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Blades in the Dark


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Your crew didn't just spring into existence tonight. You have a complex history of favors, commitments, debts, and promises that got you where you are today. To reflect this, after each score, you roll dice to find out which entanglement comes calling. An entanglement might be a rival crew looking to throw their weight around (and demand some coin), an Investigator of the City Watch making a case against your crew (but ready for a bribe), or even the attention of a vengeful ghost.

After payoff and heat are determined, the GM generates an entanglement for the crew using the lists below. Find the column that matches the crew's current heat level. Then roll a number of dice equal to their wanted level, and use the result of the roll to select which sort of entanglement manifests. If wanted level is zero, roll two dice and keep the lowest result.

RESULT Heat 0-3 Heat 4-5 Heat 6
1-3 Gang Trouble or The Usual Suspects Gang Trouble or Questioning Flipped or Interrogation
4-5 Rivals or Unquiet Dead Reprisals or Unquiet Dead Demonic Notice or Show of Force
6 Cooperation Show of Force Arrest

Bring the entanglement into play immediately, or hold off until an appropriate moment. For example, if you get the Interrogation entanglement, you might wait until a PC indulges their vice, then say the costables picked them up when they were distracted by its pleasures.

Entanglements manifest fully before the PCs have a chance to avoid them. When an entanglement comes into play, describe the situation after the entanglement has manifested. The PCs deal with it from that point—they can't intercept it and defuse it before it happens. The purpose of the mechanic is to abstract a lot of the complex stuff happening in the backgrounds of the characters' lives in order to generate trouble for them. Entanglements are the cost of doing business in the underworld—a good crew learns to roll with the punches and pick their battles.

The entanglements are detailed in the following sections. Each has a list of potential ways for the PCs to be rid of it. If you want the entanglements to be a momentary problem for the crew, stick to the suggested methods to resolve them, and move on to the next part of downtime. If you want to dive in and explore the entanglement in detail, set the scene and play out the event in full, following the actions and consequences where they lead.


An Inspector presents a case file of evidence to a magistrate, to begin prosecution of your crew. They send a detail to arrest you (a gang at least equal in scale to your wanted level). Pay them off with coin equal to your wanted level +3, hand someone over for arrest (this clears your heat), or try to evade capture.

A truncheon bangs on the shutters of the window. "Alright then! Come on out and let's go quietly now!" It sounds like the bald Sergeant. When you peek out, you see a detail of about twenty constables, all geared up for a fight. The Sergeant mumbles under his breath, so only you inside can hear: "Or perhaps I have the wrong address?" He clears his throat and waits for some coin to appear.


A +3 status faction asks you for a favor. Agree to do it, or forfeit 1 rep per Tier of the friendly faction, or lose 1 status with them. If you don't have a +3 faction status, you avoid entanglements right now.

Demonic notice

A demon approaches the crew with a dark offer. Accept their bargain, hide until it loses interest (forfeit 3 rep), or deal with it another way.


One of the PCs' rivals arranges for one of your contacts, patrons, clients, or a group of your customers to switch allegiances due to the heat on you. They're loyal to another faction now.

Gang trouble

One of your gangs (or other cohorts) causes trouble due to their flaw(s). You can lose face (forfeit rep equal to your Tier +1), make an example of one of the gang members, or face reprisals from the wronged party.


The officers round up one of the PCs to question them about the crew's crimes. How did they manage to capture you? Either pay them off with 3 coin, or they beat you up (level 2 harm) and you tell them what they want to know (+3 heat). You can resist each of those consequences separately.

Some players really hate it when their character gets captured! Just tell them that this is completely normal for a scoundrel of the underworld. You spend time in and out of jail, getting questioned and harassed by the law. It's not the end of the world. But now that you're here in the interrogation room, what kind of person are you? Do you talk? Do you stand up to them? Do you make a deal?


The cops grab an NPC member of your crew or one of the crew's contacts, to question them about your crimes. Who do they think is most vulnerable? Make a fortune roll to see how much they talk (1-3: +2 heat, 4/5: +1 heat), or pay the constables off with 2 coin.

Roll 2d for a normal person to see how well they keep quiet. If they're an experienced underworld type or some kind of tough, give them 3d or 4d instead. If they're soft or if they have some loyalty to the law, give them 1d or 0d.


An enemy faction makes a move against you (or a friend, contact, or vice purveyor). Pay them (1 rep and 1 coin) per Tier of the enemy as an apology, allow them to mess with you or yours, or fight back and show them who's boss.


A neutral faction throws their weight around. They threaten you, a friend, a contact, or one of your vice purveyors. Forfeit (1 rep or 1 coin) per Tier of the rival, or stand up to them and lose 1 status with them.

Show of force

A faction with whom you have a negative status makes a play against your holdings. Give them 1 claim or go to war (drop to -3 status). If you have no claims, lose 1 hold instead.

Unquiet dead

A rogue spirit is drawn to you—perhaps it's a past victim? Acquire the services of an occultist to attempt to destroy or banish it, or deal with it yourself.

They can hire an NPC by using the acquire asset* downtime activity. Roll the NPC's quality level as a fortune roll to see how well they deal with the spirit.

The usual suspects

The cops grab someone in the periphery of your crew. One player volunteers a friend or vice purveyor as the person most likely to be taken. Make a fortune roll to find out if they resist questioning (1-3: +2 heat, 4/5: level 2 harm), or pay them off with 1 coin.


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