How Many Players. More options for BSF.


Gang Hero
Yak Comp 3rd Place
Mar 29, 2016
Halifax, NS, Canada
Ahoy there.

So, we have been playing the core set of Blackstone Fortress for a while now - we are about to hit the final Stronghold of the four, and hopefully then on to face down Bile's Clone* and save Precipice [for now]. Over the months of play, we have occasionally looked at [and experimented with] options for allowing visiting players to join in.

Early on, we were able to briefly add a fifth player by allowing them to take over a Retinue Character that we had available. This worked pretty well, actually. Retinue characters are simplified, with most of their information directly on their character sheet. Playing to their simplified rules allowed the player to be actively involved, while learning the more complicated rules during play by watching the other players, and having the others explain the rules as they used them. It was a great way to do an introductory adventure for the "extra" player. As a down-side, the restrictions on actions for most retinue characters mean it would likely be less useful for a returning player. But as an introductory game, it was perfect; and as a "pinch hit" option to include a fifth player, it could still work well enough, depending on the chosen Retinue character and their restrictions [ Gren ‘Knuckles’ Broggan for example has a lot of restrictions on his actions, where The Tinkerer does not].

Most recently, we ran a short expedition down into the Fortress using six players [!], but used the Abominable Intellect cards to increase the difficulty/number of hostiles in the group. Challenges got harder [in the "every character must do the following" category], as odds of a failure increase with larger numbers [even though the odds of each character's failure remains the same as usual]. As for the combat cards, in both cases the cards drawn meant there was no chance for any "hang back and kill them as they come" tactics, or any "sneak through past them" tactics - both combats had us swarmed fairly quickly with ur-ghuls, or threatened by masses of beastmen and rogue psykers. In all, it was a close-run thing, with multiple characters at zero dice, and twice characters went Out Of Action [one made a recovery in the maglev, due to no Critical Wounds, and the other lucked out due to a lucky Events roll]. While the AI cards may not in themselves guarantee a better mortality [the right cards in the right combat maps is definitely part of it], the combats didn't feel TOO easy, or even as easy as running the regular combats with four explorers. So that looks like it could definitely be an option. Of note, both of the "new" players were running completely fresh explorers which had no equipment yet; but only one of our three victims was a fresh character, and none of the characters in the end escaped without at least one Mortal Wound.

So, options for an extra player or two some game nights, without needing anyone to play "dungeon master" for the session.

* For both narrative and modeling purposes, we chose to be opposing one of Fabius Bile's clones, rather than Obsidius Mallex. He's more our flavour of chaos.
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