Play Report: Blades In The Dark: Locke Lamora Style

play-report

#1

Goal of this thread: Tell an interesting tale, get feedback, answer questions. Better understand the Blades system and see what we’re yet missing.

Last night was our second session of Blades In The Dark. We’ve done a very minor hack, as we want it in the central city (Camorr) from The Lies of Locke Lamora.

Central changes:

  • Different city map. Ours has canals everywhere.
  • No ghosts. 12 Gods, plus the Crooked Warden as the Unnamed Thirteenth.
  • The Right People have two philosophical precepts: Thieves Prosper, The Rich Remember. Thieve’s Prosper means we can’t just focus on ourselves, we help out Thieves. The Rich Remember that owe the poor for their wealth, and that they are vulnerable. When they forgot? A thief will remind them.
  • We decided to have 12 Capas (gang bosses) running large-scale gangs, with smaller tier gangs underneath them but rolling up to these twelve. They keep an empty 13th chair.
  • The books aren’t canon, this is our game.

This group has been meeting for years. We’ve had some player shift, and needed a game suitable for opt-in out-out play. Blades seemed ideal. This was our second session; we were missing someone from the first game and had someone who had to miss it. This worked out pretty well!

First session, we made some big decisions on our crew. We’re a group of Hawkers, which we interpret as selling tools, goods, and information to those who need it. We are The Night Market.

First session, our job was to transport Fireworks stolen from the Foghorns by the Fullcrowns to sell to the Jerks. Ostensibly, we use our profits to help out child thieves - because Thieve’s Prosper and what Camorr needs is a better way of raising children as thieves. We’re intentionally impinging on the territory of the Thief Maker, who we’ve all decided needs to be taken down a peg.

So, 2nd session. The players and characters (all of whom gave enthusiastic consent to this post!) who showed up were:
William (me!), playing Hammer the Cutter, twin to Sickle. Noble-born newly taken to a life of crime because inter-generational wealth is a gross system. Youngest heir of the Caruoso noble family.
Rachael, playing Sickle the Cutter, twin to Hammer. Noble-born eldest twin destined to lead and desiring of Commanding people to follow, rather than it simply being a given. Eldest heir of the Caruose noble family.
George, playing Mist the Spider. Was supposed to be an academic, now turned to a life of crime.
Clio, playing Pincher the Lurk. An actual thief raised from an urchin.
Tony as MC.

We always go over some safety mechanics: The x-card, You Are More Important Than The Game, Lines and veils. We already had chattel slavery as a line within Camorr and onscreen, as well as any sort of sexual abuse. Because the game deals with poverty, we keep on the table hierarchical systems that disenfranchise and harm adults and children, but not slavery. We added elder abuse as a line.

So. 2nd session played right off the first. Our first job annoyed the Foghorns, but they understood we didn’t steal from them and were really just the middlemen. To make it up to them, they asked us to ensure the leader of the Fullcrowns is no longer the leader of the Fullcrowns.

I’ll show how the first action goes. Assume the others are just as awesome, but I’ll simplify those.
William: Oh man. I want to … stalk the leader of the Fullcrowns, figure out his movements and where he’s vulnerable.
Tony: Great. What’s the fiction look like – are you on rooftops, or under a cloak?
William: Yeah, I’m on rooftops. This is Hunt, right?
Tony: You tell me, but that sounds right. It’s Risky, Standard.
William: Sounds right. Two dice. Got a devil’s bargain for me?
Tony: … I mean, yes. His Lt, Lizette, finds you. She does some bodyguard work, and is tough.
William: You know me too well. ::picks up a third die::. Let’s do it. …
George: Hey. Mist will take a stress and be your eyes on the street, hidden.
William: Awesome, four dice. Hey, it’s a four.
Tony: Great! Lizette finds you as you are about to slip and fall off a rooftop. This is the minor consequence.
William: Yeah, I don’t want to fall off a building. I’ll resist by, I dunnoo-
Tony: - Falling off a building? Yeah, you resist with Prowess.
William: Cool. ::rolls dice:: I take zero stress. I’m a badass.
Tony: Great. What do you want to do about Lizette?
William: I want to offer her leadership of the Fullcrowns. Hammer says something like “Are you ready to run your own gang?”
Tony: … You bastard. Desperate, Great effect. This sounds a lot like Sway.
Me: Pfft. Cool. I get one dice. … It’s a five.
Tony: Bastard. She needs someone she trusts to say you are on the level. You are too recent to the Right People to have her trust.
William: Clio, would Pincher back me up here?
Clio: Oh hell yes. Pincher appears from the shadows and is like “YOUR BOSS IS DUMB AND YOU SHOULD RUN THE FULL CROWNS!”

Rachael as Sickle goes on to gather information from the Doxies, as she spends an afternoon dropping information and checking responses. Her vice is time with the sexy ladies (usually the Gilded Lillies) and she’s got contacts throughout. There’s just as awesome a scene, including her brother making sure his lesbian sister isn’t going to get pregnant. He’s pretty sure sex and pregnancy are linked, and isn’t sure on the details. She finds out that the Billhooks are getting pissed at the Fullcrowns, as the poor leadership of the Full Crowns means the Billhooks are losing factories due to labor contract breakdowns.

The Billhooks are somewhere between a mob and a union, where they are hired to do labor as not hiring them to do labor results in some really negative consequences for everyone. They’d be happy to support someone else in charge of the Fullcrowns, but need a good reason.

At this point, we’ve got the beginning of the idea of a heist. Setup the Fullcrowns to fail, putting Lizette in contact with the Billhooks and act as middle-men. That’s pretty cool, but I point out that only two of us have made actions and we maybe want to let everyone shine. We do and you guys, we get such a more awesome result.

George as Mist the Spider looks into one of the factories the Billhooks have been forced out of, and finds out there’s a monopoly on springsteel, through several hands but ultimately running up a particular Noble family: Hammer and Sickle’s family.

Clio as Pincher the Lurk investigates the springsteel factory. Turns out the factory is pretty bad: forced labor, really unsafe conditions. The goods come in on unmanned barges, with devilfish in the canal. Pincher gets a whole lot of information and, on her way out, an urchin not nearly as good at climbing tries to follow her out. Pincher gets an option: help the Urchin out and let them follow you home, or let them fall into the arms of the guards.

So, now we have an urchin to take care of. And all the information we could want and another mouth the feed.

We now know what heist we want: We’re going to go in smooth and quiet into the factory with the intention of steeling the springsteel. We’ll come in by barge, with our Lurk pulling the rest of us in. She’ll get in first, and pull us in.

And, well? Things go sideways. Clio makes our engagement roll, and we get a complication. We start off in a not so great place. The Lurk is in, and is winching in the rest of us. devilfish notice us and start paying attention, and the guards notice a barge is coming in when it should not.

Two awesome things happen all at once:

  • Sickle has a flashback, showing that she made drugged meat and put it on the bottom of the barge in front of ours to sedate the devilfish. She’s charged 2 stress, and we’re in good shape regarding the devilfish.
  • Clio is all “… Pinch can push herself to make one near-superhuman feat of athletics. Can I … run really fast, jumping off walls and whatever else to pull the barge with them on it super fast?” And, well: YES. She’s got three dice, gets a 6, and we’re in. There’s a couple of guards investigating.

I … deal with them. Quickly, violently, and not at all permanently. Hammer knocks their heads together, and they are out. What can I say? Hammer is a softie.

Pinch knows exactly where the vault is. When we get there, she picks the lock. There result is a four, with the complication that opening the vault is noisy. Our spider is all “not so fast. I’ve got this oil and rags to soften and grease as the door opens”, and takes zero stress.

At this point, we realize the vault has more than just the loot. It has documents implicating Camorri nobility in participating in activities both illegal and vulgarly mercantile. We do a group survey roll. I have the least dice - zero - and the best roll. I get a 4 and a 5, take the lowest. That’s a four, so we succeed with a consequence.

Consequence is: the remaining guards are at the vault door watching us, crossbows drawn and about to close the door.

George as our spider is all “I have these forged certificates.”. George’s tone changes, he becomes Mist in character “I represent the Caruso house, which owns this land and all springsteel. I am here with their Representatives, the twins Carlotta and Branon.”, By which he means Hammer and Sickle.

This is just close enough to the truth that even Hammer gets it, and summons up his noble bearing enough to help by giving an order: Drop. Your. Bows.

Between the two of us, the guards buy it. Sickle distracts the guards using Command by pointing out the disreputable state of the devilfish while we get the loot on the barge. The guards use an alchemical potion to revive the devilfish, so now it is both sedated and on meth. Great

The guards show her to the office, and she knocks them out. She and her brother are both such softies.

At this point, if we just take off in the barge we will be seen for sure. So, instead, Hammer takes out his namesake hammer and does truly horrendous amounts of damage to the production line, assisted by the tinkering abilities of Pincher, who directs Hammer’s blows.

In the ensuing chaos, the oppressed workers revolt. A consequence is they will shove the remaining guard into the awaiting jaws of the devilfish. As Hammer, I very much consider resisting this consequence until it is pointed out that the guards are collaborators. Then my guilt is assuaged, and I do not prevent the workers from taking revenge on their overseer.

The chaos gives us cover to escape.

We get a lot of loot - something like 8 loot, which is more than we have room for in our base. We’ve got to carry some of it around on our persons, and look for ways to spend it.

Luckily, the yellowjackets make that easy. They try to snatch Mist, who pays them off with 3 of the 8 loot – our Heat was really high. This went about like: “How about if I don’t get beat up and you get a payday?”

We go around for downtime actions. We spend a lot of these getting rid of heat, which is consistently done by shifting the credit to Lizette, claiming she ran the operation. We start a clock to learn how to be extortionists with all the information we gleaned from the factory.

We spend another round on stress. Compared to the beginning of the first session: we’ve seen lots of loot and lost most of it, we’ve got a lot of heat and calmed it down, we’ve picked up a bunch of rep and are getting close to an ability to upgrade to Tier 1.

We’re out of free downtime actions.

William: I’d like to start a long-term project.
Tony: ok… to do what?
William: To teach the urchin to read.
Tony: to … read? I sense this is not the end goal. What is it?
William: To teach him to be a gentleman thief.
Tony: I hate you. Also, I know who my character is when we shift MC. Lastly, here’s a Devil’s Bargain: He likes thieving way too much.
Me: Yes.

I wound up with a six, and spend my remaining goal to up it to a crit. The kid is almost able to start thieving.

That was our 2nd session. I am positive the quotes are wrong in a lost of places. I’d like to know what folx here think: Does this sound awesome? What questions do you have, about Blades In The Dark, our playstyle or, heck, indie games in general?


Blades in the Dark Play Report
#2

To be fair, Clio had a pretty easy task convincing Lizette with the line “Your boss is dumb and you should run the Full Crowns” because Lizette’s boss is dumb and she should totally run the Full Crowns.


#3

Just chiming in to say I love to see play reports here (and would love to see more!) Great read—thanks, William!


#4

This is awesome! Thanks for writing this up


#5

Thanks! I wasn’t sure if The Gauntlet would want play reports from so far outside of your own games. I figured it was a gamble worth taking.


#6

Third Session:
In continuation of our Locke Lamorra-infused game of Blades In the Dark first detailed here , we met again last night.

Reminder: We are the Night Market. Hawkers who sell thieving equipment and expertise.

Of our 5+ players, we had three. That’s ok, Blades is great at sub in, sub out play. Those players and characters were:
Hammer, Cutter played by me (William), twin brother to Sickle and youngest heir of the Caruso family.
Sickle, Cutter played by Rachael, sister to Hammer and eldest heir of the Caruso family.
Mist, Spider played by George, dropout grad student.

We got off to a slow start, but thought through the following issues for our gang:

  • The head of the organization we robbed last time is coming for us. He’s not Right People so he doesn’t “go to war” like we know it, but he’s going to send people to try to kill us. We came up with a con to ruin his relationship with his patron, but we’re not ready for it yet.

Primarily, as we wanted a job with some head banging. Here’s what we came up with:

  • We took some turf to act as a bulwark against attacks. We got the turf from Lizette, who works with the Fullcrowns gang. She’s the same person who we offered leadership of the Fullcrowns to last session.

She reminded us that she still doesn’t have such authority – she can’t give away land unless she’s the leader of the Full Crowns.

She can’t be the leader of the Fullcrowns until her boss gets a bloody nose.

So, we bloodied his nose.

Rather literally, but also metaphorically. I hunted him over the course of a few days looking for where he goes that’s not so well protected. Turns out, he’s got a gambling house that he adores.

While investigating, Hammer gets hit. He gets a broken nose. And that’s fine, that’s what noses are for.

So: We hit him there.

But first, we needed to ruin his reputation at the gambling house. So, we made it look like he was cheating.

We made extensive use of flashbacks. I did a flashback to have the same sort of cards as they use in the gambling house. Then we had a deck of passable cards, and need to get them to our target.

Our Spider does some flashback sleight of hand, to reverse pickpocket him. Now he’s got the cards.

Back from flashbacks: “You are a cheater!”, an NPC ally proclaims as both Hammer the Cutter and the mark play the same card.

Sickle the Cutter who is the sister to Hammer the Cutter demands the mark and Hammer show their cards. Hammer refuses, so Sickle slaps his broken nose.

The GM offered a devil’s bargain: No matter what the dice roll, you do a level 1 harm to Hammer. The player of Sickle refers to the player of Hammer (me), and I say “Yes!”.

That got her 5d, and Hammer a level 1 harm to go with the level 2 harm (broken nose).

Dear sister rolled a 6, so our mark showed his sleeve. Which is when all the cards we planted fall out of his sleeves.

At which point, the proprietor of the established said we could take him outside. His muscle wasn’t so much into the boss being taken out back, so we dealt with them.

With our fists. And a nicely broken nose for our mark.

Just as we toss him outside, we’re attacked. Because of course we are: We pissed off a rather powerful organization, and they’ve sent folks to snag us. Same assholes that broke Hammer’s nose, but now he’s got the rest of the gang.

We turn some of them into bodies. We do a group violence roll, with Hammer getting a crit and sickle getting a 6. Which is to say: We do some serious violence.

As these folks weren’t just here for a bruising, we pulled out the good gear – Sickle with her blades, and Hammer with his … hammer.

That was about t. We did post-session wrap up, and got some XP.

I didn’t hit my XP trigger of: The Rich Remember. Maybe next time.


#7

Due to a family emergency, we were at four instead of five last night. To be clear: family is more important than the game. This let us play a bit more far afield.

In previous sessions, our MC was Tony. Last night, Rachael stepped up into the MC role. Tony picked up the child-thief we adopted, turning him into a PC.

This gave us the following PCs:
Hammer the Cutter, played by William.
Myst the Spider, played by George
Milos the Leech, played by Tony.

The whole session came about due to our young Leech’s enminity with Malista, a local pirate-priest. This was the enminity build from the character sheet and, when asked why the priested disliked his character, Tony said that Milos tried to rob from the pirate – doing so by putting a hole under the water. Unfortunately, this has some negative side-effects for the seaworthiness of the vessel as well as the cargo of silks.

In character, we learn about this when an urchin belonging to the Thiefmaker sets off our proximity trap. Hammer grabbed the kid out of the trap and brings him inside the lair for cookies.

We learned Malista was sufficiently annoyed at the loss of her cargo as to put pressure on the Thiefmaker to find the kid what did it. The Thiefmaker is now torturing the children in his care to find out who did it. We decide to make it right by getting Malista her silks back – afterall, Thieves’ Prosper and pirates and essentially thieves. We also want to create a market for her to sell the silks at a good profit.

Well. The Nobility wanted the silks for an upcoming yearly celebration involving yatchs and silk. Turns out, a local merchant was warehousing a very large amount of silk and using that to increase the the price. As much as we like messing with the nobility, this gives us a fantastic opportunity.

We decide this is a deception job: Steal the silks, get found out, and make merchant believe we are just stealing, and doing so on behalf of a Noble house.

We do our engagement roll: It’s a 6. We’re in a controlled situation. The Job opens with Mist and Hammer in the warehouse, trying to convince the guards that we’re working on behalf of one of the Five Noble Houses.

Flashback: We rigged the floor we’re on to fall like a trap door, with a nice alchemical trigger. We roll, get a crit.

Flashback: We’re planted one of our contacts – a thug Hammer knows – as one of the guards to repeat the name of the Noble. We roll, get a 6.

So uh … Here’s where Blades really shines.

We’re rolling controlled, with Great effect. We want to convince the guards that we work for a local Noble house, and to give chase. I get a dice regularly and, through help and a Devil’s Bargain, this gets up to three. I roll a crit, I believe.

That Devil’s Bargain? Our man on the inside shoots me with a crossbow bolt into the arm, for a level 2 harm. Ouch!

We trigger the trap floor. They give chase. one of them – smarter than the rest – jumps into our boat. He pulls a crossbow on Hammer.

Flashback: This is our 2nd time into the warehouse. The crates are empty, with just enough silk on top to make it look like there’s silk. Our boat can haul ass , as it is essentially empty.

Hammer takes the crossbow away from him, and orders him to sit. The guy does – Hammer’s pretty intimidating when he needs to be, plus the Spider (flashback) put some sleepy potion on a spring release in Hammer’s sleeve. This was always part of the plan. The role was something like a 4, and hammer gets a consequence – he and the guard will fall into the shark infested waters. Hammer resists, and takes no stress. Nobody falls into the water.

The guards give us a merry chase to the Noble’s section of the docks, which is private and has a guarded gate. We planned for this, and our new Leech is already planted inside. He’s rearranged the wires so that the gates will open for us, and close just perfectly to let in the merchants.

He gets great effect, but with a consequence: He’s going to release the devil fish and fall into the water. He resists the fall into the water, instead ziplining from the tower into our boat.

At this point, remember: The silks are wherever we want them. The merchant guards have followed us into the Noble marina, with the doors just closing behind them. We’ve got a guard with us, listening to our banter regarding exactly which Noble house we work for.

As the merchant guards in their boat come into the marina, they see the silks already decked out on the Noble ships. They attack.

Flashback: We rigged the noble ships to catch fire once the merchantmen attack.

At this point, our job is done. The merchants are pissed at the Nobles, who are pissed at the merchants. Everybody knows we stole from the merchants. We’ve got more than enough coin to repay the Pirate-Priest.

We do post job. We get a boat load of coin, heat, and rep. We get a fun consequence, essentially the priest-pirate taking an … active interest … in our young ward. She recruits him to join her on her ship, to increase his moral understanding. Basically, to teach him Thieves Prosper.

We realize: We’ve got maxed out Rep and 8 coin. We go ahead and increase our Tier. We’re now tier 1.

Now that we’ve tiered up, we have no rep, no coin, but plenty of heat. We’re at war, so we each get one downtime action. We’re all pretty stressed out, and Myst takes Hammer out to see a show. Myst has a move that allows him to use a single downtime stress action that impacts two of us, and to let us modify the role by two. We both get rid of most or maybe all stress.

Milo goes gambling, but never quite gets into it. He only loses three stress off 2d. Poor kid.

Hammer, meanwhile, goes out to reduce our Heat by beating up the guard who landed on our boat so he won’t talk . What a jerk, but it does get rid of alot of Heat. Hammer keeps his harm, figuring he can solve it after the war.

We do end of session questions. Hammer gets enough XP to level up his playbook and Resolve – he gets the Bodyguard move, and a dot in piety. The kid gets just enough XP, and Myst gets close.

We close up, thank each other and say our goodbyes. All in all: Not a bad way to spend 3 hours.

Query: I’m enjoying writing these. The last one got no comments. Are folks enjoying reading these?


#8

In the continuation of our Locke Lamorra infused Blades In The Dark game, my character has had one drive: Make Mom Remember.

We’ll get to that. But first, roll call. We had:
Tony, MC.
Shayna, playing Ruby the Slide
George, playing Mist the Spider
William (me!), playing Hammer the Cutter. Youngest heir of the Caruso noble family.

Off screen and very much felt: Rachael as Sickle the Cutter, elder twin to Hammer and eldest heir of the Caruso noble family.

The Caruso kids have left home and are enjoying a life of crime while their mother pretends nothing out of the ordinary is going on, and the kids are simply out on a Grand Sneer before settling down.

As the session opens, our gang has become a level 1 gang. Which also means we’re basically out of money and reputation. Hammer has a level 1 and level 2 harms – a broken nose (level 1), and a broken arrow in his bicep. He looks like hell.

We’re also at War with Strangford the industrialist, because we stole material from him that implicates the Caruso family. Basically, the material says the Caruso noble family doing that most common of all things – consorting in common mercantileism. Strategically, we really want to end the war. War’s are pretty harsh in Blades – we get fewer downtime actions and count as a half-tier lower. And we have a resources: We’ve turned Strangford’s wife – she is willing to help us so long as she winds up a widow at the end of the war.

Well.

So we’re at war with an industrialist whose working for Mom, because we stole his blackmail material on mom. And we want to end the war, preferably with the industrialist’s aspirational widow achieving her aspiration. Oh and whenever possible: To make the rich remember.

Well. Mom is very rich.

A brief segway on what The Rich Remember means. It’s the philosophical precept that gives Thieves the leeway to steal from the rich. Because the Rich Remember they have wealth they did not earn, they remember the plight of the poor. They remember that they are vulnerable.

When they do not? Make them remember and, whenever possible, rob them blind, because Thieves prosper.

So, we come up with a fantastic job: We’re going to convince mom to murderize Strangford for us. It’s a deception job, and we’re going to claim Hammer got eloped to get inside.

Mist does some gathering of information, and learns what Mom would find beyond the pale: Keeping secrets from her. That is: She would react very poorly to anyone in her employ keepng secrets from her.

Before we ever touch the dice, Tony informs me that whenever Hammers lies to his mother will start off as a desperate action with no effect. That’s bad folks!

It’s time for the Engagement roll. We assemble the dice pool. We’ve got a somewhat complicated plot - bold though it is. And we’re going against a far superior target – the head of a noble family.

We wind up with one die. Shayna rolls it, and we get a 3. It’s the worst possible thing, and we start in a desperate situation.

Tony narrates that instead of the big splashy entrance we were looking for, on the way in we are nabbed by Olf my mother’s right-hand henchman. He pulls Hammer and Ruby into a side room. Ruby is dressed as a Lady, and gives out a yell that will, eventually, pull in attention. For the moment, Olf has us at his mercy.

Hammer orders Olf – mispronouncing his name as Olaf because Hammer is too high a rank to know the names of servants – to unhand his wife. The “wife” part allows for great effect, which we hit. Olf unhands the lady.

At or around that time, Mist (who has been pretending to be a servant all this time!) brings a group of servants to see the rucus – just as Ruby slaps Olf hard across the face for daring to touch a lady. This is a Finesse roll for her to slap him at just the right time for him to be off balance and in the social wrong. She hits with maybe a 5, and we get a consequence – Olf is going to offscreen beat up Mist for showing him up.

Hammer is the sort to take on other people’s consequences, and does his best to forsee that this is going to occur. I get two dice (one from Bodyguard, one from Insight), and roll two 1’s. Which means: Mist takes no harm, and Hammer takes 5 stress. (!).

I do this by ordering Olf to show me to my mother himself, so he is not able to beat up Mist.

We’re doing all of this in the elderglass tower in which the Caruso’s live. There are five of these, handed out to the five noble families in the best standing with the Duke. These things are terrifying: While the servants entrances and locations are relatvely accessible, the Noble side is accessible only by open lift. 300 feet off the ground, taken in a lift open to the sky without much safety.

On the way up, Olf crowds Hammer close to the edge under the excuse of not crowding his lady wife. Hammer doesn’t really react much, and Olf decides it’s a good idea to poison him. He takes out a poison and, under the guide of caring for Hammer’s obvious arm wound, is going to put in a poison that will murder Hammer in a relatively short amount of time.

Mist puts a gentle hand on Olf’s shoulder, with a “not yet” - implying that it’s not yet time to take out her oblivious idiot husband, as she still needs him. Hammer sees all of this, and signals to Mist that he’s going to murder Olf – well, tries to but only has one useful arm so it is muffled.

We are brought into The Presence of The Lady Caruso. Hammer immediately opens his fool mouth, and starts saying “Mom, I want to introduce you to my wife—”.

Tony: Desperation action, no effect.
Me: …
Shayna: I push Hammer out of the way, and take over the conversation. Maybe this is helping, but how about a stress to take over the roll and change fictional positions all over the place?
Me: … Yes, plase.
Tony: Sure. I’ll be generous.

Shayna: M’Lady Caruso, it is my pleasure to meet you. I met your son during his Grand Sneer.
Tony: You know that was fictional, right? And that it was a lie she invented?
Shayna: Kayfabe! I am keeping Kayfabe.
Tony: …
George: MUAHHAHHAHAHA. While this is going on, I want a flashback so this is all preempting a meeting Strangeford was going to have with her. So, he’s on a lift about to show up.
Tony: …

------------an aside--------
OK, so at this point. A couple of things have transpired.
First, it is clear that what Hammer needs to do is shutup.
Also: The Caruso family runs on powerful women. Notice: We never see dear old dad.
Third: Tony has a “loading” look on his face, and needs a minute.
Fourth: Though I’m not sure when it happened, we completely accepted a Devil’s Bargain that Strangford is present.

It’s all part of the plan.

------------an aside--------

Tony: OK. Let’s do one then the other. The kayfabe lie is perfect, as you’re broadcasting to her that you won’t break the social norms she’s invented. Great.
George: Yeah! This is a setup roll to improve future abilitiy to lie to Donna Caruso.
Tony: Great. I get it. As for Strangford: Having him where you want seems like 1-stress, no roll.

Shayna: Right, so rolling 3 dice. PLus 1, plus… I’m at five dice.
Tony: Devil’s Bargain. She will wind up thinking Hammer betrayed his sister.
Me: Uh… that’s a little far. How about that I switched loyalty to Shanyan’s character, as that’s a pretty big betrayal of my duty?
Tony: Cool, I can accept that. That’s the devil’s bargain. Your mom will think your loyalty has shifted.
Shayna: Great. Six dice! Two six’s!
Tony: Great. She totally believes you’re in on the plan, controlling her malleable son. Future actions for you – not Hammer – to convince her of things will have great effect.

Shayna: Great. It’s time to tell her a tale of woe wherein Strangford has been trying to kill her children.
Tony: … which is true.
Shayna: The best lies are.
Tony: OK. She’s going to summon Strangford to explain himself.

George: Wait wait. I want to have Aspirational Widow show up and tell her side.
Tony: … HOW?
George: Flashback. I’ve changed clothes into Ruby’s heraldry, and will announce Madam Strangeford.
Shayna: And I’m all “She was too shy to meet you, but I think it important…”
Tony: …

Me: Hammer continues to shut up and watch as this beautiful thing happens.

Tony: Fine. What story does she tell?
Me: … Exactly the story Strangeford is about to tell. But, makes she mom thinks of it as a lie.
Tony: … Two stress. This is rewriting some history so she knows what her husband will say-- nevermind, it’s zero stress. Wives know their husbands.

Me: So … Strangford comes in?
Tony: Yes. And the first thing he does is to say that YOU are a dangerous criminal.
Me: I do believe I’ll smile and ask if that’s why he had his men break my nose!
Tony: … That’s not a lie. Damnit. Your mother retorts back to Strangford that she knows her own son.

George and Shayna: So, he tells the tale?
Tony: Yes. He explains that he’s been at war with a dangerous gang of criminals who looted his factory. That while he suspected someone from house Caruso was a part of it, he never suspected it was the kids.

George: Is it enough for her to take him out?
Tony: Not quite.

Shanyna: Fine. Time for the micdrop: Strangford killed Sickle, which is why she isn’t here. That’s how Hammer took so much physical damage, he failed to protect his sister from Strangford’s men. She’s dead now, and Strangford knew what he was doing.

Tony: … Yeah, you need a roll. Great effect, and … Risky? Sure.
Shayna, picks up some dice and rolls them. Gets a six and just smiles .

At this point, dear old mom gives a signal and Olf strangles Strangford in front of us. He chokes him from behind, and drops the body out of the tower.

George: We need an escape.
Tony: Dame Caruso will excuse her son and his new bride to freshen up, as they assuredly need it after all this. She’ll have you escorted to the visitors suite. She’ll then have a nice business chat with the new Strangford – the widow.

George: So I’m planning an escape. We’re gonna burn part of the house, including with a body. She’ll have everything so she can pretend her son is dead if she wants to. And she’ll know we put one over on her.
Tony: … you’re subborning her staff?
George: No. Flashback. I went in as a footman as previously stated. I used fake work orders to move up the alchemical explosives.
Tony: And claimed a dead body was dead drunk.
George: Right!

Tony: OK. I think this roll from George is about how much this hurts your mother. You’re going to get away, as I don’t want the next one to be with ya’ll stuck 300 feet above ground. That’s not good stakes, so the stakes are the emotional harm done to The Rich.

George: Great. I’ve got an absolute boatload of dice. Uh… I get a six!
Tony: Fantastic. She’s hurt, she knows what happened, and she knows – somehow – that her son pulled one over on her. And … yes, she remembers.

We roll for the after-effects. We don’t get a lot of coin or Heat (as the mark is actively interested in keeping it a secret), but we sure do get Rep (we have no interest in keeping it a secret).

More importantly: Stangford is dead. Long live The Widow!

We do downtime actions: Hammer finally sees a doctor about all his maladies. Ruby reduces some stress, and Mist completes the training of Milos the leech into a gentleman thief. Then Mist and Hammer go to the theatre, Ruby trains. Not thinking of another good long-term project, Hammer trains.

We do XP. I get all the XP for drives and heritage (2), but none of doing things with violence & coercion. Everybody is pretty happy with XP, and then we do the Crew XP. We get a boatload ,and take an advance. We spend the advance to upgrade our lair – it is now hidden and has a vault. We can hold onto money now.

Questions: Does the above make sense? How does the playstyle come across? What questions, if any, do you have about Blades or our little group?


#9

In continuation of our Locke Lamorra infused Blades in the Dark game, we’ve found ourselves at something of a turning point. We’ve ended a war and become Tier 1. We’ve pissed off a lot of people – both Right People and citizens.

I’ll get to all that. Promise. In this particular job, we sought to greatly improve our Rep with the Right People.

Roll call:
Tony, the MC
George, playing Mist the Spider (mastermind!)
Clio, playing Pinch the Lurk (extraction expert)
Shayna, playing Ruby the Slide (grifter)
Rachael, playing Sickle the Cutter and eldest Heir of the Caruso noble family (Muscle)
William (me!), playing Hammer the Cutter, twin to Sickle and youngest Heir of the Caruso noble family (Muscle)

So.

We’re altogether, sitting in the sunken bank vault that we call home. Sickle realizes: Hey, didn’t our friend Grace get snatched by the yellow jackets due to her involvement with us?

We realize Sickle is correct, and that our friend is wasting away in prison. We should really do something about that.

So: Jail Break!

We could just go snatch Grace, but that’d bring more heat onto her. Instead, we pretend to be Priests of the Lady of Ubiquitous Maladies, taking away prisoners for “psychological” reasons. There’s an immediate veil put on what sort of psychological treatments that would mean. Perfect: We’re going to fake it anyway; this is an excuse for the prison to give us anyone they don’t want and, in particular, the people we do want to snatch.

We get to the engagement roll. We get two dice, and we’re at Risky. Perfectly normal.

Some of us are dressed as Priests, some as Guards of priests. Sickle and Hammer go medium load, so we look like thugs. Pinch and Mist do light load, so they look like priests. Ruby has a brilliant idea – instead of being a Priest, she has gotten herself arrested, so she’s in the prison population.

We meet with the Warden, a squirrelly little fellow dressed fancy where everyone else who works in the prison is dressed like guards. We dislike him immediately.

We tell him that we’re here to remove some prisoners. He’s going to push back, but Mist uses his Foresight move to have sent a letter in advance explaining what we’re going to do. So, there’s paperwork and it all looks reasonable.

We roll to convince, and get a consequence or two: The warden wants to split us up, and he wants to send guards to ensure we’re really going to where we say we are. We get rid of the splitting us up, and tell him it is a 3 month journey. His guards are welcome to join. He decides they will just show us to the docks.

Flash to Ruby in the prison population. One of the guys we’re busting out is going to take a beating, possibly to the death, by another prisoner. They’ve been rivals.

Ruby uses her Rigging to have pen and paper, and writes letters between the two of them so they will like each other. Risky/Standard; she gets a crit. The two of them become good prison buddies instead of bitter rivals.

Meanwhile, we’re left alone for a few minutes while the Warden rounds up the prisoners. We do the following:

  1. Mist destroys all evidence we were hear using a Embezzler’s Bag that Sickle brought for exactly this situation. It erases paper, so now the prison will have no record we were here or that they gave away prisoners.
  2. Sickle and Hammer loot the evidence locker, then distribute the tools and equipment to the prisoners. This is a free sample: Like what you found here? Buy more at The Nightmarket.

We gather up the prisoners, and head out. Three guards come with us. Along the way, our canal boat is “attacked” by actors we hired to pretend to attack the ship. It serves well enough to distract the guards, who we knock unconscious and rob.

This was a big job in that we got Right People out of the slammer; it wasn’t a big job in that it didn’t play into a lot of our ongoing plots.

But, in the end we need to Tithe to a gang leader. This was originally the Full Crowns, but we have somewhat outgrown them. Instead, Tony decides it should be one of the 12 Capas. So, now we have corporate sponsorship – we tithe to a Capa, and he is mollified.

For downtime, we do a few things:

  1. Hammer is finally healed. He’d had a couple lingering level 1 harm’s, which are now wiped.
  2. Mist and Sickle go to a play, and get rid of all stress.
  3. There’s some training. Montage!
  4. We start two long term projects: For The Capa to give us The Distance, and for The Capa to think of us as specialists he can goto for particular sorts of Crime.

At the same time, Sickle decides it a reasonable thing that The Capa wants her to marry his son. Neither of them is into it, so it’s a long-term fight against getting married. But, this does get us closer to the Capa.

We do XP; our crew levels up, and we get a boat and make Training more efficient for playbook advances.

Not a huge episode, but a good one. And we totally robbed some cops!


#10

The Job: We brought a Tobacconist into our portfolio, by wrecking smugglers that kidnapped him.

Reminder: This is our Locke Lamorra-infused game of Blades in the Dark, most recently chronicled here

Roll call:
Tony, the MC
George, playing Mist the Spider (mastermind!)
Rachael, playing Sickle the Cutter and eldest Heir of the Caruso noble family (Muscle)
William (me!), playing Hammer the Cutter, twin to Sickle and youngest Heir of the Caruso noble family (Muscle)

When last we left off, we were getting in pretty good with Capa Mala. We now tithe directly to the Capa, who is one of the 12 independent Capa’s on the Council of Thieves. They leave a 13th chair open, reserved for the Crooked Warden.

As this session opened:
– We realized it had been a few weeks, and we could stand an easy job to get back into the swing of things
– Capa Mala let us know a Tobacconist had stopped tithing. This was the same Tobacconist that supplied Hammer with his cigars. It had been a while since Hammer had gone out for a good smoke, so he hadn’t seen the man in a while.

We investigator. Hammer and Mist went out to scope out the scene. The Tobacconists daughter was now running the operation, and Hammer followered her when she went on a money drop.

The poor girl was about to get beatup by 3 hoodlums, who decided that instead of exchanging money for her goods, they’d just take the goods and the money and leave her bleeding on the street.

No worries; Hammer and Mist intervened. We beat two bloody unconscious, and explained to the third (and leader) that this was inappropriate; Thieve’s Prosper and you do not get to just beat someone up who has made a deal with you.

She was breathless and asked how she could repay us. She explained her father had been missing these last few weeks. We told her to visit the Nightmarket, and we’ll discuss at her earliest convenience.

ok, so, turns out: Her father Travel was kidnapped by smugglers. Which meant he wasn’t paying his dues to the Capa. According to Hammer, this was a good opportunity tot ake over the Tobacconist’s criminal enterprise. Have a front.

Sickle had none of that. She was all “Thieve’s Prosper”, and “The 13th has given us this opportunity to help!”, and finally “I’m going to go rescue him!”.

She stormed out; we followed and convinced her we should do some more information gathering before going out.

And we learned something: The Smugglers were recently taken over a new tough guy, who named himself after his weapon. He’s very proud of it, as when you’ve got a shtick you should do it well. That weapon is, of course, a Hammer.

So: Word on the street is Hammer has kidnapped Travel the Tobacconist. that won’t do; this jerk is stealing my nome de plume and misusing it.

We decide that the best course of action is to Take. Him. Down. So the job is a stealth job; we’re going to sneak in and beat the guy up. The smugglers are holed up on an abandoned island just outside town. We get our boat and head out.

We wind up with a single die for our engagement roll; I roll a 3. We’re Desperate circumstances. Tony says there’s a problem with our rigging, and the boat is bashing itself to pieces against the wall. It’s solveable, but someone will need to white-knuckle scramble up the impenetrable cliffface to steady the line.

Sickle does so. With flying colors, and the boat is saved.

Once on the island, we discover there are lots of buildings. Weird. We do a flashback; Mist got Sickle a faked library passes so she could get architectural information about this place. Hammer is carrying the maps, and the place used to be a temple training grounds.

We go through the service corridors, and discover Hammer and a band of ten thieves partying.

Sickle enters, and gives an impassioned speech regarding their honor, the misuse of already taken thief names, who should actually be running their gang, and the probable ancestry of their current leader. She calls him out, and insists he battles her brother the Hammer of Camorr.

So … we discuss how this is going to go down. There’s some joke about it being a formal duel, therefore using Finesse rather than fightfight. We don’t do that, as neither Hammer is above cheating in such a venue. We get into a hammer fight, which the PC miraculously wins by rolling 5d and getting a 5.

I shatter his hammer and bust up his hand; the fake Hammer is out of commission, and the gang asks if I’ll be their leader. I mean … how could I say no?

That’s basically the mission, folks.
We gain 3 rep, a small amount of loot, and just 1 heat for being on hostile turf. We escort the kidnapped Travis back home, and explain a few things. Like that we’ll be paying the Dona on his behalf from now on, so he should give us his share instead. And that we explained things to his daughter, who has become the peson of Sickle.

He … pukes. A lot. Oops.

Downtime: We get our heat down to zero, then let our fancy new Vice Den (Tobacconist) trigger and get us 1d6 coin. Sickle trains, Hammer words on a long-term project: To gain The Distance from The Capa. We introduce a new long-term race clock – who trains thieve’s in Camorr?

We work on that a bit, pointing out both to the Capas and to the other thieves of Camorr that we’ll do a better more pious job than The Thiefmaker.

So … that’s pretty much what happened.

Thoughts / questions / concerns?


#11

What just happened?

I brought in all the individual posts about this campaign into one thread, because the following of breadcrumbs back didn’t seem ideal.

So now anyone can follow our adventures in order in one place! Hooray.


#12

Next job: We stole a chair.

What chair? Ask and I shall tell you.


#13

Because I want to write it down:
In our version of Camorr, the high priests of the 12 (13!) gods have a meeting room with ornate chairs for the 12 (13), with an empty 13th chair.

The high priest of the god who is the Filler of Vaults had talked everyone else into letting them move the 13th chair.

In our version, there are 12 crime families. They meet in a room, and intentionally leave a 13th chair empty.

Both empty chairs are for the Nameless Thirteen, the Crooked Warden, the god of necessary pretexts.

And all of us are Right People and (most of us) have a dot in Piety.

So, we stole the chair from the God of Vaults while it was in transit. Our plan was to sabotage their primary plan so they had to move to the secondary.

We stole it, and under cover of darkness put it where the 12 heads of gang families meet. And made sure all the Right People knew it was us.