Factions Done Blades In The Dark Style

Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #0872

A long-time friend sent me this tip based on a request I made to help RPT GM Auke create a more life-like world:

Hi Johnn,

Almost 20 years on and I still look forward to seeing RPT in my inbox.

In response to your request for Auke, I’ve become a big fan of the way that Blades in the Dark handles world-building and tracking.

Every faction in the setting is assigned a few basic stats and one or more agendas that are tracked with progress “clocks.”


In Blades in the Dark, the factions are rival gangs and organizations within the city of Duskvol (the default setting).

  • Each faction is assigned a Tier (from 0 to 5), which measures its overall power level relative to the PCs and the other groups.
  • Groups that interact with the PCs are also assigned a Status from -3 (At War) to +3 (Good Friends).
  • The GM assigns a countdown “Clock” to each faction’s goals/projects.

A simple goal might have as few as 4 sections to check off while a complex project could have 12 or more.

The GM adds or subtracts checked sections on faction clocks either as a result of PC actions or as part of their prep between sessions to reflect events taking place in the background.

It’s pretty easy to adapt this system to other settings if you broaden your definition of factions to include forces appropriate to the setting of your game.


Blades in the Dark has some mechanical aspects tied to Tier and Status, but these concepts are still useful in other systems as general indicators of power and relationships to the PCs.


  • King of Elfland (Tier 5; Status -1; Find kidnapped daughter 1/8; negotiate peace treaty with human kingdom 3/8)
  • Chaos Gate (Tier 4; Status 0; Release demonic forces into the world 4/12)
  • Village of Eastwatch (Tier 2; Status 0; defeat the orc raiders 0/6)

I like this system because I feel like it takes the best parts of Fronts from Dungeon World and wraps them around a simple numeric system.

Campaign Logger would be an ideal way to track this kind of info.

I hope that helps!

– Jared