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Blades in the Dark


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Actions and Attributes

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Action Ratings

There are 12 actions in the game that the player characters use to overcome obstacles.

  • Attune
  • Command
  • Consort
  • Finesse
  • Hunt
  • Prowl
  • Skirmish
  • Study
  • Survey
  • Sway
  • Tinker
  • Wreck

Each action has a rating (from zero to 4) that tells you how many dice to roll when you perform that action. Action ratings don't just represent skill or training—you're free to describe how your character performs that action based on the type of person they are. Maybe your character is good at Command because they have a scary stillness to them, while another character barks orders and intimidates people with their military bearing.

You choose which action to perform to overcome an obstacle, by describing what your character does. Actions that are poorly suited to the situation may be less effective and may put the character in more danger, but they can still be attempted. Usually, when you perform an action, you'll make an action roll to see how it turns out.

Action Roll

You make an action roll when your character does something potentially dangerous or troublesome. The possible results of the action roll depend on your character's position. There are three positions: controlled, risky, and desperate. If you're in a controlled position, the possible consequences are less serious. If you're in a desperate position, the consequences can be severe. If you're somewhere in between, it's risky—usually considered the "default" position for most actions.

If there's no danger or trouble at hand, you don't make an action roll. You might make a fortune roll or a downtime roll or the GM will simply say yes—and you accomplish your goal.

Attribute Ratings

There are three attributes in the game system that the player characters use to resist bad consequences: Insight, Prowess, and Resolve. Each attribute has a rating (from zero to 4) that tells you how many dice to roll when you use that attribute.

The rating for each attribute is equal to the number of dots in the first column under that attribute (see the examples, at right). The more well-rounded your character is with a particular set of actions, the better their attribute rating.

Resistance Roll

Each attribute resists a different type of danger. If you get stabbed, for example, you resist physical harm with your Prowess rating. Resistance rolls always succeed—you diminish or deflect the bad result—but the better your roll, the less stress it costs to reduce or avoid the danger.

When the enemy has a big advantage, you'll need to make a resistance roll before you can take your own action. For example, when you duel the master sword-fighter, she disarms you before you can strike. You need to make a resistance roll to keep hold of your blade if you want to attack her. Or perhaps you face a powerful ghost and attempt to Attune with it to control its actions. But before you can make your own roll, you must resist possession from the spirit.

The GM judges the threat level of the enemies and uses these "preemptive" resistance rolls as needed to reflect the capabilities of especially dangerous foes.




This character has a Hunt action rating of 1. Their Insight attribute rating is 1 (the first column of dots).



They also have Prowl 1 and Skirmish 2. Their Prowess attribute rating is 2.




When you Attune, you open your mind to arcane power.

You might communicate with a ghost. You could try to perceive beyond sight in order to better understand your situation (but Surveying might be better).

When you Command, you compel swift obedience.

You might intimidate or threaten to get what you want. You might lead a gang in a group action. You could try to order people around to persuade them (but Consorting might be better).

When you Consort, you socialize with friends and contacts.

You might gain access to resources, information, people, or places. You might make a good impression or win someone over with your charm and style. You might make new friends or connect with your heritage or background. You could try to manipulate your friends with social pressure (but Sway might be better).

When you Finesse, you employ dextrous manipulation or subtle misdirection.

You might pick someone's pocket. You might handle the controls of a vehicle or direct a mount. You might formally duel an opponent with graceful fighting arts. You could try to employ those arts in a chaotic melee (but Skirmishing might be better). You could try to pick a lock (but Tinkering might be better).

When you Hunt, you carefully track a target.

You might follow a target or discover their location. You might arrange an ambush. You might attack with precision shooting from a distance. You could try to bring your guns to bear in a melee (but Skirmishing might be better).

When you Prowl, you traverse skillfully and quietly.

You might sneak past a guard or hide in the shadows. You might run and leap across the rooftops. You might attack someone from hiding with a back-stab or blackjack. You could try to waylay a victim in the midst of battle (but Skirmishing might be better).

When you Skirmish, you entangle a target in close combat so they can't easily escape.

You might brawl or wrestle with them. You might hack and slash. You might seize or hold a position in battle. You could try to fight in a formal duel (but Finessing might be better).

When you Study, you scrutinize details and interpret evidence.

You might gather information from documents, newspapers, and books. You might do research on an esoteric topic. You might closely analyze a person to detect lies or true feelings. You could try to examine events to understand a pressing situation (but Surveying might be better).

When you Survey, you observe the situation and anticipate outcomes.

You might spot telltale signs of trouble before it happens. You might uncover opportunities or weaknesses. You might detect a person's motivations or intentions. You could try to spot a good ambush point (but Hunting might be better).

When you Sway, you influence with guile, charm, or argument.

You might lie convincingly. You might persuade someone to do what you want. You might argue a compelling case that leaves no clear rebuttal. You could try to trick people into affection or obedience (but Consorting or Commanding might be better).

When you Tinker, you fiddle with devices and mechanisms.

You might create a new gadget or alter an existing item. You might pick a lock or crack a safe. You might disable an alarm or trap. You might turn the clockwork and electroplasmic devices around the city to your advantage. You could try to use your technical expertise to control a vehicle (but Finessing might be better).

When you Wreck, you unleash savage force.

You might smash down a door or wall with a sledgehammer, or use an explosive to do the same. You might employ chaos or sabotage to create a distraction or overcome an obstacle. You could try to overwhelm an enemy with sheer force in battle (but Skirmishing might be better).

As you can see, many actions overlap with others. This is by design. As a player, you get to choose which action you roll, by saying what your character does. Can you try to Wreck someone during a fight? Sure! The GM tells you the position and effect level of your action in this circumstance. As it says, Skirmish might be better (less risky or more effective), depending on the situation at hand (sometimes it won't be better).


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