Kickstopper: Blades In the Dark

The idea of a “thieves’ guild” or other such structure has long been a hallmark of the sort of fantasy that D&D drew on – ever since Fritz Leiber first treated the world to the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories, organised criminal gangs have been part of fantasyland. Since then the larcenous life has enjoyed a range of depictions in a fantasy context, with Scott Lynch’s stories of Locke Lamora perhaps being the most successful recent riff on the idea.

That being the case, it’s rather interesting how RPG systems specifically designed to support heist-style gameplay have been surprisingly thin on the ground. The overall direction of evolution of the D&D thief – from exploration-focused obstacle-bypasser to something more combat-oriented as the editions have gone by – feels in part like a consequence of this; in the absence of game mechanics for specifically thief-like activities, and with only the thief character having access to those mechanics which do cater to them, heists in D&D are not so widely featured.

Blades In the Dark is a game system which promised to reverse that trend, being an engine focused specifically on the execution of daring burglaries and other such escapades. It also provides one of the more interesting subjects for a Kickstopper article, for reasons I will get into later…

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