Can a FitD game have prescribed moves?

Overall, I’ve found I prefer Forged in the Dark games to Powered by the Apocalypse games. I prefer the increased crunch, I prefer the longer campaigns, I prefer to more GM-defined universe they tend to assume.

And I absolutely prefer the open-ended actions of FitD games. However.

I do sometimes miss the prescribed moves of PbtA. “When you go ham, roll +Stat.” I miss “Choose 2 of 3.” I miss holding… hold?

The things I miss in prescribed moves don’t really lend themselves to the improv-GMing and adjudication of FitD games. It’s hard to come up with one cool result, much less three from which the player gets to choose 1.

But is there room in the FitD framework for prescribed moves for things you expect to happen often? In a game about hacking, having a move for “When you hack a network…”

Admittedly, you might have to take into account Position, but I feel like that’s a solvable problem.



This might not be what you are looking for but these list options are already in BitD in an implicit way. Just look at the GMs options, what should they do in a 4-5 / 1-3 case. You can reverse these to be player facing!


Yeah, I think that’s my problem. It’s all implicit. During play, a Lost Opportunity or a Complication is kind of vague and on the GM to solve in the moment.

I guess I’m asking more of a cultural question than a mechanical one: how receptive is the FitD community to explicit moves?

A setting or hack could just give the GMs a delineated pick list. “When a player suffers consequences during hacking, things that could go wrong…” and the GM could either just pick, or pick 3 and tell the player to pick 1.

But taking it a step further and making it player facing: how does the mesh with FitD norms?


I see where you are coming from and I think there is space for that, specially if you have a very strict setting/premisse where the main tropes can be tailored as “moves” like these you are describing. I’m trying to put together a few tables for CBR+PNK for a similar reason, just to take some weight out of the GM’s shoulder.

Yeah, I don’t think everything has to be a move. I think a majority of FitD play should still be “oh, you didn’t get a six. Now the GM is just going to make up some terrible things.”

But in a cyberpunk game, you’re going to be hacking a lot. A hacking move just helps the table move faster. You can even break it down further as needed…

  • When you hack a public terminal
  • When you hack a mainframe

I also think about how FitD has “abilities” as moves instead of just “moves” akin to PbtA. So in a cyberpunk game, where everybody hacks, maybe one playbook gets a “When you hack, use other action instead of default action” type stuff.

But at the same time, GMs need to be free in a FitD game to do what they want to do.


Exactly, having these as “guidelines” for the main actions of your setting would help a lot. Even so if the participants are not well versed in the genre. The good thing is, as they get used to it, they can eventually ditch the tables and just roll with the fiction like “standard Blades”.

Your direction is totally compatible both with FitD’s foundation (the PbtA community) and the author’s original design style (see frex BitD’s precursor, Bootleggers). Of course, one can argue that FitD created its own audience with specific and differentiated needs and expectations, but I think there is still a huge overlap between these circles.

Just one example: In Ghost Lines (2013), which predates BitD, John Harper used the following ‘saving throw’ mechanic (maybe borrowed from Murderous Ghosts)

When you steel yourself against injury, duress, orsupernatural horrors, choose an action below that
you hope you don’t do, and roll+steel.
On a 10+, you do none of them.
On a 7-9, you do one you didn’t pick, GM chooses.
On a miss, it’s the one you don’t want.

  • Freeze up, leave myself wide open.
  • Panic, disengage, flee.
  • Collapse, let go, give up.
  • Rage, lose control, do unintended harm.
  • Suffer more trauma or harm.

I think you can easily use this approach with FitD core mechanic.


I remember reading Ghost Lines. Thanks, that’s exactly what I’m looking for.

I’m working on a kind of Wildsea/FitD rehash of Legacy: Life Among the Ruins and Horizon Zero Dawn, and wanted to really quantify the faction play since the “risk” a player subjects themselves to can be kind of hard to parse when you’re a group of two hundred people.

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I’m not a FitD expert, but those sounds very doable to me. As you say, you might have to give some thought as to how you work in Position and Effect (depending on what type of move that is, it might be easy - e.g. choose 2 instead of choose 2, or add a point of something or other - or it might be quite difficult and require writing different moves), but otherwise it’s easy enough.

One notable change, though, is whether “we roll dice sometimes, when we feel it’s appropriate” (a generic resolution mechanic) or “the codified moves define the genre and scope of play” - those are very different approaches to game design (which is what you’re doing here).

This may or may not be a problem, but is worth thinking about. Your game will look different depending on how you do it.

I don’t see any conceptual issues with “have some defined moves in my FitD game”, however.


Take a look at Crescent Moon by Ema Acosta. There are both player-facing and GM-facing moves that are constructed in the manner of PbtA. The game does a lot of really interesting things in general, but one of the neatest things is how the mechanics are set up to maximize player agency while sort of constraining the GM in a way that feels, to me, more PbtA than FitD while still maintaining the general feel and mechanics of FitD. There are even pick lists!


I’ll pick it up - thank you!