Open Strategy Game: Blades in the Dark (and third party interaction)

Last time we talked open strategy games. Read this if you haven’t to get an idea of what you’re getting into.

In the spirit of “play worlds, not rules,” here’s an idea for your next open strategy game.


The world of John Harper’s Blades in the Dark. Everyone has a stinkin’ copy.

Six players for six roles over six turns.

Grab the map.

Situation? Choose one or make your own.


Problem: War in Crow’s Foot (page 204). Roric, the ward boss who ran the criminal operations in Crow’s Foot has been killed. Peace has fallen apart in this district.

Roles: The Lampblacks, The Red Sashes, The Gray Cloaks, The Bluecoats, The Dimmer Sisters, Lord Scurlock.

Internal politics

Problem: Strangford has made a clear suggestion within the City Council to move against the Immortal Emperor by seizing the independence of Doskvol. Such a statement is leverage no matter how you look at it. Is this a scheme of succession? Or the liberation truly the end goal?

Roles: Bowmore, Clelland, Dunvil, Penderyn, Rowan, Strangford.

Note: See where each role is connected to in the city. This further establishes their goals, assets, and personality.


Problem: An explosion at Ironhook Prison. Convicts flood the streets. Will anarchy reign?

Roles: Grey Cloaks, Bluecoats, The Grinders, City Council, Lord Scurlock, The Unseen

Note: This feels very Dark Knight/Dark Knight Rises to me. This timeframe might just be a few days at most.

Beyond Doskvol

Problem: A chaotic spirit has been released in Unity Park on Unification Day, er, Unity Day. The Skovs have made it clear that they want their independence. What is this new spiritual power they have to aid them?

Roles: Ulf Ironborn, Skovlander Refugees, The Grinders, Imperial Military, Bluecoats, Dimmer Sisters.


This could be a really neat source of open strategy games. Many of the factions and locations are fleshed out with assets and goals.

The world has many assumptions built-in.

Now, things might be TOO visible for players knowing each other’s goals and whatnot as they’re listed very clearly in the book, so my simple suggestion is to add an additional objective or two for each role.

Third-Party Faction Interaction Rule

I think this is a must for this kind of game. Players want to draw other factions in for information, for aid, for whatever.

That’s great.


As I found out while running my last open strategy game, I don’t like running multiple NPCs with multiple conversations in multiple threads overs multiple days. I’m just not that good at multiplication.

So, want to ask one question? Fine. No problem.

More than one question? Read on.

  1. Spend your turn in an audience with them. Say what leverage you have and what outcome you desire.
  2. Ask three questions of your choice.
  3. I will answer with two truths and a lie (or a half-truth).

Now that’s interaction I can get behind. All in one go, no “back-and-forth.”


This could be hot.

Have at it.

And do tell me what comes of your games. 🙂

2 thoughts on “Open Strategy Game: Blades in the Dark (and third party interaction)

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