Hey all! I’ve got a question about Entanglements and Downtime/Free Play.

Hey all! I’ve got a question about Entanglements and Downtime/Free Play.

Hey all! I’ve got a question about Entanglements and Downtime/Free Play.

How do y’all handle it when an Entanglement dictates that the crew gets into major trouble outside a score? A couple sessions ago I rolled Rivals, and took an opportunity while the crew was gathering information at The Docks to impose on them that the Dockers weren’t very welcoming to them. It didn’t take long to break out into violence, and even though it wasn’t a score they were invoking flashbacks, using special abilities, and filling up on stress as per usual.

In the end I was pretty pleased with how it went, but I’m unsure how to proceed from here. Should I give them another round of Downtime before they launch into their next score? They had already done all that stuff before gathering info at the Docks. I like the idea of pushing them into a score bloodied and completely stressed, but is that a little too harsh?

9 thoughts on “Hey all! I’ve got a question about Entanglements and Downtime/Free Play.”

  1. I wouldn’t say that’s too harsh, it’s a consequence of their entanglements. I’ve done this to my players on several occasions and I just roll forward with it.

    Just recently my crew of Shadows had their lair raided by the Spirit Wardens as a result of their occult activity. They sustained injuries, accumulated stress, and it was all between downtime and engaging in their next score. They will absolutely go into their next score with these setbacks, and it will create all sorts of problems for them and force them to improvise.

    That’s the game. As they grow in power and their entanglements become harsher (assuming they aren’t managing their heat) scores will become more difficult, allies will become harder to come by, and people will suffer traumas.

    I know it feels harsh, but it will create a tense and memorable score in the end. Heck they may even fail, and seeing how the crew processes that failure could be a great RP moment for the characters.

  2. I think you handled it absolutely correctly and you’re right ,pushing them into another score bloodied and bruised will be fun. That’s a classic trope in fiction.

  3. Hum… I see and suffer the same problem and I am interested in knowing what other players have experienced. I have tried something (at the end below).


    I don’t agree that sending them to a new score already worn out is viable. Mechanically they invariably suffer trauma, get out of action and finish the score badly. I accept that trauma can be fun, but not when the player doesn’t have any other option.


    Moreover, it’s not fun and my players resent it and voice out their frustration. The only way my players deal with this is picking up scores they are not interested in or are “supposedly” easy, which leads to a “this won’t work, let’s get out of here” attitude, which is not fun for anybody.


    Even without heavy entanglements they very rarely go into a score with cleared stress and downtime should be also about doing other stuff.

    Once the campaign progresses my players end up only indulging their vices to make sure they have enough stress to deal with eventualities. Downtime becomes a mechanic necessity. I agree that putting out fires and building pressure is interesting, but the players only ever deal with heat and stress.


    They ended up asking to do downtime actions during free play, which makes a lot of sense fictionally and also when entanglements look so similar to a score. So I am trying this, which is really not that much of a change:

    During Downtime they can only perform their allocated Downtime Activities, they cannot pay for any additional Downtime Activities.

    And during Free Play they can pay with coin or rep for any additional downtime activity they want/need to do. They can then decide considering how the entanglement ruined their lives/created new leads.

  4. Huh, that’s an interesting point about downtime, because I found almost the complete opposite in my campaigns. Often late in the campaign, we had more Downtime actions than we knew what to do with.

  5. I forgot to mention the important bit! I place Entanglements after Downtime Activities, so it does Downtime Activities > Entanglements > Paid Downtime activities.

    This is obviously a personal experience 🙂 My players have only ever used “Train” two or three times (and probably completely forgot that it exists), and they don’t bother trying to “Acquire assets” or doing “Long-term projects” if it’s more than a 6 segments clock. We find that healing is already hard.

  6. Serge Garcia I’ve already been pretty loose with the downtime/free play structure and its worked out fine. I’ll allow them to pay for downtime actions right up until their score begins, and even then they can do more in a flashback (excluding restoring stress or heat, because that messes with the fiction too much).

    I do entanglements a little differently. Immediately after the crew gets their payout (so heat has been added to their sheet) I roll the entanglement. I jot it down, allow them to continue with the game game, and consider it for a while. Based on the roll, I wait for an opportune moment to spring it on them. In this last case, I knew that the Dockers were gonna jump the crew, and as soon as they told me they’d be heading for the Docks to gather info I decided it was time to make the move. But if they hadn’t gone to the Docks, I might have waited until they were in a score, or maybe even after their score depending on where events placed them in the fiction (effectively stacking entanglements at that point).

    Anyway, I’m thinking another round of downtime is way too generous. They can pay for additional downtime actions before the score, but that’s where I’ll draw the line. Thanks for the tips everyone!

  7. John Scott Yes. I suppose I am overcomplicating things in my post. My input is that in my experience after a few “big entanglement” events, my players resented having them straight after a score or right before a score (they were fun but broke the game structure for them, they say they work like scores).

    I think giving them the opportunity to recover is better, so forcing them to split downtime mechanically might work for us, still need to see :). Looking forward to have meaningful / dangerous entanglements instead of resenting them is important.

  8. Yeah I play really fast and loose with downtime. At this point its much more dictated by the fiction than it is by any regular rotation of play. So I’d say if it makes sense for them to go straight into a score than thats what they do. I also tend to play with an in game calendar so in that situation I might give my players the opportunity to rest up with down time but at the cost of losing an opportunity they’ve been working towards or giving a mark an advantage when they decide to launch into the heist. That keeps the consequence of their entanglement but gives the players agency in deciding how to go forward which can prevent them leading a mini insurrection again you’re GMing/getting too frustrated.

  9. Serge Garcia I like your approach in #4. I am playtesting just using Downtime as a way to accelerate time and do Free Play for the rest — they get two activities per day. These activities include many of the same things that can be done during downtime (including recovery & dealing with stress).

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