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
Advertisements

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: Do sharks have souls?

The Wobbegong Crew: Do sharks have souls?

 

sharksoul tweet

Link to tweet

 

This was an odd session. In Blades mechanical terms we had Free Play, then some Downtime and then some more Free Play. It was also an amazing session where we struggled to figure out what the gang was really about – our dreams of a better world, the worst of our trauma or just the money.

The first round of Free Play saw the group heading to Lord Scurlock’s manor to drop off the book they stole during last game’s job. There was tension in the gang. Maud wasn’t sure if the payment was in Coin or if they were going to be paid in Scurlock’s expertise in demonology and his ability to read the ancient book. Skannon wasn’t having that; if they did they job they should get paid, he thought.

A young man (I pictured him at 17 years old or so) answered the door, a bit high and bleeding from the neck but seeming not to notice. They recognized him as the son of the Lord Governor.

Scurlock paid the crew 3 Coin that was manifested by 3 antique coins about the size of an adult hand. He told them that how they dealt with the young man was up to them and that he would be watching to see what choice they made. He paid Skannon while staring him down.  When confronted with an ancient vampire lord who is a one-man-Tier-3-gang Skannon didn’t blink. In the end, they took the bleeding young man with them and Maud even went to some risk to break Scurlock’s arcane hold on him.

There was a rift in the group on how they should handle the situation. That conflict ran into the next bit of Free Play. Sean checked in with Pete to make sure he was cool with their characters conflicting, which was really nice. I’ve seen that turn ugly in the past.

Maud gathered info to find out what the hell happened to the Lampblacks. It turned out they hit a gambling den that belonged to the Hive after seeing the Wobbegong Crew take the Hive’s warehouse with little to no consequence. All of the Lampblack’s lieutenants were found dead and burned in a drug den that was destroyed by a fire. The Bluecoats wrote it off as a spark-related death.

But they’d heard that Bazso Baz was still alive in a drug den in Dunslough. It was too late in the evening in the real world to start a score. They decided to go visit Bazso – more Free Play.

When they found Bazso in the worst slum in Doskvol he was a broken man – hooked on spark. I thought of him, mechanically, as a character who retired with nothing saved up. The Hive had left him alive as a cautionary tale.

Once again the characters were divided. Maud wanted to leave him be but build up his family and personal network to help him regain what he had lost.

Charming wanted to pick him up, splash some water on him and get him back into form or just use him as a resource.

While Charming and Maud were debating, Skannon ghost veiled in and slit Bazso’s throat.

Skannon the Crow

Skannon a.k.a. The Crow got a 3rd trauma this game. He is teetering on the brink. The Crow wants to take the Hive’s offer, to prove to them that they can make money with the Wobbegong Crew in their pay without human trafficking.

Hence the title of the blog post. We are going to find out in the upcoming sessions what the gang is going to become.

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
Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. “For years he had been quietly filling his stocking.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1913. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/6c65dc92-8494-939f-e040-e00a180677f1

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

Blades in the Dark: Tithing House-Rule and Talking about Decisions

I was sitting with my friends a few weeks ago, talking about our Blades in the Dark games. A cool thing about talking about Blades, especially with a friend who is GMing is that you not only talk about the cool things that happened but you ask how they handled it within the rules. There are so many choices for dealing with the same outcome with partial successes, harm and clocks.

Something that is a job in one game could be a downtime action in another. A wound that would kill a character in one game is shrugged off for stress in another.

Charlotte shared her cheat sheet with me; Janaki and I were dazzled by it.

tith treasure

The group’s tithing house-rule jumped out at me.

TITHING RULES: Six segment clock for tithing entanglements

  • Add together tiers of factions tithing to the crew. Can choose to take up to that in coin per downtime, but each coin taken marks a tick on the entanglement clock. When the clock fills, roll entanglement.

What do I like about it? It embodies mo’ money, mo’ problems through simple game mechanics. It makes the gang’s life more complicated; they get more coin but there is a price.

Another interesting thing about this is it causes the gang to be invested in another gang’s growth. They directly profit from a smaller gang advancing in Tier.

Tithing house-rules by Charlotte, Jim, Aaron and Nikki

 

Art

British Library. “Page 10 of Hepsworth’s Millions.” British Library Flickr. 1898. https://flic.kr/p/i8TpMo

Wobbegong Crew: the Coalridge Demon Job

In which the Wobbegong Crew try to set Maude’s demonic mistake right, angering the Hive and the Lampblacks in the process and brutally fail in the mines under Coalridge.

The Gang

In the end this game happened because Maude failed some rolls and turned Coalridge into a charnel house. Sean decided that Maude had a conscience, which is a gutsy and fun decision. My favorite parts of this game were when the players made decisions for their characters that gave the situations and supernatural setting stuff real weight.

Maude deciding that she had to own up to her mistakes and ask the gang to do a job to make it right.

Willoughby and Charming acting scared when meeting Roric’s ghost.

It is one thing to have a Heavy-Metal-Album-Cover Demon unleash hell in a city district and having a ghost smoking a cigarette but Sean, Rob and Jay’s decisions gave it all real weight and feeling. It was inspiring.

Everyone had moments where they shined and the group is getting better at playing off one another. From Charming making brutal use of Willoughby’s truth-hearing to the way Willoughby managed to be the only person to escape.

Rob’s write-up of the game is well worth reading over on G+.

Duskwall again

We learned a bunch about Duskwall tonight. From the warehouse where the Hive sells people and their brutal security teams to the fact that if you sacrifice the right people on the Saint of Witch’s altar you can rummage around in the dead bodies and pull out weapons.

Lucella: accountant for the Hive – sacrificed to the Saint of Witches

Atreus: The Saint of Witches blood-thirsty son, now roaming free in Coalridge.

The Job with text

We were going to do a job concerning the hostage they had and using that leverage to broker peace between the Red Sashes and the Lampblacks but Maude had a problem. She had unleashed a demon into Coalridge and the word I used to describe the quarantined district was charnel house. It was weighing on Maude’s mind.

Charming and Willoughby agreed to put the hostage job aside and help Maude try to put this demon back in the bottle. Charming grabbed 2 people from a Hive-owned warehouse where they stored slaves, or as the Hive calls them, Product. He grabbed a guard and an accountant.

Willoughby found a coin-generating job to do in Coalridge, finding out that a factory foreman had a vault with treasure in still in the deserted district. It was a way to make some money on the endeavor. They never got to it.

Maude took the 2 human-traffickers from the Hive and killed the one still alive. The Saint of Witches put weapons inside them. It was squicky! Killing someone in a fight is one thing but killing an accountant who is chained up, even one who helps the slave trade was uncomfortable for all of us. It wasn’t over the line but it was close.

The failed their engagement roll and ended up in the crossfire between the Spirit Wardens and the demon and its cultists. Turns out the cultists were Lampblacks.

It was a total disaster. They prowled into position. Willoughby provided a distraction, acting like a scared citizen. After that it was a disaster. Charming broke against the demon in an assault – he trauma’d out. Maude tried to channel the demon’s mother’s voice. She failed to contain that much energy and vomited blood.

Willoughby wanted to grab Charming and bounce but she rolled a 5. She got out but Charming stayed.

The Mechanics in White

I don’t keep track of the players’ stress; they do that. When Charming trauma’d out it was a surprise to me. The stress mounted slowly and surely. The scoundrel’s grind is brutal.

Demons are no joke.

I liked the way it all shook out. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

 

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