Actual Play – Arquo’s Revenge (3/22/2017)

GM: Sean Nittner
Players: Karen Twelves, Eric Fattig, and Adrienne Mueller
System: Blades in the Dark

I lost my notebook. I found it the next day at work, but for this game I didn’t have my notes and we had to play with our collective memory. Dangerous waters we waded into.

Ro’s Resentment

Nyryx returned Ro in one piece, but he had done something that normally he wouldn’t, he let Ro see what what was happening, mostly just to make him jealous as all hell with Nyryx in his body, he did better at picking people up than he would have on his own. Ohh, it burns!

Arquo’s Plan

Not that anyone really understood why they were doing this, apart from Arquo wanting revenge for the Hive trying to kill his family, but they did agree that hitting the Hive where it hurts would be a good. Initially Arquo just wanted to run in there guns blazing, but cooler winds prevailed and they agreed to go in ghosts blazing instead. The hound had stalked a few Hive workers and found they mostly stashed things in peoples legitmate business or homes, but after he spend enough time, he eventually saw two men climb down a porthole in the street down to an underground dock where they were moving cargo. This is where they would strike.

Rounding up the Ruffians

Normally Elke would be in charge of rounding up ghosts, or if not her, than Harland, but neither were present so they went about it the hard way, walking the streets of Doksvol.

In dusty, run down Charhallow, Quellen (who had re-opened her shop) told the that Scapa was “around somewhere” but hadn’t been staying her tree, instead searching out other ghosts in the district and meeting with them to some unknown ends. Arquo, Jadvyga, and Ro all split up to find her and eventually Ro overheard her [He has ghost voice] arguing in a abandoned garden behind a wall with three other ghosts.

Though they attempted just to draw Scapa out things got ugly quickly. Scapa didn’t recognize Ro and she wasn’t materialized enough that either Arquo or Jadvyga could really make her out. Add that to the already hostile nature of Tara, Skeever, and Pool, and it quickly became accusations that the mortals had overheard their plans and that they must be destroyed before they could reveal them. Ro eventually got through to Scapa, and she vouched for him but not before [Desperate Sway. Partial Success]:

  • Arquo was stricken with fear and then chilled to the bone by a Skeever passing through him. [Level 2 Spirit Frostbite]
  • Jadvyga bolted, drawing Tara to follow after her [Resisting the initial fear, then Resisting the harm, then making a Risky Prowl to lose Tara, and getting great effect (Thanks to the shaodwcloak) so she could lose her and turn back around quickly to rejoin them
  • Ro nearly dodged out of the way but still felt the terror of Pool passing through him. [Resist with Prowess to take Level 1 Harm “Frightened”]

Once Scapa understood who they were, she gladly fled with them (negotiations with Pool, Skeever, and Tara weren’t going well anyway). With his permission Scapa entered Ro’s spirit cocoon so that she could speak through him to Arquo and Jadvyga. While inside him, though not possessed Ro felt both violent and curious urges crop up. His anger towards Nyryx rose to the surface as did his wonderment of how he was so successful with seduction.

Ro tried to convince Scapa that they were going on a mission to save Elke but being inside him and connected to him, she saw through is ruse and tried to leave his body, disgusted by someone who would hide the truth from her [Risky Sway. Bad Outome].

He wasn’t sure exactly how but Ro held on to Scapa [Resist with Resolve] just long enough that she could hear Arquo order her to his service. “You’re part of the Doskvol Spectral Society. We’ve protected you and you haven’t done anything for us lately. You will come with us because I say you will!” Scapa, cowed by Arquo’s suddenly forceful demeanor, agreed under the condition that she ride inside of him instead of Ro! [Command. Partial Success.]

After that, finding Ring and Cavelle at the Six Arms wasn’t to challenging, and neither of them objected to a mission of hurting others. Here’s the profile on their soldiers:

  • Ex-Magistrate Ashlyn Scapa, died in unknown circumstances and was kept in a spirit bottle by judge Casslyn Mora for unknown number of years. Still bound by her sense of civic duty to depend the property rights of those who have been wronged. In death she has become knowledgeable and violent.
  • Cavelle, Severosi who died inside Ironhook in solitary confinement. Seeks to freedom in all it’s forms, primarily through disrupting the normal order of things and creating chaos. Lost his ghostly arm in a fight with the Kincliath spectral guardian. (loud, cunning, feeds on chaos).
  • Ring, in love with Wester and waiting (impatiently) for him to join her. (amorous) [I have very, “meh, that’s all I did with Ring?” feelings about this now that I look at my notes. Yes, like all ghosts she’s obsessed with her death, but being obsessed over a lost love doesn’t ring true to me. I’ll work on this off screen]


The plan (Occult, power source was the ghosts) depended on the crew getting into the Hive’s cargo dock, setting the ghosts free and letting them wreak havoc. Ro’s presence was important, as the was the only one who could speak to them reliably once they were let loose. Jadvyga was going to help them all sneak in, and Arquo was leading the mission. Six crew members disguised as three!

Just as they were lifting the manhole cover to creep down a man popped his head up as he was on his way out for a smoke. Ro wanted to finish him off quickly, by running him through, but when he saw the naked blade the man dropped his hold on the ladder and fell six feed down to the passage below. After that ensued a furious attempt to subdue him (without killing him!) before he could alert the others. Luckily the passage was dark and the noise coming from the dock was substantial.

Arquo leapt down and put a gun to his head, which help him quiet and at bay for a moment. However when the others climbed down and freed the ghost, he the agent was able to slip behind Aqruo’s guard and get his knife to Arquo’s throat. Thankfully the hound was wearing the gorget which came with his Deathlands scavenging armor [Heavy Armor] and so, unable to find purchase on Arquo’s neck, the agent plunged the blade into his chest (Level 4 Harm reduced to Level 2).

A wild melee broke out in the dark. Ro tried to run him through but when the blade missed the agent closed in on him, tackled him to the ground and pressed his blade into the Slide [Level 4 harm, also reduced to Level 2]. Jadvyga jumped on him and, pulled up the agents own chain shirt and plunged her dagger into his spine, paralyzing the man. [I don’t have all the notes for this but it was several partial successes which injured but did not fell the man, several bad outcomes which exposed them to his lethal blade, and a final full success that finished him off]

Unprepared for Ghosts

The Hive, who specifically does’t traffic with the occult was not expecting three angry ghosts to show up and start trashing their operation. A gondolo with several cages holding hairless hunting cats was being unloaded at the docs when Scapa, Ring, and Cavelle arrived. Cavelle got into the lights, supercharging them and blinding people before blowing out the bulbs. Scapa, still unable to possess harrowed the chief who was directing the operation. Ring, possessed one of the sailors, and he slowly began untying the gondola from the dock. One of the dockers fired his pistol at Scapa, others froze up or tried to flee, or  produced spirit bane charms and incanted their god’s protection.

Adding to the Chaos

Arquo, who had brought his musket, took aim and fired at one of the cages that had already been loaded onto the dock and a hungry, angry hunting cat bust forth. Ro jumped on the gondola to stab one of the sailors but lost his footing on the uneven surface. and both of men when tumbling into the water. Jadyvyga ran at a sprint and leaped right between two Hive dockers (one on the dock, the other on the boar) who were aiming pistols at her, causing them to accidentally fire on each other [Thanks Devil’s Footsteps].

The Ghost continued to distract until Chief Helker, the one overseeing the operation, finally fended off Scapa and started to restore order among the Hive gondoliers and dockers. But by this time, the Society was already…

On Their Way Out

Jadvyga dropped her grappling hook into the water like an anchor so that Ro could pull himself up by the rope. He made a desperate shove to push the man grappling him away and lunged for the rope, then pulled with all his might to make it onto the boat. [Desperate Prowl. Full Success]

Meanwhile, Arquo ran a rope from the boat over to the paralyzed agent laying in the hallway, tied it around his waist and them gave Jadvyga the sign to gun the engine! He jumped onto the boat. Ro kicked his attacker back into the water, and Jadvyga blazed out of the doc on their stolen gondola with their stolen hunting cats (the three that hadn’t been unloaded) and a few moments later, with a Hive agent skipping on the water behind them! [Risky Finesse. Crit!]

With one gondolier fell by a gut shot on the boat and he other being dragged by the rope behind them, they also had Arquo’s requisite two bodies. We’ll fine out next time if both of them actually lived!

What Rocked

Though it took some time to do, I was really glad that we played out rounding up the posse. Specifically to showcase what the crew is like without Elke or Harland to wrangle their ghosts. And the answer is, it’s rough. They are scared, they are unable to command or even really converse that well and they ended up exposing themselves to a lot of danger to do it. But they also found that Scapa was conspiring with three other ghosts, and that they were at odds. I wonder if that will come back or not. Either way, I really had fun watching them figure out how they would get the ghosts on board!

I really like the effect ghost have when the are being carried [Ghost Passage]. I treat it like a very mild form of possession. The ghost has no control, but the host feels their strongest emotions as though they were their own. They have control of their actions, but  it’s great to ask the questions like “What is Ro angry about?” and “What is Arquo most curious about?” It’s a fun avenue as the GM to learn more about the PCs.

That heist was so crazy. It came from the idea that if we scare the Hive enough, maybe they will back down. Maybe is right. Next session we’ll open with a meeting between Corro and the Society to see if their response is to back of (go to faction status -1 or even 0) or to double down (war!). Either way they have a sweet new boat and…. hunting cats to sell? I love it.

I actually especially love everyone’s motivations in this fight. Arquo was going to bring two barely alive Hive members back with him. Jadvyga was going to steal something. Ro was going to prove himself. And I love how all of them did it. So good.

Blades really shows you what happens when you punch up. It’s hard. Fighting against Tier IV opponents (at Tier II) means the Society usually started with limited (because of fine equipment) or no effect. It also meant that that when they went for those desperate actions, lethal harm and catastrophic consequences were on the line. They did it, but wow did it take it out of them. I take my hat off to seeing how well they managed the hazards with a combination of setup actions, several assists, resisting where they had to, and dogged persistence!

In the end we made a fortune roll to see how much damage the ghosts did and how they fared. Result was a 4-5, which we took as Scapa wounded, Cavelle destroyed, and the entire hunting cat smuggling operation abandoned. And yet…miraculously… nobody died. At least not yet.

What could have improved

Wish we had time to finish the score (we had to rush a bit at the end just to get as far as we did). I’m eager with anticipation to see how turns out for them. I’m sensing xp from desperate actions ahead!

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