Actual Play: Blades in the Dark (The Chroniclers II)

Veröffentlicht: 30/03/2015 in Actual Play, Blades in the Dark, Crowdfunding, Kickstarter, RPG
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My Oneshot of Blades in the Dark found a continuation and as with my previous Oneshot I summarized the experience in an Actual Play.
Blades in the Dark is the new Kickstarter project by John Harper in which the players get to play a crew of daring scoundrels trying to form a criminal Empire in a haunted city.

Blades in the Dark Hangout Graphik

I ran the second session on Blades in the Dark at Friday 27.03.
This is my attempt of writing an actual play about what happened.
The events are reconstructed from my memory and may thereby have some inaccuracies.

The players & setup

Another session of Friday D&D5 wasn’t about to happen and I offered to GM another session of Blades in the Dark. One player did like to continue the game we played the week before and there were two new players planning to attend.

It got a bit rocky on Friday. First one player dropped of because he couldn’t make it. Then another player said he basically didn’t like to try Blades in the Dark at Friday. Discussion evolved whether or not to try another system, specially as I did feel groggy. At late afternoon the player who didn’t feel like it changed his mind and I started to be a bit confused settling on the thought that if we play it might be something else.

At 8pm I joined the Hangout with two other players chatting along as we felt like two player weren’t enough and nothing else got prepared.
About 9:30 the player who changed his mind join though couldn’t be convinced to roll up a char. I wasn’t involved as much in the convincing part as I didn’t believe something would still be happening.
At about 10:30 pm another player, our actual D&D5 GM, joined and he got a quick ran through character generation, had a whisperer by about 11pm and I did come somewhat unexpected to the realization that I was supposed to GM.
Which I did.

Opposed to last time I couldn’t use my tablet and didn’t prepare as much. I took the plot hook from our first session, some remark a player made and went with that.

Choice of meal was some plain bread, some strawberries and some cheap soda.

Characters, Crew and Creation

We took the crew as designed by our last session and had the player add one positive and one negative Tier I faction standing. The Cabbies ended up with a positive standing, Ulf Ironborn got down to -2.

The recurring crew:
Daphnia Dalmore from the Dagger Isles, Slide with a noble background
Phill from Akoros, Cutter with a Bluecoat background

The new one:
Sy Lense from Severos, a Whisperer who joined the crew from the Underworld.

The character creation went really fast.
At least a lot faster then last time. In my opinion mostly due to the fact that the players knew the system better and that there weren’t as much discussions regarding certain aspects of the background.
The ScoreThe players started being in possession of a strange 20x20cm cube covered in strange moving runes. It was handed to them by the Lampblacks to be placed at the Church of Ecstasy of the Flesh before 4am this night. Given that the crew stole from the Lampblacks last time and their standing was pretty bad no further information had been given.

Sy Lense curiosity was sparked and given his expertise and tools he attempted to analyze the cube carefully. It didn’t went exactly as planned as fingers, a scrawny long arm emerge from a small gap of the cube. Trying to grab the Whisperer and drag him in. He struggled against the creature, the feral ghost, manage to free himself using his ghost mask and closed the lid, though the beast collected some ectoplasm before being caged once more.

After the shock the gang decided to get some more information before proceeding and headed into the direction of the Deathlands Scavengers.

I basically took the hook that Daphnia made a devils bargain when distracting Baz the last time round to start the session after any negotiations made.
I took the idea for the box straight out of the Quickstart and decided that it should be placed in HQ of the Church as one player asked to have them a bit more involved.
The idea how contacting the scavengers was rather spontaneous. First I thought that they made the cube, then I decided otherwise to go with the flow.The Cube got the biggest clock I made .. a time clock of 0/12.
I kept the clock visible for the player.

Daphnia went along to make contact while Sy was backing her up as technical expert. They were welcomed by Fey Lelander a whisperer of his own, wrapped in bandages with a mummy like appearance. His face covered with by a ghost mask.

At first he wasn’t as impressed as the talk continued but did show interest as the cube got mentioned. They learned that it contained not only one but many ghosts and got likely set to explode, wrecking ghostly havoc about those near by. Although they were careful enough to only bring a drawing of the cube the Scavengers interest was spiked.

In regards of Fey Lelander I took inspiration from Fallen London where mummy wrap seems as a kind of normal dress option. Specially as Fey was clearly ambiguous in regards of Gender.
They headed home as fast as they could,.. at least Phill did so using his friend bat as a guide to find a short, effective way back to the base. He arrived in time to see two Scavengers searching the museum.Luckily Daphnia didn’t leave the museum unattended and setup a Bluecoat the group had some contact with to watch the normal museum grounds.

Remarks & Question
Not the first Flashback scene. Though we wondered.
Flashback scene do already cost stress if they are more complex.Do Action and Effect rolls happen in Flashback scenes?
Thus is it possible to generate dangers or get additional stress there?

In this particular case I went with a 0/2 clock to convince the Bluecoat and I think there was some stress achieved.

Phill decided to murder the first scavenger silently and then take out the second one. He managed to get close and sink his knifes into the scavenger ending his existence. The Hound quickly took another blade out and threw it into the back of the second Scavenger.
Alas it didn’t kill him as much as it did alert him that things were going down. The Scavenger looked who did it and noticed the patrolling Bluecoat. Heading towards the Coat to get his revenge.
Phill took out his guns and with two masterful shots the knees of the Scavenger were gone. Approaching him he noticed how he was muttering words of occult, trying to summon a ghost, a tough kick to the face ended that for good.The rest of the crew arrived. The Scavenger was handed to the Bluecoat as someone he can claim he’d imprisoned to show he cared about his ward. The Chroniclers in the meanwhile went to discuss what to do.

Did they like to upset the Church of the Ectasy of the Flesh?
They are damn well powerful and so far they kept a friendly relationship. Obviously like the Lampblacks were out to ruin them with that score by framing. Of course, their standing was very bad and it would turn to outright hatred if they didn’t do as asked. It went back and forth and in the end they decided to go for the score and (mostly) do as asked.

Then they discussed the approach.
They may try it buy scaling the rooftop. Getting a hole in and letting one down with the dreaded box. (Mission Impossible style).
As they remembered the dead scoundrel in their museum they decided to go for another plan. They would disguise Sy the Whisperer as Deathland Scavenger and get him to place the cube inside. While Daphnia would distract the crowd the Hound would take the disguise of a warden of the Church. Phill would pretend to notice the foul play, „pretend hunting“ the Whisperer outside, past the previously placed corpse of their dead ‚friend‘ and claiming that he murdered the perpetrator. Pointing the Church members to evacuate or disarm the bomb.

I tend to be a bit pushing in regards of scene framing ^^;
The planning didn’t took to long though the players did feel a bit like I was cutting into their rp.
In regards of the action I was kinda happy that the hound got something to do.About the score,… I setup a „complete the score“ clock of 0/8.
Which would guarantee that it can’t be done in one roll and made 3 likely. I think it went up to 4? Anyway it felt rewarding in the end and I mostly did it to accelerate the game a bit as it was past midnight.

They all were already running kind of high on stress.

They entered the cathedral with a high glass dome who’d have the dim violet light of day enter during such.
Daphnia went in and set herself up by seducing one of the priests.
Sly did enter as well with his gift packed and tried to hide it, though the first not as successful attempt did needed some distraction backup by Daphnia.
He placed the cube under an alter. Remaining unseen thanks to the Hound who pointed out that the priest busy with Daphnia needed help.
Phill as well as Sly started their chase but the actual temple wardens caught on! It was Hound who managed to chase Sy and push the other guards out of the way. Out of the building they ran.
Sy jumped into a garbage container, hid and the score worked!
Remarks and (Big) Question
It was a bit more explicit as usual though it remained mostly all in the realm of whats fit for „a not HBO“ show in regards of description. The heist it self was – I think – major fun for the player.Yet something that did got pointed out rules wise.
Does every Effect roll save from a critical one give stress?
So far every time an effect roll was made I ticked of clock segments as well as stress.
The player mentioned that this does escalate stress pretty quick and that it may only should be done if it is an Effect roll to negate danger. I went with it though I’d like to know what is right ^^
I mostly got my approach because X Segment. X Stress is both bold, so it looks like it both always applies

As a note. I do find it confusing that the Effect rolls read „partial“, „complete“ in bold. If one gets a „complete“ result but the clock is like 0/8 it really isn’t complete. At all. Maybe it would be better to name them „Meh, Mild. Good. Great“? Something like that, not the exact words. ^^;

I felt the time ticker went good. ^^
At least to me it was something more to grasp as if I’d say „you took quite some time“.
They completed the score on a 10/12 the ghost bomb goes off scale

AftermathThe Heat roll gave a 1, they were only medium subtle and they did murder someone. So its the crews first heat.
The Development roll gave 1 Coin and 1 Hold. Which was meager but not as bad as they would get a crew advancement later on. Which included one Coin for every character.
They had an entanglement with a vengeful ghost. Basically the ghost of the murdered Scavenger returned and got shot (again) by Phill with ectoplasmatic ammunition by the hound.

They did a first round of Vice rolls but didn’t recover a lot.
The player of Daphnia spent one of her personal coins to grant an extra downtime for everyone. They considered doing a long term project but didn’t roll for one yet as no project could be found and I really had no idea for something cool.

Crew Advancement was done and The Chroniclers are now a Level 1 Crew. Not yet Tier one as they got no 3+ friends or gang with no hold.

I wonder how to reduce a NPC Crews hold. ^^;
Which was about when I discovered that I totally forgot faction clocks
They bought the first part of the Expertise upgrade and Overwatch next to Alpha as specialty.
Crew Standing changed +1 for Lampblacks (to -1) -1 for Deathland to 0 and +1 for the Church as it was decided that they manage to save them from the bomb (mission clock did aquire quite some successes.The Character Advancements were done and every character advanced a level, even the new one. Though iirc the player of the Hound left before applying his changes. Favorit was, iirc, to raise Effect dice.

Remarks and Question (Bug?)
We ended rather late at 2am. The players appeared to bit happy how the game went though one didn’t like the game as much for it felt a bit meta. I suspect maybe due to my notion of cutting hard if I felt planning went overhand.Something that did raise major concern was the XP system.
Given that one can acquire XP for doing one thing multiple times it felt it can be very easily exploited and encourage actions that are not as much fun as they will loop up the character. Which will work specially well if the group is on one page with it.
One may argue that it wouldn’t maybe be as much fun, but the system does somewhat feel to invite such behavior.

As single playbooks can be „gamed“ that way the feeling about the desperate ticks was about the same. One may provoke Desperate moves, in the end getting away with a bit of stress, but might be able to loop his char a level up just by this.

The thing about the playbooks made me wonder if its a good idea to reward the same action several times if it appears more then once.
While I personally (not as much the players) somewhat noticed that the Hound will only get the playbook murder XP if the group is willing to risk generating heat by having him murder someone.

I am as well concerned about the desperate moves being possibly exploited. As a thought,.. if someone escalates a desperate move, does it give one tick or as many ticks as he escalated it?

I think there might be some more questions which I forgot right now and will note if they’ll come back to my mind. ^^;

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