Actual Play – Thieves’ Cant (3/11/2017)

GM: Kathryn Hymes
Players: Hakan Sayalioglu, Karen Twelves, and Sean Nittner
System: Dialect (mash up with Blades in the Dark)

This game was like woah. So many new things. A mash of of Blades in the Dark and Dialect. Playtesting a new backdrop. Streaming on Twitch! Woah!

To make this happen we coordinated a fair bit ahead of time to suss out:

  • The Doskvol Setting
  • What events we’d set the game around (we chose the forming of the Grey Cloaks)
  • Our three aspects (see below)


To define our community we picked three aspects that were very particular to our crew.

Bluecoats, because that’s what we are. But the aspect has a lot of nuance to it. It stood for keepers of the peace and the legalized thugs. We are a cogs withing a system of oppression, being shit on, and shitting on those beneath us.

Crushing Debt, a few weeks ago our patrol had gotten in a fight with a few sailors and pushed them around. We took it too far, and then only realized after the fact that they worked for the Leviathan Captain Lord Strangford. He might night have noticed under other circumstances but we slowed down his launch date and found who we were. After that, we were constantly having to pay up to him to keep him from making things official. And the payments due, they just keep growing!

Extortion, because, of course. I mean, this has always been our livelihood, but now it’s more important than ever. We’ve had to step up our graft to pay our new debts!


Claive aka “Needle” – Our zealot leg breaker who believed above all other thing that extortion is what we we’re here to do. Needle doesn’t even make a pretense of doing his job as a Bluecoat. He just cleans his coat on a daily basis (we’ll be defining that in a bit)

Stev Templelton –  Our oracle who had been in Blue for a decade and could see the writing on the wall. Stev believed that our extortion racket was going to be our downfall.

Braeden Vale – Our healer both literally and figuratively. Vale’s temperate and enduring nature frequently put him in the position of patching us up. Of all of us, Braeden identified the most with being a Bluecoat, and believed our extortion rackets were causing us pain and misery.

Syra “Bug” Haig – Our jester and ne’er-do-well believed that calling ourselves Bluecoats was a joke. She was always happy to run down a business for money, but hoped people would see that we’re no better than any criminals on the streets… we are the criminals on the streets.

Our Language

In Dialect we create a language, and our language was a thieves cant. So cool.

The rule we made for our game was that our language has to use common words that wouldn’t draw attention that would mean other things. That way they could be used in front of our watch commander Krop or other Bluecoats without raising suspicion. This was a great justification for twisting words around and making cool phrases. Thanks chat for helping us out with them!

Here’s our Thieves Cant! Since we’re going to try and use it in a follow up Blades game, and we may develop more, here’s the living google doc.

Our Story

I’m keeping this short, because I really want people to watch the VOD because it’s my first VOD ever! Woot.

We were terrible Bluecoats under the thumb of Lord Strangford. To get out of his crushing debt we tried ever more extreme actions (starting with extortion, then stealing from our own coffers, then trying to stick up one of Strangford’s Leviathan Blood caravans) until we finally burned down the that had evidence against him and blamed Nessa and Hutch, our fellow Bluecoats, for the fire.

The end result was that we earned Strangford’s favor, became his cronies exacting his will, and Stev was promoted to watch commander and took over command in the new barracks. This was a big twist for us as we expected to play the Grey Cloaks, but it turns out we were the assholes that created them!

Here’s the VODs:

What Rocked

Oh my, this game and these words were so great. Bad Weather. How’s your coat? Strange Devils. I loved how the language we made formed our story and the larger narrative of what our scoundrels did with their lives.

The twist at the end was huge. We walked into the game expecting that we would play the characters who eventually became the Grey Cloaks and then in between the third and fourth hour, Karen pointed out that what made more sense is if we were the group that framed the bluecoats and burned down the watch tower ourselves. I mean, afterall, we had a flamethrower! There were a few mininutes of hesitation, we were all holding onto the the original idea, but once we went for it and killed our darlings, the story was so much better and make so much more sense. Plus that allowed for me to have a…

Great scene with Needle and Hutch. In the third act you can bring in NPCs and since Bug was dead, I framed my scene with Hutch trying to overpower Needle but failing terribly. One detail was his blue coat covered in grey ash. I loved getting to put that bit in!

One top of the game and the streaming, we were also playtesting a new backdrop for Dialect, which is also great because it means Kate and Hakan got to take back some good playtest results to boot!

Without really planning for it, we ended up fitting our story into the fiction perfectly. It wouldn’t have made much sense for Krop, who hated our rag tag group, to frame the Nessa and Hutch, but it totally made sense for us to do it. So when Stev was made watch commander, that was even better. Also, I didn’t realize that the Grey Cloaks had there HQ in the old watch tower (I could have just read it, but I missed that part) so it was doubly good to have the confrontation with Needle there!

Talk about killing your darlings. I respect Kate so much for letting Stev change fundamentally. She started out as the one who tried to get us off the path of extortion and ended up the watch commander running a precinct of Bluecoats entirely dedicated to carrying out Strangford’s dirty work. I am genuinely scared of the Bluecoats in the Docks now!

Chat. Thanks chat for both helping me with some technical issues, letting other folks know

What could have improved

The big one is video quality. Because our bandwidth at home is really poor, and because both Karen and I were using the same connection for Zoom (plus streaming) the dropped frames were massive. I had set the bit rate way down (400) which helped but it was still choppy. Thankfully the local recording is much smoother. We order a faster U-verse plan which hopefully will improve performance in the future.

Other thing (thanks Jon Edwards for catching some of these): Our audio levels were off for a while. I thought I had the all dialed in but then I leaned back and was too far away from my mic, and Kate was coming in louder than I expected. I couldn’t label the stream while it was running. I kept getting a language error when I tried to set it, despite selecting English. Luckily I was able to name it after the show.

I didn’t have any bots installed so there was a lot of repeat copy and pasting of links. Moobot is installed now.

Mostly I was just nervous about it all coming crashing down and the performance being intolerable. Thankfully everyone in chat was understanding and we got through it fine. I was exhausted by the end though!



One thought on “Actual Play – Thieves’ Cant (3/11/2017)”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *