Solo Skald |||

Blades in the Dark Solo - The Pincers - Part 1

Surprisingly to some folks, Blades in the Dark works perfectly well in solo mode.

When I set out on this project, I started with a few principles:

  • As much as possible, just use the core book.
  • Start with two scoundrels working together. Crew creation can come later.
  • Have fun playing Blades the way I want without worrying about what other people want.

I wrote up a Lurk named Talitha” (she/her) and a Whisper named Wicker” (he/him). Most of their details came from rolling on the tables in the book.


Talitha grew up as Doskvol gutter trash, a street urchin who survived in the underworld of the city. As an adult, she’s fair and somewhat stylish, wearing a half-cape, slim jacket, and tall boots. (How does a poor girl get nice clothes? In her case, stealing them!) To blow off steam, she drinks herself into a stupor at the Leaky Bucket in Crow’s Foot.

She brings food sometimes to a beggar woman named Telda and gets information in return. A city clerk named Petra prevented her from getting an unexpected windfall. Talitha has excellent reflexes and acts brashly from time to time, increasing her troubles, but ultimately seeks happiness: hard to find in this city.


Wicker, as he’s known in Doskvol, hails from the Dagger Isles. He came to this city as a spirit guide on a pirate corsair, but somehow ended up stranded when his crew left without him. (Someday he’ll have his revenge, he believes.) A rough, wiry sort, he’s usually seen in in work trousers, a simple shirt, and suspenders. As we start, he spends some of his downtime with Aranna the Blessed and her cult, though he’s not yet joined them.

Whether it’s his connection to the ghost field or having spent so much time at sea, his hypervigilance has made him paranoid - or maybe the other way around. Always knowing about the presence of spirits and devils can wear a man down in this world. When his ship left without him, a witch named Quellyn gave him a place to stay for a bit. Some spirit trafficker named Flint pesters him, insisting Wicker should work for their operation, but he’s not interested and this has angered Flint.

Initial Score

Even though we aren’t doing crew creation yet, let’s roll a random opportunity.

  • Only one gang member survived their botched job. Can you clean the bloody scene before the authorities arrive?”
  • The target is a possessed or hollow.
  • Place or remove runes.
  • Complication: The job furthers a vampire’s secret agenda.
  • Connected to the Circle of Flame.
  • Props: Loose rocks, cargo bales.
  • Location: An abandoned, decrepit warehouse adjoining an opera house in Brightstone.

The Circle of Flame sent some minions to clear runes in a warehouse, allowing one of the Reconciled to enter a side entrance to the opera house while possessing some unlucky sod. But it went poorly and our scoundrels are asked to help before the authorities arrive.

☞ Engagement

Stealth plan. Get in, dispose of bodies and spirits, get out quickly.

1d => 5, Risky position.

☞ Score

A skeleton is draped in a hooded gown, leaving only its skull to be seen.

We’ll start with a 6-clock, Spirit Wardens arrive”, and put 2 ticks on it. Potential other complications include newly-dead spirits, an unhappy vampire, or even Flint showing up. The book says it can take three days for spirits to appear, but I forgot that. Not that it really matters, I just wanted to point this out.

The ghosts are demanding; do they understand they’re dead? Fortune roll, 1d => 5, mixed. They know, but the permanency of their new state hasn’t sunk in yet.

Wicker attunes to sense the spirits and get a sense of how many there are as well as their disposition. 3d => 4, limited information. He knows that all six ghosts are going to be demanding, but he doesn’t know that they haven’t yet understood their situation.

The Reconciled spirit present is a bit daring (seriously, they’re trying to get into the opera house). They’ll try to help disperse the ghosts before the Spirit Wardens show up.

Once again, Wicker attunes to try to get the ghosts to leave. Normally I’d peg this as Risky / Standard but the assistance of the Reconciled will increase the effect to Great. 2d => 4, consequence: a disturbance in the ghost field, which we’ll represent as a tick on the Warden clock (taking it to 3/6). We’ll also start a Cleanup” clock and set it to 2/8 to represent succeeding here.

Talitha now needs to clean up or otherwise dispose of the bodies. She decides to make it look like an accident by finessing the situation. This is a Risky situation and her actions would have Limited effect, but with the Spirit Wardens likely on their way, she pushes for effect to bump that to Standard. 2d => 3, failure with a complication: a vampire shows up.

How does the Reconciled feel about this? Maybe badly, so a fortune roll’s in order. 2d (uncertain) => 6, this is fine. They converse for a bit while our scoundrels try instead to move the bodies.

We’ll try a group finesse roll, with Talitha leading at Risky / Standard (nothing fancy here).

  • Talitha: 2d => 3, 1 stress
  • Wicker: 0d => 4

Do it with a complication: someone saw them moving bodies, despite their attempts to be discreet!

  • Spirit Wardens: 4/6
  • Cleanup: 4/8

Next, we’ll clean up these runes. The vampire will help, but if things go awry they might want to feed. This moves us to Desperate / Great on Wicker’s attune. He also pushes himself, so 3d => 6,success! Put three ticks (great effect, after all) on the cleanup clock, moving it to 7/8.

Let’s get out of here quickly with a group prowl led by Talitha again, set to Desperate / Standard. ((I don’t remember why I had them do this when the cleanup clock was at 7/8. This was a mistake, I’m pretty sure.))

  • Talitha: 2d => 3, 1 stress
  • Wicker: 2d => 1, 1 stress

This is the worst outcome. We fill the clock - Spirit Wardens have arrived! How do we get out of here?

Wicker attunes to see what spirits are still nearby. Clearly we’re in a Desperate situation, and he’ll have Standard effect. He pushes himself, so 3d => 6, success!

Now he attunes again to redirect these spirits, hoping to distract and cause trouble for the Wardens. Talitha assists him, pouring her frustrations and fear into the attempt. 3d => 5, complication. They get away, but in the process Wicker starts to leave an echo in the ghost field! He’ll resist with Resolve and take 4 stress.

Payoff, etc

This is a regular job, so 2 rep and 4 coin. One of these coin goes to the local boss (who is it?) They’ll also take +1 status with the Reconciled and Circle of Flame.

Having gotten out of there without getting caught, we’ll call this Contained for the purposes of Heat, but deaths were involved, for a total of 4 Heat.

Since they don’t have any Wanted levels, 0d => 2, Questioning. One of the scoundrel’s contacts - I rolled Telda randomly - is rounded up for interrogation. She’s not particularly tough, so her talk is 1d => 3, +2 more Heat. She’ll probably need some assistance after this, too.


Talitha indulges her vice, drinking heavily at the Leaky Bucket to blow off 3 stress (a typical night). She also reduces heat by consorting with the local urchins to get them to spread rumors that confuse the reports. 1d => 2, -1 Heat.

Wicker indulges his vice with communion at Aranna’s barge: -6 stress! Truly he has peered behind the veil. He also trains Resolve while consorting with these cultists. We’ll be pursuing this story thread in he future.

Crew Creation

Talitha and Wicker make a good team. They’ll join up to create The Pincers, based in Charhollow with hunting grounds in Brightstone. The Unseen will require a cut of these operations.

The Pincers will operate out of a small house, hidden at the end of an alley. The house has a few small bedrooms for their quarters, and the quiet scoundrels are friendly with the local citizenry. They also have managed to steal some maps and passkeys from the Fog Hounds, a local smuggling crew.

Pending Questions

  • Why doesn’t Wicker want to work for Flint?
  • Who was that vampire, and what are their goals?
  • How is Telda feeling about questioning?
  • Which factions do we actually care about?


The original session was inspired by watching Geek Gamers!

Also thanks to Tam on the NSR Discord for getting me motivated enough to start publishing my solo session logs.

Up next Blades in the Dark Solo - The Pincers - Part 2
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