Actual Play – Hix Stromfass, Keeper of the Flame (4/11/2017)

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

After many weeks of only imagining the horrors that Hix had to endure, we finally had our score inside Ironhook Prison!

For this game I felt like I needed to do a little prep and thing about what kinds of people are serving time inside the Hook, here’s what I came up with:

  • Deathland Scavengers, trying to earn time off their sentence by making incredibly dangerous forays into the deathlands. Seen as disposable by the institution, but considered gods among men inside Ironhook. The stories they tell and the few trophies they can return with (often bizarre scars, eyes that no longer match in color, or deformities) earn them incredible respect.
  • Dunvil Labor Camp workers. These are the majority of the inmates, but also seen as the nobodies inside Ironhook. The only reason you work in the labor camp is because you’re not connected well enough to not work in the camp. New inmates, civilians, and other suckers do this work.
  • Yard Duty is by far the easiest work and what all the connected inmates aim for. Having shit all responsibility because other people are doing the work for you was the sign you were protected by someone by virtue of your gang status or leverage you have over a magistrate or other important officials. It also means you’re likely to have the best relationship with the guards, as they are typically on the take.
  • Pickers are a whole new breed of inmate. Somewhere between the laborers and the scavengers, the pickers have been sent through abandoned streets of Dunslough to pull bodies out of buildings and ensure the make it to the wardens for proper cremation. After the “incident” with the Dunslough tower turning off briefly and the city being raided by ghosts, there have been plenty of people unaccounted for. The pickers were the “lucky” ones sent to find them. If inmates thought mining the Mire was the lowest you could get, the just found out it could get worse!

Notable Gang Members

  • Deathlands Scavengers: Lady Thorn (haunted, brave, caring), Richter (patient, quiet, deadly)
  • Billhooks: Tarvul (Leader of the Billhooks, savage, arrogant, family man), Brie (calculating, confident, moody, Hix owes her one)
  • Rail Jacks: Noggs (cooperative, suspicious, insightful)
  • The Hive: Junker (charming, dishonest, fierce), Coil (paranoid, volatile, calculating), Hammer (secretive, melancholy, confident)
  • Independent operators: Nira Howell (doctor, drug maker and dealer, PC played by Karen)

Harland and the Hive

Once word got out that Harland had double-crossed the Hive, things suddenly got really bad for him, so we opened on the yard with him being cornered by Junker, Coil, and Hammer who decided they were going to show him what happens when someone betrays The Hive, which was a predictable beating, and an arrangement that Harland would be their mule moving product for them by any means.

After the fight, Hix found Harland, rejoiced in seeing him and then brought him to the only unaffiliated sawbones she knew about (Noggs didn’t didn’t want to help him as he didn’t want heat from the Hive), Nira Howell.

Sanctifying the Altar

With the promise of future drugs, after patching Harland up, Nira agreed to go with Hix and Harland on a cult fools errand. There was lots of discussions about cults. The Keeper of the Flame, The True Path, The Church of the Ecstasy of the Flesh… you name it. Getting there, however presented several challenges.

  • Hix had to convince Irilen to help them, mainly by handing over the spirit bottle he had ferreted away, with a promise that he could join the Spectral Society when he got out Ironhook.
  • First they had to find a way down into the sub-basements. Nira, who had been in for a while knew the right people to ask to find a path down to an on old cold locker that was closed off and covered with iron bands.
  • Which Harland summoned up his great strength to rip off and kick the door in.
  • Hix used a small electroplamsic powered hand lamp to lead them first into the old meat locker which now smelled fetid and and was covered with strange mold, and then down into the tunnels beneath.
  • Eventually they came to an old rail system, part of what must have been the Skov mines in the past, perhaps even connected to Coalridge if the tracks were still intact. At one point the ground dropped away and they had to scramble up the rails, balancing precariously to get to a landing above them.
  • They found an old ceramic oven, but it had been long extinguished and gathering dust for years. This was once an alter to the Keeper of the Flame, but clearly had been abandoned for years.

Hix, who was holding the ghost in her own spirit vessel (rather than the bottle Irilen had been keeping it in) and blew it into the alter while also channeling the electroplasm from her lantern made a temporary containemnt inside the old oven. After a moment the ghost expect it was free, and tried to escape but found it was thwarted by some invisible barrier and as it tried to to escape it began to scream and wail and the old clay oven started glowing brighter and brighter, electroplasmic arcs pulsing through it and down to the rail line which carried the charge all through it’s vast network. For a moment the whole underground tunnel lit with bright white light… and then dulled again till only the now deformed ghost was visible as it uselessly battering against the walls of the spirit well it was trapped in.


  • Coin: 0
  • Rep: 4 (Target was Ironhook)
  • Heat: 3 (though Haraland traded an extra month in prison to cover that)
  • Entanglement: Rivals
  • Extra payoff: Hix got out of Ironhook!

What Rocked

It was so great to see Hix and Harland back together again. I almost wished Elke was there with them just to get the old gang back together again!

Adrienne has taken a really cool route with Hix in that she’s obsessed (it’s a Trauma!) with the Keeper of the Flame, but she’s not going to buy into Argus’ cult beliefs. She’s going to figure out the nature of her god not through ancient beliefs and secret rituals but through her own direct experience and a scientific method. I wasn’t quite sure how to parse that at first but it’s coming along really well and I look forward to her insight revealing things that are a) scientifically true and b) the will of her god.

Yay, a prison score! I wish I had done a lot more thinking about prison life (mostly I just concerned myself with the inmates, but I think the guards and the administrators probably also had very interesting characters and relationships themselves.

What could have improved

As before, I wish I had done more with Ironhook. I think it is a very cool microcosm of Doskvol (just like being on a Leviathan Hunter ship) and it would be really cool to set up multiple factions with their own goals specific to Ironhook.

I dropped a thread with Brie. She met Hix in the line and later helped her out but had an agenda of her own…or she would have if I had thought it out, but nothing really clicked for me so I never brought her back. Maybe she’ll come back sometime.


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