Copperhead County April Update


Hello outlaws and the outlaw-interested,

Welcome to a Copperhead County general update for April! I want to provide regular updates about stuff I'm working on as this game shambles towards a final state.

Before I get into it, have you seen the new Blades in the Dark forum? Copperhead County has a new thread there which is now the best place to post about the game with me.

The next era in Copperhead County's evolution, the legendary standalone book format, is still coming down the pike and expected in April or May. I'm a little behind where I want to be on it, partially because writing a book is hard, and partially because I've been working on something new, upon which I am fixing to elaborate.

While working on the update, I decided to create a new Campaign Tracker sheet where all of a GM's ongoing clocks could be in one place. This came out of my own ongoing campaign, which is on Roll20 - our landing page is a big mess of clocks reflecting various ongoing storylines and possibilities. Also, in our last session, we didn't have a clear vision of the crew's next job, so I recapped all of our ongoing concerns to see what grabbed us. It hit me... there has to be a way to combine these in one simple GM sheet.

Then, while I was concepting the Campaign Tracker sheet, I experienced a series of epiphanies. The Trouble system (which is basically like Blades Entanglements but a little more freeform currently) could also fold up into this sheet. Plus, an ongoing problem I've been trying to solve with Trouble / the campaign is feeling like the police are never as present as they should be in the game. Plus, in my current campaign we have a lot of personal PC subplots, and I've been thinking about how to incorporate that kind of storytelling into downtime officially. (For example, our Cleaner, played by Copperhead County Contributing Writer Michael Crowley, recently got married as a result of a clock we introduced as a devil's bargain.)

The answer to those issues came with a new approach to Trouble and integration of all these things together. So now, instead of Trouble being one event per downtime, Trouble will be a downtime step which encompasses many possibilities. The GM's Campaign Tracker sheet has both Crew Trouble and Police Trouble clocks which are advanced during downtime, and which introduce new problems upon completion. This works like the current system, but breaks out into multiple events, gives the police a more prominent role, and integrates with the Campaign Tracker. Then, each PC playbook also has a Personal Trouble clock, which they will advance during downtime. Upon completion, some shit comes up in the PC's personal life.

Is that all? No! The Campaign Tracker also introduces a new County Tension tracker, which advances as shit in the county escalates and attracts the attention of the state and federal authorities - kind of like a Raid level for the entire county.

That's one powerful sheet. You can see my current draft of the Campaign Tracker here. (The back of the sheet will be more clocks... an endless supply of clocks.)

I think this will do a lot to support GMing an ongoing Copperhead County campaign. Here's my Game Master of Ceremonies confession... when an RPG has Fronts or some other GM technology you're supposed to keep up with, I never use it. I keep it loose! This approach is my attempt to create a GM scaffolding which reflects how I run Copperhead County and my vision of how a CC campaign works.

So that's all great, but creates a lot of new work... after creating the system and the sheet, I also need to revise the Rules Reference sheet for downtime, revise every playbook to add a new Personal Trouble section, and give Claims a pass to review how they might interact with the revised Trouble system. But all to make Copperhead County an easier and more exciting game to run and play!

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