Actual Play – Born a Rail Jack, always… (7/26/2016)

GM: Sean Nittner
Players: Karen Twelves, Eric Fattig, and Adrienne Mueller
System: Blades in the Dark, Quickset Rules v.6


I had to ask at the start of the game if Stras was a member of the crew now or not? Why, because last session I rolled the entanglement “Questioning”. Wow, it’s crazy how much Bluecoat attention I’ve rolled up, but there it was. And since this specifically targets an NPC I wanted to see if Stras was a viable target, because she was by far the most interesting one I could think of.

Answer: Yes, but she’s got to prove herself in order to be full indoctrinated, and be taught the ritual that protect a soul from possession.

Bad News in Blue

Knowing this, we opened with Hix getting word from a contact of hers, Jeren, a Bluecoat archivist who lost a leg in the unity war to a Skovlan landmine, told her that one of the inspectors had rounded up a whole host of people that the found around the fight outside the Dimmer Sister’s gardens…one of them being a Chaterhall University student. It was Stras!

Blades_QuestioningThis Entanglement has an interesting set of results, because it leaves open a lot of options. They could just see how Stras held out. Maybe she would hold fast, maybe she would break. Or they could spring her out by paying off the Bluecoats. Or they could do what they normally do, and lie/cheat/steal their way out of either.* Which was of course what they did.

Hix and Elke went into the lions den, the Blue Coats booking offices, and (not being wanted themselves) made their way back to an inspectors desk. He had a mountain of paperwork that they could see just from a surface skim related to the fight at the Dimmer Sister’s manor. Inspector Frost was, it seemed, an honest Bluecoat, or at least a determined one. He had a large round up of suspects and witnesses and no one but himself to interview them all. The two young students offered their own “eye witness testimony” that their friend Stras was just walking through the area and got jumped. She’s just a university student, shouldn’t she be let off?

Most of these pleas fell on deaf ears until the started giving up dirt about the Dimmer Sisters, Irelen specifically. As they gave Frost some new leads, they made his job of questioning a whole mess of people that probably knew nothing seem much less important. [They got great effect, so we started a new clock: Bluecoats investigating the Dimmer Sisters 1/4 Ticks]


Hix stuck around to try and convince Frost to investigate in directions other than the Cat and Candle and the Spectral Society. Much as she hated to do it, she allowed Ashlyn to “take the wheel” and speak legal speak to him, and give him other leads that would send him away from their back yard. [Reduce Heat]. As Hix has now had to helpful (if dishonest) interactions with Frost I also suggested that she could turn him into a contact if she invested time into it [Long term project with six ticks].

Elke calmed her nerves by rattling others. Bazran lost an eye in the fight with the Dimmer Sisters and thought his will was strong, he was in no shape to continue fighting. Elke talked about crafting a new eye for him, perhaps one with a spirit essence in it that would allow him to see through it, or “see” of sorts, the spirit would have to convey what it observed. Though such a thing never manifested, terrifying Bazran titillated Elke and made her shopping excursion at Quellen’s that much more enjoyable [Indulge Vice, with her contact Quellen, Devil’s Bargain to make Bazran terrified of her].

When she got home Elke set out to start removing the Dimmer Sister’s wards on the Cat and Candle [Long Term Project].

Harland visited the old Opera House, saw the wartime state they were in, saw that Skinner was loosing his mind trying to feed Cricket/Vond (who would only eat Noble Eel prepared in an archaic manner), but them promptly left, blowing off his responsibility to them and leaving Skinner seething that he was so privileged. He went instead to work on the project of creating a water tight adhesive that would protect shipments for Corro, alongside his fried Mercy, the cold killer. She is a poisoner by trade and so had very steady hands, which we needed for his particular alchemical experiments. Though this was not her wheelhouse, Mercy was quite capable and quickly figured out what Harland’s intentions with all this were [Long term project, aided by involving a contact, Devil’s Bargain that she caught on this was for Corro].

Elke, though she did not come back with an eye, did spend some of their coin for actually healing ointments, and applied various salves to the Student Patrol, restoring them to fighting condition [Acquire Asset, in this case re-acquiring them after being used in the fight with the Sisters].

What Rocked

I loved that Hix finally broke down allowed a ghost, if a friendly one, into her. It was great playing out her sudden fastidiousness (which was alien to her), compulsiveness (nothing new), and having feeling return back to her dead arm (animated by Ashlyn’s presence). She really struggled with it, and as expected absolutely hated the experience. Then when Harland came to help her afterward, she lashed out at him. It was awesome. I also love that there is someone in the group that has a fairly pedestrian view of ghosts. Elke thinks they are no different than humans, some are good, some are bad, but they aren’t inherently evil or anything. Harland may not adore ghosts like Elke does but he is working for one and has pledged his fealty to her. So it’s great to have the “everyperson” character in Hix who thinks they are an abomination.

Elke…. So. Damn. Creepy. “If only I could make a mold of your eye socket.”  <shudder>

Wow, it is so great to see Harland bouncing between responsibilities. Always disappointing someone because he’s off working on someone else’s behalf! Skinner didn’t hate him because of a Devil’s bargain or anything…he just hates that Harland appears so free, when in truth, he’s trying to serve at least three different masters. I love watching the cracks around the edges grow and fracture.

What could be improved

We’ve got an open question that keeps coming up in our game. Does it take downtime actions to deal with entanglements? What about if you want to deal with them through action rather than paying the costs suggested? At what point does the plan to deal with them become complex enough that it’s your next score?


3 thoughts on “Actual Play – Born a Rail Jack, always… (7/26/2016)”

  1. Poor Elke just wants to do good in the world. She was really excited about that eye project until she saw how much it was freaking Bazran out.

    There are some things she does to “keep up appearances” of being spooky, because she thinks it gives her an air of authority (and she knows she’s not the leader of the group). Other times she genuinely wants to help but doesn’t know how else to do it except through weird and creepy methods.

  2. Oh I also so love Elke’s creepiness and Harland’s instability. The eye socket line was perfect! And It was so lovely to have Harland approach Hix after her second encounter with Frost and say “I’m sorry I failed you.” Let’s see those cracks shatter!

    I’m so glad you’re in favor of Hix’s stance on ghosts. I also think it makes a great counterpoint to the perspectives of the other characters, and I’m really enjoying playing it. But. I’m also a little wary of how much conflict it’s introducing into the game. I used it as an incentive for Hix to argue with Elke when she was using Nyrix to help ward the Cat and Candle. And then I also used it to lash out at Harland when he collected Hix from the police station (immediately after her experience with Ashlyn). I think I’ve come to the decision that I want to make sure everything is super clear about these situations. For example: what Hix knows about Nyrix (so I don’t step on Karen’s toes by assuming stuff that isn’t true), or, what is just Hix being upset at Harland and not Adrienne being upset with Eric. I want to engage with these cool facets of the other characters (ghost friendship, guilt over failure), but I also want to ensure that IC conflict does not bleed into OOC conflict.

    Rules Stuff:
    – Thanks for bringing up the entanglements thing! The ambiguity here keeps on nagging at me.

    – We used back to back resists to diminish the threat from Frost. Is that legal? I was worried it was making the fallout too easy for us to handle. (Adore Frost, by the way. I feel so bad for him. I think I want the ‘making him Hix’s friend’ project purely because I feel so much sympathy for the guy.)

    – There was some ambiguity about how to handle the ‘make our place safe’ agenda. Two chained long term projects seemed like a good call, but it wasn’t clear how to settle on how long they should be. Also, what if some part of the process is risky? Is it even allowed to be a clock then? (Hard to have zero risk in Doskvol, so it seems like you could have slightly risky clocks… But I don’t know how it’s supposed to work by the rules.)

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