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.


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…