Last time ended with a show of force. We’ve been running with some big dogs in terms of factions (the Church and the Reconciled). Elder Rowan has plans for ascension (ultimately perhaps rivaling the Immortal Emperor himself. The Reconciled themselves, particularly Kinclaith (in the guise of a Council member), stand in the way, and we’re part of that power base.
So, what does a “show of force” actually entail?
A faction with whom you have a negative status makes a play against your holdings. Give them one claim or go to war (drop to -3 status). If you have no claims, lose 1 hold instead.
We have two choices: (1) go to war with the state religion, or (2) let them scatter our resources as we drop to tier 0 again.
Perhaps an emissary meets with us? No, better, two emissaries: one at each of our respective vice purveyors.
We imagine an Inquisitor: he’s ancient, scarred, and implacable. Bluecoats and Spirit Wardens are detailed to follow him and do his bidding. Does he take his goons to the Leaky Bucket to thrash the crowd and intimidate Talitha?
No, that would be too straightforward. Instead, he operates by sabotage.
First, he is a nameless member of the Spirit Wardens, in fact one of their most dreaded and powerful members. The Spirit Wardens act as something like the martial arm of the Church, including in matters of inquisition. His mask is particularly unusual, with inscriptions and decorations evoking death and pain.
Rather than move openly, he snips away at the crew’s supports. The proprietor of the Leaky Bucket quietly suggests to Talitha that she should find a new watering hole; it would just be better for everyone if she didn’t come there anymore. Telda’s hovel is lost in a fire, and the beggar herself is not seen again. Quellyn’s nightmares are invaded by demonic assaults, all with Wicker’s face on them. The small congregation of the Radiant Word is distraught when their barge sinks in the canals, drowning several sleeping members and losing the artifacts & tomes stored on it.
What other supports do our scoundrels have? Our lair is hidden, but we don’t have quarters in it so the crew is vulnerable elsewhere. Their landlords turn them out without explanation, and Morriston’s debt is called in; he’s pulled into some institution someplace and loses whatever freedoms he had in trying to repay it.
The crew asks Kinclaith for help. They can’t go on this way, with all their friends turned to suspicious minds. After some consideration, they decide that Rowan is too powerful to oppose openly. Kinclaith isn’t ready to move against the Church and is too polite to say out loud that a couple of thieves are not worth it. The Reconciled do offer one suggestion, though: go into hiding. The Path of Echoes maintain special refuges around their spirit wells in the Deathlands, where the crew can lay low for a while and figure out their futures.
Wicker accepts and will leave with the next expedition to carry out the forbidden rituals at these spirit wells. Perhaps he will find the absolution from his spiritual torment there.
Talitha, however, is bewildered. She’s never left Doskvol at all, much less experienced anything of non-city life. Without so much as a word to her former partner in crime, she boards a ship bound for Skovlan, where the Church has little influence.
And just like that, the Pincers are scattered.
This experiment worked out well. I wanted to see how Blades in the Dark plays as a solo game, and the answer turns out to be “quite well”. While initially I just relied on the core book - and in fact, that has turned out to be quite doable - I did use a few other resources, mainly Gaslamp Oracles and the occasional third-party score.
Originally, I started with the standard “thieves” crew setup that the game encourages, with a little bit of arcana thrown in. This helped while figuring out to proceed, but I ended up focusing on the same factions as most of my campaigns. Next time, I’ll watch out for that. Since I don’t have to consider anyone else’s preferences, I can go all in on the magical science aspects, or maybe even try one of the Ghost playbooks.
I should also spend more time on expanding the game. That could be crafting and rituals, or it could even include new abilities & upgrades, more low-tier factions, or something similar. And of course, most of these lessons could carry over to a Scum & Villainy game.
But first, to finish some other solo projects (like a gamebook, which doesn’t lend itself to blogging) and maybe blog a playthrough of a non-FitD game.