Context, Cool Shit & Consequences: structure for DM’s notes

Context, Cool Shit & Consequences: structure for DM’s notes

Folks who say they improv when they DM have a structure that they have often internalized. Here’s one type of structure that might help you out during those moments when you are brainstorming before a game or taking notes while DMing (PDF at the bottom of the post). NOTE: I’ve also included a PG version, Context, Cool Stuff and Consequences, in case you need to use this in a school or professional environment.

The worksheet below is meant to be a tool for jotting down bullet-points for pre-game daydreaming as well as in-game note-taking. Names, places, ideas, encounters, whatever inspirational bits you need when the game is on.

Context, Cool Shit and Consequences notes and inspiration sheet
Cool Art Assets in the bottom corners are from the Feral Indie Game Studios


The questions on the sheet above are meant to inspire, not to overwhelm. Answer however many you need to feel comfortable walking into the game. You’ll find your rhythm and what you like to have when you walk up to the table.

They’re arriving at the place you’ve prepared. Tell them what they see, hear, smell. Tell them what the place looks like as they approach.

Under Hollow Hills by Meguey and Vincent Baker

What is happening in your game? What dynamic forces are in motion? What is at stake? In Burning Wheel this is known as The Situation – the imbalance, problem or injustice that will drive the campaign forward.

Maps, heraldry, pinterest boards, inspiration lists (music, books, movies, etc.) are other ways to get that context in place.

There is an instinct to have a hidden antagonist and spend extraordinary amounts of time and energy hiding their presence from the players and the characters. Fight that instinct. Yes, Vecna is the Lich-God of Secrets and Sorcery but their secret bid for world dominance is more interesting if the players are one of the few to know the secret. The more the players know the more dynamic their plans can become and the more invested they are in learning more.

Have an idea what is happening just beyond what they can see and then watch for opportunities for them to uncover that lore. Don’t waste time and energy hiding information. The players will always see more mysteries just beyond the horizon and even if they know EVERYTHING there is still the thrill of what they will do with the information and how the future conflicts will shake out.

Leave some questions that you aren’t sure about. Have some NPC’s who could go to the Dark Side or become Born-again Paladins. If you aren’t sure where some lost lore ended up or how the players will uncover it, find out in play. The answer might become more clear once the players have kicked the tires of the world and gotten some dents in the fender. Let answers come to you in play not prep. Prep is for interesting questions and of course – cool shit.

Spears Subject Divider 

Cool Shit

Consequences are what end up at the table because the players’ actions. Cool Shit is about putting toys on the table because they bring you joy. It could be your favorite monster, or your favorite type of NPC (good teachers and sly, reasonable villains for me). Hopefully, the Cool Shit relates to the context and reacts to the consequences but sometimes strange things have travelled in from far reaches of your imagination.

What do you like in a story? Put some of that in. You are the Story Guide, after all.

The Shadow of Yesterday by Clinton R. Nixon

Even if it is just Githyanki Hunting Party on your Shadowfell Encounter Table and you never get that encounter into the game, put the possibility of it out there.

Was there a part of a character’s back-story that you want to delve into or an NPC family member who you think is interesting? Get them in the game.

You are playing too. Have fun. Put a treat in there for yourself.

Spears Subject Divider 


Sometimes this is when the players make an enemy and that enemy strikes back, looking for vengeance. Diversify those consequences. Maybe the enemy they have antagonized also has an enemy who sees the players’ chaotic conflicts as an opportunity. Let the players’ actions cause ripples across the world and inspire folk. Have a bard write a song about their prowess or a theatre troupe write a play about their exploits.

NPC’s react according to their goals and methods. Events snowball. You don’t need to “manage” the game. Action, reaction and consequences will drive everything.

Blades in the Dark by John Harper

Make their actions a dynamic part of the world for good and/or for ill. I notice lots of rookie DM’s tend to look for negative consequences. Constant negative consequences might push players to avoid interacting with the world out of fear of causing any ripples in the pond. Find that balance based on the vibe of the table.

Think about what an NPC might’ve heard about the characters in a world of rumor and sorcery and how they might react. Make the characters’ actions meaningful.

Establish situations with several actors or factions pursuing their own ends. Let the players’ actions affect this environment, and let the consequences affect the players in turn.

Principia Apocrypha, Elementary Axioms & Aphorisms on Running & Playing Tabletop RPGs in the Old School Style by Ben Milton, Steven Lumpkin and David Perry
Spears Subject Divider 

I hope this structure is useful. If it helps (or fails miserably) I’d love to hear about why it worked or how it could be better.

This post was inspired by spending time on the DM Academy Subreddit; these are things I have found myself saying or thinking as I read new GM’s posts. Good luck!

Art assets in the corner of the C, C & C worksheet are from Feral Indie Studios.

Cool Art Assets in the bottom corners are from the Feral Indie Game Studios

What others are saying about C, CS & C:

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Blog of Judd Karlman from Daydreaming about Dragons

Pistols in Blades in the Dark

Templeton and Slane are the high-end pistols marketed towards Brightstone home owners who want to, as the duo say when they are selling their wares door to door, “keep scoundrels out of their parlor.” Each pistol is made to order for their owner. Misters Templeton and Slane spend one week a month taking orders, often giving sale salons. After a week of taking orders, they spend the next three months or more making the pistols for those who have purchased their wares.

As Mr. Slane is fond of saying, “You won’t find a Templeton and Slane pistol in any Crow’s Foot canals.” Surely rumors that these gunsmiths pay off Bluecoats to keep their work out of the press are slanderous attempts to tarnish their reputations by their jealous rivals.

Bloody Subject Divider

Ace Karderra was a scoundrel who died in Ironhook. His daughters took up his vocation and make the pistols and rifles scoundrels with extra coin depend on for their trade. As the eldest sister, Grace Karderra says of their best selling Quadshot, “This is for the scoundrel who brings a pistol to a knife fight.”

Bloody Subject Divider

The Imperial Standard Issue Pistol, stamped with I.I. for Imperial Issue is often called the “Emperor’s Disappointment” from its initial design goal of empowering officers to shoot deserters in battle. No official Imperial statistics are available but it is commonly thought that pistol bullets have killed more Imperial grunts trying to retreat than Imperial enemies.

Since the Unity War ended, pieces of these pistols are all over Doskvol. It is rare to find one entirely made of its original Imperial Issue parts and there are back-alley gunsmiths who can turn any pieces into some kind of weapon – from a club or blackjack to an actual pistol. Inspector Ametha said, “If all Imperial Issue pistols were to be suddenly taken out of the canal, the water levels would go down so far the canal barges might need wheels.”

Bloody Subject Divider

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I have ambivalent feelings about having guns in my fantasy gaming. In a vain effort to balance the above post out, here are links to the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and Stop Handgun Violence.

This doesn’t feel like enough. If not, I’ll do more.

Blades in the Twilight

Was talking about starting a Blades game with some friends on a discord and a buddy mentioned that he’d rather not play straight-up evil. Doskvol is a big corrupt mess, that shouldn’t be too hard.

Here are a couple of thoughts.

The 8th Family

You are one of the oldest families in Doskvol, born from a marriage between miners and fisherfolk that ended a bloody feud between the two original factions back when the North Hook wasn’t the Dark Gem of the Empire.

After a disagreement with the Lord Governor he destroyed your clan, killed the matriarch, sent the children into orphanages, and somehow he disappeared the 8th Tower. It is a decade later and few remember that your family ever existed, blotted out by an Imperial Arcane curse. You’ve gathered at an abandoned house the family once owned to form a crew and get your revenge.

The A-Team

Framed for a crime you didn’t commit…

Your commanding officer framed you all for a crime during the Unity War and you just got out (broke out?) of a floating military prison hulk. You know your CO returned to Doskvol but where are they now? What faction are they in charge of?

Time to secure your base, find the bastard who put you all away and get even…

The Weepers

The Weeping Lady is the one member of Doskvol’s original pantheon who the Imperial Church has been unable to destroy. You are the last of her True Cult, not a sanitized monastery or an Imperial nunnery. Uncover the Weeping Lady’s lost history, paved over by architects and Imperial Whispers.


You are a team of rogue scientists, traversing the Ghost Field and testing ghosts and arcane energies with one unifiied goal:

You are going to fix death.

When the sky broke and ghosts flooded the world it opened the door for the corruption you see all around you. Fix death and the rest of the world will figure itself out. It is going to take more resources than anyone could afford and so, you’ve all turned to crime, taking what you need to make the world a better place.


There’s a thread over on the BitD Forum…

Talk Sh!t Roll Crits: Forged in the Dark Edition is but one item in my TTRPG Collection

Making Roric’s War

Our Bluecoats Investigative game (playlist here) had two more cases left. Roric’s War and The Last Case.

I knew I wanted Roric’s War to be a gang war across all criminal factions of Doskvol, threatening to spill over across all factions if things get out of control. Roric’s death was the start of the Lampblack/Red Sashes war and I wanted to escalate that situation.

Looking over the criminal factions and putting them into two sides of a city-wide war was really easy. The Hive on one side and the Unseen on the other; the rest just fell into place. Yes, Roric was the fuse but the real situation was two powerful criminal enterprises that were ready to find out who ruled the Dusk.

This is what my little map looked like at the start.

The Roric War 1 (1).png

The Hive was low on magic, so I had them courting Lord Scurlock.

The Foghounds and the Lost were clearly the weak at the edge of these criminal herds, so the wars started with each side trying to destroy them.

I kept the Lampblacks and Red Sashes as neutral because they had just finished a costly war and I reckoned that both sides would aggressively recruit them later. Ulf Ironborn and the Grinders were neutral because neither side wanted the political liability of the most marginalized people in the city (for now) but that would change was the war took its toll and boots on the ground became more of a priority.

The powers-that-be don’t care if the scoundrels murder one another in the streets but when a bomb goes off in Gaddoc Station, that is what got the Lord Governor to write up an Imperial Mandate and get them into the mix.

Looking back, a bomb site isn’t a great place for an investigator but it worked out alright. I might’ve started with a straight up murder getting the law involved but maybe not. It worked out fine. This could be me over-thinking it.

Other than the bomb, there were plenty of leads because everyone was involved. They went to the Silver Nails, the gang they had the closest relationship with. Their mandate was a bit vague; they were charged with ending the war. That means there is no real crime to solve.

Looking back, I might’ve had the Lord Governor be more aggressive with suggesting incarceration as a primary tool to end this mess. The Doskvol version of drugs on the table from The Wire. “I want criminal leaders in manacles,” he might say, putting pressure on the team to not only end the war but put crime lords in Ironhook. I don’t think that the Lord Governor’s suggestion is a good idea; I think it would’ve put inexperienced people in charge of gangs and led to more reckless acts of violence.

As it was, Stras and Lauren were smart and used diplomacy to eradicate the Unseen’s forces, causing them to have to sue for peace. They got the Dimmer Sisters to switch sides, finding out that they didn’t take the Hive up on their offer because they didn’t want to answer to Scurlock, whom they knew was being courted and so they got Scurlock to sit this out and seek out revenge against the Circle of Flame, who tried to light him on fire with the Hand of Kotar. They got the Wraiths off the board by getting them safe passage and a safe place to live in Imperial City.

One war-related fire broke out, burning one of the Six Towers, leaving it a burned out husk, like a burned bone shard on the Doskvol skyline. Is there any game of Blades in the Dark where one of the Six Towers isn’t decimated?

This is what the map looked like at the end.

The Roric War 1.png

The Foghounds and the Lost are upside down; that was how I noted that they had been destroyed.

During downtime, I picked factions for a clock and rolled those dice. If two factions were working together, I’d have the larger faction roll their dice and the smaller faction offer a helping die. This provided action and movement as both sides moved towards concrete goals. I did this privately, narrating only what the players would have heard about.

At one point a fire broke out as the Hive was courting Lord Scurlock, so I decided that it was the Circle of Flame using the Hand of Kotar to mess up that diplomatic meet-up in an abandoned tower. At another point they visited the Hive Galleon and saw a Dimmer Sister floating above a building in the Ghost Field, taking notes on the coming’s and going’s of the ship so they could burn it into the harbor later.

The cool thing about this mess is it gets everything into play and on the board. It dumps the toy chest on the floor, so to speak. The Hand of Kotar, the Hive, Lord Scurlock, the Crows all hit the table because of Roric’s War.

The next game we’ll go over the fallout after a cataclysmic clash with the demon hiding among the Circle and Flame’s leadership and we’ll see if the investigators can push to continue the case in order to gather evidence on The Hive.

In investigative games I want a few things set from the start:

The Crime Scene

I want to know what happened and why.

I might learn more later as details emerge. There might be people involved who I had never anticipated, not because the players are adding bits of narrative details but because I didn’t think of everything; there are white spaces on the map where new things can come to light.

That said, I want to know who dunnit, why and how.

This takes us to…


The players should have somewhere to go.

If the leads dry up, that is okay because…


The forces at work are in motion, either covering up the crime or going after their own goals.

That said, failure is okay. I don’t mind a case where the evidence dries up and the leads go cold. There are parts of earlier cases that were unsolved due to bad rolls; that is fine and I don’t mind a case being unsolved. Something might come up later and the cold case grows hot again.

Talk Sh!t Roll Crits: Forged in the Dark Edition is but one item in my TTRPG Collection

The Scoundrelexicon

Bits and pieces of the Scoundrelexicon are painted on brick alley’s walls, carved into benches of pubs and some have even heard its wisdom screeched by ravens. You can tell that they are different from other graffiti because they are lucid and are good advice for those who have disregarded all other good advice and started a scoundrel’s life of crime in Doskvol.

No one has all of the Scoundrelexicon’s wisdom, though some back-alley scholars have begun to gather them together. Are they the work of a ghost? Are they some kind of ghostly manifestations of crews that have fallen to the unrelenting pressure and grind the scoundrel’s life demands?


Here are a few of them, written down here before they were painted over, sanded away or otherwise cleaned from existence:

No use telling a crew not to punch above their weight because we all do but know this: make friends above yer weight too.


Is eeking out a life of poverty under a bridge better than bleeding to death on that same bridge? That is the question Doskvol forces you to ask once you float down the Scoundrel’s Canal.


A job going to chaos isn’t a sign of a poorly wrought plan. It is a sign that you are living the life of a scoundrel and that life’s tapestry is woven with chaos, death, vendetta and time lost to cruel Ironhook.


Whispers make good problem solvers but bad priests.


Sometimes a an Iruvian dueling knife is the only thing that can pry out a bullet and sometimes the finest Imperial pistol is the only club at hand. Look at yer load with fresh eyes every time you load out.


Ironhook is our schoolmaster and it is a vicious, miserable educator.


War is bad for business but so is love.


When the cutter wants war seek out diplomacy and peace; when the spider wants peace make fell war.

Please add your own in the thread over at the new Blades in the Dark forum.




The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. “Old houses King & Varick Sts.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1919.

Blades in the Dark: The Last Red Maid


The Red Maids were a group of chambermaids who turned to crime. Like so many gangs, they gathered too much heat too quickly. Because their enemies were among Brightstone’s and even Whitecrown’s elite and not yet among their fellow criminals, scoundrels still speak fondly of them as both a cautionary tale and a kind of heroic tragedy.

When their crime spree was over Brightstone was said to be painted blood red. The gang’s leader, Scar, was hanged under charges of witchcraft and the rest were put in prison by an over-zealous magistrate under heavy pressure from the City Council.

Forty years later and the only surviving member of the gang is getting out, not because of any mercy but because everyone in power has forgotten.  Scoundrels all over the city want to recruit her as she leaves Ironhook. None even remember her real name, only her street nickname.

What playbook was she?

  • Cutter: Bloody Mary
  • Hound: The Wolf Crone
  • Leech: Dr. Scarlet
  • Lurk: The Old Shadow
  • Slide: The Red Masque
  • Spider: Spinner Scarlet
  • Whisper: The Red Matron

There are barroom arguments, did she kill more people on the streets of Duskwall or while serving time in Ironhook?


This isn’t so much about one character getting out of Ironhook but as something new being added to the scoundrel’s underworld that acts as a spark. This is a fun way to have gangs compete over something that isn’t too high stakes. Of course, some gangs are going to claim their gang has some lineage leading straight to he Red Maidens, making their claim on this wise old-timer more than another or perhaps she has a link to a solid score that everyone wants, some money the Red Maids stowed before they made their valiant and foolish last stand.

Can your gang outbid and out-maneuver the other gangs and get this elder scoundrel to try life on the streets again?

Inspired by Season 5 of the Sopranos.


General Research Division, The New York Public Library. “TheExecution of Cook and Coppock… Charlestown, Va.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed January 5, 2018.

The Wobbegong Crew: The Dunvil Rover Job

In which we meet Clave who gets out of Ironhook in time to do his first job with the crew just in time to put on Ironhook overalls on and pretend to be convicts in order to break in to a Leviathan Ship with a secret science-cult in its depths.

Dunvil Rover tweet

The Gang

Jason and Sean were back with us playing Maud and Charming, the gang’s Whisper and Cutter. Mad Jay joined us with Clave “The Wrench” Davaa, the crew’s new Leech. Clave was on the engineering team that did upkeep on the Imperial Army’s first War Hulls back in the war but was put into Ironhook after lashing out against his C.O.

The Unity War, specifically being involved in the battle at Barghast Bay is the magnetic force that brings the group together.

There was this nice player moment where Mad Jay had Clave say something cool and Jason’s Charming said, “I missed you, mate.”

It gave Clave context in the group and was a welcoming move and creative decision.

The Job with text

I was having trouble finding a grip  on the game and getting things moving and had one vague idea for a job. I spent more effort describing the folder the job’s intel was in than the job itself because let’s face it, the job was vague.

The Hive offered info on a science-cult on a Leviathan ship, the Dunvil Rover, that was their largest client in human trafficking. Nothing to steal, no one to kill, just info to do with as you will on a former client who might lash out now that their line on fresh humans is dried up.

There was a moment when I realized this might be just too damned vague and let them know that if this job wasn’t juicy enough, they could always take some turf.

Wobbegong Turf

In the end, they took the job that ended with a Leviathan ship on fire in the harbor – The Usual Suspects-style. The Heat on this job was astronomical – the worst ecological disaster in Duskwall history.

Duskwall again

An NPC named Cricket really came to life, so much so that Sean might play him for a while while Maude takes jail-time to deal with the crew’s Heat.
The Wobbegong Crew: Do sharks have souls?

The Wobbegong Crew: Do sharks have souls?


sharksoul tweet

Link to tweet


This was an odd session. In Blades mechanical terms we had Free Play, then some Downtime and then some more Free Play. It was also an amazing session where we struggled to figure out what the gang was really about – our dreams of a better world, the worst of our trauma or just the money.

The first round of Free Play saw the group heading to Lord Scurlock’s manor to drop off the book they stole during last game’s job. There was tension in the gang. Maud wasn’t sure if the payment was in Coin or if they were going to be paid in Scurlock’s expertise in demonology and his ability to read the ancient book. Skannon wasn’t having that; if they did they job they should get paid, he thought.

A young man (I pictured him at 17 years old or so) answered the door, a bit high and bleeding from the neck but seeming not to notice. They recognized him as the son of the Lord Governor.

Scurlock paid the crew 3 Coin that was manifested by 3 antique coins about the size of an adult hand. He told them that how they dealt with the young man was up to them and that he would be watching to see what choice they made. He paid Skannon while staring him down.  When confronted with an ancient vampire lord who is a one-man-Tier-3-gang Skannon didn’t blink. In the end, they took the bleeding young man with them and Maud even went to some risk to break Scurlock’s arcane hold on him.

There was a rift in the group on how they should handle the situation. That conflict ran into the next bit of Free Play. Sean checked in with Pete to make sure he was cool with their characters conflicting, which was really nice. I’ve seen that turn ugly in the past.

Maud gathered info to find out what the hell happened to the Lampblacks. It turned out they hit a gambling den that belonged to the Hive after seeing the Wobbegong Crew take the Hive’s warehouse with little to no consequence. All of the Lampblack’s lieutenants were found dead and burned in a drug den that was destroyed by a fire. The Bluecoats wrote it off as a spark-related death.

But they’d heard that Bazso Baz was still alive in a drug den in Dunslough. It was too late in the evening in the real world to start a score. They decided to go visit Bazso – more Free Play.

When they found Bazso in the worst slum in Doskvol he was a broken man – hooked on spark. I thought of him, mechanically, as a character who retired with nothing saved up. The Hive had left him alive as a cautionary tale.

Once again the characters were divided. Maud wanted to leave him be but build up his family and personal network to help him regain what he had lost.

Charming wanted to pick him up, splash some water on him and get him back into form or just use him as a resource.

While Charming and Maud were debating, Skannon ghost veiled in and slit Bazso’s throat.

Skannon the Crow

Skannon a.k.a. The Crow got a 3rd trauma this game. He is teetering on the brink. The Crow wants to take the Hive’s offer, to prove to them that they can make money with the Wobbegong Crew in their pay without human trafficking.

Hence the title of the blog post. We are going to find out in the upcoming sessions what the gang is going to become.


Leon F. Czolgosz, the assassin. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>;.
The Corliss Bevel-Gear-Cutting Machine. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>;.
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Wm. Hawes in front of jewelry store with intricate clock.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Grand View, City and Canal, Syracuse, N.Y.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1880.
 The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. “The transportation problem. The Baxter boat “City of New York,” the fastest steamer tried on the Erie Canal” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1825.
Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. “For years he had been quietly filling his stocking.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1913.

The Wobbegong Crew and the Daemonic Lexicon Volume III

In which the gang burgles the library in the haunted manor of the Dimmer Sisters to steal a book about demons, written by the Emperor before the Cataclysm, for Lord Scurlock, the book’s original owner.

nypl.digitalcollections.510d47e3-c709-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99.001.w (1)

The Gang

Charming was separated from the group as a kind of front door diversion and that made framing scenes and going back and forth tricky. This felt like it was right up Skannon’s alley and it made me squirrelly when Pete’s dice would bite him. I’ll write more about that below. Maud had infiltrated the sisters’ ectoplasm-powered psychic network, giving her a strong hand-hold.

The Job with text

The players got to Tier II and the Dimmer Sisters are also Tier II. For once, they weren’t punching up but squaring off with an equal. I’m glad that my Handlinger-inspired descriptions of the Dimmer Sisters and their pairs of floating upright psychic witch enforcers in black lace veils and matching funereal dresses had the desired effect; the players were freaked out by them.

I’m also glad I waited until after the session that came after this one to write this up. I had this feeling that the session was too easy but everyone was stressed to the gills. Rock on.

In the end, they stole the book and got out without losing anyone. The Dimmer Sisters know damn well who did it. The gang’s Faction Status with the Dimmer Sisters is now at a precarious -2.

The Mechanics in White

Folks kept failing Risky Standard conflicts (we call them Whiskey Standard) and I kept exercising the option to escalate them to Desperate. I’m not sure if that was the best way to go. Maybe I should have started to dole out some Harm.

Something to think about. I might go back, watch the session and make another blog post about this with links to moments of play.



Leon F. Czolgosz, the assassin. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>;.
The Corliss Bevel-Gear-Cutting Machine. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>;.
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Wm. Hawes in front of jewelry store with intricate clock.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Grand View, City and Canal, Syracuse, N.Y.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1880.
 The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. “The transportation problem. The Baxter boat “City of New York,” the fastest steamer tried on the Erie Canal” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1825.
Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library. “Front cover” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1550.

Blades in the Dark: Tithing House-Rule and Talking about Decisions

I was sitting with my friends a few weeks ago, talking about our Blades in the Dark games. A cool thing about talking about Blades, especially with a friend who is GMing is that you not only talk about the cool things that happened but you ask how they handled it within the rules. There are so many choices for dealing with the same outcome with partial successes, harm and clocks.

Something that is a job in one game could be a downtime action in another. A wound that would kill a character in one game is shrugged off for stress in another.

Charlotte shared her cheat sheet with me; Janaki and I were dazzled by it.

tith treasure

The group’s tithing house-rule jumped out at me.

TITHING RULES: Six segment clock for tithing entanglements

  • Add together tiers of factions tithing to the crew. Can choose to take up to that in coin per downtime, but each coin taken marks a tick on the entanglement clock. When the clock fills, roll entanglement.

What do I like about it? It embodies mo’ money, mo’ problems through simple game mechanics. It makes the gang’s life more complicated; they get more coin but there is a price.

Another interesting thing about this is it causes the gang to be invested in another gang’s growth. They directly profit from a smaller gang advancing in Tier.

Tithing house-rules by Charlotte, Jim, Aaron and Nikki



British Library. “Page 10 of Hepsworth’s Millions.” British Library Flickr. 1898.