Solo Skald |||

Blades in the Dark Solo - The Pincers - Part 10

Our primary pending story threads for the crew are blowback from Corville’s murder (which is tied to our animosity with the Fog Hounds and our Wanted level) as well as Talitha’s rivalry with Petra. Last time, we focused a great deal on that issue with Corville, and the rivalry with Petra is potentially similar, so let’s go a level up in our view and look back at our factions.

The alliance between the Circle of Flame, Path of Echoes, and Reconciled opposes the Church of the Ecstasy of the Flesh, and the City Council is one of their battlegrounds. That’s way above us, though. Likely the Reconciled want to prevent the Church from unlocking the secret to ascension.

The Church is probably making progress on that project and it’s time to look at their clock. 2d => 6 which is three full ticks, now 5/12.

Score: Into the Crematorium

So let’s imagine that Kinclaith wants us to do something about that. Looking over the Shadows opportunity table, one sticks out:

The Path of Echoes needs a specific body purloined from the crematorium before it’s dissolved tonight.

That’s dangerous as hell. Bellweather Crematorium in Charterhall has the spirit bells and deathseeker crows that signal when someone dies in Doskvol. The Spirit Wardens (tier IV) will have it well-guarded. Lord Penderyn runs the Imperial Archive of Echoes and his related secret society out of this district. This is also a heavily-patrolled area for the Bluecoats. We’re going to ask a full 8 coin for this job, plus it’s possible we might nick a little extra while we’re in there.

A woman harnessed to a two-wheel cart filled with corpses pulls it along the cemetery wall as she bends under the toil.

☞ Engagement

How will we get inside? Wicker first decides to study maps and plans, including the district’s suggested Devil’s Bargain of +1 Heat for +1d to gather info. Since we have underground maps already, that can indicate the type of connection we’re looking for. 2d => 3, limited information.

Sure, there were old catacombs underneath, but they’ve largely been blocked off since then. Certainly ways under and in will still exist, and we could try those, but the archives seem to be incomplete.

Maybe instead there’s a way in by posing as corpses? Talitha will consort with her underworld contacts to find out if anyone knows anything about that. 1d => 3, people have heard that the Gondoliers - or is is the Cabbies? - sometimes move bodies, but we don’t really know anybody in those organizations.

Wicker tries a different way: surely some spirits have escaped? He’ll run a seance with his friend Quellyn (+1d) to find out from them directly. They attune to the ghost field, 3d => 5. A revelatory ghost appears and tells them of secret doors in the ghost city. (Thanks, random tables!)

That’s our detail and enough for the Engagement roll. 3d => 5, Risky. ((I actually forgot that they should have had another +1d from Second Story, but it wouldn’t matter a great deal here.)) Both take a Normal load, and Wicker is certain to bring his ghost key.,

☞ Heist

The two of them transit through an echo of the city trapped in the ghost field, dating from before the crematorium was what it is today. Talitha clutches her spiritbane charm to her chest. They’ll emerge from a secret door in the midst of heavy curtains, deep inside. She’ll need to guide the two down to where this specific body is being held.

She’ll survey the situation in an eerily silent, heavy old building. The only sounds are a ticking clock nearby and the occasional deep tolling of the spirit bells. This is Risky / Standard, and so 1d => 6. In fact, the storage area is on this same level, but it’s a 1d => 5 medium distance away.

We’ll need a group prowl to get there. Hopefully no Spirit Wardens spot us on the way, although we can probably deal with it if they do. Still Risky, and Talitha will lead.

  • Talitha: 2d => 6
  • Wicker: 2d => 3

1 stress, no complication.

The two wind their way down labyrinthine halls lit by electroplasm, past offices and altars. But the storage area is probably guarded. Is it a Spirit Warden (uh oh!) or a Bluecoat (less of a problem)? 1d (against the crew) => 6, no guards… at least that we can see.

Getting the body out of here, though, means wheeling it back down to our ghost door, then attuning once more. If they get caught here, it would be really bad. This group prowl is therefore Desperate. Talitha leads again.

  • Talitha: 2d => 5
  • Wicker: 2d => 6

Nobody’s around, we’re not getting caught… can it really be this easy? We’re so enthralled with this idea we don’t even think to look around for extra loot. Wicker attunes to the ghost field so he can open the secret door again. Bringing a corpse that still has a spirit attached through the ghost city seems like potentially a very bad idea, which makes this Desperate. He’ll push himself to make up for being ice-shocked still (level 1 Harm), 2d => 5.

He unlocks the door successfully, but bringing the corpse through will cause a serious complication as they feel a cold wind blow. The ghost of this corpse drifts over to them, bizarre and strange. Talitha freezes up for a moment, then steels her resolve to resist, taking 1d => 3 - 6 = 3 stress. She is right on the edge of trauma, with 1 stress left!

Wicker tries to do the same. They’re helping this spirit, nothing bad can happen, right? 3d => 6,6, he actually clears a stress as he’s in his element. We’re getting you to people who can help!” The odd little ghost starts tugging absentmindedly at their corpse but otherwise doesn’t cause trouble.

One last prowl out, although now they’re avoiding whatever devils haunt this accursed plane. Wicker leads, as Talitha is barely holding it together. Desperate once more…

  • Talitha: 2d => 2
  • Wicker: 2d => 6

They do it, but Wicker also reaches his limit as he’s trying to keep Talitha from losing her cool.

Exiting safely, they deliver the corpse to a waiting Path of Echoes member.

☞ Payoff

Standard 2 Rep plus 3 (as the target is tier IV) gives 5 Rep total. We only need 1 more to reach Strong hold on Tier I and establish ourselves as a player.

8 coin, but we’re outside the Unseen’s remit, so no tithe (also we didn’t get the benefits of being on our hunting grounds, sigh). 4 to each scoundrel.

Standard 2 Heat (not counting the 1 we took in the Devil’s Bargain), +1 for a high-profile target, means +3, putting us at 6 total. Our Wanted level is quite high, so 3d => 5 means… Show of Force. We don’t have any claims at all, so we’ll lose 1 hold, dropping to Tier 0 strong. I’m not sure yet what this looks like fictionally - that will guide the next session.

Downtime

Talitha is at 8/9 stress and goes for a night of drinking, clearing 4 stress. Somehow she got through that experience, but the human mind wasn’t meant to see those things.

She’s also going to work on a new project, making contact with Fitz, a collector from the crew. This is a 6-clock, and this time she’ll consort by making mutual friends, working her way closer to his circle. 1d => 2, 1 tick.

Wicker also didn’t like the darkness and finds himself needing to indulge. In his case, that means praying with his fellow cultists that the Radiant Word may light their way in this world. He clears a full 6 stress!

This job just took one night, so he’ll head back to visit Morriston, the physicker, one more time to recover, but it’s the last on this instance of the asset. 1d => 2, 1 tick, but he’ll pay a coin to upgrade this (getting the better alchemical potions) and thus clear his harm.

In terms of XP, only Wicker got an upgrade this time, choosing a playbook ability, Warded, which will allow him to resist supernatural consequences.

Next time, they’ll deal with this show of force and probably draw closer to concluding this campaign.

Up next Blades in the Dark Solo - The Pincers - Part 9 Blades in the Dark Solo - The Pincers - Part 11 (Conclusion)
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