Blades In The Dark – Session 13

Thirteenth Session – Reis and Toad run across some Greycloaks, ex-cops drummed out for being honest and help them despite their best efforts (ah, NPCs).  Then we do a social job to talk to them at our fighting pits. Somehow this leads to us running a kidnap plan on a noble bravo, Routh Kinclaith, and his girlfriend Lady Ashleigh Tier-Connell.

We go find them whooping it up at a bar. Both are privileged and violent and “whooping it up” involves intimidating and/or molesting locals.  Hasten Doom steals his sword and he chases us, and the rest of us pretend to be sycophants helping Routh chase him till we turn on him, snag the guy, hold him in a warehouse, duck his extremely scary girlfriend,  and use him to blackmail info out of his father, who’s selling special bloodline horses to Lord Strangford that have been taken out on Leviathan hunts and not coming back, so he is refusing to sell him any more.

We also start gathering intel on our main foe, Lord Strangford, the city council, who likes each other, all of that.

Blades In The Dark – Session 12

Twelfth Session – Some crazies that run a crematorium are abducting children so we go take care of that mainly by breaking in and killing everyone except the kids (though that’s a close thing because some of them get a bit stroppy).

The local gang, the Lost, doesn’t like us moving into the local crematorium, and rather than also kill them all because they seem like a nice “power to the people” kind of organization we strike a deal to go murder some crooked industrialist in exchange for squatting rights.  And we all know 1%ers don’t have souls, so we hop to with no scruples.

But first, downtime – everyone but Reis it seems has decided to get addicted to “bear blood”, some kind of drug.

We intrude into the rich nobleman’s mansion to thwart his gentrification. Hasten Doom goes in with an invisibility cloak and gets bitten by giant spiders and goes unconscious – sadly we don’t know that and can’t see or find his body, so we go threaten the guy after wasting his retainers and steal his stuff and leave and Hasten stays to get cocooned.

Blades In The Dark – Session 11

Eleventh Session – Someone called Gee Iniru Gah stole something called the Noladiches Cartography and framed Dylasia Finchester for it. Hasten Doom is in favor of addressing this for the reward; Reis is in favor of it for the end goal of getting in Dylasia’s pants – he’s becoming a social climber! This does lead us afoul of “Shelley the Killer”, however…

We make a complicated Ocean’s 11 type plan with a forged copy of the Cartography and getting a ghost to give us a map to get to the ghost map and arranging for the cops to show up at just the right time.  But then we run across a giant underground murder tree like from Harry Potter. It murders avidly. Gee Iniru Gah is a crazed sorcerer and Shelly the Killer is a mad stabber so it’s quite a time. But in the end, we stage Gee and the Cartography burning up in front of the Inspector so not only is Delasia cleared of the theft but we have the actual Cartography and we can give it to her. Woot!  I like the complicated multi-phase plans that get us everything we want.

Mike Pondsmith, Cyberpunk RPG Author, Interview In The Atlantic

Mike Pondsmith

Due of course to the computer game Cyberpunk 2077 dropping, The Atlantic did a full interview with R.Talsorian founder and Cyberpunk RPG creator Mike Pondsmith called “The Roleplaying Game That Predicted The Future”. It’s great to see a RPG author getting mainstream media exposure (and one that’s not affiliated with D&D, at that)!

Adventure Calendar

Hot tip from Tim: Grant Howitt, the guy who wrote Spire, is writing an adventure/setting entirely in the form of random tables, released once a day, until Christmas. One might call it an advent calendar but I guess that isn’t PC? Anyway, we’re at Day 11, D8 Slumbering Creatures That Have Awoken With The Coming of This Dreadful Winter. Seems fun!

Blades In The Dark – Session 10

Tenth Session – Sadly, the actual summary is missing.

If I recall correctly, we broke into a prison or police station or something to get the Hand of Kotor (like the Hand of Vecna) and give it to the Centralia Club to get Dylasia Finchester as a patron.  We succeed, I think we were pretty smooth about it.  She helps subsidize our rise to Tier 2!  And Reis wants to hook up with her, but she’s high class and that’s gonna take some doing.

Blades In The Dark – Session 9

Ninth Session – We go to do some light home invasion that involves possessing a man with the spirit of a parrot, and we get counter-ambushed by Hulls (steampunk zombies) and the ghost of Smelly Pete! Then we go make an alliance with the smuggling gang the Foghounds.

We’ve been looking around for some other not-too-powerful faction to victimize to gain turf, and the Dimmer Sisters, some kind of witchy women, draw the short straw. Reis knows his enemy Flint works with them so we go to bust in and mess with him, which goes fine.  But then a whole mess of very butch bad guys beset us – Hulls, ghosts, et cetera.  For the first time but certainly not the last we use the Random Ghost Generator to determine what kind of rando ghost is near an area Reis can talk to.

Then we go to make new allies and most of the group ends up partying a little (a lot) too hard. That is a bit of a pun since Kraid is introduced to some new drug you spread on your weiner. “Of course!” he says.

Blades In The Dark – Session 8

Eighth Session – Our longtime foes are some old ladies that run an opposing orphanage, the Weeping Ladies.  They keep causing social trouble for us, so we go to get some leverage from uncovering whatever their member Father Yorin is doing to squeeze orphans for their juices.

This starts with us finding out some nine year old kid in our orphanage was a plant sent to spy on us.  Being nine, he happily tells us all about it. The Weeping Ladies are really getting on our nerves but they’re just like some ladies that run an orphanage, we don’t feel right about using our usual kick murder squad kind of techniques on them.

We do some research and find out their #2 guy, Father Yorin, may be doing questionable alchemical research on the kids by extracting substances from them. We try to go talk to the other Weeping Ladies but he is there and we don’t have any proof.  Luckily we also have an element snooping through his stuff to find proof. They determine he’s extracting happiness from the kids and selling it, as in a fit of bad timing the other group ends up coming into the office they’re burgling. A lot of arguing is cut short by Father Yorick flipping out and trying to spray acid on the head lady Mother Naria. We beat him up as a third element appears with cops in tow.  Finally it’s all over but the downtime and XP as we make a good relationship with the Weeping Ladies (except for Father Yorick, who goes to the pen).

Blades In The Dark – Session 7

Seventh Session – We figure out a member of another local crew, the Wraiths, has been dumping ritually carved Hollow bodies around the city.  We decide to mess with them.  We find out too late that they are a group of PCs themselves. A standoff on a neon-lit boardwalk ensues!

So we go hunting for whoever’s been dumping ritually defiled soulless bodies around the city for probable demon worship related reasons, like you do, and gathered intel points at Carriless Firm, from some gang called the Wraiths.  Other members include the Whisper named Rune, who we hear is a lotus-head and can summon a demonic dog, “The Lesson,” an enforcer, and their leader is some mysterious Spider woman.

We decide the best chink in the armor is the lotus-head, so we find a local lotus den she frequents and set up an ambush. We’re down two PCs due to absence but figure the three of us can take one NPC, though in this world anything demonic is super tough. We and 10 goons bust in and catch her smoking it up.  Her demon-dog is no joke and comes pretty close to eviscerating us but Reis manages to get a gun to her head and capture her; the dog teleports out through the shadows.  The plan had been to just kill her but Reis called an audible when he realized she was hot (that’s how he makes a lot of his decisions), and I convince the others based on “we can get intel” and “she’s a bargaining chip” and other retroactive justifications.

But her demon dog can teleport through shadows and got away so we anticipate rapid payback.  We take her out to some abandoned entertainment pier that had a lot of electroplasmic lights so we can keep her in total light, tied to a chair. Reis spends a lot of time trying to turn her, arguing that her group doesn’t care about her and they’re doing crazy demon worship and she doesn’t need that.  But she doesn’t break.

And then the Wraiths attack!  Carriless Firm, a little guy, and The Lesson, a huge guy, show up and carve their way quickly through our gang members out front – Carriless is deflecting bullets with his cane and The Lesson sends people flying when he hits them. They are both ultra bad ass to a concerning degree. Hasten Doom tries to go after Firm and they both end up going over the edge of the pier into the dark waters below, and here in demon-haunted Duskvol that’s a lot worse than just falling into water normally.  Doom drags Firm under the water with him and drowns.

Marto tries to shoot The Lesson but their leader, Cattaby, is uber stealthy and gets the drop on him – he escapes being run through by also going down into the drink.  In no time something hideous with black scales brushes by him.

Reis is all that’s left from the Gambler’s Orphans and it’s not looking good.  The demon hound shows up but he sets off a massive flash with the electroplasmic lights rigged to an anti-demon charm and the demon dog is gone!  Then The Lesson comes ripping through the door and… falls through the boards Reis had weakened into the water.  I was working double overtime coming up with schemes upon schemes trying to stay alive.

Finally it’s one on one – Reis with a gun to Rune’s head versus Cattaby, the Wraith leader, with the others possibly returning at any moment.  I just *knew* she was going to betray Rune and shoot her so we couldn’t use her as a bargaining chip, so I had a plan to let that happen but protect Rune, and then certainly Rune would join us… I had the whole reverse-double-cross planned out. But Cattaby actually was trying to ransom her back, and it seemed like they actually were tight with each other. I was mildly flummoxed by this. So Reis ended up negotiating her release for some ransom and a promise to get Carriless to quit the demon shit. The Lesson showed up and carried Rune off and no one killed me.  Reis recovers Hasten Doom, half drowned, from the beach along with our banged up gang members and scrams; Marto came straggling in later.  We spend the rest of the session licking our wounds.

This was a real nail-biter, just the three of us and it turns out this other gang was actually some legit PC group from an actual play Paul follows. That made us even more concerned in retrospect, we didn’t know we were screwing with legit PCs, no wonder they were hardcore.

This is where this game system really shines – we had a really long complicated fight with another group, with combat and negotiation and all sorts of stuff going on, and in the end there weren’t actually any losses on either side but we were 100% sure there were going to be and better than even money was on it being us.  This was the best session of the campaign for sure.

Blades In The Dark – Session 6

Sixth Session – An unusual amount of this session is spent partying at the Demon Corn Inn. Then we do a favor for a pimp because… I guess Kraid told him we would?  Next thing you know we’re fighting “Professor Slice.”  He slices.

The downtime rules for Blades In The Dark require you to go indulge in vices to recover Stress.  Of course sometimes this goes bad and causes even more Stress.  Kraid is trying to date Captain Luckett and Hasten Doom is trying to date the pugilist Marlene. This leads to a bar fight and substance abuse. Fun times.

Then – Kraid somehow ends up owing a pimp named Theodore Lysander a favor, which involves stealing a magical blade. We help him really for no good reason. We deliver a barrel of wine to a warehouse to get the guards sloshed and go in the back.  I try to arrange for an entirely silent burgling, but when Marto and Kraid see some crazy cyborg doctor called “Professor Slice” they decide they just can’t let things go without combat. So Reis and Toad steal things and sneak out while those two fight.  But then it turns out all the guards are amputees with various weird substitute limbs put on by Slice.  The one who ends up being the most of a problem is a guy with mechanical spring legs. We escape in a running battle down the canal. Then it’s all over but the loot inventory.

My Game Inventory, Shelf 1 (7th Sea – Battlelords)

All righty! I’m finally going back and organizing and cataloguing my extensive RPG collection. I’ve been buying games since getting Star Frontiers in 1982. I get more virtual than physical these days, but I still prefer paper for something I’m going to use. So I thought I’d share as I go!

The first section is basically the “non-D&D RPGs.” I have 11 shelves worth of these and then another 11 of D&D+Pathfinder. Shelf 1 is 65 items mostly in the “A”s! Here’s a link to the Google sheet I’m using for the inventory, it’ll fill in as I go.

All right, we kick it off with the new 7th Sea 2e, which I recently got via Kickstarter and haven’t read fully yet. It’s a swashbuckling game by John Wick.

Next is 13th Age from Pelgrane Press, kind of a semi-story take on D&D, which I am not sure I want to play but am up for stealing ideas from – each character gets “One Unique Thing,” which I assume is a Jonathan Tweet import because it feels like Over The Edge, and the game revolves around semi-deity “Icons” and their relationships.

Aberrant is a long forgotten White Wolf superhero game, but I played it at conventions in Tennessee in the ’90’s. Uses a system like all those old White Wolf games, which were all basically superhero games anyway so not sure why this didn’t take off at all. Was related to the Trinity sci-fi game I also played.

Aces & Eights needs a lot of investment to get players to learn some big ass ruleset but it’s a straightforward Wild West game (no magic or other genre-bending) and I’d love to play it. Deadwood the RPG, basically. It has whole sections on cattle drives and mining for gold and court trials.

Aletheia is a modern paranormal game I got on clearance. I might steal the well detailed home base building for their paranormal-fighting club for it at some point.

Aliens Adventure Game! I hear there’s a new Alien (no s) game that just came out, but this is an old school licensed RPG for Aliens, aka “the best Alien movie.” Real old – the system uses tables, which makes it a hard sell to get people to play nowadays. Maybe I can combine it with Starship Troopers or Star Frontiers or something to make it happen.

All Flesh Must Be Eaten is a zombie survival game with a stunning number of supplements, I only have a handful. Was popular in con play back in the day and I’ve run it as well, it uses the Eden Studios Unisystem and is good.

Alternity is a TSR/WotC science fiction game I really like, you can tell since I have 23 books in the line. I ran it back when it came out, more recently another GM in our group ran a huge StarDrive campaign where we were the command staff of the Lighthouse and everything. I really want to run their modern paranormal Dark Matter setting, I might be able to since a lot of our group has played Alternity and is used to the system if a bit sassy about it.

Then I have a handful of Amazing Engine games that I got in a lot mostly on the strength of Bughunters, which is an Aliens meets Space: Above and Beyond kind of setting, which is cool. The “Amazing Engine,” which was a very very brief TSR attempt at a generic system, went nowhere however. “We’ll make a GURPS clone and crush them! Oh wait maybe not…”

Next is Amber Diceless Roleplaying. All you kids think diceless and stuff is from newfangled indie games, but nope we had it back in 1991. This is a cool game, it’s PvP – each of the players is a Prince in Amber from the Roger Zelazny books and is largely against each other. Stats are just ranked – you’re the best or second best or third best at Warfare, just among the princes because no one else really could ever match you. Erick Wujcik wrote this and it’s a classic.

Then we have Aria: Canticle of the Monomyth. It’s less an RPG and more of a master’s thesis. It did have the idea of story-creating a world and such, like the more modern Microscope, but no one could slog through the 500+ pages to get there. Alas.

Armageddon is a modern supernatural end of the world game by CJ Carella. I think I got this while I was in an In Nomine fueled haze during that year or two of gaming.

Ah, Ars Magica. Another “indie before there was such a thing” game. Very innovative both for the troupe system (you didn’t play just one character, usually each player had a single super powerful mage character and one person would run them and others would run Companions (decently powerful supporting characters) or Grogs (random low powered goons and serfs). Also, the magic system was a greatly flexible Latin-powered system – “Perdo Ignam!” would put out fires and make things cold, for example. Sadly, despite winning many awards, it’s been dead about a decade, the last corebook (5th edition) came out in 2004. I think this one would be a great one to revive in a much smaller/lighter indie game format nowadays. Hmm, I do see on their Web page that there are some Fiasco playsets for it! Well OK maybe not quite *that* light and indie, but you know, not 300+ pages either.

Ashen Stars is a GUMSHOE game of interstellar troubleshooters, I have the corebook in PDF but I have this one adventure supplement in paper (I try to support my FLGSes when they have something I want to buy…)

Then two editions of the Babylon 5 RPG! Still my favorite sci-fi TV show of all time, but still hard to re-watch (it was free for a brief moment and is now expensive again). Heck I wrote my first RPG.net review about this in 1997. They never got much product out for it, and then Mongoose came out with a second edition that did – but unfortunately converted it over to d20 during the d20 glut where everything got converted over even if it was a terrible fit system-wise for it. Maybe one day I’ll find some folks with B5 love and do something with this.

I kickstarted Russ Peyton from RPPR’s Base Raiders game, a FATE-powered game where basically the superheroes have all gone away and now people are looting their cool super-bases for stolen tech and bragging rights.

And then I have two supplements for Battlelords of the Twenty-Third Century, because they seem bananas in that Rifts kind of way. It’s a science fiction game that strips away everything except blowing things up. Somewhat similar to Warhammer 40k, though they didn’t bother to make that into a RPG until recently, it’s about shooting things in a galaxy at war but for megacorps and not the Emperor. “SLA Industries In Space!” I’ll call it. This is from the ’90’s but apparently a 7th edition has been kickstarted recently! Hmm, I’m gonna download the quickstart now, might make a fun one-shot. Ah, critical hit tables, I can see I’ll like this.

OK, that’s shelf 1 of 22 (not counting several shelves of Dungeon and Dragon magazines). Chime in below, have you played any of these? What should be stolen from them to use in gaming nowadays?

Blades In The Dark – Session 5

Fifth Session – A lot of different kinds of activity this session, without the frontal assaults that are our bread and butter.  Of course, our attempt to sneak blackmail material into a police inspector’s house to have some dirt on the Bluecoats goes south and there’s some shooting.

Delazia Finchester, of the Circle of Flame (cult), which is an underground subset of the Centralia Club (National Geographic Society style club), has been on Reis’ “get with” list for a while.  (In other words she’s the Emma Frost of the Inner Circle in the Hellfire Club, but less evil). They want some artifacts that sound exactly like the Vecna stuff – the eye of Kotor, the hand of Kotor, the head heart of Kotor… Reis talks everyone else into it, his primary motivation being that Delazia is hot.

So he summons a spirit, the Hand of Sorrow, to get information.  That starts going awry and we end up sacrificing Stinky Pete, our formerly-homeless hanger-on, to it. We are very careful to keep this both from Kraid and his player Tim, who missed the session, as they are both big Stinky Pete fans.

Then we go to trade that info to the Centralia Club and get unceremoniously shooed away by the doormen and a backup ghost.