Here’s a crew book Tim Groth and I have been hacking on for a while: the Radicals. For all your revolutionary needs.

Here’s a crew book Tim Groth and I have been hacking on for a while: the Radicals. For all your revolutionary needs.

Here’s a crew book Tim Groth and I have been hacking on for a while: the Radicals. For all your revolutionary needs.

14 thoughts on “Here’s a crew book Tim Groth and I have been hacking on for a while: the Radicals. For all your revolutionary needs.”

  1. Thanks for the typo catches! It is a truth universally acknowledged that I cannot spell.

    And yeah, they do have some similarities with a cult, in that they are a dedicated group of activists working for a cause. I mean, the same could be said of a startup or a zealous group of inspectors or vigilantes.

  2. You didn’t ask for criticism or advice, so my apologies for this. Making good playbooks is harder than it seems, and as a fellow tinkerer, I respect the work that has gone into this. Hopefully what I’m saying here is helpful.

    Mechanically, this crew type is not very exciting. A typical Blades crew playbook has:

    * a number of abilities that are flat, uncomplicated stat increases for either the crew members or the crew (action rating, engagement roll, downtime action bonuses, etc.);

    * one-two conditional stat-increase bundles that are unique to the crew (Just Passing Through, Synchronized, Blood Brothers, etc.);

    * one-two abilities unique to the crew playbook that give either no direct or very minor mechanical bonuses, but open up in-fiction possibilities (The Good Stuff, Glory Incarnate, Ghost Passage);

    * and sometimes an ability that allows to ignore a mechanic other crew types are beholden to (Crow’s Veil, War Dogs, No Traces).

    There are typically 7 abilities on a given Crew sheet, and 3 to 5 of them typically are entirely structurally unique – as opposed to, well, keyword swap abilities (as, say, Deadly is to Everyone Steals; Second Story to Door Kickers; less omnipresently, Fiends to Accord).

    Of the 7 abilities your crew has, 6 are non-unique keyword swaps (with a very minor twist for a Fish in the Sea). This is fine for additional playbook, really. But it’s certainly not exciting. And, sadly, in what feels like an especially biting thing for me to say (again, my apologies)…

    If this was part of the original stack of playbooks (which it’s not, of course, but we still try to aim for the same level of quality, right?), it would also make every other crew playbook less unique by comparison, and would make the game as a whole less exciting(!!!).

    The one unique ability the crew does have, Foreign Gold, is great! Extra Coin for an additional entanglement is an interesting enough choice to make (though I’d playtest it to see if all the additional complications don’t get crazy out of hand for either the GM to manage or the crew to deal with). I’d possibly clear up the wording up a bit – Coin is a Payoff mechanic more than it is a Score mechanic, so I’d phrase it like “During payoff…” or “After a score…” instead of “Once per score…” But that’s a fairly minor point. More abilities like this one!

    A Fish in the Sea is a keyword swap with a twist, but I’m not sure it hits the mark. Other abilities of the type (+to engagement roll ones) typically give the bonus based on the general type of plan rather than a detailed in-fiction trigger. Engagement rolls are the most abstract part of the game, you use them before you know what in-fiction situation is in detail. Giving Radicals an incentive to always do their scores in public is great, though – maybe keep the general idea, but make the bonus apply during the score rather than the initial approach to the score?

    Finally, not as criticism so much as a sidenote – the criminal crew playbooks are naturally selfish and oriented towards getting more Coin and better street Rep. That’s not going to be as natural a fit for a bunch of revolutionaries – it’s going to be somewhat more difficult to figure out how to get Coin out of an op that addresses poverty or corruption. That’s not necessarily something that you need to address through playbook abilities, but it’d help make yours be its own thing more. Have you looked at the Vigilantes’ Rep mechanic? Something similar might be a good fit.

    Glad to see a new playbook for the base game, and hope you continue tinkering with it!

  3. Daumantas Lipskis

    No worries at all, happy to have a discussion about this!

    I’m actually pretty ok with simply doing keyword swaps for crew book special abilities; only one crew book is ever in play at a time, so there’s no need for niche protection, and I don’t have the time or resources to exhaustively playtest any new mechanics that I introduce – I’d rather be certain the playbook is functional and thematically appropriate rather than risk bad math.

    The excitement, to my mind, is fundamentally shifting the direction of play; I have looked at Vigilantes, and I’m interested in the rep/coin change, but I’m not sure it’s a good fit yet. I hear you about criminals and revolutionaries not being the same thing, but they do kind of occupy the same space, and revolutionaries do spend a hell of a lot of time robbing banks and payroll shipments to fund their operations, and the Taliban and FARC are entwined in the drug trade, not to mention kidnapping and extortion. It’s easy for the lines between revolution and criminality to blend. I’d be cool with most scores appropriate to the hunting grounds actually providing relatively little money, so the radicals NEED to start hitting rich targets. Taking Foreign Gold reduces that pressure, but trades it for increased attention.

    I’m not sure Foreign Gold is right yet – see my concerns about novel mechanics above. I’m ok with it providing a reasonable amount of coin, but perhaps rather than providing two entanglements, you should roll as though your wanted was a level or two higher than it is.

    At work, so will write more later. But yes, all criticism welcome!

  4. Nice! Good to hear it was a conscious decision, and I respect the logic behind it.

    I guess, for me, you can’t shift the direction of play without mechanics to support it. The playbook abilities control what the crew is good at, that controls the broad direction of the narrative. You can do that with time-tested keyword swap abilities, but results may vary.

    For example, Claims are basically all keyword swaps in the base game, and that’s fine – you guys did a bang-up job changing up the theme just through good word choice.

    Even so, I think mechanics have meaning, too, and I’m not fully sure the playbook so far has a clear mechanical direction the way, say, Bravos wants you to get into fights and have lots of enemies; Smugglers want you to have loads of vehicles and pass as regular folk; Shadows wants you to hide and use teamwork; Cult wants you to worship the diety and do weird arcane stuff. In the base game, this mechanical “you are good at this” direction will align pretty well with the playbook’s XP triggers.

    As far as that goes, I think there’s a little bit of tension for Radicals right now – the XP triggers describe a crew who are genuinely trying to help out; the moveset describes people who, well, use bamboozled useful idiots to smash stuff up and are maybe funded by some foreign power.

    My guess is that this tension wasn’t intentional (if I’m wrong, good on you!), but rather a result of transplanting abilities from crew types that have far more self-serving or vicious immediate goals.

  5. The tension is intentional, or at least partially intentional – we knew it would be there as soon as we decided to make this for blades, because the character playbooks are so very conflict focused. So the crew is intended as a militant splinter group or direct-action cell of a much larger societal movement. More like the sans-culottes or bomb-throwing anarchists than trotsky or robespierre themselves. They’re fighting for a good cause, but they’re not necessarily good people. And possibly funded by a foreign adversary of Duskvol.

    There’s also tension with the concept of Stash – good revolutionaries shouldn’t be living it up on the people’s dime, or embezzling the party’s warchest to buy a dacha. So are you good revolutionaries?

    That being said, I think there is room for playbook abilities that are less conflict centric, and I’ve been pondering them.

  6. In response to comments, I’ve done a little more work differentiating this crew book from others, and making the moves more unique. I’d very much appreciate a gut check on whether the moves seem useful and fun.

  7. Some of these are really cool! I’ll go through them one-by-one in a bit, but my general impression is good.

    So, in the base playbooks, you have generic abilities (useful, no major in-fiction trigger), more specific abilities (multiple bonuses, in-fiction triggers and limitations), twist abilities (no mechanical bonuses at all! You’re just able to do weirder stuff), and signature abilities (really powerful, with fictional triggers that reinforce the general playstyle for that playbook strongly).

    I really like the new A Fish in the Sea. Thematic but powerful. Even if, well, a strictly mechanically worse version of Bravos’s Forged in the Fire, so there’s room for additional minor bennies.

    (You can actually add mechanical benefits by being less specific about the language you are using. See Hound’s Scout – is the “+1d to avoid detection” to action rolls or resistance ones? Both! “+1d to hide or suffer blows when in a crowd, perhaps?”)

    The new WWDH feels insanely powerful, but that also makes it interesting and exciting! It’s also really thematically resonant. Of all the new abilities, it really got my mind racing and wanting to see how it performs in-game, even if I’m not 100% sure if it’s not brokenly powerful (which it might not be, early game. Just brings downtime actions back to standard after a minor score in a 4-player game. Would get really, really powerful in the later game, where Coin flows more freely, though.)

    I think it could become a great signature ability if you just changed it to “1 Rep buys 2 downtime actions.” Incentivizes going into war early against a faction that is far more powerful than them, to maximise Rep gain. (Might need some tinkering beyond that, add a bit more of Rep drip?)

    And finally, you don’t have to go that route, but there’s always room for a mechanically useless ghost-related twist ability? Maybe they can return humanity to hulls, rip souls back into hollows, and whip up crowds of angry ghosts? Not all discontent is from the living. 🙂

    I think I missed two ability changes, but I’ve already been plenty wordy, so I’ll stop for now. Really love the general direction, though!

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