Actual Play – This is OUR turf now! (9/17/2015)

blades_overlay_bloodletters_titleGM: John Harper
Players: Stras Acimovic, Adam Koebel, and Sean Nittner
System: Blades in the Dark, Quickset Rules v.3f-ish

Following up from from our last session, John rolled us right into the consequences of our actions. In a brief recap, we took over a brothel and gambling den controlled by the Red Sashes. One of our final rolls to secure it resulted in a mixed success [5 on the die] so we got the place but doing so took time, which was all the Red Sashes needed to assemble their hit squad.

And bow howdy, did they ever. Spoiler, they don’t have the name Red Sashes for nothing!

Part one on air – Fight!

Part two on air – Duel of Wits! (wait, that’s a different game)

The Skinny

For those who don’t want to watch two hours of video, here’s what went down.

As we were wrapping up in the brothel the Red Sashes hit us. The electric lights flickered and went out, the roof top windows shattered and red sashes came flying down, a thick fog crept in through the broken glass, and the ghost of the dead bouncer suddenly rose and tried to possess Canter. All at once!

We were having none of that!

Canter shot fools left, right, and center. They may have been master swordsmen and trained in crazy scarf acrobatics, but that gave them no special resistance to his lead. Of the six of them, he dropped three. Bullets to the face!

Oskarr got to shine in the Whisper Anime version of Blades in the Dark. In the spirit world, shit looks pretty epic. He wrested control over the bouncer’s ghost from another whisper, eating the electrical feedback in doing so. With that ghost he possessed one of the Red Sashes. +1 to the Six Towers Gang. -1 to those fuckers! He stole the other whispers tempest and used the fog to form it into a ice spike that impaled (and killed) one of the Red Sashes. He got on the roof top and called to Setarra across the ink black sea and used her power to brand the other whisper and banish him from our turf.  Oh, and he did all this while keeping the ghost of Silver in check!

Arcy did a lot of being choked, slashed, and stabbed. She also called the gang into action and pummeled a dude who already had a broken leg.

The Aftermath

With one of their men alive (if only barely) and one possessed, we send the dead back in a wheelbarrow (aww, our old delivery wagon), pushed by the possessed man. Arcy whispered in the ear of the broken man to tell Mylera that she can either accept her losses and know this territory is now save in our hands, or she can come at us and fight a war on two sides.

And there was much rejoicing, sort of

After the fight, and important divide was made. Arcy wanted to go drinking with her “boys” but that explicitly did not include Canter, who she does not like because she cannot control. An argument broke out between them about who was going drinking together, but really it was about who was in control of the gang, whether these ex-sailors were still sailors at heart or if they had thrown off the shackles of their previous lives. It was a tense moment between Arcy and Canter, like watching mom and dad fight. Good stuff there!

What rocked

John did a fantastic job of hitting us with enough all at once that we had to scramble to survive. He pointed out that with very competent characters, if you dole out one bit of trouble at a time, sometimes they can resolve each one before the next one hits and it feels really anticlimactic. Also, with everything going down at once, we all had plenty to do. It was really a great fight and I liked that the Red Sashes weren’t push overs. They wen’t down, but not easily at all.

Oh man, Arcy and Canter at each other’s throats! This will be the doom our crew I just know it. On the plus side, I was compared to Idris Elba, so I can’t really complain. I really enjoy that Adam and I can go at it pretty hard against each other, but the whole time be able to step back and discuss whats happening in our character’s heads and in the narrative.

I enjoyed making use of our gang. It was really cool to see the Fine Thugs in action. In part because it’s fun to have the weight of a Tier 1 gang to throw around, and in part because the fighting styles were so different. The Sashes were master swordsmen, our men were brutes. I mean, the cam in with cleaver and club vs. blade and sash. And despite outnumbering the Sashes three to one, they still would have lost if not for support from the rest of us. Some savage motherfuckers!

I really enjoyed getting to use Battleborn. I realize, I haven’t used any of my playbook abilities until now (more on that below) so it was cool to have it come out in a meaningful way in the fight.

I love, love, that when Canter was shot the thing that just enraged him wasn’t the wound, but that his coat was ruined. That was fucking great.

By the demons of the ink black sea, Oskarr is terrifying. Twice Stras just narrated in his own devil’s bargains. Once when saying he was using demon blood tattoo ink (what, our whisper has been using? that is bad) to fuel his magic, and once when he called upon Setarra (pulling her from Lord Skurlock’s binding) to do his bidding. Plus all the crazy anime visuals were so awesome.

I like hard core mode (if you opt to take stress instead of a consequence, you have to decide that before you roll the dice) a lot. It made saying “ill resist that” much more dicey, which was great.

What could have improved

I didn’t really realize this until this game but my two playbook moves are both reactive, vs. the others who moves are a activated by the characters taking actions. They are all narrowly defined actions (making a desperate move, commanding a ghost, etc), but those narrow situations come up often both because players are good at getting their characters in those narrow situations and because as the audience to our own game we all want to see those moves come up. We want to see Canter with his crazy reflexes shoot a dude before Arcy can say shit. We want to see Oskarr use crazy tempest powers to make ice spikes and impale fools. The moves Arcy has are Resolute (which allows her to heal faster) and Battleborn (which give her armor). Both of these we based on the background that she is tough as nails and survived being throw off an iron steamship and swam out of he ink black sea to the shores of Duskwall. But neither (until this session) have come into play yet.

This is a pretty common case with defensive abilities, so it isn’t an easy thing to changed, or necessarily even should be addressed. Looking at the other Cutter abilities, they are all proactive, so I think was just a case of me going a little overkill on the “must be really tough”.

For us the PVP mechanics were sufficient, but I do think there is ambiguity in the rules when one player takes an action another wants to resist, or when two players take contested actions. We ran into both of these in game (Arcy trying to resist Canter shooting one of the Red Sashes and Arcy and Canter fighting over who would go drinking with who). I think both were handled to everyone’s satisfaction, but it was on John to be on his toes and think of a method to adjudicate it. I think baking a little bit more of that into the mechanics would both encourage players to go at each other (a good thing) and also let them know in advance how conflicts between them would be resolved (also a good thing).

2 thoughts on “Actual Play – This is OUR turf now! (9/17/2015)”

  1. Woo! Six Towers Gang!

    Good points about PvP rules. I’ll share the rules page for those methods before we play next time so everyone knows what to expect.

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