The Scoundrelexicon

Bits and pieces of the Scoundrelexicon are painted on brick alley’s walls, carved into benches of pubs and some have even heard its wisdom screeched by ravens. You can tell that they are different from other graffiti because they are lucid and are good advice for those who have disregarded all other good advice and started a scoundrel’s life of crime in Doskvol.

No one has all of the Scoundrelexicon’s wisdom, though some back-alley scholars have begun to gather them together. Are they the work of a ghost? Are they some kind of ghostly manifestations of crews that have fallen to the unrelenting pressure and grind the scoundrel’s life demands?

blades-graffiti.png

Here are a few of them, written down here before they were painted over, sanded away or otherwise cleaned from existence:

No use telling a crew not to punch above their weight because we all do but know this: make friends above yer weight too.

 

Is eeking out a life of poverty under a bridge better than bleeding to death on that same bridge? That is the question Doskvol forces you to ask once you float down the Scoundrel’s Canal.

 

A job going to chaos isn’t a sign of a poorly wrought plan. It is a sign that you are living the life of a scoundrel and that life’s tapestry is woven with chaos, death, vendetta and time lost to cruel Ironhook.

 

Whispers make good problem solvers but bad priests.

 

Sometimes a an Iruvian dueling knife is the only thing that can pry out a bullet and sometimes the finest Imperial pistol is the only club at hand. Look at yer load with fresh eyes every time you load out.

 

Ironhook is our schoolmaster and it is a vicious, miserable educator.

 

War is bad for business but so is love.

 

When the cutter wants war seek out diplomacy and peace; when the spider wants peace make fell war.

Please add your own in the thread over at the new Blades in the Dark forum.

 

 

Art

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. “Old houses King & Varick Sts.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1919. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e2-8cc7-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
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Blades in the Dark: The Last Red Maid

hanging

The Red Maids were a group of chambermaids who turned to crime. Like so many gangs, they gathered too much heat too quickly. Because their enemies were among Brightstone’s and even Whitecrown’s elite and not yet among their fellow criminals, scoundrels still speak fondly of them as both a cautionary tale and a kind of heroic tragedy.

When their crime spree was over Brightstone was said to be painted blood red. The gang’s leader, Scar, was hanged under charges of witchcraft and the rest were put in prison by an over-zealous magistrate under heavy pressure from the City Council.

Forty years later and the only surviving member of the gang is getting out, not because of any mercy but because everyone in power has forgotten.  Scoundrels all over the city want to recruit her as she leaves Ironhook. None even remember her real name, only her street nickname.

What playbook was she?

  • Cutter: Bloody Mary
  • Hound: The Wolf Crone
  • Leech: Dr. Scarlet
  • Lurk: The Old Shadow
  • Slide: The Red Masque
  • Spider: Spinner Scarlet
  • Whisper: The Red Matron

There are barroom arguments, did she kill more people on the streets of Duskwall or while serving time in Ironhook?

Notes

This isn’t so much about one character getting out of Ironhook but as something new being added to the scoundrel’s underworld that acts as a spark. This is a fun way to have gangs compete over something that isn’t too high stakes. Of course, some gangs are going to claim their gang has some lineage leading straight to he Red Maidens, making their claim on this wise old-timer more than another or perhaps she has a link to a solid score that everyone wants, some money the Red Maids stowed before they made their valiant and foolish last stand.

Can your gang outbid and out-maneuver the other gangs and get this elder scoundrel to try life on the streets again?

Inspired by Season 5 of the Sopranos.

 

General Research Division, The New York Public Library. “TheExecution of Cook and Coppock… Charlestown, Va.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed January 5, 2018. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/c7b1c6e0-eb12-012f-a413-58d385a7b928

The Wobbegong Crew: The Dunvil Rover Job

In which we meet Clave who gets out of Ironhook in time to do his first job with the crew just in time to put on Ironhook overalls on and pretend to be convicts in order to break in to a Leviathan Ship with a secret science-cult in its depths.

Dunvil Rover tweet

The Gang

Jason and Sean were back with us playing Maud and Charming, the gang’s Whisper and Cutter. Mad Jay joined us with Clave “The Wrench” Davaa, the crew’s new Leech. Clave was on the engineering team that did upkeep on the Imperial Army’s first War Hulls back in the war but was put into Ironhook after lashing out against his C.O.

The Unity War, specifically being involved in the battle at Barghast Bay is the magnetic force that brings the group together.

There was this nice player moment where Mad Jay had Clave say something cool and Jason’s Charming said, “I missed you, mate.”

It gave Clave context in the group and was a welcoming move and creative decision.

The Job with text

I was having trouble finding a grip  on the game and getting things moving and had one vague idea for a job. I spent more effort describing the folder the job’s intel was in than the job itself because let’s face it, the job was vague.

The Hive offered info on a science-cult on a Leviathan ship, the Dunvil Rover, that was their largest client in human trafficking. Nothing to steal, no one to kill, just info to do with as you will on a former client who might lash out now that their line on fresh humans is dried up.

There was a moment when I realized this might be just too damned vague and let them know that if this job wasn’t juicy enough, they could always take some turf.

Wobbegong Turf

In the end, they took the job that ended with a Leviathan ship on fire in the harbor – The Usual Suspects-style. The Heat on this job was astronomical – the worst ecological disaster in Duskwall history.

Duskwall again

An NPC named Cricket really came to life, so much so that Sean might play him for a while while Maude takes jail-time to deal with the crew’s Heat.

The Wobbegong Crew and the Daemonic Lexicon Volume III

In which the gang burgles the library in the haunted manor of the Dimmer Sisters to steal a book about demons, written by the Emperor before the Cataclysm, for Lord Scurlock, the book’s original owner.

nypl.digitalcollections.510d47e3-c709-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99.001.w (1)

The Gang

Charming was separated from the group as a kind of front door diversion and that made framing scenes and going back and forth tricky. This felt like it was right up Skannon’s alley and it made me squirrelly when Pete’s dice would bite him. I’ll write more about that below. Maud had infiltrated the sisters’ ectoplasm-powered psychic network, giving her a strong hand-hold.

The Job with text

The players got to Tier II and the Dimmer Sisters are also Tier II. For once, they weren’t punching up but squaring off with an equal. I’m glad that my Handlinger-inspired descriptions of the Dimmer Sisters and their pairs of floating upright psychic witch enforcers in black lace veils and matching funereal dresses had the desired effect; the players were freaked out by them.

I’m also glad I waited until after the session that came after this one to write this up. I had this feeling that the session was too easy but everyone was stressed to the gills. Rock on.

In the end, they stole the book and got out without losing anyone. The Dimmer Sisters know damn well who did it. The gang’s Faction Status with the Dimmer Sisters is now at a precarious -2.

The Mechanics in White

Folks kept failing Risky Standard conflicts (we call them Whiskey Standard) and I kept exercising the option to escalate them to Desperate. I’m not sure if that was the best way to go. Maybe I should have started to dole out some Harm.

Something to think about. I might go back, watch the session and make another blog post about this with links to moments of play.

 

Art

Leon F. Czolgosz, the assassin. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <https://www.loc.gov/item/90707285/>;.
The Corliss Bevel-Gear-Cutting Machine. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <https://www.loc.gov/item/2004678678/>;.
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Wm. Hawes in front of jewelry store with intricate clock.” The New York Public Library Digital Collectionshttp://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e0-69ca-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Grand View, City and Canal, Syracuse, N.Y.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1880. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e1-5eee-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
 The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. “The transportation problem. The Baxter boat “City of New York,” the fastest steamer tried on the Erie Canal” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1825. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-7e54-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library. “Front cover” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1550. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e3-c709-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Wobbegong Crew: The 3 Skov Ghost Job

In which the gang smuggles 3 patriotic Skovlander ghosts from the Lost District to Ulf Ironborn.

The Gang

It was Jay and Sean – Charming and Maud. The timing for them to be in a mission together was kind of perfect, as they had a disagreement last game and Maud had stormed off.

Duskwall again

Taking lead from Jay who continues to name background Skovlander children as Charming acts as a babysitter, I mentioned a child gets back late one night with his blazer torn. He boasts that Ulf Ironborn paid him a bushel of apples to sneak under a fence and open a door so Ulf’s gang could murder a city councilor.

The child goes on to say that Ulf has a smuggling job for them if they want it.

Before deciding on jobs Maud and Charming visit Lord Scurlock to ask about demons. They tried to get Scurlock to commit to saying that he was dead against demons but he was non-committal. The vampire lord of Doskovol says that he could help them but his best book on demonology was stolen by the Dimmer Sisters.

They decided to wait for Skannon whose skills would be necessary when infiltrate the Dimmer Sisters and took Ulf’s smuggling job.

The Job with text

The 3 Skov Ghost job was given to them by Ulf’s second-in-command, Havid. They were to take the Blackjack out past the Lightning Barrier into the Lost District and an agent would be waiting for them there with 3 ghosts. They were to smuggle the 3 ghosts past the Lightning Barrier to Ulf and his crew who would be waiting in the basement of a public house on the docks.

Maud and Charming was not pleased with the unknowns and they pushed, using dice to find out more. It caused them some stress but in the end they found out that the ghosts were going to be put into Skovlander War Frames, as used on Barghast Beach, the bloodiest engagement of the War and the battle that forged his gang. Ulf was planning on using the warframes to cement his gang’s place.

As jobs go it went smoothly but there were hitches. The ghosts weren’t ghosts; they were people – members of a Skov special forces unit who were hit with a location spell by an Imperial War Whisper. If they entered the city they’d be located by the Imperial Army; it was in their blood. When Maud tried to cut the spell it nearly attached itself to her but she fought it off.

After discussing it, they decided that Charming could kill them quickly with a knife, which he did and then they’d wait for the ghosts to separate with some help from Maude. This was represented by a 6-count clock along with a second 6-count clock to represent a pack of ghosts finding the crew. Given the bad rep of the Deathlands and the Lost District, I should’ve made the pack of ghosts finding the crew clock a 4-count but that is alright.

Charming killed the Skov patriots with a knife. They held hands and sang Skovlander soldier songs while he did it.

Another hitch, Ironhook convicts came down the beach towards the crew. Charming confronted them while Maud dealt with peeling the ghosts away from the newly dead’s bodies.

Smuggling jobs, like stealth jobs, are tricky as a GM. I want complications but I don’t want the players to feel like their employer effed them over. I want the players to be cool but I don’t want the job to be too easy. I want ways for the job to get complicated without the players being bad at smuggling. I felt like I found a good balance. There was a bunch of stress but it didn’t go entirely pear-shaped. Nothing caught on fire or exploded.

There were ghosts and lots of danger; the Deathlands felt dangerous, even if it was just across the river, within sight of the Lightning Barrier.

The Mechanics in White

At the end of this game the Wobbegong Crew became Tier 2.

Ulf Ironborn is in play. The Skovlander refugees are a good link to him and he thinks well of the Wobbegong Crew because of their anti-trafficking efforts despite the side they took during the war. Also, he is the first gang of a lower tier than the players, which is cool. They get to be mentors.

There was word around town that the Lampblacks thought the Hive looked weak when their warehouse got taken so easily by the Wobbegong Crew, so they tried to take some Hive turf for their own. Since then, the Lampblacks have entirely disappeared. No one has heard anything about them.

 

Art

Leon F. Czolgosz, the assassin. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <https://www.loc.gov/item/90707285/>;.
The Corliss Bevel-Gear-Cutting Machine. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <https://www.loc.gov/item/2004678678/>;.
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Wm. Hawes in front of jewelry store with intricate clock.” The New York Public Library Digital Collectionshttp://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e0-69ca-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Grand View, City and Canal, Syracuse, N.Y.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1880. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e1-5eee-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
 The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. “The transportation problem. The Baxter boat “City of New York,” the fastest steamer tried on the Erie Canal” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1825. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-7e54-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Wobbegong Crew: The Haunted Warehouse Job

In which the gang takes turf from the Hive.

On the first day of Bladesmas my scoundrels gave to me a spectre in a dead tree….

The Gang

We had Maude, Charming and Skannon tonight. With 3 PC’s, we are tending to wait until we’ve got a full crew before playing lately. I liked the way having different characters in different jobs changed the way we’d approach each job or which job we’d take when offered a few.

Duskwall again

The Five Faces of the Moon – The teahouse Skannon often frequents when he pays for company.

Liz Lomond – reporter who brought the Hive’s human trafficking into the light.

Edlund – the “kindly” Bluecoat who always comes to talk the gang into taking a less bloody route.

Jol – the Bluecoat who took a crowbar to the Blackjack, the crew’s main boat.

Djera Maha and Karth Orris – leaders of The Hiven, NPC’s named in the book.

Narcus Comber – Hive’s Lawyer – the man Charming stole a watch from back in the early days, back before their HQ had a door and the barrister just walked in

Azin, Kimiya, Orkiden, Yass – Whispers with the Red Sashes – ladies who can go from frightening witches to doting grandmothers in the spin of a penny.

Barghast Bay – the bloodiest engagement in the War is where this gang was forged and is mentioned often.

Jonah – a mischievous Skovlander child who mistreated Skannon’s dining room table. Jason is often dropping the names of children during the game as we see Charming trying to be a baby-sitter.

The Job with text

As per their peace agreement with the Red Sashes, they returned the Upper Deck, turf taken during the war, but the Red Sashes had to aid them in taking a warehouse from the Hive. They took it using magic, knowing that the arcane arts and ectoplasmic sciences are weak points in the Hive’s arsenal.

The sent the fermenting mass of ghosts from the bilge of the Upper Deck, which had been used by some long gone gang as a place to stow bodies, into the Hive’s warehouse and managed to control it, keeping the situation from becoming a cannibalistic mess. The group made their rolls for the most part and utilized a weakness in the Hive, an unwillingness to utilize ghosts and sorcery. A roll demanded a complication, and so the warehouse is now forever haunted.

As a result, the Hive offered Maud and Skannon jobs and had a talk with Charming about why they did what they did. They offered Maud an estate in Six Towers with a view of the Scurlock Manor and offered Skannon his family’s ancestral ship, now docked just within the Lightning Barrier.

Now the group has a haunted warehouse full of Skovlander refugees as turf. Good stuff.

The Mechanics in White

The mechanics brought an entanglement in which the Bluecoats took out their anger on the Blackjack. I also consider the NPC’s mentioned in the faction section as part of the mechanics. The personalities and links between gangs and factions is well wrought.  Pluck one string and it causes ripples throughout Doskovol.

 

Art

Leon F. Czolgosz, the assassin. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <https://www.loc.gov/item/90707285/>;.
The Corliss Bevel-Gear-Cutting Machine. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <https://www.loc.gov/item/2004678678/>;.
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Wm. Hawes in front of jewelry store with intricate clock.” The New York Public Library Digital Collectionshttp://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e0-69ca-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Grand View, City and Canal, Syracuse, N.Y.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1880. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e1-5eee-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
 The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. “The transportation problem. The Baxter boat “City of New York,” the fastest steamer tried on the Erie Canal” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1825. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-7e54-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Wobbengong Crew Downtime After the Coalridge Demon Disaster

In which the team deals with the fallout from failing the Coalridge Demon job.

The Gang

It was fun starting the game off with Maude and Charming being held by the Spirit Wardens while Skannon was at the HQ, having entirely missed the Coalridge Demon job. Cutting between these 3 different points of view for the first hour was satisfying.

I liked how those opening minutes colored the downtime – from Charming adopting a demonic persona in his fight career, taking on the name Atreus (the demon they failed to kill in last session’s job), how Maude is suspected of being a snitch because she was caught by the Spirit Wardens and Skannon getting invited to the Doskvol University to hear Professor “Bakoros” speak.

We only got to some downtime but it was great to be back in Duskwall with these scoundrels.

The Mechanics in White

I’m getting a better and better grasp on the way limited success and failures work and how to best deal with them in a given situation.

Something I love about the Blades in the Dark book is whenever I look at it I come away inspired. I had to glance at it today when I wanted the Spirit Wardens to knock on the Wobbegong Crew’s door. Would it be a masked Spirit Warden? Do they have a mouth-piece, someone who is seen without a mask? Professor “Bakoros” was there waiting for me.

Right there in the NPC’s section on page 296 was Bakoros, the pseudonym of their academic face. I loved the idea of this kindly old professor knocking on the door of this Imperial SWAT Ghostbusters. Skannon, with his noble family background, suave air and scientific curiosity was the perfect scoundrel to meet him. When Pete told me that he almost stabbed the professor and sacrificed him to the Witch Matron on her altar, I was in shock. He decided not to do that but what a shockingly different game that would’ve been.

Duskwall again We saw the inside of the Doskvol Academy, a Spirit Warden safehouse/interrogation chamber and the manor of a group of rich cultists whose members include the prestigious Rowan family (and who knows how many others?).

We know that the Hive are at war with the Unseen, who are trying to infiltrate the Spirit Wardens. We’re getting embroiled in rivalries way above the Crows, Lampblacks, Red Sashes and Billhooks. Good stuff!

There is an odd, almost grudging respect towards the Spirit Wardens from the crew that I found fascinating.

Quess, the maid in service to the Witch Matron’s Brightstone Temple.

I picture Quess as being played by Lydia Night, lead singer of the Regrettes, shown below in their video for Seashore.

Quess

Timoth Rowan, the teacher’s assistant Skannon took out for drinks to get more information about why ghosts attach themselves to a certain place from their lives, gaining 5 ticks on that long-term project.

Timoth is going to be a blend of every beleaguered grad student Pete and I knew from our days in Ithaca, N.Y.

Atreus, up and coming Pankration heavyweight who moves like a middle-weight and is drawing strange uptown high society folk to his fights. He wears a demon mask and totally isn’t Thaddeus “Charming” Thimbleford, Cutter for the Wobbegong Crew. That idea is just preposterous!

 

 

Art

Leon F. Czolgosz, the assassin. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <https://www.loc.gov/item/90707285/>;.
The Corliss Bevel-Gear-Cutting Machine. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <https://www.loc.gov/item/2004678678/>;.
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Wm. Hawes in front of jewelry store with intricate clock.” The New York Public Library Digital Collectionshttp://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e0-69ca-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Grand View, City and Canal, Syracuse, N.Y.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1880. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e1-5eee-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
 The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. “The transportation problem. The Baxter boat “City of New York,” the fastest steamer tried on the Erie Canal” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1825. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-7e54-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99