Actual Play – Delivery to Whitecrown Academy (7/5/2016)

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

Though mid-heist, I started off the game with some questions to fill in a few gaps and clear up some things for me.

Questions

Where do the Path of Echos operate on campus? (Note: I asked this one because I had thought it was the basement of Morlan Hall but that seemed to be stretching believability, so we talked it out a bit and found something fun).

Each of the three cults (Ecstasy, Echoes, and Forgotten Gods) had professors that teach in Morlan Hall and from their they indoctrinate students, where they send them off to various hidden catacombs, ruined temples, and lost ruins for their  cult meetings.

The Path of Echoes in particular meeting in a sunken opera house (for readers of my AP, this may sound familiar by now, I’ve become more and more fond if this location) that is only accessible by canals. The stage and first few rows are under water but the remaining seats (many of which have been cleared away), mezzanine, and box seats are all serviceable, in a bit moldy and rotten.

Ritual Questions. We started answering these questions (for the Dimmer Sister’s spiders) but it became clear quickly that I was getting a lot more graphic and repugnant than our group wanted to go, so we elected to revisit the questions next session.

Finding a buyer

They had product. Great. Now they needed a buyer!

Hix convinced Elke and Harland to go to one of Salia’s parties where there was sure to be a drug dealer or three. We established that Salia has an arrangement on the side herself. She allows vetted dealers to operate at her parties in exchange for a cut of their profits. She keeps herself distanced from the product that way, and ensures her parties are events people want to attend.

As soon s they met Salia was drawn to Elke like moth to a flame. She already knew (or thought she knew) all about Harland. Younger brother of Corro Younghusband, textile merchant, in some creepy cult, Hix had told her all about it. But Elke, she was the great unknown and Salia used all her formidable charm to warm up to Elke, share all her own secrets (or what passed for them) and try to learn all about her. Thirty minutes later she was disgusted that anyone could be so private with their lives, but eventually broke free to greet her other guests.

Meanwhile Harland got into an intense debate with ley followers of the Church of Ecstasy. Coming from an often persecuted and cerebral background, he postulated that the hatred and denigration of ghosts was biased by our own weak flesh, and that they are just as disgusted with the living as we are with them. He felt quite foolish though after his tirade, however, when he realized that these practitioners were not the pious or academically minded peers he was accustomed to, but bohemian artists that sought any alibi for nights of revelry and debauchery. “Okay, whatever you say…I just wanted to get high and have an orgi.”

And Hix was off making herself presentable to prospective drug dealers by sampling a bit of everything that Salia’s party had to offer. Middle shelf wines, local puffs of dream smoke, and creature comforts. She didn’t, however brush against anyone that could reasonably be considered a dealer.

Elke, free of Salia, was bored until she found the kitchen, and the delicious tiny cakes within.

Harland, feeling embarrassed, started drinking, and after several, felt quite bold again. Bold enough to go carouse with Slen the sailor, who had upgraded his attire from some of the finest rental wear to very respectable garb of his own. Not Dundreich and Sons, but a respectable apprentice of the old man who had open up shop for himself. Harland sat down on a couch next to Slen and because of the soft cushions and sagging frame the two were squashed in close together, which Slen didn’t seem to mind. He carried on sharing tales of being on the void sea with all those around him and was happy to have Harland there as a captive audience. Harland, meanwhile, had his heart a flutter. This was it. He was sitting next to Slen. Their shoulders and hips were touching. Every time Slen moved and their knees touched his pulse raced. Every time Slen adjusted and Harland though he might try to make space or stand up, he felt a cold sweat under his brow.

The party dragged on for ours [Controlled roll to Consort resulted in extra time] and so almost all had cleared out by the time that Birch, the tall, gaunt man, who had been providing the medicinals that evening, got to talking seriously about moving the kind of product that they would soon have on hand. And because they waited so long not only did Salia know something was going on, but also their conversation was overheard by another Foundation student who was sure to gossip about it in circles that Augus would hear from [Hix’s Devil’s Bargain]. To keep Salia from listening in, Elke shot Hix a look of “you owe me” and finally opened up to Salia “Hey, Salia, you wanted to ask me about the Dagger Isles, yeah?”, which quickly consumed the socialite’s attention.

Birch, fond of his long coat and longer scarf, was not at all fond of taking risks, especially with people he did not know. He told them that moving heaving material like Black Lotus required having the right audience, and Charterhall wasn’t that audience. If they wanted to find students to buy their goods, they’d have to deliver them to him in Whitecrown Academy, where the students had the money to pay for such luxuries and even more money to keep knowledge their indulgences  contained to a very small few. Further he would only take deliver there, past all the various checkpoints and guard. The man was not about to put himself in danger for strangers [Compilation from a risky Sway action]. Finally, he’d only move the product if he knew where it came from. They were more than happy to give up the Lampblacks name.

Hix’s Abduction

The next morning, hungover and exhausted the would have all missed their morning classes if not for Hix waking them all up and preparing them a strong brew of coffee to get them to class. When she herself, arrived late to her electro engineering class Augus took notice. He asked her to stay after class, and while she was expecting a lecture, instead, he lured her inside of a lightning cage, and then lit it up, trapping her inside the sparking lightning! “Dealing drugs? Mixed up with ghosts? Arrested? What’s happened to you?” The man [calculating, proud, lonely] could tell that his admonishments were getting nowhere with Hix, and so he was determined to keep her locked up in that lighting cage until she was dry! [Hix had filled up her ninth stress box dealing with Birch, and so she was taken out in the form of Augus’ incarceration. The trauma she took was “obsessive” and by the end of her time with him, she had full blown Stockholm syndrome and was towing the Sparkwright as infiltrators of the Foundation line completely, including taking the Sparkwright’s Oath!]

Travel to Whitecrown

At the appointed time, when their gondola had been loaded with the the goods (and via flashback later, also with the broken lightning cage pieces as cover) and was hitched up to a tug that would tow it across the wide canal, and all was set to happen, Hix was not there!

Panicking somewhat, but pressured by time, Elke and Harland decided to proceed without her. There they convinced Dockmaster Vale that they were students working on the lightning tower retrofitting project and that they were connected with the Hive, so they best not be delayed [Foresight move from Hix to send them with the old lightning cage as Help along with a Devil’s bargain to bring the Hive connection into play]. Vale sent them to a small dock where they waited for sometime until a Foundation forman Averos and his crew arrived ready to unload their equipment for them. Harland would have none of that, however, he was brother to Corro Younghusband and the workers would not take the equipment from him, but they were allowed to carry it under his supervision, to one of the lightning towers. And, hearing the name Corro, forman quickly fell in line as did their crew.

Into the College of Naval Command

After hours of waiting around the lightning tower, Hix finally arrived all full of apologies for why she was so late, which quickly turned to fascination by how the towers at the outer walls operated, which turned back into apologies as Elke berated her for leaving them both stranded. Harland eventually got them both on the task of getting inside the college campus and dropping off their goods.

Thanks to a costuming kit that Elke had lifted from the theater department and Harland’s naturally prim and proper garb, they were able to make themselves look presentable enough to pass by college constables but getting into the party proper required Harland to once again use his family name [taking the Devil’s Bargain that Corro was there, at the party they were infiltrating]. They managed to pass muster and do the drop, however only at the expense of Corro catching up to Harland and asking him in no uncertain terms what it was he planned to do with his life! [Harland took his 9th box of stress as well and his new trauma is now unstable as he has made promises to everyone: Corro, Vond Kardera, and the Duskvol Spectral Society, that he has no plan for how to keep, but he’s promised to do it anyway!]

Payoff

This was a big haul. Not only because they spent the energy [two sessions] to connect people who otherwise would not be in each other’s markets, but they also took a lot of risk [many desperate rolls] to move high end product:

  • Rep: 3 (Job was for the Lampblacks, but appreciative students got word as well)
  • Coin: 8
  • Heat: 3 (Contained, well-connected target)
  • Entanglement: Show of Force (The sisters really want the Cat and Candle back!)

What Rocked

The party scene was really awesome. So many of the character’s quirks, interests, and passions came out. I loved the scenes with Slen and Harland, and with Salia and Elke. So much fun to play out.

The freaking snuck into Whitecrown. Damn. I made it pretty hard too! [they had 0 dice on the engagement roll, but still hit a 4-5, so there were complications rather than just outright being blocked]

Hix being so apologetic for constantly getting it trouble is just the best. I promise I don’t mean to do it, Hix just ends up at the wrong places and the wrong times, and always leaning on Augus! So good.

What could have improved

It seems a little ridiculous that Augus works in Sparkwright tower, competes for funding with another member of the Sparkwrights (Una), and is a Sparkwright infiltrating the Foundation. I mean, wouldn’t he just tell the folks he was working alongside and supposedly rivaling that he was actually on team Spark? Should we swap his allegiance? Questions for our 7/19 game!

I’m not really sure what challenges should face “transport” plans. In this case, I totally imagine Whitecrown has it’s own internal customs and moving around if you don’t belong there is tricky. But if they had decided to bring the goods into Charterhall University, that would have been trivial. Would there be any reason for a challenge there? I guess I shouldn’t worry too much, it worked great this time and we’ll see if/when they do transport plans if the future.