Actual Play – The Train Job (4/10/2017)

blades_overlay_bloodletters_titleGM: John Harper
Players: Stras Acimovic, Adam Koebel, and Sean Nittner
System: Blades in the Dark

Recap of Last Session

  • We started the Canter Haig home for deviant shits (our orphanage)
  • We discovered that Flint had (er, had) Spirit Warden garb and was making re
  • We found out two leads about the Grinders (they think our tattoos give incredible powers) and that the Paragon is out of munitions and supplies are being sent in a single shipment)
  • Arcy talked to Elstera Avrathi and ended up backing Linea Ankhayat.
  • The syndicate is a thing. The Billhooks are onboard. The Lampblacks are partners.
  • We took the crew advance: War Dogs.
  • Arcy took the playbook advance: Savage. Canter took the playbook advance: Like Looking into a Mirror.

Planning the Plan

We’re going to win the Grinders over to work for/with us (semantics, yo). How? We talked about this for a while and decided on the obvious choice. Go rob a train, take all the guns and munitions, and then sell them to the Grinders.

From what we knew multiple trains were coming in to Gaddoc Rail where the supplies would all be collected and then taken via a very secure train to the Paragon. So we opted to derail a train (or four) out in the deathlands, take all the munitions, and load them into our boat. Solid assault plan!

What does it take? Deathlands environmental suites, a pump trolley, and terrible Skovlander accents! (But we elected to roll to acquire assets when they were in use rather than up front)

We needed all hands on deck for this job. The Fine Thugs to carry all the goods and fight, and Osksarr’s Weirdos to protect us all from ghosts. Which meant leaving our turf behind…guarded by the Dimmer Sisters, which are our favorite grandmothers.


With a single die we rolled a 5 on our engagement roll and started the train job in a risky situation!

The scene opened in the windswept ashen wasteland outside Doskvol. Crammed on top and hanging off the side of the pump trolley were the Bloodletters… all of them. Black miasma swirled around and wailed horribly as it blew through crevasses.

Dimly ahead of us we saw the oncoming train and the junction where we needed to get them to detour on… and the train was coming fast. By overcharging the electroplasmic engine and gunning it [insert Back to the Future special effects on the tracks], we barely made it to the switching station in time [we flashed back to picking up the pump trolley from our friend Hoxley, a Tier II pump trolley!]. Arcy and a few of the thugs hopped off into the ash, and then as the vibration increased uncontrollably and the pump trolley flew of the rails. [Originally Risky/Limited Finesse, improved to Risky/Standard with Oskarr’s setup action, pushed to Desperate/Great by Canter gunning it. Partial success. He got us there on time…. but that’s when the speed wobbles kicked back up and the trolley flipped and sent everyone on it flying]. Where everyone was going to fly off the trolley and be trashed, Oskarr caught them all in a buffet of air [Tempest! Desperate Attune. Critical Success].

Oskarr’s Tempest was so powerful that it shielded the crew (at least temporarily) from spectral attention [Extra effect from the crit]. Canter thought the smooth fall was him just being awesome, but Cricket… she knew!

The Score

Arcy charged into the switching station just as a rail jack stepped outside to see what was going on. She shot the light out on his headlamp and then shouted out “SWITCH THE TRACKS!” And then she ran through the lightning barrier around the station, let her gear get fried, and kept moving! [Controlled Command. Critical success.] No only did Arcy scare him into switching the tracks, but she also realized that her gear was wrecked by the lightning (air tank destroyed, coat fried, gas mask damaged) and halted her crew before they ran through barrier and destroyed their gear as well!

The tracks switched and the train took it way to fast. The locomotive made the turn but the munitions car tipped and went off the edge, sliding sideways across the ashen surface of the deathlands, safe as houses [Fortune roll for the train yielded a mixed result, but the fortune roll for the safety of the munition care was a critical success!]

After the crash, Canter stalked forward and started shooting anyone he saw that was still standing or moving. Rail Jack. Shot in the face. More Rail Jacks…. chased down and shot in the dark, but pursuing them meant going into the shadowy corners of the deathlands, inside the Rial Jacks element. Canter holstered his rifle, pulled out his pistols and went after them. Cool sniper Canter lasted all of one shot, then mad dog Canter took over [Risky Hunt. Bad outcome]

Inside the switching station Arcy barked an order to the two men who were not occupied changing the tracks offer, who we referred to as “putting on his boot” guy and “telegraph” guy. When the paused “Let my guys into the station!” (which inherently meant lowering the lightning barrier that protected them). The two of the looked at each other skeptically and then Arcy put her sword in “putting on his boots” guy to bring home the message that she only needed one of them alive. “Telegraph” guy hesitated for a moment (he considered sending an emergency SOS signal but thought better of it) [Risky Command. Full success (thanks to Savage).

Oskarr saw that Canter was taking care of the Rail Jacks so he went with the crew to pry open the doors of the munitions car. The car was crashed on its side but the doors were still secured heavily. Oskarr pulled out the electroplasimic blow torch and drills [Thanks Demolition Tools] and started cutting his way in, helped by the crew tearing away at the door with their crowbars. [Controlled Tinker. Limited Effect. Partial Success. Devil’s Bargain to draw more ghostly attention. 1/4. Minor consequence was a second tick on the ghost attention clock 2/4.] The train door held but they were clearly making progress tearing off [1/4 door removed]

Canter, who is Not to Be Trifled With, stalked his prey and shot them all down. His gas mask lit up by muzzle flash. He shot them all down, but the last Rail Jack knocked him down a ravine (before getting shot in the head as Cater slid down the ravine on his back) and canter had to dig is way out. Pissed off as hell! [Risky Skirmish. Great effect (due to NTBTW). Partial Success]. Thankfully he packed climbing gear and so he was able to throw a rope and grappling hook up onto a petrified tree and start climbing out…only doing so badly [Fortune roll to start climbing. Poor outcome.] He floundered during the climb, lost his footing and ended up spinning on the rope, kicking the wall of the ravine and cursing in anger the whole time.

Arcy, in her best Skovlan accent sent one the crew to cut the telegraph lines going north, and then demand that “Telegraph” guy send a message to the south about the Skovlan Independence! There was a chance he’d send a SOS message but Arcy promised he’d live if sent her message exactly as said it! “We, the Skovlan Independence will not rest…” After the message was sent, Arcy suited up in “putting on his boot” guy’s environmental suit.

On top of the train car, Oskarr heard movement of people shifting around inside, preparing for him. He kept hammering away, but got stopped taking his time and hustled to cut the door open, assisted by some of the Fine Thugs sent by Arcy [Assist]. Together the blasted the door open! [Desperate Tinker. Critical Success! Devils’s bargain to increase the ghost attention clock 3/4]

Canter tried again to get out but stumbled and fell back down to the bottom, right next to the Rail Jack who he shot and had slid down the ravine as well. From above he heard whispering voice say “Life” and the spectral operation appeared at the edge of the ravine. “Fucking ghosts now? Fuck this!” He barely clambered out just as it began floating across the empty ravine after him. We flashed back to our gear up scene where Oskarr approached Canter with custom shot that he had inscribed with runes and in the discussion of a proper holder for balls, Canter of course made a “your mom” joke.

“I made, er I mean, I got this from the Deathland Scavengers. It’s got more kick than your normal ammo, and we’ll ” Oskarr liked. Canter took the ammo, started loading it up in his bandoleer,  and then squinted at Oskarr “I recognize that writing, you made this didn’t you?” [Like looking into a Mirror]. There was a moment of tension, Oskarr tried to find another lie but finally said “I wouldn’t leave you out there naked, this is good stuff.” He expected Canter to freak out about his “misuse” of the workshop but instead he was greeted with a giant hug “Fuck yeah, little man!”

Cutting back, Catner drew the special guns we saw in the flashback, kissed each of the guns and left shot fly! It was Canter’s Very Bad, Shitty, No Good Day. “I am not a desert creature!” The electroplasmic ammunition thrashed the ghost and tore parts of it away. It collapsed onto the ground in front of him… and then just as he was ready to move on it flew up again and clawed at him with spectral fingers, but Canter fought it back. [Risky Skirmish. Great Effect. Partial Success. Reduced Effect and Level 2 Harm. The harm resisted]

Seeing the signal flare of Canter’s first shot, Arcy charged out of the switching tower, pulled off the glove she had just put on so she could slice her hand and get her own blood on the blade [Ghost Fighter]. Out here, outside the city, instead of making her blade sparkle, it lit up with blue flame! She cleaved the ghost and it erupted in blue flame, but thankfully here (now leaking) Rail Jack suit protected her! [Risky Skirmish. Great Effect. Partial Success. Ghost explosion for Level 2 Harm. Resisted with Rail Jack Armor]

After their customary banter Arcy and Canter headed to the car while Oskarr sent the Fine Thugs into the car to finish off everyone inside…only it didn’t go so well. The imperial soldiers inside had boxed themselves in with sandbags and were keeping our thugs at bay with long pikes [Cohorts result: Bad Outcome].

Oskark, fulled decked out in the Red Hand attire dropped down and told them in his worst Skovlan accent “Aye lads, you’r all fucked” because moments later Arcy and Canter leapt in and together we tore them apart! [Desperate Skirmish. Group Action. Critical Success. Great effect and them some.] Arcy had a heroic moment of incredible strength and impaled one of them. Canter had all the trouble though, struggling with Canter and the Imperial Guard wresting on the ground till finally Canter got the shot off. We did it so quickly that the crew was able to unload the car just in time. Oskarr gave us the signal, we hid just as the ghosts came, and the carried off the bodies of the fallen and then prepared for the next train!

After we robbed them all, Canter painted “Free Skov!” on the side of the one of the trails we left behind… amid the carnage of all the fallen soldiers…and two station operators with a lightning generator that wouldn’t start back up.

Getting home with the Goods

If we returned to Doksvol under the normal way the train would have signal to the station to let us through and let us all in. But that would mean everyone we knew we were coming. Instead we pulled up slowly (under cover of fog, thanks Tempest) and with a combination of Oskarr’s arcane might, the weirdos supporting him (and stepping up to carry the burden of the power channeled) and a train specifically designed to ground this kind of current! [Desperate attune. Group action. Full success.] Each of the adepts took hold of the train, bowed their heads, whispered a chant, and together wrapped the lighting barrier around train, bright white on the tip because of the incredible heat.

Yes, we charged the lightning barrier with a train full of explosives! And lived!

As the train stopped on the bridge, we unloaded the munitions on to our boat below and then sent the train moving into the station at it slowest speed, so crumpled into the crash guard at the station…not a soul on it!

Blades on Air

What Rocked

I loved how Cricked was just excited when they started getting ghostly attention. She smiled at Oskarr and continued prying at the door!

Canter’s floundering on his way out of the ravine was the comic relief the show needed. Such a bad ass in combat, so out of his element in a gas mask covered in ash floundering on a rope. “I’m out of my fucking idiom!”

Our Skovlan accents. So bad, but so good.

I had so much fun wrestling with the tiny few scraps of Arcy’s morality. There were two loose ends… leave those two Rail Jacks alive to tell the story. Eventually she decided to leave them alive… and then they couldn’t get the lightning barrier to turn back on. Maybe we left them to a fate worse than death. And we now have the setup for the best one shot Blades in the Dark adventure. Two Rail Jacks alone with a broken pump trolley and a downed lightning tower, a day away from the next train!

The personal moments with Canter, both when Arcy helped him out of a ravine and when Oskarr lied to him about the guns.

At the end Canter’s excitement over all the guns an explosives we stole was positively infectious. We all started planning out what we could blow up with them.

What could have improved

Wow, I’m hard pressed to say. This score was beyond awesome. If anything I just wish we had more time to do payoff and then start negotiations with the Grinders and get dead Roric to take back over his gang, and fight off the Irruvians, specifically the Ankhuset to strengthen the Ankhayet family. Oh, so many things to do!

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