Actual Play – Calling on the Path of Echoes (7/19/2016)

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

Changing Backstory

Something that has been stuck in my craw for a while was Augus’ allegiance. He’s an NPC so I don’t like to focus overmuch on him, but something wasn’t right. He works in Sparkright Tower as a member of the Foundation and his chief rival is Una Farros, a Sparkright, but he’s secretly a Sparkright himself infiltrating the Foundation? I guess, but that is some seriously convoluted spy vs. spy shit there and, as a rule, NPCs should not have convoluted stories. This isn’t their story.

So I asked Adrienne what she thought about flipping Augus. Instead he’s a Foundation member who has infiltrated the Sparkwrights and is now posing as one of them. This makes his actions a lot more clear in my mind and removes some unnecessary mystic of him being some kind of triple agent from the table. Adreinne agreed and their was much rejoicing.

Entanglements continued

(I didn’t have a chance to bring this in on the last session, so I added it to the end of the dowmtine at the start of this session.)

Agents of the Dimmer Sisters, Roslyn and Irelen arrived at the Cat & Candle, still vexed that they had lost control of it. They met with the Doskvol Spectral Society in a back room and made an offer.  Work for the Dimmer Sisters, keep the Cat & Candle, and all will be forgiven. There wasn’t a second option.

Elke held up one of the chipped cup, one that somehow she knew was Roslyn’s favorite and the staring her dead in the eye dropped it to the ground and let it shatter “sometimes things break and you can’t put them back together.”

In other words… no.

Planning the Score

The Spectral Society went about conniving how the could get others to go to war for them. The Spirit Wardens probably wanted to arrest the Dimmer Sisters, but they didn’t like the Society much either. The Path of Echos had some more direct reasons to hate them (given their spirit trafficking) and Vond had appointed Harland as her chief lieutenant…they decided to lean on that angle and see if they could get the Path to do their dirty work for them.

Following Irelen from class one day and keeping a tail in him, he eventually sussed out that the Dimmer Sisters had an old manor home in Six Towers. The also noticed some sailors that worked on Slen’s crew carrying a heavy urn, like pallbearers through the street from another house all together.

Diligent in their pursuits the eventually followed Irelen back to a manor home that he accessed from the back garden. Irelen used a few arcane gestures to bypass the house’s external wards, and then opened the cellar door to step down into the basement. Watching through her spirit mask, Elka could see that there was a strong concentration of spectral energy at the entrance and that the two guardians just down the base of the steps were not people, but sunken face hollows. Yikes!

Convincing Vond Kardera

Now that they hard a target, the DSS had to convince the Path of Echoes to go after them. Knowing that where Vond led, the rest wold follow, the decided to use Harland’s connection with her to leverage a good reaction.

It worked… of a sorts. Some interesting complications that arose:

  • Skinner, after Elke pointed out the Cricket was still alive and her body was falling apart, had endeavored to feed her. However, Vond insisted that she would only eat customary imperial dishes form the time of her life (several hundred years ago), and getting just the right kind of jellied eels was nearly impossible. Skinner, who saw Harlarnd coming and going as he pleased, rather than staying behind and devoting his life to Vond (as Skinner had), became incredibly jealous and resentful of Harland’s devil may care attitude (even if that is not Harland’s true feelings at all).
  • Harland, with the aid of the Path, would have to lead the charge and strike the first blow against the Dimmer Sisters!

First Blood

Harland, as promised led the charge. With Basran, Volette, and Ogre at his back, a potion of alchemical stimulant in one hand and a hefty halberd bearing his family crest in another, he revealed for the first time his deadly prowess. In the fight Basran lost an eye and Stev fell, but the Dimmer Sisters outer defenses were broken, and members of the Path of Echoes advanced!


  • Rep: 3 [Target of the Score was the Path of Echoes]
  • Coin: 0 [Nothing pilfered in this foray]
  • Heat: 4 [Standard exposure + Killing involved]
  • Claims: Advance to Tier 1 [Now with members of the Path bolstering their crew and firmly holding the Cat & Candle against the Sisters, the Spectral Society has come onto the map!]

Entanglement: Questioning (Stras, who was also in the fight, got rounded up when the Bluecoats came to break it up).

New Faction Clocks

Path of Echoes: Destroy the Dimmer Sisters (2 of 6)
Dimmer Sisters: Capture the spirit essences of the Path of Echoes Leaders (2 of 8)

What Rocked

Watching Harland squirm when he realized what was happening to Cricket’s mortal body, and how much Skinner hated him for it, was positively awesome.

I loved Elke just shutting Rosalyn down but breaking her favorite mug.

I really appreciate Adrienne working with me to fix up Augus’ backstory. He’s become an important person in her life (Obligation Vice Purveyor sometime soon?) and I’m much happier understanding his drives a bit better now.

Yay, Tier 1. The gang bolstered by Vond’s most ardent followers. Huzzah!

What Could have Improved

I feel like I don’t understand the way factions at war actually interact that well. Like, it seems strange to me for the DSS to convince the PoE to fight a war for them, but on the other hand they had some really good arguments related to how the Dimmer Sisters were bottling up spirits that should be free Ghosts. I think the cost of getting someone else to fight a war for you, is that they do it on their terms.

6 thoughts on “Actual Play – Calling on the Path of Echoes (7/19/2016)”

  1. – I forgot about Slen’s peeps toting the urn! Very intriguing!

    – No problem re Augus’ backstory! I also really appreciated the clarification.

    – Factions at war. Yeah man, it’s tough! That is totally not how I saw the score going! I think the dueling clocks is a great way to handle it, but I doubt it would have occurred to me if I were GMing.

    – The whole session went totally different than I expected. I thought we’d do a deception score and get someone to fight Dimmer Sisters: resulting in a weakening of the Dimmer Sisters – possibly encouraging them to stop being at war with us, and then maaaybe something extra for us (like Dimmer Sisters turf) if things went really well. Instead, we’re still at war and we increased Tier, gaining some Path of Echoes folks into our gang. I don’t think I was front-loaded with too many specific expectations. I think I just thought I understood what our deception score was supposed to accomplish differently from what was actually feasible in the fiction.

    Favourite Bits:
    – Phases of decomposition of spirits: There are seven. Each with three sub-phases. (From, I believe, Elke’s scrutiny of Harland’s academic notes.)
    – Similarly, Harland’s half-written love-note to Slen.
    – ‘Fist of the Emperor’. Name Harland gave Vond. Don’t know if this was her real title, but it’s an awesome title.
    – That Elke lent Hix her Ocarina! (When Hix was so anxious being around all the ghosts in the PoE lair.)
    – Vond wiping hundreds of years of off of the old, grey spirit vial and then it clouding over again.
    – That the PoE waited for the bells to toll before joining us. Very nice little detail.

  2. Elke is convinced that if she could get Hix to just have lunch with Nyrix that she’d see not all spirits are evil. 😉

    (Nyrix not being the best example though because he does still possess people and isn’t 100% on the level about all things. But it’s the best she can do.)

    1. I was thinking that the carousing Hix and Nyrix/Jadvyga were doing at the end of the last session would be a good opportunity for Hix to appreciate Nyrix’s… humanity. They could party together and have a blast! If only Hix can forget that this is actually a ghost who is possessing her new friend.

  3. How about using the Student Council as an opposing faction? In many a high school anime, it’s the Student Council who forces the protagonists to take their studies seriously amidst all of their other antics. And surely an august body as Charterhall would have a group of high class students who frown on all of the partying, drug-smuggling, and general spirit mischievousness the DSS are into, individually or as a group.

    1. Good idea Alex. I’ve been thinking about what other school orders might exist and how they would interact.

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