I wanna make a Blades in the Dark hack?
This is a little trickier, for me, than you might think. I have a lot of system mastery of some games, but Blades in the Dark is both elegant mechanically and frictionless in action, which means that the normal things I start to tinker with might not work. I find myself trying to respin a spiderweb.
I’d normally look to templates, or look for a series of guidance on that matter. And uh, like, the main video series with insight into it is both pretty old and pretty cumbersome to grapple with and the video is much more ‘two dudes have a conversation’ and one of those dudes is Adam Koebel. Plus, a lot of the advice is more ‘hey, you can use this to do things like this’ without giving much actual concrete information about system purposes and the way things change. It’s just not a fun scene.
Back in 2019 I made some posts as I explored what I’d need to make a 4th edition mod called Hunter’s Dream. In the end, I hit most of my goals for what I’d need in a top down structural way, and the remaining work is just about executing on it – filling tables, and stuff, and 2020 happened and that kind of project wasn’t really pursuable. Still, documenting ideas is kind of my job right now, and the actual process was really interesting. It was writing about the thinking of my process of making and documenting that process.
How did we start huh.
Well, the way I started on Hunter’s Dream was by outlining the thing I wanted the game to be about. The fantasy I wanted to enable. Then I looked at the systems in the game, and the things that the game rules needed to be able to include, like an ovearching theme. I talked about mechanics I knew I wanted to include. And then I looked at that, and took into account what work I’d need to do to realise it.
Here then, is the pitch:
No, wait, here’s the notion.
I like Clay and Corey. I think they are great. I think they have great minds for character design and storytelling and problem solving. I think that playing with them in an RPG would be cool. But I don’t want to make them have to learn a point based bullshit-em-up for a RPG system to make superheroes, because all superhero TTRPG Systems I’ve ever encountered have been shit. But what isn’t shit is Blades in the Dark with its fluid sense of narrative and cinematic willingness to play with time and planning.
And from there we get a plan:
- I want to make a game that lets you play the Dollars from Durarara!!, Robin from We Are Robin, the Spiders from Into the Spider-Verse and operators from Global Frequency.
- I want players to feel like a modern-day ‘gang’ that represents a surrogate vigilante government for people whose government has abandoned them.
- I want characters to wear colours or signs or symbols that say we belong, you don’t.
- I want to make a game that shows you what you’d fight for.
Blades in the Dark is already a game about a gang, with a unified theme and presence, that controls an area, fighting with factions around them to achieve your ends. In Blades it’s all pre-emptively designed to the conclusion ‘that sucks and you’ll die soon.’ What I want is the idea that players can build their little story about saving their sector, beating some villains, having that taste of victory, all in an environment that feels like stories I enjoy, and that speak to a truth about what All Cops Are.
And now I have mentioned the idea. It’s somewhere. And I have to follow through on it if people respond to the idea well.
Right now, the name I have for this project is We Are The Night. It may change, because that’s also the name of a German Vampire Lesbian Erotic Thriller. But we’ll see.