How I Used ChatGPT to Help Plan A Session for Blades in the Dark

Blades in the Dark is a fun take on tabletop gaming with easy-to-learn rules and the most metal setting I’ve ever seen. While it’s gaining popularity, being newer means there’s not as many ready-made materials and ideas compared to industry behemoths like Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder.

I thought it would be fun to have ChatGPT help me flesh out some ideas for an upcoming game session. Let’s see what it came up with, and how I had to modify it to make it useable.

Disclaimer: All opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission.

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Planning a session for Blades in the Dark doesn't need to be a mystery for the Game Master.

Blades in the Dark Sessions

Sessions in Blades in the Dark are separated into mini adventures that make up a larger story (or not, if the Game Master prefers). These are called scores. Players participate in a score, and then go into a separate downtime phase where they level up their character, crew, and base.

Here’s a bit of background for the content below in case you’re new to Blades in the Dark: leviathans are giant sea demons that are hunted by tough sailors in a void sea full of stars. The creatures are harvested for their blood.

This blood is used to power an electroplasm barrier that surrounds the main city, Duskvol. This barrier protects the city, more or less, from ghost incursions. Ghosts are extremely powerful and deadly in Blades in the Dark, and should be avoided.

The Score Concept

The idea I had for planning a session and a new score is as follows, and this is exactly what I put into the free version of ChatGPT:

Good morning. I am running a game of Blades in the Dark. My players will be investigating a series of mysterious murders. The main clue right now is that multiple victims have been found floating down the canals. I want the culprit to be a group who is trying to create a soul well to have a leviathan spawn in the middle of the city, causing havoc. A timer would be good, too. Can you help me set this up?

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ChatGPT’s Response

Below is the exact response from the AI, with my commentary for each section:

Good morning! It sounds like you have the makings of an intriguing Blades in the Dark session ahead. Creating a soul well and summoning a leviathan adds a fantastic supernatural element to the mystery. Here’s a setup that you can use for your game:

The Cult:

The mysterious murders are the work of a secret cult that worships a dark deity associated with the depths. The cult believes that by creating a soul well, they can tap into the essence of the victims and use it to summon a leviathan.

Commentary: Sure, this works. It is in alignment with my original concept. I think I’d like a deeper purpose, though. Perhaps the soul well is intended to call this demon for a mass human sacrifice. I am tentatively planning on using the Gondoliers crew for this plan.

Motivation:

The cult’s motivations could be tied to a desire for power, revenge, or even an attempt to reshape the city according to their twisted beliefs. Perhaps they believe that the chaos caused by the leviathan will lead to a new world order under their control.

Commentary: I like the idea of the Gondoliers attempting to wrest control of the city, but I don’t think that’s their main goal. They want respect, power, and to be taken more seriously, perhaps. That’s in alignment with the group’s story at this point in our game.

Clues:

Scatter clues throughout the city that the players can discover as they investigate the murders. These could include occult symbols left at crime scenes, strange behavior of witnesses who may be cult members, or whispers in the underworld about a dark force at play.

Commentary: This is great. I’ll have Midjourney come up with a creepy logo for the Gondoliers. (Pictured below.) It can be etched in their victims’ skin, on their clothes, painted on walls near crime scenes, and one of their Gondolier contacts can have a tattoo of it peeking out from just under her sleeve. I’ll make it a splinter group within the Gondolier crew to add a layer of interest. That should be enough information for my players to figure out the mystery.

I will need a red herring as well, to make sure my players have a challenging element to sussing out the details.

If you want to see examples of how to use Midjourney for coming up with awesome female characters, take a look at our article here.

The Soul Well:

The cult needs to perform a ritual to create the soul well. The ritual involves sacrificing a specific number of souls in a set timeframe. As the players investigate, they can discover the countdown to the ritual. This adds urgency and a ticking clock to the session.

Commentary: Yes, I intended on using the Blades in the Dark clock mechanic to increase tension. I’m thinking a 5-part clock that moves forward after so many conversations or failed rolls. I will not share with them what the clock counts down to until after they have found evidence of specific plans.

Leviathan’s Spawn:

The leviathan’s spawn could be a monstrous sea creature that emerges from the canal once the soul well is created. Its arrival could bring chaos and destruction to the city. Consider what abilities and characteristics the leviathan possesses, and how the players might prevent or mitigate the damage.

Commentary: If the clock finishes, the leviathan will be summoned. Then the players can deal with the fallout of that encounter. Perhaps a leader from the Gondoliers will also give a villain monologue at the scene.

Check out how to use ChatGPT for writing NPC speeches here.

Allies and Enemies:

Introduce NPCs who might be allies or adversaries. Some factions may be sympathetic to the cult’s cause, while others may oppose them. The players can form alliances or make enemies based on their interactions.

Commentary: Sure, that’s fine. I’ve already got an NPC they know in the Gondoliers.

If you need an interesting NPC, make sure to check out The Lorekeep while you’re here.

Consequences:

Outline the potential consequences of success or failure. If the players thwart the cult, how does the city react? If the leviathan spawns, what are the immediate and long-term consequences for the city and its factions?

Commentary: This is more for me to know as part of prep. Success means the cult is thwarted and they have a captive NPC they can bargain with, or settle the conflict in some other way they deem fit. Failure means the leviathan spawns and creates great destruction in the city, likely causing great personal injury and potentially damaging their base, as well.

This will be a tier 2 difficulty scoring during downtime.

Timer:

Set a clear timeline for the cult’s ritual. For example, the ritual may occur at midnight in three days. This gives the players a sense of urgency and forces them to make strategic decisions about how to allocate their time and resources.

Remember to be flexible with your plot and allow the players to shape the narrative through their actions. Good luck with your Blades in the Dark session!

Commentary: Three days sounds good. I like the idea of progressing the clock as they complete tasks or fail rolls. I will also progress the clock if they pursue the red herring too far.

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Modifying the ChatGPT Results: Turning it into a Score

This is a fine outline and it gave me a couple of quick ideas to incorporate. I still need a red herring, and I need a score for the players to interact with.

Red Herring

My players are currently embroiled in conflict with the Wraiths, so I will have a few of these people present at a crime scene or two. What my players won’t know is that this crew is also simply investigating the murders.

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Choosing the Score

For the score itself, I thought about where they might have an opportunity to interact with lots of people, and also where a soul well might be most effective for damaging the populace. I decided a convention would be a fun outing for my group. In the center of the convention hall is a raised stage that is constructed over the canals, and where the soul well is being created.

My players love to interact with NPCs, play mini games, and solve a social mystery. I set up “CrimCon” with all the usual fixings of a nerd convention we all know and love, but themed to criminality. They can walk around, gather clues, participate in the convention, and all the while I have a clock going against the “main event:” the ritual when the leviathan is summoned.

This will be considered a Social Engagement (most likely) when they are deciding how to approach their investigation.

D&D, or Dungeons & Dragons, is one of the most popular TTRPGs in the gaming world! Delight your players with dynamic sessions, exciting one shots, and loads of fun NPC surprises! A D&D game is a great way to brighten up your week.

A Slice of Time

For the cost of one time slice on their clock, they can gain an experience point by visiting a panel of their choosing. It’s a trade-off, because they have less time to solve the mystery, but they get a precious experience point. It is a choice they make that not only increases tension but also provides reward.

If you want to see more details for this convention, let me know in the comments! I’d be happy to write them up for you.

Setting up the Session

Remember, whenever we’re prepping for a game, setting up a “playset” is the easiest and most effective way to make sure we’ve got a great story ready for the players to experience, without leading them in any particular direction.

If you need help with this, check out part two of our series on preparing tabletop gaming sessions.

ChatGPT can also be used as a source of storytelling inspiration for your next murder mystery party. Check out the details here.

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Closing Thoughts

While not perfect, ChatGPT gives Game Masters a great starting point for creating an interesting score in Blades in the Dark. The method above can be reproduced for any concept you have. ChatGPT can also come up with entirely new score concepts, if you need a place to start.

Like the idea of using AI to help you prepare? Make sure you check out our article on using ChatGPT as an assistant Dungeon Master for Dungeons & Dragons sessions, too.

And if you haven’t checked out Blades in the Dark yet, you can take a look at the official site here.

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Love, Malice. I hope you enjoyed the article! I'm here if you have any questions. Feel free to leave a comment below!

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