[FitD] a|State reprises The City forged in the dark

#1
Angus Abranson, just notified me of this classic RPG (sadly, one I never played before), but this time using the Forged in the Dark (FitD) game engine.

I have been regularly singing the praises of using existing game engines instead of creating all new ones. Maybe too much immersion into Warhammer 40,000, and the reliance of the Imperium of Mankind upon STC (Standard Template Constructs).

Anyway, Forged in the Dark convinces me to give this game a shot.

https://handiwork.games/games/astate

Welcome to The City. There is no escape.
Children tilt down alleys, chanting bloody nursery rhymes, while withered men shout warnings from tenement windows.

Factory workers crowd sweating into cable cars, hoping their pay will last the week. Aerostats roar above them, bearing the rich to luminous towers.

Under gas lamps and flickering electrics, the Provosts pull a body from a canal, a ceramic blade jammed in its chest. You know the truth: this wasn’t a robbery gone wrong. In a distant office, a red line was drawn across a map, and now your home is in danger.

This is the story of how you fight back.





forged_in_the_dark_a_state.jpg
 

Dom

Administrator
Staff member
#3
Promo video


It’s a great setting which was let down by a poor system. I own all of it (and you can still get it in PDF).
 

Neil

Lay member
#9
I ran the playtest session of the game last week. I even streamed it: https://www.twitch.tv/neilnjae/videos . The game worked well. Mechanically, it's Blades in the Dark with a couple of minor tweaks (new playbooks, one new Action type, a slight restriction on the Assist group action). The scenario was simple enough for one session (rescue a bunch of child slaves). We did three hours, including introduction to setting and rules, the game, and a bit of post-play discussion.

The playtest material is very focused on what you need to play the one scenario, so doesn't include much setting material, such as different crew types, background material, downtime actions, and so on. I think that's entirely appropriate for a playtest document.

If you have questions, let me know.
 
#10
You seem to have had a problem with fiction first, Neil. Gathering Information seems to have got lost in players worrying about the mechanics, rathering than investing in a problem about lost children...
 
#11
You seem to have had a problem with fiction first, Neil. Gathering Information seems to have got lost in players worrying about the mechanics, rathering than investing in a problem about lost children...
I don't know about "getting lost", but I did use the first few scenes to teach the mechanics. Two of the players had never seen the system before, and it's quite different from trad play. As the session progressed, I think the balance shifted towards the fiction guiding play.

How would you have done it? Genuine question: I'd love to hear about a better way to get people up to speed with a new system. It's a hard problem, and I'm certain I've not got it right.
 
#12
How would you have done it? Genuine question: I'd love to hear about a better way to get people up to speed with a new system. It's a hard problem, and I'm certain I've not got it right.
In this instance, as a playtest, the Gather Information step specifically calls out "Find one character to lead this effort." In the session, you left the players to do things themselves and they each had a stab at doing something or tagged along. And one player wandered off for their Blades rule book.

So, less a comment about styles of approach in general and more about this instance where Gather Information is called out in a specific way. It meant you didn't hit the Engagement Roll until after an hour of play, which is OK where you're teaching everything step by step, but specifically for Nicely, Done was lost time.

I've probably misexplained.
 
#13
In this instance, as a playtest, the Gather Information step specifically calls out "Find one character to lead this effort." In the session, you left the players to do things themselves and they each had a stab at doing something or tagged along. And one player wandered off for their Blades rule book.

So, less a comment about styles of approach in general and more about this instance where Gather Information is called out in a specific way. It meant you didn't hit the Engagement Roll until after an hour of play, which is OK where you're teaching everything step by step, but specifically for Nicely, Done was lost time.

I've probably misexplained.
I don't think you've mis-explained. I think that's a very clear description of the issues and I agree with all of it. Thanks for the summary.

I hadn't realised it had taken so long for us to get to the engagement roll. I knew it was slow getting there, but I hadn't realised it was that slow. Something for me to keep an eye on in the future. As for the "wandering off" bit, yes, that was mainly down to scheduling. People were available for the session earlier than I was expecting, and then life intervened, so I wasn't as well prepared for the session as I should have been.

Why did I chose to do the Gather Information phase differently from how it was set out in the scenario? Because I felt the setup was the weakest part of the scenario. That's because there was just about no player input into the decisions being made at that point. As written, the scenario asks the GM to say (paraphrasing badly) "Pick someone to do the recce, this is how you roll a Survey check, I will give you some information." In that sense, it doesn't follow from the fiction.

There are two obvious ways I could have changed the opening. One was the way I did it, to give the players a choice of how to investigate and have Gather Information flow from what they did. The other is to skip that bit of the game, give the players a fuller info-dump of the situation, and kick off with the Engagement roll. I chose the former. Whether that was the right choice is up for debate.

If you have time and inclination, I'd like to hear how you approached this part of the scenario.

Thanks again for the feedback. I found it really valuable.
 
#15
Why did I chose to do the Gather Information phase differently from how it was set out in the scenario? Because I felt the setup was the weakest part of the scenario
:ROFLMAO: Oh... dear. Petard, me, much?

I had a short first session – as we started at 7.30pm, probably sorted technical issues by 8pm and finished at 9.30pm – but, I ended up too long in the Gather Information phase, in terms of what the adventure outline offers. I spent a short while offering background information and having the players introduce their characters, but, in the round, I probably spent as long (if not longer) on pre-Engagement Roll roleplaying and information gathering.

So much for running the playtest as written... I retract all comments ;)
 

Dom

Administrator
Staff member
#16
I do think you need a way to bring all the players into this properly, which - as written - it doesn’t.

I did gather information as a group roll with each player describing what they did to find out. I interwove the information gained with their actions when I fed it back. It still took us about an hour to get to the engagement roll but part of that was taliking through systems.
 

Neil

Lay member
#17
Thanks, Paul and Dom for the comments. That two GMs of your calibre had the same issue as me suggests that there's something going on with the scenario. On the other hand, there's a chunk of exposition and scene setting to be done before play can start, so there will be some time between the game start and the Engagement roll.

I don't know what the best way forward would be. Either accept that there will be time spent on Gather Information, or just open the scenario right at the Engagement Roll.

One thing I like doing with the "War in Crow's Foot" situation is to have the very first thing I do be Baszo's little "Are you with me or against me?" speech. Once I pose the question, we start with character generation (or pregen selection) and then cut back to the PC Crew giving their answer.

You could do something similar with this scenario. Open the game with the PCs being on the roof of Nicely's factory, about to break in. Tell the players, "You're here to rescue some child slave-workers before a mob arrives and it all turns messy. Roll Engagement." Give them two dice to roll, tell them what the situation now looks like (from canned text in the scenario?) and then get the players to pick characters and move on.

That also allows the GM to bring in the Holher Gang as one of the first Complications in the score.

Any thoughts?
 
#18
...open the scenario right at the Engagement Roll.
I thought the same thing; in media res feels like the only practical approach. Instead of the more standard approach, push hard on the flashback opportunities and have all Gather Information take place as part of the score itself.

It feels like a drop from satellite view; describe the circle of The City, note the desolation that surrounds it, then dive down to spot the canals, the spires, the seething miasma of industrial effluence, then Mire End - knee-deep in water, foetid and filled with shadows. Finally, you home in on the rooftop of a tenement on the outskirts of Windy Gates, four figures hunkered down low sharing harsh but hushed words as a mob shouts obscenities in the street below. Below you, a sweatshop works children close to death, while a mob bays for blood in the street; you have to find a way to rescue the kids before the idiots break in and put innocent lives at risk. What's the Plan? Roll for Engagement
 
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