Actual Play – The Charter Restored (1/10/2017)

GM: Sean Nittner
Players: Karen Twelves, Eric Fattig, and Adrienne Mueller
System: Blades in the Dark, Rules v.7.1

A welcome back

We took a few weeks off for the holidays and it was great to see everyone again, and to find out what they would be up to. Arquo unfortunately didn’t have as welcome a greeting.

When he got off work and came home, it was to his mother and Steiner (rather than his father) waiting for him. The Blue had come by again, and not finding Arquo, they took his father. Ramira’s expression was grave but not defeated. Arcus would be coming back. A few days and a few lumps later, but he’d come home.

While they were conspiring around the dining room table, Steiner agreed to try and bribe the Bluecoats to release Arcus, but he also told Arquo that if he really wanted to help his family, he could make a little extra coin. The Coalridge workers are getting ready to unionize but before they do, they want to be ready for repercussions. They’ve got the money, the just need someone to move the guns. Bazso isn’t interested, he doesn’t want to get involved, but Seiner and Arquo… they could make a few slugs.

[We had a little discussion about whether this would be a score or not and decided that if the DSS wanted to do it, we’d make it a score on screen, but if not, Arquo could do it in the background and make a fortune roll to see how it went]

Steiner took two coin to pay off the Bluecoats to release Arcus on Arquos behalf (he couldn’t go, being wanted himself). The coats took the money and spit in his face. Arcus was going to sit and stew. [We handled it as a fortune roll, rolling the coin spent + Arquo’s lifestyle, result was a 1-3, poor results].

Payoff for the Kinclaith Score

Iremina’s necklace was ostensibly worth more than the Kinclaiths owed Charterhall, but until the could fence it, the necklace was just a sting of heavy gems, and not something you want to hold onto for long.

Rep: 4. Heat: 4 (Contained, Hostile Turf, Well Connected Target), Entanglement: Gang Trouble (while the leaders were out protecting their student status the gangs turned to internal squabbling about ghost affairs).

Meeting in the Sanctum

In the wee hours Hix made her way to the lightning tower in Dunslough, where she found some answers, and even more questions. Point blank Augus admitted that he was the one who brought down the lighting tower and let hundreds, possibly thousands of ghosts into the city. Why? Territory control in Dunslough. When the ghosts were running rampant, he was able to move arcane artifacts into Ironhook, smuggled by work crews that otherwise would have been caught by the Spirit Wardens. But why?

In the year 605 of the Imperium, amid rampant crime, the Lord Governor commissioned the construction of a  giant edifice that would hold the growing population of prisoners otherwise scattered throughout the city. Work camps were formed and for 13 years a chain gang labored away at creating the edifice they would die inside of.

The architects of this colossal monument put a part of themselves in it as well. In the subterranean heart of Ironhook housed a fire that would never go out. A great brazier inscribed with runes that bound a spirit within, one that grant the Keeper of the Flame a home inside the hook, to warm the bodies and souls with the prison, and to be fed by their supplications of blood and suffering.

Years ago, when electric wiring was being installed in Ironhook, the temple, which had stood in place for a century, was discovered and destroyed, the eternal fire extinguished and our god’s connection to that place severed.

There was one more piece that need to be co. In order consecrate the temple a whisper would have to carry a ghost into Ironhook and offer it up to the Keeper of the Flame. No longer a smoking brazier, now the Keeper would live in the electroplasmic current which arced through the great fortress. Augus has someone in mind. A former student of his who was down on his luck and just desperate enough to take the job even though it meant his own incarceration: Irelen.

Hix, seeming the opportunity to both fulfill the needs of her patron god and get heat off the Spectral Society, made Augus and offer. She would got in Irelen’s stead. He would get caught, she could do it undetected. But… only if he promised to teach her everything he knows about this powerful entity that they are all pledged to. But this calculating, lonely man would not take that offer. Yes, he would show her, but only in good time. She would have to learn, as he had, the Keepers secrets, in due time. [Risky Sway. Devil’s bargain to tell them about the ghost passage ability. Bad outcome. Blocked and the complication that Hix would have to do grunt work for Augus (a long term project) to advance further within the order].

Hix left, agreeing to Augus’ terms but totally disillusioned by her mentor.

Walk the path or be dragged down it

Thistle came to Harland distraught. “You need to kick Wester out of gang, er, the society!” The two of them had gotten into a fight over the fate of the ghost Ring. Thistle believed that she did not lead the austere life that Harland told them to walk, and that it would only be time before she became rabid. Wester, who knew her in life defended her and believed, like Elke said, that she could be redeemed.

“Wester may not walk the True Path, but that doesn’t mean he’s out of the Society.” Harland looked down at his loyal disciple and made it very clear that if Thistle pushed the subject, it would be him out in the cold. [Risky Command. Full success]

How to get the votes we need

Knowing the chair of Unnatural Philosophy Yerial Danwood was on good terms with Elke, the crew decided to talk to him and see if they could convince him to share his office with Professor Oilweather by getting them involved in a joint venture.

The Society caught Danwood as he was finishing up a class and returning to his office, followed by a small gaggle of enamored first year students. Hix distracted them with invitations to a trivia night at the Cat and Candle, while Elke and Jadvyga walked back with Danwood.

Jadvyga put Danwood in a good mood by first offering to tell him first hand accounts of Tycheros and then, genuinely becoming enamored by him during their short discussion [Desperate Sway setup action (Desperate because she was insulting one of the Tycheros artifacts that he had), Serious complication, falling under his thrawl).

Elke then walked him down the path of first publishing a book with Oilweather, and then, so they could work better together sharing his office with him. (Multiple Controlled Sway with Great effect due to the setup action).

Hix, relieved of the students, finally sealed the deal by pushing even further to get Oilweather’s name on the door (Desperate Sway with a serious complication). Danwood agreed, but under the condition that Hix be the go-between that would scribe all of their work. Perfect with her enfeebled hand.

The Council’s Decision

Guilt or innocence wasn’t really at stake here. The question was “are these students who will better the prestige of Charterhall University?” And the answer, after all accounts of them had been told was “Yes… but who is this Harland Younghusband that has been in my class and using my labs for his own personal work. Donovan Jayan’s name should be on that unguent he created!” [They had four of the seven professors on their side (Mendelson, Danwood, Oilweather, and Hellyers), but not all of those voices were very loud, while there were two professors that were staunchly opposed to them (Farros and Cleland), and one who was indifferent (Jayan). We opted to make a fortune roll with four dice (based on the number of professors they had) and a 4-5 result meant their charter was reinstated, but they gained an enemy out of the affair.]

Business with Bazso

While they awaited the council’s decision, the crew had gathered at the Cat and Candle. Cross slipped it, sidled up next to Elke and told her that Bazso had need of her services. A job that her talents would be well suited for… And we cut with that!

What Rocked

It was great just getting to play again. I love our scoundrels.

The exchange with Danwood was equal parts hilarious (using his own ego an vanity against him) and tricky (see what could be improved below). We ended up not treating this like a score. There was no crime committed, so material reward (except possibly keeping their charter) and we had totally forgotten to roll Engagement. Retroactively we decided this fit in as part of Free Play but pulling this move did earn them cred as well as complications so they gained 2 Rep and an Entanglement for their work.

I was reading John’s GM advice about offering opportunities and realized that I was rarely doing this, so I purposely seeded a few scenes (namely with Steiner and Cross) to open up some possibilities. If the Society takes the jobs, that is great, they may have some fun with them. If they don’t, the work will be done and I can see how it goes, and/or if any feelings are bent out of shape about it. Doing this really helped me make the world feel alive rather than just responding to their actions.

Harland making an enemy of Jayan is just great. It was totally a non-interesting character before, but now he want’s Harland to pay for his actions. This should be fun later on.

When I rolled gang trouble (after Harland and Elke had that big argument over the path to reconciliation) it was just perfect. I loved seeing Harland setting Thistle straight!

What could have improved

The society was drying to be really elusive and get Danwood to come up with the idea of sharing his office himself, but I wasn’t always stepping in early enough to call for action rolls and so the dialog continued and went in directions that I think were frustrating. I should have caught on earlier and confirmed what was trying to be accomplished. Okay, you’re trying to impress him with Oilweather’s collection of books and convince him to co-publish something with him. Sounds like you’re trying to Sway him, yeah?

At first I was a little sad that Hix wasn’t more sympathetic to Augus but then I was like, fuck that noise. He’s totally a terrible person. If she still wants to get information out of him, that is cool, but she doesn’t have to like him. I’m glad she’s thinking about switching sponsors after all! Though Oilweather, such a bore.