An anti-investigative Score run entirely through Flashbacks

My co-GM ran a score to frame someone in an investigation. He played it entirely by flashback, with the action coming from a dogged Inspector who just wouldn’t let things go. As the Inspector did things like toss the room of the Red Sashes implicated in the crime, we used Flashbacks to plant evidence, seed witnesses, and redirect suspicion. Same for when he went to interview witnesses. It worked wonderfully as a score structure by providing active high-level opposition to what we were trying to do and a much clearer way to feel consequences.

For more background, this all started with a Demonic Notice entanglement (doesn’t it always?). I was running that session and the entanglement arose during free play as a sonic demon that escapes when the characters are doing research on their Forgotten God (the Silent Song) in the Red Sash library. The crew can’t figure out what to do. They’re not the running type, nor are they the fighting demons type. While the crew’s dithering, Mylera sends a crew of Sashes to do the demon’s bidding, which in this case, involves disabling a temporary rookery set up by the Spirit Wardens in Crow’s Foot to deal with all the bodies from the gang war. The Wardens found the Red Sashes who planted the bomb, but Mylera wants our crew to throw suspicion on someone else.

So we started with three clocks, one to establish motive, one to plant physical evidence, and one to line up witnesses. We were racing against the Inspectors completing their investigation. That felt rather flat as we played it as there wasn’t clear opposition to most of what we were doing. It usually takes us two sessions of 3-ish hours to get through all of a score, down time, and free play. Between sessions, my co-GM (who’d been running this), figured out a much better way of doing it as described above. Then, rather than our opposition being the lantern-seller outside the Red Sash hideout, it was the higher-level Inspector who was going to be interviewing said lantern seller. Here are some highlights.

  • At one point, to get the physical evidence to plant, we flashed back to one of the crew saving a piece of a wooden marionette that had been animated by the Dimmer Sisters but was burnt by another crew member who didn’t want the pieces following us around.

  • At another point, our Leech tried to Study/Tinker a forgery rather than use Finesse; it worked, with the help of our elite adepts, but it took forever to do the handwriting analysis and set our timeline back significantly. It led to character growth for the Leech, who wound up taking a dot in Finesse for his next upgrade, with the understanding that not everything can be done purely by studying and analysis.

  • My favorite scene was when my Slide was trying to Sway the lantern seller to convince her she saw things she didn’t (dolls climbing walls, comings and goings into the Red Sash hideout), and I rolled a 1,1,3. Ouch. I was impersonating a Bluecoat at that point, so of course, the local Bluecoats turn the corner in force at that point and start asking me who I am and why I’m on their turf. So I went double or nothing and tried to sway the Bluecoats into believing I was a special agent, and that they must’ve noticed all the strange goings on. But now I had Desperate position. I succeeded, but with the complication that they were going to talk about the strange goings on to everyone and bring a bunch of Heat (3) down on our crew (we were on the verge of ticking over from Wanted Level 3 to 4).

  • Then there was the great part where our Lurk, a sleight of build Skovlander, dressed up in the funereal garb and lipstick favored by the Dimmer Sisters, hung out almost out view on a rooftop, and then Compelled a ghost to create some havoc and noticeably go into the Red Sash hideout. We’d gathered a gang of witnesses at that point, so at least some of them noticed the funny lady on the roof and the ghost.

In the end, we beat the Inspector’s clock, but were stressed nearly to the point of another Trauma. The final scene was the inspector filing his report despite having some doubts that everything was just too clean. After all, he had five more cases waiting on his desk.

P.S. Running Blades with two GMs has been great. We’re keeping a loose hand on the reins and letting facts about the world unfold during play. So I ran the part where the Entanglement came up, but this whole business was a consequence of that played out as another score run by our second GM.

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This is fantastic! Thanks for sharing it.

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Wow! This is a great idea!

Running a score entirely in flashbacks is a fantastic idea.

We did the same thing in our Cult gang with the Docker’s Union election - the framing device was a huge meeting of unionists in a warehouse, where the current Union Secretary tried to maintain her power. But each flashback established that the Cult had managed to bribe, undermine, or convince each of the union’s ward-leaders to throw her under the bus.

It worked extremely well - maintained strong tension through the score, as we cut to a flashback before each ward-leader announced their vote.

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If you like this kind of game you should have a look at Sean’s Broken Spire supplement. It starts with the final blow and all the other scores are flashbacks.

https://seannittner.com/blades-in-the-dark/

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As someone who made a whole game out of flashbacks, I whole heartedly approve. This is fantastic!

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