Actual Play – A Rail Jack no more (8/16/2016)

GM: Sean Nittner
Players: Karen Twelves, Eric Fattig, and Adrienne Mueller
System: Blades in the Dark, Quickset Rules v.7

Wasn’t it like, just a couple sessions ago that we were saying Hix would never turn away from her Rail Jack heritage? But what if they turn away from her?

At the end of the last session I rolled the “Flipped” entanglement. Wow, that is a rough one. No real way to buy your way out of it (not that the DSS ever does), a friend become an enemy or rival, and that’s that (Kind of like finding a Lampblack working with the Eeels who ripped you off).

Phin Stromfass, Hix’s mother visited her in her Charterwall appartment. She was accompanied by two of the other leaders among the Rail Jacks. When Harland heard their heavy boot stomping down the hall he was sure it was someone (of the many someones) coming after him. Before the door opened, Harlad grabbed his “go” bag and bolted out a window onto the wall!

No daughter of mine

Phin, closely observed by the other heads of households, told Hix that the Dimmer Sisters were friends of the Rail Jacks and that Hix and her crew should give them back whatever they wanted. In many cases a possessed Rail Jack, knowing that a Spirit Warden would call them unfit for duty, visited the gardens of the Dimmer Sisters, and were treated discretely.

Not knowing all the details, Phin told her daughter to give them back what she had taken, give them whatever they want!

Hix held her ground and the Rail Jacks left. Disappointed to say the least.

The War Effort

Meanwhile, the Path of Echoes and the Dimmer Sisters conflict continued, with both sides digging in deep to protect their holdings [Rolled a 1-3 on both of their Fortune roll so each faction only made a 1-tick advance on their clock]. Several of the Dimmer Sister’s nearly indestructible hollows were lured into a lightning trap and destroyed. Two of the Reconsiled Akarosi ghosts were captured by the sisters, their essences chopped into bits for their use.

This life is hell on the nerves

Both Hix and Harland were worn down by life and needed a release.

Hix went to Salia’s apartment and forgo the normal inebriation and went straight to the bedroom [Indulge Vice. Devil’s bargain that Salia really thinks that Hix is into her.]

Harland visited the old Opera House, filled with the Path of Echoes, and looked for solace. Skinner directed to to the infirmary where Cricket, lied with her arm broken, her own mind dulled by dream smoke, but Vond was lucid and eager to speak of old stories, old wars with her second in command. And Harland, for once finally allowed himself to just drink it in. Her words washed over him and lulled him him. Harland saw himself as a great warrior at her side, and pledged to be just that [Indulge Vice. Overindulging -> Lost]

Elke, meanwhile invited Nyrix and his companion Hoxan to aid her removing the old wards from the Cat and Candle, and creating new ones of her own. The work turned out to involve a lot of manual labor, physically scraping every scrap of wax out of the candle sconces. As they were allowed within the wards themselves Nyrix and Hoxan were eager to help! [Long term project complete. Devils Bargain to allow Nyrix and Hoxan into them].

Getting the Heat off them!

Harland (before his disappearance) hosted a Study Party to show the local bluecoats they were just students having a good time [Reduce Heat]

Hix met with Frost and told him of Harland’s disappearance, focusing his efforts on that [Reduce Heat]

Finally, Hix and Elke went about some good old fashion bribery, putting coin into the purse of the Larose – a greedy, smug, entitled officer, who was happy to take from them and tell them who was boss.

Introducing Jadvyga

A young Tycherosi woman who had done her best to remain inconspicuous, did all sorts of odd jobs around the university, and had been a silent admirer of the Spectral Society, finally decided to introduce herself.

However, as she approached the Cat and Candle she noticed the candlelight was painfully bright, that a tinny noise resonated like an alarm blaring that seemed to come from the dishes chafing against each other. Every sensation coming from the place was suddenly caustic and unpleasant.

Elke, embarrassed that her wards were adversely affecting the demon blood in Jadvyga, quickly scribed her name into the wall, inviting her in, and soon became fast friends with a new initiate.


Jadvyga and Stras (who had also asked to join and was now particularly eager because Harland was missing) were both invited into the crew, and went through the ritual of protecting their souls from possession.

[We decided to decide how this worked by using the normal ritual rules]

What effect does the ritual create and how is it weird?

  • A ghost entering you still looks like you are possessed to those aware. The feeling is invasive, as though the ghost is poking around inside your thoughts, unable to control, but able to peruse.

What must I do to perform the ritual?

  • Perform a 48 hour purification ritual, where the body is possessed by a spirit fully, in that time it is able to use the body as it wishes, but it is also spinning a cocoon of spectral vapor, a living spirit bottle within them.

What is the price and to whom do I pay it?

  • Paid to the ghost performing it. Complete black out possession, giving up the body to the spirit for 48 hours to enjoy all the sensation of life it can.

What new belief, drive, instinct, or fear does knowledge of this ritual and its attendant occult forces instill in you?

  • There are beneficial ghosts, not all of them want our demise [This one was a bit specific to Hix]

Talk about a hazing. Hix took Nyrix/Jadvyga to a string of parties and kept her bouncing from one to another before she could do anything too horrible. She did eat a live cockroach, but otherwise Nyrix was harmless. Elke took Hoxan/Stras out on a gourmand tour of the city, stuffing herself to the gills!

What Rocked

Holy crap, so many good things this session!

  • Hix and her family. No lost love there.
  • Harland going over to the Path of Echoes and joining the war he started!
  • Elke and her creepy Mary Poppins cleaning out all the candle wax and scribing her own sigils to protect the Cat and Candle.
  • The introduction of Jadvyga and how her demon blood was adversely affected by the wards…and how embarrassed Elke was about that.
  • The ritual we made up! How cool is that. And Hix had that happen to her. Her mistrust for Nyryx (and to some degree the rest of the crew for not telling her) has come to a middle!

the-devils-footstepsWe started using the QS7 rules just in time for Jadvyga to play with the updated Lurk playbook. And she took The Devil’s Footsteps! Excited to see this one in play.

What Could Have Improved

Sometimes downtime actions feel like should involve a bit more risk. I think we were leery of drawing out the actions too much (we spent a lot of time with Stras and Jadvyga becoming initiated and dealing with the fallout among the Rail Jacks (who tagged the Cat and Candle as a place they wouldn’t visit), so there wasn’t a lot of time to play out some of the actions, but it seems like dealing with a smug jerk like Larose would come with it some inherent risk. What if he goes and empties out the tills to satisfy his greed? What if he turns it around and writes someone up? What if he tells them this is a regular thing now? The system is corrupt through and through, and you can buy off people for sure, but they are hungry and always want more.  I’d like to depict some of that when the Bluecoats come on scene.


One thought on “Actual Play – A Rail Jack no more (8/16/2016)”

  1. Handling the duration of downtime actions can be really tricky. It would be great to play them out more explore the risks in the situations and the fallout – but we’ve only got so much time and we want to get through as much action as possible. Also often Downtime involves a sequence of solo-actions; and there’s a latent vibe to try and keep the scenes short so you’re not monopolizing spotlight.

    YES to all your what rocked’s! This session was such a gift! I loved so much about it – especially for Hix. She got to have this intense argument with her mother. Then Harland and Elke debated how to cheer her up / handle her. Then Hix got into even more trouble with Salia. After that there was some nice tension with Frost and some even sweeter tension with Elke about what job to do next. (I loved having her get angry and then cave. I’m excited about her reasons for doing so and am so happy she’s going down this path.) And then, finally, another awesome scene when they did the anti-possession ritual and Hix got to feel betrayed and angry and responsible! So much fun!

    Having said that though; although it’s really rewarding to engage with Elke about their different beliefs – it’s also conflict and conflict isn’t always pleasant. Hope none of the animosity is bleeding through to either Karen or me.

    Favourite Bits:
    – Elke’s whisper of understanding in the C&C when she was trying to remove the old wards: “It’s in the wax.”
    – Jadvega being quiet because she’s shy and wants to hide her forked tongue from people. And oh my God how wonderful was her understanding response to not being allowed into the Cat and Candle because of the wards. ‘No, no, it happens all the time.’ (And Elke changing the wards! So cute!)
    – Scene with Elke where Hix returned the ocarina. Elke’s response was wonderful.
    – The way the ritual works with the subject needing to fast, deprive themselves of sleep, etc, to be put into the ‘receptive state’ – but they’re actually just weakening themselves so the ghosts can’t do too much once they take possession. All makes a lot of sense! (Also I initially felt a little weird about the 4th ritual question, but now I think it’s going to be great!)
    – Severance with the Railjacks! Again, it’s such a wonderful plot event for Hix!

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