In the previous session of Blades in the Dark, the crew had decided to follow up on rumours that a retired Leviathan Hunter captain had hidden herself away in the ghettos of Dunslough with a large amount of gold. We were down one player, but it was a Tier I score, so nothing above what the crew could handle.
For this score though, I had a plan to bring in some complications which the crew had made for themselves previously, so not everything was going to be as straightforward as they thought.
I had wanted to do a bit more prep for this adventure, since there were some details I didn’t have a clear thought about. However, I hadn’t had time over the previous week, so I was hoping I would come up with some ideas during the session. The players provided some in their discussion of how to approach things, but as it happened nothing I really liked. The fact that we didn’t finish the score this session was something of a benefit.
As we’ve started doing recently, having decided on the score, we then ran some Downtime, to give everyone a chance to prepare. Saya called on her contact in the Bluecoats to get some information, giving them a head’s up on where to start looking. He provides the name of a contact, and also the information that the Grinders are highly active in the area, also looking for the same person.
There is quite a bit of discussion of pre-planning, so I try to encourage the group to just move ahead with the Engagement Roll and begin things, which they eventually do, taking my suggestion of making a Social approach. Since part of the Score was finding out where their target was, other approaches really didn’t make sense. Again, the Blades approach to structuring things felt a bit clumsy in the way it mechanises the start of an adventure.
With some help from Skarlett’s women, and also advice from Saya’s Bluecoat contact, I give them 3d6 on the Engagement check and they get a 6. I feel that I’m fairly generous in giving dice to improve the Engagement roll, since it feels wrong to me for the score to start off in a bad situation just because of a single roll the players have little control over. In prep, I came up with some likely starting scenarios based on the Engagement roll results:
- 1-3: Start off attacked by ruffians looking for cash.
- 4-5: Start off talking to someone who knows someone who did some work for an outsider who has settled here recently.
- 6: Start off talking to someone who has done work for an outsider who settled here recently and paid them well.
- Critical: Have been pointed to the lair of a recent outsider with a cover story to meet them.
They get a standard success, so we begin the score talking to Alfred, the contact of Saya’s Bluecoat who tells them that he knows of a woman called Janice Turbell. She is good with a blade, and was telling of how she had been well paid by some outsider who was new to the ghetto. She could be found near the prison area.
So they head into the ghetto, amongst the run down streets filled with beggars and other poor folk. The crew are generous in giving out donations, and Saya hands out pamphlets about their goddess. To be honest, the pamphlets are probably welcomed as high quality toilet paper, or fuel for fires. Their generosity may well be remembered later though.
They find Janice being accosted by a couple of thugs, probably Grinders, who are demanding to know who she did work for. The crew position themselves tactically, which is noticed by Janice and she takes advantage of the situation to bait one of them into attacking her. He strikes at her to grab her throat, but she neatly steps back and cuts his arm with a knife. The crew step in to help, and thought Dominus takes a cut to his shoulder, the two thugs flee.
Janice is more than happy to talk to the crew, and gives them details of Robert “Bob” Travis, who can be found down in a flooded church near the river. He is a front for someone else, but pays well for decent jobs. So the crew decide to go and try to get a job, and therefore ingratiate themselves into the organisation so they can find the Captain.
On the way down there, Saya notices that they are being tailed by a figure on the rooftops. She climbs up to try and follow the figure in turn, but loses track of whoever it was. She doesn’t think it was one of the Grinders.
At the church, Dominus reckons that the gang here are actually quite competent, though they are giving the outward appearance of being somewhat slack. He and Skarlett go inside to talk to “Bob”, offering a mix of skills and services. Bob offers them a Coin to do a simple job as a test – get rid of the kids of the Brownhill Thugs, a small group of half a dozen teenagers who have been poking their noses into his business. He doesn’t want them killed, just scared off. If they can do this without messing it up, then maybe he’ll have other work for them.
Whilst they are there, they notice that one of Robert’s guards seems to hear something outside and goes to investigate, but finds nothing. Their follower needed a way of knowing where they were going, so he could get ahead of them and cause trouble, so this was a way of telegraphing that something was up.
So the crew head up to Brownhill, and as they approach notice that it’s all gone very quiet – everyone seems to have run indoors and hid. They think that maybe they are being setup, but it’s actually because the death bells have rung here very recently. As they approach the house at the top of the hill, they see birds circling near the house – deathseeker crows who seek out the spirits of the recently departed.
Whilst Dominus and Skarlett try to pretend to just be a couple having an innocent conversation in the street, Saya sneaks up. As she gets to the house, she notices the smell of fresh blood. Peaking inside, she sees the dead bodies of six young men. Most of had their throats ripped out, one is missing a heart. A few have had time to draw weapons, but several seem to have been taken completely by surprise. She got a 6 on her study check, so I gave her a detailed account of the probably sequence of events.
The attack seems to have started from an upper floor, so Saya climbs up onto the roof, where the deathseeker crows have started to settle. She makes her Prowl check, and gets a 2. The crows suddenly give squawks and take to the air as she senses something behind her. She darts for cover, feeling a tug on her hair and hearing something like a ‘snip’ .
She and Dominus have a flashback, where he gave advice on a suitably fashionable wig for her to wear.
As it happens, as I’m writing this I realise I forgot something important in what needed to have happened. It’s something I thought of when originally thinking up the adventure, but forgot during execution. The disadvantage of not writing some detailed notes, especially since I’m really bad at remembering things. Fortunately there’s enough of a gap in what was investigated that I can probably retcon some things in without breaking what was described. Given the character actions, the differences can be explained as simply not having been noticed.
Seeing nothing up here, she heads back down to the other two and describes what she saw. Everybody is suitably concerned about this, and then Dominus notices that Saya seems to be bleeding. However, the blood isn’t hers – there is a bloody human heart, missing a bite, that has been deposited in one of her pouches.
Saya takes this as a sign of affection, and is overjoyed at the romantic possibilities of having a boyfriend who has dedicated his heart to her. Or someone’s heart at any rate – she’s not too fussed by the distinction, and ‘Mr Bunny’ (her stuffed toy) doesn’t complain. The other players are less fond of the idea.
Concerned that there is something very dangerous at large, and maybe it’s targeting them, they head back to the church to report what has happened before the spirit wardens can turn up to claim the bodies and dispose of the bodies.
Robert is concerned, and somewhat afraid. Dominus uses some clever reverse psychology (and gets a good success on a Sway check) to persuade Robert that the crew are capable of finding out what is going on, though they don’t mention some of their concerns, like maybe maybe whatever it is may be trying to target them.
Robert needs to go confirm things with his boss, who the crew believe is the retired Captain they actually want to find, whilst the crew will go and fetch their whisper.
Since the whisper’s player missed this session, it seemed a suitable place to stop things ready for when she is available next week. And Saya wanted to tail Bob to see where he goes, and I needed a bit of time to work out where that might be.
I wanted the players a bit scared of whatever it was that killed the gang, which I think I succeeded at. The gang wasn’t particularly experienced or powerful (something I had stressed in the meeting with Robert), but taking out so many people so quickly takes some doing. So now they have two things to concern themselves with – how to find the Captain and her gold, and finding out what committed the murders.