What standard for reducing consequences?

I interject to add something about my experiences with Blades in the Dark and Minutes to Midnight (which is basically a Cold War era color hack), because I think they are quite on point for your questions. The summary is: when playing BitD, lasting consequences depend on how hard the gamemaster stomps on the pedal.

In particular, the BitD campaign where I played was the first time the gamemaster took this role for BitD. In the first session (sessions? I don’t recall exactly in which debriefing we touched this point, it was months ago), the guy would name the possible consequences of failed rolls and then we’d be allowed to counter them with reactions. Two relevant aspects: every time it was one consequence per action and every time reacting just erased any consequence. At the end of the session, this feels wrong. You look back on all the mess that happened, yet your character is unscathed, except for a possibly long stress track, which is relatively easy to empty in downtime.

We discussed this point quite deeply at the end of a session. Some of the fellow players were veterans of BitD, so they could offer field-tested advice. Specifically, you can have more consequences per roll, it doesn’t need to be one to one, and you don’t have to scrap a consequence altogether when a player reacts. For instance, if somebody is shooting straight to your heart the consequence is “you die”, but reacting doesn’t necessarily mean that you acrobatically avoid the bullet, you may just step aside at the last split second and end up with a “mangled arm”.

With just these changes, our game started feeling way different. In particular, damage strongly affects characters’ effectiveness and is awfully slow to heal. I don’t recall Traumas being so impactful in terms of lasting consequences, but it occurred several times that people shied away from helping others to avoid gaining Trauma, or even accepted consequences without reacting.

Overall, BitD can easily range from “very inconsequential thanks to your out of jail free tokens” to “disturbingly heavy weight on consequences, to the point that it’s way more practical to put your character in the freezer and create a new one” and it all depends on table practice.

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Great post, Eugenio. My experience with the game matches yours, more or less. And especially, if the group is not consistent with the application of consequences and resistances, it can feel arbitrary and that essentially the plot moves due to GM fiat rather than as a result of player choices.

I had talked a bit about my experiences in this post on Adept Play.

And here, related to the way I sometimes “rewrite” statements of fact as statements of intent in the-pool, and how that’s different from what Blades does by default.

Here is a diagram from this discussion on La Locanda which explains in practice how I realise BitD’s system—forgive the Italian, I think you should be able make out what’s in there, let me know if a translation is necessary. I suggest reading the entire post—automatic translators are your friends—for a great breakdown of how I do outcome resolution with BitD.

Were these named before or after rolling?

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Mostly after rolling. Generally it was “the roll calls for consequences, let me decide one” in both campaigns I played at BitD and MtM.

And I must say that I find this a generally good behavior pattern. When I am the GM in games where the GM has to define consequences of botched rolls (so in most RPGs), I heavily lean on this. It’s a lot of saved brain bandwidth.

Unless there’s something blatant that needs to be explicitly stated to avoid misunderstandings. Which happened last month when I was running Cyber//Punk, the one page Lasers & Feelings hack. A player said he wanted to shoot the lock of a cage and I went “was I clear enough when I said that the cage is choke full of angry, ferocious cyber-animals? Do you really want to free them?”. And apparently everything was clear and this was specifically what he had in mind, so we went ahead with dice. And it was a full success that lead to a huge mess of bomber eagles, machine gun wolves, and laser horses :rofl:.

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It’s been a long time since I’ve seen an IIEE diagram. This is excellent! Well executed and nicely drawn, as well. This made me smile!

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