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Blades in the Dark


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Setting Position and Effect

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The GM sets position and Effect for an Action Roll at the same time, after the player says what they're doing and chooses their action. Usually, Risky / Standard is the default combination, modified by the action being used, the strength of the opposition, and the Effect factors.

The ability to set position and Effect as independent variables gives you nine combinations to choose from, to help you convey a wide array of fictional circumstances.

For example, if a character is facing off alone against a small enemy gang, the situation might be:

  • She fights the gang straight up, rushing into their midst, hacking away in a wild Skirmish. In this case, being threatened by the larger force lowers her position to indicate greater risk, and the scale of the gang reduces her Effect (Desperate / Limited).
  • She fights the gang from a choke-point, like a narrow alleyway where their numbers can't overwhelm her at once. She's not threatened by several at once, so her risk is similar to a one-on-one fight, but there's still a lot of enemies to deal with, so her Effect is reduced (Risky / Limited).
  • She doesn't fight the gang, instead trying to maneuver her way past them and escape. She's still under threat from many enemy attacks, so her position is worse, but if the ground is open and the gang can't easily corral her, then her Effect for escaping isn't reduced (Desperate / Standard). If she had some immediate means of escape (like leaping onto a speeding carriage), then her Effect might even be increased (Desperate / Great).
  • The gang isn't aware of her yet—she's Set up in a sniper position on a nearby roof. She takes a shot against one of them. Their greater numbers aren't a factor, so her Effect isn't reduced, and she's not immediately in any danger (Controlled / Great). Maybe instead she wants to fire off a salvo of suppressing fire against the whole gang, in which case their scale applies (Controlled / Limited). If the gang is on guard for potential trouble, her position is more dangerous (Risky / Great). If the gang is alerted to a sniper, then the Effect may be reduced further, as they scatter and take cover (Risky / Limited). If the gang is able to muster covering fire while they fall back to a safe position, then things are even worse for our scoundrel (Desperate / Limited).


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