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What do dishonoured characters do?

I must admit I’m struggling to see what the core business of the game is. It could be heists, but Blades in the Dark has already done that in not-quite-Dunwall. Reading the setting material and the plot seeds there didn’t seem to be much space for players making much of a difference in the world, more picking away at the edges of the video game storyline. A lot of the plot seeds were a bit like “a gang is trying to take over your territory” - not really helpful.

Personally, I’d like a intrigue based game (with all the cults, gangs and conspiracies at different levels of society). But I’m not sure the raw ingredients are there without a substantial amount of GM work. I think I’d be looking at the guilds framework in Green Law of Varkith to get started. What is everyone thinking of for core business?

It is understandable that everyone is comparing Dishonored to Blades in the Dark. Personally, I am not big fan of the second one – i agree that this game is quite innovatory, faction system is impressive, but after all I don’t really like inflexible scheme of session and setting - maybe it is similar to the Empire of Isles but fantasy elements in Blades are much more common. For me, Dishonored has grim, industrial universe where magic is kind of addition, and I really like it. So I am glad that there are two, similar but on the other hand different systems.

Dishonored is very flexible – in rulebook we have detailed description of two cites and two others, just outlined Islands - Morley and Tyvia - which you can use for more openworld campains. I can think of a few conventions that fit the game:

  • game in the convention of politics and intrigue, with rivalry between aristocrates, parliament and emperor, plots and treasons. Mayby even more „heroic” campain where players decide about fate of the entire empire – for example dreadful plot that would lead to next Morley Insurection and disintegration of the empire.

  • fight for survival in the streets of Dunwall, perfect for faction wars (here elements of Blades in the Dark will be very usefull) where players control one of the gangs. Or mayby game in criminal convention where main goal is to solve a case of mysterious murder, with collecting evidence and hearing witnesses.

  • convention of mysteries with horror elements – cult of the Outsider, cruel Abbey of the Everyman, incomprehensible Void and adventures in dark atmosphere from H.P. Lovecraft’s book.

  • and finalny, adventure convention – you can take yours players to the Pandyssia Continent where you can put literally anything you want, send them on the epic whale hunt or on fighting with pirates on the high seas.

I think Dishonored system gives many, quite varied possibilites. It is always good idea to ask your players what type of adventures they are expect. Of course this is all my opinion and is mostly theory becouse I haven’t played yet, just preparing upcoming campaign.

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I agree that there is lots of potential there, I just wish it provided a bit more help for the Gm beyond - go on and make it up yourself. If I’m going to do that, I’m going to use one of my own game worlds.

I also agree on Blades - it is a bit of a one trick pony. I like the fusion of 2D20 and FATE in Dishonored, but I think it falls into the trap of many licensed games that it doesn’t have enough of its own life beyond the original game story. Licensing often prevents developers from having the latitude needed to add more scope. Not that it CAN’T have that, but that the book doesn’t really give that much help to the GM.

Ok, now I see your point. To be honest, Dishonored is my first experience with 2D20 system, so things like chaos and momentum are still fresh and exiting for me. But I agree, despite the narrative game character, it would be nice to have some more specific mechanics for some aspects. I hope if future expansions come out, they will include some specific rules for, e.g. naval battles and ships, managing a faction / gang or crafting and upgrading items (with blueprints and upgrades, it is easy to imagine that equiptment can have really big role in the game, even become alternative way of improvement the charakters). Until then, I’m afraid that we are left to our own creativity.

After I’ve run the introduction scenario I intend to go wild with the setting. I have plans for the world based on my imagined story of an as-yet un-revealed Dishonored 3! It helps that I have played the video games a lot so see them as a springboard into a version of the setting of my own conception. It’s probably not that helpful to say that, but I would say that the game gives a lot of story prompts in the background world sections, and in my experience, these can lead to whole scenarios emerging. Much depends on your players’ willingness and ability to engage with the narrative.

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Dishonored is probably the best version of 2D20 as it has been simplified and is more narrative.

I do recommend the guilds system from The Green Law of Varkith (Magpie Games) which is technically a Dungeon World game, but the guilds are a separate system you can transplant. They deal with establishing a guild, intrigues, territory, power grabs, etc. You could start with, eg a Bootmakers guild and then extend your reach up into higher society, down into street culture, into the occult world etc.

Unlike Blades there isn’t a presumption toward street level crime.
What I like about the system is that it generates its own story, taking a lot of pressure off the GM.

It’s a reasonable price on DriveThru and Brendon Conway is a great designer https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/182461/The-Green-Law-of-Varkith

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I think a central theme for Dishonored, and specifically those who have been marked by the Outsider, is the power of choice and the ability to affect events like the first domino. Depending on what flavour you want to do I would look at setting up some plots and schemes in the Empire and then have your players as the ones messing that all up whatever their personal reasons might be.

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I’ve played all of the 2d20 games and mechanically speaking, I prefer Dishonored over the others. My campaign takes place a few years after the events of Dishonored 2 and is focused on the Empire’s new push to explore Pandyssia. The campaign is heavily influenced by pulp-style elements, exploration, and competing factions!

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I agree that the core is good, just a bit disappointed that a lot of the heavy lifting story-wise is left to the GM. Since I suspect there aren’t going to be any supplements, it does sort of doom the game to being a one-off curiosity, which is a shame.

The plot seeds are quite inert too, a problem shared by a LOT of games. They set up a situation but don’t give much guidance on what to do with them. “A body is found in a locked room” - now the GM has to figure out how the impossible crime was committed.

I was surprised when Dishonored was announced. The video games have a very narrow scope and precise use of the social environment to advance those stories with missions that expect a lot more stealth than player groups are typically willing to do. I personally have a great deal of trouble as a GM in dissociating my creative juices from metastories.

But Dishonored is set in a gaslight/clockwork world in an ambiguous 19th century. And it’s 2d20. With sinister mystery cults. That means anything from Conan, Mutant Chronicles, and even John Carter could be adapted to the setting. All of the monsters, most of the adventures. All of it can be in Dunwall with a few tweaks to balance the tech and humanize the aliens.

I agree that Dishonored is the most elegant version of the rules. Why not use the library of Modiphius content for 2d20 that already out there?

As for ‘what characters do’, I am thinking of developing it around the whole idea of being ‘dishonored’ - dishonorable people (or people who find themselves labeled as dishonorable or as criminal) who are never-the-less the heros; when all the ‘good people’ in the rotten world are far worse scoundrels.