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.
- 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.
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?