Solo Skald |||

Blades in the Dark Solo - Season 2 - Part 2

The session starts by creating Emeline, our second scoundrel. Once they get a third, they’ll form a crew, but for now it’s just a pair of folks working together.

Emeline

The last session revealed that she’s a Whisper with an elegant” look who deals with demons.

Duskwall is a haunted place — plagued by rogue spirits consumed by vengeance, by cunning demons manipulating humans for their own inscrutable purposes, and by even stranger horrors lurking in the space just beyond sight and reason. To go into this shadowy world without knowledge of the arcane and the occult is to walk unarmed into the lair of the enemy. The Whispers are the sentinels who watch the greater darkness — staring into the void so others don’t have to.

I imagine that, at least when she goes out (not to work), she likes to dress up: maybe all lace and feathers and leather corsets. It fits the aesthetic of the setting. In the Ironworks, though, probably much more practical dresses with work leathers on top to catch any stray sparks.

For her Heritage, it makes sense for her to hail from Tycheros:

A far off land, disconnected from the Empire. People say the Tycherosi (rudely called Strangers”) have demon blood in their lineage.

Her eyes, which burn like embers, are her demonic telltale. And of course, since she works as a demon-keeper in the Ironworks, that’ll give her a Trade background just like Arvus.

From here, I’ll assign her action dots:

  • Sway (from heritage)
  • Tinker (from background)
  • Finesse (quick hands in the Ironworks)
  • Consort (will come in handy with demons)

Because she’s used to dealing with supernatural entities, particularly demons, her starting special ability is Iron Will. She doesn’t freeze up or flee when confronted by those things or strange occult events.

Last time, the campaign made lots of use of the default Whisper contacts (except for Nyryx, I think), so this time I will create a couple of new ones to explore through play:

  • Friend: Azarax, a demon (let’s give Setarra a rest)
  • Rival: Zamira, a priest (of the Church or a Forgotten God?)
  • Vice: Luxury (fine dresses at Dunridge & Sons in Nightmarket)

Demonic Forces

Last time included a bit of world-building, using demons to power some of the Ironworks directly (not just their blood). How does the Church of the Ecstasy of the Flesh feel about this sort of exploitation?

The purest beings (according to secret teachings of the Church) are those entirely without spirits: the demons. Demons are immortal, but never fade into madness or lustful hungers as rogue human spirits and vampires do. They are perfect, and the most devout of the Church seek to become as they are, to unlock the secret of ascension.

Based on the fact that this is a secret teaching” of the Church, I’ll take it that officially the Church has expressed mild disapproval of this practice. But it’s useful until the Church can achieve its long-term goals, so it doesn’t make a real fuss over the matter. Besides, society runs on leviathan blood, and there’s no good reason to destabilize things right now.

However, I imagine Elder Rowan will have made progress on his quest for ascension. When the previous season ended, the Church has gotten to 5/12 on this clock. Rather than advance things too far, they’ll advance to 6/12. On the other hand, the Reconciled have infiltrated the Church and have a member in a very high position there (as well as on the Council). I don’t expect this to become a focus for some time, but when it does, the situation will teeter on a knife’s edge!

So for now, let’s envision demons more actively within the city: not as pervasive as spirits, but plentiful enough as elementals and manifestations of dark desires.

Emeline and Arvus

When our scoundrels concluded the previous score, Arvus had agreed to go out for an evening with Emeline. The final day of the month is Moontide, which unofficially is now merely an excuse to stop work and drink.”

Arvus shows up in a suit that doesn’t see much use and is probably at least a year or two out of fashion. Of course, Emeline has her hair up in a fancy feathered arrangement, and her black dress has a bustle decorated with lace and more feathers.

The pair head out to Silkshore to drink tea and sample spicy foods on the street. Arvus doesn’t come around here very often and thus makes mental note of some establishments where he might experiment with various psychedelics in the future. Emeline, on the other hand, does come here from time to time, and so she takes him to see the Spark Grounds where they enjoy a circus famous for its spark flyers,” performers who fly up in kites adorned with bits of metal to attract arcs of electricity from the [Lightning Barrier] in a pyrotechnic display.” (This might give Arvus some ideas for future designs!)

Next score

Of course, they’d still like to make a bit of coin on the side. Perhaps they meet someone in one of those tea shops up on Fogcrest Hill: a young, wiry man named Drav. He’s a bit fearful but also petty, and so it comes out that there’s a Bluecoat constable who’s been extorting him in some way. Certainly all the accusations are inventions of a corrupt mind, but perhaps a Whisper such as Emeline might be able to help. Drav promises the pair 4 coin if they can ensure this bald, stocky man (called Noggs”) will leave him be.

Planning

They don’t need a lot of info, but a bit would help (like knowing Noggs’ residence). Arvus will Gather Information by Studying public records and generally researching the man.

Study: 1d ⇒ 3, limited info

He learns that Noggs lives in a cheap apartment in Six Towers. That’s probably why he wants the extra coin, to move up to a nicer place and lifestyle.

So they put together an Occult plan, using Ember” (Emeline) and her ability to control spectral forces.

Engagement

  • +1d each: Sheer luck, Vulnerability of the target, Occult influence in the district
  • -1d each: Bluecoat tier

2d ⇒ 4, Risky

The job

A wrought iron fence in front of a garden Photo by Joshua Olsen on Unsplash

Noggs is walking near Mistshore Park, which is certainly haunted” (although there are different rumors about why). Ember will try to channel some of this energy into an echo, a loop of behavior captured in the ghost field.”

  • Obstacle: Unpredictability of electroplasmic energy
  • Danger: Unexpected spirits; energy feedback
  • Position: Risky (engagement)
  • Effect: Standard → Great by the use of electroplasm vials
  • Bonus: Push (+2 stress for +1d)

Attune: 2d+1d ⇒ 6, success with no complications

Ember forms an echo using the ambient spectral energy and the electroplasm she brought along, so that Noggs sees a short vignette of himself throttling Drav. Zap” (Arvus) steps out of the shadows, pretending he can’t see the echo but presenting himself as an Inspector. He even presents a forged badge of office (from his subterfuge supplies). The goal is for Noggs to think this is his own guilty conscience or perhaps just the ghost field warning him as the Inspector” rattles his cage a bit for his corrupt behavior.

  • Obstacle: Noggs’ sense of entitlement
  • Danger: Noggs might push back; the echo could discharge into them
  • Position: Risky (continued)
  • Effect: Standard → Great by Ember’s setup
  • Bonus: Devil’s Bargain (this attracts an actual ghost) for +1d

Command: 0d+1d ⇒ 3, failure and things get worse

Not only is Noggs not buying it, all this emotion and energy leaking into the ghost field brings an actual spirit around. Both Noggs and Zap freeze in panic, but Zap will resist to keep his composure:

Resolve: 1d ⇒ 6 - 6 = 0 stress

Ember will let the echo discharge onto the Bluecoat so he gets the message to leave Drav alone.

  • Obstacle: Energized electroplasm
  • Danger: Harm to Zap; the ghost could turn hostile
  • Position: Risky (continued)
  • Effect: Standard
  • Bonus: Devil’s Bargain (the ghost turns hostile) for +1d

Attune: 2d+1d ⇒ 5, success with a complication

Zap takes level 1 harm as the echo discharges onto him and Noggs both, spasming their muscles and burning their skin. However, he will mark armor (“a thick leather tunic plus reinforced gloves and boots”) to resist this damage.

The main part of the job is a success but they still need to deal with this ghost. Ember could probably use this in the future, so she’ll try to capture it into one of her spirit bottles.

  • Obstacle: The ghost itself
  • Danger: Ghost drains her life essence
  • Position: Risky (continued)
  • Effect: Standard
  • Bonus: Assist (Zap uses his spirit anchor to temporarily hold it in place)

Attune: 2d+1d ⇒ 5, success with a complication

Ember uses her fine lightning hook to wrestle it into the bottle and takes level 2 harm Drained essence” from the ghost feeding on her own spirit. However, she’ll resist with her own willpower:

Resolve: 3d ⇒ 4 - 6 = 2 stress

This brings it down to level 1. In addition, she’ll mark her fine spirit mask like armor:

An arcane item that allows the trained user to see supernatural energies in great detail. Also affords some measure of protection against ghostly possession. Each spirit mask is unique. What does yours look like? What makes it strange and disturbing to see?

This contraption of bird leather with threads that pulse with energy the color of flame will reduce it to 0. The two escape back into an unseen alley.

Payoff

Drav is good for it and pays 4 coin for this fairly small job (naturally the two split it evenly). Rep still doesn’t apply as they’re not really a crew.

Similar to last time, they’ll take 2 Heat for a contained” job, bringing them up to 3 Heat total. They’re still not Wanted at all:

Wanted: 0d ⇒ 3

And just like last time, these entanglements don’t really apply. Nothing happens for now.

Downtime

This time around, Ember gets a turn too!

Ember

  • Train: Works on her playbook by spending time with a demon friend, Azarax.
  • Reduce Heat: Heads to a pub to sway some Bluecoats with rumors about Nogg.

Zap

  • Train: Works on his playbook by experimenting in a spare workshop at the Ironworks.
  • Indulge Vice: Visits Devil’s Tooth and goes on a psychedelic journey at 5 Stress.

Vice: 1d ⇒ 5 - 5 = 0 stress

He’s refreshed and ready to go with no overindulgence!

Next time

Perhaps they’ll find another co-conspirator and start a crew… but what kind?

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