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Scum and Villainy
by Joshua W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/26/2021 10:05:22

Angel's Citadel reviewed this title. You can find our thoughts here: https://angelscitadel.com/2021/02/26/review-scum-and-villainy/

TL;DR - If you liked Edge of the Empire (Star Wars on the Fringe of Space) or Firefly/Serenity or Cowboy Bebob, you'll probably like this game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Scum and Villainy
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Scum and Villainy
by Michael E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/15/2019 13:16:33

Scum & Villainy is the first game I've used to GM a full campaign (as opposed to one-shots or a short series of games). I'm glad I did. It's an excellent game.

Probably the main reason I haven't GMed something longer before now is I struggle to link up plot threads into a larger narrative. S&V provides great tools to assist with this, beginning with the starting situations offered for each ship type, downtime entanglements, and ongoing faction plots that keep your crew engaged.

The rules are a dream. If you're at all familiar with Blades in the Dark/Forged in the Dark, all of the strengths are there. The position-effect-consequences triad is one of the smartest ideas I've ever seen in tabletop, and allows the GM to fluidly progress the session in a way that fits both the needs of the crew and the narrative logic that's been established. The playbooks are fun, and pretty easy to modify if you feel the need. I'd advise any GM to take a look at the advice in chapter 10 of the book if you're likely to consider modding the rules. There are a lot of good ideas here to build on.

The crew's ship became a fun RP hub in between jobs and the ship abilities were a particular strength because our Pilot always wanted to stay behind on the ship (it was an interesting task keeping him in play for every job). It's helpful to consider how your crew's choices during ship creation can fit into jobs as you create them.

If you're interested in playing your own custom setting or even adapting other fiction for use (e.g. Firefly), the rules work very well and most playbooks need little if any modification. However, I'd recommend at least checking out the setting provided with the book. It's a lot of fun!

I'm hard-pressed to think of specific criticisms. My group sometimes skipped engagement rolls or "doubled up" downtime activities to help with relieving harm or renewing stress when the rules felt too restrictive, but I don't think that means these elements are bad ideas; they just didn't work for our group every time.

If you're interested in space outlaw hijinks and prefer rules that stress narrative over simulation, check this one out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Band of Blades
by Nathaniel J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/17/2019 16:46:36

I am already all in on Forged in the Dark as a framework for games. Some of my best experiences have been running Blades in the Dark and its younger sibling Scum & Villainy. That said, I already have BitD and S&V. So for a Forged in the Dark system to pull me in it has to do something notably different both in setting and mechanics. For me, Band of Blades absolutely does. It's a dramatically different experience from Bitd and S&V, and I love it. I adore it. I've wanted this game for years, and it somehow provides that experience.

Like Blades in the Dark, the game is less about individual characters than an overarching organization. In Blades in the Dark, thats the crew. Scoundrels may die or leave, but the gang/crew remains. In Band of Blades, there is the Legion, a mercenary band that has failed utterly and is on the retreat against a threat that is trying to destroy humanity. The foundation of the game is straight Forged in the Dark. There are action rolls, stress, resistance rolls and much of what is expected from a Forged in the Dark game. Added to that foundatio, is supernatural corruption and blight from the undead, as well as a (picked seperately for each game) supernatural Chosen of the gods who is both a benefit and burden.

Where the game diverges is in the campaign structure. Like other troup play style games (eg Ars Magica), there is a different mix of characters. Each session is a mission instead of a job, giving religious relics, moral, supplies or other benefits. Instead of downtime, there are back at camp scenes (freeplay), and campaign actions where the command roles (Commander, Marshal, Quatermaster etc) choose the route, direction and overall progress of the Legion in its retreat from the undead Cinder King.

There was concern among a couple of my players that they wouldnt be able to roleplay, or explore the characterization of a few characters but... That's not what happened. They each had favorite Specialists they'd play when they got the chance. The campaign roles were larger than life figures played for dramatic and comic effect. One player repeatedly played a rookie who was promoted through the ranks, only to die dramatically at the end of the campaign. The players (and I) were heavily invested in our favorites. And sometimes... Sometimes one would die. Sometimes they would die off screen. And it sucked. Because Band of Blades is a war story. IMO the best war stories are not about the glory of war or triumph, they are about the cost, and sacrifice, and often the horror. And Band of Blades is absolutely in that vein. This is Glen Cook's The Black Company, Xenophon's March of the 10,000, and the better parts of Battlestar Galactica. This is XCOM on ironman mode and and Bungie's Myth: The Fallen Lords. When we played, we began to care about each squad (Grinning Ravens!), and each Specialist and Rookie who somehow made it. We wanted to see them all survive and make it to (temporary) safety at Skydagger Keep. But not all of the characters did.

Band of Blades is very, very good.

It's Dark Military Fantasy. If that is a genre you appreciate, love, or are interested in, its worth checking out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Band of Blades
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Band of Blades
by Marcus G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/09/2019 16:24:05

This game, like Scum & Villainy, uses the same wonderful task resolution system of Blades in the Dark. The "Position / Effect" mechanic is simple and inspired, and it makes other task resolutions look archaic and needlessly complex.

That is the good part.

The parts that I do not connect to seem to be the very things that distinguish this game from others. 1) the downtime (Mission) phase involves the players taking on the roll of various members of the army they are in, and 2) the setting is centered on a large band of mercenaries deeply entrenched in war.

1) Playing Assorted Characters

This is not a bad thing, nor poor design, but it does necessitate a certain type of approach to the game. It requires players to hop between characters and responsibilities periodically, which is great if you get bored with a character really easily, but not great if you just want to play your character immersively. Legacy: Godsend has a very similar concept; hopping from one character to another based on what you're doing.

This gives the game a very high-level feeling. It insists that you don't get overly focused on your character, because you will be playing another one depending on which phase you are in. This feels like more of a story creating exercise than it is a role-playing game.

2) Embattled Band of Mercenaries

This concept is really cool, and it sounds like it would be a great one-shot (if it weren't for the 1st problem). Or, if it's a long running campaign, it would be a series of one shots: get a mission, go do it, maintain the legion... rinse and repeat. This game doesn't seem to be about characters at all, but about dutifully marching through the phase mechanics.

I've given this book 3 stars, not because I like it and am interested in playing the game, but because what I don't like about it is centered on my own interest in role-play gaming.

Honestly, I will never play this game, it sounds tedious. I would much rather just run a Blades in the Dark game that has elements of the setting.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Scum and Villainy
by Taylor D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/04/2019 02:11:42

Scum & Villainy is an elegantly designed, beautifully made, fun to play game. Blades in the Dark experience not necessary. For those of you interested in Forged in the Dark systems, but with a few minor (in my opinion, all for the positive) tweaks, this is highly recommended.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Scum and Villainy
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Scum and Villainy
by Noe B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/06/2017 08:28:19

First of all, I absolutely adore the Blades system. I just started planning a campaign with my usual group of players, and I've never seen them this excited for a game until now. We have yet to have our first session and they've already started creating character art and are discussing how to synergize their abilities. Great setting, hilarious rules. The intertextuality is beautiful. I'm interested to see how the Gambits will work out, especially further on, where they'll be rolling more and more sixes. The update came at the best time, as they had yet to look at the ship too much, so now they have extra choices! <3



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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