Actual Play – One Last Job (6/14/2017)

GM: Mark Diaz Truman
Players: Sarah Richardson, Liz Chaipraditkul, Brendan Conway, Karen Twelves, and Sean Nittner
System: Blades in the Dark
Score: One Last Job

Mark reached out just before Origins about trying out a on shot Score at Origins. Karen and I were pretty intrigued, always curious what folks are doing with Blades!

Marks setup was a very cool one (in fact, I’d like to bottle it up in a one page score if he’s interested). We were all hardened criminals who had a powerful crew, but we got sold out by one of our own and served a long time in Ironhook. Now that we’re out all our old resources have dried up, been acquired by others, or otherwise turned against us. All we have is each each other and a healthy appetite for revenge against the one that sold us all down the river.

Mechanically to show this Mark did two cool things.

  1. He asked us all questions about our crew and about the person who sold us out. In this we developed both our crew background and our future score.
  2. He told us all to take one trauma for being in Ironhook and then offered us all extra action dots and special abilities at the cost of additional trauma, which I think is a really eloquent way of depicting progression in a Blades game. By the end of character creation all but one of us were teetering on the edge of of being lost to our vices. We were a cold, vicious, unstable lot!

Mark also let us play with the advanced playbooks, so Karen play a vampire named Skannon Rockport, the product of a botched job by my Whisper. When Cross, a Skovlan woman died in Ironhook, Una forced her soul into the body of someone who was about to get out, one Aldo Vale! Aldo is an Akrosi man, and though Skannon is in full control of the body, Aldo’s thoughts and personality kept bubbling to the surface. Skannon continued to go by her old alias Cross, even when in Aldo’s body. The challenges she faced returning to his old home life and trying to desperate her memories from his were amazing.

We figured out that our crew mate Vond was too stupid to ever come up with a scheme like this, but that she had made a deal with Lord Strangford to deliver a demon to him, and part of that deal was also giving us all up. Because of this, and because of my mad love/hate relationship with Strangford, I decided to play Una Stanford, the lord’s disowned daughter. So good!

What Rocked

Mark had us figure out what our actual score would be build-a-bear style by going around and having each of us gather some information about the score (robbing Vond) and thus also detailing the world. This was really smart because by the end the whole setup felt much more personal and real, and our goal was super clear. It also let us establish that Vond was completely a puppet of the demon now, and thus we had to decide if we wanted to ally with the demon, avoid it’s notice, or openly defy it. Take a guess what a horribly traumatized group would do.

Being the bad asses that we were, this game was full of a ton of flashbacks that made every step we made make sense. Even when we botched a roll and ran into trouble, the flashbacks showed how it was part of the plan, or how we were prepared for it. I love that mechanic in general, but with this group we made it really sing.

Despite being some really hardened people, I loved our crew’s loyalty to each other. We’re all we had left!

Mark’s depictions of NPCs is so great. Our old caretaker was earnest in want to take care of us, but being to beat up and too far out of the game to really do any help. Vond was earnest in being completely out of her depths with the deal she arranged. She was a de facto cult leader but had no idea what her cult was all on about. It was Fight Club where she was Ed Norton/The Narrator and the Demon was Brad Pitt/Tyler Durden.

The radiant plans that emitted a sedative in the air… how fucking cool is that!

Mark’s demons are way the heck scarier than mine. I mean, really damn scary. *shudder*

“She was so simple when she came to me, You think you can take her from me. Do not change what I’ve made!”

What could have improved

Though I loved my relationship with Cross (the Whisper that saved her spirit by doing a botched possession) because of our seating arrangement and because of being the “weird” one I had some trouble figuring out bonds with other characters. I intentionally framed some of my scenes with Rail and Skinner, but overall didn’t feel like I made as strong of bonds as I could have. When Brendan used the the Mastermind ability to LITERALLY take a bullet for me, I was delighted as all heck, but wished I had a scene before that where we established our ties to each other more.