The Hellspawn and the Imperial Briefcase Job

 

Hellspawn Title 3D Red

In which the Hellspawn steal a briefcase from an Imperial Agent, talk to the Dimmer Sisters about some lost muscle and learn more about the demon.

Duskwall again

I had nearly forgotten that in the first job in the rush of fire and larceny the Hellspawn had stolen a second painting, one that was not requested to be stolen by their employer. Helles decided to look it over; they thought that perhaps it was somehow arcane. Dev said he was using Attune and I asked him how Helles was doing that which led to his cool description. Helles had a cup of water that she was using like a magnifying glass over the tapestry. She rolled and failed, drawn into the depths of the tapestry, depicting an ancient siege.

He discovered Naria, who had been muscle for the Dimmer Sisters but had become trapped in this tapestry. Helles was not able to bring them both out.

They met with the Dimmer Sisters when Helles looked into the tapestry they stole during the last job. She discovered that the demon was using the tapestry to gain access to their dreams and that there was a long-lost Dimmer Sister trapped within it. The Dimmer Sisters want their sister back but are leery of having that kind of Tycherosi magic in their manor. They’ve offered their help on a future job should the Hellspawn find a way to free Naria, who was lost on a job in the Veil Social Club 40 years ago.

The Hellspawn’s reaction to the Dimmer Sisters was starstruck awe. They had cool matching black dresses with black lace on the trim, mystique and poise. “I hope the Dimmer Sisters like us.” I described Roslyn,the Dimmer Sisters go-to gang member for outside-the-house dealings as a young Whoopi Goldberg with black lipstick on. I’m not sure why but that is what I saw when I pictured her.

Una completed a long term job about learning more about the demon. She learned that he’s known as The Serpent and was the power-behind-the-throne for the Goat King, whose siege is depicted in their stolen tapestry. She knows that well-to-do Tycherosi worship the Serpent in weekly rituals.

The Job with text

They took this job as penance because the Demon was pissed at them but also kind of impressed with their moxy. They’d be paid but there was no question. The job had to be done or the Demon would be pissed.

An Imperial Agent was coming to Doskvol via train and picking up a briefcase. They were to steal this briefcase. They did not know exactly where the briefcase was to be picked up. The crew set up around the likely exits of Gaddoc Station and rolled a 6 on the Engagement roll. The agent walked up to Helles and threw her a silver. “Go get me a cab and there will be another in it for you if the cab looks tidy. There’s a good lass…”

Flashback to Una securing a cab a few days ago and she is there to pick him up. He finds her Tycherosi heritage a charming exotic touch to the trip and asks to be taken to the Doskvol Academy. I explained to Dev and Laura that they’d have trouble following across the Great Bridge into Whitecrown. Flashback to Vestine, hidden in the trunk of the goat-drawn cab. The agent came back to the cab with the briefcase chained to his wrist.

They took a side-road route through the Docks and once they were in an abandoned area of warehouses dosed the agent with trance powder, threw a cloak over his head, cut the chain from his wrist, set another case in its place rigged with a fire oil trap and convinced him that a Bluecoat broke the robbery up before it could go down and the cab-driver had been driven off in the process.

It was the smoothest job I have ever seen. There were very few rolls (2 or 3…maybe too few?) and because they hit their engagement so well, I had that first roll to dose him with trance powder be Controlled, Great. I just didn’t think the agent would have any reason to doubt anything they were doing to get him into position.

Back in the safety of their cave HQ, they wanted to see what was in the briefcase and studied it carefully before doing so. They discovered that the case was fine but the papers had the Seal of the Undying Emperor, meaning that whoever broke said seal would send information back to the Imperial Court – but exactly what information was unclear. They decided to leave the seal unbroken.

The Demon paid them 6 Coin, letting them know that this payment included taxes for property and personnel damage previously incurred (setting the club on fire and killing the waiter). The Hellspawn thought that was pretty fair.

The Mechanics in White

Before the game started I explained how the fictional positioning in Action Rolls worked.

After the job, I showed them the Turf map on the Crew Sheet. “Your next job could be just what you pick up from around town, in which case I’ll offer 2 or 3 jobs and you can pick one or you could go to the Demon or the Dimmer Sisters and see if they’ve got any work for you. Or you could pick up some turf, which means taking something from another gang because you are all rats in a barrel.”

The primary interest was around stealing a Gambling Den from the Crows or taking Turf from the Dunslough Pigs, a Tier 0 gang created during character creation; the Pigs are the gang they stole their cave HQ from. They decided that taking on the Crows was not wise at this point. They’re going to take a barn on an eel farm next week, occupied by the Pigs, used for god-only-knows-what.

I liked that the turf gave us a reason to talk about setting stuff a bit. Suddenly, Lyssa having just betrayed Roric had a direct impact on them because her unsteady hand meant this was more ripe for the taking than it otherwise would’ve been. The turf map gave the setting info context.

Una said, “I think taking on a more experienced gang, led by someone who is willing to kill her own friends, not to mention a group of young thieves in a small gang who take her shit, is not a wise move at this point.”

These Dunslough kids are smart for a pack of scoundrels.

NOTE: I haven’t written about the adorable free play with the characters bickering and poking fun like a group of sisters but I felt like I over-wrote this AP as it was. More on that later…

Art

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Sing Sing Prison.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e1-5e82-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
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. “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: 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: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. “Le port aux mouettes.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1886. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47da-4263-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

 

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The Hellspawn and the Fight Night Art Replacement Job

In which the Hellspawn, Tycherosi prison orphans who operate out of a cave in Dunslough, accept their first job – stealing a piece of art in a social club.

In which Janaki and I game with our neighbors, Dev and Laura. Yay, face to face game. Having neighbors who are friends in NYC is a rare treat. It is nice to have a face to face game again.

The Gang

Helles “Bell” Tycherosi, the Spider, from whom the gang gets their name, the leader. Her older brother is Twelves, who is serving time in Ironhook but is allowed visitors and is the gang’s mentor. She has crystal faceted eyes due to her Tycherosi heritage.

Una “Bricks” Tycherosi, the Cutter, a pugilist who fights in pits all over Doskvol. She has goat horns on her head due to her Tycherosi heritage.

Kestine “Thistle” Tychero, the Leech, inventor of alchemical birth control. She has rows of shark teeth in her mouth due to her Tycherosi heritage.

 

The job was fun but I felt like it didn’t allow a moment for everyone to stretch their wings and be cool. I was vexed and tense.

Relax, Judd! You are among friends.

I looked over the jobs chart and saw something about stealing and replacing a piece of art. I noticed that there was a Tycherosi owner of a social club. I liked that option because the crew had to debate about it a bit. Would they rob a Tycherosi? I like those moments, especially in the first games, where the gang can decide their boundaries and codes of conduct.

The crew got into the social club on a fight night, under the auspices of being there to support Una, there to fight her pugilist friend, Marlane.

I loved what the players were doing and their choices. I asked for a roll for the Leech to fool a waiter and there should have been no roll there. It led to cool stuff, though, so I should chill out a bit.

When Kestine was sneaking around on the second floor of the social club she saw a young rich kid getting worked over by Aldo, a bookie with the Crows. Later they he was unconscious while the second floored burned because of Una’s alchemical fire. Helles saved him and now they are kind of courting. Una and Kestine gives her shit for that. The rich kid’s name is Milos Strangford.

The job ended with the Veil on fire, the art stowed away and the Spider in her under-garments.

I’ll call that a successful first session.

The Mechanics in White

I did a bunch of escalating instead of Harm. I’m not sure if those were wise choices.

We jumped right to downtime and in order to lower their Heat, they went back and killed a waiter who they’d left alive. The Cutter and the Leech grabbed him and knifed him on his way back from work so he couldn’t identify them. Ruthless!

Dev wanted to get something to help with the Train Job and he tried to acquire an asset, which is really difficult as a Tier 0 gang.

I remembered to roll Entanglements after the Downtime was over. I got Demonic Notice/Show of Force. There was a bunch of talk about the owner of the Veil, a Tycherosi who is said to have a snake’s body for his lower half. The gang was doubtful that he really had a snake’s body or even if he was really Tycherosi at all.

The Demonic Notice began to take shape. He’s a demon and now that they’ve damaged his place, he wants them to do a job for him. They have to steal a attache case from an Imperial Agent leaving the city on a train. The next job is a train job.

Next game – more on how to get more dice for each roll. More Devil’s Bargains. More Harm. Better clocks. More relaxed Judd.

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. “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: 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: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. “Le port aux mouettes.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1886. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47da-4263-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

 

2 Amazing Quotes from Office Hours 52

Office Hours is Adam Keobel’s call-in show (go record your own question here!) and in this past episode he really hit his stride. Below is the episode and the quotes I tweeted this weekend while watching the show but wanted to put them together in a blog post because for some reason, that feels more permanent or something. *shrug*

bottoms from the top
“A good GM bottoms from the top. Look it up…unless you’re 12, then please…don’t.”
Tweet link

rev irrev quote
“A good player walks the line between treating the game with reverence and irreverence as is appropriate for the game, table and situation.”
Tweet link

Artifact: The Blades in the Dark

The first knife-fight in Duskovol took place not long after it was founded. Scoundrel legends say it was a fight over turf and money between a sailor and a coal miner. Both died of their wounds, walked away with their gangs, covered in blood and died later of internal injuries. The knives are named Jake and Harp but no two districts’ criminals can agree what that means – old slang? names of the cutters who died? arcane reference to demonic powers?

What do the knives really look like? Some accounts depict them as solid pieces of black metal and others depict them as an antique nomad dagger and a rigging knife.

knife fight

Here’s what just about everyone agrees on:

When in the presence of violence, the daggers begin to heat up and sometimes give off sparks. The wielder feels the heat and the pain but it will not debilitate them as long as they continue fighting. They have appeared 4 times in Duskwall’s history, always during times of unrest and violence. Each time, blade-chosen cutters on different sides of the conflict killed one another with the knives and then the cursed blades always disappeared, spirited away by cultists who see the knives as holy relics.

There is a myth that the Dusker who wields both blades will cut Duskwall from the grip of the Empire. Imperial agents often investigate rumors of the daggers appearing, thinking that they are a sign of unrest or a symbol of rebellion conjured by con-men and a riotous rebel cult.

So, scoundrel, you’ve found one of the Blades in the Dark, the first  is a mission clock if you go looking for the other dagger, wanting to become a symbol of bloody rebellion, the other clocks start ticking off with or without you…

Find the other dagger before your most hated enemy

Cog 4


Imperial Agents track you down

cog-6

 


Monks from a mysterious blade cult pay you a visit

cog-6


Duskwall descends into bloody war

cog-8


 

SWN 13: Laser Rifles vs. Monoblade Spears

Screen Shot 2017-04-02 at 11.46.44 PM

That tweet kind of says it all.

They took a bit of a beating from the space marines and their monoblades turned into spears. Some of debate on how a genocidale unbraked AI got stranded on this planet and when they looked at the data they saw that it wasn’t destroyed because of a political breakdown in the AI-hunting Perimeter organizations

In the next game, they’ll figure out how to get 0r10n off-planet, past the nanite curtain made to hold unbraked AI’s on the surface.

Will they use the planetary kill-switch that will take the planet back to the stone age, destroying all tempered metal and synthetic compounds?

Will Arkady’s mentor teleport 0r10n off-planet, past the curtain?

It is Friday and I’m ready for winter to be over.

Reading: I finished Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe and loved it loved it. Novellas are the best book length for me; they just seem to fit into my life. I finish them in 3 or 4 days.

I tried to read  Norse Mythology and it is boring me to tears. I remember reading a book on Norse myth as a kid and it began something like, “The world was made of fire, blood and ashes…” This feels like it is lacking all of those things.

Wanting to read about an American Bad-Ass, I picked up Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom and it is not disappointing me.

I’m also reading old Greyhawk texts and web sites and forum posts for an upcoming game.

Planning: A busy weekend with lots of cool stuff.

Writing: Nope. Just nope.

And you?

Thinking about Greyhawk for Comic Strip AP

When it comes to big picture Greyhawk, I think of odd bits of science fantasy worming its way into medieval life from wizards’ clones to tech bits from the Barrier Peaks. Arch-mages who have constructed complex philosophies around law, chaos, good and evil. Is that how the cosmos is or are we mapping it in those terms because of our own biased moral codes?

Demi-gods on the verge of ascending to other planes of existence walking around, enforcing their ways of life by sword and spell.
Adventurers eek out a desperate existence through delving and tomb raiding while nobles marshal armies to fight over obscure claims on ancient lands. Clerics worship living breathing but still unknowable deities. Thieves’ Guilds steal the bejeweled crumbs in between by stealth and knife.
archer-and-hawk
I am not sure exactly where I got the idea that in the history of Greyhawk City there was a War of the Arch-Mages. Digging through the archives, I found evidence of a few nasty feuds and an arcane wizard slaughter or two but not what I pictured – the oligarch arch-mages in charge of Greyhawk City slinging spells in the streets, retreating to their other-planar towers and manses to heal and see to their clones – Vancian Dying Earth pettiness meets a Prohibition Era Chicago gang-war.
In the upcoming Burning Wheel game on Comic Srip AP with Rich, his War Wizard is arriving in Greyhawk City with a small mercenary company of archers from the Valley of the Mage. The Council of Eight just retrieved the Hand and Eye of Vecna from a tomb and both artifacts are missing, causing the council to fracture into feuding that the common-folk are calling the Mages’  War. Meanwhile, Iuz the Old is gathering orc, gnolls, giants and trolls to his banners; the world is about to erupt into war.

Art

General Research Division, The New York Public Library. “Franc-archer, archer de la garde : 1460.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1910. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e4-4971-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
General Research Division, The New York Public Library. “Buteo Cooperii, California Hawk.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1860. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-5741-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99