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Blades in the Dark


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PC Advancement

Each player keeps track of the experience points (xp) that their character earns.

During the game session, mark xp:

  • When you make a desperate action roll. Mark 1 xp in the attribute for the action you rolled. For example, if you roll a desperate Skirmish action, you mark xp in Prowess. When you roll in a group action that's desperate, you also mark xp.

At the end of the session, review the xp triggers on your character sheet. For each one, mark 1 xp if it happened at all, or mark 2 xp if it happened a lot during the session. The xp triggers are:

  • Your playbook-specific xp trigger. For example, the Cutter's is "Address a challenge with violence or coercion." To "address a challenge," your character should attempt to overcome a tough obstacle or threat. It doesn't matter if the action is successful or not. You get xp either way.
  • You expressed your beliefs, drives, heritage, or background. Your character's beliefs and drives are yours to define, session to session. Feel free to tell the group about them when you mark xp.
  • You struggled with issues from your vice or traumas. Mark xp for this if your vice tempted you to some bad action or if a trauma condition caused you trouble. Simply indulging your vice doesn't count as struggling with it (unless you overindulge).

You may mark end-of-session xp on any xp tracks you want (any attribute or your playbook xp track).

When you fill an xp track, clear all the marks and take an advance. When you take an advance from your playbook track, you may choose an additional special ability. When you take an advance from an attribute, you may add an additional action dot to one of the actions under that attribute.

Nadja is playing a Hound. At the end of the session, she reviews her xp triggers and tells the group how much xp she's getting. She rolled two desperate Hunt actions during the session, so she marked 2 xp on her Insight xp track. She addressed several challenges with tracking or violence, so she marks 2 xp for that. She expressed her Iruvian heritage many times when dealing with the Red Sashes, so she takes 2 xp for that. She also showcased her character's beliefs, but 2 xp is the maximum for that category, so she doesn't get any more. She didn't struggle with her vice or traumas, so no xp there. That's 4 xp at the end of the session. She decides to put it all in her Insight xp track. This fills the track, so she adds a new action dot in Hunt.

You can also earn xp by training during downtime. When you train, mark xp in one of your attributes or in your playbook. A given xp track can be trained only once per downtime phase.

Crew Advancement

At the end of the session, review the crew xp triggers and mark 1 crew xp for each item that occurred during the session. If an item occurred multiple times or in a major way, mark 2 crew xp for it. The crew xp triggers are:

  • Your crew-specific xp trigger. For example, the Smugglers' is "Execute a smuggling operation or acquire new clients or contraband sources." If the crew successfully completed an operation from this trigger, mark xp.
  • Contend with challenges above your current station. If you tangled with higher Tiers or more dangerous opposition, mark xp for this.
  • Bolster your crew's reputation or develop a new one. Review your crew's reputation. Did you do anything to promote it? Also mark xp if you developed a new reputation for the crew.
  • Express the goals, drives, inner conflict, or essential nature of the crew. This one is very broad! Essentially, did anything happen that highlighted the specific elements that make your crew unique?

When you fill your crew advancement tracker, clear the marks and take a new special ability or mark two crew upgrade boxes.

For example, when a crew of Assassins earns a crew advance, they could take a new special ability, like Predators. Or they could mark two upgrades, like Ironhook Contacts and Resolve Training.

Say how you've obtained this new ability or upgrades for the crew. Where did it come from? How does it become a new part of the crew?


Every time the crew advances, each PC gets stash equal to the crew Tier+2, to represent profits generated by the crew as they've been operating.


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