Very much enjoyed this episode. I related to the GM burn episode discussion as I’m constantly riding the wave of enthuasiam and frustration with the hobby.
Mike is looking for the fun in Blades in the Dark, hopefully I can point towards it after running several very enjoyable games with a number of different people. I accept that it does presuppose a moral relativism, there’s degrees of evil within Duskvol, it’s possible to consort with vampires and devils, but there’s also capacity to be a rebel with a cause.
The key to unlocking the game is to understand the interplay between the factions within the city. Roger is right to relate it to The Sopranos, as it has a similar narrative assumptions: if you make a move that impacts another faction, there are consequences that need to be resolved through negotiation or more desperate action. It’s not possible to escape from Duskvol, so a motivation for the player characters is to build up the influence and defences for their faction, so they can deal with fall-out from the choices they make and have a degree of protection. The playbooks do offer a mechanical means of dealing with the moral torpor of ‘being bad’ and the coping mechanisms required in ‘down time’ to reach solace.
The fun comes from growing the power base and players navigating a path through the ruthless factions.
I’ve written before that I believe that it passes your patented ‘IMPROVRAD” test: it’s easy to generate 6 or more heists/ story hooks off the top of the head; the players know their place in the world and how they can impact it.
Recently, I ran a 12 hour session and had nothing prepared other than the suggested opening sequence provided in the book and a good understanding of the factions operating in the sector of the city that I was using. It was a session of exciting twists and turns generated purely from player interactions and following the ‘turn’ mechanics provided.
It’s a game that has lots of cogs turning at once, but when it works, it’s the closest I’ve found to a perfect RPG experience for doing what it does.