Actual Play – The Sisters’ Spiders (7/12/2016)

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


Ashlyn Scapa has been one busy ghost! Rounding up all her clients who are similarly deceased, or in the more common case of electroplasmic incineration, those who could represent those clients. Undead witnesses and the undead accused. Bringing these clients into Strathmill Hall however, is bad for business. The other students complain about the cold spots and that’s sure to bring spirit wardens in no time.


Elke indulged her vice by visiting Quellen the witch in Charhallow and trying out a few spirit essences. A memory of the first time someone ate frozen cream was her favorite. She also discussed the possibilities of bridging the communication gaps between humans and ghosts. Overall weird shit. [Indulge Vice]

Hix finally got around to tending to that festering arm wound (at the behest of many!) and visited the school chemist and surgeon Riven Montgomery Beaumont. A man ever in awe of his own talent. Riven swore she would lose the arm… if not for his masterful skill, and even then she would surly suffer from blood poisoning… if not for his superlative tinctures. After the cutting away of much necrotic flesh and the insertion of certain restorative jellies and anesthetic ointments, Riven wrapped her arm up and put her on a strong regimen of painkillers. Elke conspicuously collected the diseased blood and putrefying flesh. [Recovery]

His returned to Riven shortly after however, because her wounds had begun to itch something fierce and she couldn’t stand it any more. He dressed them again (she has torn open the bandages) and this time sent her home with a supply of black lotus to completely numb her from the pain.  He also injected her arm with some substance that made it hang completely dead from her shoulder, though he promised this was all part of the healing process. [Long Term Project: Recovery]

Harland flashed back to his confrontation with his brother Corro, who dressed him down for engaging in college pranks rather than focusing on graduating. What was he doing here? Why wasn’t he studying? Is that really the best he could find to wear? Why wasn’t he using father’s brand of moustache wax? What is he spending his time doing? Hadn’t Grace been reminding him of his duties? When was he going to graduate? In a moment of weakness Harland made the very poor decision, which he immediately regretted, of saying all was well and he would in fact be graduating a semester sooner than expected.  Harland feels he has to do everything perfectly and if he can just juggle all the things that need to be done, just right, it will all work out well. It’s a matter of balance. A matter of perfection. A matter of being the best. He has so many responsibilities (graduating, aiding the family business, performing his duties to the Path of Echoes, and building a smuggling ring out of the Society) that he is harried to the point of instability.  [He took the Trauma Unstable to reflect these scattered priorities].

After meeting his brother, with Stras’ assistance, Harland devoted himself to shoring up the Doskvol Spectral Society’s good name – or making sure that it never becomes a name in certain Bluecoat-frequented taverns in Whitecrown. He also allows a Spirit Warden to survey the Cat and Candle and verify that it is clean of spirits. [Reduce Heat].

Elke met with Ashlyn and explained that she could not operate out of Strathmill Hall, but there was a very nice petrified in tree in Charhallow by Quellen’s shop where she could she up her own ghost court if she pleased [Resolving the Unquiet Dead entanglement herself].

Hix, feeling almost nothing at all, went into Sparkwright Tower to continue her work on retrofitting the failing lightning towers. She worked with Augus on the project and in doing so let slip some of her recent activities [Long Term Project: Retrofitting Lightning Towers. Devils Bargain to overshare. August knows about Irelen 2/4 Ticks]

The Sisters’ Spiders

We also revisited the the Dimmer Sister’s spiders and answered the ritual questions accordingly.

  • What effect does the ritual create and how is it weird? Spider sentries that clearly look strange in their behavior.
  • What must I do to perform the ritual? Distill the spirit essence of a solider and imbue it into each spider that the fractured solider’s ghost will command.
  • What is the price and to whom do I pay it? Blood, to the soldier’s ghost [Level 2 Harm worth]
  • What new belief, drive, instinct, or fear does knowledge of this ritual and its attendant occult forces instill in you? Whispers use inhumane and awful techniques to achieve power.

A few things I forgot by that Adrienne caught in her notes

Strathmill Hall was temporarily cordoned off by the Bluecoats and visited by a Spirit Warden because of suspected spectral activity. Ashlyn, our resident phantom-lawyer, eager to complete in death those cases which she couldn’t complete in life, had been bringing ghosts to our roost and it’s catching people’s attention. No trouble as yet, but it’s on the horizon.

Two members of our student patrol, Ogre and Volette were in a scuffled with the Dimmer Sisters. When initially questioned they don’t seem phased by their circumstances, but more thorough questioning and asking around informs us that the Dimmer Sisters had them possessed and then had them cause trouble in the Cat and Candle. They want their turf back. This means war.

Also, just by the by, the Path of Echoes has found their lost treasure and is now putting out a call for any lost spirits still loyal to the emperor.

‘Someone’ lobs a spirit bottle into the Cat and Candle that, upon shattering, screams ‘Get out!’ and spews nauseous essence into the room. We _need_ to deal with the Dimmer Sisters – and soon.

Hix wants to arrange for the Bluecoats, or someone, to take the Sisters down for us. Harland thinks the Bluecoats are only moved by coin – more coin than we have – and wants to get right in there and knock some heads with his fists and our student patrol. Elke and Hix are more skeptical and Elke thinks that perhaps the Path of Echoes could be incited to take down the Dimmer Sisters. Harland is not keen on involving them, which prompts a very heated exchange between Elke and Harland about what exactly he is doing with them any way. We eventually decide that we think some sort of a deception plan might succeed – especially since we know a lot about how the Sisters’ spiders work and can use that to frame them. Hix quickly goes out carousing, and gossiping, with Salia to try and find out who likes and dislikes the Sisters. [1 group coin spent] The Spirit Wardens, The Reconciled and The Path of Echoes all dislike them; the Foundation and the Forgotten Gods like them. This is going to be fun.

What Rocked

I had such a ridiculously good time playing the flamboyant doctor Riven. He was one part House and one part Gilderoy Lockhart and one part Malochai (an NPC Mage from my Condemned game). He’s a genius and he knows it and he wants to make sure everyone else knows it to!

The creepiness of that spider ritual is great. Thankfully for Elke she already has a lot of blood and necrotic flesh, so now she just needs a soldier’s spirit that is in tact. No sweat!

I love watching Harland dig himself in deeper and deeper with his brother. Split so many different ways! I should probably start making clocks for people he’s going to let down!

What could have improved

I’m trying to walk the fine line between representing the threat of the Dimmer Sisters honestly and overwhelming the narrative with their threats. I keep telling myself not to be worried about balance or what would be the cinematicly “most awesome” thing and just focus on what follows from the fiction. That is where I got the idea for the Sisters to vie for peace. It makes sense given what they know about the DSS and what their own goals are. Still I’m concerned that I either depriving the players of their own agency or being to lax with the threat of the sisters. I think the middle ground is to find one or two really significant ways the Sisters react rather than a lot of small things.

I think I need to create a faction for Charterhall University. Right now I have a lot of factions that operate within it, but no faction to represent how the school itself feels about the DSS. The reason I want this is because at the moment university attendance is a background element and none of their jobs are really related to being students. I think if they there was a faction to represent the university, they would be more engaged (for better or worse) with their academic status.

2 thoughts on “Actual Play – The Sisters’ Spiders (7/12/2016)”

  1. Hah.. this is what I get for writing these up late. The meeting with the sisters wasn’t until the next session. Correcting that now.

  2. – I like your idea for more clocks for Harland. It sounds perfect!

    – Also really like the idea of a Charterhall University faction. Our changing status will them will be great. (Also, should we somehow be paying them?)

    – I wonder if we’re cheating by not being at more of a disadvantage when we’re at war. Because we can’t go any lower, but the Dimmer Sisters’ can, we’re going to have an easier time hurting them when really we should both be weaker. (Not a problem now that we’ve increased Tier!)

    – I really like the idea of our being cunning and getting all our ducks in a row before we attack the Sisters – as opposed to our more recent scores in which we’ve hastily leapt into action to stave off awfulness. Not sure if there is an easy way to make getting Irilen’s spirit bottle into a long-term project – there’s some threat there – but maybe we could just pay someone to steal it for us?

    – War! So soon! This is exciting! And maaaybe turf up for grabs if we are fast, effective, and smart enough to claim it!

    Favourite Bits:
    – Dr. Riven was the best! “I’m not the sort of barbarian who makes you eat your own fetid flesh!”
    – The simultaneous uttering of ‘I don’t think she likes you.’ by both Harland and Stras; regarding Elke’s sentiments towards Stras.
    – The location where Quinlin lives! Such a cool, evocative description of a place.
    – That the spiders use soldier’s essence. It’s perfect!
    – Elke’s disgusting hoarding of Hix’s putrid wound-matter. Love it. (Also that Hix’s wound region got hard as well as stinky. Secretly glad it hasn’t healed yet.)

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