Criticism two: streamline mechanics
The second criticism hits on something I knew was a problem, but hadn't solved yet. Namely, that while I like the idea of relevance changing your effect in the world, the current implementation is clunky because it adds an extra step to the entire process of determining a roll. You need to factor in relevance, then look at other effect factors, if well...relevant.
One possible suggestion was to make relevance a factor instead of quality, and maybe rethinking scale and potency as factors. The idea of redefining how fictional positioning works in my game opened my mind to a new level of hacking the Forged in the Dark system.
When I decided to rethink fictional positioning, my mind automatically went to the idea of socially constructed power. This game is about hierarchy, power, and oppression, so why not feed that into fictional positioning?
Brie Sheldon over at Thoughty does a nice job of describing this types of power in an accessible way.
There are five types of power, which are too many for my game. I want to keep to 3 factors for fictional positioning so they are easy to keep in mind.
The first is relevance. In many ways, this replaces tier/status from Blades.Your relevance defines your social standing in the oppressive hierarchy. Possible questions: how does your relevance compare to the obstacle? does one relevance marker matter more than the others? can you "pass" as having a relevance marker?
The second is expertise. Expert power is power you gain from having special knowledge or skill. Possible questions: you have relevant experience for this obstacle? do you have specialized training that applies to this obstacle? do you have access to special knowledge for this obstacle? did an insider give you information about this obstacle?
I like the idea of expertise because it can make up for the general nature of actions. For example, if a PC spent time in the military, if they try to Influence someone by commanding them, they could get increased effect for calling upon their expertise. Whereas if that same character tried to used corporate fast talk to negotiate with a CEO, they might have limited effect because the CEO's expertise outweighs their own.
The third is press. (Name still to be decided). This is power that comes from coercing, controlling, forcing, or threatening someone. This is the might factor. For example, if you are pointing a shotgun at an unarmed person, you might have increased effect. If you have trapped someone in a dead-end, you might have increased effect. If you know someone's weakness and can threaten them with that knowledge, you might have increased effect. Possible questions: does your action involve a significant threat? does it leverage a weakness? does it use overwhelming force?
This factor is hard to name. "Control" comes to mind, but I don't want to confuse it with having a controlled position. Force also comes to mind, but I don't want people to focus exclusively on physical force. I need to find some word that points at using coercion as a factor.
I think these three factors address a broad range of factors. The default factor (similar to quality) will be relevance, but expertise and coercion can compensate or even overcome that factor.
This blog is a mix of game design analysis, commentary on issues affecting indie dev spaces, and some personal reflections.