Actual Play – Extended Downtime (8/12/2015)

blades_overlay_bloodletters_titleGM: John Harper
Players: Stras Acimovic, Adam Koebel, and Sean Nittner
System: Blades in the Dark, Quickset Rules v.3f

Our first game on Twitch was a bit, erm, twitchy. The Skype to Twitch feed keep dropping and our connections were a bit dodgy, lagging up or disconnecting all together. The end result was that we weren’t able to record all of the show, but what we got is available on Adam’s Twitch feed.

Downtime

Last session we left off finishing the score (selling demon blood infected bodies to Lord Scurlock) but hadn’t finished the downtime, so that’s where we started up.

Arcy Keel does not truck with Bluecoats. When Marlane finished a bout down at the docks and started removing her wraps, she told Arcy about Sinda and Raif, the Bluecoats who picked her up and gave her the shakedown. Marlane did good. She got their names and didn’t give up a thing. Arcy nodded as she heard the story and then cocked her head toward the exit. Marlane started re-wrapping her hands.

Sudden, overpowering force is how you hunt leviathans. Creatures that are so massive and mighty, that if they realized how weak we all are, they would just break art the lightning fields and destroy Duskwall in one fell swoop. Arcy took the same approach with the Blue.

Together with Marlane they started stalking the two of them through Crow’s Foot, asking around a taverns and pubs they might frequent. Resistant at first, eventually Arcy went into a few places she was known at [Devils Bargain] and got the lead they needed. “Oh yeah, they just left, you can catch them if you go now.”

And catch them we did. Just as they were entering Night Market, Arcy. Marlane, Cyclops and his fine thugs jumped them in the ally. A few blows were exchanged, but quickly they were held fast by Marlane and Cyclops as Arcy held her naval saber at Sinda’s throat.

“That part of the docks you’ve been poking around. You’re not going to poke around there any more!” That was was the gist of it at least. When the realized this was just a shake down, and nobody was dying as long as they played nice, Raif eventually produced a charcoal sketch for Arcy to see. Not quite a wanted poster, more a “person of interest”. It was Arcy herself, only younger in appearance. Still not putting two and two together, Arcy wondered if Julian had been hiring out the Bluecoats to help him search for her. [One action spent to reduce heat]

blades_smoker_02Canter Haig was looking for some talent. He asked around and found an old Skovlander named Brogan who didn’t talk much and had apparently seen it all. He brooked little bullshit, but also didn’t judge. Just Canter’s type. As our new artist was inking Canter (a skeletal hand clawing at his ribs) they shared a moment, “I ate a man.” “Yeah, okay, I’ve seen stuff too. Yeah. Cool.” (I’ll let you guess who was who).

Once the bond was formed, Canter started insinuating that he might have an offer for someone with the right talent and a total lack of scruples. He didn’t come out and say “we have leviathan blood we want you to ink people with” but he did a good job of making it clear that we had something pretty special, and in doing so got Brogan hooked! [One action spent to gain an asset]

Oskar Scurlock poured time and money, oh so much money, into figuring out a way to make demon ink out of demon blood. He worked with our witch friend Quellin, but paranoid, he never let her see the complete process. Finally, after many sleepless nights and many visits down to the parlor (Cyclops and his crew had wised up a bit and were not pretty sure who was going to turn and who as good) to collect the test subjects he needed, Oskar had a formulate that worked!

The refined product, a pearlescent liquid that shimmered with the inky blackness of the sea, the purple hues of mid-morning, and the magenta incandescence of electroplasmic lightning. Beautiful. [Two actions spent on long term projects]

Arcy, at 3am, dragged herself out of bed with Marlane, put her clothes back on, and made the dreaded trip to Whitecrown. A terrible mixer of strong alcohol, confidence from her encounter with the bluecoats, and guilt for leaving her husband alone was surging through her. She was still drunk and it was impairing her decision making, or at least that is the bullshit excuse she would use later. She’d find Julian, tell him to end this stupid search for her, and then put an end to that chapter of her life. The chapter that included her son and daughter.

Or at least that was the plan. On the way their she was stopped by Bluecoats. In her bedraggled attire and with her faltering steps clearly she did not belong in the Whitecrown district. Belligerently she told them to get their hands off her, she was a Arcy Bloody Keel! The younger guard was reaching for his truncheon when the veteran Bluecoat held him back. “Ah, lady Keel, we’re so sorry to have stopped you. Do you need any assistance making your way back home?” In a drunken drawl she muttered “You’re right you’re sorry, and no I don’t need any fucking help.”

Before she even knocked on the door, it cracked open before her (perhaps she had been a bit loud coming through the gate as well), and Mr. Pool, a servant of incredible caliber greeted Arcy and through soothing platitudes and humble deference honed by ages of service, guided her into a guest room… where she passed out from fatigue.

In the morning, Arcy saw a beautiful dress, one of he own, laid out on the chase beside the bed, along with an assortment of tea, biscuits, and coffee. She held the sleeve of the dress for a moment and then realized she was staining it just by touching it with her fouled fingers. She pounded the coffee down and made her way to the main quarters. From the hall she could hear the sounds of breakfast. Of her husband and children formally and politely eating. She wanted to join then, but like the dress, in this state, she was just foul their lives with her touch. Instead, she made her way through the kitchen and sent a servant to fetch Master Keel, and send him to pantry to meet her.

This was supposed to be easy. Tell Julian to stop looking for her and just let her “die” as she reportedly had on the Nightbreaker many moons ago. Only it wasn’t that easy. People knew she was still alive. Fuck. Especially Julian’s father, Lord Keel. Double fuck. And the lord would not allow a black mark (read Arcy) to stain the family’s good name. Julian had to find Arcy and turn her over to the authorities, or his father would cut him and the children, off from their inheritance. Triple fuck.

Arcy put her greasy hand on Julian’s clean face and held him for a moment. “Don’t worry Julian. I’ll take care of this.” The looked as though they might kiss, and then she was gone…

…back to Scurlock manor, where she droped the sum of her savings onto a table and offered to be the client for the Six Towers Gang’s next score. The mark was Lord Keel. She was all ready to arm up with Canter, Oskar, and the rest of their crew. She was angry, confused, and ready to do violence. Oskarr said “bad plan, come back to me when you have another one.” Canter said “no way, that’s not how we make money. You want to support your husband, how about we make a bunch of money and then you can tell his father to fuck off. I’m out.” Not what she was expecting [One action to indulge vice, Overindulging and rolled an entanglement: Unquiet dead]

Canter also indulged his love for bling but did it off screen [One action to indulge vice].

The Score

Arcy was  still sore about her husband, and more about her crew’s lack of willingness to help her, but if they were going to make crazy money, it was time to do it already. Near the tattoo parlor were a few other businesses owned by the Red Sashes. Thankfully, as their attentions are fixed on warring with the Lampblacks, those businesses were not well defended.

We went in with main force. Walked into the brothel like we potential customers and then clobbered the bouncer and put a blade to the money changer’s throat. He first told us that Bazso Baz could fucking rot in hell before he’d give this place up. When we corrected him that we didn’t work for Bazso and were in fact the Six Towers Gang, his response, like the Bluecoats from the night before was “The Six Towers who?”

Oskar, wearing his spirit mask, repeated the “Six Towers Gang” in a ghostly voice that resonated through the building and into our bones. Apparently that wasn’t enough to create any recognition though. Acry hesitated for a moment, contemplating putting six cuts in the moneychangers chest, but Canter acted first. He put a bullet in the brain pan of bouncer and announced that we were the Six Towers Gang, and all they needed to know was that they were working for us now.  [Having adequate hold + rep, we did a job to raise our tier (from 0 to 1) by taking the turf of another faction whose hold was threatened].

What rocked

This session was a reversal from the normal format. We spent nearly the entire session focusing on downtime and did our score in 15 minutes. This was in part because we had some pretty juicy downtime scenes to play out, and because we wanted to see how it would work. John wanted to spend more time in the Downtime, which meant we took more actions being taken (Consort to find the Bluecoats, Sway to bring Brogan in, etc) and the stress and complications that come with those. It also meant we did our score in a single Skirmish roll to get in and break down their defenses.

What we saw was that Blades inherently has the ability to zoom in and out as necessary. The greater focus on something the more rolls made, the more stress and complications generated. The more you zoom out, the more a single roll can affect your entire outcome. We only got a 5 on our Skirmish action, so the entire score took longer than expected and gave the Red Sashes time to arm up and prepare retribution.

Oh man, those scenes were so juice. I loved Brogan. I loved Julian’s plight. I loved that my own gang turned me down. There was a part when Arcy told Canter to “remember that time you wanted to sell demon blood infected humans and I didn’t think it was a good idea?” It was going to be a question about gangs having each other’s backs, but Canter cut Arcy off saying “yeah, don’t worry about it, I forgive you, water under the bridge.” It was brilliant and made Arcy’s blood boil. <3

What could have improved

We had some technical hiccups. My laptop died and I had to switch to my desktop. The Skype to Twitch feed, yadda, yadda, yadda. So, I don’t think the link above includes the entire episode. Oh well, shit like that happens.

As a player I was a bit slow on the uptake. John was showing me (with the sketch the Bluecoats had and with people recognizing Arcy instead of being shocked she was alive) that nobody bought the whole “I got thrown off the side of the Nightbreaker and was presumed dead” bit.  So, in that moment when Arcy was at a loss, that’s mostly because Sean was at a loss. There was this moment of cognitive dissonance when I realized “oh wait, we envision the world as two different things.” For the purposes of a cohesive narrative, Arcy being wrong was no problem, but I probably should have stepped back for a sec to make sure John and I had the same understanding of what was going on in the world. A minor speed bump really, but worth noting in the future.