The Steel Works Score
This is a continuation of my Blades in the Dark campaign on Roll20.
The crew are approached by Flint, a spirit trafficker and friend of the crew’s whisper Tamasis, with a score he wishes them to do for him. Recent construction work in Coalridge at a steel factory has accidentally uncovered a spirit well. He’s looking for anyone willing to sneak in and capture some of the spirits for him, and is willing to pay a couple of coin for each spirit grabbed.
Compared to the other options of expanding their territory, it seems like an easy score, so Spid their cutter does a quick survey of the location first. It is an old building, undergoing a lot of reconstruction work. He gets a 3 on his survey result, so doesn’t find out much other than there are a few thugs outside the main gates, as well as at least three patrolling the upper floor. Unknown to him though, he is spotted, so I stick a tick on a 4-clock for the alertness level of the guards.
Their leech Rue tries a prowl around the sewers, getting a 5 but finding that most of the sewers around here seem to be clogged with ash from the steel works. The hound Rufus does a hunt and gets a 6, allowing his bird Robin to scout out the pattern of the guard patrols, and confirms that there don’t seem to be many inside on the ground floor.
So it’s time to start the plan, with the crew going for Stealth. Their initial engagement check is a 5, so they find a gap in the outside wall where some of the rebuilding work is going on, and sneak in through there without being spotted. Rufus’s mapping of the place really helped there. Spid then leads the team in through some of the reconstruction work, with them getting a 6 and the only failure being Spid himself (so he gains a stress). This allows them to get all the way across the floor of the building to the furnace, where they locate a large hole in the floor and some ladders leading down where the foundations are in the process of being rebuilt.
It’s a simple case of climbing down in the dark, so Rufus takes an unlit lantern from Rue and starts climbing down. When she is far enough down so that the light probably won’t be seen from above, she tries to light the lantern but fumbles (2) – in the process of trying to stay on the ladder and light it she drops it – it falls to the floor and bursts open in a flash of flame.
The guards up above notice this and come to investigate. However, none of them are willing to approach the pit too closely, and I added another couple of ticks to the clock for their alertness. The crew, keeping very quiet and by now down the ladder, could hear them talking about being too afraid to investigate the lights from the pit again, but also none of them wanted to be the one to go and disturb ‘the witch’ that would deal with any ghost activity. In the end they decided to keep a close eye on it, and go get help if there was any more activity.
So the crew were left alone, but in a desperate position. In the brief flash of light, Rue had seen a hole in the wall which seemed to lead somewhere out of sight. With a flashback, she had prepared and brought along a tent like covering to shield them from watching eyes above, and managed to produce some light. On making her way quietly to the hole though, she stood on a sharp fragment of metal that cut deeply in her foot, doing her three levels of harm (failure in a desperate situation). She manages to resist it down to a level two harm.
I could have played this out as a serious complication rather than harm, but that would have definitely brought the guards down on them and possibly caused an abort of the score or at least forced a lot of violence.
The crew make it to the side tunnel without too much extra trouble, and at the end there is a wispy light, which their whisper Tamasis recognises as ghost sign. Putting on her spirit mask, she explores down the passage to find an open chamber filled with strange runes and spirits. A pool of dark water fills the chamber within a rune carved ring of stone, and ghostly lights swarm lazily in its inky depths.
Grabbing some is a risky action initially, and using her lightning hook, along with her attune, she is able to capture a couple with no problems, but then her luck starts running out and it starts to get more complicated… one screams loudly as it is forced into the spirit bottle, causing enough noise to burst everyone’s ear drums. As she forces a fourth into a bottle, it manifests physically and claws at her – though Spid steps in the way and takes it in the face for her.
At this point they are starting to get restless, and the well is beginning to swarm with angry spirits, and I mention that any further attempts are now going to be desperate actions. Since they have four spirits, they decide to not push their luck and leave.
Rue, who has been resting outside in the passage, has managed to find a way into the sewers from here, so leads them out without having to sneak must the guards above again. They make it out onto the street, smelling of sewers and covered in ash.
Flint is very happy to receive four spirits, so pays them their 8 coin. Since they did it so quietly, they gain only one reputation, but also don’t gain any Heat.
With the score finished, the crew do their downtime, with Spid finishing the training for his gang of kids (a long term project which gives him a resource that can be called upon which are loyal to him), and Skarlet beginning work on putting together a network of prostitutes across the city.
Their cohort of adepts though is continuing to cause trouble for them by enthusiastically preaching about their goddess on the streets. At some point someone will probably take offence and seek some form of retribution.
This session went relatively smoothly compared to the previous session, with the group moving quickly into doing the score rather than spending a lot of time doing preparation and planning. I gave each character a single investigation roll before hand, and then we moved directly into the action.
One thing that I have noticed is that nobody is getting experience for bringing their vices into play, so possibly something I need to do is provide more opportunities for that. I’ll try to keep that in mind for future scores. This was a Tier 1 score, and since they are now Tier 1, I should also probably provide more complicated options for Tier 2 scores, so they can have the opportunity to punch above their weight again.
Something that did cause confusion during the session was what was exactly meant by a spirit token. I guess you’re meant to figure these things out for yourself, rather than such things being defined by the setting. We did find a description online which seemed reasonable, but I am a fan of nailing down chamber pots rather than having everything left undefined and up to every group to make up themselves.