Actual Play – Keel’s Reckoning (10/24/2016)

blades_overlay_bloodletters_titleGM: John Harper
Players: Stras Acimovic and Sean Nittner
System: Blades in the Dark, Quickset Rules v.7.1

Three months later, the Bloodletter return!

After some serious schedule-fu, Stras finishing Scum & Villainy, John Starting Rollplay: Blades, announcing that Evil Hat will be publishing Blades in the Dark, and Big Bad Con going off, we finally found a time we could all make. Or at least most of us could make.

10 Minute Recap

The start of our game (first ten minutes) Stras and I had a delightful time recounting all the Grinder-fighting, junkie interrogating, Eel-breaking, traitor-finding action we had last session. It was hoot!

Lightning Rounds of Oskarr Downtime

Oskarr, burnt out from our last encounter and near run-ins with the Spirit Wardens, went to an underground spectral haunt. A place where folks played around with separating the soul from the body temporarily, you know, for fun. He took Nyryx with him as a date, and we saw images of his soul, partially detached coming through his spirit mask. In the background a heavy bass and fog horn added a Doskvol dub-step (ghost-step?) that permeated through the den of strange. [Indulging Vice]

Back in Scurlock Manor, Oskarr was refilling the faded demon ink in his tattos. Because of it’s electroplasmic base, he was able drop the ink into his skin and then attune to move it across his skin! And we got another shot of the hand print left by She Who Slays In Darkness, which he had now drawn wards around to prevent it from affecting his body further [Indulging Vice, again]

On the streets, Oskarr deposited little spirit sensors across the town, looking for signs of the ritual that was blocking him from accessing Setarra. He also was crafting a Spirit Warden mask, as part of his grand plan to defame them! His attuning paid off. He sensed nothing in the ambient ghost field, but when he let his eyes roll back and opened his mind to primordial powers sensed that someone was using ancient magics, those from before the cataclysm perhaps or that of a forgotten god, to block her access and the access from all demons, into the city. [Long Term Project, Completed].

“I mean… everybody puts faces on wooden dummies and makes masks out of them” Oskarr, on being unstable.

The wards were anchored at three points in the city, and Oskarr, rather than try to tear them down, sought to find weaknesses in the ward so that he could bring Setarra through it, but leaving the wards in place [Future long term projects: 3 clocks, six ticks each. Plenty to work on…]. To get a hand with this Oskarr spent some time with the Dimmer Sisters to ask them for assistance with this project [Acquire Asset? We didn’t roll for it but perhaps their quality is based on their Tier instead]

“I feel alone, I don’t even have my demon to talk to” – Oskarr, on why he’s reaching out to for help.

Arcy taking her time, and the money, all the money

The scene cut away from Oskarr in his room to another room in Scurlock Manor, where the silhouette of Arcy straddling Cyclops could be seen through the thin canopy. Around the bed was scattered the articles of clothing including Arcy’s coat and trousers and the cufflinks, pressed shirt, collared jacket, and other articles from fine outfit she had bought and presented to Cyclops.

Though the sex itself was passionate, afterward Arcy turned to business and became cold, perhaps purposely allowing Cyclops to believe that could get the old Arcy back if he did just want she wanted. And what she wanted was for him to use his connections as a sailor to get onboard the Nightbreaker as part of the crew and get her access to Strangford. He could be hired on to do repairs while the Nightbreaker was in port, and Arcy knew that Strangford spent his evenings in his private salon. Though quite possibly a death sentence, Cyclops agreed [Long term project add Cyclops as a contact, Completed. Indulging Vice. Acquire Asset: Access to Captain Strangford (Exceptional). Devils Bargain: Cyclops knows Arcy’s real identity]

Later, with her friend Mercy, a cold killer, Arcy rounded up Orlan, a ghost contract lawyer, who despite being pulled out of his element, agreed to come along on the score to draft a contract on the fly, because the filthy lucre sent his way [Acquire Asset: Ghost Contract (Exceptional)].

During all of Arcy doing all these negotiations, we also saw Arcy talking to the citizens of Crow’s Foot and the Docks who have been affected by the Electroplasmic Gates that had been erected, and her taking advantage of property values going down [Illustrating the “A little something on the side”]

Orlan

Offscreen we met Orlan, the whisper lawyer with delicate Severosi features. We saw a brief scene of Mercy propositioning them and the first refusal that they could never do this, then of Mercy showing them the coin offered, and them putting up their hair, donning a coat, and drawing a pistol from a drawer, then placing it on their person…

Lets have a chat

After our break we reconvened at Scurlock Manor, where Arcy pitched the score to Oskarr. As he came out of his bedroom early in the morning (or perhaps very late in the night) Oskarr found Arcy geared up and she told him she had a job ready to go.

“We talked about this before. We need source for oil and I got us a connection. Ready?”

“Right now you might not get toasted by a man who has bound his soul to a demon of lightning and fire…”

And thus a terrible argument broke out and Oskarr made it VERY clear that he hated this plan, but realized that because of the Spirit Gates blocking the demons access, if there was ever a time this possibly could work… it was now.

“Arcy, you are a salamander. You cannot just let a good thing be a good thing. You fucked up your ship. You fucked up your marriage. You fucked up your relationships. And you’re about to fuck up this gang.”

And after much more deliberation…

“I hate this plan Arcy.”

“Yep… you ready?”

“Let me go get my gun.”

The Score

A small barge puttered it way out to the Nightbreaker. Though the night sky was pitch black there were many lights from the docks and the ship itself to illuminate the terrible rents in the steel that were being repaired, huge pock marks that each each with a glyph in the center, and generally the signs of fighting a terrible beast at sea.

As we passed through the docks we could here the rumbling roil of the lightning gates burning away in the night and the protests of a citizen being accosted and inspected by the Spirit Wardens.

Just as the clock struck 7 PM, when Arcy knew that Strangford called his men to shut off the loud machines they used for repairs, the cut the engine to their own barge and coasted the rest of the way to the ship. In the dark she groped, held her breath for a moment, and then exhaled with relief when her fingers curled around the edges of the rope ladder Bricks had dropped down from above.

[This was the point where we rolled engagement. We had a really good setup up (5D6 to start) but Strangord’s resources so far outstripped our own (two tiers) that the changes of something going wrong or someone noticing here high (dropped to 3d6 for our tier difference). Result: 5 – Mixed outcome]

As we climbed the rope ladder making our way up to the lower decks a the head and shoulders of  sailor popped out the a port window with a rope around it’s neck. Booker, a crew mate on the Nightbreaker was wrestling with Bricks who was trying to choke him out before he could call out an alarm. It looked like he was going to throw her off him, and Arcy lunged up the rope, practically throwing herself up it so that she could catch Booker before the free himself of the rope and then smashed his head against the hull. [Resisting with Prowess, followed by Skirmish]

Quickly we entered and narrowly stopped Bricks form enacting her savage nature and killing Booker.

Captain Strangford’s End

Inside the steam room we saw the innards of the Nightbreaker and the posh amenities it provided. Down the hall we could hear a phonograph playing softly in a room down the hall.

We crept silent down the hall, through the portal into Strangford’s chambers and found him enjoying his bath. In the chamber was a table that had a skylight above it and with chains hanging down…an alter to his brilliant demon.

Sword drawn, Arcy pulled back the curtain of his claw-footed tub. As the steam wafted out and eventually cleared, Stranford saw Arcy holding a blade pointed at him. Stranford was nonplussed, he snatched his cane up and drew his sword from it! To his side there was the click of Oskarr’s pistol as he placed it against his head. Despite this he was still unphased.

[Strangford’s full name: Corlas Evanston Strangford III]

Arcy pressed her blade against his “Corlas, I’ve been waiting a long time for this.”

“Who are you again? You look familiar. One of my servants maybe?”

“You won’t goad me” and Arcy slid her blade slightly down the edge of his.

And from there, a discussion was about to start, when Strangford lunged out to grab Oskarr’s pistol. Oksrarr tried to empty his brain pan with his pistol but the captain grabbed hold of it and they began wrestling for control of the gun. Her sword turned away, Arcy punched Stranford with the basket hilt of the blade and broke the bone, snapping it terribly, and dropping him back into the bath and pinning him for a moment underwater.

In the moment that Strangford was struggling with her Arcy turned to Oskarr and pleaded with him to back her. Oskarr however just wanted her to end him, and move on!

The water began to bubble and the surface of the water became spikey and huge electrical discharge coursed out of the tub and threatened to electrocute all of us, but Oscar lunged his metal claw hand forward, and pulled the lightning into his arm, and then channeled it into a vial of leviathan blood, turning it into electroplasm. As it coursed through it and threatened to electrocute him and spark away Osckarr gripped it with this will an channeled it back [Resistance to the first effect, Desperate Action to bottle the lightning, two consequences, both resisted as well].

Arcy lunged into the bath and wrenched Stranford out of the water by his throat, pinned him to the wall, and told him that he had one chance left. He could surrender to them now, or she would reveal his bond to the demon to everyone and destroy him. Behind her, Mercy had brought Orlan into the room, ready to make the contract. Arcy leaned in to whisper the demons name, but when she heard Oskarr cock his pistol once more, she relented [Oskarr resisted her taking that devil’s bargain]. Arcy continued only saying “He cannot help you.” From there things went badly [Arcy rolled a 1-3 on the Risky Move]

Strangford saw Orlan behind Arcy and watched as he prepared the ghost contract. Too proud to call for help, unable to fight back, Strangford instead shut her down. He looked Arcy in the eyes and said “You still don’t understand, do you Arcy? You’ll never be one of us. We’re just better than you. It doesn’t matter what you do.”

Arcy could not stand for this. She had no more words for him. She twisted his neck and continued twisting. He looked at her with confidence that she could never go through with it… right up until the last moment when the he was finally wrenched apart. Slowly, filled with horrible noises, and flailing, Arcy kept on until she broke his neck. Tears in her eyes, Arcy turn to Oskarr. It was done.

Orlan rolled up his scroll and put his quill away. Mercy, prepared to pack up as well. It was deathly silent, except the low thrum of the bell tolling in the distance.

Score, Part 2

Not willing to just leave, Arcy told Oskarr, lets loot this place and carry off all we can! And even as that process began, the wheels in her head kept spinning. We lost one opportunity, but three more presented themselves. The bell was wrung… the crow was flying…the timer was on, and they jumped into action.

Arcy cleared Strangford’s table – which revealed an ancient, pre-cataclysm map that had ancient landmarks that we had never heard of along with trips that we had taken with ancient routes – and presented three plans to Oskarr.

  1. Break into the Captains Safe and take it all.
  2. Call the First Mate up to the Captain’s chamber and strike a deal with them.
  3. Find the Heart of the Nightbreaker and… and… we’re not sure what.

Cracking the Safe

Oskarr, needed the code to Strangford’s safe, called forth his spirit out of the body. With no time to separate naturally, it had to be forcefully wrenched out causing the body to pitch up from the center and tasking Oskarr with wrenching the vaporous ghost up and into his spirit jar. [Desperate Attune!]

Bricks at his side ready to carry off goods, Oksarr commanded the ghost in the bottle, who of course resisted with all his might. Behind him skylight flew open, lightning flashed in the distance, and the chains above Stranford’s alter rattled. The demon objected but with the ward in place he could do nothing to stop Oksarr! [Controlled Attune, which became Risky after a failed roll].

“I am the last scion of house Scurlock… you will give me what a want!” – Oskarr, battling wills with Scurlock.

“Tantrum in a Bottle” – John, but also our next album name.

Safe opened and and thumbs up! Deeds and paperwork and strong boxes full of coin. Jewelry and so much else.

Unexpected Promotions

“Arcy, get us the first mate here before they get tangled up with the Sprit Wardens!”

We flashed back to that night, as Arcy and the few that stood with her were forced off the edge of the boat by the captain and his loyal crew. As she fell, a woman stepped up beside the captain to take her place! Daphnia Dalmore, a who goes by D, wore glasses and concealed her gender, carried a harpoon and stood by Strangford. That was then…

In Arcy’s best Strangford voice she called into the ship’s tubes she called “First Mate Dalmore to the Captains quarters immediately”. There was a muffled response, which Arcy took as a confirmation.

When she arrived Strangford’s body was broke and it the tub, but we had the decency to close the curtain. She was not phased [John also rolled a 6 for her steel] and simply greeted her “Arcy Keel” as though she was expecting her.

“Daphnia Dalmore, you’re wearing my uniform.” And when the first mate was momentarily disarmed by the threat she continued “But I can offer you one better. How does Captain Dalmore sound to you?” She took in the scene, saw the water on the floor, the papers pushed aside, Strangford nowhere to be seen.

Arcy told her a story about how Booker was trying to steal from the captain when he got caught and the fought. Booker killed the captain and would have made it away if not for Dalmore. She arrived just in time to stop Booker after he dropped the look to his crew below. She caught his neck with a rope an the last minute an killed him, avenging her captain.

Arcy took the captain’s pins and stepping very close to D, pinned them on her collar. D in turn put her pistol under Arcy’s chin. As Dalmore cocked the gun, Arcy snapped the backing onto the pins. Pins which glowed with electroplamic fire.

Arcy turned to the table and the chains, all the evidence of Strangford’s sorcery and told offered up this solution to Dalmore “We can keep this all contained. Do you really want everyone to find out about this? Do you really want everyone to know?” [Desperate Command, Great effect, Success!]

Flashback to Oskar preparing his ritual to stop the bell from tolling because he knew someone was going to die on this mission [Flashback to spend a rep as a downtime action], Daphine kills Booker and Oksarr fell forward, crawled on the ground and the he vomited forth ecotplasmic crows that expired instead of bell tolling. D was horrifed in terror at the action “Arcy Keel, I swear to you if you ever return here, I’ll have your head.”

Arcy summoned Orland and said “It’s okay, you’ll be doing a delivering to me.”

Dalmore started blabbering terms of the contract that Arcy would never see her, never say her name, never speak of this again, never, never, never, but the final contract was that:

  • Dalmore would deliver from the captain’s supply of Leviathan Blood to the Bloodletters every month [A Tier 3 cut’s worth]
  • Arcy would never have contact with Dalmore again.
  • An implied (but not written) agreement that we would talk about this to anyone.

The Heart of the Leviathan

Though they had some aspirations of destroying the heart, Arcy and Oskarr also realized that if they did that, they may very well be destroying ship. Instead they decided to learn what the could of the heart while they were there, with perhaps a way to find it’s weakness or a way to ward ourselves against it.

Cut the Arcy leading Oskarr into the bilge where they found the ship got older an older, as thought at one point it was made of wood and rather than remake the ship completely, the just built around the old hull. The bilge was filled with mire and stick up to our knees and more and more of the ship seemed in disrepair and showing its age. Thick smoke filled the air and rickety old door banging on it’s hinges led to small room filled with a throbbing power of light. The power emanating from the room reminded us of Setarra, though different in every way. We were overcome with a sense of vertigo but pressed on into the room, to study the heart. [Desperate Study]

This was a thing that did not want to be known. It was not for us. It would defend itself against us… but we proceed and opened our minds to this to ask “what could give me power over this?”

We, already tied to Setarra could not proceed. But someone else, untainted, could be bound or sacrificed to this demon, and then we could draw it out. But what happened right now was that the bilge began to fill up with refuse and began to swallow us in mire…and the ship unmoored itself and started to go to sea. [Missed opportunity and serious consequence].

As they fled Oskarr stopped for a moment, opened his red leviathan eye (and the third eye of his familiar) and commanded the ship to stop.. and it stopped! [Crit on resistance]

Leaving the Nightbreaker behind

As they sailed away on their small gondola with Arcy at the prow, we had a momentary flashback to her at the prow of the Nightbreaker in the same pose.

Blades on Air

What Rocked

Holy shit that was an amazing game. So many highlights:

  • Bringing Cyclops into the crew. Drawing him close, and then shutting him down.
  • Arcy being pushed to the edge and finally killing Strangford.
  • Oskarr putting a gun to Strangford’s head.
  • Oksarr putting a gun to Arcy’s head.
  • Daphnia Dalmore putting a gunt to Arcy’s head.
  • Oskarr’s underground club scene of soul separation.
  • The argument between Oskarr and Arcy about what to do. “I hate this plan Arcy.”  “Yep… you ready?”
  • The symmetry of opening the game with Cyclops becoming a true member of the Bloodletters and closing with Arcy becoming a true member herself.
  • Emptying the coffers to make this deal go down.
  • The scene of Orlan being hired.
  • The whole thing nearly falling apart… and then all coming back together.
  • Oskarr’s will dominating Strangford and Tyraxxus at every turn!

Just, yes. So much yes.

What could have improved

Is it time for the next game already?