Actual Play – Doskvol Riots of 847 Playtest (5/27/2017)

GM: Sean Nittner
Players: Colin Fahrion, Alan Hodges, Jon Edwards, and Alex Miller
System: Blades in the Dark
Score: Doskvol Riots

Friends and I gathered around a table in the atrium at KublaCon to try out a little Blades. Though Alex hadn’t played before and Jon hadn’t seen the rules in many an edition, we were all really excited to play together. So excited in fact that we did a score, took a break, came back, did our downtime, and then another score to boot!

Doskvol Riots

This is my latest score and I’m excited about running it. The idea came from wondering why it is that Doskvol citizenry puts up with all the shit that rolls downhill onto them and deciding that sometimes they don’t. Some of that came from watching episode 17 of the Last Word where the crew incited the citizens to push back against the Bluecoats and the Spirit Wardens. And finally, there is a part of me that just wants to burn it all down right now, and this feels like a safer way that expressing that feeling, than say, kerosene.

Ryan Dunleavy’s beautiful map

Just before heading out to Kubla I was delighted because the canvas print I ordered of Ryan’s map of Doskvol arrived, and that meant I got to have this beauty out on the table during our game.

So pretty.

Ulf, Corro, and scoundrels inbetween

The score started with our scoundrels, who were in good with Ulf realizing that he was backing out of a deal with them because of pressure from the Hive, and in return he was getting a whole bunch of guns to help him take turf in Crows Foot.

Being the enterprising scoundrels they were the crew decided to knock over the Hive on their way to deliver the guns, slip away thanks to help from the Gondoliers (a flashback that ended up with them in debt to the Gondoliers and cutting them in on the action) and then selling them (or at least most of them) to Ulf at half the price the Hive would have charged. And thus a crew of weapons dealers was born!

In the process though, things changed. Their alliance with Ulf went from one of opportunity to one of idealology. Quillion who fought in the War for Skovlan Independence (aka The Unity War) decided that the war had never really ended, it just changed shape to be a battle on the streets of Doskvol. Ulf granted the crew turf (a tailors shop that he had taken over) and they made allies with the Gondoliers, but bitter enemies of the Hive.

Based on some inspiration I had talking with John about allowing the first session to be the forming of the crew, I was really excited that at the end of this we had crew type (Hawkers, a lair, some allies and enemies, a couple crew contacts, and could have launched into the next score. In fact, we were having such a good time that we did a second score!

What Rocked

I haven’t had a chance to game with my friend Alex in years. It was so much fun to be back at the table with him. In fact, every single person at that table were folks I hadn’t gamed with in some time and so it was a mighty fine reunion all around!

Jon’s character Quillion changed so much. Not only did his beliefs change but he was also beat up, arrested, and trauma’d out. And all of these things rolled up into each other. His trauma made him vicious. His arrest promoted his crew to bail him out. His gaping chest would gave him a vendetta against the Hive. (Note: His arrest wasn’t actually treated as Harm, I just though it would be fun to fill that space up for the pic. They had a lot of heat after the first score and when I rolled entanglements I got a 6 (even on 2 dice keep the lower) and since we had ended the first score with Quillion being chased down by Bluecoats and having just stressed out, he was the natural candidate)

We did some amazing reincorporation of NPCs throughout the whole game (something I wish I was better about doing in my weekly Blades game). When

What could have improved

The riots weren’t quite as front and center of the action as I was aiming for. Mostly they represented danger and opportunity (something Doskvol is ripe with anyway). Get to close to the riots and you’re bound to get hurt. Once you’re inside however, the area was effectively lawless as the Bluecoats weren’t really trying to end the riots so much as contain them to Crows Foot. That part worked, but there wasn’t a lot of meaningful interaction with rioters themselves. Food for thought for next time.

 

 

Actual Play – A debt to the Hive (5/23/2017)

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

Bellweather Crematorium (again)

On occasion Elke began to notice a pattern. A deep churning vibrating through the creamatorium. A vast furnace being ignited, machinery waking from it’s slumber and heavy gears grinding distantly. Then, just at her periphery she would detect the presence of a ghost manifesting, and the abruptly being incinerated with electropasm.

After days of noticing this pattern, and many more days of being locked up without any contact, she decided that she would command the Wardens’ attention. She waited until she sensed the ghost manifesting and then, quick ash she could, compelled it to come to her. And when it came, the tattered and ill formed spector that it was, it fled into her warm embrace and hide inside her spirit cocoon, sharing it’s terror with her.

When the Spirit Wardens, all covered in bronze masks, slammed open her door, electrified lightning hooks in hand, they stabbed them into her chest, destroying the ghost within her by burning her from the inside and causing her terrible wounds… but… she got their attention! “I want to talk to Maury!” [Desperate Command. Partial Success].

Decisions, Decisions

Hix sat in the Cat and Candle trying to do her work for professor Oilweather, but her heart wasn’t in it. There was too much going in and she couldn’t focus. They owed the Hive, but they also needed money. And Jadvyga was going to have to go off on a damn Leviathan Hunter, and Elke was still missing, and Harland was still in Ironhook, and overall things were a mess.

Ro was in the back chipping away at a block of ice to make a compress for Volette. Each stab at the ice chipping away at her own nerves. Jadvyga was trying to catch a mouse in a corner, playful but also distracting. Finally Hix blurt out (apparently apropos of nothing) “I don’t know what to do!”

Ogre, always trying to be helpful asked her if they were going to pull an LaRose, and get some payback for Volette? Tempting but that wasn’t going to make them any money or solve any of their problems. She yelled “GET OUT!” and tried to scare ogre away but allowing some of the thought tendrils of the Keeper of the Flame to fill the room [Controlled Command, Devils Bargain to invoke the Keeper, Bad Outcome]. Ogre stood, perplexed. This was probably the hundredth time that he had seen the Society invoke strange eldritch powers, but they still got to him every time. Finally Ro had to shoo him out of the room, he was happy to oblige.

The Council of Three

Hix, terrified of being in command, asked Ro and Jadvyga what they should do and the two of them decided that they should form a council to lead the crew. The three of them, each with a vote. And when decisions needed to be made, majority would win (and no, we won’t do what Arquo says just because he scares us…). Relieved that she could abdicate responsibility, Hix took that opportunity to let the Council (read: Ro and Jadvyga) decide what to do next.

And so they did. They were going to pay off their debt to the Hive and see if they could make some money while they were at it. And they brought Arquo along with them.

The Score

Corro had a simple job. Go find a ghost, his name is Roric. Roric has a box. Don’t open the box. Bring Roric and Roric’s box to me.

Wait, there’s more. This is Griggs. She’s a gonglolier. Griggs doesn’t like me but she owes me a favor. Take Griggs with you. She knows where Roric is.

Understand?

Oh, you want more? A way to earn money and repay your debpt at the same time. Fine. We can do that. There is six coin in this for you. Find Roric. Find his box. No, don’t open the box. Instead of bringing them to me, bring them to Lord Sukur in the Lost District. You want the job. Great. Good. Don’t open the box.

Griggs the Gondolier

Griggis is weird. Caught up in reverie sometimes, very concrete in others. She’s super proud of being a Gondolier, but also keeps secrets from them. The Society attempted to forge a connection wit he, and it work a bit [Griggs opens up to you 2/4] but when they also offered to perform the ritual that would protect her from possession, and by extension to join the society, that was pushing things to far [Win Girggs over to join the Doskvol Spectral Society 0/8, and would have lost the two ticks on getting her to open up if not for Ro’s charm, aka Resolve Resistance].

She told them where she believed Roric to be. Some place below the Centuralia club in Six Towers. Way below it, in the canals that used a lock and gate system to lower boats even further below the surface than most knew about. And into places that were guarded.

Cool, strange passages. Occult wards. Right up the Societies alley (er canal in the case).

Thou Shall Not Pass

[Our engagement roll (Stealth plan) came up with a risky result so…] We found the scoundrels in the canals deep under the city, blocked from advancing further by a heavy portcullis. On the opposite side two cloaked figures stood, still as statues.

After it was clear that they would not respond to normal conversation, and that they had no intent to raise the portcullis for the crew, Arquo called upon his connection with Setarra and ordered them to raise the portcullis. And it worked! It also terrified Ring, who happened to be on the boat with them, and her vaporous form fled from his demonic nature. [Risky Command. Partial Success]

They continued through the canals until they started hearing fog horns echoing through the passages, and further still they found an old stone dock outside a building built into the earth, wrapped in the roots of a petrified tree. Outside of it a ghostly hound with burning embers for eyes was growling at a patron, making it clear he was no longer welcome here.

Enter The Black Tree.

What Rocked

I can always count on my scoundrels to turn it up to 11. Corro wanted no part of this spirit trafficking business so when offered to do a little more in exchange for some coin, he was ready to hand off the rest of the job, and oh wow, what a job it became.

I loved that they tried to indoctrinate Griggs into the Society. She rejected the offer but we learned that she cares about the Gondoliers, who might not be all that much different than the society in how they take care of their own.

What Could Have Improved

I didn’t play Griggs as quite the senior member of the Gondoliers as I probably should have. She was sent on an errand to work with the Society, but she is their senior whisper and I feel like I played her as too much of a novice. Strange, ruthless, and haunted turned out to be tricky adjectives for me to use.

Actual Play – It all crumbles to ruin (5/15/2017)

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

“Time to blow some shit up and blame it on Scotsman Skovlanders.” “Let’s do some Rifts level Mega Damage.” “Your home planet needs you.”

The very short version of events:

  • The syndicate gathered in Tangletown, and Bazso Baz took hold of the reins. [Desperate situation. Bad Outcome. Much stress. New Trauma]
  • The Bloodletter came to pay tribute the Crows and once we had the gathered in the Crow’s Tower, used all those incredible munitions to blow the whole building, barely surviving ourselves.

Guns are like an erection. They are nice to have but pointless if you don’t use them for anything.” – Canter Haig… or maybe Adam Koebel.

Payoff

Coin: 0 (but a fuckload of munitions)
Rep: 0 (we blamed it on the Skovlanders)
Heat: 0 (Heat held in escrow, to be determined based on what we do with the arms)
Entanglements: Unknown

Downtime

Some time had passed so we opened up on the bottom of Scurlock Manor (the catacombs) literally filled to the brim with boxes of munitions. Canter is no longer allowed to smoke in the manor, but we put Oskarr’s Wierdos (the Adepts) in charge of watching over the explosives. We see a vignette of Cyclops dropping off the last box and then having to shimmy out of the room because there isn’t room to walk, then up some stairs past Bricks who was decked out in naval gear swinging a rifle around.

Arcy and Oskarr went through their adepts and determined that Talatha Slane was the one most capable of holding down office (Oskarr did this by interrogating them to find the best under pressure).

“Oskarr, your solution would be the most elegant.”
“Aw, that’s the nicest thing anyone’s every said about me.”

Arcy rounded Talatha up and took her to Rolan Wott’s opulent office (filled with radiant energy plants and feinting couches) and together the three conspired to put her (Talatha) into office as City Council Adviser to the Spirit Wardens. [Long term project. 3/8 ticks].

Once the paperwork started, she also asked Rolan what files had come across his desk and asked him to squash them. [Reduce Heat]

[+1 Stress for not indulging her vice]

Canter visited Revka and told her he needed an outfit appropriate for blowing this up. Something that will make me look good at an explosion. Last look was goth necromancer look, this time she made him a costume evocative of Rail Jack attire, but customized to look like like dragons and beetles. She built a Jacob’s Ladder into the back to form the most baller of collars. [Indulge Vice and working on Long Term Project to make Revka into a friend]

Oskarr pulled some strings to build the Canter Haig home for Wayward Waifs. Oskarr and Anja held a party to raise funds for the orphanage. Anja encouraged the people to think of the children. Oskarr brought Frog, a big-eyed orphan child to open their wallets (thought he didn’t let them pick their pockets!). At the end of the party Anja presented a deed she had signed by a lord. [Long term project 7/8]. We also learned that Anja was very interested in the occult, fantasy adventure, and the opera.

Later we saw Oskarr as the Red Hand going to the underground spirit den and faced off against another whisper in a cage match to control an inhuman (deathlands) ghost and send it to destroy the other. The Red Hand vs. the Master of Chains. He not only enjoyed the match but also defeated his opponent [Indulge Vice. Crit!] Oskarr roared with victory!

Oskarr poured through his tombs in Scurlock Manor to see if he could learn how to give Setarra back a measure of free will and asked Seterra to aid him in understanding their new relationship [Gather information with Study. +1d for Setarra’s aid]. Oskarr apologized to Setarra for binding her and then sent to find a way to fix things. Unfortunately everything he read, and everything she told him led him to only one conclusion: She was now bound to his will [Bad Outcome].

[End of Downtime Actions. Heat reduced to 0 because of Cover Operation. Vice Den generated 6 coin. Arcy took 2 coin in her stash for Something on the Side]

Planning the Job

Downtime is over. Blow up time is on.  There was MUCH discussion about what to do with all the guns. Much!

After much debate we decided to call all the crews together (Bloodletters, Billhooks, Lampblacks, and the Grinders) to Tangletown to discuss the actions of the syndicate. Arcy did all she could to bring the syndicate together fast enough so they could still make the meeting with the crows [Consort. Partial Success. Angering the Syndicate 1/4]

Calling the Syndicate together in Tangletown

Tangletown is the hulk a leviathan hunter that beached here ages ago. The sunken part has been sealed up and pumped out so it can be used now. Dozens of other ships are attached as well and the form a history of Akorsi ship building, showing the different technologies and styles used over the years. The locals ran around it like there was nothing new but for those who don’t live there it’s a matter of constantly catching your balance.

We met in the galley of a old vessel, a large table in the center. We paid a few coin for the privilege of using the room and they were all smart enough not to ask questions why.

The opening started great. We greeted them all and made what we were offering clear. We’ve got the guns, the Crows have overstayed their welcome, let’s take the Docks and Crows Foot for ourselves [Risky consort. Full success]

And then came the sorrow

After some discussion around the table Arcy finally proposed the official formation of the new Crows Foot. We’d split the Crows turn, the Bloodletters would supply the drugs, and from now on, the Lampblacks, the Grinders, and the Billhooks would pay up to us. This is how it is going to be.

Or is it. [Desperate Group Command. We had 13 dice to roll among all of us and could get better than 3. Arcy filled up her stress and trauma’d out]. Arcy watched, helplessly and Bazso made a swift coup. He agreed the Crows had to go, but surely ad more experienced gang should be running the ward. And in one fell swoop, he took away everything she had for months for. Her hand moved instinctively to her sword but Cyclops stared her down, reminding her of the place we were in.

A glimmer of hope

Though Arcy was out, and Canter didn’t know what to do, Oskarr “The Red Hand” reminded Bazso about the war we fought together, and how after the fight all the Red Sashes territory was gobbled up by the Crows and the Lampblacks, despite the fact that the Bloodletters were the ones in their fighting, not the Crows. That turf they took, it was rightfully ours. [Resolve Resistance]

Bazso’s smile remained but his eyes hardened. If you want that turf, then that’s a discussion we’ll have after the Crows are gone, and it won’t be one we’ll have using words!

Well, it wasn’t the worst outcome for nothing. But a least Oskarr made it clear to everyone at the table that any beef we have with Bazso isn’t about the syndicate, and (hopefully) the Grinders and the Lampblacks will stay out of it.

The taller they are

The score started simply enough. We’ll hire a demolitions expert to plant bombs under the Crows Tower. When it’s time to pay our dues, we’ll walk to the top, carrying a chest, and then when Lyssa opens it up, she’ll fine a note saying that the Crows can fuck right the hell off, and we’ll blow up the tower with everyone inside it.

Of course there was one wrinkle, that we were all inside of it, but that is something for flashbacks and superhuman feats of strength to sort out.

The plan went about as well as expected. Some of the crows noticed something strange was going in, so not all of them were in the tower when it fell, but Lyssa was, and a good number of the others. Twelve stories tall, there is no way someone would survive that explosion, and then if they did, they couldn’t survive the fall.

Except Blades were born to do this sort of thing.

Canter had to stay close to Lyssa, the only way to ensure she didn’t get cold feed. So he was right by her side when the bomb went off!

We flashed back to the plan where Arcy spotted where the building would likely fall and the trajectory to jump onto a shorter building as they went down. She grabbed Canter and with demonic feat of strength, leapt from the falling building, threw a grappling hood to catch hold of a chimney and then swung onto the roof, sliding all the way across it and off the other edge, only holding on by her fingertips with Canter dangling below, both of then nearly dead from the explosion and the crash (Level 4 harm resisted to Level 3 to both)

Oskarr meanwhile, attuned to the ghost field, found the remains of the wall that once connected to the Crows Tower, and with his Ghost Key, stepped into the ghost field. Only the key didn’t quite make it through, and we ended with him staring at his adorable familiar through the ghost field as it sniffed playfully at the key, seeming to ignore his plea for help, just as a ghost kitty would!

More of this turbulence found here…

Bloodletters on Air

What Rocked

Well, we put a permanent hole in the side of Doskvol, that’s not something you see every day!

We also got to see what happens when someone stresses out in a social situation. I don’t think I did a perfect job, but watching Arcy freeze up, out of her element, was  pretty cool.

Stepping through a ghost door into the ghost ruins of Doskvol and getting stuck there? How rad is that.

The fight between Canter, Arcy, and Oskarr after the syndicate meeting was intense. All of us at our wits end. Knowing that even though the plan was terrible, we had to go through with it.

At the end, Canter, limping along to find Lyssa. He had to confirm that she was dead.

Canter’s “you’re not my dad” lines were so good. Part in, part out of character. All Canter!

What could have improved

I really wanted to find a way to trade away these bombs rather than using them. Because the whole “free Skov” play isn’t going to hold up now that we’ve used them in such a public display. Still, how cool is it that we blew up Crows Tower!

I was really torn about what trauma to take for Arcy. Obsessed seemed like a strong choice. She couldn’t get over what happened and would be consumed by becoming more like Bazso. But it wasn’t quite right, she was broken in that moment and lost her edge. Soft was the choice that really made sense but damn was it hard to take. It’s still hard to take. In fact, Arcy doesn’t need to take Obsessed because I did it for her. In the weeks that have followed that game I’ve been thinking about how Arcy could still be a leader of the crew, still command respect, but while having lost her edge. She’s always been the most sentimental of the group, but what now? What if she can’t get her gangs to follower her, what if she can’t pull the trigger? In vigilantes I wrote that Canter killed Arcy. Did I just author my own fate? We’ll have to find out next game I guess.

Actual Play – Harsh Negotiations (5/9/2017)

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

Bellweather Crematorium

Interrogation continued and Elke began to stonewall the Wardens, which worked [She had a mean Resolve resistance] but soon earned their ire.

Soon after an affable character, who introduced himself as “Maury, the good cop” offered to help Elke if she would talk to him. Nope, no love for Maury either.

Later, alone in her dark cell Elke noticed water begin to seep in from under the door. Black water. Void sea water. And in the water a shape formed. It was Arquo! They had a short discussion but just before Elke could tell him any thing of true value it was cut off. We flashed back to Setarra pulling Arquo out of the void sea and telling him that she could help him again, but this time she would need four supplicants (read: nearly but not all the way dead bodies).

Harsh Negotiations

Back at Corro’s place, it was clear that both lords were interested, but each of them had stipulations [Desperate roll with a partial success from last session, against Tier III and IV targets. This was pretty brutal].

Strangford was straightforward. Needle came on his behalf to say they would pay five coin now, but required one of the Society to go on a Leviathan Hunt with them to prove the amulets would protect as soul from forced removal. That would mean two months at sea, with no guarantee of survival, but many more purchases in the future if it worked. [Serious complication].

Scurlock instead decided that he would have the necklace, with the Tycherosi woman wearing it as well. Jadvyga, meeting his eyes was enthralled as his willing servant [Severe Harm. In this case Level 4 Harm: Enthralled].

Ro did his best to stop this enchantment. He had been passing around a very fine spirit mask [Tier 4 from their acquire asset roll] for the guests to view the amulet with, and tried to attune to the mask, reverse it’s function and the use it to block Scurlock’s gaze. [This was a case where I required an action roll before allowing an attempt at resistance.] Ro rushed past several guests [Devils Bargain to start a clock “This party is over” 1/4] and tried to attune to the mask. He couldn’t control it though [Desperate Attune, Bad Outcome], and the mask threatened to draw electricity form all the lights and cause a huge disruption [3 more ticks on the “This party is over”] but instead he held the force within him and was electrocuted for his efforts [Resist with Resolve. Level 2 Harm].

So it was left to Jadvyga to fight of Scurlock, which she could only do by allowing the fragment of her that is demon to take over for a moment, and then falling unconscious… but doing so without anyone noticing [Resisted down to Level 3 Harm: Catatonic, Pushed to Prowl (Full Success) so she took a few steps back from the landing and slipped into another room before passing out].

Ro took umbrage with Scurlock’s attempt to take Jadvyga away from him and kicked the lord out, rescinding their offer to sell to him. Volette was sent to watch him and make sure he left the party and didn’t linger.

Maury, adviser to the Spirit Wardens

Payoff

Coin: 5 (it would have been 10 if both amulets were sold)
Rep: 5
Heat: 2
Faction: +1 Leviathan Hunters, -1 Lord Scurlock
Entanglement: Usual Suspects [Of course, Volette on the trail of Scurlock didn’t make it very far…]

Downtime

Not sure where to take her, Ro brought Jadvyga to lay low at Salia’s place, and Quellen to tend to her. Hix found it awkward to be around Salia, as expected. [Recovery]

While there, Ro also asked Quellen to tend to his wound… for some time. Not more awkward at all [Recover x 2]

Hix went out and stole cables from Sparkwright tower and then used them to run lines between the lightning tower she is attuned to and to the perimeter cabling at Ironhook [Indulge vice: Servitude x2]

Jadvyga and Ro, now concious, made their way to the Vale to relax and indulge [their vices!]

Hix tried to catch up on course work by schmoozing with the other students, but ended up telling them all about being in Ironhook and becoming the subject of all their gossip [Long term project, Worked on with Consort. Devil’s Bargain, everyone is talking about Hix now]

Late that night, Hix fell in a fugue state and when she woke, smelled like Gaddoc station [She sneaked in and tampered with the Imperial Telegraph station, as part of her debt to pay back to the Keeper of the Flame]

Volette returned covered in bruises and with a fractured leg. She didn’t give the Bluecoats anything, in fact she helped convince them that the Society were just students, but they didn’t let her off easily [Partial success on the Entanglement Roll -> Level 2 Harm. Also performed the Reduce Heat action while in there because of the All Hands move]

Aqruo, not wanting there to be another Brogan incident (Setarra just took him when Arquo was falling behind) found her a body. Someone that was probably a very bad person, he was sure.

What Rocked

I had planned to think on what the consequence for the partial success would be and totally forgot to do it. So at the start of the session I asked what the the lords would want if if they were the kind of people to just take it. And then answer was “everything and yep!” I was really happy how well that came together. This is was a particularly gnarly set of consequences, but I think they were just right for the folks involved.

Seeing Hix and Salia together was awesome. She’s changed and they aren’t sure why or how, but Ro has suspicions!

Elke is tough as hell. I like watching her keep fighting the wardens.

What Could have Improved

I feel like there are a lot of folks who have reason to hate the Society, but aren’t doing anything active about it (Captain Booker and his First Mate Kamelin Prichard, Polonia Clelland, Rosalind from the Gills, Judge Mora, Augus Mendelson, Corro Younghusband, Major Crane, Corran of the Billhooks, all of those damn Grinders, and probably more). It’s not that I want to be particularly easy or hard on the society, I just want to feel like the setting has verisimilitude. Pull a job on someone, spit in their eye, and they are going to be upset. And if they are the kind of people to take action, they will do something about it. My one reassurance is that Doskvol is a big city with a lot going on and each of these people have their own lives with other things to do.

 

 

Actual Play – Lords of Doskvol (5/2/2017)

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

The stocks below Bellweather Creamtorium

Drafty. Cold. Old stone banded in steel, inscribed with runes. Absent the ghost field.

Elke was dragged before three Spirit Wardens. Perhaps the same three that captured her and dragged her to this place, it was impossible to tell. The put her in a dark room and interrogated her about spectral crimes against the empire. There were four things they did (or tried to do) to her:

  • Learn everything she knows about Scurlock – Success. They know know he’s trying to infiltrate them, that he has a demon bound in his observatory.
  • Learn everything she knows about the Doskvol Spectral Society – Negligible success [Elke resisted and gave only the public facing information]
  • Learn everything she knows about Nyryx – Partial success [Elke resisted and told them what she knew about the reconciled in general, but nothing about Nyryx]
  • Spirit Brand her – Success [Permanent Level 2 Harm]

As they branded her Elke tried to work way into their hearts, if they have any, of at least into their curiosity but suggesting everything she was doing was for the better of the empire, to make all ghosts reconciled upon death. Her argument was so persuasive, it seemed like it might have cracked the shell on one of the wardens [Risky Sway. Critical Success. 1/16 Ticks towards Spirit Wardens rethink their Ways]

Back in School

In less incarcerated parts of the city, Hix was trying to win Oilweather over to “make up” for the work that she missed. This was helped by Elke doing some of her homework and Clelland gave Oilweather a nudge that he should do like he always does, and roll over for Hix. However, in their absence, Oilweather was keenly feeling the setup they had put him in. Danwood and bit by bit taken back most of his office until Oilweather was consigned to a small corner as he had been with Hellyers. Hix tried to win him over with praise of his work but he merely felt manipulated and decided this was this was where he drew the line. [Risky Sway. Bad Outcome. Loss of Opportunity and Consequence: Loss of Favor with Oilweather]. Hix decided she’d have to do this the hard way and started working back through more than a month of homework, exams, and practicum. [Resisting both consequences and starting a long term project 0/6]

Rowan showed up at the Cat and Candle asking everyone if they had seen Brogan. He’d been missing for a few days…

Let’s Get some Investors

Knowing that they needed to make some money, Hix suggested they take some of their existing assets, the amulets that Elke created and find some investors. Turning to their contacts Rosslyn and Salia the decided to host a fundraising event to find investors, specifically to powerful lords Scurlock and Strangford!

The plan was to put on a presentation of the soul protecting properties of Elke’s amulets. In addition to the two hopeful buyers attendance included several powerful lords and academic luminaries including also Roslyn Kellis, Polonia Clelland, Yerial Dandwood, Donovan Jayan, Vincent Strathmill, and Augus Mendelson.

Salia had arranged for a beautiful manor home to put on the display, but they didn’t realize until it was too late that the home was Corro Younghusband’s. [Risky opening situation. Thanks Engagement roll]

Wining and dining the guests the following bits came out:

  • Scurlock appeared without announcement and introduced himself with the utmost grace and charm to Jadvyga.
  • Strangford arrived in a wheelchair with his body man Needle and immediately dismissed all pleasantries. He was here to see the goods.
  • Corro tried to steal the show and gain favor with Strangford but was blocked by Ro and Hix. (Corro’s influence with Strangford 1/4)
  • Corro tried to get a cut of the profits but was stymied on that as well (Hive gets a cut 2/4)
  • Hix tried to size up Lord Strangford’s body man Needle and she could tell that he really loves his job, and that Hix was trying to size him up.
  • Hix charmed most of the crowd and kept them but curious and entertained by her. Except Augus. For him, it was clear that the Spectral Society were just charlatans.

We ended with both buyers sold on their product… but each of them having a catch! [Desperate sway to seal the deal. Partial Success. Many bad things to come.]

What Rocked

I loved playing up the very different lords. Scurlock is very courteous and observes a lot of societal norms, where is Strangford is a mean old man who doesn’t have time for this shit. Both are ludicrously deadly.

Acquiring a Tier 4 Spirit Mask to contend with both Strangford and Scurlock was a good plan!

Ironically they didn’t want to actually do any illegal spectrology during the presentation so they used a lot of parlor tricks and magnets to show off their work. Luckily they had two really powerful whispers in the room that could first see through the tricks but also see that the amulets were the real deal.

What could have improved

I think I’ve played Corro as all bark and no bite. He gets really angry that the DSS won’t do what he wants, that he can’t control his brother… but don’t feel like I’ve really done anything with him yet. I don’t want to constantly throw one thing after another at the society, but they’ve got some enemies (Clelland, Major Slane, Corro, etc) that I think need to take some decisive action.

Actual Play – Welcome home Hix. Now who is in charge? (4/18/2017)

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

Hix walked into the Cat and Candle as Yadvyga was leading a trivia night. The cafe was hopping with activty and some spirits (of the alcoholic nature, not the dead) had slipped in. Elke’s tea was noticibly missing from the beverage offerings, but otherwise the place looked the same as Hix left it… except who was that in their booth?

Ro sat alone in the “leaders” booth watching the events of the evening, and when a bedraggled woman who stank of her own sweat and urine approached he was quickly to inform her that this booth was only for — oh wait, this was Hix! Ro quickly apologized and made room for her at the table.

When Jadvyga was able to break free of the leading the trivia questions (an unusually high number of the questions about demonic influence) she met Hix and Ro at the booth and together they caught Hix up on what had happened since she was hauled off to Ironhook. Well not everything, but the did tell her about one problem they currently had…

Polonia Clelland

Professor Clelland was still tied up in the private library, under watch from Vey, who she was staring daggers at. Thank’s to Ro’s trance powder the didn’t have to hurt her to get her tied up, but when she “woke” (both from the unconsciousness and Scapa’s possession) she was furious. The leaders made their way to the back and Ogre stepped into cover for them. Ro tried to cut him off “Watch the table, but don’t sit at it!” but he wasn’t able to stay long enough for his words to carry much weight. Ogre paused while Ro was eyeing him, but then continued toward it once they had retreated into the private library.

Outside the library Wester and Volette were standing guard doing their best to pretend like they couldn’t hear the muffled cries of professor Clelland (Vey had drawn the short straw).

Clelland immediately fixed her gaze upon Ro when the entered. She only remembered it vaguely, but she was certain he had poisoned her. The Iruvian Slide tried to butter her up with a story about how they were trying to talk down the ghost that possessed her, so of course he said that he’d go along with the ghost’s plan… it was all to protect her [Risky sway. Partial success]. Polonia calmed down and agreed that she would not yell out if the gag was removed, but she did not trust Ro’s story.

Hix ordered Ro to untie her and then asked plainly what the Society could do to make things right with her [Desperate swat. Full success]. Polonia massaged her stiff wrists but otherwise made no motion to move from her chair (she was still outnumbered four to one in enemy territory) and agreed that she would discuss what happened with Hix. Negotiations were open.

After some back and forth Polonia agreed to not press charges against the DSS and to help Hix become reinstated as a student, if the society shared their ritual of protection from possession with her and agreed to never do her harm again. The shook and as they did so Hix’s arm lit up sparkling with electricity (visible in the ghost field forming the shapes of machine cogs around her). Polonia winced as her electricity coursed through her own arm and left a brand upon it… the mark of the Keeper of the Flame. [Ghost Contract]

Downtime

Crisis averted, each of the crew set out to tend to their own affairs…

  • Ro went with Hix to the Vale to find partners for the evening. [Indulge vice]
  • Jadvyga hit the books, claiming that she was working on Elke’s research, but instead just studying demonic influence [Long term project completed. Detection of demonic influence now possible]
  • Hix, paying off a portion of her debt to the Keeper of the Flame, consecrated the Cat and Candle as a sanctum of the Keeper [Paying off the recovery action the Keeper took on her behalf under Ironhook].
  • Ro practiced his game face in the mirror [Training Resolve]
  • Hix built a shrine to the Keeper of the Flame in her home. Harland wasn’t around to object [Indulge vice]
  • Jadviga approached Arquo as he was hunting Major Crane. She had to to travel a long way in the rain to get to him and her fine hat was destroyed in the process but when she found him “I need a piece of your hair.” “What?” Arquo shouted over the rain. “I need a piece of your hair.” “What?” The same lines repeated several times as Arquo first could not here, then could not understand why, but eventually conceded. He had asked her to do enough strange things, he would abide. [Long term project project to understand the nature of the demon’s bond to a mortal started.]
  • Ro dragged Jadvyga out to go shopping, which they both enjoy and her tailor Malcolm Dundridge particularly appreciated her bringing Ro by, and he was not shy about making advances on the Iruvian as he was having him fitted. [Indulge vice]
  • Arquo returned to the Cat and Candle, hungry and wet and noticed a change. Where he had finally built up some status among the society and many, at least in the student patrol, looked up to him as a their leader before, now that Hix was back they reverted to deferring to her. He agreed…she was his better. He retreated into the night to see his family to feel wanted and needed again [Indulge vice]
  • The Student Patrol gave the appearance of students in a benefit society [part of All Hands] by hosting a Hallows Eve trivia night. [Reduce Heat]
  • Meanwhile Hix took the Spectral Defenders to Riven to seem them patched up [Recovery of a Gang]

A few parting moments

Ro caught Arquo on the way out to see his parents and just to twist the knife a bit deeper he encouraged Arquo to keep his side projects (read: hunting Crane) to himself.

We had a flashback to Hix being dumped in street out of a Bluecoat carriage and there being someone there waiting for her. Salia, who offered a hand and a warm meal…quite a different person than the Salia who’s heart Hix had broken.

What Rocked

There was this great moment where Eric chose to have Jadvyga not indulge her vice (and thus gain stress because she had trauma) but Ro approached her and pulled her out to go shopping with him. It was a great bit of player and character generosity.

I loved seeing the status games that started the moment Hix returned. Who was in charge, and of course Adrienne was wonderful about one of her character’s casting all kinds of shade on another one of her characters. Poor Arquo.

Wow, those negotiations with Clelland were rough. She had zero desire to let the Society off the hook, and was really grinding the repercussions of their actions into Jadvyga (who she saw as soft), but also she was outnumbered four to one and not at all sure that the Society wouldn’t just killer in then and their. The negotiations were rough!

What could have improved

As frequently is the case I worried a little bit about not keeping up with the NPCs. What is Major Crane doing? What about Scurlock? How are other factions reacting to Hix the snitch getting out of Ironhook? I think these are good questions for me to be asking myself between sessions. It’s both the beauty and the challenge of a having such a large cast, that it’s more than I can keep track of all at once. The good news is I don’t have to, but I’d still like to have a better sense of the world as a whole.

Actual Play – Young Arcy (4/13/2017)

GM: Stras Acimovic
Players: Karen Twelves, John Harper, and Sean Nittner
System: Blades in the Dark

We had been dancing around this idea ever since The Last Word did their flashback episode with our truly Canter Haig. What happened to Arcy back on the Nightbreaker. We know about the mutiny, but what about before then. Well, I can tell you this, it wasn’t what I expected.

Setup

Stras agreed to run the game for us. GMing in an existing campaign can be tricky, what if you portray something in a way that is different than the original GM does? What if you create a conflict in the setting, chronology, etc? We talked about it in advance and felt pretty confident that any strange horrors Stras thought up would be excellent additions to our lore!

Character creation was a delight. We picked the characters out of Arcy’s past: Young Arcy Keel, Cole Harrington, and Daphnia Dalmore, or Dee. Stras wanted to establish a little more about the characters ahead of time so he had us each write down a few traits for our characters. Here’s what they looked like:

  • Arcy (First Mate 1, Enforcer 2, Laborer 1, Hunter 2)
  • Cole (Sailor 2, Enforcer 1, Hunter 1, Underworld 2)
  • Daphnia (Sailor 2, Backstabbing 1, Noble 1, Leader 2)

Mechanically we handled all rolls as fortune rolls (1-3 = poor result, 4-5 = standard result, possibly with complications, and 6 = great result) and when rolling rolled one die plus any one relevant trait. So when Cole did shady dealings he rolled three dice (one to start plus his Underworld: 2)

I’ve got 99 problems but Leviathans ain’t one of them

We started the session of with quartermaster Harrington getting bad news. We haven’t spotted a Leviathan in a very long time and we’re way below quota (which was knows for a while) and we’re nearly out of potable water. The filter that creates drinkable water (out of void sea) wasn’t working.  Two problems he wasn’t about to be blamed for.

What followed was a few just amazing scenes:

  • Harrington and Daphnia investigating what went wrong with the water filter (where in Harrington found that it had been sabotaged) and Daphnia made friends with some of the engineers by encouraging them to hate Arcy for curtailing their rations).
  • Arcy reported the issues to Strangford (wherein she disappointed him by not intuiting the way to find Leviathans, but we also found out that he was the one who introduced her to Julian and that her maiden name was Arcy Thorn).
  • Cole turned out to have an entire illegal market of rations, drugs, and creature comforts that he operated out of his quartermasters office (and that his log book had nothing to do with ship inventory and everything to do with his own operation.
  • Daphnia turned more and more people against Arcy either because
  • Ship tensions rose as the chief of engineering also tried to cast blame on Harrington and Arcy, to which Arcy quickly escalated to violence.

We’ve spotted one bigger than we ever seen before!

Amid the conniving and politicking and discount giving (Harrington was so good) we could have played for hours just squabbling over ship rations and who’s left taking the blame, but Stras wasn’t going to give us a Leviathan Hunter game without a Leviathan to hunt!

The Starhunter, which was late in reporting in finally showed up and it’s captain was alight with excitement. “That was the biggest one I’ve ever seen!” The conundrum of course being that usually only known leviathans whose method of harvesting blood is well documented and practiced are hunted… but with an opportunity like this, what choice did we have?

Void water boiling, tentacles like massive pillars reaching into the sky, and a single giant baleful red eye stared us as the ship approached. In this moment of crisis we saw the ship come together, Harrington keep his cool and fire a crack shot.

Dee, confronted with a wild tentacle whipping around sent Kolin with a K, and many others into the fray to hold the deck, which they were able to do but at the cost of losing many sailors.

Arcy attempted to pin the tentacle under a giant chain but got knocked overboard and nearly fell into the boiling void see. She plunged her sword into the tentacle as it was rising up and rode it up to the top of the decks roaring at the top of her lungs to call the Hunters. Captain Strangford saw her and directed the ship to gun the engines so the ship righted itself and slammed into the tentacle and then sent in the squad of hunters to start in on it. [Crit!]

Harrington was taking crack shot at the tentacles, to harry rather than to harm, when he heard that there was damage below decks and water was flooding some of the levels. He dropped his rifle and ran full tilt to his quarters where he found there was already a few inches of boiling water on the ground! People were trying to use the pumps but it was coming to too fast (and too hot!). Cole saw that some of his stash was already ruined. He saw the hatch that was flooding the passage with boiling water and started organizing the crew to close it off. “Everyone….you’re all assistant quartermasters. 50% off for the rest of the sail….er, for life, if you get that hatch closed!” [A devils bargain. Oh how that pained him!]

Fleeing into the night

Eventually the damage was too great and captain called for a full retreat. We made it back with the Nightbreaker more or less in tact but the Starhunter was lost. However the haul was amazing. As we sailed the Leviathan opened all it’s eyes at once and we say tortured ghosts trapped in it’s maw, drawing Arcy’s attention where her eyes locked on it for a moment.

Our last moments…

…Harrington in his quarters with all the waterlogged goods marked 90% off, and the badly burned sailor in his bed with a lotus pipe, completely wasted. A new line of customers, all battle scarred and beaten from the fight, and Harrington was wincing at the discounts he had to give them!

…Dee was checking with everyone in the mess to make sure they were all getting their double rations and double grog the captain had offered, but making sure they all knew it came from her.

…Arcy was called back into Strangford’s office. It was a somber mood. We met our quota but many lives were lost. Arcy had the list of all the hunter’s lost. “Good work out there Arcy. Now it’s on you to report to their families and let them know what happened. And it’s on me to do my duties…” and he went back to his books to start sketching the image of the Leviathan into them. The Dream Render. On her way out she stopped and looked up “and Thorn… I’ll be at your wedding.” Though carrying a heavy burden Arcy smiled as she walked out of his office.

Leviathan Hunters on Air

What Rocked

Stras didn’t notice that Dee had “Backstabbing” as one of her traits till a good ways into the game so he assumed a lot of her camaraderie with the crew was genuine.

Stras, more so than I did in the Ironhook game, did a great job of showing the crew’s specific to being on a hunter. There were the deck hands, the engineers, the Hunters themselves, and the officers. It was great seeing these factions at work against each other! Also, much of the crew were criminals who had been mustered into service…i.e. not happy to be on this ship!

John is a fantastic GM but what we don’t see often is that he’s an amazing player. Cole instantly recognized that a) it looks like engineering and the hunters have problems and b) there was no way in hell he was going to allow those problems to be blamed on him or Arcy. It was so good.

Karen played the most devious Dee I could imagine. I mean, of course she’s first name (scratch that, captain) now. She’s back stabbed her way to the top, smiling and making friends the whole time. Masterful. And a bit scary.

This game made me ask so many new questions. Did Strangford every care about Arcy? What changed that? How long had Dee been plotting to take over? If Dee was that ambitious ten years ago, do we have any reason to believe she’s not going to try and screw Arcy over again now? And where is Harrington? We let him slip away…but wow, now I want to find him again. So many threads to follow.

Acry’s ability to survive just about anything was cemented in this game where she went overboard and nearly fell into the boiling void sea but plunged her blade into the Leviathan’s tentacle and steered it back up on deck and into the nets and harpoons of the hunters! If there was any time that night I wanted to roll a crit it was then!

Kolin with a K, the “assistant” quartermaster. The best! Particularly so when Dee shoved some drugs in his system and commanded him to enter the fray.

Cole agonizing over the choice to give people permanent (permanent!) discounts to people to keep the ship from sinking. I loved watching him squirm!

“You dropped this!” Dee’s line to Harrington returning the rifle that he abandoned!

The Leviathan Hunter mini game. Wanna play it!

What could have improved

I wanna play again! Who sabotaged the boat? We’ll never know…

Actual Play – Hix Stromfass, Keeper of the Flame (4/11/2017)

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

After many weeks of only imagining the horrors that Hix had to endure, we finally had our score inside Ironhook Prison!

For this game I felt like I needed to do a little prep and thing about what kinds of people are serving time inside the Hook, here’s what I came up with:

  • Deathland Scavengers, trying to earn time off their sentence by making incredibly dangerous forays into the deathlands. Seen as disposable by the institution, but considered gods among men inside Ironhook. The stories they tell and the few trophies they can return with (often bizarre scars, eyes that no longer match in color, or deformities) earn them incredible respect.
  • Dunvil Labor Camp workers. These are the majority of the inmates, but also seen as the nobodies inside Ironhook. The only reason you work in the labor camp is because you’re not connected well enough to not work in the camp. New inmates, civilians, and other suckers do this work.
  • Yard Duty is by far the easiest work and what all the connected inmates aim for. Having shit all responsibility because other people are doing the work for you was the sign you were protected by someone by virtue of your gang status or leverage you have over a magistrate or other important officials. It also means you’re likely to have the best relationship with the guards, as they are typically on the take.
  • Pickers are a whole new breed of inmate. Somewhere between the laborers and the scavengers, the pickers have been sent through abandoned streets of Dunslough to pull bodies out of buildings and ensure the make it to the wardens for proper cremation. After the “incident” with the Dunslough tower turning off briefly and the city being raided by ghosts, there have been plenty of people unaccounted for. The pickers were the “lucky” ones sent to find them. If inmates thought mining the Mire was the lowest you could get, the just found out it could get worse!

Notable Gang Members

  • Deathlands Scavengers: Lady Thorn (haunted, brave, caring), Richter (patient, quiet, deadly)
  • Billhooks: Tarvul (Leader of the Billhooks, savage, arrogant, family man), Brie (calculating, confident, moody, Hix owes her one)
  • Rail Jacks: Noggs (cooperative, suspicious, insightful)
  • The Hive: Junker (charming, dishonest, fierce), Coil (paranoid, volatile, calculating), Hammer (secretive, melancholy, confident)
  • Independent operators: Nira Howell (doctor, drug maker and dealer, PC played by Karen)

Harland and the Hive

Once word got out that Harland had double-crossed the Hive, things suddenly got really bad for him, so we opened on the yard with him being cornered by Junker, Coil, and Hammer who decided they were going to show him what happens when someone betrays The Hive, which was a predictable beating, and an arrangement that Harland would be their mule moving product for them by any means.

After the fight, Hix found Harland, rejoiced in seeing him and then brought him to the only unaffiliated sawbones she knew about (Noggs didn’t didn’t want to help him as he didn’t want heat from the Hive), Nira Howell.

Sanctifying the Altar

With the promise of future drugs, after patching Harland up, Nira agreed to go with Hix and Harland on a cult fools errand. There was lots of discussions about cults. The Keeper of the Flame, The True Path, The Church of the Ecstasy of the Flesh… you name it. Getting there, however presented several challenges.

  • Hix had to convince Irilen to help them, mainly by handing over the spirit bottle he had ferreted away, with a promise that he could join the Spectral Society when he got out Ironhook.
  • First they had to find a way down into the sub-basements. Nira, who had been in for a while knew the right people to ask to find a path down to an on old cold locker that was closed off and covered with iron bands.
  • Which Harland summoned up his great strength to rip off and kick the door in.
  • Hix used a small electroplamsic powered hand lamp to lead them first into the old meat locker which now smelled fetid and and was covered with strange mold, and then down into the tunnels beneath.
  • Eventually they came to an old rail system, part of what must have been the Skov mines in the past, perhaps even connected to Coalridge if the tracks were still intact. At one point the ground dropped away and they had to scramble up the rails, balancing precariously to get to a landing above them.
  • They found an old ceramic oven, but it had been long extinguished and gathering dust for years. This was once an alter to the Keeper of the Flame, but clearly had been abandoned for years.

Hix, who was holding the ghost in her own spirit vessel (rather than the bottle Irilen had been keeping it in) and blew it into the alter while also channeling the electroplasm from her lantern made a temporary containemnt inside the old oven. After a moment the ghost expect it was free, and tried to escape but found it was thwarted by some invisible barrier and as it tried to to escape it began to scream and wail and the old clay oven started glowing brighter and brighter, electroplasmic arcs pulsing through it and down to the rail line which carried the charge all through it’s vast network. For a moment the whole underground tunnel lit with bright white light… and then dulled again till only the now deformed ghost was visible as it uselessly battering against the walls of the spirit well it was trapped in.

Payoff

  • Coin: 0
  • Rep: 4 (Target was Ironhook)
  • Heat: 3 (though Haraland traded an extra month in prison to cover that)
  • Entanglement: Rivals
  • Extra payoff: Hix got out of Ironhook!

What Rocked

It was so great to see Hix and Harland back together again. I almost wished Elke was there with them just to get the old gang back together again!

Adrienne has taken a really cool route with Hix in that she’s obsessed (it’s a Trauma!) with the Keeper of the Flame, but she’s not going to buy into Argus’ cult beliefs. She’s going to figure out the nature of her god not through ancient beliefs and secret rituals but through her own direct experience and a scientific method. I wasn’t quite sure how to parse that at first but it’s coming along really well and I look forward to her insight revealing things that are a) scientifically true and b) the will of her god.

Yay, a prison score! I wish I had done a lot more thinking about prison life (mostly I just concerned myself with the inmates, but I think the guards and the administrators probably also had very interesting characters and relationships themselves.

What could have improved

As before, I wish I had done more with Ironhook. I think it is a very cool microcosm of Doskvol (just like being on a Leviathan Hunter ship) and it would be really cool to set up multiple factions with their own goals specific to Ironhook.

I dropped a thread with Brie. She met Hix in the line and later helped her out but had an agenda of her own…or she would have if I had thought it out, but nothing really clicked for me so I never brought her back. Maybe she’ll come back sometime.

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.

Engagement

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!

Actual Play – Scapa’s Will Be Done (4/4/2017)

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

It was just a damn entanglement — Unquiet Dead — and then it turned into so much more.

How it Started

Vey, who had been letting Ashlyn Scapa “try out” possession by riding in her spirit cocoon was in class with Jurisprudence Polonia Clelland when suddenly Scapa leapt from her and into Clelland. That ghost is a quick study!

The professor hardly had a moment to fight her off before the possession was complete, at which point she cancelled the rest of class (the students are used to weird stuff, but not that weird of stuff, so they were happy to comply) and left to begin plotting.

Terrified, Vey came to the Cat and Candle to tell Jadvgya, who went to a streetball game to tell the shirtless Ro about it, who said they really needed to tell Arquo about it, and as a crew, off the went! They knew who she was after, Judge Casslyn Mora, the man who had her caged in a spirit bottle and forced her (and other ghosts of lawyers) to act as his advisers for years. Also a retired judge who was very influential with Charterhall!

Judge Mora, your days are limited

Racing to intercept Clelland/Scapa they just managed to catch her coach before it arrived at Judge Mora’s estate. She had already procured an invitation for tea (as Clelland) and was going to exact her bloody vengeance shortly.

Arquo stepped into the street, stopped the goat drawn carriage, and Ro and Jadvyga quickly hopped in the car while Arquo kept the carriage driver busy. With some very tenuous negotiations they convinced Scapa to change her plan slightly and instead of killing Mora outright, they would just ruin his life. A plus for the Spectral Society, as they knew killing him would have significant backlash on the school.

Infiltrating Mora’s Compound

Tagging along with Polonia as unexpected law students, Ro, Jadvyga, and Arquo made it awkward enough for judge Mora to turn them away and gained entrance into his estate. Despite being in Charterhall he actually had significant grounds (rather than the cramped lots most buildings occupy) and around all the edges of it were electroplasmic powered radiant lamps which allowed him to grow some incredibly varieties of violets and orchids.

Jadvyga and Arquo kept Mora busy talking about his flowers while Ro slipped inside with Clelland/Scapa and went in search of something valuable in Mora’s personal study. What they found of course was his very eeire and very trapped mirror that contained a ghost door within it. They found this out by the mirror nearly consuming Ro’s arm (and possibly) more into itself. [Desperate Attune. Partial Success. Trap resisted].

Outside Jadvyga kept Mora busy talking about his flowers (he even gave her one of them) while Arquo surveyed the grounds and found a cellar door that led into the basement of the building where gardening supplies were stored. Unbeknownst to the groundskeepers, Arquo slipped a shiv into the cellar door so that it wouldn’t properly latch when closed and they could get back in through it later [Risky Survey. Critical success!]

Flattering the the Judge

Once Ro had silently conveyed to Jadvyga that Mora must have a ghost key on him, she then continued to flatter him, up to and including planting the misconception in this mind that she was fawning over him. To that extent they ended the meeting with Jadvyga giving Mora a kiss and filching the key hanging from his neck while she did it it! [Desperate Finesse. Devil’s Bargain to indulge his misconception that she was attracted to him. Full success].

And they were off… with plans to do more mischief soon.

Creeping in the Dark of Night

That night, agreeing that bringing professor Polonia Clelland (even just her body) would be a bad plan, Ro slipped her some trance powder so that she passed out and was then tied up and held in the private study of the Cat and Candle by Ogre. Scapa, free to glided at their side went with them as they snuck back onto judge Mora’s estate and into the cellar door that Arquo has left ajar. But not before…

Jadvyga, at Arquo’s request, concocted a systemic herbicide that would destroy all of Mora’s garden [Crafting. Tier IV Plant Poison. Side effects of her own nausea resisted].

The three scoundrels clung to the shadows of the Mora estate (thanks shadow silk cloaks) and slipped past the judge’s house servants and back into his study, where they used the Ghost Key to open the mirror (by again reaching their hand into it, but this time with the key) and revealing a hidden alcove with three spirit bottles (there was once four!), each of which contained a restless spirit. [Controlled Attune. Full Success]. Ro trying quickly grab the bottles without actually stepping into the alcove only barely noticed and stopped his small black book of calling cards from falling out of his pocket as he snatched up the spirit bottles [Risky Finesse. Partial Success. Leaving behind evidence resisted]

Mora’s prized possessions in hand, the Society slipped back out through the cellar but not before poisoning all of the judges plant feed and watering canisters, ensuring that his entire garden would soon be decimated [Fortune roll based on the strength of the poison resulted in a 6. All the plants would be destroyed once the contaminated feed and water was spread by the gardening staff]

New Character(s)

Casslyn Mora [gracious, suspicious, fierce] is a retired judge and Charterhall University professor (he used to be dean of the Houses of Jurisprudence). During his active career Mora used the wisdom coerced from four fellow magistrates who he had trapped in spirit bottles to excel in his career. Now in retirement, most of his joy comes from cultivating his very rare radiant light grown garden and tormenting the ghosts he has trapped for his own amusement. Both of these pastimes are now of course, unavailable to him as the Society have stolen his spirits and destroyed his garden. He’ll have nothing left to do but practice his, not insubstantial, Whisper talents.

What Rocked

Since they never wanted to go in the alcove, nor did they particularly care, once they had stepped out of it and the mirror reformed they heard the spirit key clink to the ground on the other side. Not only did they steel his ghosts, they also made it impossible (or at the very lease very difficult) for Mora to get back into his secret chamber.

I had a lot of fun with Mora’s flowers. Jadvyga took some genuine interest in them and because of that he gave her one of them, including a flower to wear and a bulb, which now… is the only non-contaminated tulip bulb that exists from his garden! Also, Mora being both gracious and suspicious made for some fun opportunities. He grilled all of them about their studies and found them wanting, but when it was critical to put the charm on him (I believe it was a risky consort roll that they pushed up to getting standard effect, but I didn’t write it down in my notes) they pulled it off!

Holy shit… what do do with Clelland now? She already hates them (as she still believes they ransacked her home) and now one of them possessed her, and then they tied her up and left her alone with Ogre to watch over her. Holy crap.

Arquo. He had just become so… vicious! Oh yeah, and let’s also destroy his flowers. So mean. But it worked well to win points with Scapa. She wanted to kill him and the Society convinced her they could do worse by ruining his life. So far they’ve made some pretty good progress down that road!

I had a lot of fun with Ro’s arm getting pulled into the mirror… yes, I pulled that directly from the Matrix!

I love that what started as an entanglement turned into a whole score. The Society really does look after their own. They’ve won Scapa’s good will to be sure!

What could have improved

When Ro asked what was “of value” in the study I had that moment of “oh shit, I don’t know” but I did know he had a ghost door in the mirror, so I went directly to the mirror. I feel like I should have populated Mora’s study with more objects of art, curios, rare books, and of course, some of his flowers, but none of that came to me in the moment. A good reminder to either a) take some time to think on these things and/or b) look at charts and lists. They have good things on them (there is a good list of items on the buildings chart in John’s book!)

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