Actual Play – The Coalridge Demon Job (9/24/2017)

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

In which Maude’s guild leads to our doom.

This game was such a good one that I completely flubbed it up and didn’t save the video before it expired on Twitch. My lamentations know no end.

However, fortuantely Judd wrote up this great actual play post here:

I’m also (call it broken link paranoia) going to copy/paste his write up here as well!

Wobbegong Crew: the Coalridge Demon Job

In which the Wobbegong Crew try to set Maude’s demonic mistake right, angering the Hive and the Lampblacks in the process and brutally fail in the mines under Coalridge.

The Gang

In the end this game happened because Maude failed some rolls and turned Coalridge into a charnel house. Sean decided that Maude had a conscience, which is a gutsy and fun decision. My favorite parts of this game were when the players made decisions for their characters that gave the situations and supernatural setting stuff real weight.

Maude deciding that she had to own up to her mistakes and ask the gang to do a job to make it right.

Willoughby and Charming acting scared when meeting Roric’s ghost.

It is one thing to have a Heavy-Metal-Album-Cover Demon unleash hell in a city district and having a ghost smoking a cigarette but Sean, Rob and Jay’s decisions gave it all real weight and feeling. It was inspiring.

Everyone had moments where they shined and the group is getting better at playing off one another. From Charming making brutal use of Willoughby’s truth-hearing to the way Willoughby managed to be the only person to escape.

Rob’s write-up of the game is well worth reading over on G+.

Duskwall again

We learned a bunch about Duskwall tonight. From the warehouse where the Hive sells people and their brutal security teams to the fact that if you sacrifice the right people on the Saint of Witch’s altar you can rummage around in the dead bodies and pull out weapons.

Lucella: accountant for the Hive – sacrificed to the Saint of Witches

Atreus: The Saint of Witches blood-thirsty son, now roaming free in Coalridge.

The Job with text

We were going to do a job concerning the hostage they had and using that leverage to broker peace between the Red Sashes and the Lampblacks but Maude had a problem. She had unleashed a demon into Coalridge and the word I used to describe the quarantined district was charnel house. It was weighing on Maude’s mind.

Charming and Willoughby agreed to put the hostage job aside and help Maude try to put this demon back in the bottle. Charming grabbed 2 people from a Hive-owned warehouse where they stored slaves, or as the Hive calls them, Product. He grabbed a guard and an accountant.

Willoughby found a coin-generating job to do in Coalridge, finding out that a factory foreman had a vault with treasure in still in the deserted district. It was a way to make some money on the endeavor. They never got to it.

Maude took the 2 human-traffickers from the Hive and killed the one still alive. The Saint of Witches put weapons inside them. It was squicky! Killing someone in a fight is one thing but killing an accountant who is chained up, even one who helps the slave trade was uncomfortable for all of us. It wasn’t over the line but it was close.

The failed their engagement roll and ended up in the crossfire between the Spirit Wardens and the demon and its cultists. Turns out the cultists were Lampblacks.

It was a total disaster. They prowled into position. Willoughby provided a distraction, acting like a scared citizen. After that it was a disaster. Charming broke against the demon in an assault – he trauma’d out. Maude tried to channel the demon’s mother’s voice. She failed to contain that much energy and vomited blood.

Willoughby wanted to grab Charming and bounce but she rolled a 5. She got out but Charming stayed.

The Mechanics in White

I don’t keep track of the players’ stress; they do that. When Charming trauma’d out it was a surprise to me. The stress mounted slowly and surely. The scoundrel’s grind is brutal.

Demons are no joke.

I liked the way it all shook out. I can’t wait to see what happens next.



Leon F. Czolgosz, the assassin. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>;.
The Corliss Bevel-Gear-Cutting Machine. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>;.
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Wm. Hawes in front of jewelry store with intricate clock.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Grand View, City and Canal, Syracuse, N.Y.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1880.

Actual Play – Ending the Smear Campaign (9/19/2017)

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

Notes I jotted down before the game. Did these make sense back then?

Frost comes back with Lizette in manacles. Tells Hix about the investigation, asks what in the Devils she is doing.

Preceptor Dunvil (formally)

Danwood and Harland requested to consult on new cult activity. Someone is luring students into Crow’s Foot. When the come back they’ve started having violent nightmares.

I think this was partial list of gang members (sometimes it’s real hard to remember everyone in the crew)

  • Cavelle (ghost, destroyed)
  • Wester (ex-member, now a Lampblack)
  • Ring (ghost, ex-member, returned to the Path of Echoes)
  • Quintus (ghost, paranoid, insistent, savage)
  • Scapa (ghost, lawyer)
  • Thistle (leader in the True Path cult)
  • Brie (recidivist, part of the True Path cult)
  • Hoxen (ghost, knows the ritual of spirit embalming)
  • Myst (Tycherosi)
  • Leanna (Rosslyn’s of the Gills daughter)
  • Litha (part of True Path cult)
  • Lizette (leader in the True Path cult)
  • Irelen (former member of the Dimmer Sisters, broken)

More fallout stuff

The office of the Ministry of Preservation claims that the City Council are harboring rogue spirits any the council members have refused to comply with their attempt to investigate. Lady Slane is taking members of the council to appear before a magistrate. Judge Moria presiding.

Lord Strangfor has refused the summons and his ship, the Nightbreaker has halted it’s return to Doskvol and is now moored in the bay just outside the city. It is full of refined Leviathan Blood, much needed by the city.

Quellen asks Elke for Electroplasm, her supplies are running out.

Notes from the game

Oh Sean, why do you do this to yourself. Who is supposed to know what this means?

Ink Rakes: Echo Mae / Urlan Bertani – Have  vendetta against them because in Charterhall they reserved the reading room indefinitely and she could never find a place to study. But, also she was payed to draft the smear campaign by “The Hook”.

Corro appears – Armed with silver nail mercenaries and offers the Crow’s Roric’s location to buy his own skin.

Roric negotiates with the Reconciled who all vie for powered. Tipping Ministry of Preservation off about Reconciled (Maybe I meant council?). Sneaks one of them into use the Hand.

Entry into Crows Foot

  • Encounter Ghost Echo, which Elke destroys with Tempest (first time using it)
  • Scouted after the enter by Lampblacks (but one in hospital?)

Talk to Cross and find out “Hook” is Corran (one of the leaders of the Billhooks)

Convince Darmot (Bluecoat) to setup a meet with Corran in Tangletown.

Present at the meeting is Sergeant Lochlan (works for Dunvil)

Summon Ink Rakes with this lure:

  • We have info about the City Council
  • Meet us in a canal under Hill Street
  • Contact is Echo Mae


  • Wanted (8 Heat): 5/8 ticks
  • Spirit Wardens Destroy Six Arms: 0/4 ticks
  • Path of Echoes takes The Gills: 1/6 ticks
  • Find out who is involved with the smear campaign: 4/4 ticks (Billhooks, Bluecoats, and Ink Rakes)
  • End Investigation: 1/6 ticks (First tick gained by sending Inspector Frost to investigate the Church of Ecstasy)


Actual Play – The Roric Job, Part 2 (9/17/2017)

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

Trying to beat the Dimmer Sisters the punch and finding Roric. Not without ghost field troubles!

Be sure to check out the 11 minute mark of part 2, where I say “umm, and uhh” about a thousand times.

Blades on Air

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!