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grobbo
May 29, 2014





Chapter 0: The Voyage

The steamship is a tiny, lonely shape, cutting desperately forwards through the vast ocean, beneath a raging black sky.

Each new wave sends it tilting perilously this way or that, threatening an unexpected capsize. Every thunderclap sounds like the howling of leviathans from below.

Most of the passengers have long fled into their cabins; occasionally you can make out a fearful or queasy face, staring blindly out into the darkness before drawing the curtains shut.

You are out here alone, with the falling rain and the endless sea, and your final cigar bit desperately between your teeth.

It was a parting gift from your ‘friends’ in Duskwall, as they stood and watched you off from the docks.

Something to remember us by when you’re getting on that boat, boss. And we do mean it when we say you’d better be on that boat.

Better exiled than dead, you suppose.

As one particularly powerful wave crashes into the side of the ship, it sways powerfully to the side, a torrent of water sluicing forwards over the passenger deck. Like a lost soul, you cling to the rail, trying to keep your footing.

And then, as the steamship reasserts its balance and the sea ahead clears, you see what lies ahead.

The night is alive, far to the north, with the eerie green glow of a thousand ghost-lanterns.

You rush to the prow, marvelling at what lies before you, and as the steamship horn sounds and other passengers flock back out onto the deck, you begin to make out the details. Upon the jagged cliffs above the city proper, the great broiling smoke stacks of the Fleshmills. Far below, the endless cranes, platforms and winches of the Reclamation Pit.

Looming over you as you enter the harbour-mouth, a ruined iron colossus, thick with weed and barnacle, its head bowed in supplication as the water sloshes around its waist - a remnant of the Old Order's final hopeless defences, thirty years ago.

Standing high over it all, lancing with the feverish green glow of imprisoned spirits, the black spires of the Grieving Palace.

This is Cairn. Ghost-conquered city, ruled by the silent dead.

Your new home.

The sea air is changing; amongst the salt and the brine, you begin to make out the stench of blacksmog and corpse-meat, of gull-dung and electroplasm.

To you, it smells of opportunity.


*

You pay for a room in a tavern in the Docks of Brightshore - The Traitor’s Head. It’s a sour, unhappy place, filled with muttering drinkers, with attunement wards chalked into the floor and thresholds to prevent any stray spirits from wandering in.

You open up a copy of the Ever-Living Herald, flicking back and forth through its yellowed pages, searching for any hint of information that could lead you to a starting point.

But where to begin?

Make a choice:

quote:


A) The gossip columns speak of a dozen different factions amongst the squabbling mortal nobility - remnants of a former age, desperate to cling on to their power and relevance. And where these rivalries exist, there may be coin for one ruthless or cunning enough to exploit them... Form a crew of Assassins, specialising in the art of murder.

B) The ruling dead rarely venture down to the docks and warehouses of the Lower City. Gangs of scrappers and thugs fight it out over the streets down here in an endless war for territory. And, of course, they’re always looking for extra muscle... Form a crew of Bravos, specialising in brutality and gang war.

C) You gently pull back your sleeve to gaze at the tattoo marked on your forearm. The twisting coral eyes of the Lady of the Depths gaze back up at you, her anemone limbs twisting up around your wrist. This will be a fine place to begin again… Form a Cult, focusing on rituals of the occult to grow your dark faith's power.

D) You tap your coat pocket, ensuring that the small glass vial within is still there and unbroken. Within is a thimbleful of fine red resin - all you were able to smuggle out of Duskwall. If you can only set up a distillery to make more of the stuff, and find workers capable of following your instructions, then you’ll be selling Rivefire on the streets of the Lower City within weeks... Form a crew of Hawkers, selling your narcotic across the city.

E) The Upper City is filled with the abandoned palaces and mansions of the city’s former rulers and governing bodies - now occupied by the wandering dead. Ghosts and whispering spirits have no need for coin...so surely they won’t matter if you break in and help yourself to some of it? Form a crew of Shadows, specialising in thievery.

F) You note the signs of public dissent everywhere you go. An angry editorial in the Herald, railing against the silent tyranny of the city’s mysterious rulers. Graffiti scrawled across the alley walls: PUT THE DEAD BACK DOWN. Somewhere in Cairn, there are revolutionaries - and undoubtedly they’ll be in need of someone who can get them what they need. Form a crew of Smugglers, specialising in...smuggling.


(Note: This choice doesn’t mean that you’ll be stuck smuggling contraband or Walter White-ing for the entire CYOA - you’ll still get opportunities outside of your crew’s specialism. The choice is more there to dictate the general tone and focus of the main storyline.)

grobbo fucked around with this message at 07:54 on Jul 13, 2020

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grobbo
May 29, 2014


What is Blades In The Dark?
Blades In The Dark is a popular narrative roleplaying game created by John Harper, heavily influenced by the likes of Dishonored and Thief. It allows you to play as a crew of scoundrels who are Doing Crime in an industrial-fantasy city, and it’s resulted in a number of different user-created hacks in different settings and genres.

Find out more here.

There's no need to be familiar with the setting or the rules if you'd like to play.


How is this going to work?

It’ll be a CYOA, very roughly following the rules of Blades In The Dark, with some of the rules pared back for ease and speed of play.

Instead of players being assigned to individual criminals making fast decisions, you’ll be playing as a single Boss - a crime-lord who orders their crew of scoundrels to do their bidding in order to expand your underworld empire.

You’ll choose which crew members you want to work with, you’ll send them out on jobs, you’ll choose who gets which roles on the jobs (who’s going to the Grand Masquerade to pick pockets? Who’s going to be watching from the rooftops with a rifle?), and you’ll choose how to spend the loot afterwards.

If your crew members get wounded in action, they may be unable to participate in a job. If they’re too badly injured or traumatised by their experiences, you may need to fire them. If they decide that they really dislike working for you...they may decide to quit or betray you.


No, but...in detail, how is this going to work?

There are roughly two repeating phases to the game.

In the first phase, Downtime, I’ll offer you choices about how you want to grow your criminal operation. For instance:
- How do you want to spend your ill-earned coin? Do you want to buy some cool new items, hire a new crew member, or pay for information about an upcoming job? Or do you simply want to distribute it amongst your crew so they like you more?
- How will you react to narrative events as they come up? A raid from the authorities, a visit from a rival gang leader?
- Which Score do you want to go on next? There’ll typically be a choice between a couple of different criminal operations. You can accept jobs to gain repute with other factions and individuals, or to expand your own territory.

Various events during Downtime will have a timer on them - in other words, if you continue to ignore a particular opportunity, it will eventually go away (and if you ignore a problem, it may come back to haunt you…)

In the second phase, The Score, you’ll send your crew members out on missions to earn coin and repute. Initially, I’ll offer you choices on stuff like:
- How do you want to handle the score? Go in guns blazing, or sneakily?
- What roles do you want each of your crew members to play in the score?

Each crew member has different skills, and each score will have certain skill checks. (More on these later.) The results on these, pass, failure, or semi-pass, will have an impact on the other crew members, and on the score as a whole.

quote:

For instance: you decide to send one crew member to the rooftops to keep watch. They fail their Survey check, so don’t notice the mob of rival gang members sneaking up on your second crew member who you sent to pick a lock with Finesse...now they’re going to need to fight.

Spending coin on gathering information before a score can put you in a better starting position, and it’ll usually give you extra information so you know what to expect.

I’ll write up the results, and offer further choices based on the current situation. We’ll do this a few times until you’ve beaten the score or failed horribly. The option for your crew members to flee and leave anyone in trouble to their fate is always there…

I’ll also sometimes offer a Flashback (it turns out you planned for this to happen, and plotted against it…) or a Devil’s Bargain (the crew member is more likely to succeed on a given action, but they’ll be putting themselves personally at risk in the short or long term). Both of these will have consequences for your crew members, so use them wisely.


General stuff

If we have a tie on any vote, I’ll do a quick coin flip or roll to determine the result.

Whenever I roll, I’ll show the results in the CYOA, and I’ll always ensure that your crew members act competently to the best of their abilities, unless they’re in a specific situation that they’re vulnerable against. I’ll be fair and honest - it isn’t fun otherwise.

If you have an extra idea or suggestion that isn’t included in my choices, definitely put it forward! It could be something out of the BitD rules, or just a creative Flashback or Devil’s Bargain to handle the current situation. (In the rare event that it just wouldn’t work, I’ll try and offer a caveat - ‘you can try this, but it’d probably result in X’ - rather than vetoing outright.)

I’ll try and bear in mind runner-up votes for future choices (for instance, if most people want to play Shadows, but a couple want to play a Cult, I’ll try and offer a couple of future opportunities to do Cult-ish scores as well.) But again, if you’d like to see more of anything in particular that isn’t being covered, just let me know!

Really hope you enjoy this, and let’s see how it goes!

grobbo fucked around with this message at 12:59 on Jul 12, 2020

grobbo
May 29, 2014


Your Crew Sheet

Tier: 0
Reputation: 2/12
Heat: 4/10 (Wanted level: 0)
Coin: 2
Crew XP: 3/11

Known Faction relationships and holdings
Children of She That Crawls: +2

Luxury Fence
With Scheltpelter on your books, you receive +2 payout to any operation involving luxury or high-class goods.

Your Lair: The Tenemos Hotel

A burgeoning hotel business in the docks of Brightshore.

Upgraded vehicle: 'Little Suze' - a medium-sized smuggling skiff, equipped with a harpoon-thrower and a ghost-rotor (+1 to Wreck and Prowl rolls for anyone using it) kept in the hotel's hidden jetties. Can be used during waterborne missions.

quote:

Available Scores

Make contact with the Breath of Cairn

You suspect that Gianna Oldcrow, the dockworking boss, may have contacts amongst the city’s mortal resistance movement - the underground bomb-throwers and rebels known as the Breath of Cairn.

Send the crew to pay her a visit, and attempt to persuade her that you can be trusted.

Notes:
If you fail to persuade Oldcrow, she may ask you to prove yourself through some dangerous activity.

The more established your operation is, the easier it’ll be to persuade her.

Your crew will gain additional XP for this score.





Acquire Contraband - The Weapons Shipment

Downtime until project is no longer available: 1/6

The market gang known as the River Eels keep a steady stream of illicit, often experimental, weaponry flowing into the city through a mysterious foreign buyer.

If you’re able to find out how they’re doing it, and seize the shipment for yourselves, that should surely be of interest to the Breath of Cairn...

Notes: If successful, this score will boost your reputation with the Breath of Cairn, and provide you with a new long-term project to try and craft some experimental weaponry.




A Letter To Wilheminius Tase

Time until score is no longer available: 1/4

This appears to be a letter from a disgruntled attendant at the Skintown Gallery of Anatomical Arts - providing Tase with a map of the gallery and its vulnerabilities, as well as a list of several key artworks that could be sold for a considerable profit.

Notes: A high-risk, high-reward side-quest. It’s dangerous, even deadly, but with a big payout in rep and coin.

Your crew will gain additional XP for this score.


Other long-term projects and timers

Upgrade Little Suze

Complete! You gain affection with Kobb.

Eva Kobb has suggested that you could upgrade your smuggling skiff, making it both deadlier in a fight and a less detectable mode of transportation.

A Cellar Full Of Hagfish

0/6 complete
1/10 until no longer available

Kincain has suggested filling one of the stone cellars beneath the hotel with water to use as a hagfish farm - a handy way of disposing of any bodies that might come up in your line of work. Is this a good idea? Your call, boss.

The Search for Tongues

1/10 complete

Something is loose in the city of Cairn - and you strongly suspect that it may be related to Tongues' disappearance. Investigating will take time, however...

The Archimandrite's Suspicions.

1/10 complete

Kincain has, through a series of unlikely events, become a figure of sacred repute in a small dockside cult. The cult's leader, however, embittered and usurped, will likely seek proof that Kincain is not really a holy messenger, given half a chance...


Your Crew Members

A) The Cutter
Eva ‘Snapper’ Kobb



Kobb is renowned throughout the Docks as a bruiser and a fixer - a former harpoonist upon one of Cairn’s leviathan-hunting vessels. Since she lost her employment (through an act of violent arm-breaking that gave her the nickname), she’s been picking up freelance work for various gangs, intimidating, rent-collecting, and occasionally doling out vicious punishments.

Word on the street is that she might be looking for more permanent work…

Skills:
Command **
Consort *
Skirmish **
Wreck **

Vice: Kobb enjoys bareknuckle boxing, taking out her frustration with bloodied fists on hapless opponents.

Weakness: Kobb lacks the patience to carry out fiddly or complex tasks, and would much rather smash her way through instead. (-1 to Finesse rolls.)

Affection Level: Kobb gives you an amused look and a nod.

Stress: 2/10

Injuries: 0

XP: 4/6


D) The Leech
Timothy ‘Hap-hazard’ Kincain



It cannot be denied that the silent rulers of Cairn have bestowed certain blessings upon the city since they took it over - such as the bizarre corpsecrafting technologies that are now run out of the Fleshmills.

The unlicenced doctor known as Kincain is medically capable, but also has an undue enthusiasm for dabbling in the unnatural arts.

After conducting an over-eager experiment during a routine medical procedure (apparently the Midtown Orchestra’s oboeist was *not* looking for an extra arm, no matter how useful it is for turning the pages while you’re playing), Kincain is no longer welcome amongst the upper reaches of the city - so instead he plies his trade in the grime of the Lower City.

Skills:
Attune **
Sway **
Tinker **
Wreck *

Vice: Medical experimentation. The stranger the better.

Weakness: Kincain prefers to be left alone to his drifting and creative thoughts, struggling to focus on any particular task beyond his own tinkering. (-1 to Hunt rolls.)

Affection Level: Kincain glances at you, nodding fondly, before his thoughts apparently drift away to something else.

Stress: 6/10

Injuries:
Torn Throat (moderate harm) - 1/4 recovered.

Extra Qualities:
Experimental Gills. Kincain can breathe underwater.

XP: 5/6


G) - The Spider
Professor ‘Pettifog’ Marius Strangford



Professor Marius Strangford, a literary tutor long fired in disgrace from the High Colleges of Cairn, has been masterminding robberies and heists across the city for some time.

This white-haired, fastidious academic sells his services to local crime bosses as a genius schemer, capable of directing any complex score from the shadows. It must be said, however, that his brilliance may partly lie in his uncanny ability to claim success, even if several of his own accomplices have been arrested or shot in the pursuit of his goals...

Skills:
Attune: *
Command: *
Consort: **
Study: **
Tinker: *

Vice: Strangford loves to read - particularly books of military theory and logic.

Weakness: In any fight, Strangford’s first move will be to find someone larger to hide behind. (-1 to Skirmish rolls.)

Affection Level: The Professor scowls at you - but faintly.

Stress: 4/10

Injuries: None

XP: 3/6


H) The Whisper
Sister Ariona ‘Tongues’ Kess (Missing in action)



There are some in this city who are blessed - or cursed - with the attention of ghosts, swarming to a particular individual like moths to a flame.

Tongues is one of these individuals, a former vestal nun who survived a raid on her priory by vicious thugs only thanks to the intervention of her whispering guardian spirits.

Now she wanders the streets in search of revenge, muttering to herself as she consults with the ghosts about her next course of action. Tongues is possessed of keen insight, thanks to her attunement to the spiritual world - and in a fight, she can be a deadly if confusing combatant, lashing out in response to the voices only she can hear.

Skills:
Attune: **
Prowl: *
Skirmish: *
Study: *
Survey: **


Vice: Tongues is overwhelmed by the constant whispers of ghosts in the city of Cairn. She will sometimes seek out a burning incense known as Valeweed, which she can use to temporarily fall into a trance-like state and silence the voices.

Weakness: While Tongues can often gain useful insight from her guardian spirits, they can also be a cacophony of contradictory advice and suggestions - “Rip his throat out!” “Ask him nicely about the missing coin!”. As a result, she may often struggle with diplomatic action, as she tries desperately to talk while keeping the voices at bay. (-1 to Sway)

Affection Level: Tongues watches you levelly, then turns to one side as she consults with the spirits. "What's that? No. No, I don't trust any of them either."

Stress: 6/10

Injuries:
Shot in the Shoulder (minor harm), 1/4 recovered.

XP: 4/6


grobbo fucked around with this message at 17:04 on Jul 26, 2020

grobbo
May 29, 2014


Rules and explanations:

Rolls:
The full Blades in the Dark RPG uses dice pools, and we’ll be doing the same here, with a few simplifications.

When we roll to see if a character succeeds at a particular action, we’ll roll as many dice as are available for that action, and choose the highest number from the results of the roll.

This can be determined by:
The character’s skill rating for a particular action (+1 die per rank)
If anyone else is available to assist them with the roll (+1 die)
Any Devil’s Bargain advantages (+1 die)

Results of the roll
1-3: Failure. The character fails to accomplish their action, and faces some kind of negative consequence (physical harm, stress, wasted time…). The severity of the consequence will depend on how risky their action was.
4-5: Partial success. The character succeeds at their action, but faces some kind of negative consequence.
6: Success. The character succeeds at their action! Nothing bad happens.
Critical (more than one 6 rolled). The character succeeds...extremely well, gaining an extra bonus or advantage as a result.


Skills:
What the crew member is capable at.

quote:

Attune: Any attempt to use magical abilities or open your mind to the supernatural. (For instance, carrying out an occult ritual, or sensing ghost activity in an area).
Command: Any attempt to use leadership or intimidation to get obedience. (For instance, inspiring your henchmen before a fight, or threatening an enemy to make them flee)
Consort: Any attempt to socialise, charm, or win affection. (For instance, flattering a party guest or gaining the friendship of some local drunks.)
Finesse: Any attempt to use dexterity or misdirection. (For instance, dodging bullets, leaping over an obstacle, stealing a purse…)
Hunt: Any attempt to track a target. (For instance, shooting someone from a long distance, or following someone through a crowd.)
Prowl: Any attempt to be stealthy. (For instance, creeping through a corridor without being seen, or getting the jump on an opponent.)
Skirmish: Any attempt at close-quarter combat. (For instance, a bare-knuckle boxing match, or stabbing someone during a street-fight).
Study: Any attempt at insightful examination - whether it’s a person or a book. (For instance, reading through ancient texts for a clue, or watching someone to see if they’re lying.)
Survey: Any attempt at tactical or practical observation. (For instance, examining a corridor for traps, or looking for any opportunities which could turn the tide of battle.)
Sway: Any attempt at manipulation or persuasion. (For instance, tricking a guard to leave his post, or winning over a gang member to betray his own side.)
Tinker: Any attempt at technical action. (For instance, setting up a bomb, picking a lock, cracking a safe…)
Wreck: Any attempt to use brutish savagery or force. (For instance, beating an opponent to a pulp, or smashing down a door.)

There’s some crossover between these skills (deliberately). When making skill rolls, I’ll always pick the character’s highest-rated skill available that fits the situation.


Affection:
How the crew member feels about you as their Boss. You won’t get to see the concrete score, but you will have a sense of their mood.

I’ll signpost points in the narrative when your choices may affect your crew’s affection, but it can also be affected by gaining trauma or Level 3 physical injuries.

At high levels, the crew members may come to you with gifts or beneficial scores.

At low levels, the crew members may turn on you, or quit.

Item Loadout

For an average score, it can be assumed that your crew members bring 4-5 standard items with them. For a list of what's available for each crew member, check out the [url="https:////bladesinthedark.com/downloads"]'Character' playbooks on the BitD website.[/url]

I may signal the use of these items at various decision points ("Eva Kobb produces her set of manacles...") but also feel free to suggest them to give your crew advantages on certain rolls.

For certain scores, I may offer choices at the beginning to send your crew members in ill-equipped (with the advantage of being less conspicious and more nimble) or heavily-equipped (which will do exactly the opposite).


Stress

Each crew member has a 'stress' score. Stress is added as a negative consequence to certain action rolls, Devil's Bargains, etc.

When the crew member reaches 10 stress (as standard), they gain a Trauma.

I'm going to play Traumas a little differently from the RPG: effectively, the trauma will render that crew member universally less useful while in any situation that involves the broad cause of that trauma, receiving a -1d penalty.

So a crew member who's traumatised by narrowly avoiding burn injuries during a fire will be distracted and frightened by future fires. A crew member who's traumatised trying to keep everyone together during a group action will be less useful during future group actions ('why do these idiots never listen to me?')

Experiencing these traumas during a score will result in an XP bump for that crew member, however.

Harm

There are three levels of injury that crew members can suffer.

Lesser: This has a narrative effect only, making the crew member less effective at relevant actions.
Moderate: 1d to any relevant action roll.
Severe: The crew member is incapacitated. They can't take any action without help.

If crew members already have 2 lesser injuries, any future injuries will automatically become moderate. Likewise, if a crew member has 2 moderate injuries, any future injury will be severe.

If a crew member has a severe injury and suffers again, they will suffer a permanent, catastrophic harm - loss of a limb, or even death. (They can always come back as a ghost, don't worry.)

Resting up

With help from a healer, you can tell your crew members to rest up and attempt to heal any injuries during downtime.

You can also send them to indulge their vice and attempt to heal any stress. However, they may overindulge and suffer a negative consequence as a result...

grobbo fucked around with this message at 08:26 on Jul 17, 2020

Jossar
Apr 2, 2018

Current status: Angry about subs


Oh hey, this seems like a nice chance to get involved with the concept even though I don't have time for a proper game of BitD.

In a city ruled by the dead it's almost a public service to make more people dead, really. (Assassins)

Mr Apollo
Jan 1, 2013


Form a crew of Smugglers, specialising in...smuggling.

Iron Chef Ramen
Sep 14, 2007

Only the very best.


Revolutionary crew of smugglers. Let's go Ghostbustin'.

grobbo
May 29, 2014


Chapter 1: The Boss Makes A Plan

You take a trip that evening to the Dockworkers’ Union Hall in Brightshore, where you occupy a position at the very back, lingering in the shadows.

The crowd here all seem to know each other.

A few speakers stand up and orate on a variety of topics, from the bizarre to the mundane: pensions for the maimed and injured, leviathan swimming grounds. Most of the lecturers are cranks. Some of them are clearly half-drunk.

One catches your attention.

A stout red-haired woman, introduced as Gianna Oldcrow, gets to the stage. Her eye glints fiercely. Her voice trembles ever so slightly with felt emotion.

“Brothers and sisters. We’ve talked a good game here tonight about the wellbeing and health of this city’s workers.

“But we’ve not spoken, I fear, about the true threat that lurks within our own walls.

“It’s been thirty years since the dead rose from the sea to claim their old city. Thirty years since the Silent Masters took over the Grieving Palace.

"The ghosts haunt our streets and occupy our homes. They send their Hollows to tear down our factories and warehouses and build their own impossible structures in their place - why? We do not ask. None of this troubles me.

"One thing troubles me, and it’s a question I cannot get a reasonable answer to. What are we digging for?

"We don’t ask ourselves that any more - we prefer not to. My father protested when they began demolishing Temple Hill to make way for the Reclamation Pit. Our elders were sent to the Palace to plead for answers. An explanation, a plan. They told us nothing.

"Now, the deeper we dig, the more we celebrate. We have feastdays as the excavators uncover some new level of ruin below. In the absence of other answers, we assure ourselves that we are uncovering our city’s history, and its once-forgotten greatness shall return, at the pleasure of our merciful dead masters. Because they have bestowed the ghost-lanterns upon us, and the flesh-mapper’s art, and surely Cairn’s power shall only continue to grow.

"We don’t stop to ask ourselves...what if their great plan for Cairn does not include us?”

You watch the faces in the crowd. Many of the workers nod grimly. A few, shaking their heads, whisper something about troublemakers under their breaths.

Afterwards, you spend a long time stood at the harbour wall, gazing out over the eerily luminescent coral glowing from underneath the water’s surface, smoking the first of your locally-bought cigars.

You can see the shape of your plan, lingering before you in the darkness. But it isn’t certain. Not yet.

Given how dangerous this work is, you suspect you’ll only be able to hire a small crew initially - say, four capable individuals, enough for you to keep an eye on while you begin building your operations. You’ll have to choose wisely…

Decision time: Vote for the four starting members of your crew!


A) The Cutter
Eva ‘Snapper’ Kobb



“I don’t work with cheats, sneaks, or fools. If you want to hire me, say it plain - or I’ll knock that cigar out of your damned mouth.”

Kobb is renowned throughout the Docks as a bruiser and a fixer - a former harpoonist upon one of Cairn’s leviathan-hunting vessels. Since she lost her employment (through an act of violent arm-breaking that gave her the nickname), she’s been picking up freelance work for various gangs, intimidating, rent-collecting, and occasionally doling out vicious punishments.

Word on the street is that she might be looking for more permanent work…

Skills:
Command **
Consort *
Skirmish **
Wreck **

Vice: Kobb enjoys bareknuckle boxing, taking out her frustration with bloodied fists on hapless opponents.

Weakness: Kobb lacks the patience to carry out fiddly or complex tasks, and would much rather smash her way through instead. (-1 to Finesse rolls.)


B) The Hound
Rifleman Tobias ‘Old Misery’ Booker



“Don’t speak about those days like you understand. You hear me? You weren’t sodding there.”

When Cairn fell to the dead thirty years ago, Booker was in the last line of the Old Order’s defence - a young rifleman, picking off Hollows from the rooftops until his position was overwhelmed and he was forced to flee.

He was lucky, unlike many of his comrades, not to be rounded up, arrested, and sentenced to labour work upon the Reclamation Pit.

Now, loitering in taverns around Brightshore Docks, the old man walks with a pronounced limp and carries a constant scowl, taking on whatever work he can get for another bottle of gin.

Booker doesn’t talk much, and often seems to resent the company of others. He prefers to stretch out in an elevated position, still wearing his much-stitched and ruined longjacket, watching a target wandering down the street through the scope of his military-issue rifle.

When he does speak of the old days, it’s clear that the Last War has left Booker utterly traumatised and fearful of the dead that roam the streets of Cairn - and so he drinks, and drinks, to forget his fear.

Skills:
Command *
Hunt **
Prowl *
Survey **
Tinker *

Vice: Any alcohol. But gin, especially.

Weakness: Booker fears and resents the presence of the dead, and shies away from any ghostly presence. He even lights a wax candle in his room at night, rather than using an electroplasmic lantern. (-1 to Attune rolls)


C) The Kid
Weaver ‘Wetpants’ Grine



“Oi! You wazzocks have got yourself into hot water now! Din’t ya know who I am? I’m Weaver Grine, pig-rutters! You’re in trouble now!”

There are countless orphans and street-kids loose in the alleyways of the Lower City. ‘Wetpants’ Grime is just another of these - a foul-mouthed adolescent brat with big criminal aspirations and an uncanny ability to weasel out of any trouble through chatter or a self-preserving sense of cowardice.

Amongst the human law enforcers of Midtown, there’s barely a constable who hasn’t had his hat knocked off by Wetpants, and fewer still who haven’t pursued him down an alleyway, shouting furiously, before giving up the chase.

He’d undoubtedly make for an untrustworthy crew member, despite his skills at pickpocketing...but then a little chaos is something every crime boss needs, isn’t it?

Vice: Stealing, pickpocketing, cheating.

Skills:
Consort **
Finesse **
Hunt *
Prowl **

Weakness: “What, you trying to make me read, wazzock? What is this, the schoolyard? If I din’t listen to Mistress Gabble, I ain’t gonna listen to you, know what I mean?” (-1 to Study rolls.)


D) The Leech
Timothy ‘Hap-hazard’ Kincain



“Hear me out, hear me out. Wings. Why shouldn’t you want a little adorable, discreet pair of wings sewn into your back, just the perfect thing for the next soiree? There are pigeons aplenty on my gutter, and it’s really no trouble, so no extra charge once you’ve paid for the wart removal…”

It cannot be denied that the silent rulers of Cairn have bestowed certain blessings upon the city since they took it over - such as the bizarre corpsecrafting technologies that are now run out of the Fleshmills.

The unlicenced doctor known as Kincain is medically capable, but also has an undue enthusiasm for dabbling in the unnatural arts.

After conducting an over-eager experiment during a routine medical procedure (apparently the Midtown Orchestra’s oboeist was *not* looking for an extra arm, no matter how useful it is for turning the pages while you’re playing), Kincain is no longer welcome amongst the upper reaches of the city - so instead he plies his trade in the grime of the Lower City.

Skills:
Attune **
Sway **
Tinker **
Wreck *

Vice: Medical experimentation. The stranger the better.

Weakness: Kincain prefers to be left alone to his drifting and creative thoughts, struggling to focus on any particular task beyond his own tinkering. (-1 to Hunt rolls.)


E) The Lurk
Charlena ‘Charlie’ Webb



“Need to live. Need to eat. Constables are everywhere, and deadthings walk the streets when the lamps go out. So I stay up high, and I take what I need, and I keep on living.”

The traders of Midtown have been muttering lately about the cat-burglar who’s been responsible for a string of robberies - snatching luminous coralfruit or a handful of jewellery before vanishing without a trace.

They might be surprised to learn the identity of the thief - Charlie Webb, a weary-eyed and suspicious young woman who’s been hiding out on the rooftops of the city since the death of her parents, practicing and improving her skills through sheer self-sufficiency and grit in order to survive.

Charlie tends to work alone, and certainly doesn’t trust easily - preferring to skulk in the rafters or amongst the ravens in the chimneytops, alone, gazing silently over the city. But she needs to eat, and if you can gain her trust, you may be able to make use of her extraordinary skills...

Skills:
Finesse **
Hunt *
Prowl **
Skirmish *
Survey *

Vice: Hiding, time spent alone.

Weakness: Charlie can’t stand polite company, and prefers to observe silently from a corner of the room. She’s likely to struggle to keep up a conversation, let alone to make friends. (-1 to Consort.)


F) - The Slide
‘Marchioness’ Quintilia Saint-Scarles



“There are tapestries in the old Saint-Scarles mansion that would pay for a queen’s ransom alone, my dear. It’s simply a matter of funding an expedition up into the Lost City, as I call it, to reclaim them. Risk? No, you’re looking at the wrong way, darling. It isn’t a risk, merely an investment…”

There are two possibilities when it comes to the vivacious, twinkle-eyed woman known around the Lower City as the Marchioness.

Firstly, that she is - as she claims - a former member of the ruling class of Cairn, now fallen on hard times after her house was ousted by the ruling dead, in desperate need of financial support to reclaim her fortune.

Secondly, that she is simply a common swindler taking advantage of the anti-dead sentiment within the city of Cairn.

Either way, the Marchioness has a talent for making friends, and for persuading fools to part with their money - both of which could be valuable.

Skills:
Consort **
Finesse **
Sway **
Study *

Vice: Attention, above all.

Weakness: While the Marchioness can hold her own with a pistol or a knife, she is too much of an aristocrat to ever sully herself by breaking a window or smashing a safe. (-1 to Wreck)


G) - The Spider
Professor ‘Pettifog’ Marius Strangford



“Well, of course I was expecting you. Naturally, I heard all about your arrival into Cairn, for one must keep track of these things, mustn’t one? And then, as Aquila says, ‘follow the river to the wellspring’, and it was only probable that you should seek me out, here in my bookshop, soliciting my aid. Come, come. Let’s get right down to it, then, shall we?”

Professor Marius Strangford, a literary tutor long fired in disgrace from the High Colleges of Cairn, has been masterminding robberies and heists across the city for some time.

This white-haired, fastidious academic sells his services to local crime bosses as a genius schemer, capable of directing any complex score from the shadows. It must be said, however, that his brilliance may partly lie in his uncanny ability to claim success, even if several of his own accomplices have been arrested or shot in the pursuit of his goals...

Skills:
Attune: *
Command: *
Consort: **
Study: **
Tinker: *

Vice: Strangford loves to read - particularly books of military theory and logic.

Weakness: In any fight, Strangford’s first move will be to find someone larger to hide behind. (-1 to Skirmish rolls.)


H) The Whisper
Sister Ariona ‘Tongues’ Kess



“The spirits can’t make up their minds on you just yet. Mother Sly says I should hear you out - because we could use the money. Tambriella says I should slit your throat and not look back. For now...I’m listening.”

There are some in this city who are blessed - or cursed - with the attention of ghosts, swarming to a particular individual like moths to a flame.

Tongues is one of these individuals, a former vestal who survived a raid on her priory by vicious thugs only thanks to the intervention of her whispering guardian spirits.

Now she wanders the streets in search of revenge, muttering to herself as she consults with the ghosts about her next course of action. Tongues is possessed of keen insight, thanks to her attunement to the spiritual world - and in a fight, she can be a deadly if confusing combatant, lashing out in response to the voices only she can hear.

Skills:
Attune: **
Prowl: *
Skirmish: *
Study: *
Survey: **


Vice: Tongues is overwhelmed by the constant whispers of ghosts in the city of Cairn. She will sometimes seek out a burning incense known as Valeweed, which she can use to temporarily fall into a trance-like state and silence the voices.

Weakness: While Tongues can often gain useful insight from her guardian spirits, they can also be a cacophony of contradictory advice and suggestions - “Rip his throat out!” “Ask him nicely about the missing coin!”. As a result, she may often struggle with diplomatic action, as she tries desperately to talk while keeping the voices at bay. (-1 to Sway)


You'll also need to select a starting headquarters for your operations. Two distinct locations occur to you, each with their own advantages and disadvantages...

Decision time - choose your starting lair.

1) - The Rotting Iron Colossus.

You recall the vast colossi that stood out in the harbour, relics of the war. One of these would make for a fine hiding place for outlaws, and a convenient signalling point to receive illicit cargo by water. It's a discreet option, one that would allow you to begin building your operations without attracting undue attention.

You'll receive the introductory Score 'Claim The Colossus'.
No increase to Heat or Rep.

+1 Affection with crew members who seek out solitude as part of their Vice. -1 Affection with crew members who seek out others as part of their Vice.



2) - Welcome to Cairn

The docks of Brightshore are filled with travellers and drifters. It occurs to you that if you set up a hotel near the waterfront, it might make for a suitable cover for your operations, allowing your agents to meet each other and exchange cargo without attracting too much suspicion. However, any new enterprise announcing itself is likely to attract the attention of rivals, as well as corrupt law enforcement who might want to shake you down...

You'll receive the introductory Score 'Opening The Temenos'
+1 to Heat and to Rep.

-1 Affection with crew members who seek out solitude as part of their Vice. +1 Affection with crew members who seek out others as part of their Vice.

grobbo fucked around with this message at 14:54 on Jul 13, 2020

WhiskeyWhiskers
Oct 14, 2013

CHOO! CHOO!
TANKIE COMIN THRU!




ADFG

2

Josef bugman
Nov 17, 2011

Chomsky Boi

GHAE
2)

Jossar
Apr 2, 2018

Current status: Angry about subs


GHAF

2

Iron Chef Ramen
Sep 14, 2007

Only the very best.


ADEH

1

This is making me pick up Sunless Skies again.

grobbo
May 29, 2014


OK, results!

A: Eva Kobb (Cutter)
G: Professor Strangford (Spider)
H: Tongues (Whisper)

3-way tie between D, E, F: D wins on a random roll.

D: Kincain (Leech)


I've updated the crew details accordingly.

WhiskeyWhiskers
Oct 14, 2013

CHOO! CHOO!
TANKIE COMIN THRU!




Look, where's that Leech going to get subjects if he locks himself away in some iron colossus? He'll come to thank us.

grobbo
May 29, 2014


You clear your throat - and begin.

“Well...I imagine you’re all wondering why I’ve invited all of you here.”

As you stand in the doorway of the Traitor’s Head back room, your new crew gaze up at you silently with mingled curiosity and suspicion.

From the corner of the room, Eva Kobb rests her tattooed forearms upon the windowframe and slugs her pint of ale back.

Professor Marius Strangford, perched fussily upon his stool, sips at his glass of milk and makes a face.

The disgraced doctor Timothy Kincain is making patterns across the bar with his finger and a thin trail of spilled red wine.

The former nun known as Tongues, who is apparently holding a muttered conversation with someone just out of sight over her shoulder, is not drinking at all. She simply watches you, clad in her black veil and dress, and waits.

“I’m setting up a new enterprise,” you tell them. “And I’m looking for some founding partners to help me build it. It’s an opportunity to make a substantial amount of coin, get a few thrills...and maybe do a little good as well.”

“Explain the last part, perhaps,” Eva Kobb says. “I was with you up until then.”

“Thirty years ago,” you tell them, stepping forward, “this city was stolen by the dead. We’re going to help the living steal it back.”

Kobb snorts.
“I thought this was going to be a work contract,” she tells you. “And instead you’re telling us it’s what - a revolutionary meeting? What are you, some sort of damned romantic?”

“Something like that,” you reply. “But please - let me introduce myself. My name is…”

You say it out loud.

And for the first time, you sense that you have their undivided attention.

Tongues begins to mutter frantically under her breath, clutching at her ears as the whispers gather around her.

“...what do you mean, you know that name? What are you all babbling about?”

The old Professor raises his eyebrows and stares into his milk. You get the impression that he, at least, already knew exactly who you were.

“I’ve heard about you, you know,” Kincain murmurs faintly, rubbing his goatee. “You were, ahm, rather a big player down south in Duskwall, isn’t that right? You can move anything under the noses of the law - that’s what I’ve heard, at least. Goods, outlaws...unfairly prohibited medical technology,” he adds, with a note of hope.

“With the right crew,” you reply, calmly, “I can accomplish pretty much anything. That’s why I’m looking for people with skills, ambitions, and an appetite for danger...as well as the ability to follow my plan to the letter.”

“Oh, good,” Kobb says, not quite under her breath. “There’s a plan, is there?”

You don’t lose your temper.

Instead, you unfurl the map across the table, and you begin to explain it to them.

You’ve already found, and purchased, a suitable property to serve as your base of smuggling operations.

It’s an abandoned manse on Stranglethorn Square, its back facing the water, with extensive cellar networks and a concealed private jetty that should allow you to move cargo in and out without being disturbed. And crucially, it comes cheaply enough that you can actually afford to refurbish it in order to begin attracting visitors.

All in all, it’s perfect for your purposes.

“So what’s the catch?” Tongues asks, her eyes alight. It’s as if someone’s whispered the question into her ear.

You tell her.

On the far side of the square stands the Serpentine Hotel - a riotous dive and betting joint, favoured by penniless newcomers to the city and run by the local mobster known as Wilheminius Tase.

Tase and his thugs have driven off a variety of local competitors over the years, refusing to let any rivals move in on their territory. Their usual tactic is to strike quickly before any other hotelier has a chance to settle into the community, setting fires, causing havoc, or simply slitting the throats of the would-be proprietors.

“As soon as they get wind of what’s planned,” Kincain mutters, examining the map, “they’ll be coming after us. We can’t afford to give them any advance warning. We’ll need to get the sign up, claim the property, start moving in the beds and furniture, all as quickly as we can...and keep our guns levelled across the square.”

The Professor leans back, studying the ceiling thoughtfully over his spectacles.

“Whether this ends with bloodshed or we can negotiate our way out,” he says, “the crucial thing is that we make these petty thugs understand that we’re here to stay, and they’re better off learning to live with us than being our enemy. Asserting ourselves will be valuable - it’ll demonstrate to others that we’re a new power in this neighbourhood.”

“Or we could just go ahead and kill them,” Eva Kobb says, finishing her pint.


Score I: Opening The Tenemos



It’s decision-time!

Upon your signal, your hired workers will arrive at your new property and begin bringing in furniture, and setting up the freshly-painted sign that reads ‘Tenemos Hotel’.

Across the square, Tase’s thugs will soon notice the occupation...and before long, they’ll head across the square to pay you a visit and try and drive you off.

To begin the score, I’ll make an Engagement roll using two d6 dice to establish the overall situation when the score kicks off.

So long as the Engagement roll isn’t unfavourable, you’ll have three turns on the timer before Tase’s men reach your hotel and begin their attack, and a further three turns before they successfully set your property alight. Failed or partially failed rolls may result in wasted time - successful actions may buy you more of it.

You have four available crew members: Kobb, Strangford, Tongues, Kincain. (Or if you’re struggling to keep track of the names: Cutter, Spider, Leech, Whisper.)

Vote for their starting positions from the list below (e.g. Kobb A1, Strangford F, Tongues G...)

You can, if you wish, assign two (but no more) crew members to the same position - they’ll be able to assist each other with any skill rolls, but you’ll be covering fewer bases and risk more people’s safety on a failure.

As ever, with any ties I’ll randomise to declare the winner.


You should send at least one crew member to try and handle your rivals at the Serpentine Hotel for good (you may benefit from having more than one option here).

quote:

A) This crew member will enter the Serpentine and try to negotiate an audience with Wilheminius Tase himself, to resolve things peacefully.
A1) Optional Devil’s Bargain: You send the crew member in completely unarmed. The gesture should make it easier for them to persuade their way past Tase’s guards - but the crew member will automatically gain stress, and be left defenceless if things go horribly wrong.

B) This crew member will be sent to sneak around back and attempt to start a fire in the Serpentine Hotel - whether it burns your rival hotel to the ground or only distracts them for the night, it’ll help your cause.
B1) Optional Devil’s Bargain: You send the crew member with a couple of heavy jars of flammable pitch. They’ll automatically gain stress from doing so. The fire will light more easily and do more damage, but they may find it harder to get out in one piece.

C) Devil’s Bargain: This crew member will be sent to summon the Midtown constables. So long as you can hold off Tase’s thugs for long enough, this option should guarantee to a certainty that the authorities arrive to break up any fight and ensure your hotel isn’t burnt to the ground. But you will gain attention from the authorities, and they’re likely to deliver a punishing beating to anyone on either side who they can catch…

Meanwhile, you may want to assign crew members to delay or defend against the inevitable attack...

quote:

D) This crew member will be stationed on the hotel rooftop, to keep a lookout for Tase’s gang as they advance down the street.

E) This crew member will go out into the street, loudly promoting the new hotel to passers-by and persuading them to visit. If you’re able to fill the lobby with civilians, the thugs may hesitate from attacking right away. (Or at the very least you’ll gain some human shields.)

F) This crew member will be armed and barricaded in your hotel, ready to defend it if necessary.

G) Devil’s Bargain: This crew member will be sent in advance to try and infiltrate Tase’s gang. They’ll automatically gain stress from doing so. If they succeed, they’ll be positioned usefully during the attack, and you’ll have advance information about the gang, gaining an extra die on the starting Engagement Roll. If they fail, they’ll likely be out of commission for the score, and likely rack up a nasty injury.

G1) Optional: Ask the crew member to stick close by Tase personally. They’ll gain extra stress from the effort of negotiating their way into position.

H) Devil’s Bargain: This crew member will be sent out into the street to try and distract or delay Tase’s gang as they advance. They’ll automatically gain stress for doing so. No matter what happens - whether they successfully stall for time, fight to a standstill, or get beaten to a pulp - you’re guaranteed to gain some valuable time.

If you have any alternative ideas that aren’t covered here, feel free to suggest them (J, K, etc) - also feel free to add a bit of description if you’d prefer the crew member to select a predefined choice but behave a certain way. Thanks for reading!

grobbo fucked around with this message at 06:19 on Jul 14, 2020

WhiskeyWhiskers
Oct 14, 2013

CHOO! CHOO!
TANKIE COMIN THRU!




B1) Snapper, Tongues

J) Hap-Hazard, Pettifog - cover likely avenues of escape from Serpentine Hotel with binding oil

WhiskeyWhiskers fucked around with this message at 06:51 on Jul 14, 2020

grobbo
May 29, 2014


WhiskeyWhiskers posted:


J) Hap-Hazard, Pettifog - cover likely avenues of escape from Serpentine Hotel with binding oil

This is totally viable! From the BitD rulebook:

quote:

Binding Oil: Permanently fuses two surfaces until dissolved by alcahest or electroplasm

In-game knowledge for this course of action:

- Some of Tase's thugs will be hanging out at or near the open front of his hotel, keeping watch over the square. In other words, you already know that you won't trap everyone, although of course you'll hopefully cut the head off the snake.
- There will be civilians in the Serpentine hotel, some of them drunk or sleeping. So collateral damage is be a consequence you'll be accepting.

grobbo fucked around with this message at 10:53 on Jul 14, 2020

Jossar
Apr 2, 2018

Current status: Angry about subs


WhiskeyWhiskers posted:

B1) Snapper, Tongues

J) Hap-Hazard, Pettifog - cover likely avenues of escape from Serpentine Hotel with binding oil

I like this: Gotta give a show of force to the local thugs before we start on magnanimity.

grobbo
May 29, 2014


Engagement roll: 3 + 5. Mixed result.


You stand at the balcony of your new hotel and watch as four shapes dart forward across the darkened square below. As they approach the statue of Jeros the Proclaimer, they split into two groups, scattering left and right.

Beneath you, your workers are gathering to lift the TENEMOS HOTEL sign into place.

Their efforts have not escaped notice. Several citizens have gathered curiously around the entrance, excitedly asking questions.

On the far side of the square, you can see the golden windows of the Serpentine Hotel are alight; a small crowd of drinkers stand at the bar, laughing and singing along to an accordion song.

Out on the stoop, a small group of silhouetted men have already gathered, apparently huddled in consultation before turning to stare out across the square towards you.

After a moment, one of the silhouettes detaches itself from the group, heading upstairs into the Serpentine, presumably to report in to Wilheminius Tase.

You’ve sent your entire crew out to sabotage your rivals, leaving you defenceless.

You do hope that wasn’t a mistake.


Turn 1

Prowl: This is a group action. Tongues and Kobb both roll. The best-performing result is used, but the successful crew member takes stress for every other crew member who rolls 1-3.

Tongues (1 dice): 6

Kobb (0 dice - rolls twice and takes worst score): 1

Success! Tongues takes 1 stress.


Eva Kobb swears as she lugs the heavy jars of pitch across the square. A little spills across her wrists.

“Of all the crazy ideas…” she mutters underneath her breath.

“Wait,” Tongues says with quiet urgency, up ahead. “Stay where you are. There’s two of them patrolling the square up ahead.”

She waits for a moment, listening intently. “Moved on, the spirits say. Thank you, Giselle.”

The pair of them proceed through the darkness, unseen.

The alleyway at the back of the Serpentine Hotel is entirely deserted.

A single, thick-looking iron door leads through to the hotel interior itself. A quick rattle of the handle reveals it to be locked.

Survey action:

Tongues (2 dice): 4 + 6. Success!


Kobb, sweating with exertion, carefully lowers the pitch jars with a gentle clunk onto the cobblestones.

“What?” she says. “What are you looking at?”

She follows Tongues’ gaze upwards - to a window on the first floor above them, very slightly ajar. It’s dark inside, and quiet.

“The spirits don’t much rate my chances of picking that lock,” Tongues says, gently. “Best if one of us climbs up to get that door open from the other side, I think.”

Kobb twitches her coat to one side and produces her heavy sledgehammer, slung around her back.

“I have another solution,” she says. “Noisier but quicker. You don’t know what you’re going to find in there.”

“People will come running,” Tongues replies, shaking her head. “I’d rather waste time on the lock than start a fight in the alleyway.”

Decision-time:

quote:


A) Try to wreck the door down with Kobb.
B) Send Tongues to climb up to the window, with an assist from Kobb.
C) Send Kobb to climb up to the window, with an assist from Tongues.
D) Try and pick the lock.
E) Flashback: nominate a crew member who you sent on ahead to try and finesse a key from Tase's gang earlier in the day.


Prowl: This is a group action. Kincain and Strangford both roll. The best-performing result succeeds, but the successful crew member takes stress for every other crew member who rolls 1-3.

Kincain (0 dice - rolls twice and takes worst score): 4 + 3

Strangford (0 dice - rolls twice and takes worst score): 2 + 6

Failure!


“Hurry up, you old fool,” Kincain hisses, turning back across the shadows of the street. “Quickly, or they’ll see us.”

The doctor is, understandably, nervous - his bandolier is clinking faintly with vials of black binding oil.

Behind him, Strangford wheezes faintly, his pace slowing.

“I thought...I was being hired...for my mental acuity,” he mumbles. “Not as...dumb muscle...I’m not sure if that’s something...your ilk is accustomed to…”

Kincain opens his mouth to retort - and then collides, solidly, with somebody else. The vials of binding oil jangle in a sudden cacophony.

He looks up.

A pair of dull-looking, well-muscled men are standing in front of them in the street. Their faces bear the same distinctive tattoos across the cheeks.

Both of them have pistols, and knives, dangling openly from their belts.

Two of Tase’s gangsters - out on patrol, no doubt.

“What’s all this?” one of the men says. “What do we have here?”

Kincain gulps and licks his lips.

Behind him, Strangford takes a step backwards into the darkness. His hand snakes to his own pockets. One hand on his dagger, another on the small handkerchief soaked with slumber essence. His eyes shift back and forward as he quickly calculates.

Decision-time:

quote:


F) Attempt to sway the gangsters with Kincain to let you go on your way.
G) Attempt to exert your command over the gangsters with Strangford to let you go on your way.
H) Distract the gangsters with Kincain, then attempt to take them down violently but quietly.
I) Let hell break loose! Use a vial of binding oil, and attack.
J) Flashback: Nominate either Strangford or Kincain to have consorted with Tase's gang earlier in the day, in an effort to gain their trust.

WhiskeyWhiskers
Oct 14, 2013

CHOO! CHOO!
TANKIE COMIN THRU!




B)
F)


Would either Tongues or Kobb have some climbing gear they could use to make the climb easier or to help Kobb up after Tongues?

WhiskeyWhiskers fucked around with this message at 08:27 on Jul 15, 2020

grobbo
May 29, 2014


Yeah, I'd take it as read that they can use some climbing gear as an item here. Let me make item use clearer in the rules, in fact...

If Kobb and Tongues want to go up together, they'll have to either...

1) leave the heavy jars of pitch behind in the alleyway and then circle back down through the hotel to collect them. Not a huge problem, but there'll be a risk of someone wandering into the alley and stumbling onto them unattended in the meantime.
2) Try and haul the jars up to the window one at a time using the climbing gear. This will require finesse to accomplish quickly, and it comes with the risk of one of the jars dropping and causing noise, but if successful it'll mean they're immediately ready to start preparing the fire from the first floor.

WhiskeyWhiskers
Oct 14, 2013

CHOO! CHOO!
TANKIE COMIN THRU!




Personally, I'd go with B1) then.

Jossar
Apr 2, 2018

Current status: Angry about subs


B1, G

Freudian slippers
Jun 23, 2009
US Goon shocked and appalled to find that world is a dirty, unjust place



Just chiming in to say that this looks really good and your writing is great. I haven't got time to properly vote for now, but will be following this crew with interest!

grobbo
May 29, 2014


Thank you, glad you're enjoying it!

grobbo
May 29, 2014


Turn 2.

You stare unhappily at the distant group of thugs that's gathering in front of the Serpentine Hotel.

More of Tase’s men have been sent out of the hotel to bolster their numbers. Several of them are clutching rifles.

One burly shape, apparently a lieutenant or minor leader, is pointing violently in your direction. His voice carries faintly, but you can't make out the words.

He has some kind of heavy rucksack slung over his back, and he’s carrying some kind of weapon, thicker than a rifle. A blunderbuss, perhaps, you think.

As you watch, the lieutenant beckons to his men - and steps off the porch, advancing towards you across the distance of the square.

They’re coming for you now. No turning back.

“Come on,” you whisper, your fingers dancing on the balcony rail. “Come on, you fools, work faster…”

***



Random roll between Sway/Command options - Sway wins!

Sway roll: Kincain (2d) + assist from Strangford.

Result: 5, 4, 5.

Partial success. Kincain gains 1 stress from his persuasive efforts. Strangford gains 1 stress from the assist.



“What do we have here?” Kincain repeats. He gulps, very slightly, then rallies. “Why, ahm, Doctor Samadeus Sour, a humble apothecary and tincturist, marketing his wares out in this square. I don’t suppose either of you fine gentlemen are in the market, are you? Maladies, discontents, strange ennui...any challenge a citizen of Cairn could face, I’m here to erase. That’s my motto.”

The two thugs stare at him.

He plunges onwards.

“Why, my - somewhat elderly and untalkative - assistant here, Girobello, was as bald as a canal eel until he came to me. One dose of my miraculous Follical Philtre, and look at him now, with that shock of fine white hair! Tell them, Girobello.”

Strangford’s eyes widen. He glances uncomfortably in either direction before nodding fervently.

“Miracle cure,” he mumbles. “‘S right.”

Kincain glances back across to the centre of the square.

He can see the crowd of gangsters, advancing out from the Serpentine Hotel.

“Anyway,” he says, his tone becoming more rapid, “we’re off to visit a widow in the Hoggeries to help with her, ahm, vertigo, so if you’ll excuse us-”

“Hold on, hold on,” one of the thugs says. “Not so fast, doc. I might have a coin in it for you if you can help me. Do you have anything in them bottles that can help with an itch, um, down there?”

He gestures to his trousers with a meaningfully pained expression.

Kincain looks blankly at him.

“Of course,” he says, after a moment. “Of course. Happy to help. This, ahm, salve, should do just the trick."

He unclips one of the binding oil vials from his bandolier and hands it across, then accepts the proffered coin.

“But only apply it after meals,” he says hurriedly. “I’d wait until you've rested and had breakfast to use it now, in fact. That’s my expert medical advice.”

The thug gazes at him for a moment, then nods and pockets the vial. The pair of them stride away across the square, continuing their patrol.

Their voices faintly carry on the wind.

“See that? Looks like Lobber and the boys have been sent to rough someone up. Think they need us?”

“Don’t be daft. If they needed us, they’d have called on us. Besides, it looked as if they had Big Ernest with them…”


Kincain stares after them.

“If we survive tonight,” he murmurs unhappily, “please remind me that I may have a murderous brute with his hand fused to his crotch-hair coming after me seeking satisfaction.”

With a snort of annoyance, Strangford strides forward, perhaps-accidentally knocking into Kincain as he shoves past him.

“Come on,” he says. “Let’s not waste any more time with these tedious antics...Doctor Sour.”

***

The windows of the Serpentine Hotel are alight with a rich golden glow. Inside, travellers and card-players are laughing and drinking, their voices carrying out through the open entrance.

Nobody seems keen to leave - for the time being, at least - and the porch appears unguarded.

Kincain unhooks the remaining vials, hands one to Strangford, and uncorks another.

Gingerly, keeping his gloves on and his head bowed, he pours a thick stream of black unguent out across the windowsill.

Strangford nods, and creeps across to the second bar window, doing the same.

“We’ll do the doorway last,” he mouths. “Wait for the signal. Hopefully the others have had more luck than us…”

***


Finesse roll: Group action - 1 dice apiece for the climbing gear

Kobb rolls 6

Tongues rolls 3.

Success! 1 stress for Kobb.



Tongues’ gloves find the windowsill. They hold desperately on, trying to find some kind of purchase. Her free hand clutches at the climbing rope.

She swings her leg up, trying to grip on with the spiked metal crampons - and misses. Her fingers strain at the rotten wood. It breaks.

The rope slackens. She catches a glimpse of herself plummeting downwards, her back breaking against the hard cobblestones below.

“No!”

She drops for a millisecond - and then is caught.

“Easy,” Eva Kobb says, with a grin. “Don’t worry, girl. I’m not about to let you go.”

Leaning out, she tightens her grip on Tongues’ shoulders, hauling her gently but firmly up through the window and into the first-floor room.

“Thank you,” Tongues whispers, faintly. Her heart is still thumping.

The other woman smirks.

“Don’t suppose your pretty ghosts could’ve helped you with that one,” she replies.

***


Fortune roll: Is there any threat in or near the room?

6. Success!



“Empty,” Kobb says curiously, glancing around the darkened room. “Looks like a study. This where Tase works?”

She nudges a pair of knuckle-dusters that rest upon the desk, making them rock. The studs are potched with fresh blood.

“And plays, by the looks of things,” she murmurs. “Best we don’t linger up here. Come on - let’s circle back down to the storerooms and we can set the fire.”

She strides to the door and, very carefully, pushes it ajar.

The coast is clear out on the landing. An empty corridor, and a staircase leading downwards.

“Wait,” Tongues says. She points upwards.

Through the boards of the study ceiling, it’s just possible to make out two muffled voices.

One is a low, growling, authoritative voice.

Wilheminius Tase.

“Put the code in, woman. 1 - 3 - 3 - 1.”

“I’m trying,” the second voice says. “Boss, I promise I’m trying, but - ah, that does it.”

“All right, here. And lock it back up.”

A low clunk and the sound of a combination lock turning.

“Good,” Tase says. “Now rouse yourself - let’s head to the roof. We don’t want to miss the fireworks when Big Ernest goes off. Boys have been looking for an excuse to try it out.”

“What kind of a fool,” the second voice says, “would try and compete with you on your own territory? That’s what I don’t understand.”

A chuckle.

“My dear, you could waste your life debating the motives of the clumsy, the cocky, and the dead…”

The sound of receding footsteps. A door distantly slamming.

Eva Kobb frowns.

“What d’you suppose Big Ernest is?” she asks. “Did I hear that right?”

Tongues shakes her head.

“Not a clue,” she says. “But it sounds like we might have a window of opportunity...if we have enough time. Before this place burns to the ground, wouldn’t you like to know what’s in Wilheminius Tase’s safe?”


Decision time!

quote:

A) Send both Kobb and Tongues upstairs to investigate Tase’s safe.
B) Send Kobb to prepare the fire and Tongues upstairs to raid the safe. (When the fighting starts at the Tenemos Hotel, Kobb will light the match.)
C) Send Tongues to prepare the fire and Kobb upstairs to raid the safe. (When the fighting starts at the Tenemos Hotel, Tongues will light the match.)
D) We don’t have time for this! Send Kobb and Tongues downstairs to prepare the fire.

grobbo fucked around with this message at 13:32 on Jul 16, 2020

WhiskeyWhiskers
Oct 14, 2013

CHOO! CHOO!
TANKIE COMIN THRU!




B)

Freudian slippers
Jun 23, 2009
US Goon shocked and appalled to find that world is a dirty, unjust place



B)

Also, at first opportunity, we flashback to having one of the crew sabotaging the blunderbuss (or should I say Big Ernest?)

grobbo
May 29, 2014


Freudian slippers posted:


Also, at first opportunity, we flashback to having one of the crew sabotaging the blunderbuss (or should I say Big Ernest?)

OK, I like this!

But since we've already established that the Boss, Tongues, and Kobb don't know what Big Ernest is, I might rule that it needs to be Professor Strangford who made the sabotage attempt - as our Spider, it makes sense that he's the only one who's calculated and manipulative enough to make his own private preparations behind the Boss's back.

Freudian slippers
Jun 23, 2009
US Goon shocked and appalled to find that world is a dirty, unjust place



That makes perfect sense

Jossar
Apr 2, 2018

Current status: Angry about subs


B

Iron Chef Ramen
Sep 14, 2007

Only the very best.


B

WhiskeyWhiskers
Oct 14, 2013

CHOO! CHOO!
TANKIE COMIN THRU!




I'll also throw in a vote for the sabotage flashback, if that's necessary.

grobbo
May 29, 2014


The workers scatter.

You hear the voice of the thugs’ leader drifting up from below.

“Go on, get out of here! drat interlopers.”

Gingerly, you peek through the curtains.

The thugs are gathered in front of the Tenemos Hotel beneath you, their rifles raised. Several of them are holding torches.

Their lieutenant, a short and stocky man with a long red beard, steps forward.

“All right now,” he calls. “My name is Lobber Stane, and I work for Mister Wilheminius Tase. We’d like to talk to you about this operation you’re trying to set up here.”

You can’t help but pay attention to what’s strapped to his back. It isn’t a rucksack at all, you realise, but a ramshackle-looking metal cylinder, armour-plated and with stray copper wires dangling here and there.

A length of tubing leads around to the heavy-looking, pipe-like weapon which is resting in Lobber’s hands.

Not a blunderbuss, then.

“Mister Tase does not appreciate you trying to creep up on his business,” Lobber yells. “He finds it insulting. But that doesn’t mean we can’t discuss this amicably. Come on out and we’ll have a conversation. You don't need to be afeared of us.”

He nods to his men.

Two of them hurry forward, placing down a set of metal struts to form a crude tripod.

The pipe-like weapon is placed down into it, its barrel pointing upwards towards your hotel windows.

“I’m going to count to three,” Lobber shouts. “One…”

You turn, and make for the door.

“Two…”


***

quote:

Flashback: Two Days Ago

“I ain’t got much use out of Big Ernest since the chief bought him,” Lobber says as he and his companions descend the steps into the cellar. “Just for burning up rats, mostly. He’s got two settings, y’see, and I can’t claim to understand the sparkcraft, but-”

He stops and glowers at the hunched figure in the soiled apron, clearly one of the Serpentine Hotel’s cooking staff, who is kneeling amongst the crates of the cellar.

“Hey!” he yells. “What you doing, slacking off? Get back up there, old-timer.”

“Just checking stock,” the cook says, his head bowed. “Sorry, sir, sorry.”

“Go on, get back to work,” Lobber snaps, aiming a kick at the old man, who scrambles to his feet and hurries away. “And if I catch you lurking down here again I’ll dock your pay."

“Now,” he adds, ushering his companions over to the crafting table, “let’s take a look at him. I’ll even let you hold him if you like, but don’t press the trigger or we’ll all go up.”

Professor Marius Strangford winces, jogging lightly back up the stairs, and clutches at his bloodied, bulging fingers.

He’d pulled his hand out of the fuel jar so fast that the door mechanism closed on them.

drat fools came upon me so quickly, he thinks, annoyed at himself. I didn't even have a chance to make sure I finished the job.

I hope to hell that worked.



Tinker roll: 1 dice.

5! Partial success. The gun is sabotaged.

Strangford suffers a lesser harm and an automatic 2 stress for the flashback.


***

The binding oil slickens across the windows.

The work is almost complete, a maze of glistening black snail-trails across the front of the unguarded hotel.

Kincain glances back at Strangford.

The old man is grimacing as he corks the last of the vials and deposits it back into his pocket.

A little fresh blood is trickling down his wrist.

“Hey,” Kincain whispers, urgently. “What’s happened? You’re injured?”

Strangford glances down at the thin trail of blood. He tuts and wipes it away with his free hand.

“It’s nothing,” he says tersely. “Just some contingency measures I was taking the other night. Didn’t wrap the bandages well enough and now it’s coming back to haunt me. Come on, let’s finish the work, before-”

That’s when it goes off.

Far behind them, the sudden, devastating boom of a mortar, making the glass of the windows rattle and quiver.

Strangford doesn’t turn back.

“Now!” he snaps.

Kincain doesn’t hesitate.

He dashes out across the Serpentine Hotel entrance, yanking the double doors closed. The contents of the final vial ooze out across the lock.

Inside, people are looking up from their drinks. Turning to the windows.

They’re startled, but they’re not panicking. Yet.


***

Wreck: 2 dice for Kobb, 1 for pitch.

4, 3, 2. Partial success. Added stress for Kobb.


Kobb uncorks the second jar of pitch and lets it slop in a long trail across the storeroom walls and floor, making sure to coat the barrels of cooking grease and the kegs of spirit.

Once the match is struck, this stuff will go up fast.

She glances to the back door, left unlocked behind her on the other side of the storeroom, leading into the alleyway.

It’s a straight run from here to there. But any ensuing explosion will send shrapnel flying out in every direction.

She’ll need to be quick.

“drat it!”

A little of the pitch has spilled onto her sleeve.

“I’ll need to be damned quick,” she mutters. “I’m not losing this coat. Come on, Tongues, hurry…”

Then she hears the boom of the mortar.

Voices through the kitchen, raised in shock.

Kobb tosses the jar to one side and reaches for the matches.

She can hear approaching footsteps.

“Hell, hell, hell,” she hisses. “Come on, Tongues, come on…”

Before her, the storeroom doorknob turns.

She strikes the match.



***


1-3-3-1.

The safe swings open.

Tongues rifles through the contents, tossing receipts and business papers to one side.

The voices of the dead ebb and flow in her ears.

Have to be careful. If he catches you in here he’ll gut you up and down, just like he gutted those other girls…

Isn’t this exciting isn’t this fine just like the old days, me and my old crew…


There’s some small coin in there. A rough-hewn gemstone, which could certainly be worth pawning. A pair of pistols.

And an envelope, sealed with an expensive-looking red sigil which she doesn’t immediately recognise.

She pockets it, along with the coin and the gemstone.


Rewards (assuming Tongues gets out alive)
Extra coin at the end of the score.
One extra, risky and high-quality score added to available jobs.


That’s when she hears the boom of the mortar. The gasp and babble of the hotel guests, two floors below, and the shriek of chairs as they get to their feet.

On the first floor, she can hear cruel laughter as Tase’s thugs step out into the corridors, making for the windows.

“Sounds like Big Ernest’s gone off…”

Too late, a single, sly voice hisses in her ear. You’re too late.

I need to get out of here, she thinks. And quickly.

The dead voices rise around her in sudden, panicked cacophony.

Back to the first floor, my love. The climbing gear’s still there, it’s not such a drop…

Too dangerous. That’s right above the storeroom, that place is going to be in flames. Get out of the window now. I’ll help you get down safely, I promise…

There’s an overhang on the roof to the west,
one voice calmly whispers. That’s how you survive this thing. Get up as high as you can. It’s the shortest distance to jump, from one rooftop onto another, and that way you won’t be trapped in the stampede. Don’t be a fool.

The sly voice says,
You were a fool to come this far, and now it’s too late. Jump from the window, don’t look back. It’ll only hurt for a moment. Come join us on the other side of things.

Tongues turns back and forth, clutching at her head.

“Shut up,” she whispers. “Just shut up and let me think for one second, just for one second…”


Decision time! (And perhaps the final decision of the score, depending on how things go)

What should Kincain and Strangford do next?

quote:

A) They should remain where they are, to try and catch and eliminate anyone who escapes from the fire of the Serpentine Hotel.
B) They should go around the back of the hotel, with the aim of helping Kobb and Tongues.
C) They should head back across the square to help the Boss.


How should Tongues try and escape from the Serpentine Hotel?

quote:

D) She should try and climb down from the second floor bedroom where she is - a dangerous drop if she falls.
E) She should try and return downstairs to the first floor - it’s an easier climb and a less dangerous drop, but she’ll have to navigate past Tase’s thugs and the havoc of the fire itself.
F) She should head for the rooftop, to try and jump across onto the adjoining building. A very long way to fall, but the easiest jump to make
G) She should head for the ground floor and try to mingle with the other hotel guests as they attempt to escape.

grobbo fucked around with this message at 07:45 on Jul 17, 2020

Freudian slippers
Jun 23, 2009
US Goon shocked and appalled to find that world is a dirty, unjust place



B
F

WhiskeyWhiskers
Oct 14, 2013

CHOO! CHOO!
TANKIE COMIN THRU!




C
F

Jossar
Apr 2, 2018

Current status: Angry about subs


C, F

WhiskeyWhiskers
Oct 14, 2013

CHOO! CHOO!
TANKIE COMIN THRU!




You know the best thing about this score is that, 'the guy who blew himself up with a flamethrower,' is definitely going to look, to the police, like the prime suspect for who burnt down the Serpentine hotel.

grobbo
May 29, 2014


Turn 4

You swing the balcony doors open, still confused as to exactly how you remain unexploded. The windows are unshattered. And yet you heard the mortar roar - and then the sounds of screaming men.

As you step out onto the balcony, you have your answer.

The cobblestones before your hotel are a massacre-site of copper-wiring, blood, and flaming puddles of electroplasm, and the occasional chunk of flesh.

The remains of Old Ernest, and Lobber who carried it, and at least some of the mob of thugs.

The others, understandably, appear to have fled into the darkness.

But another crowd is beginning to gather - civilians, from all around the square, are stumbling out, drawn towards the source of the noise.

They gaze down at the mangled bodies, and then up at the newly-painted sign - ‘Tenemos Hotel’. Some of them are whispering in hushed voices, or shaking their heads in shock at the grisly display.

Then-

“What a terrible happenstance,” someone yells, from within the depths of the crowd. “On the face of it, these men were out to cause trouble starting fires in this neighbourhood. But their own mischief backfired.”

Kincain pushes his way forward through the crowd, Professor Strangford at his heels.

“I recognise these anarchists,” he shouts. “Sorry as I am to see them dead, I’m glad they came to a bad end before they could begin on any more of our homes. All of us should count ourselves lucky for this dreadful accident.”

Sway roll - 2 dice.

1 + 6. Success!


“They looked like Tase’s boys,” someone yells back, uncertainly, from the mass of people.

“That’s right,” Kincain snaps, stepping out into the empty cobblestones. “Drunk and bitter, plotting to cause trouble. And if I’m not mistaken, they turned their wrath on their old boss first - just look!”

He turns, and points back across the square.

A horrible golden light is beginning to flicker in the windows of the Serpentine Hotel.

Human silhouettes can already be seen, dancing desperately amongst the flames.

There are gasps and cries from amongst the crowd.

“Come on, then,” Kincain yells. “All hands to the buckets, get down to the harbour-edge and let’s start a chain! Come on, come on! We’re all a part of this community, aren’t we? Follow me, follow me!”

The crowd disperses. Some follow Kincain down to the harbour - he takes, you note, perhaps an unnecessarily circuitous route through the darkness - while others seem content to stroll forwards across the square and watch that the fire doesn’t spread to nearby buildings.

The Serpentine Hotel, you suspect, may not be missed by some in this neighbourhood.

Behind you, a door quietly creaks shut.

Strangford clears his throat, very gently, to announce his presence as he settles beside you on the balcony rail. His grey eyes are glinting.

You both stand there, in silence, watching the flames spread.

“It was a good plan,” he says eventually. “It just needed a small adjustment.”


***


Fortune roll - as you used the pitch, Kobb spilled some on herself, and she doesn’t have any Prowl skillpoints, I’m going to give her a single 1d to try and get out safely.

4 - mixed success.

OK, let’s call it success...but give her a bit of stress for her efforts.



Eva Kobb raises her head from the cobblestones.

She doesn’t remember lighting the match.

She doesn’t remember the desperate dash back through the storeroom for the back door, feeling the sudden heat of the flames and the violent force of the explosion, propelling her forwards.

Around her, wooden splinters stand at curious angles, jammed into the earth and clod.

Small puddles of grease flame and flicker merrily amongst the cobbles.

Her own coat jacket steams and hisses.

Somehow, miraculously, she appears to be unharmed.

Kobb rolls over, gazing up at the raging inferno of the Serpentine Hotel - and begins to laugh.

“Mad, this lot are,” she cackles, wiping the soot ineffectually from her face. “Bloody mad.”

***


The door to the rooftop slams open.

Tongues hurries up and out into the night.

She can smell the stench of smoke from below. The voices pleading for help are already very faint.

To the east, just a short run and a jump over the tiles, she can see the overhang.

If she makes the leap to the next building across, she’ll be free and clear.

You’re forgetting something important, a small and sly voice whispers in his ear. Don’t you know you’re forgetting something important?

“Oi!”

The sound carries across the stillness.

Wilheminius Tase strides forward across the rooftop terrace towards her.

His grey moustache is quivering with fury.

In one hand, he’s dragging a young woman, dressed in the faux-finery of the hotel’s entertainment staff.

In the other, he holds a pistol.

“What is this?” he snarls. “Who are you - come here to burn down my hotel? You in this together, Luce?”

“No,” Luce moans from beside him. “No, boss, I didn’t, please don't-”

He shoves her forwards, hard. She stumbles.

“Don’t - lie - to - me,” Tase snaps. His eyes are alight with hatred.

He raises his pistol.

Tongues licks her lips. She glances back and forth between the edge of the roof to the east, and the armed man, ready to fire.

For once, the ghosts are silent. Even they understand that a moment’s hesitation will cost everything.

Decision time!

This is a desperate situation - if Tongues survives, I’ll give her bonus XP for the score, even if she doesn’t ‘succeed’ at her rolls.

No matter what, Tase will have a chance to fire his pistol. The odds of hitting Tongues and causing moderate harm, and the odds of her escaping from the rooftop, depend heavily on what happens next.

quote:


A) Make a dash for the neighbouring roof - focus on getting away as quickly as you can. (This will be a single Prowl roll.)
B) Charge at Tase and try to take him down. (You’ll have to fight and roll a couple of times accordingly, but if successful you’ll be able to escape freely.)


You can always nominate one of Tongues’ items to try and give her more of a fighting chance.

You may also want to take advantage of one of the following Devil’s Bargains.

quote:

A1 or B1) Attempt to use Luce as a human shield before taking any action. Tase will waste his first shot - but Tongues will gain stress, and the lesser harm ‘Haunted’.
C) Attempt to Sway Luce to your cause. If successful, she’ll help you take down Tase, and may be an asset for your hotel in the longer-term - but you’ll waste valuable time talking, gain stress, and give Tase an easy shot.

Suggested by WhiskeyWhiskers:

quote:

Open a spiritual door to a distant memory of the hotel, using Tongues' ghost key...


D1) Catch a glimpse of Tase's murderous past and dark secrets, in order to talk him down from attacking.
D2) Try and unleash a storm of vengeful spirits to attack Tase directly.
D3): Attempt to briefly step into the hotel's distant past, using echoes of its construction to escape from the rooftop more easily.

grobbo fucked around with this message at 11:41 on Jul 18, 2020

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WhiskeyWhiskers
Oct 14, 2013

CHOO! CHOO!
TANKIE COMIN THRU!




Just to have it on the board as an option.

D) Open a door to a memory of the hotel using the ghost key

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