The Immortal Emperor

Pictured below is the Undying and Imperial Majesty, Immortal Emperor of Akoros, Arch-Duke of the Southern Hook and the Northern Hook, King of Skovlan and Grand Admiral of the Akorosi Navy.

There is some distortion in the picture below, as there is in all statues, pictographs and artistic depictions of the Immortal Emperor, a side-effect of the puissant ritual used during his coronation that allowed him to break free from the yoke of the Necromancer Oligarchs who tried to thwart his ascension.

The Immortal Emperor

The Immortal Emperor / Tier VI

The Emperor arrives in the city for the first time since turning on the lightning barriers in a haze of pomp and heightened security. From the moment his personal train pulls into Gaddoc Station the skies are choked by Imperial airships and the docks are patrolled by Imperial warships. (+2 Heat to any jobs that involve the Immortal Emperor’s Allies or Enemies)

Faction Clocks: Uncover Assassination Plot 8 / Gather Enough Mercantile and Noble Support in Order to Declare War in Iruvia 8

Turf: A week before the Emperor arrives his secret police and Imperial Engineers take over Whitecrown, setting up physical security and a back-up lightning barrier, discreetly set into place with the finest technology modern science can produce just in case the city’s barrier should fall. The Imperial levy is tripled while the Immortal Emperor is visiting and profound pressure is put on magistrates, inspectors and Bluecoats to put dangerous scoundrels in the depths of Ironhook for the length of the Emperor’s stay. (Any Arrests made during the Emperor’s visit will remain in jail until he leaves or the scoundrel escapes).

NPCs: Stev Scurlock (warden supreme, patient, curious, cold)  Brance Daava (brigadier general of the Eternal Lions, paranoid, aggressive, sadistic) Lucella Dunvil (grand duchess, captain of the Secret Police, heir to the Governorship of Imperial City, bored, intrigued, ambitious).

Notable Assets: The Emperor rolls deep. His retinue includes the Eternal Lions, elite bodyguards whose zealous platoons are bolstered by state of the art war-hulls. His perimeter is circled by airships full of sky marines and his living quarters are warded by his personal whispers and a kennel full of Sevrin Bull Terriers, hunting dogs that are able to tear ghosts apart with their green and black teeth. His personal staff Wardens are the original posse who fought and bled alongside him to cut free of the Necromancer Oligarchs, cheat death and then implement the lightning barriers.

Allies: Imperial Military, Leviathan Hunters, Ministry of Preservation, Spirit Wardens, City Council

Enemies: The Foundation, Iruvian Consulate, Lord Scurlock, The Reconciled

Situation: The Emperor and his court have arrived in Doskvol for one reason, to gather support among the Leviathan Hunters and mercantile interests in order to declare war on Iruvia and claim its lands as a colony of the Immortal Empire.

IE Parade in DW


The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. “Nicholas I, emperor of Russia.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1881.
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Grand Procession, April 10th 1871, in commemoration of the Treaty of Peace betwen Germany and France.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1859 – 1899.

Blades in the Dark Gang War

Gang War with 3D text

These are some ideas  for Blades in the Dark, when non-player gangs are at war.

Right before or right after a job, roll a fortune roll for each warring party. Did the players do something to give an advantage to one side or the other? If so, give one side a major advantage or another side a major disadvantage. If what they did is known, they take -1 faction status with the gang they hindered. If what they did is a crucial part of a gang’s success, they take +1 faction status.

War creates opportunities for jobs but eventually it causes problems for everyone.

Every time one side rolls a 6 in their fortune roll, heat for all jobs is +1.



Gang-moot gathers to discuss ending the war clock

A 6 count clock begins ticking for local gangs looking for ways to end the war quickly; this conflict has begun to cut into everyone’s bottom line as the local papers run stories on out of control gang violence and Bluecoats crack down and begin to edge closer to getting military hardware. Ending the war might mean getting together reasonable leaders who can bring the warring parties together in a neutral space or it might mean throwing everyone’s weight behind one side and wiping the other out. Players can dedicate downtime actions towards putting ticks on this clock (or taking them off). If they put several ticks on the clock, they will have a say on who is invited and who is left out.



Clark, Walter Appleton, Artist. He gripped Prosper by the head. [?] Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <;.
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 Collections



Event – The Scarlet Bride PDF

Event – The Scarlet Bride PDF with Opportunities to get this feral ghost hunting down the living in your own campaign.

PDF, edited and laid out by Sean Nittner with more wonderful Blades resources HERE.
Any errors are mine. Thank you, Sean!
Scarlet Bride

The Feral Ghost known as the Scarlet Bride kills at will in the back-alleys while those the Immortal Emperor’s sent to protect us are holed up in their Ivory Manor in Whitecrown, denying the spectre’s very existence.

On the 17th of Elisar, Quess Sevoy never made it home from the Laughing Goat Pub after asking Crowl Templeton for his hand in marriage on . A gondlier found her body, a shriveled husk, spring flowers in her hair and under her fingernails. Ring Daava was found headless, flowers stuffed into his neck-stump after the Daava and Slane families had arranged his marriage to Mara on the 45th of that same month.

Whispers in the know say it is a feral ghost called the Scarlet Bride who is to blame.

The Scarlet Bride stalks the back-alleys of Duskwall during feast-days with her maid-sisters in tow, murdering young men and women on the precipice of getting married. Survivors say the Scarlet Bride maid-sisters begin by throwing flower petals at their victim’s feet and ambush them in the alleys as they run in terror.

The Warden-General declined to give an official word on the status of the Spirit Warden’s hunt for this feral spectre but his office offered this statement:

“Your reporters need to seriously consider that the Scarlet Bride could easily be a clever gang. This puff piece does nothing but cement the reputation of Duskwall’s latest masked criminals.”

When will those who are holed up in their ivory manor in Whitecrown come down from their silver carriage to save us, as the Immortal Emperor intends? The Warden-General’s office declined to comment on the murders of young men and women in the threshold of their nuptials.

As always, the Inspector’s offices declined to comment on any ongoing investigation or even if such an investigation exists. A reliable source among the City Watch said that the murders were not yet of sufficient volume to warrant any official investigations based on the neighborhoods in which the murders occur. The source went on to say that there was no proof that the high numbers of murders in the neighborhoods the Scarlet Bride calls her hunting grounds, it was not clear that the deaths were not mundane murders with no ghostly foundation at all.


The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Art & Architecture Collection, The New York Public Library. “Fille armenienne, que l’on conduit à l’eglise pour la marier” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1714.

The Fog Hound Job

In which the Fog Hound gang is disbanded, troubling details about the Hive are uncovered and the Wobeggong Crew (almost) joins the ranks of Doskvol’s official tier 1 gangs.

Part 1

There was screen freeze-up and my volume was way down. My apologies, that is on me.

Part 2

Part 1 on Twitch

Part 2 on Twitch (same game, had to restart at the break)

The Gang

Pete and Sean were out, so it was Rob and Jay playing Charming and Willoughby. I’ve been gaming with these guys since I was 12 years old. They were both there when I first gamed.

Good times.

I like the structure of Blades in the Dark because when people can’t show up I can just say, “It is the day of the job and 2 members of the gang don’t show up. This is normal; this is what happens when you work with criminals and scoundrels. Everyone is notoriously unreliable.” Easy-peasy to explain away absences.

Rob posted his thoughts on his Public G+ Feed and over in the G+ Blades Community.

Duskwall again

The Fog Hound Gang: A moment of silence for Margette Vale, the gang’s fearless leader and Bear, former Imperial Marine turned smuggler. The only survivor was Goldie, a navigator with a head full of gold teeth who took a liking to Willoughby.

I pulled the info for this gang from the book. The details included there made it easy for me to incorporate them into the Hive’s newfound patronage.

Brill: We got to meet Willoughby’s drug dealer and rival – one of those social drug dealers who makes his living by providing a nice atmosphere and welcoming people into his apartment/warehouse home. He makes his house the party.

Worth noting that it is now agreed that Willoughby will go talk to the Billhooks to get them off of Brill’s back.

Kross Pritchard: This smug bastard Hive-agent was back as the gang’s handler for this job.

Hix Comber: Ink Rake who the Fog Hounds were watching, deciding if they could trust her or not.

They heard some background noise about the Lampblacks and Red Sashes going to war but from the word on the street, no bodies had been dropped just yet but word was it was about to turn into Barghast Beach in the city streets of Doskvol.

The Job with text

Rob had Willoughby make a Gather Information roll to find out about the Fog Hound and it just kept escalating. Rob and Jay definitely go by the Player’s Best Practice mentioned in the book, GO INTO DANGER, FALL IN LOVE WITH TROUBLE. Shit, Jay is driving Charming as if he’s a stolen car.

At the end of Rob’s string of escalating rolls, we went from a party at a drug-dealer’s house to Willoughby and Goldie in the hold of the Fog Hound ready to make out but due to a failed roll, Goldie knew something was up and drew a knife.

I hit pause there and went to Jay.

Realizing this was about to pop off, I got Jay involved quickly, not wanting Charming to miss the whole job. Charming was on his way back from the Pig Pit, where he trained during his downtime when he saw Willoughby, dressed as a rich tart, walk by with the Fog Hound Gang. Charming followed them there before launching a frontal assault on the steamship.

After that, it was a blur of rage essence and sleep dust and slaughter. In the end, Willoughby had Goldie drugged asleep and Charming was gut-shot on the deck, covered in blood, surrounded by bodies.

Goldie told them that the Hive is selling Skovlander kids. The Fog Hound Gang was going to get that information out and expose them. That didn’t sit right with Charming or Willoughby but in the end, they delivered the goods and lied about everyone being dead.

Upon being set free, Goldie said he was going to go out into the Void Sea, get a gig and get away from land to clear his head. Willoughby told him to seek them out and work for them when he returned and she intimated that they’d finish the make-outs they had begun before knives and sleep-dust started to get drawn.

They got a good 6 Coin haul off this gig and they are now officially a Tier 1 gang. Their Heat is way up there after this job but frontally assaulting a gang on a public dock will do that.

The Mechanics in White

tom hardy gif

Due to the way rolls escalated, we missed the Engagement Roll, which is fine. That mechanic is there to set the scene and start the job from an action packed scene. We did that fine on our own this time out.

I got to rock out and dish out some harm. As a matter of fact, I didn’t use clocks once in this job. It was honestly moving just too damned fast. We got a resistance roll and lots of stress. I laid off the clocks tonight. None were advanced tonight.

I upped Harm, dealt out Heat and put characters into Desperate rolls as parts of Devil’s Bargains. It felt like I was dealing out lots of Desperate rolls tonight.

When we stopped at 11 I kind of wanted to do the Downtime and keep going but Rob wisely got us to bed by ending the game. 2 hour sessions, one game for a job, another for downtime seems like it is going to work really well for us.

I’m getting the hang out the Desperate/Risky/Controlled position and the Great/Standard/Little effect. We’re hitting our stride and the time spent in-character is increasing as our system mastery get’s better and we understand the short-hand of what is going on. Interesting and really fun.

NOTE: I messed up the way the crew increases it’s tier. They have to pay coin to go up to tier 1. Noted! Lots of moving parts all spinning to put pressure on them.

Twitch blog category

I had a really rocky start because I felt like I was having to concentrate on so many things all at once.

Pete had to cancel last minute, so I had to do a bunch of technical and boring things to make Jay and Rob’s faces fit where they were supposed to on the damned screen. Basically, this meant I spent 45 minutes on the computer before the game with Rob and Jay signed in, cussing at the computer as I re-set the entire set-up of the game’s back end in a bunch of fiddly ways.

Once we got moving, I didn’t hit the record button. Does the channel record ? Do I have to hit the record button on my end?

I have no idea.

The stream’s image froze up, according to chat. We re-set at the break but how long was it frozen?

Juggling this stuff while running a game is really difficult. Respect to the RPG twitch-streamers out there doing this every day.

That said, I like streaming games and I dig getting to interact with chat but there will definitely be a feeling out period for a while.


Leon F. Czolgosz, the assassin. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>;.
The Corliss Bevel-Gear-Cutting Machine. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>;.
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.
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 Collections
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.
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Camera notes”The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1901-10-01.

Remembering Leo DiRoarinsky

I had this odd flashback from being a 13 year old gamer. This is probably a 30 year old gaming memory thanks to the rpgtheoryjuly hashtag over on twitter and reading tweets by Evan Torner and Emily Care-Boss.

dr evanstweet

I cannot tell you how often I was introduced to a PC’s long-lost relative or whatever, only to have them kidnapped or killed #rpgtheoryJuly

The above tweet reminded me of a D&D game I DM’ed almost 30 years ago.

I was DMing; it was probably my first few dozen games. I was 13 years old, sitting on the edge of my bed while my friends sat on the floor. My parents had been divorced for two years. It was some kind of off-night game we’d play when everyone else was out of town. It might’ve been my first experience with GM + 2 players.


A friend of mine was playing this lion-headed swashbuckling character in our D&D game because of course he was. His name might’ve been Leo DiRoarinsky. Here’s the thing about me then and me to this day. I’ll laugh at the name and then I will take it seriously. The name’s only funny once, really…maybe. After that, let’s get to adventuring and find other reasons to laugh or gasp or cringe or cheer. I took Leo seriously and listened to his back-story.

I remember him pitching the character to me. He said the name and laughed and then he passionately described this pale-furred, lion-headed swashbuckling adventurer. I didn’t like silly fantasy, still don’t. I was sold, though. He had mentioned a princess girlfriend his character was involved with but something was keeping them apart. Was it a kidnapping or a father or something?

I don’t remember. It was almost 3 decades ago. I only remember this dashing ivory-furred lion-headed skyship captain.

I decided that the princess would show up. I was young and had no idea about romantic relationships of any kind. What I did know was that it was really interesting if they had to co-exist. What does this lion-headed sky-boat captain do now that his princess girlfriend has showed up? I had no idea what that would look like. What does she think of adventuring? Does he really love her or just the idea of her?

I knew it was satisfying, uncomfortable and odd all at once. I learned right there that liked those things all together at the table. It was difficult, as difficult as my 13 year old brain with just-divorced parents knew how to make it.

Yeah, Leo, you can pine for this princess and you would’ve crossed the 9 skies to save if she had needed but can you live with her? Can you share a cramped skyship cabin with her? Can you plot a course across the stars with her?

I learned some good lessons:

Take your friend’s ideas seriously; even if they are silly, the silliness might be hiding some real pathos buried in there. Find that pathos before you dismiss something out of hand.

Sometimes, give a character what they want but not in exactly the way they want it. Especially when it can make the adventuring life even more interesting.

Asking a character to live with family is often more interesting than using that family as something to threaten or destroy for that character’s motivation.

Batman #26 Review

  • Written by Tom King
  • Pencils by Mikel Janin
  • Inks by Mikel Janin
  • Colored by June Chung
  • Cover by Mikel Janin

This is the first time in memory that I’m enjoying a monthly Batman comic.

Gang war between The Riddler and the Joker continues with the narrative gaming device of Batman telling this story of his early days in the cowl to Catwoman in bed. Every person killed in the war is named with personal details Batman knew of them. Even dead gangsters have details like, “Played Santa every year at his church festival.”


It is the second issue in this arc and the war is ramping up with Gotham’s police and vigilante still reacting and cleaning up the mess left in it’s wake. Batman is in this odd role, using his skills as the World’s Greatest Detective to record the dead and remembering their names and who they were. Most of the narrative oomph of the issue is given to those who are killed.


It is pretty clear that this arc is about a mistake Batman made during the course of the conflict, maybe not a big mistake but something he should have done differently. I’m curious to hear what he wants to to learn and how it will effect the next arc of the series.