Solo Skald |||

Blades in the Dark Solo - The Pincers - Part 7

We have a lot of open threads to clean up.

As an administrative note, I moved all of my sheets (Crew, Faction, Character) onto Roll20. This will hopefully mean it’s easier to track changes to tracks that go up and down (Heat, Experience, Stress, etc.) compared to filling in and erasing bubbles on paper. It also means I might not lose things so easily, as I nearly had a campaign-ending disaster with a glass of water on my desk.


Our masked vampire is Fidalis, the former lover of Kinclaith. The Reconciled intend to possess members of the City Council in a bid for power - effectively becoming vampires - and in particular Fidalis wants his lover to rejoin him in the flesh. He doesn’t have the resources of Lord Scurlock, who counts as a tier III faction on his own; we’ll just consider him part of the Reconciled for factional purposes. If only Preceptor Dunvil knew what intentions Kinclaith has for his earthly form!

So then, who’s the Fog Hounds’ new patron that opposes the Reconciled? On the City Council, Lord Strangford is already closely connected to the Leviathan Hunters and doesn’t need smugglers. But Elder Rowan leads the church, is maneuvering against Strangford, and opposes the Path of Echoes and the Reconciled.

I’d like Flint and Petra to become bigger complications. Maybe Corville can link up with one of them?

Similarly, I want to keep thinking about abilities tied to the Radiant Word (e.g. the various examples on p. 234-35 in the core book).

Score: Little Rat Bastard

Much like in Part 3, I decided to use a score from A Couple of Drakess supplement Hour of Chains. Page 8 has a score called Little Rat Bastard” with some strong Home Alone” allusions throughout.

The Macallums are a pillar of Brightstone society. Their money was made in banking and canny investment, or so the story goes. The backbiting talk of social climbers tell a different story, of course, but any who might’ve lent credence to vicious rumors of backroom deals and betrayal of their once-partners have long since vanished into obscurity. Such is the way with money and power. Proper application of both makes a meteoric rise look unavoidable.

Tucked off of the main thoroughfare, the Macallum’s stately manor house has grown to fit the newest generation of the family. Reginald and Sophia Macallum have twelve children, and the youngest is often overlooked. So it was on the night that we lay our scene. While the Macallums leave to attend a society function in Whitecrown, young Alistair has been left behind, perched in his attic room with his toy soldiers and his books.

Welcome Home, Ya Filthy Animals: Imagine young Alistair’s surprise when the Macallum family home finds itself the target of a band of canny scoundrels. The servants have been dismissed for the evening. His family is away. It’s up to him to ensure that whatever the Crew is after, they aren’t going to take without a fight.

☞ The Problem

Haunted Toy Soldiers:

Alistair Macallum is a deviously cunning young Whisper and will augment his physical traps with arcane influence. Best of luck, Scoundrel. What beloved child’s toy has Macallum turned into a haunted monstrosity? What pilfered arcane device will Alistair turn against the Crew?

Here I once again used Eskur’s Gaslamp Oracles.

  • Action/Theme: Follow Patron
  • Descriptor/Focus: Lost Fountain
  • Character Personality: Cantankerous, Decisive, Tenacious

Alistair has a large puppet to which he has attached sharp razor blades. He manipulates it from afar like a marionette with ghost strings. It is powered by a spirit pot, which carries energy (e.g. from spirit wells).

☞ The Patron

The Reconciled

We’re already in deep with Kinclaith. And they definitely want what the Macallums have, namely…

☞ The Payday

Bloodstone Opal

A fist-sized gem that is the greatest treasure of the Macallum family, held in the family vault and accessible only by members of the family.

Dunvil believes the Opal has occult value, and so it does. But it’s not demonic, as he and the Macallums all believe. Instead, it plays a key role in the vampiric possession ritual that the Reconciled intend for him.

☞ Engagement

We’re in our hunting grounds, so +1d to gather info and one free downtime action for the operation.

All we really need is a way in, right? Talitha will survey to case the joint: 2d => 6, great info. I rolled on the Building Details table: dust & detritus; weird artifacts. There’s some old equipment in the back that everyone thinks is a sculpture but has more power than they know. Talitha just gets a glimpse of it, but it’s enough for her to tell Wicker about.

Instead of our default Stealth plan, we’ll go Arcane. Wicker will bring some cultist friends and they will rush the artifact with the power of the Radiant Word. That should open portals into the house (windows, back door, something). That’s enough to get started.

Wicker will use this free downtime action to acquire an asset - his cultist friends! Because he’s connected to them, rather than the crew tier we’ll use his command rating, +1d from Occultist. 2d => 4, quality 1.

Adding up luck (+1), daring-ness (+1), complexity (-1), vulnerability (+1), friends in the form of cultists (+1), rivals in the form of Corville Macallum (-1), Brightstone (-1), Second Story (+1), we get 2d => 3, Desperate.

☞ Arcane Heist

We know we’re trying to use this arcane artifact to make it past the wards and have it open the doors or windows, so let’s start with that. ((I considered using Bluecoats on the street as well.))

So Wicker is leading a group action with his cultist buddies, and he’s going to command them ((upon later reading, I probably did this wrong and he could have used his attune rating, more’s the pity)). They’ll roll at quality 1, as noted, and +1d for himself due to that special ability. The Radiant Word could make this thing overload and cause harm or destruction, so we’ll call it Desperate / Standard.

  • Wicker: 4
  • Cultists: 4

No stress, success with a consequence.

The artifact does overload! The cultists and Wicker take level 3 damage, Psychic Burn”, as something flares in their minds. While they flee, he’ll resist with Resolve to push this down to level 2. 3d > 6, no stress to do so. But his brain will feel like it’s burning and he’ll take -1d on everything where that matters.

We’re past the artifact, but how do we actually get in? Did the artifact open portals? 2d (uncertain) => 5, yes but… in the ghost field? Or something else? I roll a building detail: Cozy, warm.

This suggests to me that the arcane afterglow from the artifact overload outlined an old pet entrance. We’ll have to squeeze in without getting detected, a group prowl led by Talitha at Risky / Standard.

  • Talitha: 2
  • Wicker: 6

1 stress but no other troubles. Hm, she’s at less effect because of her injury, though, so she should have a very minor consequence or something. She’ll mark her fine shadow cloak to boost the effect.

Now we’re inside, but we need to find the vault. Was Wicker successful in finding house plans? They’re not likely to show the actual vault, but we might be able to conclude some likely places. This is a 0 stress flashback in which he’ll study to gather information. 2d => 3, no info. Should’ve pushed. ((I also could have given him limited information, or even just used the great result Talitha had earlier.))

A boy in tattered clothes is sleeping on a threshold, leaning against a large wooden box bearing the word “fragile,” as the foods and toys of his dreams whirl around him like an ethereal carousel.

Instead, he needs to look into the ghost field. Due to his harm, this would be at -1d, so Talitha will assist. He’ll also take a Devil’s Bargain for Alistair to see him in the ghost field (a new clock). At Risky / Standard, we roll 3d => 5. So there’s a new clock:

  • Alistair unleashes puppet: 2/6

But we know where it is and need to sneak there. Alistair is spinning up his puppet, so we’re still at Risky / Standard for a group prowl led by Talitha:

  • Talitha: 2
  • Wicker: 3

Yikes! 2 stress and Alistair is now at 4/6. Plus we didn’t get there.

What’s in the way? This is where Corille (whom we’ve decided is an older sibling in the Macallum family) shows up, he’s coming home. Major complication! How do we deal with it? Talitha drinks her silence potion vial to prowl past him at Desperate / Standard, 2d => 5. We do so, but that echoed into the ghost field and now Alistair’s little friend is coming after us (fill the clock).

Despite getting past Corille, we now have an arcane puppet and both young men in the house! We’re in Desperate straits. Talitha needs to get into the vault, which is high-tier. She would be at Desperate / Zero effect, but she will use her fine lockpicks to upgrade to Limited. Additionally, Wicker will assist (trying to look through the ghost field to give her guidance on the lock pins), since he’s likely to share in consequences anyway. This finesse roll will also take a push from her to get up to Desperate / Standard ((I’m not sure the book says you can do this but it’s my game and anyway I’ve made mistakes that went against the crew too)). 2d => 6, we’re in the vault. This treasure vibrates with arcane energy.

Alistair is sending his puppet after us, so as we exfiltrate, we’re still in a Desperate situation. I’ll call this Limited for us to get out past all these attentions, so our group prowl (led by Wicker) goes as follows:

  • Talitha: 6
  • Wicker: 4

Success, we’ll call this clock Macallum Family” and put it 1/4.

Wicker’s going to attune to find a potential ghost door. It might take him a minute, but if it works we could bump up that progress clock. Desperate / Limited, plus a push to compensate for his Psychic Burn: 2d => 4, the puppet attacks him. Level 3 harm as it slashes him to bits with knife hands! Mark armor to bump down to level 2 harm, Slashed”, as well as resist with a dodge (Prowess). 2d => 5, 1 stress, no trauma. Level 1 harm is the result.

We need a fighting retreat through the ghost door, as the freaky little puppet is upon us. This feels like a skirmish, because the puppet is here and thus it’s not really a prowl. It’s a group action at Desperate / Standard. Both scoundrels only have two free stress, so Wicker will lead. He has the key, after all, so it makes sense fictionally.

  • Talitha: 3
  • Wicker: 4

We get out, but Wicker takes 1 more stress (barely avoiding trauma). He also takes another Level 3 harm, Slashed”, as those knives slice into his back. Talitha steps in to protect him, but she also marks armor (down to level 2) and resists with Prowess. 4d => 3, 3 stress and level 1 harm.

She traumas out. We’ll say vicious” for now, but I need to think on it.

Payoff, etc

Brightstone citizenry is listed as Tier IV, so 2+4 = 6 Rep. That takes us up to Tier I with weak hold! It also implies some bookkeeping in just a second.

We earn 6 coin for this job, -1 to the Unseen.

Increasing our tier costs 8 coin, reduced to 4 by Kinclaith’s patronage. That clears the crew’s coin. Out of this payout, 2 coin to Talitha, 2 to Wicker, and 1 to the crew.

For heat, we’ll call this chaotic”, what with the arcane overload on the street, +1 for a well-connected target, so +5 total. We’re at 5 Heat with 2 Wanted now, so on the Entanglements, 2d => 3, Gang Trouble or Questioning. (We also have an Unquiet Dead pending.)

They’re going to grab Telda again, definitely the most vulnerable. Talitha can’t handle the idea of that getting worse, so she’ll pay the 2 coin.

Downtime next session, although I’ll run through XP of course here. No crew advancement this time, but Talitha gets a playbook ability (Ambush, which fits with Vicious) and a dot in Prowess (assigned to finesse). No advancements for Wicker.

Now that we’re tier I, I’m going to let this campaign breathe a little. Next session will just include downtime and maybe some free play to explore open questions.

Up next Blades in the Dark Solo - The Pincers - Part 6 Blades in the Dark Solo - The Pincers - Part 8
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