Thursday, 25 June 2015

Someone Call 999

With the lady-necromancer dead in the street and Bluecoats surely on their way to the scene of the crime, we were forced to make a quick exit. Fortunately, I was shooting from an out of view location, Marcus (The Whisper) had his spirit mask on and the Lurk was in disguise, so getting out of Dodge wasn't difficult.

Regrouping at our base, we decided that the next step in our plan to obliterate the Lampblacks was to set fire to their headquarters. We needed to act fast while the news of their ally being dead didn't reach them. A few hours later, we were all prepped up with combustible materials and plans as to where to place it all. We took Mercer with us because we knew all too well the Lampblacks clearly outnumbered us.

Our Lurk got into their base once so entering again and setting everything up for a fire was a simple matter of time. We waited out of sight until the whole building went ablaze. The Lurk opened a backdoor for us and we made our way towards their treasury while the Lampblacks were distracted by the surrounding inferno.

'Who goes there?' Some Lampblacks blocked our way. I gave them a very stern talking for leaving their stations and casually walking around while everything was in flames! Confused and bewildered at first, they quickly realised the error of their ways and politely asked for guidance. As such, I had to go with them, leaving the rest of the gang behind, and coordinate their efforts to put out the raging fire.

The group continued onwards to the treasury. Mercer stepped in through the treasury's door after our Lurk dealt with the lock, only to find several Lampblacks inside.

HOW? WHAT? WHY?

With little to no time for explanations, he tried to close the door as said Lampblacks charged the group.

Meanwhile, the Lampblacks' attempts to douse the fire weren't going so well. It may have had something to do with me sending them out to the most dangerous places and giving out reckless orders. After a while I tried to slip away but some of the Lampblacks decided they wanted to get paid for their job... thus a chase through the burning building began.

It concluded when I reached the corridor leading to the treasury and where the rest of our gang was. Noticing the slew of enemy gang members, Marcus shouted for me to duck. I slid on the floor as he released the spirit he wrenched control of from the lady-necromancer. It took care of most of the Lampblacks and we killed whoever remained.

We made our way back, with what little valuables we could find, only to have our way blocked once more by none other than Bazo Baz!

Although he proved a fierce opponent, he succumbed to our numbers and went down in flames... literally.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Never Trust an Old Lady

 
In my last update, I might have asserted that we won't be using updated rules in our game... it turned out to be a falsehood. This session started with us transferring dots onto our new sheets. Other than two skills being combined into one, skill distribution changes among the classes and me losing a concealed blade for ectoplasmic ammunition, there weren't many visible changes... but let us get back to the game!

After every successfully performed job, our merry band of sociopathic thieves likes to engage in our personal relaxing activities. For some they include culling the local prostitute population, for others it's visiting their succubus friend for the night... and out Lurk prefers to gamble his money away.

Sadly, he quickly found out that his regular gambling den banned him. As such, he started looking for a new one. In the process, he noticed an obvious member of the Lampblacks' gambling his money away in one of the city's fine establishments.

Surely enough, our gang was swiftly informed of this. Offended by the travesty of their further existence, we decided to eradicate them from the surface of the planet or, at the very least, from the city we're in.

Our plan was simplicity itself: walk in under the guise of gamblers, wait for our target to appear and follow him to the Lampblacks' current lair. Turns out they set up shop right next to their previous hideout... or whatever rubble remained thereof. We had to admit the idea was brilliant. Even the Bluecoats underestimated their sheer stupidity.

The following two days, we observed their operations while the Lurk snuck past their security and had a look around inside. It seemed they were trying to regain their foothold but morale was low. Other than locating their current treasury and having a look at their badly made propaganda posters, there wasn't much else to see.

Outside, however, we noticed an old lady in very expensive gard cordially walking inside. Our Lurk informed us that she had some private dealings with Bazo Bas but could not gather any more information on the subject.

Opting for a more direct approach to information gathering, we waited for a lone gang member going out to a gambling den again and spirited him away. It turned out that he knew me, claiming I killed him. I had to mention that didn't narrow down his identity so I chatted with him about his death's circumstances while the Whisper tried to gleam some information out of him. A moment later he informed us that this person was simply an empty husk being possessed by a spirit.

Putting a spirit into a body was no simple task and our new friend was highly reluctant to tell us who helping him into this body. A few threats and some supernatural compelling by our Whisper helped change his mind.

The old lady we saw earlier was Bazo Bas's cousin and a high-level necromancer for hire. Presumably, they had some sort of deal worked out between them where she was putting the spirits of deceased Lampblacks back into their bodies. After all this information was gained, the Whisper bottled up the ghost and we went on to planning an assassination.

We knew she would have leave the Lampblacks' base at some point and deal with some other contractual work but until that happened, we had to wait. Eventually, sometime close to dusk, she headed out to see her other clients. We followed in the shadows. The Whisper warned us that some sort of spirit was following us. It did try to fly off, probably to warn our quarry, but the Whisper forced it to stay put.

Her first client was someone living in a mansion. We knew we wouldn't have much time so we prepared a quick trap. As the old lady came out the mansion, through the gate and onto the street, our Lurk ran up to her in the guise of a random passer by. Being stationary, she was a much easier target for me so I shot her through the shoulder. She staggered back... and regained her balance. It was at that moment, when she completely ignored the pain of being shot, that we realised she too was a spirit possessing a dead body.

She reached for a vial hanging from her neck and shattered it on the pavement, releasing her guardian. Our Whisper mentally wrestled with the angry spirit, I kept shooting at it with ectoplasmic bullets and the Lurk beat and cut the lady-necromancer. When all was done, the Whiper, with great effort, captured the spirit and the Lurk delivered the final blow to our enemy's exposed neck.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Leader of the Pack



 
So what do you do with a pack of hungry kobolds ? This isn't a joke about light bulbs as far as I can tell but our boulder trap from last week has now resolved itself into kobold trap. To be fair we did see it coming, kobols are pack animals and aggressive and dextrous in force, their bravery being cumulative. This does however give them both the advantage of rally as well as the disadvantage of over dependence on following a particular individual or pack leader. We did sadly split up and tackled the kobold hoard from several sides which was a bad mistake really in retrospect as we should have gone for the command and control straight away and cut the head off the beast before it got out of control. As usual having sauntered along taking most of our encounters in our stride we are now starting to have our first near death experiences and we are turning to our small stock of magic coffee beans and whilst I find a mocha particularly invigorating in the morning its effects are somewhat underwhelming in survival situations.
 
So hopefully we have managed to converge on their captain in a not too late fashion and the next few dice rolls will be critical, or so I would hope.
 
It is far from clear though if there are any other strategies we could have adopted for pack warfare. Anything that would sow a seed of confusion from fire, smoke or noise I would imagine would have a more exaggerated effect as the individual would suddenly be aware of their own safety rather than simply following the mob. Initially we tried reasoning with them which was interesting as I am not sure if pressing the intellect of a kobold would ultimately confuse it or encourage it to quickly revert to stabbing things...perhaps a riddle or we were thinking of using shields with sort of Christmas cracker puzzles on them.
 
It has got me thinking as to the demarcation between a pack and a swarm and weather there is a significant difference in how both manifestations are approached. I think in a swarm as such there is in fact no pack leader, at lest not on the field. Or is a swarm just a very large pack? A distributed consciousness would indeed make for a formidable enemy and it may just be a a war of attrition to beat it down but then again without a leadership of some sort does a swarm exhibit any desires or intentions above simply instinct ? Either way a feeding instinct or global ambition, a swarm is at the very least going to sting a bit but resistance is not necessarily futile...
 

Thursday, 11 June 2015

A Plot-Twist Appears!

We return to our regular schedule after a two week break.
How did we survive two weeks without roleplaying is anyone's guess.

Apparently, Blades in the Dark went through some rule changes in our absence but I don't think we'll start using them just yet.

Our last job left us in possession of a significant amount of drugs and as such, our first order of business was to figure out what to do with them. Brainstorming away, we decided to not only add flour to it but to sell them as fishcakes! Of course, with hardly any cooking skills of our own, we had to turn to the recruitment of new staff in order to make use of the recent market demand caused by the previous supplier going down under... literally. We managed to find a nice old lady with an extensive CV which included such things as drug distribution and brothel management, and cooking! She was hired on the spot.

Second order of business was to set up a distribution centre. We had some problems coming up with good ideas until we realised that the nearby Church of the Forgotten Gods is in dire need of new management. It does help that the building was very nice. Our Slide went to work giving out free samples and making the local congregation realise the current management wasn't good enough for their worship and that under our management, things would change for the better! We would even introduce scantily clad waitresses to serve fishcakes during sermons!

With the congregation looking forward to the upcoming change of management, all that was left to do was to make the change. We attended an evening service and while the Slide took care of the congregation outside the church, Mercer took the main priest to the side and explained the situation to him. Sadly, he didn't agree with our views and as such, we had to turn to Plan B.

Oddly enough, a candle just happened to fall rather loudly to the ground, giving Mercer the appropriate opportunity to stab the priest in the gut... and that's when we realised he was, in fast, a demon... hiding his massive horns underneath a cloak.

In the ensuing fight we once again had an opportunity to make use of the flashback mechanic present in the system when GM Jack asked me if the bullet I shot at the demon was silver. Remembering that the Lurk had a spare downtime asset roll hanging about, I asked him if he might have procured one in the morning. Turns out that yes, he did, and he even lend it to me because he didn't own a gun himself and I was clearly interested in the ballistics of a different type of ammunition being used... but then the dice decided that no, silver doesn't actually work against demons!

Resorting to bladed weapons, it took us a while to hack the demon into pieces. It was a very stressful fight, stressful enough that I was the first to obtain a point of Trauma... a few more and my character will suffer a mental breakdown, bringing him out of the game, it seems.

On the upside, turns out demon pieces are worth a lot of coins so at the end of the evening, we managed to extend our crew's territory, created a source of income and earned a significant amount of coin and prestige.

Not many crews can boast murdering a demon...

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Preacher Heal Thyself

Last week brought and opportunity to join the Blades in the Dark conspiracy. Whilst I had heard much of the system second hand it was a delight to get hands on experience. By delight I mean the opportunity to cut throats, racketeer and generally fight murderously over turf. Interestingly enough the turf we had decided was ours this particular week was holy ground..
 
Now there is quite a lineage of issues in the horror vernacular when it comes to co-opting blessed or cursed real estate and the imagination does not fail here. Indian burial grounds come to mind immediately, old lunatic asylums often have quite the vibe, disused and long abandoned schools carry the haunting songs of unhappy children and faceless nurses endlessly shuffle the corridors of condemned hospital ruins.  Worst of them all though, the de sanctified church. If you want a good night out, go to a de sanctified church.
 
So, with a roll of the eyes, lo and behold, our last mission was to take over a church opposite our scrapyard to expand our grisly little empire. The system is well balanced in that you gain more Heat  the larger your organisation gets but of course more Coin potentially and prestige. Remarkably enough it was a fairly straightforward matter of undermining the resident priest and convincing his motley congregation that they needed a much higher quality worshipping experience that included fishcakes and wine.
 
 
Having made our play, one of us kept the congregation talking outside while the rest of us went inside for some quick de frocking. Oddly enough on this occasion the land itself kept out of it to my relief but of course the twist in the plot was always there. As we leapt upon what we thought of as a beleaguered preacher he didn't so much as turn out to be possessed but in fact a Demon in possession of human disguise. Several Stress points and Traumas later it had succumbed to a general battering but we had really underestimated the situation. Nevertheless we now have a church to soak for donations and a little more territory to squabble over.
 
What next then ? I'm thinking a nice tea shop to go with the church where we can funnel A class drugs through cutthroat old ladies.



Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Boulders gate



Its beauty is its simplicity and its real danger lies in its inevitably. I would suggest that if we were actually playing D&D I would roll to save vs clichés. Like moths drawn to a flame, the sort of flame that is very heavy and will turn you into A4 when it rolls over you, we are currently facing the classic boulder trap.
 
Its somewhat complicated by the fact that we have spent an entire day climbing a cliff via a thoroughly non health and safety compliant trail and deftly sidestepping oncoming issues does mean a plummet of 200 feet into a small pool. So what are our options? Well this particular theme park ride is in fact staffed by kobolds so we have decided to try and negotiate our way past the security guards and talk to the management directly. I cant even remember what pretext we used, partly as it was late but partly because I don't understand kobold but it is not going to go well.
 
To be fair the boulder has the same problem we do to a degree as the path we are on does in fact have a couple of bends in it and as far as I know, large rocks don't steer particularly well and this option does appeal to my action hero character but we are in parle now I believe albeit briefly. Problem is that the little buggers have the high ground so the best we can do is keep them talking whilst we climb off the path, out of the boulder zone and onto the top of the cliff. Unfortunately no one has yet had a chance to count them as they are not wearing numbered uniforms so the odds are still being calculated. Still I am unsure as to whether triggering the trap and fighting uphill where numbers abreast are limited is a better outcome than fighting at full force against an unknown number of little assailants with our backs to a sheer drop. Any advice is welcome here.
 
It is worth mentioning that there is a waterfall coming out of the cliff which could in theory break a fall onto the pool below - depending on how deep it is. I guess we might find out...