Spenser Starke, the creator of tabletop roleplaying game Alice is Missing and a producer for the actual play series Critical Role, has created an unofficial hack for the TRPG Blades in the Dark.
In a tweet posted on the Critical Role producer’s account, Starke revealed that they had created an unofficial hack for the dark fantasy RPG Blades in the Dark, called Beyblades in the dark. In the short video posted, the players could be seen firing off the spinning toys originally made popular during the 2000s - thanks to an accompanying manga and anime series - next to a copy of the core rulebook for Blades in the Dark.
Dicebreaker reached out to Starke to learn more about the RPG hack, to which they replied that the idea was initially driven by the pun found in the name itself. “The idea came during a Lancer - a tabletop RPG about piloting mechs - campaign”, explained Starke, “talking about what we wanted to run when we finished and discussing Blades in the Dark, one of our players made a Beyblades in the dark pun and we couldn’t get it out of our heads.”
Tonight @quiddie @HowIett @PocketGina and @JoeyMillin and I played our first session of Beyblades In The Dark, which is just Blades In The Dark hacked to use Beyblades for our Engagement Rolls. And it was WILD 😂 @john_harper pic.twitter.com/1mh5nNaoKd— Spenser Starke (he/him) (@SpenserStarke) November 4, 2021
Starke decided to attempt to design a version of Blades in the Dark that would involve players using Beyblades, choosing to switch out the usual dice-rolling mechanics found in the original tabletop roleplaying game for Beyblade battles - which have players firing out their Beyblades against each other within a contained arena, until only one is left spinning. “I knew I had to implement the Beyblade battles carefully because they can take up to 30 seconds or more to resolve sometimes,” Starke said, “I didn’t want to be using them for every roll the players make during the game, as it would slow down the momentum.”
To avoid this dip in pace, Starke had the Beyblade battles be used in place of engagement rolls in the game, which occur whenever players are in the mission phase of the game and the games master needs to determine the kind of situation players find themselves in at the beginning. Normally, players answer a selection of questions by rolling dice and taking the highest result, with each result fitting into one of three bands that will decide what measure of success the players have. Starke replaced this with three different coloured Beyblades, each one corresponding to a different measure of success, whichever Beyblade was victorious in the battle - the Beyblade left spinning - would determine the level of success.
“In comparison to the balance of the original dice mechanic, the Beyblades resolution skewed a little more in favour of success,” Starke admitted, “giving each result band an equal chance at winning out, as opposed to the 3-2-1 balance in the original game.”
Starke expressed their affection for the Beyblades in the dark hack, labelling it as being very “thematic” considering it provides some tension for the engagement roll before the game really kicks off, as well as offering opportunities to immerse players by having the Beyblades battle atop a large map of the city of Duskvol itself - which is where the RPG takes place.
Those also involved in the Beyblades in the Dark hack include Aabria Lyengar - dungeon master for Critical Role, Dimension 20’s Misfits and Magic series and the recently announced spin-off series for the The Adventure Zone - as well as Plunders and Blunders GM Trevor Adams, Plunders and Blunders players Gina DeVivo and Joey Millin, who is also known for starring in the 2020 horror film Threshold.
Created by John Harper, who is also the designer behind Grecian tragic RPG Agon, Blades in the Dark is a roleplaying game that has players becoming a band of thieves who must attempt to survive by pulling off elaborate heists in and around the city of Duskvol. Using a flashback system, players can decide that their character has prepared for a specific obstacle they encounter whilst on their mission, as long as it makes sense narratively. Players are able to create their characters using a selection of roguish roles, including the scheming spider or sinister whisper.
For players who want to try out the Beyblades in the Dark hack themselves, they can download the map that Starke used for their games from DrivethruRPG for free.