Actual Play – The Hand Off (11/17/2016)

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

Picking up right where we left of last session, we found the Society making their way through the tangle of small canals that carve up Doskvol, all the way from the Docks in the south west to Nightmarket in the north east.

Arquo and Jadvyga “disguised” themselves as students by “covering” over their boils and burns and wearing student attire that they had found. Elke, who had been wearing a spirit mask and knew that if she removed it, would be recognized by Arden, went under the decks. Students dressed up as Grinders dressed up as students. The Bard of Avon would have been delighted.

Evading all tolls and check points

Major Crane was sure to hunt down Arquo and use all the resources that the Ministry of Trade would provide him to do so [1/4 Ticks on the Find Arquo Clock]. Arden was also a high profile figure, potentially recognized by many in the city. So the route they took was as circuitous as possible, and at the moment when they did come to a Bluecoat checkpoint, Jadvyga quickly turned down another canal and used a secret passage to evade them. [Risky Prowl with mixed results, a consequence of gaining heat, which Jadvyga resisted with Insight]

On the trip, because the crew focused their actions of fooling those looking from the outside, and not maintaining their ruse with Arden, he began to ask questions, targeted at Aqruo. He didn’t like him, didn’t trust him, and didn’t want to fall for his tricks. Arden eventually caught Arquo in a lie, as the ex-solider said he joined the Griders before they existed. Rather than reacting immediately Arden tucked that knowledge away, and later, when they had a moment alone, told Elke that she should be watchful, Arquo wasn’t who he said was. [Mechanically I asked the players if they were attempting to maintain their ruse with Arden and the opted not to, so I made a fortune roll to see how inquisitive he would be. He got a 6, so he quickly started unraveling the truth].

Setting up a deal with Mordis

Once in Nightmarket, Arquo quickly realized that while he could find a dozen different kinds of fried eel sandwiches (of which Elke was very delighted by) and hawkers with all manner of of other wares, Mordis was not a person you were likely to bump into by accident, nor someone with an ostentatious stall. The scoundrels, er, students started looking around and Jadvyga noticed a large presence of young purse snatchers and street urchins looming in the shadows. She reached out a few of them an arranged a complicated series of hand offs that left Arquo in an ally holding a many times fold and very dirty scrap of paper, only to be told that Morids was very busy, and they he would see them in a particular spot, in two hours. [Controlled Consort with a mixed result, taking extra time, which pushed the Finding Arquo clock up to 2/4].

During the time they were waiting:

  • Arquo and Arden sneered at he each on a sidewalk near the stall of the famed smith Jira, who proudly displayed her fine weapons from the Dagger Isles.
  • Elke found every manner of fried meat and other things she could sample.
  • Jadvyga got lost among the clothiers and finally stumbled into Dunridge & Sons, where an very professional, very skilled tailor Malcom Dunridge, got all of her measurements and offered to start tailoring a few dresses to fit her. Only when she realized the time did she dart off to make sure she was there for the meeting [Jadvyga has found her vice purveyor].

Drawing unwanted attention

Just before the meeting was supposed to happen Arquo opted to get a bit more privacy. The electric lights that filled Nightmarket had not only been giving Elke a headache (while she was wearing her spirit mask) but also illuminated the streets just a bit too much for Arquo’s tastes. He started tampering with the wiring, and would have finished if not for an ill-timed patrol of Bluecoats that happened by. Elke noticed them in time to signal to Arquo, who scampered down before they noticed anything was afoot, but by the time they moved along, the opportunity was lost [Risk Wreck, Failed result, Opportunity lost and a Consequence of Heat, which was resisted by Elke with Insight].

Mordis

Not long after another street urchin approached, took the scrap of paper that they had earlier given to Arquo, and shortly after a figure bundled in robes and rags appeared. Mordis spoke in short phrases, their voice barely more than a whisper. They came at the behest of strangers who sought an imperial musket; an item with pedestrian utility but grand symbolism.

With some nudging form Arquo and Elke, Arden stepped forward and said he wanted the musket, and had his father’s fine dueling pistol to trade for it. Mordis reached out a gloved hand to take the pistol and the moment it was placed in his hand it disappeared under his rags with so subtle a flourish, none could tell where it went.

Mordis and Arden spoken and eventually agreed on the exchange, which would happen in Mordis’ home, several blocks away, to which only Arden would accompany him. [The negotiation was put to Arden, so I made a fortune roll for him and he got a mixed result. Mordis would do the deal, but there would be strings attached].

The other scoundrels wanted to attend as well but Mordis was steadfast that only one other would come with. Elke, knowing about strange dealings stayed went with Arden. Meanwhile stayed behind to clean his guns, but Jadvyga quickly took to the shadows and followed behind Elke and Arden [Desperate prowl due to all of Mordis’ street urchins watching out for him, but Jadvyga succeeded!]

Ghost Contracts

Mordis produced a key, seemingly out of nowhere, to open a locked door and let them inside their home. The building had only a single gas light hanging by the door, and so they could not see anything besides their immediate surroundings. A sturdy, heavy-looking desk with several old but serviceable quills upon it and an Imperial Musket, worn from use. Morids produced a contract, and instructed Arden to sign it. It would bind them both to the fairness of the trade and that neither of them would speak of where they obtained the goods to anyone.

Elke realized as Mordis wrote on goatskin parchment with ink that crackled with spectral energy, that this was a ghost contract, which could bind the signers to an supernatural oath. Arden signed without much thought (Elke didn’t tell him what it was) and was about to take the musket when he felt a burning on his arm. He quickly pulled up his sleeve to see what it was and saw a tattoo beginning to form on the inside of his wrist. He panicked and flailed while Mordis seemed to merely wince with discomfort, surely a tattoo appearing somewhere on their body, all covered in rags.

Elke tried to calm Arden down by explaining to him what it was, which was exactly the wrong idea. [Risky sway with a Devil’s bargain to tell him the truth. Failure result.] Arden’s eyes went wide and he lunged for the contract to rip it in half. Elke grabbed him and pulled him back. The tumbled into each other and he looked into her eyes, the feelings for her suddenly coalescing in his mind (Note, see what could be improved below. In play we described this as romantic attraction, but we’re going to revise to familial affection). [Resisting with Prowess].

It comes to blows

Arden, infuriated but unable to unleash his anger on Elke, grabbed the musket, stalked out, and made a direct course for Arquo, who he intended to crack his jaw with the butt of his new musket! Arquo saw it coming and got the jump on him. He sent a knee into Arden’s groin and the both when down on the ground wrestling for control of the musket.

As Elke ran to catch up she her the thundering boom of musket fire and when she turned the corner saw both men on the ground, Arquo with his pistol to Arden’s head, and Arden frozen in place. The musket was on the ground, and the famed Jira was pulling a giant sword from her stall to meet out her own justice, as the bullet had blasted a whole in the side of it.

They also heard the shouts and hustling of two bluecoats coming quickly!

Laggard

Jadvyga, perched in the shadows of Mordis’ demesne, opted to linger a bit longer after Arden and Elke had left. She slipped on her darksight goggled and with them could see all manor of curiosities. Strange weapons she did not recognize, masks of many shapes and designs, a jumble of thick textiles, some of which seemed to be moving of their own accord. Satisified with these bizarre sights, Jadvyga tried to creep out through an open window but found that it was barred. Just as she was inspecting it an albino crow, clearly a deathseeker crow from it’s runic markings flew in threw the bars and landed on her wrist without realizing it’s perch was a person. A moment later Mordis called for it and it flew down to him.

The moment Jadvyga was free of the bird, she called upon her Tycherosi heritage to slip, impossibly, through the bars. Just in time to here the musket go off! [Desperate prowl to make it out unnoticed, reduced to Risky because of the use of The Devil’s Footsteps to slip through bars no-one would suspect a person could get through. Mixed success with a complication that Mordis’ familiar noticed her, resisted with prowess, holding very, very still].

Chaos in the Streets

Elke grabbed Arden’s arm and pulled him to his feet. She shouted run and they all made haste. Jira, who saw the entire thing had her massive greatsword from the Dagger Isle’s in her hands and was calling the Bluecoats to catch them.

Jadvyga took this all in from the end of the ally, and sped to create a distraction. She slipped past Jira, grabbed a curved khopesh “jira” blade and the made to dart off with it, but make sure the weapon-smith noticed so she chased Jadvyga instead. For a moment the camera caught sight of Jadvyga pulling the blade gingerly from its braket and then Jira turning wide eyed and bringing her own greatword down cleave the theif’s arm at the wrist. There was a loud clang however, as Jadvyga pulled away just fast enough and “parried” the greatsword with the new blade of her own, she them darted with Jira on her tail. [Desperate setup action to improve the effect of Elke and Arquo fleeing].

Aqruo wanted to take side streets and duck down dark passages but Elke yelled to run straight for the boat, so they could get their in time to hide under it’s many tarps. Their plan worked, a mad dash gained the ground over the Bluecoats, but it also exposed Arquo who was winged in the shoulder by one of the bluecoats who had taken aim and shot him as he fled. [Risky Prowl with great effect due to the setup action. Mixed success resulted in harm, taken by Arquo].

Let’s be done with this already

On the boat ride back everything was awkward. Jadvyga felt bad about having lied to Arden. Elke was angry with Arden (and maybe Arquo as well). Arquo and Arden starred daggers at each other.

In the private dock under the factory, the Society pulled up, dropped of Arden and the musket with no love between them. Arden was a bit surprised. He knew that he loathed Arquo but felt like there was some bond between him and Elke. Clearly she didn’t feel the same way.

Above, still working away, Hix managed to ingratiate herself to some of the Grinders but only at the expense of Sercy’s enmity. [Consort by helping the Grinders package guns in a way that wouldn’t be detected to buy herself a downtime action (recovery) since they just happen to have some leviathan blood, which was her god’s chosen consecration. Complication was Sercy’s wroth]. They traded insults and cruel barbs [Hix is took her new trauma: Vicious] and when she parted, it was all Sercy could do to prevent herself from shoving Hix down the stairs as she descended them [Sercy is now an enemy for Hix].

Once they were in each other’s sight Hix ran straight to Elke and gave her the biggest hug, which Elke returned sobbing and saying how happy she was to have Hix back.

Library Loans Overdue

I capped the session with a flash forward to the original members (including Harland) all studying in Strathmill Hall to try and make up for exams and demonstrations they had missed. The door opened and in walked professor Augus Mendleson, then professor Una Farros, then professors Oilweather, Hellyers, Jayan, and Dansworth. Behind them was a woman dressed in formal naval attire, and finally following her was Grace…the extortionist. [The Leviathan Hunters got a Crit on their investigation to find who took the captains log].

Exciting times in Charterhall University!

Payoff

  • Coin: 4 (all in the form of the Jira blade they quickly pawned)
  • Rep: 4 (Targeting the Ministry of Trade)
  • Heat: 4 (3 from the job itself, +1 for a high profile target)
  • Entanglement: To be rolled later.

What Rocked

This has definitely been the most heist-like score the society has done so far. I enjoyed all the chases and back ally dealings. The exploration into Nightmarket and the encounters with some of it’s denizens.

A small detail but Aqruo was willing to give his own name (as a devil’s bargain) to gain an audience with Mordis. The strange merchant may come calling on Arquo some day in the future.

Wow. Talk about risky moves Jadvyga! Creeping into Mordis’ shop, stealing a Jira blade in order to cause a distraction.

I loved the relief and joy that Hix and Elke had once they were re-united. The two of them who are so aloof and guarded with others, were so filled with unblemished joy when they saw each other.

Jadvyga trying on all the pretty clothes and Malcolm Dundridge happy to size them for her but she hadn’t the coin or the time!

Arden channeling all his frustration and anger at Arquo and then it getting so messy in the merchant stalls when Arquo knocked him down a peg.

I’m still so interested to see what Arquo does about Major Crane following him. Will he let the heat fall on the Lampblacks, or will he take on the attention himself and bring the Ministry of Trade to the Society’s doorsteps?

Hix and Sercy’s bitter words to each other just before the hand off. “Time to go back to your Society.” “That’s right, not like you’ve ever be accepted in one.” Ouch!

What could have been improved

It occurs to me now that a better complication for Arquo failing to dismantle the street lights would be for Mordis to notice they had been tampered with and be more guarded in his dealings with them.

Karen asked after the game if we could have less “people falling for Elke” plots, which I agree, there have been a lot of people giving Elke very intimate attention. Some of these affections haven’t been romantic (Like Nyryx and Scurlock) but nevertheless, there have been a lot of people taking unwanted interest in her. I’ve got an idea for revising Arden’s affection for her, in that she reminds him of a younger sister, for which he has great love. I’ll run that by the group next session.

I regret bringing in some of the new faculty so they only appear during this disciplinarian moment. I’m going to shoot for a few flashbacks to show them under “normal” circumstances before we get to the actual reckoning that has come due.

I never know what to say when someone goes looking through a shopkeepers inventory, especially if they are known to be a merchant who deals in arcane and exotic items. I feel a little bit like it’s saying showing this strange disparity of wealth, but I know having owned a business, that inventory is usually pulling you under the current rather than bringing you up in the world. I started thinking immediately, what if they robbed the place… what would they find… and worried I wouldn’t know how to answer when they did.