After the completion of the Bridge Theatre Score last session, it was time for our first session of Downtime in our new Blades in the Dark campaign. Downtime is what happens between the action orientated adventures (or scores), and involves managing the results of Heat, healing, dealing with stress and any long term research activities. Two of the players weren’t able to make the session, so it was also a good time for handling this sort of thing without them missing two much.

As far as I can tell, there’s no defined length of time for Downtime, only that PCs get two activities. Because I like timekeeping (or at least, always find it leads to problems later if I don’t actually track time in a game), I’m assuming that a ‘Score’ takes place over the course of a week, and each downtime activity takes a week – so a normal Downtime phase will span two weeks. I actually like time passing in a game – a lot of D&D campaigns seem to start at 1st level and end at 20th level a few weeks (or at most months) later.

I’m guessing that Downtime will normally be quick, but since we were learning the rules it actually took most of the session. We sorted out XP, and also a change in faction status since they now had a bit of a bad rep with the Fog Hounds after two of their members were found face down in the canal shortly after the score.

First up for downtime activities was sorting out was Heat – how much notoriety the crew had managed to gain. Normally that’s 2, but since some people had been killed, that went up to 4. Rolling on the entanglements chart resulted in Gang Trouble or Questioning. Since their gang hasn’t done much yet (consisting only of a couple of cultists named Igor and Renfield), I opted for Questioning – Igor was pulled off the streets by some Bluecoats (the local police) and grilled about the group’s recent activities. Fortunately he didn’t give too much away, but resulted in +1 Heat for the crew.

Tamasis, the Crew’s Whisper, spent some time Carousing with some Bluecoats to persuade them to lose interest, managing to reduce the Crew’s heat level by three. We also figured out what her starting Ritual was – a way of summoning a ghost to scout out a person or area for her. It takes 5 stress to summon it, and she has a nasty suspicion that it will also be reporting back on her activities to wherever it is coming from.

The rest of Downtime was going through the various options, including indulging in vice and some training. Spid has started a long term project to train up some of the local street kids so the Crew can call on them if needed at a later point in time.

By the end of Downtime, it was time to start thinking about the next Score. I gave them three options – the result of options dropped by their various contacts.

First, Hutchins, a contact of theirs who runs a bookshop was interested in them obtaining a very rare book called The Book of Lost Omens from another bookseller named Geffry Wheeler. A relatively straightforward Score with moderate pay off.

Secondly, Lord Scurlock’s nephew Alexander Scurlock was looking for someone to kidnap a witch named Mrs Oppentham and bring her to him as quietly as possible. She lives in Charhollow district, in an old rundown house overlooking the river.

Thirdly, their contact with the Circle of Flame, Neena Dara, was looking for a group to perform a rather more complicated heist of a sarcophagus out of a well guarded warehouse in Six Towers owned by the Cunningham Brothers, before it is moved to Brightstone.

They decided to go for the sarcophagus, since it promised most coin and was the most interesting. It was also the most time restricted. This is where the Blades in the Dark system clashes with how we like to game – everyone started coming up with plans on how they were going to perform the heist, which is what you’re not meant to do in Blades. The system takes what can often be one of the most interesting parts of an RPG adventure, and tries to gloss over it. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

Cunningham Warehouse Map

The warehouse is a converted basement beneath a housing block, mostly populated by slum dwellers. There is a sewer that runs under the building, but with no connections, though the neighbouring building is connected.

We decided to wait for the rest of the group to be around before starting on the Score, which may need a preliminary scouting mission. I’m going to need to figure out how best to run this within the Blades framework, since it doesn’t feel right to do it all via flashbacks.

Samuel Penn

Samuel Penn