Actual Play – Rescuing a Wayward Son (8/9/2106)

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

The Society is planning something big, and when they pull it off…Watch out Dimmer Sisters.’

The Gills

Near and eelery in Dunslough rests a stone and timber building surrounded by eel guts and the crows that feast on them. Withered trees mask the already clouded windows in the front of the shop and the entire place reeks of rotting fish…

…which is exactly the cover the Dimmer Sisters use to brew some high illegal tinctures in an otherwise respectable apothecary shop. When noxious black smoke rises out of The Gills chimney there are few who notice and even fewer in Dunslough that care.

The Gills is a holding of the Dimmer Sisters and the Doskvol Spectral Society aim to take it from them, by convincing the Hive to buy it it!

Approaching Corro Younghusband for a Job

The society reasoned that before asking any favors of the Hive, they should first show them that they are capable and worth investing in. And since their only contact with the Hive was through Harland’s older brother…

Looking the Part, fooling more than one.

Look at those crazy college kids go.

(Both when I worked at UC Davis and now at UC Berkeley I was aware of their various costume cellars, which held thousands of costumes and accessories used by the theater department and rented to UC students and staff. I may just once or twice have used said costume shops for Halloween costumes, larps, or just to impress Karen. So this scene had some personal touches to it)

Knowing that to impress Corro they would have to look like respectable business people rather than penniless students, Salia, Harland, Elke, and Hix broke into the Charterhall Theater’s costume shop to find suitable attire. However, trying on clothes is far too much fun to keep quiet and in their antics, they were overheard by Madam Pool, a theater instructor [Risky prowl action, 4-5 result, complication ensues].

To convince Madam Pool that they weren’t sealing clothes but rather just messing around, the all began making out. Harland and Elka could not have been more awkward. “oh. yeah. oh. baby” said in the most monotone voices imaginable with only the most forced physical contact. Salia and Hix however, stole the show by pressing deep into each other and nearly disrobing all the clothes they had just acquired [Devils Bargain: Salia thought this was Hix having real interest in her and so she wasn’t just playing the part].

Pool, distracted by shooing the kids out [Risky sway roll, group action. 6 result) told them to get out of the costume shop and latched the door behind them, but didn’t notice they were all either wearing or secretly had bundled up suits and dresses.

Meeting Corro on the Docks

Their last encounter had been at a dance in Whitecrown Academy, so Elke had certain expectations of their meeting with Corro, namely that there would be free food available. She was sorely disappointed when he met them in the Docks, inside a cargo warehouse, and unless she intended on nabbing a longshoreman’s lunch, she wasn’t getting fed during this meeting. #Ruined.

After both looking the part and reminding Corro that Harland did want to help the family business, they convinced him that they could do a job for him, and left it to him to specify what the Younghusbands (and by extension the Hive) needed.

[This was a first for me, making a score up out of nowhere. Whatever should I do? Oh yeah, look at the Score chart (page 53 in QS6) and roll some dice! Here’s what I rolled up].

It turns out the Hive did have situation they didn’t want to dirty their own hands with! Inspector Lomond in the Crows Foot had become a major thorn in their side. They had a regular racket with the Spirit Wardens and the Deathlands Scavengers that when the scavengers returned through the lightning barrier burdened with artifacts of old and resources impossible to find inside Doskvol, the Hive merchants got first pick of their findings, with a handsome sum paid to the Spirit Wardens to ensure that none were the wiser because of it. Lomond, however, was causing all manner of trouble, by personally meeting the Scavengers in Crow’s Food and arranging for their findings to be securely transferred from boat to carriage. He was apparently resistant to bribes, so instead he needed to be disappeared. [Target: Political -> Inspector. Work: Skulduggery -> Poison or Arrange Accident. Twist: Rogue spirits haunt the location, in this case the goods. Connected to a Person: I didn’t roll because they where already talking to Harland’s brother Corro. Factions involved: Spirit Wardens and Deathlands Scavengers.]

Hix and Elke were affronted. “Wait, you want us to kill someone? We though you’d want us to smuggle something somewhere.” Corro just shrugged, maybe there would be smuggling work for them in the future, but right now this is what the Hive needed. He looked to Harland step up and say he was ready for the job, but instead his little brother dithered and stalled, not quite ready to tell Corro no or to tell Hix and Elke yes. He did, however reveal that yes, when he led the attack against the Dimmer Sisters he did kill people… that is after all what fighting with large pointy things results in. The held off on pronouncing judgment because Corro was present but he could tell they were very disappointed.

Elke, however, wasn’t just going to accept the job, or take another one. She pushed instead for option #3. There must be something else you need done that could make better use of our talents. Elke, knowing from Harland that the head of the Hive was from the Dagger Isles, called upon the Salkaran family name to give herself some clout and demanded another job [Risky command. Devils Bargain that by circulating her family name, Sckulock would become aware of her presence in Doskvol (1/4 ticks)… followed by a complication that Corro was going to have to vet that name by Djera Mah (bumping that clock up to 2/4 ticks)].

Opportunity the Second

Really not wanting to say no to a Whisper from the Dagger Isles, at least not to her face, Corro wracked his mind for some other work they could do. Yes, this would do well. The son of an important member of the Ministry of Transport had gotten himself mixed up in some gang trouble. Corro really didn’t know who or what, just that young master Arden Keel had gotten himself in over his head with the Grinders and someone needed to pluck him out of the frying pan before he got himself into the fire!


The Score

Drifting every so quietly on the school barge along the south (now north) side of Silkshore, the Society crept up behind a large group of Grinders who were docking their own boat in a private dock and quickly unloading stolen munitions from it (I swear I hadn’t seen Peaky Blinders before I ran this score, but Harper I swear the Grinders are totally the IRA).

Just before the boat came into view a few of the student patrol, led by Harland, happened to “lose their way” near the Grinder’s dock and ending up getting into a fist fight over this “simple misunderstanding”. Meanwhile Hix and Elke and Stras slipped the boat into their pier, grabbed Arden and sped off with none the wiser… except the Grinder’s accountant who inventoried the imperial muskets they had lifted and found that one was missing!

An imperial musket that Elke snatched out of his hands and promptly sold to Corro for an extra coin!


Coin: 5 (4 for the job, +1 for the musket)
Rep: 2 (Target was the Grinders)
Heat: 5 (3 for the job +2 for the musket)
Entanglement: Flipped (ouch)

We also started a clock for Harland, who and promised to be everything to everyone one called “Harland lets someone down” and put it at 1 tick of 4. This was bit retroactive, but I realized I wanted to keep track of all his promises to Corro, the Path of Echoes, and Charterhall University.

What Rocked

I had a lot of fun describing the Grinders and massive, lumpy, and deformed. The players kept looking at me like they were going to spring tentacles out of their chests. Who knows though really. I mean, they might…

The tension between Harland trying to show he was tough to his brother but not appear like a killer in front of Elke and Hix was great. It was such an impossible situation and it was beautiful to behold.

Elke standing up and saying “no, we’re not doing that job, give us another one” was also great. I loved her principles getting them in deeper trouble (hence the Scurlock clock ticking up).

The score generator is really robust. For the second score I did the same thing, just rolled some dice and found tweaked it as needed to be more fitting for their skills. Really happy to have this in my back pocket!

It was so cool that the score was rescuing Arden, some nobody son of on a minister of transport, but it was really Harland that needed saving, just like a college kid who has no idea what’s going on in the world and gets them self in a ton of trouble!

Speaking of college, I also adore how the students go to plan for getting anything they need is to steal it from the school. Maps, a boat, nice clothes. You name it, some university department probably has it!

What could have improved

Since they are always going up against higher tier targets I often tell the players that without a setup action, pushing themselves, or making an action more risky they will have reduced effect. I don’t mind this in principle (it reflects how tough the world is) but sometimes I forget to apply it, forget that the consequences that come from higher tiers should be more severe, or just feel like its the umpteenth time I’ve told them “oh, you’re the underdog again.” Now that they are Tier 1 that is slightly less prevalent, but most of their interactions are still punching up, it’s going to keep happening until they hit tier 2 or 3. Mostly I just want to make sure my players don’t feel too discouraged by their constant uphill battle.


4 thoughts on “Actual Play – Rescuing a Wayward Son (8/9/2106)”

  1. The Grinders and their messed up physiology were great! And I also really liked the score the generator came up with!

    Am very happy that we’re talking more about effect levels now than I think we were in the first few sessions. Definitely haven’t been feeling discouraged about our usually having reduced effect. (And it made it all the sweeter when we got to be in a position of power with Roslyn in the most recent session.)

    I’m still feeling my way around resistance rolls. I think we did two back-to-back in this session and it wasn’t clear to me whether we completely avoided a consequence or simply downgraded it to the point of irrelevance.

    Favourite Bits:
    – Salia make-out details. Sean had some good visuals for this without being graphic or tawdry.
    – Finding out about how Scurlock killed Elke’s grandmother! I don’t remember this being mentioned in play before and it was a really cool reveal.
    – For me also – watching Harland respond to getting laid into by Hix and then his anxieties dealing with Corro. Always a treat!

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