Heroes of Legend

Far back in the mists of antiquity, a poet sings of great deeds wrought by mighty heroes—of monsters slain and justice restored, of wise council and devious strategies, of courage, valor, and daring—defiant of the gods themselves. In Agon, you create and play these heroes, crafting their epic tale into an immortal legend.

On their way back home from the war, the heroes have become lost among strange islands populated by mythical creatures, dire beasts, treacherous landscapes, legendary kingdoms, and desperate people—all somehow cursed or abandoned by the cruel power of the capricious gods.

It falls to you to seize this opportunity for greatness—to set things right in these lost lands, overcome the trials of gods, monsters, and people, prove the glory of your name, and win your way back home.


AGON development is complete and it is available now at your Friendly Local Game store or online (Print/PDF).

The project started as a joint effort from Evil Hat and John Harper, originally intended for Jason Morningstar to complete. As John and I started playtesting the new rules together, we realized that we wanted to take the game much further away from the 2006 edition that we originally anticipated. Together we took over development and over the course of a couple years drafted twelve new versions of the game, till we finally found the system that met our goals: a game that encouraged players to create larger than life characters who both compete for glory and care passionately about their fellow heroes.

Creating AGON was our own epic journey, now I am delighted we can share it with many heroes to come!

Actual Play – Feast of the Dead (9/13/2017)

GM: Sean Nittner
Players: Karen Twelves and Eric Fattig
System: Blades in the Dark

Note: I fell way behind on my AP reports so these are written many moons later based off my notes. The accuracy will likely vary greatly! Also, this is just transcribed from my notes. Things may be out of order!


Investigation of the Pox placed on those who touched the Hand of Kotar. Through some reference to the old text that once belonged to the Dimmer Sisters they discovered it was called Liar’s Bane ad that once infected the speakers lies would echo through the ghost field and attract angry spirits, which come to torment the speaker!

To break the transmission of the pox, the would have to find the ghost of a whisper who could consume the spectral resonance that surrounded the infected, otherwise it would travel from person to person, in the order that they touched the Hand.

Jadvyga recovering from both her limp (from jumping out of a building if I remember correctly) and from her dread.

Elke, now aware that ghosts could be “healed” by feeding them from the spectral remains of others trapped in a spirit well, took Scapa (who had become both Violent and Vengeful in her death) to the spirit well that Grigg’s fed Rorick on, and though she wasn’t attuned to it, she ventured to dip Scapa into the well, tether her with a lightning hook and let her feast on ghosts she compelled to offer themselves up. The process was dangerous and gruesome, but after being sated Scapa seemed to regain some of her humanity (or at least someone’s humanity, she was now Elitist and Fierce, not her original traits, but he she can keep feeding, she can hold onto them!)

Hix sought to become close friends with Oilweather by working with him and helping him elevate his status in front of the other professors and students, and to do she she delved into his works and became a catalyst for his connection to the Ministry, from whom he sought a grant [Devil’s Bargain, Hix’s reputation is chained to his, and vice versa].

A member of the I’Yalim named Zara Jayaan showed up (to reclaim the statues?)

Lady Drake and Elstera Avrathi (Magistrates). Why are they in my notes again?

Elke Indulges her vice by perusing Mordis’s wares.

She also tells Scapa now that she’s recovered, that they need help with legal issues.

What Rocked

Some revelations in this game! We figured out how Reconciled get that way, or at least how some of them do. It’s pretty horrific, but also, not surprising. It was delightful coming to that together. It also puts the Gondoliers in a strange position with the Reconciled. Fun!

Also, Liar’s Bane. How cool is that?

Actual Play – What is known cannot be unknown! (8/22/2017)

GM: Sean Nittner
Players: Karen Twelves and Eric Fattig
System: Blades in the Dark

Note: I fell way behind on my AP reports so these are written many moons later based off my notes. The accuracy will likely vary greatly! Also, this is just transcribed from my notes. Things may be out of order!

Downtime and Free Play Continues…

Elke indulges her weird vice going to The Black Tree along with Nyryx, Quellen, and Jadvyga. They have drinks that taste like strange unpronounceable words, people passing spirits back and forth between each other, and a shadowy ghost god that guards the outside.

They came however to watch the Whisper Cage matches which were being announced by a woman named Talon (Severosi, wears a silver talon ring). The contenders were the Red Claw vs. the Broken Mask. A ghost was released that was made of claws and beaks emerging from a gaseous body that dripped of acid. The Claw won and the Broken Mask was dragged out by his ankles, with black fluid coming out from behind his spirit mask.

Elke’s spirit warden brand made her stand out so there was some discussion about how to remove it, should Elke go home (Nyrxy was all in favor!), and that Elke doesn’t have to be like her Grandmother. Hah!

Harland asked Griggs to come see him and when she arrived she came in gondola with two acolytes and a specter hovering over her. Despite her suspicions of him, Harland convinced her to give him access to the spirit well she kept hidden (by threatening to tell the other Gondoliers about it!), so Harland and crew could get access to it.  [Long Term Project for him to attune to it]

At the spirit well, Elke attuned and realized that the spirits were feeding off each other, and that should could develop or find a ritual that would all her to “heal” the ghosts in the gang by letting them siphon off the mental energies of the ghosts inside.

  • What does the ritual do and how is it weird? – Removes the “ghost” traits that non-reconciled ghosts acquire over time. It looks horrific because the ghost has to consume other ghosts to do so.
  • What must I do to perform the ritual, and what is its price? – Bring the ghost to the spirit well and hold it tethered so that it is able to feed from the well without being sucked it [3 Stress and a downtime action]
  • What new belief or fear does knowledge of this ritual and its attendant occult forces instill in you? – By the devils, all reconciled ghosts are cannibals! Is this what Nyryx does?

Jadvyga looked for a source to break the bond between demon and humans. She visited Quellen for aid and tapped into her ancestral memories. She remembered far, far back to an ancient battle where the first Tycherosi made a pact with a demon to carry it’s blood through the generations in exchange for helping them win a war against the demons that were assaulting them! Jadvyga is, understandably, freaked out!

Elke returned to Danworth to find him in an even worse state than before. He had figured out what the Church was doing, how they planned on emptying bodies of their souls in some attempt to transcend into an eternal soulless life, and how they were following in the wake of … oh, shit…. the Emperor. When they realized that their finding even suggested that the Emperor may in fact be a demon, they both panicked and destroyed months and months worth of research. The collected it all and ran it to an incinerator, ensuring that it was completely destroyed before they left.

Actual Play – A little bit of a god (8/15/2018)

GM: Sean Nittner
Players: Karen Twelves, Eric Fattig, and Adrienne Mueller
System: Blades in the Dark

Note: I fell way behind on my AP reports so these are written many moons later based off my notes. The accuracy will likely vary greatly! Also, this is just transcribed from my notes. Things may be out of order!

The Hive’s Vengeance on Corro

  • Younghusband house. Inspector Frost discovered a large shipment of Black Lotus, which they could detect because the crates weren’t perfectly sealed.
  • Hostages from The Crows found in a safe house, Corro’s leverage over them lost!
  • The Ministry of Preservation seized several estates in Corro’s name (and started and investigation on Harland: 1/6)
  • Lady Drake learned about Corro taking the Hand and cast a pox on him and all those who touched it. Including Yadvyga! (Plagued by the Pox: 2/4)

Other notes

  • Bazso and Cross show up dressed in suits from Dundridge and Sons and Bazso learned more about the statues (2/6 on his clock)
  • Lampblacks tamper with the artifacts (1/4)


  • 8 Coin (in a bank note from Charterhall)
  • 3 Heat (1 from the job being against a well connected target, +2 as a consequence of the Pox Lady Drake started)
  • 0 Rep (nobody knows)
  • Questioning (Slen pulled in and asked about Harland, sent home with broken fingers)


Elke inspected the Devil Hunters Hall and watches the ghost echos in the building with Nyryx. She was haunted by the vision of horrors left behind from when they tried to “heal” patients with electrocution. [Devils Bargain].

Hix indulged her vice of servitude to the Keeper of the Flame. She visited Augus and went to a damaged lightning tower that was arcing uncontrollably, allowing feral ghosts to slip through the cracks. Three Spirit Wardens and Hull were working to contain them. Hix touched the alter with the ghost she had previously bound and negotiates with the ghost to shorten it’s sentence in order for it to return to directing the tower…for now. In doing so though, the ghost realized that the Keeper of the Flame’s power has been diminished and only because Hix was physically present, was she able to intimidate him! (Hix, you are the Keeper of the Flame: 3/8)

Harland found out from Lyra that Ring left and rejoined with the Path of Echoes. He asked Lyra to come with her to a private meeting where he asked her to stay at his side and they would take back the Six Arms…and Ring together!


Actual Play – The Saltford Job (8/7/2017)

GM: Sean Nittner
Players: Karen Twelves, Eric Fattig, and Adrienne Mueller
System: Blades in the Dark

Note: I fell way behind on my AP reports so these are written many moons later based off my notes. The accuracy will likely vary greatly! Also, this is just transcribed from my notes. Things may be out of order!

In which Elke and crew infiltrate the Saltford Bank and steal back the Iruvian artifacts!

The Staff of Saltfords

Meg (Severosi bouncer, friendly, casual, quick to act)

Nisk (Glass wearing banker, timid, worldly, amenable)

Notes recovered from the archive

Elke created an account at Saltfords and got a tour to case the join, then the broke in, evading these protections:

  • Locks, picked’em
  • Guards, duped’em
  • Whispers, blocke’em
  • Alarms, disarmed’em

But the real fun (thanks engagement rolls) was running into Karth Orris (mercenary commander of the Hive) and convincing him that Corro had sent them to retrieve the artifacts, both getting access to them and blaming Corro for the whole thing.

They also took Bazso and some of his crew with them. Encountering the onyx statues themselves (Snake, Falcon, Bull, and Flame?) the realized that something within them was watching them, and that it would continue to see them evermore. The statues were quickly covered with burlap sacks! Also Elke noted that Bazso passed in front of them undetected.


We had several during the game, here’s where the wound up:

Recover the artifacts: 8/8

Found by Slatfords’ Security (alert clock): 1/4

Hive Interferes: 4/8

Occult Hazards: 0/8

Sean’s Thoughts

As heists go, this one had great moments (the confrontation with Karth and the threat imposed by the statues themselves) but overall I felt like the bank security itself was bypassed (by virtue of the convincing Karth to go along with them). It came up one time, when they were supposed to have Corro’s key, and Harland had to finesse the door open without anyone noticing he was picking it. Still, I didn’t feel like I brought to like the bank that hung the corpses of its would-be robbers from their lamp-posts!

Actual Play – The Alas Poor Roric Job, Part 1 (8/6/2017)

GM: Judd Karlman
Players: Pete Cornell and Sean Nittner
System: Blades in the Dark
Crew: The Wobbegong Crew

Taken from Judd Karlman’s writeup:

In which a child of the Goat Matron is unleashed on Coalridge, the Hive’s link into the Lampblack/Red Sashes War is delved into and Rorick’s Ghost is hunted through the under-canals and back-alleys of Crow’s Foot.

It was Maude and Skannon this time around. It is interesting to see what kind of jobs interest different combinations of scoundrels, based on their skills and inclinations.

Skannon used his downtime to heal up after getting stabbed in the Upper Deck Job and he did some spying on the Hive. He saw them loan mercs to the Lampblacks, evening out the war. It was as if the Hive want the war to go on longer. He caught site of a mysterious Dagger Island woman with a bad-ass platoon of Hive Mercenaries as her personal bodyguards.

Maude used her downtime to also heal up as she was still ghost-touched, also from the same previous job. She also took a new vice, as her obligations vice wasn’t finding traction in play. Another big deal, her Attune went to 3 in the midst of dealing with the Dimmer Sisters. I liked how Sean described it, with Maude realizing that there was more to this ghost-stuff than simply binding and banishing.

Downtime actions were limited because the Wobbegong Crew is at war with the Red Sashes after stealing turf from them.


Roric, he’s in the book and I’ve got ideas about him. John did a neat job setting up a cool web around Roric and his death. I’m excited that they are hunting down his ghost. In a way he’s the keystone to the starting situation. He was the one who kept the peace between the Lampblacks and the Red Sashes before Lyssa, his second-in-command stabbed him in the back and threw his body into the canal.

Bricks, the barber who healed up Skannon, who works under a Hive-owned brothel.

Noggs the Knife, an old ghost from under the Upper Deck, killed in a gang war 60 years ago.

Pigsfoot, the old name of Crow’s Foot, back back from the Crows were the ruling gang.

Thirsty Ghost, an old pub in Crow’s foot where Roric had a cache of weapons and clothes.

Flint, Maude’s friend, a spirit trafficker. I’m not sure why I described him as the caretaker of an alley filled with forgotten gods’ altars but I did and it has stuck. He was with Maude when she failed a succession of rolls that led to her accidentally summoning one of the Ghost Matron’s children in a church to the Forgotten Gods in Coalridge. He dragged her out of there once the demon-goat-thing made its way out of the bleeding walls.

The Job

We exchange e-mails between games. I mentioned that in the Upper Deck job they had taken the leader of the Red Sashes, Mylera Klev’s little brother and now she wants to make a deal for peace or his return or something. We were thinking that tonight was going to be the Hostage Job but that didn’t pan out with only two players at the table.

Several Lampblacks have refused to leave the little brother’s side, not wanting their gang to lose their space in that leverage.

Since Pete and Sean were going to be at the game, Sean suggested an occult job and I suggested Roric’s ghost had a bounty on it – one bounty by Lyssa and another bounty by a mystery bidder who was doubling the coin offered by Lyssa.

Skannon said, “It must be Roric’s lover…who else would be motivated to pay so much?” I did my best to keep a poker face when Pete said that.

They hunted Roric’s ghost down through Crow’s Foot while the Dimmer Sisters, the Gondoliers and some moonlighting Railjacks all hunted too. I set up a clock for each of them. Sean suggested that their clocks be less than the Wobbegong clock, since they were all higher tier gangs. Those kinds of mechanical suggestions are invaluable. The crew had an 8-part clock and the rest of the rival ghost-hunters had 6-part clocks.

Maude and Skannon left Maude’s new ghost friend, Noggs, to be eaten by a pair of Dimmer Sisters to get away from a conflict with them, a pair of young ladies in widow’s garb and black veils, floating a few feet off the ground. Maude could see that they weren’t possessed by a single ghost, but were a pair of women in a network of women, run by a council of ghosts in a complicated web.

To find Roric’s trail when it had run cold, Maude hacked the network, a Desperate roll. It was cool have that be a success and show a bit behind the scenes of the Dimmer Sisters’ operations.

We ended there, with Skannon leading them through back alleys to where Rorick, possessing an old woman, had picked up a brace of pistols and a cloak.

To be continued in a few weeks. I have family obligations next week.


I was happy to be rolling on a more chill entanglements table this week. The Bluecoats took Kyle in and questioned him, adding +1 Heat because they saw through a lie he told.

I felt like I was asking for better die rolls this week. In the last job I made a bunch of mistakes, having people roll dice like to-hit rolls, which led to unsatisfying results. The clocks were set up well for this job but the job was also just more dynamic. Hunting a ghost through the streets while other arcane powers strive to get there first is pretty cool. The fiction being flavorful led to an easier time setting up consequences.

This is the first job we’ve stopped mid-game. It felt like an easy stop-point. I remember right where they were, tracking the body Roric has possessed while the Dimmer Sisters close on in.

Sean’s Thoughts on this Game

Clearly I have impulse control issues. When a strange demon offers me candy, I say yes. I see this both in Arcy and in Maud (which I was/am attempting to play as very different people). At the core of each of them I want to play a real person, but I keep finding myself taking Faustian bargains and then wondering what the hell I was thinking. In part but what sounds like a great idea in the moment, turns out to be a terrible one.

In Arcy’s case, she’s become complicit with it, and when in doubt, escalates. She’s done some pretty grotesque things not because she had to, but because I felt like the character needed to keep one upping herself to stay relevant and hold onto her status in the crew (and to some degree at the table). I’m okay with the path Arcy went in but I’m not doing it again with Maud. She’s made some of the same mistakes but I’ve decided that she knows enough to understand they were mistakes, and the burden she’s going to bear is trying to make up for them, rather than just stacking more atrocities on top of her past. This is a bit challenging for me because I don’t want to be risk-averse myself, but the character really doesn’t want to kill one demon just by letting two more out of the bottle, so we’ll see if there is a path for her.


Actual Play – Ghost Train (7/31/2017)

GM: Sean Nittner
Players: Karen Twelves and Adrienne Mueller
System: Blades in the Dark

Note that applies to the next six months of Actual Play reports: I fell way behind on my AP reports so these are written many moons later based off my notes. The accuracy will likely vary greatly! Also, this is just transcribed from my notes. Things may be out of order!

Stromfass Family Reunion

Intrigued about the “Ghost Train” Elke and Hix decided to find out what the could about it, and Hix, coming from a family of Rail Jacks, figured she had an in…maybe.

She wanted to reach out her cousin Michter, but was afraid to do it directly, in case her mother’s word still had the Rail Jacks turned against her. It seemed like the Jacks in Ironhook took to her well enough, but she didn’t know what things were like in the land of the free.

She took a circuitous route (because of course she did) and found Old Jo, a family friend, in the Hooded Fox. Old Jo told her they missed her quite a bit, and that Hix should come back and make amends. Hix wasn’t ready for that yet, she just wanted to talk to Michter first. Could Old Jo set it up? Sure, but it gold Old Jo concerned enough to keep looking in on Hix and find out what she’s been up to [Devils Bargain].

Michter met Hix in the Devil’s Tooth, a speakeasy for psychonauts in Nightmarket. The Devil’s Tooth was filled with sparkcraft inventions (like the espresso machine) and ornamentation (like the electric lights, all running through glass tubes with brass fixtures to give the feel of a mix between a leviathan hunter ship and a sparkwrights laboratory. The whole building abutted an old lighting tower, and Hix wasn’t sure if that was just for atmosphere, or if they were siphoning power from them, or both.

Across the street, Elke was dining on the patio of the Hot Pot, a hipster tea house. She was keeping an eye in Hix, just in case word of Phin (Hix’s mother) meant trouble for her crewmate.

Michter (Rail Jack, charming, secretive, brash) showed up at the appointed time. My notes are a little blurry at this point, so here’s the bullet points I recorded form the meeting:

  • Michter hates ghosts and thinks Elke is a snob (Elke must have joined the convo!)
  • She couldn’t  to say what happened on the train, they never got a chance to look at it, Spirit Wardens swarmed in quickly. She did say there was a porter, Maroden Grell, who stumped into the car on accident and quickly backed out. He might know more.
  • The description of the train coming in thought reminded Hix of something, but she couldn’t quite make it out. It was right on the edge of her memory. Hix decided to Attune (to the Keeper of the Flame) to find out what part of her memory she was missing (from when she indulged in Servitude in a previous session).
  • Hix looked into herself and recalled the image but Michter, who was close to her was caught up it it’s rapture as well (Devil’s Bargain) and the Keeper of the Flame channeled through her and displayed a glorious visage, which would have destroyed the minds of everyone inside the Devil’s Tooth, if not for Elke rushing in from across the street and breaking Hix free of her connection to the Keeper (Protect action).
  • Though the people were protected, every Sparkcraft device in the Devil’s Tooth shorted out, overheated, or exploded and the were kicked out. Permanently!
  • Hix tried to explain to Michter that she was possessed, but it wasn’t enough, she was still terrified and felt betrayed.
  • Elke wanted to see what it was, and nearly was blinded by looking at the Keeper of the Flame, but was able to save herself through raw willpower, and was merely left with migraines.

Undeterred by all this they went to Gaddoc Rail station to learn more.

Gaddoc Rail

At Gaddoc they found the porter Maroden and convinced him to show them the rail car that came in. Hix felt a strong affinity for it and sneaked inside it. When she opened her mind and attuned she saw the emissary that the Keeper of the Flame had sent on the rail, down to the Imperial City. She saw the peace offering the Keeper was making to the Emperor. And then she saw his horrible wrath. Everything and everyone on the train was not just destroyed, but obliterated. Attuning to the source of that power, the Emperor’s wrath continued to travel through her and would have destroyed her, if she did not close the circuit and funnel his wrath directly to the Keeper himself. [The most desperate of attune rolls, partial success, resisting the Level 4 harm inflicted]

In that horrible moment the Keeper’s light was snuffed out, and his presence to all who worshiped him was cut off. The god was all but destroyed, the only thing that remained in him was the connection held by Hix. She became the Keeper’s vessel, and a “a little bit of a god [2d6]!”

Thoughts on this game

Wow, that was a lot more than I expected. I love everywhere it went, but like in other games where we were talking about wielding the most powerful forces in the setting, I’m concerned that I was getting too gonzo, tossing around things like the Emperor’s Wrath and the near-destruction of a god. What I realize now writing this, is that what I should have been doing for Hix  in all the sessions since then when she was fulfilling her servitude is to literally visit all the people and places the Keeper has touched and personally grant the god’s touch to them.


Actual Play – The Upper Deck (7/30/2017)

GM: Judd Karlman
Players: Jason Bowell, Pete Cornell, and Sean Nittner
System: Blades in the Dark
Crew: The Wobbegong Crew

Taken from Judd Karlman’s writeup:

In which the Wobbegong Crew pay to avoid prison, learn that the Red Sashes snitched, witness the beginning of a serious rift in the Billhooks and take Red Sash turf for their own.

The Wobbegong Crew

Charming: He was separated from the rest of the crew for most of the job and managed not to kill anyone. In his downtime, he did some healing and some stress relief with his buddy, Sawtooth.

Skannon: Our stealthy scoundrel took a beating this game, getting a 2nd trauma, Haunted, after he ghost cloak’d his way through the floor to avoid an irate Red Sash and nearly destroyed the ghost ward in the lower decks.

The dice were not kind to Pete tonight but Skannon was still awesome.

Maude: She led the charge into the Pig Pit during downtime. She started and completed a short clock to ally with the Lampblacks and hit a big crit to notice a big rift between Erin and Coran, putting together that Erin’s lover is the leader of the Red Sashes. Good stuff.

Another big moment was using a ghost to take out a flare meant to alert the Red Sashes and summon a war crew. Muade had a helluva night.


The Billhooks: Tension in the Billhooks gang is written in but today we learned a bunch about how that is shaking out. The group tripped over the tensions between Erin and Coran, both vying for control as the gang while Coran’s father/Erin’s brother serves time in Ironhook Prison.

Black Dust Pub: We met Edlun again in Duskwall’s version of a cop bar in Coalridge. This time the gang met with him to lower their heat. Edlun gave a good speech to a rookie about how the Bluecoats are just another gang. “Our job isn’t justice; our job is peace.”

I like Edlun more and more.

Morlan: One of the Billhooks saved by the Wobbegong’s in their first job. He accompanied them into the Black Dust Pub as a go-between.

The Upper Deck: This is the drug den the Red Sashes owned, taken by the Wobbegong with Lampblack help. It is a scuttled ship on the docks whose lower decks are flooded. There are buildings built on top of the ship.

The 5 Faces of the Moon: A Brightstone drug den with fine hash and dreamsmoke.

The Leaky Bucket: This is where the gang planned the job with the Lampblacks. Sean mentioned it and it worked. Is it in the book? Not sure.



I started the job with a 4 part clock for the guards surrendering and that was a poor judgment. I changed it to a 6 part clock, making the job less easy (but still not that bad).

The Billhooks Civil War (6 tick). Oh, it is coming and it will be bloody.

Upper Deck’s Ghosts Come for Skannon (6 tick). This was part of a Devil’s Bargain. I’m feeling odd about these because I haven’t seen one of these clocks go off yet but I know the players are watching them and they are exerting pressure in some way. I might have to make these somehow more urgent or worded better. I’ll keep an eye out.

The Job

The Entanglement Roll that started the gang was rolled with 0 dice. That means I roll 2d6 and take the lower. Once again I rolled double 6’s, a result that calls for someone in the crew to go to jail. They paid Edlun coin to keep their crew out of prison and tossed in an extra coin to find out who snitched.

It was the Red Sashes.

The job was born. Good job, entanglement. I rolled to see how the war between the Lampblack and the Red Sashes was going. The Red Sashes rolled 6 and the Lampblacks rolled a 2. It wasn’t looking good for the Lampblacks; they were taking a beating and had taken heavy losses. The Lampblacks were ready for an ally.

I described the Upper Deck to the group and they were into taking it. 2 guards at the gang-plank and 3 more on the old, beat-up, grounded ship.

They decided they would stealth across the water onto the ship while Charming dealt with the gang-plank bouncers. Dice hit the table and things got complicated. Skannon took trauma and everyone took stress. It was a rough job and it could have been much, much more rough if Maude hadn’t nullified the S.O.S. flare, if Charming hadn’t beaten down the last door, if Skannnon hadn’t weaved the ward back together.

It was good stuff, solid teamwork. Now the team has a drug den on the docks, a grounded schooner that is also haunted – as it was used as a meat locker for enemies by a long dead gang. That is a juicy piece of turf, a nice new part of the Wobbegong mythology.

EDIT: Re-thinking the Upper Deck Job is a blog post in which I think about this job and how I would’ve done the engagement roll differently if I could go back.

The Mechanics

The Scoundrel’s Grind is in effect and the players are feeling it. They were careful to grab turf without killing anyone.

I need to make an Action Roll cheat sheet for myself, just something fast and easy to get an idea of what kind of consequences I can offer for the various types of failures and consequences for success-with-a-price results.

Having a rule mentor at the table is a tremendous help. I had Jim and Aaron when I was playing Burning Wheel and Sean is invaluable for getting all of the moving pieces that make up Blades in the Dark.

Sean’s Review

Judd mentions in this post how it’s easy for a stealth or smuggling job to quickly turn into an assault job. I’ve suffered the same challenge, which is essentially how to create complications and twists in a stealth job that aren’t “they discover you and now you have to fight”. To that end I think I want to start brainstorming the kind of complications that you can use on sneaking jobs that add to the tension without changing it to another kind of job. I’ll start with some ideas, but if you think of more, please add them to the contents:

  • Being discovered by a bystander or someone who works for your target that isn’t loyal, but is self interested. They want to be paid off, to come along, for you to do something for them, else you’ll have to silence them another way.
  • The place you’re going into is different than you expected. Environmental hazards: traps, ghosts, swimming, tight crawl spaces, deathlands ash, a maze, snakes, poisonous gasses, locked doors, dimensional portals.
  • The people you’re trying to blend in with or avoid do things you’re not prepared for: drugs, passwords, supplication to a demon, wearing fancy or distinct clothes, dancing, socializing, holding a meeting, interacting with another crew (possibly an enemy crew), friendly contests, moving to an unexpected place.
  • Something holds you up and can’t come with: Gear lost, party split, silence prevents communication, niggling doubt, some time bomb you’re aware of, another concern that distracts you, or that you have to choose between.

More? I’m sure there are tons. Help me brainstorm more so that next time I’m GMing and someone gets a partial success or bad outcome when Prowling, I have some idea for complications.

Also worth noting I accidentally didn’t save the VOD in time (as word to the wise, Twitch only keeps non-affiliate videos up for 14 days. Make your highlights soon!) so the video for this session is sadly lost in the archives of Twitch ephemera.

On a person character notes, I had some great luck tonight. I rolled a critical success on a Study roll to find out what Erin and Coran were up to, and realized that the reason the Billhooks didn’t want to fight the Red Sashes was that Erin and Mylera Klev were secretly lovers. Thus the starting of the Billhooks civil war! (No ticks on it yet, but we know it’s brewing). I also loved using Compel to force a ghost to fly up and burn out a flare before it could go off in the air. That felt like it was the difference between ending the job and it turning into something even bigger!

Getting Mylera’s little brother as a captive. Dang, that’s going to spin some heads!

Actual Play – The Trouble with Aunt Thistle (7/25/2017)

GM: Sean Nittner
Players: Karen Twelves, Eric Fattig, Nadja Otikor, and Adrienne Mueller
System: Blades in the Dark

Note: I fell way behind on my AP reports so these are written many moons later based off my notes. The accuracy will likely vary greatly! Also, this is just transcribed from my notes. Things may be out of order!

Extra, Extra! Headlines in the Doskvol Gazette

Ghost train arrives in Doskvol! A train creeped into Gaddoc station last night in the hour of Coal without a soul on it! (Living or dead!)

Doskvol Spectral Society: Gifted Students or Spirit Traffickers? The Charterhall student organization suspected of trafficking rogue spirits as well as operating criminal holdings. Two business in their names, the Six Arms, and The Gills have been shutdown as this investigation continues!

City Council member assassination attempt thwarted! The culprit already in custody! In the dead of night, Derret Hawkeyes, a Skovlander terrorist, attempted to murder Lord Strangford in his own manor. Thanks to the quick action of the inspectors Hawkeyes was quickly fond and brought into custody!

Chief Scholar of the Archive of Echos Comprised by Sorcery! Lord Penderyn, appointed archive by the Emperor himself, found consorting with rogue spirits in attempts to perform the highest act of apostasy, the raising of the dead!

A new home for the Doskvol Spectral Society

Charterhall, unaware that the story was going to break, made an offer to the society that they take up an old owned by the school but currently unused, the Devil Hunter’s Hall. Thena Hellyers made the offer personally and thought it would be best of their contraptions and experiments weren’t present for all the other students to accidentally encounter (Harland and all his traps!) and for them to be able to hold meetings on their own (Too many sailors and known criminals meeting them on campus!) and they could help keep out the squatters that invariably kept showing back up in the hall and had to be chased off.

The Hall, originally called North Hook Hall and changed to the Devil Hunter’s Hall when the Spirit Wardens took it over, and and since they moved to Bellweather, it has only been used on occasion, and it’s passed through several hands until eventually gifted to the school, who were now leasing it out to the Society!

The deal didn’t come entirely without strings however. The Society needed to clean up this bad press they just got. Thena also wanted help with a hush, hush Charterhall matter. A collection of porcelain statues on loan from the Ankhayet family in U’Duasha had been stolen. As it was an open secret that the society did know many underworld figures, she hoped they could help her get them back. There was a sizable reward for their return [10 coin] and a lot of ill will if they didn’t do the job [-1 faction status if they turned her down].

A guest arrives at the Six Arms

Nadja joined us this session and brought in a new character Lulabelle, who often goes by Onye. She is a Severosi exchange student studying at Charterhall, who is also possessed by her aunt Thistle. Thistle doesn’t so much take control of Lulabelle as she does offer very loud opinions about everything she does.

We found her in the Six Arms, talking to a very well dressed patron named Orlan, who seemed equally enchanted with as with her aunt, who thoroughly disapproved him, as Orlan was possessed by a charlatan, flatterer, and con man (Nyryx). While chatting with Orlan, the proprietors arrived and started having a gang meeting right in front of her (Elke has been out of touch for a while and assumed everyone still in the building was part of the gang)!

Society Business

Elke announced both the new digs they would be moving into…and that as a matter of keeping peace with the Lampblacks, one of their members, if they were willing, would have to leave the Lampblacks. Wester, who had just had a huge fight with Ring, almost instantly volunteered. He said he was wanted here anymore and only wanted to go upstairs to have a private moment with Ring before he left, only Elke wouldn’t let him. She wanted to chaperone the meeting, and rather that be infantilized by someone mediating his breakup with Ring, he just stormed out.

They also got to talking about the stolen art, and how they would recover it, when Lulabelle raised her hand meekly and said “I’m not sure I’m supposed to be here… but also, I do know a guy named Harker, who is in Ironhook and knows a lot of fences on both sides of the prison gates.”

After the “how did she get in here?” business was settled, the Society offered to take her in, though they weren’t sure what the spirit cocoons would do to her aunt, and Lulabelle thought maybe it best not to jump into things, though she would help them.

The Score

Harker (vain, paranoid, volatile) had a bad history with Lulabelle. He had set her up to meet members of the Empty Vessel, and the deal went south, ending in them taking out retributions on him. Due to this he was not at all interested in helping his former friend, but Slides have a way of squeezing just a little bit more out of people, even their enemies. [Finding the art 1/4]

She learned from him that the person who moves high end art in Doskvol is named Cosmos. They know who is moving what, how much they are paying, and how it’s secured. Cosmos, in turn told them the only places something like those statues could be hidden is deep underground, someplace the wouldn’t be found by sorcerous Irruvians, as those statues were of the four demon princes Inixis, Khayat, Khuset, and Serekh. [Finding the art 2/4]

What rocked

Nadja was awesome playing both Lulabelle and Thistle and it was really fun to have a new player in the game adding a new perspective into the mix (including the “what the hell are you all on about?”. So good.

I had a good time with those news headlines. Each of them represented a faction (or factions) advancing their clocks and the fall out from them. They also presented some possible scores if the society was interested. A little derivative to use the paper as means of disseminating information, but in this case, it allowed me to cover large swaths of Doskvol with a single source.

What could have improved

I felt like I misread Nadja’s intention with Thistle. Originally I thought she was a justification for joining the Society (i.e. “I have this problem only they can solve”) an so, in order to onboard her has fast as possible, I immediately offered up the possibility of them solving that problem, which I realized later, was an integral part of her character. I think I steamrolled past what would have been a lot of fun to build up to. It could have been Lulabelle learning about the society and finally telling them about her aunt and then deciding what to do about her, if anything. Instead I started it letting the other players know and it was quickly offered that they could exorcise her immediately. She declined and we moved on but I did feel like I was stealing some of her thunder.

I think the Wester, Ring, Lizzette story is one that’s mostly in my head. It’s love triangle that is horribly tragic, but it’s also just with NPCs, so I’m just not sure there is any interest in it. Consequently, I’ve had all of those NPCs act pretty irrationally without it making much sense. I think I should either drop their personal story line, make it more explicit what’s happening with them, or both.


Actual Play – The Benthic Zone Job (7/23/2017)

GM: Judd Karlman
Players: Jason Bowell, Pete Cornell, and Sean Nittner
System: Blades in the Dark
Crew: The Wobbegong Crew

Taken from Judd Karlman’s writeup:

In which Skannon serves tough time for the gang in Ironhook, Charming get’s stitched up and Maud digs in the arcane muck for dirt on Mr. Pritchard. We had time for the gang to go on a good old fashioned smuggling job for the Billhooks – The Benthic Zone Job.

The Wobbegong Crew

Skannon/The Crow: Crow went to jail, served 3 weeks. The dice told us it was a tough 3 weeks and Skannon came away with a new trauma, Cold. He also came out with an iron hook tattoo on his left forearm.

Having incarceration as part of the game is interesting. When Pete rolled poorly, it made for an interesting moment. I didn’t want to narrate a difficult time in prison. When he was dropped off to the Bluecoats by the friendly sergeant (mentioned below) when Edlun walked away I said, “He is the last friendly face you see for 3 weeks…”

The only in-prison scenes we saw were his meeting with Torvul to pitch the smuggling job and the tattoo artist who offered to put an Ironhook tattoo on him to commemorate his time. “You can put the tattoo anywhere you want…you’ve had a rough time of it. Where do you want your iron hook if ya want one?”

I was listening to the video and besides realizing that I need to set up my mic and stop saying, “Um/Uh,” so much I also loved how much the crew showed emotional support for Skannon when he returned from a tough 3 weeks in prison. It helped give the decision real weight. Suddenly, it meant something.

Charming: Our Cutter got stitched up and managed not to kill anyone. He tried to bark down a Bluecoat captain but the dice weren’t with him and the Blackjack, the crew’s trusty boat, got a hole punched in its hull. It was a chill night for the Wobeggong’s Cutter, who still has level 2 harm, Stitched Up Bullet-wounds.

Maud: She did some work on becoming the Goat Matron’s high priestess and tried to dig up some dirt on their handler with the Hive, Mr. Pritchard.

Maud grabbed a body pff the docks from the Fog Hound job and carved it up on the altar, giving her a vision from the Saint of Witches in which she was in an office on the top-side levels of the hotel watching Hive warehouses used to traffick in Skovlander children were burning. Mr. Pritchard was nearby, his cigarette fell out of his mouth into a nearby puddle. Behind them were local Brightstone socialites with goat masks and daggers.

Sean also inserted into the fiction that the Saint of Witches, the Goat Matron will be angry about the human trafficking, her being a mother and all. Nicely done.

Other Doskvol Notables

Tarvul: The leader of the Billhooks is in jail and he had a scene with Skannon when he was incarcerated, offering a smuggling job to be delivered to his son. Played by the love child of Liam Neeson and Brian Blessed but old. /inside joke

The Pirate’s Cove: A ghost infested haven from waves and storms, surrounded by hungry ghosts. Sean pointed out that they know now that a crew of Bluecoats are under the water there and could be grabbed later to be dug up against the Hive if need be.

The Blue Gull: The ship that dropped a shipment of pistols and powder to the crew.

Edlun: The Bluecoat sergeant who went in to the gang’s HQ and asked them to hand over someone to be taken to prison rather than sending in the boys with shotguns and billy clubs. I got the idea for him in a G+ thread and thought I’d use him if this entanglement ever came up.


Charming got a clock during the mess with the Bluecoat ship.

Captain Bragg seeks out Charming.

What does that mean now that we know that Bragg is dead…or is he dead? Huh.

I also started keeping track of a few clocks that I’ll keep privately, just managing where different gangs are in their various struggles and ambitions. One of the things I really like about the factions is that they are all in motion.

The Job

A good ole fashioned smuggling job in the Benthic Zone. I loved it. It got complicated due to an unfortunate roll from their engineer, Kyle. But jobs always get complicated.

The gang accidentally interrupted a deal between the Hive, aboard the Fog Hound, and the Bluecoats, aboard a barge that was supposed to be in the shop for repairs. A small cannon hit the Blackjack below the waterline when Charming’s barked orders weren’t heeded and his Command roll (Desperate Position/Great Effect) turned sour. When things got messy, the Hive’s mercenaries cleaned it up, killing everyone aboard Bluecoat ship and sinking it while the Blackjack limped away.

Skannon got to be stealthy and deadly when he went aboard and killed the Bluecoat officer who ordered the shelling of the Blackjack. It showed how Skannon was now cold, how his time in prison has changed him.

The job was fast; we got it done in less than an hour, jumped right in with both feet.

They delivered pistols and powder to the Billhooks, who made it clear that they were going to use this new gear to give magistrates a very difficult time in the coming week.

When they got back to their HQ, a courier was there, delivering 2 extra COIN on top of the 8 COIN made from the job. Inside was a note from the Hive about silence being golden.

One more thing that happened in the murky area that exists between setting and mechanics. The job occurred outside of the lightning barrier. The engagement roll started with the crew out at sea, packing crates and barrels into their hold with the waves battering both boats. For whatever reason I didn’t want to start with the gang figuring out how to get past the lightning barrier.

I e-mailed the group and asked about that and we went back and forth about it a bit. Pete came up with a cool idea:

If I may: Dropping the Wall every time a ship needs to cross it seems like an invitation for disaster. What if all ships are equipped with Tesla or Faraday Cages to disperse the lightning as they breach. That way every time a ship breaches, it pings the two towers nearest it and that becomes a matter of record.

For clarity: when the lightning barrier fluctuates due to a ship breech, the disruption in current triggers a switch on a counting machine. That is what I meant by ping. I didn’t want you all to think that anything more complex than a difference engine was at work here.

It is funny that the way discussions are structured in the game is seeping in to our e-mail conversations about the game.


The pressure the game exerts through heat prompted Pete to volunteer Skannon go to jail in order to alleviate the crew’s heat. That decision left its mark on the character and the campaign. The heat is on again and we’ll have a rough round of entanglements to start the next session.

They jostled some stashed money around so they could go up to Tier 1, giving Skannon 1 die to roll (rather than 0 dice, which is roll 2, take the lower result) while incarcerated. Yeah, while in prison the only thing that you have is your gang’s rep. Harsh.

Throwaway comments on how NPC’s kept walking into the HQ led to us spending the crew’s advance on heightened security – a door and living quarters in the flooded and abandoned hotel under Brightstone where they meet up.

Blades on Air

What Rocked

This is from Sean.

Judd did a great job of giving us a real smuggling gig (better than I do with the Spectral Society). There are plenty of people that want things in and out of the city, and this was a great opportunity to be part of that business!