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Episode 2357: Blind Spot, Guard Watch, Hobnob, and Shock Prod, It’s Still Recon Role to Me


Any good heist needs comprehensive planning. In a movie you can show the planning, and make sure that it matches any obstacle that the crew will encounter - because you're writing the script.

But in a game, that's difficult to do. The obstacles in the heist have been set by the GM, and the players won't know what they are in advance. How can they possibly prepare some specific little thing that is required to overcome some clever obstacle that the GM has thrown into the heist scenario? You can't prepare for everything.

The breakthrough fantasy heist RPG Blades in the Dark has a very clever solution to this problem: Flashbacks. In this game, flashbacks are an actual game mechanic. The idea is to mimic those heist movies where you see the crew get into some pickle with no obvious way out, and then the action flashes back to the preparation phase, where one of the crew shows off some unlikely gadget that is perfect for this situation, declaring they better pack it, "just in case".

In Blades in the Dark, you play the game by getting straight into the action. You approach the target location, start dealing with any guards or magical security, and try to infiltrate and reach your goal. If something goes wrong and you find that you need some crucial piece of equipment, your crew can do a flashback scene, in which they come up with an idea to "anticipate" the possibility of this particular thing going wrong, and pack some gear that will help them overcome it. Flash forward to the heist-in-progress again and one of the crew pulls out the necessary gear.

It's a clever solution to a problem posed by emulating the heist fiction tropes in an interactive game. You could also use it in more traditional RPG genres such as dungeon-crawling fantasy, by having people "prepare" spells or specialised equipment in flashback sequences when faced with particular traps or threats that require them.

Commentary by memnarch (who has not seen the movie)

Hmmm. So the person that's most likely going to blow the group cover...... I bet on Finn. Electronic scanning is unlikely to be noticed unless BB goes active on the sensors. Rose is going to play it risky of course, but that would just be making the guests suspicious, not the House. Finn however; he's a former Stormtrooper. He's going to hold his posture differently even out of uniform. And the guards that work at a place that's totally a casino and not a military outpost of some kind where Kanata is stuck? They'll probably be trained to look out for folks like that.

Something about the interior of this shuttle seemed a bit odd when I saw it last comic, but I just realized in panel one that this ship feels more "Star Trek" than "Star Wars". There's something about the colors used that feels really different, especially the orange wall decoration next to the black and cyan displays in the back. And the interior shape is more like one of the shuttlecraft used, scaled up to be a large room instead of a small one. Though there are other bits that definitely feel like Star Wars elements; the black-red display with the grunge, the hoops around the room with the cushions, the really bright red lights next to Finn. Little details like that.


Finn: So how are we tackling this casino heist?
BB-8: We’re gonna need intel first. So we do some recon after we arrive. Get the lie of the land.
BB-8: We go through the casino, pretending to be patrons, get a feel for the flow of money, scrutinise security, and locate the vault.
BB-8: Once we have that, we make a smooth retreat and figure out how to gain access without being noticed.
BB-8: I’ll scan for electronic surveillance systems and alarms. Finn, you scope out physical security. Guards, weapons, et cetera.
Rose: I’ll take schmoozing duty! Hobnob with the high rollers and snoop for any danger signs or possible marks.
BB-8: Good call.
Finn: What if they get wise?
Rose: Shock prod.
Finn: Er...
Rose: To the vagus nerve. It causes atrioventricular heart block and loss of bladder control.
Finn: Won’t that look suspicious?
Rose: Have you seen the age of most casino goers? It’ll look normal.

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Published: Tuesday, 05 September, 2023; 02:11:09 PDT.
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