many times previously. She could have run, terrified, and stayed the hell away from crazy murderers who are fine with killing her. She could have had protections in place (I can't imagine that somebody as well-connected as Grace can't get rid of a ghost dog in the space of 24 hours if she'd wanted to). She could have taken more initiative, looked after herself better, but she didn't. That's a choice.
  • John said a complication, when reading Grace's intentions, would be for her to read their intentions as well. That would have been a real wrinkle, had it occurred -- but when it didn't, he didn't merely interpret that as "Grace doesn't know what your intentions are"; he interpreted it as "Grace trusts you to fulfill your side of the bargain." Even though the crew never really did anything to inspire trust. That's a choice.
  • The risks of poisoning Grace could easily have been made much more challenging. OK, Carriless has Commanded a minor server to do his bidding, but does that mean the rest of the wait staff don't notice what's up? Is this server so good an actor and with such steady nerves that he can basically shit his pants without anybody, including wily Grace, notice anything? Does Carriless's Command of one lowly server also mean nobody objects to him manhandling Grace out of the pub? That's a choice.

Now, I want to stress -- when I say "that's a choice," these are perfectly fine choices. Some of these choices come way before John even knew Carriless would have a go at Grace -- they facilitated the original score, coming to an accommodation about the book, and maybe setting Grace up as a new regular (and wily) element in the game.

That being said, I think these examples demonstrate my point fairly well (albeit with a particular focus on one particular participant, John as the GM -- which I don't mean to imply that he's somehow "doing this on purpose" or any such thing): that there are choices being made here, which, when aggregated, can really build towards the "execution of the helpless" feel.

So, it's much more than just "was it risky, or wasn't it risky." It can be risky and also be focused on that particular tone -- whether by intention or by natural drift. That's all.

(tx1ndoki) #42

This came from djWheats really good roll to find a contact/information to deal with Grace. His rolls success was getting something that would do just that. Easily dup her into meeting basically wherever they wanted.

(OneSevenDesign) #43

Yes. What it looks like it up for Wheat to figure out. If there's nothing Cattaby can do to resist, then she can't resist.

Yeah, I skipped that since it was implicit and clearly understood by the group already. We'll usually be explicit about that procedure, but not 100% of the time.

(OneSevenDesign) #44

Regarding all the hypothetical stuff:

I could have made Grace a serious threat, sure. But that's not who she is. She's a lower-Tier extortionist who's overconfident from all her successes. So that's who I played. She was still pretty baller, in her way. Talked her way out of a torture room without even raising her voice. :wink:

As a Blades GM, it's not my job to orchestrate challenges, it's my job to portray the world honestly.

Some things will be easy. Some things will be crushing. Some things will be in-between. We play to find out how it goes. I won't be directing "the story" to make it turn out a certain way.

And -- to reiterate once again -- it's easy to gloss over those 6s and imagine that the PCs are waltzing through problems. Cariless was is serious danger in his gambit against Grace at her favorite joint. A 4/5 there wouldn't have just been a worse position, it would have been a room full of people turning on him at once. He had the balls to go for it, and he hit the 6, so he got what he wanted. The fact that he could do it with a couple rolls reflects that Grace is lower-Tier and doesn't have layers and layers of security -- she relied on her reputation and the fact that sane people don't risk their lives on a long shot (unlike Mr. Firm).

(quite_vague) #45

As always, thanks for the awesome and insightful responses :slight_smile:

Specifically regarding my last post, this is important for me to stress: That post wasn't intended as a "gosh they've got it too easy" post. I think that ground has been well-covered before. :slight_smile: The point I was trying to express was that the stories being told in that particular episode, felt to me like stories of execution, rather than struggle - which can be a dark tone for a game to strike.

I'm kind of wondering if there's something inherent in the game dynamic that weighs games in favor of going this way (particularly with Assassin crews, as I mentioned) -- if this is some kind of emergent property. Emergent properties in systems and games are something I find immensely intriguing :slight_smile:
Or, if this is simply what caught the attention of this particular group, this particular episode -- and this won't necessarily be a regular feature on the series, or wouldn't be particularly likely to recur in a different group of Assassins.

It kind of stood out to me this episode because, well, two different murders, two different characters taking center stage. It seemed more like a pattern than a one-off.

As I said, emergent properties are fascinating to me, and I'm always interested in seeing how different game systems aim players in directions that may seem only subtly different, but actually wind up leading to totally different tones and styles. Blades is extra compelling to me, because right out of the box it has so many different play styles (the huge variety of crew types, and soon enough, hacks and playsets as well...) -- so it's a fantastic playground for seeing the small differences add up :slight_smile:

(OneSevenDesign) #46

This is something that can only been seen in hindsight. Since we're following the fiction and letting the dice speak, we won't know what sort of series we have until it's over. We can guess at potential patterns, but the sample size is so small it's meaningless.

I like emergent properties, too. There are lots of elements of Blades that only emerge in play. But it's far too early to draw conclusions about this series.