Actual Play – Now or Never (10/18/2016)

GM: Sean Nittner
Players: Karen Twelves, Eric Fattig, and Adrienne Mueller
System: Blades in the Dark, Quickset Rules v.7

Lampblacks HQ

A large underground warehouse in Coalridge, once a processing plant, retrofitted by the Lampblacks to serve has their headquarters. The coal furnace in the wall sill burned to keep the room warm and dry and filled with a red glow. Old rail carts had long ago been re-purposed to store and transport more valuable goods.

In one corner were makeshift cots, holding the wounded. Eight Lampblacks, most of them with horrific burns from an explosion  the Sashes had rigged in one of their store houses. When the Lampblacks were pushed hard and looked to their caches of ammunition, lucre, and drugs, they found they walked right into a trapped planned by Mylera Klev’s master alchemists. Now they moaned and groaned as an old sawbones attempted to cut away what was lost to save what remained.

Adjacent to that was a table loaded with pistols, blunderbusses, muskets, spare ammunition, knives, hatchets, billy clubs, and the odd charms. An impressive array for an individual, but hardly enough for a gang to make a real assault with. Clearly everyone had been turning out their own pockets to round up munitions for a final raid.

In another room, muffled by a closed door, someone was being beaten senseless. Their muffled moans made it clear they weren’t cooperating despite the punishment. After a time, Milosh walked out, his fists covered in blood and viscera.

As far from the cots as it could be placed was Bazso’s heavy oak desk. As the Society entered, led by Cross, they saw Bazso, his shirt open revealing a bushel of thick hair beneath, his sleeves rolled up showing bracers and gold arm bands, as well as a host of tattoos between them. Across from him sat a bundled up and deformed figure. One shoulder was clearly much higher that the other, the spine twisted to accommodate.

Uneasy Negotiations

While all of the Society was allowed it, it was clear there was one chair open at Bazso’s table, and it was meant for Harland. When he sat, Bazso greeted Harland with a sturdy shake and from a velvet lined box pulled a set of whiskey tumblers, the only thing in this place that was not covered in a thin coat of soot. As he poured, and Hix in particular noticed the empty pour he started with, he eyed each of the people at his table to size them up. He quickly saw that Harland was here to help, but out of his own self interest, not any sense of loyalty [Mechanically, before they could begin negotiations Bazso was able to read Harland, he could have resisted but elected not to. Knowing the Society was not totally dedicated to them shifted Bazso’s expectations, but it wasn’t a deal breaker for him]

As the leaders discussed the current situation, one where the Red Sashes are were using allies to pick off the last of the Lampblack holdings while themselves staying secure in their dueling school, Hix could not help herself but try to figure out who this other person at the table was. The figure had a faintly noxious smell about them, and shifted unnaturally under a heavy coat. Besides murmuring a bit about wanting to get on with it already during the first toast, the figure had been relatively quiet throughout.

She tried to get a good look at the figure beneath her cowl, knowing that if noticed it would look like she was staring…and she was noticed, and it did. The woman lunged out and pinned Hix’s arm to the table with one hand and with another pulled a dagger “I won’t work with these scum, Bazso, not until I get back what they took from me. As she stood and her cowl fell away, Sercy of the Grinders, who had half of her face horribly burned away by acid, revealed her own identity and that the Lampblacks were also calling in favors from the Grinders…who remember that the DSS stole from them! [Hix made a risky survey to identify Sercy, she got a mixed result and I chose two outcomes, that she had a consequence (pinned with a knife to her) and that she was in a desperate situation (negotiations paused until Sercy was addressed)]

Hix wrenched her arm free, but Sercy’s grip was like iron. She thought that she was going to pass out, but something coursed through her giving her momentary strength at a terrible cost [Hix resisted the consequence of being pinned but rolled poorly on the resistance roll and took enough stress to be taken out. She had just taken the Ghost Contract special ability and was going to try an use it. In the name of the Keeper of the Flame I offered her a temporary reprieve from Trauma (she could continue acting) in exchange fro the Keeper taking it’s toll [Level 3 harm, the specific effect to be determined]. Inhumanly she snapped free and turned Sercy’s blade away for a moment to make a plea that they forget about the past and work together toward a common goal.

“We’re forget about the past when the past debts have been paid! You took from me and now I’m going to take form you until you make it right!” [Hix rolled a bad outcome [1-3] on her desperate action. Oh noes]. Two Grinders stepped out of the the shadows and grabbed Hix by the arms “I’m taking your rail jack and I’m going to hold onto her until you bring me back what’s mine, Arden Keel and my missing musket!” [At this point the surge of energy was gone, Hix was stressed out and taken out of the scene. Adrienne was prepared with another character, a Hound from the Lampblacks named Arquo]

Harland, who had been stunned during this exchange, tried to cool things down. “We’re not here to pick a fight with you or your allies Bazso. Let’s stop messing around and make a plan to take out the Sashes.” [Command action to show that the Society was more professional than the Grinders as well as to convince them to leave Hix here rather than drag her off. Bazso agreed that this had gotten out of hand. Hix would stay here under his supervision until the fight was over, and after that, assuming there was an after that, the Grinders would take her until debts were settled. Now could we get to this assault plan already?

Of course not…

Almost Dead

Because Elke came here with only Nyryx cocooned inside her and without and spirit jars felt very ill prepared for any kind of confrontation. She looked around at her surroundings, saw the eight injured Lampblacks and muttered to Harland that none of them were doing any good right now, but if one of them happened to die and if the Lampblacks had a spirit jar she could hold it in, then she might be able to add something to the fight herself.

Harland, always the hawker trying to sell some kind of wares, put the moral dilemma on Bazso “When you join the Lampblacks do you join for life, or do you join forever?” [Oh damn Harland, did you just command Bazso Baz to let you kill one of his dying crewmembers so that you could use their ghost in a battle that Bazso really needs to win? Yes, I guess you did. And then you rolled a crit on that desperate action. By the Forgotten Gods and he Devils alike!]

Bazso did not have a spirit bottle, that wasn’t his thing, but he did have something else, something he never thought he’d show to strangers, but desperate times call for desperate measures. He sent Arquo to retrieve and article from his vault.

The Empty Vessel
An artifact, perhaps a pre-cataclysmic artifact, of unknown origin. This large silver circlet approximately 6″ in diameter is marred by a black scaling that has built up around it over time, such that only the edges still gleem of silver in the light. If this circlet is placed on he forhead of someone just before they die, the spirit is automatically exhumed and held in the circlet. After three days the spirit vanishes, believed by the followers of the Empty Vessel to have passed on to some better place. The body, during that three days however, becomes a Hollow under the command of the one who bears the circlet. All living who touch or attune to the circlet are confronted by visions of the Abyss which will paralyze them unless their will is strong enough [Must be resisted each time the artifact is used]

Bazso had been using the circlet for those who died in his service, believing he sent them to a better place, but horrified with the result, had been sending the bodies to the furnace for cremation so no one knew that he had been creating hollows. Now in the form of Arquo (who wore heavy gloves to handle it) he was lending it to the Doskvol Spectral Society so they could use it to bolster his forces.

Body and Soul

Just in school girl awe of this newfound curiosity, Elke couldn’t wait to see it put to work. Though Baszo couldn’t personally kill his own crewmember, he did turn a blind eye to her doing it. Which she did without hesitation.

She sat down on the cot of Templeton, one of the worse off. She drew the ritual dagger that she had taken from the Dimmer Sister’s sanctum and plunged it into his throat, then quickly covered the wound with the monogrammed kerchief Harland had given her earlier when she was upset. Blood ran through the yellow fabric and saturated the HY sewn into it’s corner. As his life faded, Elke placed the circlet upon his forhead and attuned to it as his soul was drawn into it. She fought off the agoraphobic response to touching the abyss and continued to attune until she had grabbed hold of Tempelteon’s spirit, contained within the ciclet, and in doing so commanded both his body and the ghost within. The skin became cold and smooth, the blood stopped pulsing, and the body straightened in the bed…ready for it’s master’s command.

Aquo, who was somewhat familiar with the object, saw Elke’s prolonged exposure and knew what it might do to her exposed flesh so he pulled her away from it before it would shatter her fingers like icicles. Protected as we was by the gloves it still sent shivers down his spine and left him unable to stop shaking [Mechanically Elke resisted Harm 3: Frozen and reduced to Harm 2: Frostbite. Arquo stepped in to resist again and reducded it to Harm 1: Shivvering, which he took himself]

Assault on the Red Sashes

Along with the Grinders in their own barges, the Society took their nimble canal badge (thank you for your generos contributions to student wellbeing Charterhall University) through the underground canals of Crows Foot and to their underground canal entrance.

As they approached, and Elke wondered at what occult defenses they might have, Harland reminded her that he scouted the area before [Trigger Flashback, 2 stress] and oh yeah, there were Path of Echoes allied ghosts guarding the building. That particular revaluation not only made them realize how little the left hand was talking to the right, but also reinforced Harland’s determination that the Path’s leadership was corrupt!

Before the badges hit the door, Elke sent Ring, a former Path of Echoes ghost to enter the building convince any other ghosts that they were with them, and then give the Society the all clear once it was safe to enter [Engagement was 1D6, bumped to to 2d6 because of that last minute flashback, and the scoundrels rolled a 6!]

The door to the canals had two Red Sashes standing guard outside it. A few moments after Ring left the group, a third Red Sashes, groping at his own throat came through the door, coughing and hacking, trying to expel the ghost from his body. Ring slipped away, but that left three Red Sashes standing in the door, with the full force of the Society, the Grinders, and one lone Lapmblack (Arquo, who went along to aid in coordination) ready t bear down on them.


The first altercation included Harland drinking his transmogrification potion and Elke watching in some horror as the muscles in his body filled disproportionaly with blood and alchemical stimulatns, causing him to wither in muscles that were not needed but burst blood vessels and grow grotesquely in areas that were! Though the Iruvian swordsman disarmed his Halbard, Harland could not be stopped. He choked the Red Sash to death with his own hand.

Arquo meanwhile very carefully lined up a shot as the barge was costing in and just as it stopped he breathed out and shot the red sash in the head, dropping her instantly.

The Grinders let fly several shots, ripping through the third who was still fighting off the recent possession.

Labyrinthine Halls

Safely inside, the scoundrels knew they needed to get up to the main floor where the grinders would plant a bomb that would open a large hole in the building for the Lampblacks to pour into. However, as they looked down these shadowy hallways filled with red drapes that concealed passages (and more) the realized they had no idea where they were.

Arquo recalled back to earlier that evening during the interrogation [Flashback] that Milosh was leading, when he tried to get the broken and battered Red Sash to give him directions, however the man had been beaten too severely to be of any good. [Bad Outcome, Missed Opportuniy]. Arquo tossed the bloody map to the floor calling it useless just as the hallway began to fill with fog.

Just before it became impossible to see, Elke saw a red sash fly through the air and wrap around Templeton’s throat and begin dragging him forward. Elke command the body of Templeton to go forward and destroy, which despite being impaled with a long blade, it did so without hesitation. She further commanded Cavelle, one of her new ghost cadre to possess another one of the Red Sash swordsmen, and finally she send the spirit of Tempelton upon the whisper that summoned the fog to surround him and cut him off from the Ghost Field!

She succeeded in all of these things but with his final control over the tempest, the Whisper caused all the fog to coalesce into spears of ice that lanced toward Elke!

Myelra Klev

Protected by her heavy coat (courtesy of the Lampblacks) and by Aqruo jumping to block some of the spikes with his own body (wow, he’s got a thing for protecting Elke) Elke shrugged off the attack and the crew advanced.

Harland sent Arquo ahead to follow the fleeing whisper, who lead him up the stairs and too the main foyer of the Red Sashes Dojo.  Above the could hear Red Sashes arming themselves and preparing to run down the stairs. Outside were the Lampblacks, waiting for the main doors to be blow open.

Between them was Mylera Klev, dressed in her night robes, sword drawn and ready.

Arquo lined up a shot and pulled his trigger but even though he clipped her, it seemed in an instant Mylera appeared behind him and ran her sword through his belly [Level 3 Harm: Impaled]

Knowing there was no time to plan a bomb, Harald pulled a sledgehammer from his back and called for Elke to send Templeton ahead with him as well. The two of them charged and the door and ripped through it with main force, bashing huge holes with each hammering thud. In moments the door was open and a grand melee began.

Personal goals in a sea of violence

When the two forces clashes it was a bloody mess. The Lampblacks reinforced by the Doskvol Spectral Society and the Grinders against the Red Sashes, aided by the Dockers and the Path of Echoes.  In all the carnage, each of our scoundrels set about their personal goals.

Elke did not want anything to remain of Templeton’s body so she sent it to fight so savagely and recklessly that it would be destroyed [Risky command which she succeeded at with a cost. The body was, among other things, beheaded. However in order to give command she was exposed and Nyryx, who had been watching over her was shot with a flaming electroplasmic round, Level 3 Harm: Burning Form]

Harland wanted no trace of the Path of Echoes behind. He rallied his forces to destroy the ghost there, but in doing so drew their attention to him [Desperate action to destroy them, consequences was the last three ticks filled up the clock]. One of the ghosts escaped and now Vond is aware of his betrayal!

Arquo, seemingly for personal reasons, and perhaps because she just stabbed him, sought out the death of Mylera Klev. Though she was a tricky target, she was eventually overwhelmed. She called out something in Irruvian and two of her students which a striking physical resemblance to her, reluctantly fled, but she stayed to and fought till the end. Just before the final shot Bazso called out for Arquo to hold (he wanted her captured not dead) but the Hound would not say his hand, and he killed her. The bullet passing through her and into one of the large lamps behind her her…blackening it! [Hunt action, consequence is Bazso’s ire].

What Rocked

In order to prevent the other Lapmblacks from recognizing Templeton (and realizing one of their own had been turned into some kind of abomination) Elke and Halarnd took off his heavy coat and put Harland’s spirit mask on him. When Templeton was later beheaded and his head rolled down the steps of the dojo, Harland donned the bloody mask once more before facing the Path of Echoes ghosts. We couldn’t have planned anything more awesome.

Harland and his quote a game, This one was do good!

I had a lot of fun with these physical challenges. The DSS does a lot of conniving and tricking and not a lot of stabbing or shooting, so it was a lot of fun for me to see some of that on screen.

On that note, Karen x-carded as scene where I was about to get to graphic, good call!

Them Empty Vessel is connected to Hallows and Bazso has been hiding this the entire time? Woah? I wasn’t expecting that. Thank you John for including such evocative ideas in the Devils section of the QS7! This should make for some very interesting interactions between Elke and the Lampblacks in the future. And if Hix wants to butter up Una Farros, she’s another person who would be very interested it…as would a few other important folks in the city…

What could have improved

I didn’t roll to see who won the fight! I should have brought it to a fortune roll at the end but just assumed the Lampblacks won given the aid they have been given. Dang, what a thing to forget! It was late but still. Dang!

2 thoughts on “Actual Play – Now or Never (10/18/2016)”

  1. Seriously, Harland’s quotes!

    This is the second time I’ve failed to resist (with 2 stress to spare) with a large dice pool. I’m happy with Hix getting a new trauma, but I’m also glad she’s getting a bit of a break and slow-down for her story’s pace. Hope we can get Arquo to fit in well!

    Favourite Bits:
    – I’m excited that Milos has returned as a torturer. Look at what our good work has wrought.
    – Also cool that the coal dust was pervasive and unavoidable.
    – Harland’s fluid moving muscles when he’s juiced. When he opened that door (blood vessels bursting, contralateral leg withering, even his bones trembling under the stress of his own power)… who needs a bomb when you have a Harland?
    – Elke’s blade action with Templeton! Cool and slick!

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