System Reference Document Overview
This System Reference Document (SRD) contains the core mechanics derived from the Blades in the Dark rpg. If you'd like to use these mechanics in your own game, see the Licensing section of this website for details.
Blades in the Dark is a game about a group of daring characters building an enterprising crew. We play to find out if the fledgling crew can thrive amidst the teeming threats that surround it.
Each player creates a character and works with the other players to create the crew to which their characters belong. Each player strives to bring their character to life as an interesting, daring character who reaches boldly beyond their current safety and means.
The players work together with the Game Master to establish the tone and style of the game by making judgment calls about the mechanics, dice, and consequences of actions. The players take responsibility as co-authors of the game with the GM.
The characters attempt to develop their crew by performing scores and contending with threats from their enemies.
In addition to creating characters, you’ll also create the crew by choosing which type of criminal enterprise you’re interested in exploring.
The Game Master
The GM establishes the dynamic world around the characters. The GM plays all the non-player characters in the world by giving each one a concrete desire and preferred method of action.
The GM helps organize the conversation of the game so it’s pointed toward the interesting elements of play. The GM isn’t in charge of the story and doesn’t have to plan events ahead of time. They present interesting opportunities to the players, then follow the chain of action and consequences wherever they lead.
Playing A Session
A session of Blades in the Dark is like an episode of a TV show. There are one or two main events, plus maybe some side-story elements, which all fit into an ongoing series. A session of play can last anywhere from two to six hours, depending on the preferences of the group.
During a session, the crew of scoundrels works together to choose a score to accomplish, then they make a few dice rolls to jump into the action of the score in progress. The PCs take actions, suffer consequences, and finish the operation (succeed or fail). Then the crew has downtime, during which they recover, pursue side-projects, and indulge their vices. After downtime, the players once again look for a new opportunity or create their own goals and pursuits, and we play to find out what happens next.