Over the past four months, I’ve been running an RPG campaign of Blades in the Dark, an excellent game by John Harper. Blades is a light weight rules system with a gritty industrial revolution setting that also includes ghosts.
I’ve been running this as a mega-campaign / open table, much like I did with D&D last year. We’re up to 15 players so far, though there’s never more than 4 players per GM. We’ve held a few double-GM sessions where we’ve started as one big group and then split into two smaller groups to carry out different missions - that’s always a treat.
Overall this format is working pretty well for us. Scheduling is a breeze and we’ll use Doodle Polls a week or two in advance to plan out sessions. I think we’ve been averaging a session every ~1.5 weeks. We’re 10 sessions in and several players have been in 6 sessions, some fewer. There’s pretty good continuity of story as there’s usually at least one person from the previous session. We’ve had a total of 4 different GMs, though I’ve run the most. We even held a GM training day for folks who wanted to try GMing.
The setting is fun and has lots of interesting bits to tie into the plot and create adventures around. In Blades, the players are part of a gang that specializes in one kind of crime, in a city that is brimming with crime and corruption.
Our gang is called The Tutors and they’re hawking psychedelic drugs, to humans and ghosts. It leads to lots of zany trouble and moments that are equal parts Hunter S. Thompson and The Wire.
Blades has a built out city map and a great way of tracking and engaging with the dozens of different factions that are involved in the area - it makes the setting feel vibrant.
Blades is a pretty smooth system with a focus on storytelling first and only using dice when the stakes are right. There’s a nice method for making sure everyone is aware of the risk and reward before rolling.
Another feature I like is the use of flashbacks. Blades is all about cutting to the interesting bits so it encourages minimal planning. Throughout an adventure, players can flashback to relevant preparations. This really keeps the game moving.
The campaign is going well so far but our sandbox approach sometimes makes me feel like there isn’t enough high level plot movement. I’m going to look into a “season” format with some high level story arcs that culminate and then have a break between seasons. I post more updates here!