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Author: A Couple of Drakes

Actual Play & News

Actual Play & News

Hey guys! Exciting news: We’re doing a few live games with Sean Nittner and the Actual Play folks @ every other Monday evening! You can even catch the episodes in post on YouTube by looking for Court of Blades (how cool is that?).

In other news, we’ve gotten just the most incredible amount of feedback over the last couple of months that has made us want to take a closer look at creating some mechanics to really drive home the political side of the game. We’ll be releasing v2 of Court of Blades for playtesting shortly, along with some other neat stuff. But first we all have to make it through the holiday season!

For now, wishing you and yours a great rest of your year, and be sure to come chat at us on Twitter in the meantime!

Updates & an Invitation for You!

Updates & an Invitation for You!

We’ve been a little quiet on the website lately. So here’s what’s been going on: We did a guest spot on the Hacked in the Dark podcast talking about some of the inspirations and goals of the game, which you can also catch here if you’re interested in the behind-the-scene stuff:

We’ve been hard at work revising the current game, and we’re not finished yet!

Finally, if you didn’t already see on the right-hand side of your screen when you loaded into this website, we added a shiny new mailing list! The encouragement we’ve received to add one has been amazing, so thanks to YouTube how-to videos, we now have a functioning Mailchimp mailing list that you can sign up for! Of course, we solemnly swear we are up to no good, and also promise not to spam you. If you’d like updates on how our road to publishing is going, or our upcoming live play, be sure to sign up!

Thank you all for your continued amazing support!

-A Couple of Drakes

Open Playtesting Draws to a Close

Open Playtesting Draws to a Close

Today is a big day for team Drake. We’ve been spending the last few months testing out mechanics with multiple groups, running games at a rate of 2-3 nights a week, as well as receiving feedback from groups playing this game without us, and we’re in a great place. As of this moment, we are ending the open playtesting phase so that we can concentrate fully on editing and finishing.

We want to thank everyone again for all of the support we’ve received, and updates will be in the offing as we determine ‘where from here?’

House Sheet Changes & an Important Announcement

House Sheet Changes & an Important Announcement

As promised, tweaks to House Abilities and Coterie Upgrades have been made! Click the ‘Get The Playbooks’ link in the main menu, or in the public document for the game, for the duration of the playtesting period.

Important note: We’ll be removing the playtesting materials from the site on September the 1st, as we feel great about the amount of feedback we’ve received over the last couple of months. By all means, save a copy of everything if you’d like to continue using the first draft source material and haven’t already done so!

At this time, we’re turning our attention toward fixing any sticking points noted by playtesters over the last few weeks, finishing up needful chapters that better clarify mechanics for the folks who haven’t played a published Forged in the Dark game yet, and so on– okay there might be some top-secret playbooks and setting material in the works too. We’re pretty firmly in the (not exciting for anyone but us, but decidedly necessary) ‘finishing up’ phase over here, and already chomping at the bit to really get to work on the next big project.

Thanks for sticking with us, guys!

Playbook Improvements

Playbook Improvements

This is a fairly large update that doesn’t require a lot of explanation. Using feedback from our awesome playtesters we went in and tweaked Special Abilities across all of the PC Playbooks. Several underwhelming abilities were beefed up, a couple over-powered skills (or skills that stepped on what made another playbook awesome) were nerfed or replaced entirely.

I won’t link to the playbooks in this post because the link URLs change pretty frequently. Instead, click on the link in the main menu bar for the most recent playbook at any given time, so long as we’re in open playtesting!

In other news – The House books are receiving a round of similar edits presently, so look forward to that update in the very near future! And if you haven’t already seen, you can now find us on Twitter @NaviMusing and @DrakeandDice, we hope to see you all there.

Thanks for reading, guys.

Updates & Changes VI

Updates & Changes VI

So funny story… I was wrong.

As soon as I announced the first draft was done, we found a bunch of problems. Go figure. We have amazing play-testing groups (shout out to my peeps!) that went above and beyond in helping us identify errors and ambiguous areas over the weekend. The overall positive response we’ve gotten from play-testing groups has been overwhelming. We are so appreciative of every person who decides to give this game a play-through and take the time to give us feedback, we cannot thank you guys enough.

Enough gushing. Here’s what got fixed.

  • Added the “Teamwork” section.
  • Added the Standard Items and their descriptions after the Playbook section.
  • Fixed some errors on House Lovell’s house sheet, and The Key’s playbook.
  • Exchanged the “actor” contact on the Eye sheet for a “locksmith”.
  • Filled in the rules for obtaining and using Special Armor.
  • Filled in the descriptions for the specialized character equipment.
  • Did a big overhaul on the Spheres of Influence mechanics, including pay-off, and new perks.
  • Explained the “Uncover a Plot” mechanic (more) clearly.
  • Added a “Traits” key to Districts, some districts also received unique quirks.
  • Added additional roll charts for generating NPCs, Spirits/Sprites, and Nearby Villages.
  • Added a mini chapter: “Changing the Game”.
Updates & Changes V

Updates & Changes V

It’s official. We finished the first draft of Court of Blades and are leaving this project as a public document for the purpose of getting more playtesters on board! I’ll outline what’s been added or changed below, as per usual, but first:


Now that that is out of the way; we’re still heavily playtesting the game (read: actively trying to break it) and plenty more changes and additions will be added to the final release. Along with a lot of proofreading and general clean up. …A full “Example of Play” is in the offing, as well. –When I say it like that, it doesn’t sound finished at all, does it? Anyway! For the moment, we are very happy to call this project “in a relative state of completion”.

We really did our best to not reinvent the wheel here. The bones of Forged in the Dark are so solid that we made it a point to only add what needed to be added, in order to tell the stories that we were trying to tell. I think we accomplished what we set out to accomplish in that regard.

Without further ado, here’s what’s gotten done since last we chatted:

  • Finished fleshing out all of the factions currently operating in Ilrien.
  • Adjusted the rules on handing out bonus Favor for good roleplaying and teamwork to shift the pressure off of the players, and keep it feeling like a cool bonus and not extra work.
  • Removed resource weaknesses for unnecessarily over-complicating my life (and yours, too).
  • Increased the maximum number of long-term projects that the NPC houses of the Esultare can have from 3 to 4. This was done to balance their progression and make sure that they’re providing the correct amount of challenge for the PC house.
  • Pursuant to the above, we also made better printable clock sheets to keep track of your clocks in game. Just doodling on a piece of paper is a still perfectly acceptable alternative, but if you want fancy pre-made clocks, they are there!
  • Clarified clock progression under the GM’s turn. IE a roll of 1-3 is one tick, 4-5 is two ticks, 6 is three ticks, and a crit is five ticks. Evidently we forgot to write that down… yeah.
  • Level one harm now naturally heals itself between errands without treatment. That’s right, you no longer need medical assistance because you’re tired. You can instead, take a nap. And save some downtime action economy for cool long-term projects instead!
Updates & Changes IV

Updates & Changes IV

It’s been a productive couple of weeks around here. We caught some errors, clarified some areas that were a little muddy, and added an incredible amount of needed information to flesh out the full Court of Blades manuscript. At this point, our to-do list (outside of continuing to playtest and balance new system mechanics) is getting to be a very short one.

Over the next couple of weeks some more factions need filling out, and once we’re happy with the balance of the mechanics we’ll need to write out the full Example of Play. Neither of these things are critical to the game’s playability. -Of course, adding and tweaking things we haven’t considered yet will undoubtedly happen as well.- That said, the game is ready for prime time for any GM with a little experience with any TTRPGs, and we’re pretty darn excited about that.

If you’re unsure about the system, you can always listen to a playthrough of Blades in the Dark just to get a feel for how Forged in the Dark games flow. Eventually we’ll put up our own playthrough for Court of Blades, but that’s a while off yet!

Without further ado, here is what we finished over the last two weeks:

  • Fleshed out The Houses Minor factions with Noteworthy NPCs, Assets, Reputations, Situations, Descriptions and all that jazz.
  • Fleshed out Spheres of Influence with detailed descriptions.
  • Detailed the Controlled, Risky, Desperate positions under position and effect for easier refencing.
  • Changed/balanced House Healer effects. – Having specialized healers give a bonus to their area of expertise feels a lot better in play than having healers take a negative in whatever they are not specialized in. It was a silly idea, we will not speak of it again.
  • Fixed confusion between Graces and Mercies in the text. – This one was my fault. I had written the Mercies in as both the healers and the monster hunters in the first pass, and the poor Graces were left jobless. That’s fixed now. Graces heal, Mercies slay monsters.
  • Changed “Mercy” healers to the correct “Grace” healers on the House Playsheet pdfs. – More fallout from the aforementioned issue with Mercy/Grace confusion.
  • Included a “Sprites and Spirits” section to Magic and Superstition to flavor the world.
  • Completed GM: Running the Game. -This was a big one, and pretty much makes the game runnable for any DM who is not already familiar with Forged in the Dark games.
  • Balanced House Advancement mechanics, and removed “Falling out of the Esultare” entirely. -There were just a lot of things in here that did not add to the “fun” of the game. They acted to its detriment, and we’re not about that life. If you already took this game to the table, make sure you look over the current iteration of “Advancing the House” to save yourself and your players frustration.
  • Added rules for Colleagues and Retinues accomplishing errands on the coterie’s behalf. -For the groups who want to be able to do all of the things, all of the time, and lament that there are only three errands per social season, we give you useful henchmen and the rules to govern them.
  • Fixed an error on House Bastien’s Sheet: “Fame” should be “Favor”.
  • Added an Additional Single Shot Pistol to General Playbook Gear for all playbooks.

Updates & Changes III

Updates & Changes III

We are nearing completion of the first draft of Court of Blades now, though the game has been in playtesting for a few weeks. At this point if you have familiarity with games like Blades in the Dark or Scum and Villainy you should not have any trouble taking this to the table. We’ll be trying to wrap up the final details over the next couple of weeks, life willing.

But, enough of that! Let’s see what got finished since the last update.

  • Unique objectives for all factions have been added.
  • Common and Sample Crafting Creations have been added, and the entire crafting section was completed.
  • The “7th House” was built and added to the GM section. This is sort of a mid-game crisis faction created for the odd chance that a non-PC house is removed from the Esultare. Most games will not need this, but it could make life interesting should it appear.

Since we make all changes to the system live for the purpose of the first draft, you can always jump down to the final page of the document, titled “Dev Notes” to see what we’re working on. When a task is crossed out, you know in advance that is has been completed and can view it immediately.

Until next time!

Updates & Changes II

Updates & Changes II

Another big week for updates. We’re rapidly approaching the finish line for a completed first draft of Court of Blades!

·  House Opportunities Roll Charts added, 12 example errand scenarios have been provided for each house.

·  GM and Player Best Practices added.

·  Needful links and graphics added throughout the game document for easier referencing.

·  Roughed in alpha map of the city added for easier reference. (And I mean roughed.)

·  Vices and purveyors added to Playbook sheets. ( Forgot these the first time around. Doh!)

·  PDFs for Playbooks and Clocks optimized for faster loading.

·  The Lady and The Lord deities clarified under ‘Culture’.

·  Game document formatting cleaned up to save your eyeballs.