BitD The Emporium Crew (Smugglers)

My gaming group has started a Blades in the Dark game and we’ve run a handful of sessions so far. I thought I’d post up some of the actual play results in case it inspired others. (We love the Magpies podcast - Rhi/Josie/Kim/Minna are awesome)

The crew playbook that we decided upon is Smugglers, and the favoured cargo is Arcane. So we’re the guys who bring in the weird sh&t, whether that means bringing in ghosts, forbidden books, the strange and arcane. It’s a professional crew - we do things quietly, and we handle things that others don’t want to handle.

The name of the crew is The Emporium because we decided that the group would start with a rundown shop in Six Towers. This place sells bric-a-brac, antiquities and occasionally arcane junk. The business is doing poorly. The crew is pretty much broke, but the luck of this group of scoundrels is about to change…

Now, this game has two GMs - myself (Bruce) and Luke. We’re going to alternate. We also have three players but are planning to add a fourth. Hence it’s a small crew and the GM also runs a character effectively as a NPC when they GM.

The crew consists of:

  • Jake ‘Hal’ Hallow (Cutter) - an Akorosian ex-military man, experienced with ghost hunting
  • Veretta Penderyn (Whisper) - a wiry Tycherosian scholar with bird-like eyes, who wears long grey cloaks with far too many pockets
  • Leander (Slide) - an Akorosian rake, son of a disgraced jeweller

Now, you’ve probably spotted the name Penderyn. Yes, he’s related to Lord and Lady Penderyn, however in this BitD universe, he’s either adopted (unlikely) or that family is Tycherosian.

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Ok, so before I start with the first session’s writeup, a handful of notes.

Firstly, I’m used to playing Diceless games - Amber Diceless, Lords of Gossamer (been running that campaign for more than 7 years), and then a bit of FATE. Definitely prefer games which are rules-light and character focussed. This is why Blades in the Dark works for me. As for Luke (my co-GM), he’s GMed many games, most recently a Fiasco one-shot which is very close to Freeform. This group of players also prefers to play character interaction/development, smart role-playing, not hack and slash.

Secondly, a bunch of us played a one shot of Blades in the Dark (I GMed that) using the War in Crow’s Foot situation on p204-205 of the main rulebook. We ran a session with the group playing a Smuggling Crew, but this time we had a small ship - the Grey Goose. The PCs had great fun intercepting cargo before it had passed customs whilst a murderer was on the loose (an ex-Billhook), and a rival group of smugglers (the Vultures) were also in process of trying to steal from the same customs warehouse. The players had a lot of fun with this, which sold us on the Blades in the Dark system (thank you John Harper!)

Thirdly, I don’t normally listen to Podcasts. I don’t have time. But the Magpies is something else. I love it. I’m on the final episode of Season 3 and it’s great fun. The players and the GM are clearly having a wonderful time. But it’s given me a good understanding as to how this game system works and what can be done to make an entertaining campaign.

So when we sat down to figure out what sort of crew we wanted to be, we figured there were three interesting options. Smugglers clearly worked. Shadows (which the Magpies were to begin with) clearly worked. The other one that I was very tempted to try was a bunch of Cultists - ie: the only sane (?) people working for a Cult trying to bring about doom (or enlightenment). The idea of playing Call of Cthulhu from the Cultists point of view was very tempting (and I thought could be very humorous) - but alas, I was overruled so here we are doing Smugglers. So let’s get on to the first session’s writeup…

Session 1 - The Thunderchild Score - 2nd September 2020

PCs:

  • Jake Hallow (Cutter)
  • Veretta (Whisper)
  • Leander (Slide)

Synopsis:

The session began in the Cat’s Cradle where the Emporium crew were relaxing and sharing a drink. They met Nessa of the Greycoats who was in the market for military-grade weapons ‘for self-defence’. The Greycoats used to be Bluecoats (the police) but the station house was burnt down and those who became the Greycoats got the blame. Nessa suggested checking in with Morgan Stern, a military officer in Whitehollow who owes her a favour. She offered both coin and arcane ‘stuff’ in terms of payment. Esme, the proprietor of the Cat’s Cradle, also mentioned that a fat fellow called Babel had been looking for some help - this surprised the crew as Babel is a frequent customer at the Emporium shop, looking for arcane knick-knacks (and talking to Leander).

Jake and Leander go to see Sera, an arms dealer known to them but she has no available supply as the Lampblacks and Red Sashes (two rival gangs) are also rearming. Veretta went to see Dekker, a small unassuming ‘history professor’ sort of man who is actually an anarchist - unfortunately Dekker gets most of his ‘dangerous stuff’ from the gangs who are currently arming for war, but he did suggest that the military have multiple arms caches that are in disuse after the Unity War and that provided ideas for further delving.

Jake and Veretta head to the docks to see Elynn, an old hand who has some ideas for where to get military grade armaments. There is an Imperial Cruiser currently docked, the Thunderchild, captained by Captain Kardera. She also makes mention that an Iruvian cargo ship will probably be coming into port in the next week so there may be more ‘arcane trinkets’ for the Emporium crew.

Jake and Veretta go to look over the Thunderchild and spot a number of aging ghosts onboard who have lost much of their identity, but there is one ghost that has maintained both coherency and sense of self. This is Petty Officer Smythe who remains very attached to his ship and his crew. Using a Flashback, Jake attempts to source a naval uniform from Sera but she has nothing suitable. Jake then uses a second Flashback to hunt and ambush a drunken sailor so that he can steal his uniform, and instructs Leander to forge paperwork signed by Captain Kardera instructing the supply officer onboard on the Thunderchild to surrender certain weapons and munitions for refurbishment and redeployment to other units. Petty Officer Smythe helps as he believes incorrectly that he is following Captain’s orders and this is all part of a broader Imperial plan to deal with insurgents within Duskwall.

The goods are offloaded (some of the armaments have to be removed from their weapons mounts) and loaded into The Emporium’s goat-drawn carriage. They take more than what was on Nessa’s shopping list.

Returning to the Emporium shop, it seems that Babel met Leander and has offered another job. Babel has offered to purchase tickets for the crew to Whitehollow - he wants a man referred to as the Dollmaker to be brought back to Duskwall, preferably with some of his ‘fabulous’ dolls.

Key Locations:

The following notable locations were visited by the PCs:

  • Cat’s Cradle - Esme’s small tavern in Greyfingers (a small part of Six Towers close to Brightstone), lots of old wood panelling, small number of booths, enabling private conversations to be had.
  • Thunderchild - Captain Kerdera’s cruiser, currently docked in Duskwall for repair/resupply. The Emporium crew targeted the Thunderchild in order to lift some military-grade weapons.

Notable NPCs:

  • Esme - proprietor of the Cat’s Cradle, she presents a friendly grandmother-like personality but is a shrewd operator and a survivor. She has a maternal attitude to the Emporium crew who she views as ‘good boys’.
  • Sera - short Iruvian woman, braided black hair. Sera is an arms dealer who currently sells to many parties. She commented that the Red Sashes and Lampblacks are both arming for confrontation (which is good for business). She hangs out at the Leaky Bucket (in Crow’s Foot)
  • Dekker - this anarchist is a small fellow who looks like a fidgety history professor. He has a silver tongue and an aberrant personality. He never misses his morning cup of klava (Iruvian coffee).
  • Elynn - a hardy dock worker, she has worked on the docks for over twenty years. She has three children, some of which are now teenagers. She has a soft spot for the Emporium crew.
  • Nessa - leader of the Greycoats, the expelled Bluecoats. Striking but tough, she is adapting to life outside the police force. Her current focus is on self-protection and self-preservation. The target of her anger is Lord Strangford whom she believes ‘did the dirty’ on her people.The Emporium crew have helped the Greycoats to acquire military-grade weapons, enough to start ‘a small war’. She is always armed.
  • Hutch - Nessa’s right hand man, Hutch has a wicked glint in his eye. He dresses in warm woollen clothes and could be mistaken for a dock worker. He carries a large hunting knife.
  • Petty Officer Smythe - a ghost on the Thunderchild, Smythe is still fiercely loyal to the ship. He was duped by Jake and Veretta into giving enough information about the vessel, enabling the Emporium crew to forge documents to steal weapons from the Thunderchild. He may hold a grudge once made aware that he has been tricked.
  • Babel - this fat, friendly fellow is a frequent customer at the Emporium shop. He comes in regularly to see what is new and to chat with Leander. However, it now seems that he has a job for the Emporium crew - he wants their help to bring a Dollmaker named Balthazar from Whitehollow into Duskwall.
  • Morgan Stern - a name mentioned by Nessa as her contact in Whitehollow who owes her a favour and would provide aid to the Greycloaks if required.
  • Lord Strangford - one of Duskwall’s ruling council, Strangford controls one of the largest leviathan hunter fleets. An investigation into Lord Strangford’s affairs was halted after the destruction of one of the Bluecoats’ watch stations in Six Towers - the result was the arrest and expulsion of a number of Bluecoat officers for arson, and the creation of the Greycoats.

Downtime:

  • Coin - Big Score/Serious Loot (8 coin earned), 2 coin given to Jake, Veretta and Leander, 1 coin added to Emporium stash, 1 coin used to deal with Entanglements (see below)
  • Heat - 3 (Contained, Standard Exposure Job - 2 heat, plus +1 Heat because of the high profile target)
  • Entanglements - the Bluecoats catch on that the Emporium crew have had some action and they want a cut. The Emporium crew pay them off to save the trouble.
  • Jake Hallow’s Downtime
    • Indulge Vice (Faith) - reduces stress to ??? (I didn’t record how much)
    • Training - +2 XP in Prowess
  • Veretta’s Downtime
    • Indulge Vice (Weird) - reduces stress to 3
    • Training - +2 XP in Prowess
  • Leander’s Downtime
    • Indulge Vice (Fine dining at The Plum restaurant) - reduces stress to 0
    • Training - +2 XP in Prowess
    • “A Little Something on the Side” ability triggered +2 Stash

Crew Sheet Updates:

  • 5 XP
  • +1 Coin (now 2 coin in total)

Factions:

  • Circle of Flame -1 (no change)
  • Lord Scurlock +1 (no change)
  • Spirit Wardens -1 (no change)
  • Sailors +1 (no change)
  • Grey Cloaks (new) 0 for now, but may move to +1 based on dialogue with Nessa (see Session 2)
  • Imperial Military (new) 0 for now as the theft of armaments/munitions has not been attributed to the Emporium Crew
  • Bluecoats (new) 0 for now, because the Emporium Crew paid them 1 coin to keep them happy (off their backs)

Active Clocks:

  • Greycloaks Faction Clocks:
    • Secure Six Towers as their turf (0 of 8)
    • Avenge their expulsion (1 of 8) <— yes, the Emporium have helped the Greycloaks get started with this by arming them.

Other Unfinished Business:

  • The Emporium Crew don’t yet have a friendly relationship with the Greycoats. You could invest more time in that relationship to move it to Friendly if you wish. We haven’t yet roleplayed the handover of the armaments to Nessa’s crew and I think we should do that next session.
  • Elynn mentioned that an Iruvian cargo ship will be coming into port next week. Do you want to plan anything in advance of that arrival?
  • One of the Smugglers’ claims is to have a Side Business which produces income. The Emporium shop is the obvious side business to have, but this requires work. What is the priority on this? Acquiring claims is just another Score (ie: adventure)
  • Babel has offered a job to smuggle someone into Duskwall. Do you want to take him up on that?
  • If you want to get more Arcane stuff for your shop, there are a number of ways of doing that. For example, Nessa said that she has some Arcane ‘stuff’; there may also be some Weird on the Iruvian cargo ship, or you could go hunting in the Deathlands (the Lost Quarter perhaps?) to find suitable merchandise. What’s the priority on this?

Next Session:

  • Wednesday 16th September @ 8pm

Rules Stuff-Ups:

  • Engagement Role - we went straight from Gathering Information to the Score, without starting ‘in media res’ via the Engagement Role (p127-129). Oops. I would have given you 3D6 to roll here - a base 1D6 is always available, but I would have added 1D6 for the information that you gathered (particularly the good setup with Petty Officer Smythe), and also 1D6 because this plan was very bold/daring and yet simple. The way I ran the result was as if you had succeeded on a ‘6’ because I started the action in a Controlled position.
  • Attribute Ratings (p10) - it was pointed out to me by Luke that when we need to make an attribute roll (based on Insight, Prowess, Resolve), you add the number of dots in the first column under that attribute. I had missed that.
  • Indulging your Vice (p156) - hence when indulging your vice, you make an attribute roll for your weakest quality (Insight, Prowess, Resolve)
  • Heat (p147) - I said in the game that it was only 1 heat. That was incorrect. It was Contained/Standard Exposure (2 heat) plus 1 additional heat given that this is a high profile target.

And Lessons Learnt:

  • One player on video and the other two players physically present worked well. I wasn’t sure that it would but it did.
  • Pacing - given that we have only 150 mins (2 1/2 hours), we need to make sure that we watch the time. In particular, we should be starting Downtime no later than 10:15pm. Downtime should not only be wrapping up and adjusting the character/crew sheets, but also getting some thoughts about what the crew might want to do next.
  • Cards - I need to have cards handy for all of these characters so that I have a ready reference. This was only one session but it will get more complex. I also want to have images for the notable NPCs.
  • Clocks - I didn’t have clocks handy/ready to run with. I’ll have that in place for next time.

Cheers,

Bruce R

PS: (And yes, in hindsight stealing armaments/munitions from a Tier 6 organisation in their first session should have been almost impossible given the tier difference - they should have been at Reduced Effect or No Effect most of the way. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Yes, made lots of mistakes but we’ll get better. We’ll just go with it and see what happens next.)

Contacts map after Session 1

Other characters after Session 1

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Session 2 - The Dollmaker Score - 16th September 2020

PCs:

  • Jake Hallow (Cutter)
  • Veretta (Whisper)
  • Leander (Slide)

Synopsis:

This session begins with the Emporium Crew meeting with Nessa to handover the armaments that they have liberated from an Imperial Cruiser. She can hardly believe it - goods and coin are exchanged and the two groups go their separate ways.

A few days later there are whispers on the street that someone has stolen military-grade weapons from the Imperial Navy, but no one seems to know who has done it. The Bluecoats seem to think that the Lampblacks or the Red Sashes are behind it as both sides have been arming for war.

The Emporium Crew meet with Babel at the Cat’s Cradle. A friendly, fat man, he wants them to visit Whitehollow and bring back an elderly Dollmaker named Balthazar and one of his ‘fabulous dolls’. The Crew accept the job but they wonder if their target will want to come willingly.

Jake tails Babel and finds out that he is a frequent customer of the various arcane shops in Duskwall. He is interested in relics and the occasional ghost of someone who has experience with the arcane. Leander visits his drug dealer contact, Bryl, in the hope of finding some drugs that will incapacitate an elderly man if required however he is left unconvinced with his acquisition. Veretta meets with Lord Scurlock who warns him that Babel has powerful friends, but he doesn’t disclose who he is working for.

The twenty-hour train ride to Whitehollow is uneventful. While Leander goes to check out the Dollmaker’s address given to them by Babel, Jake tries to find Morgan Stern whom Nessa referenced (in Session 1). Unfortunately Morgan is not at home and Jake doesn’t have time to wait for him. Veretta explores the numerous antiquities markets and finds numerous arcane trinkets but none of them know about the Dollmaker. Leander returns to tell them that the Dollmaker’s shop is closed. He assumes that the Dollmaker himself is inside but isn’t sure.

That night, the Emporium crew break-in into the Dollmaker’s house. They confront the elderly Dollmaker and tell him that they intend to take him back to Duskwall. Initially he appears to give in to this demand but he locks himself in the bathroom and tries to commit suicide by overdosing on medicine. The crew prevent him from dying, and Leander is charged with keeping him alive whilst the others hunt for the ‘fabulous’ life-sized doll that Balthazar supposedly has on the premises.

They find a quantity of electroplasm stored safely on the premises (very strange) and that the place is warded to prevent ghostly intrusion. They suspect that Balthazar is a Whisper. Jake finds a key which doesn’t match anything on the premises and they persuade the delirious Balthazar to tell them what the key unlocks. Veretta and Jake head to the railway station with the key whilst Leander continues to tend to the Dollmaker.

Jake convinces a lonely railway worker to help him to find what the key unlocks. The Dollmaker has a secure locker in long term storage which holds a large coffin-like box. Carefully opening it without breaking the arcane wards, they find a life-sized doll inside. It is a very finely constructed hull which might actually pass for a person. Veretta and Jake realise that Balthazar is a master spark-craftsman and that this body is effectively a ticket for a form of immortality. They carefully reseal the box and organise to send word to Leander to meet them at the train station.

Meanwhile trouble has found Leander. Breaking in through the back door has disrupted the wards on the house and a hungry ghost comes in through the back door in search of food. Leander is not as savvy with ghosts as his companions, but he tries to convince the ghost to eat the electroplasm rather than eat him. This partially works - the ghost does go for the electroplasm but only after nibbling a little on Leander first. Leander drags Balthazar out of the house just as more hungry ghosts arrive and they escape in a carriage.

The Emporium Crew board the next train to Duskwall with Balthazar doped up on his medication and trance power and the coffin stored as baggage. The journey back is uneventful but the three friends talk about how uncomfortable this job has made them.

Babel is overjoyed to see his ‘friend’. He takes custody of Balthazar and the doll, and pays the Crew for their troubles. Balthazar looks despairingly at the Emporium Crew as he is taken away in a carriage.

Key Locations:

The following notable locations were visited by the PCs:

  • Whitehollow - twenty hours away from Duskwall via train, Whitehollow used to be a small artisan town but was used as a military staging area by the Empire during the Unity Wars. As such it has a large ex-military presence. There is a raised reef which contains a massive Leviathan skeleton on which grows much strange fauna and flora. Strange relics occasionally turn up on this reef.

Notable NPCs:

  • Flint - short, thin man with a angular face. Speaks with an accent and uses precise words.
  • Lord Scurlock - owner of Scurlock Manor, he lived in Duskwall for a long time (he appears to have an unnaturally long lifespan).

Downtime:

  • Coin - Big Score/Serious Loot (8 coin earned), 2 coin given to Jake, Veretta and Leander, 2 added to Emporium Stash
  • Heat - 0 (Smooth and quiet, low exposure)
  • Jake Hallow’s Downtime
    • Indulge Vice (Faith) - reduces stress from 6 to 2
    • Training - +2 XP in Prowess, +1 XP to Insight (spent 1 coin)
  • Veretta’s Downtime
    • Indulge Vice (Weird) - reduces stress from 7 to 3
    • Training - +2 XP in Prowess, +1 XP to Resolve (spent 1 coin)
  • Leander’s Downtime
    • Indulge Vice (Luxury) - tickets to the opera, reduces stress from 5 to 1.
    • Training - +2 XP in Prowess, +1 XP to Insight (spent 1 coin)
    • “A Little Something on the Side” ability triggered +2 Stash (now at 4 Stash)

Crew Sheet Updates:

  • +3 XP – 2 Crew Upgrades (Quality Weapons, Hidden Lair)

  • +2 Coin (now 4 coin in total)

Factions:

  • Circle of Flame -1 (no change)
  • Lord Scurlock +1 (no change)
  • Spirit Wardens -1 (no change)
  • Sailors +1 (no change)
  • Grey Cloaks 0 for now (but could move to +1 Friendly with a bit of work)
  • Imperial Military 0 for now as the theft of armaments/munitions has not been attributed to the Emporium Crew
  • Bluecoats 0 for now, because the Emporium Crew paid them 1 coin to keep them happy (in Session 1)

Active Clocks:

  • Greycloaks Faction Clocks:
    • Secure Six Towers as their turf (0 of 8)
    • Avenge their expulsion (1 of 8)
  • Undisclosed Faction Clock:
    • Fiendishly Clever Plan (3 of 8) <— thanks to the Emporium Crew for bringing back both Balthazar and the Dollmaker

Other Unfinished Business:

  • The Emporium Crew don’t yet have a friendly relationship with the Greycoats. You could invest more time in that relationship to move it to Friendly if you wish.
  • Elynn mentioned that an Iruvian cargo ship will be coming into port shortly.
  • One of the Smugglers’ claims is to have a Side Business which produces income. The Emporium shop is the obvious side business to have, but this requires work. What is the priority on this? Acquiring claims is just another Score (ie: adventure)
  • If you want to get more Arcane stuff for your shop, there are a number of ways of doing that. For example, Nessa said that she has some Arcane ‘stuff’; there may also be some Weird on the Iruvian cargo ship, or you could go hunting in the Deathlands (the Lost Quarter perhaps?) to find suitable merchandise. What’s the priority on this?

Next Session:

  • To be determined (dependent upon a player’s health)

Lessons Learnt:

  • Having some Devil’s Bargains prepared in advance would be a good idea.
  • In hindsight, the Crew Upgrade for Hidden Lair is probably a waste. It would be better that we focus on Training upgrades to help ourselves improve first. (need to discuss with the group)
  • We had better time management for this session (2 1/2 hours). It didn’t feel as rushed but we spent an hour doing setup, an hour going from engagement role to the end of the score, and roughly twenty minutes on downtime. It still felt like we are trying to squeeze too much in. We need an extra 30 mins so that people can take their time role-playing and exploring rather than feeling under time pressure to ‘move on’. It will be harder when we add a fourth player because everyone needs ‘air time’.

Cheers,

Bruce R

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Rough hands clasped together. Knuckles white, kneading a furrowed brow. Spatters of blood on his coat. Muttered confessions. The Lady weeps for us all thinks Jake as he drops a few coins and lights a candle on his way out. A thousand candles illuminate the chapel. Jake wonders how many more people died tonight to light them.

A priest expertly removes the coins from the bowl and smiles at Jake. Before the priest can speak Jake mutters an excuse, dons his cap and hastily backs away. Partly embarrassed to be there in his disheveled state and partly ashamed of the stale beer on his breath. Stumbling out into the darkness of the streets he follows one of his well trodden paths, past the soup kitchen and back to the Emporium on the otherside of Six Towers. The streets seem darker tonight, maybe one or two of the lamps were not lit, he thinks. Hearing something in an alley way he turns and winces. Feeling a trickle of fresh blood under his shirt he turns down Bowmore Way.

Dr Randal Corbrush, known as Sawtooth, a decent physicker, occasional dentist and mean card-player. Sawtooth’s is hard to miss, the pink phosphorescent glow of the door lamp leaves no shadows on his frontstep. Just how the old man likes it.

In his parlor work shop, the old man talks to himself as he sews Jake up. ‘Another close call Hal, one of these days your luck will turn.’

Hal smiles. ‘Its the knife turning you’ve got to worry about, ow!’ The old man yanks the remaining thread until it snaps. He turns to wash his hands as Jake puts his shirt back on, glimpsing at his scars in the attending mirror.

How much do I owe you?

How about a favour?

Hmmm?

Certain gentleman, a Mr Barron Carrick, lives over Silkshore somewhere. Lost a sum to me at the table. Wouldn’t mind getting what’s owed.

I’ll pay him a visit.

Good lad.

Jake stands under the lamp again, shouldering his coat against the cold and damp. The streets seem darker tonight, he thinks. He winds his grandfather’s pocket watch, rubs his stubbly chin and adjusts his pistols. There’s still time. And he stalks off towards Silkshore, and maybe something to slake his thirst on the way.


Diary entry …

It had been a wonderful day when I picked up a small article handed over to me for a task at the uni help with a subject dear to my heart things ancient from the Deathlands, being a bright lad has its perks.

Nothing to worry about just a small piece of glass and it wasn’t even sharp it gave off strange vibes in different light… really a toy of some sort…

I was sure… and wrong, how wrong I found out later.

Its owner wanted the ‘toy’ back as it filled a vital space in a very old ritual for a certain demon called Setarra … a control piece a chain if you like for a mortal to gain control which never goes down well with demons so I was caught in a web trying to find a safe way out of the issue.

Pouring over the books I discovered a way of freeing the control piece from the demon which would make it just a token again and hopefully get the old owner and the demon off my back. Sadly my info was not all up to date and it removed the tie to its former owner but didn’t remove the tie to the demon completely … Hidden away I search for its mate while the demon continues to remind me of my failure at our yearly meeting … still all is not lost I have time … until I must do the next step in Setarra’s chores…

Diary entry …

The Emporium is now running and it will help in my search … ’ looking for the other piece’ … How the great plans are changed by the fates …

Veretta Penderyn


FADE IN ….

We see a close-up of an excited hound, flanked on both sides and caged from above. It is breathing heavily, excited, ready to be unleashed. Its eyes dart left and right, waiting for the signal.

The camera pans back, revealing that this cage is only one of many. The beginning of a racetrack. The large chamber is lit from above by many dazzling electroplasmic bulbs set into the ceiling of the place. There is a strange, timeless silence.

The sound of the gate being unlocked is as loud as a gunshot. The hounds are unleashed and start hurtling down the track in a blur of motion. Each has a coloured jacket. The chamber is suddenly deafeningly loud as the crowd roars and cheers.

PUSH IN …

We see LEANDER arrive, show faint interest in the running hounds but he is clearly looking for someone.

The race lasts less than twenty seconds. There is a mixture of reaction to the result. Some have won Coin but many more have lost. Some people leave their seats, some who are standing move towards the vacant seats.

There are more people here than LEANDER expected at Vreen’s Race Market. Unable to identify his quarry quickly, he settles down to watch the crowd.

We see LEANDER watch for a while, then move to another location to watch the crowd from a different angle. The crowd only seems to sit still when the hounds are running. Otherwise there is always someone moving, even if it is just the vendors with their boxes of wares trying to sell food and drink.

LEANDER’s eyes narrow as the crowd goes silent again, waiting for the next race. He has spotted BRYL, a curly haired young man – just another patron in a crowd.

There is another gunshot-like sound as the hounds start their next run. LEANDER freezes and watches them run but tries also to keep an eye on BRYL. The people in front of BRYL stand, such that BRYL also needs to stand in order to see. As soon as the race is over, LEANDER makes a beeline for BRYL’s position.

BRYL doesn’t notice LEANDER’s approach until he is climbing the steps to reach the section where BRYL is sitting. BRYL’s eyes widen. He blinks. Then he smiles broadly and stands. He energetically beckons LEANDER to join him.

BRYL:
Hey hey hey. Look who’s here.

BRYL looks LEANDER up and down. BRYL is very pleased to see LEANDER – like he sees LEANDER as a long lost friend.

BRYL:
It’s been so long that I was beginning to think that you were dead. But here you are. Look, they’re just getting set up for the next race. You betting? Come join me.

LEANDER offers a roguish grin in return and he nods. BRYL’s attitude is infectious but LEANDER is supposed to be here for business.

BRYL:
So, which of Vreen’s quality racing hounds are you backing?

LEANDER:
None yet. I don’t know which of them has form.

BRYL:
(confidently) Ah, stick with me, buddy. I know all of Vreen’s doggies. Next race – Chester Flash. (with a glint in his eye) To place, you understand? It’s better odds.

LEANDER:
Right. Let’s see how good your tips really are.

LEANDER stands and gets the attention of one of the nearby vendors. We see him exchange coin for a small paper ticket.

The crowd is starting to settle down as the hounds are put into their cages for the next race.

BRYL:
(more serious tone) I appreciate the vote of confidence, Lee. And it’s nice to see that you’ve got some Coin in your pocket. What’ve you been doing with yourself? It has been a long time.

LEANDER:
Getting back on my feet. Back in business.

BRYL looks about to ask a question but he hesitates……

BRYL:
(switches topics) They’re about to race.

There is a pause between LEANDER and BRYL. Suddenly there is an enormous crash as the gates open and they get to their feet to see over the people in front of them. The hounds speed past. The crowd roars. BRYL seems pretty relaxed. The race ends. BRYL gives LEANDER a friendly punch in the shoulder. BRYL has a wide smile on his face.

LEANDER:
Chester Flash placed?

Clearly LEANDER is unaware which hound was Chester Flash.

BRYL:
(nods, and laughs) Indeed he did. Chester was the one in the yellow vest.

LEANDER:
Oh, the one that won? Maybe we should have bet to win rather than to place.

BRYL:
(laughs harder) My friend, you sound disappointed that you won. It’s safer to bet for a place. I didn’t know that Chester would actually win and the return on a place is good enough for me. So, you have a yourself a win…. A small win, but nonetheless a win. I think the next round of drinks is on you.

LEANDER:
That sounds fair.

LEANDER waves to one of the nearby vendors. Coin is exchanged and the vendor goes to get drinks for the two of them.

LEANDER:
I have a business proposition for you.

BRYL:
Pah, business. (looks at LEANDER and gives a little shrug) Ok, so what you want?

LEANDER:
I want back in.

BRYL:
Yeah –

LEANDER:
Two coin’s worth.

BRYL:
(Bryl stares before answering) You’re sh&tting me.

Looks at LEANDER carefully. LEANDER gives a cocky smile.

BRYL:
(smile falters a little) Oh man, you’re serious. Lee, if you were anyone else, I’d sell you the sh&t, no questions asked. But you and me, we’ve got history –

LEANDER:
I want the good stuff.

BRYL raises an eyebrow.

LEANDER:
(adds quietly) It holds its value better.

BRYL is about to answer but the vendor has come back with two tankards of ale. Both BRYL and LEANDER cease their conversation until the vendor has left. Their faces change from grateful for the drinks to serious business as the vendor is out of earshot.

BRYL:
Lee, I haven’t seen you in months and you turn up here asking for the same sh&t that got your father killed. And where the f&ck did you even get two Coin?

LEANDER:
Bryl, I’m back in business.

BRYL takes a drink, and his eyes narrow.

BRYL:
Your father’s kind of business? It got him killed, Lee. Don’t tell me you’ve gotten messed up with that sh&t again.

LEANDER:
Some things are different. Different crew now.

LEANDER reaches into a pocket inside his jacket and produces a small brooch made of silver.

BRYL puts his hands over it to shield it from prying eyes.

BRYL:
Gods below, not here. Put it away.

LEANDER returns the brooch to his pocket. BRYL breathes a sigh of relief.

BRYL:
(leans towards LEANDER) Idiot. Don’t do that again.

There is a moment’s silence whilst BRYL considers. He looks around. No one appears to have noticed.

BRYL:
(can’t resist) Is it Iruvian?

LEANDER:
Inspired by, yes.

BRYL:
You made it yourself. (comprehension dawns) Yes, of course you did. Where did you get the silver?

LEANDER:
(evasively) I’ve been busy. (He takes a long draught) So, are you going to sell me the product or not? Two Coin for starters, and I’ll want more.

BRYL:
(after a pause) Okay, Lee. If that’s what you want, I’ll sell you the sh&t. The usual arrangements for the exchange. Is that okay with you?

LEANDER nods. He makes a move to leave.

BRYL:
Hey!

LEANDER pauses. He sees BRYL’s hand on his arm.

BRYL:
So, if you’re back in business, do you have some sort of plan so that history doesn’t repeat? You know what I mean.

LEANDER:
(roguish smile) Yeah, I’ve got some ideas. But for now, I’ve got to collect my winnings. (he produces the ticket)

BRYL:
(smiles) Yeah, you do that…. See you around, Lee…. Don’t be a stranger.

LEANDER:
(offers a smile) Thanks.

LEANDER starts heading for the exit, a drink in one hand, the winning ticket concealed in his other hand.

FADE OUT ….


I was the last child, the unwanted one, “the mistake”, born into a family of miners in Akoros. It was clear from an early age that I did not have the temperament or physical constitution for going into the mines, more bookish and preferring to tinker with anything available. This was not an enlightened family however and when the mine closed, hard choices had to be made.

As the least likely to make it, I was sent off to the local monastery at the age of 7.

It was a harsh, austere place. Failure to do the daily quota of jobs earnt you a solid beating or worse. I learnt quickly to talk myself out of a tight situation and made myself useful in time by fixing the broken equipment in the alchemists labs.

Notwithstanding their dogmatic faith, the monks were forever experimenting towards achieving immortality and absolute wealth. The oldest of the holy grails… resurrecting the dead and transmuting what is worthless into precious metal.

In time I became an apprentice and then slowly developed into a master of the dark arts. Unfortunately, once you immerse yourself in the unholy, you take into yourself its vices, it’s horrors, and its powers. I became obsessed with the pursuit of gold and resurrection. I experimented on the living and the dead. I requested all manner of substances and constructed all forms of devices to achieve transmutation.

Reflecting on it, it was in part an attempt to be secure, to be safe, to have wealth, to be valued.

Fraternisation with the outside world was not encouraged in the Order. After some particularly trying experiments, I would seek company in the red light districts. The poorer the better. Transactional, safe, no chance of being recognised.

It all came to a brutal end when I took one evening a companion back to the labs. Things got out of control. The Order was awoken to her murderous shriek in the dead of night.

She tried to rob me as we slept. I don’t blame her. I would have tried the same in her situation. It was my fault. I never did it before. You don’t shit where you eat.

I caught her at it and we struggled. She fell back onto the many vials an flasks of half finished experiments and reagents. It was terrible. She both inhaled and saturated herself in the potions and acids. She melted from the inside out and outside in.

I had developed some powerful enemies inside the Order. This was going to be the right excuse to have me disappear. I knew it as soon as I saw the smirk on the Archdeacon’s face. In a moment of madness, I threw myself out of the window, into the dark river flowing beneath the monastery.

I woke up the next day to being robbed again by some urchins somewhere on the shore of the river. After beating them off, I say and contemplated. I knew that I was on my own again. If I was going to make it, it will have to be through sheer grit and skill. First though, I needed to urgently find some allies. There was no way that I could make it on my own.

Session 3 - The Three Ships Score - 3rd October 2020
// Updated with feedback from the Crew as to what I missed…

Synopsis:

The Emporium crew are at breakfast when they are interrupted by Decker (a friend of the crew who works at Charterhall University, but he’s a bit of an anarchist) to discuss a matter of some urgency. A cargo ship named Arla’s Grace has run aground on the island of Blacklight Rock. There are three crates onboard containing Imperial ‘plasmagraphs’ which were supposed to be delivered to the university. Plasmagraphs are explained as a simple device powered by electroplasmic current to detect unusual waves in the aether. A surviving sailor made the swim to Duskwall only a few hours ago and Decker is desperate to recover the crates before other looters do. He is willing to pay 2 Coin per crate recovered and he notes to Veretta that the Dean is very keen to recover these items. Veretta becomes very interested in recovering the crates. Leander asks for access to the University libraries as well (he wants to do more research on silversmithing) and Decker hurriedly agrees. Decker suggests that they may need a specialist to help them, given that they are dealing with ‘specialised equipment’. He gives Veretta a business card with the name “Sebastian Goldfinger” on it and an address of an Iruvian restaurant in NightMarket.

The island of Blacklight Rock is believed to be a haunted place and sailors avoid it. Blacklight Rock used to be an old tower of sorcery - one of many - but this is the only one left partially standing. It was abandoned when the magical wards to keep the ‘bad things’ away from Duskwall started to fail, and the lightning fields were introduced.

Leander heads to the docks and hires a trawler at the cost of 2 Coin. Captain Boz Ragar, who runs a bay-fishing schooner, hurriedly pulls together a crew to leave within the hour. Leander goes to organise pulleys and winches so that they can offload cargo from the Arla’s Grace. He also asks Elynn (their friendly contact on the docks) to mind their carriage and goats for a few hours which she agrees to as a favour.

Hal and Veretta find Sebastian Goldfinger in Nightmarket in a run-down room up and behind the restaurant. Sebastian - “Bas” for short - has recently had a very bad day (see Sebastian’s introductory post) so he is suitably pleased when he is offered a job. He agrees to join the Emporium crew for a share of the profit.

They start the Score in a Risky Position.

It is not too choppy on the inky black sea as the trawler heads out to Blacklight Rock. Coming round from the sheltered bay to the bluff, they sight the stricken ship which has run aground but another smaller vessel has gotten there first. It looks like Arla’s Grace has suffered an internal explosion. It is listing and slowly sinking. Meanwhile, the crew of the smaller vessel have already reached the wounded ship and are looting it. Luckily the crew of looters are too focussed on the sinking ship that they do not notice new competitors arriving out there in the fog.

Changing plans, the Emporium crew decide to launch a skiff to capture the small vessel that their rivals arrived in. They manage this but Leander is struck in the face by one of the sailors as he climbs aboard, leaving him bruised. They tie up the sailors and wait for their companions to bring back their booty. Shortly, one of the skiffs returns and they confront the crew at gunpoint, capturing them too along with one of the crates that is marked with the crest of Charterhall University.

Some of Boz Ragar’s men stand guard over the eight prisoners whilst the Emporium Crew take a skiff back to the Arla’s Grace in order to ‘help’ the others. They are wearing some of their rivals’ coats and hats. This serves as a reasonable disguise such that when they are helped onto the deck of the Arla’s Grace, they capture another two sailors at gunpoint and one more of the Charterhall University crates that has only just been brought out of the cargo hold. Hal roughs them up and Veretta persuades the sailors to tell them where the others are. There are only two more, and they are in the hold getting the third and final crate - it seems that they are not the only group that are after the University plasmagraphs.

Leaving two sailors tied up on deck, the Emporium Crew heads down into the hold to find the two remaining sailors. Newly formed ghosts of the ship’s crew echo through the tight corridors but the crew manage to avoid attracting them. Heading to the front of the ship, they sneak up on the remaining sailors in the hold, including their captain and a short fight breaks out. Leander trance-powders the Captain whilst Hal subdues the other.

However there is a problem in recovering the third crate. When the ship ran aground the hold above collapsed, spilling its contents into the hold with the plasmagraphs. The crate holding the third and final plasmagraph is badly damaged and the exposed device is making a quantity mining explosives spilled over the top of the crate sweat. The device is humming and seems to have been fully charged, Bas notes this as an unusual method of shipping plasmagraphs.

Furthermore, some of the newly created ghosts are being drawn to the plasmagraph as it is partly damaged and venting electroplasm.

Leander decides that he can’t help further and he takes the captured sailors back on deck - he hates ghosts and doesn’t want to stick around in a place which is attracting them. Unfortunately back on deck he can see a lot of dead bodies floating in the water. Tying the sailors up so that they cannot run off, Leander heads to the captain’s cabin and looks for a manifest. He finds that the vessel, Arla’s Grace is an Iruvian vessel out of Mistport, captained by Amero Dunne, is carrying other valuables including Iruvian wool (from goats) and there was an Iruvian jeweller on board as a passenger. Unfortunately the cabin where he would be is flooded and Leander cannot reach it, nor does he want to plunge into the inky black waters to find what would probably be valuable jewels. Instead he grabs what valuables he can, picking up 2 Coin of loot.

Meanwhile Bas and Veretta work together to attempt a tense extraction and repair repair of the plasmagraph to stop it venting and exploding the dynamite - this results in the machine being accidentally activated. This attracts the ghosts and then suddenly repels them with violent effects. The two realise that this is no ‘plasmagraph’ - it’s something else entirely. Bas figures out how to turn it off completely and he and Veretta craft a suitable replacement crate. Then the crew need to carefully remove all the sweaty nitroglycerin and repair the crate sufficiently to be able to withdraw. Returning, Leander is able to help identify some crates containing Acorosian wool which can be used to pad the damaged crate.

Racing against time as the ship slowly sinks, there is always the risk of more crews arriving to salvage what they can. The Emporium crew work hard to get off the vessel with the three crates and decide not to push their luck.

The Emporium crew then decide what to do with the captured sailors and their boat. Deciding that it is better to have a friendly rival than eliminate the competition, they decide to negotiate a favourable deal with these people so that they will not treat them unfavourably should the roles be reversed in future. Using his charm, Leander discovers that they are the Fog Hounds. Their captain has been trance-powdered by Leander so they deal with Donnie, who seems to be in charge in the captain’s absence. They agree to return the Fog Hounds’ boat upon return to the docks, and give them 1 Coin’s worth of salavage for their trouble. Donnie agrees to this.

Upon reaching the docks, they offload their precious crates and load them onto their carriage which Elynn has minded for them. They are paid 6 Coin for their trouble by the University.

Notable NPCs (Score):

  • Decker - the crew’s friendly anarchist contact. He may have hired more than one crew to recover the University’s crates. And if these aren’t plasmagraphs, what are they and what is the university up to?
  • Johns, Donnie, Orlana - Fog Hounds
  • Amero Dunn - captain of a small trawler who proved able to get a crew of fifteen together in the early hours for a quick score.
  • Boz Ragar - captain of a small trawler who proved able to get a crew of fifteen together in the early hours for a quick score.
  • Elynn - who helped the Emporium Crew by looking after their carriage while they were off on a score.

Downtime:

A lot of stuff but here is the summary…

  • Hal feels very guilty about the violence that he has inflicted and heads to the Lady for some measure of atonement. He returns to the Emporium to find Leander working hard on his side business, fashioning saleable jewellery. Hal points out that his Leander’s face is bruised and he should put something on it. Leander surprises Hal by asking for his help in learning to fight - but not to break his fingers as he needs them to work. Hal takes to this role with enthusiasm over the next few days, although it ends up with Leander even more bruised and battered than before. (Leander finally gets Skirmish 1)
  • Veretta heads to Charterhall University to check out whether everything is ‘calm’ or not. He meets the Dean of Charterhall, a charming and successful scientist, who invites him to do more work for them in future. Veretta is very cautious as he knows that the Dean is a prime servant of Setarra. The Dean notes that Veretta’s friend, Leander, has been borrowing books about silversmithing. There is an unspoken threat.
  • Bas is also invited to Charterhall University (requested by the Dean) and offered a job in the morgue. A number of chilling experiments are taking place there with a strange fluid being injected into variaous body parts and cadavers. There are many mindless orderlies and hulls here in addition to lab assistants (university students). Bas gleefully agrees to work for the Dean, seeing his dreams starting to get back on track.
  • A carriage pulls up alongside Leander as he is walking from the Cat’s Cradle back to the Emporium. Babel nervously asks Leander to join him and he steps inside, the carriage taking off down the street. Babel is friendly but he is sweating profusely. In the carriage is the Shadow Man, a man who is shrouded in darkness, even when lamplight should pass across his face. Deliberately ignoring the Shadowman, Babel asks if Leander still has the plasmagraphs and seems acutely uncomfortable when Leander says that he no longer has them. Babel offers 4 Coin for each plasmagraph if Leander can steal them from the University. Leander says that he isn’t a thief but for that much Coin, he’ll talk it over with the others.
  • Returning to the Emporium, Leander explains the job that Babel has outlined but Veretta is deeply against it. He makes mention to there being demons at the University and having summoned a demon (Setarra) but neither Leander nor Hal seem to understand why stealing the plasmagraphs would be a bad thing.
  • Leander is lost in thought at the Cat’s Cradle, dreaming about 12 Coin. Nyryx arrives and is worried after seeing the bruises to his face and arms (having trained with Hal). Leander is pleased to see Nyryx but also surprised as they hadn’t organised to meet. Nyryx asks Leander if he has any place that she could be hidden for a while. Surprised by the request, Leander asks what is wrong as Nyryx has had a good relationship with Lady Tesslyn of the Red Lamp and he’s not aware of any prior trouble. Nyryx explains that there is someone hunting ‘people like me’, and Leander knows that she’s not talking about someone hunting street walkers. There is someone hunting possessor ghosts and systematically working across the city. This person is not a Spirit-Warden. She doesn’t need shelter immediately but she may need it soon. Leander promises to help. (We start a 6-section Clock - Ghost Hunter - and Leander starts asking around, trying to find her pursuer before he or she can find Nyryx. He gets a ‘6’ and marks 3 sections)
  • Bas is approached by Ekkert and asked for help in smuggling spice inside corpses. Ekkert knows that Bas is working in the university morgue and Bas to receive the bodies as part of his official duties and smuggle out the spice. Bas is a little uncertain as to whether he should make a deal without discussing with the rest of the Emporium crew. When Bas seems uncertain, Ekkert is frightened off but promises to return.
  • Bas approaches Leander while he is hurriedly working away on a piece of silver jewellery. Leander tries to be welcoming and says that there will be other Scores and he is sure that they could use Bas’ talents. This reassures Bas that there will be further work. He doesn’t feel like is part of the regular Crew yet but that feels much closer.

Notable NPCs (Downtime):

  • Dean of Charterhall University - dashing young man, all smiles, but he is secretly the chief acolyte for Setarra.
  • The Shadow Man - a man who appears only in silhouette, apparently the patron, superior or someone of status with leverage over Babel.
  • Ekkert - a corpse thief and acquaintance of Bas. He is a crooked-nosed, evil looking person.
  • Nyryx - a prostitute, but also a possessor ghost. In this campaign, Nyryx is the name of the ghost, not the body. Leander has had a relationship with Nyryx in her previous body but now that she’s in a new body, it’s all a bit strange.

Crew Sheet Updates:

  • +6 XP

  • +2 Heat --> Total of 3 Heat (we forgot that we have “Just Passing Through” which reduces Heat each Score so we needed to reduce the total by 3 to be the correct number

  • +3 Reputation (which maxxed out the track and enabled us to upgrade to Tier 1)

  • +5 Coin – but then paid to increase Tier to Tier 1, hence reduced down to 1 Coin.

Factions:

  • Fog Hounds +1 (thanks to treating them well and giving them 1 Coin)
  • Others - no change

Next Session:

  • 17th October 2020
  • (The next score may be trying to acquire Turf - possible securing Six Towers? Or moving onto Charterhall?)

Contacts map after Session 3

Other characters after Session 3


FADE IN ….

We see the small breakfast table and tiny kitchen of the Emporium. NYRYX sips at some tea whilst LEANDER cooks some mushrooms, capers and rice in a hot pan. He already has some toast set aside. LEANDER sprinkles some spices onto the pan and keeps stirring. (Note that LEANDER still has a bruised face from where he was punched by one of the Fog Hounds - see Session 3 The Three Ships score)

There is a creak on the stairs. VERETTA enters the room, sees LEANDER and then is surprised to see NYRYX in the room.

VERETTA:
Ah, good morning. It seems that you have a guest.

LEANDER:
(half paying attention to his cooking, half paying attention to Veretta) Yes, she’ll be staying with us for a few days until I can sort some things out.

VERETTA puts on a charming smile and goes over to the table to introduce himself. NYRYX’s eyes narrow a fraction.

VERETTA:
It is lovely to meet you.

NYRYX:
(a small smile) I’m Nyryx.

VERETTA:
(faint recognition on his face) That’s an unusual name – I used to know someone called Nyryx.

NYRYX:
(chuckles and puts down the tea) I know. I do remember you Veretta. It’s me.

LEANDER starts serving onto two plates. His back is turned to the exchange between VERETTA and NYRYX. A look of understanding passes across VERETTA’s face.

VERETTA:
Ah… I see. You’ve changed quite a bit. (tries to find the right words, and instead is distracted by the pot of tea on the table. He selects a cup and sits down at the table)

NYRYX:
(simply) I changed bodies again.

VERETTA remembers NYRYX looking quite different. She is stating the obvious but it takes him a moment to process the information. By this time LEANDER has placed the food on the table and is going back to a drawer for cutlery.

NYRYX:
(smells the food and smiles) This… brings back memories.

LEANDER:
(sitting down) Yes, um, well. Veretta, this is Nyryx. Nyryx, Veretta.

VERETTA:
We’ve met before.

LEANDER:
(doesn’t miss a beat) Oh, that’s good. A bit of a surprise really, but good.

VERETTA:
(to Nyryx, indicating to Leander) Does he know?

NYRYX is already eating. She nods an affirmative.

LEANDER:
Know what?

VERETTA:
(gets to his feet) Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything.

VERETTA pours some tea for himself.

NYRYX:
Lee, Veretta here knows that I’m a ghost.

LEANDER stiffens at this. He doesn’t like NYRYX referring to herself as a ghost.

NYRYX:
I’ve known the Penderyns for more than one generation. I think I met Veretta first when he was about five years old. We’ve known each other for quite some time. And he’s always been curious about history and I have a good memory for such things. So we talk from time to time.

LEANDER:
(quickly adjusts to the new information) Okay. I’m just surprised that this has never come up before.

A bit of relief shows up on LEANDER’s face. He can actually talk to someone else about this.

VERETTA:
(delicately, to LEANDER) Have you known Nyryx very long?

LEANDER:
(thinks of how to answer that. Glances at NYRYX) Awhile. Since she was in her last … body.

NYRYX:
Lee is still getting used to the idea that I’m not dead. I look different but I’m still the same person inside.

There is silence at the breakfast table.

VERETTA:
(finally) Ah, that sounds…. awkward. Well, (he tries to lighten the mood) I hope you’ll be comfortable here.

NYRYX:
Thank you. It’s only temporary. And I don’t think it’d be fair to Lee to sleep on the floor for too long.

VERETTA raises an eyebrow in the direction of LEANDER.

LEANDER:
(sighs) Yes, I’ve got some work to do with the room that I have. It’s not really big enough for two people but we’ll make do.

NYRYX:
(puts a hand briefly on LEANDER’s arm) We’ll sort it out. And I’ve slept in worse places.

A loud belch is heard from the floor above. HAL is heading for the stairs. His footsteps on the staircase are heavier than VERETTA’s. The steps creak with every step. HAL emerges into the kitchen area looking half-asleep – his hair is crazy but he’s mostly dressed.

HAL:
Anybody make klava this morning?

LEANDER shakes his head. NYRYX looks at him blankly. VERETTA calmly sips some tea.

HAL:
(quietly) Dammit.

HAL noisily opens a cupboard door, picks out a tin of klava and puts it on the bench. He checks that the kettle has water and then starts boiling some water on the stove. The others are silently eating or drinking tea as HAL rummages around the kitchen. He is terribly noisy.

Finally there is a moment of silence as HAL waits for the water to boil.

VERETTA:
Nyryx, this is Hal.

HAL:
(spins around) Wha? Holy sh&t there’s a woman in here.

LEANDER:
(tuts) Lan-guage.

NYRYX:
(smiles at Hal) Hello Hal.

HAL’s face lights up with a grin. He’s just realised that NYRYX is quite attractive and it hasn’t yet dawned on him that she’s not seeing him at his best.

LEANDER:
(with his back still towards Hal) Hal, Nyryx is staying for a few days.

HAL’s smile grows even broader.

HAL:
She can stay as long as she likes.

LEANDER:
Hal?

No immediate response. He’s too busy looking at NYRYX. The kettle is close to boiling.

LEANDER:
Hal!

HAL:
Yeah, what?

LEANDER:
(takes a breath) There’s only one bathroom in this place. I need your help to keep it clean. (turns around to eyeball him) You understand me?

HAL:
(hasn’t stopped looking at Nyryx) Sure, no problems.

HAL is distracted back to reality as the kettle starts whistling. It’s not clear that he heard LEANDER. He pours the water and then heads over to the table before realising that there are no seats available (because NYRYX is sitting in one of them). HAL changes his mind and decides to stand.

The cogs are whirring in HAL’s mind.

HAL:
(trying to sound casual) So, Nyryx, how do you know Leander?

NYRYX’s face is blank. She doesn’t know how to answer that. She looks for assistance from LEANDER.

LEANDER:
(short pause) We’re good friends.

The cogs are whirring in HAL’s mind. The klava is helping him to wake up.
HAL’s changes as he remembers something important ….

HAL:
Didn’t you have a girlfriend called Nyryx?

NYRYX looks genuinely surprised and she stares at LEANDER. LEANDER freezes as he scrambles to remember how much HAL knows and tries to think through what to tell him. Nevertheless, HAL continues on unperturbed.

HAL:
Pretty sure it was Nyryx. But I thought you said she was dead. You said you cried big buckets of tears over it.

NYRYX is looking at LEANDER. LEANDER’s brain is frozen. VERETTA sips calmly at some tea.

HAL comes over to LEANDER and gives him a nudge.

HAL:
(looking disappointedly) Buddy, I can’t believe you told me that she was dead. Were you trying to get sympathy or something? Man, that’s lame. You could have just said that you were having trouble with your girlfriend.

LEANDER blinks in astonishment. A smile is emerging on NYRYX’s face.

NYRYX:
(to Leander) I like your friend.

HAL looks pleased with the compliment.

HAL:
What’s not to like? Mmm….good klava (takes a drink)

LEANDER is looking awkward. He can’t say anything to correct HAL’s misunderstanding. NYRYX seems to be slightly enjoying the dynamic.

FADE OUT ….


Flashback Mini-Score - The Silver Goblet Score – 13th October 2020

This Mini-Score was developed based on a conversation between the two players of Leander and Veretta as to how they actually met. It also helps to explain some of the backstory as to why the crew has a +1 relationship with Lord Scurlock.

Leander is a skilled artisan (jeweller), a trade which he learned from his father. He’s sociable and good at attracting customers. Leander’s talents first came to Veretta’s aunt’s attention a few years ago when Leander’s father was still alive. When Leander’s father’s health was failing (due to drug addiction), Leander did more and more of the silversmithing and crafting and this was noticed by the Penderyn family.

Hence the relationship between Veretta and Leander was first formed a few years ago but it didn’t develop into a friendship until after Leander lost his father and the family business went under. Veretta has offered Leander a lifeline – a place to stay and a job working in Veretta’s shop, the Emporium. The Emporium also serves as a cover for a smuggling operation but as a shop, it isn’t particularly successful (at the moment).

But Leander and Veretta are very different people. Leander is a sociable character, trade-skilled but not particularly well educated and with no special interest in the arcane. Veretta is an educated young man from a noble family with a great deal of interest in the arc. Hence, we fleshed out one of their early scores together (which pre-dates the campaign) and then we talked about Nyryx. Nyryx was a way of creating a new connection between the two characters as they both have a connection to her but neither PC was away of the other character’s connection.

So onto the score:

  • In this earlier score, Lord Scurlock wanted an identical copy made of a small silver goblet. This goblet was made of finest silver, intricately designed with arcane patterns that would be difficult to duplicate. To accomplish this, Veretta was given the original goblet. Veretta knows that it is unique and ‘priceless’. He also knows that Lord Scurlock wants the copy to be indistinguishable from the original. (he doesn’t ask why)
  • Veretta works closely with Leander to fabricate the new goblet. Leander does the silversmithing and detailed work but the fabrication process is part of a arcane ritual of ‘making’ which Veretta orchestrates. Together they are successful in doing so (rolling a 5), however there is a complication.
  • The complication arises when they attempt to take the original and newly fabricated goblets to Lord Scurlock’s estate - they run into a bunch of local thugs, the Bloodletters. An engagement roll is run (1D) and the result is a 3. This puts them in a Desperate position - hence they are outnumbered. There are three Bloodletters and they are in a particularly foul mood.
  • Leander attempts to talk his way out of trouble, explaining that they have nothing of value on them. He rolls a 5, which is a success at a cost. In disgust, the thugs beat the crap out of Leander and only steal his cloak (about the only thing of value that he has, which has a silver-clasp that he made).
  • Meanwhile, with their attention on Leander, Veretta looks for assistance in the ghost field and is successful (he rolls a 6). He spots the ghost of Constable Danforth, a local Bluecoat who died only a few months ago and waves the Bluecoat over. The good news is that this Bluecoat hates Bloodletters (Fortune Roll - 5 or 6, I think) and he scares the crap out of the Bloodletters by starting to ‘get physical’ with one of them.
  • The Bloodletters leg it and Veretta helps Leander stagger away. They have managed to keep their goblets from being stolen (Veretta was carrying them in concealed pockets in his coat - one of the perks of being a Smuggler).
  • Lord Scurlock sees Veretta and is pleased. (this is how the Crew earn their +1 relationship with Lord Scurlock).


We both started out at about the same time under the Order. I used my wits and abilities to tinker to make myself valuable. Ekkert’s talents lay in being totally devoid of morals. We called him the crocodile.

Unflinching, cold, soulless eyes that looked straight through you, assessing your value, not only in who and what you know but literally in what you’re made of.

He developed a reputation for being able to source bodies for experiments to very exacting requirements. With my fascination in experimenting on the human anatomy, we were ‘naturally’ drawn to each other.

I don’t think friendship is the right word but we ended up developing a sort of symbiotic, mutually beneficial partnership.

The Order didn’t mind the antics, as long as it was conducted in a discrete, untraceable manner. It was simple enough initially. He got the bodies for me, I provided the financing.

Eventually we transitioned to a more business footing, developing a thriving export business of the dead. We cultivated a ‘dark web’ of contacts, intermediaries and all manner of side industries.

Eventually news spread and it became impossible to manage the rumours. We made an agreement. I would publicly denounce him as a corrupted soul, a perversion of humanity that must be excised from the Order, lanced like a putrefying boil.

Public opinion however is not easily managed, especially when you have developed some enemies. A price had to be paid. He was publicly tortured before being driven from the Order.

That caused some friction between us for a while but then his pragmatism won out and we recommenced our mutually beneficial relationship, albeit at a greatly diminished scale.

Session 4 - The Tower Guard Score Part 1 - 14th October 2020

Synopsis:

It is early morning and a thunderstorm is raging outside. With breakfast out of the way, Leander and Nyryx are trying to clean the interior of the shopfront - it’s filthy but it doesn’t seem to bother Veretta. Bas leaves early for the University and heads out into the rain - he’s heading to his job at the morgue and he seems to be excited about the possibility of ‘lightning experiments’. Hal is having a bad morning - the Emporium is out of klava.

Donning a heavy cloak, Veretta decides to head to Charterhall University in the hope of finding some clues to relics that are yet to be discovered. He spends hours at a library listening to the pounding of the rain on the roof and gets nowhere. (Study roll = 1) As such, he decides to approach another researcher and try to figure out what they are doing. The researcher is a Tycherosi with unkempt balding hair a dusty coat and long fingers with long jet black fingernails. He gets a glimpse of a strange astronomical chart with constellations that he doesn’t recognise but is quickly shooed away by the irritable man. Feeling disappointed, he heads out into the rain and goes in search of Decker.

Meanwhile, an idea has come to Leander and he heads out into the storm, telling Nyryx that he’ll be back soon. He reaches the Cat’s Cradle and finds Esme inside, sweeping the floor. Leander thanks her for her help in steering Nessa and Babel to the crew, and asks about the Skovlan whiskey that she keeps (it’s rare and expensive) and asks where she gets it from. It comes from a wine merchant in Nightmarket named Valerio. Leander is a bit disappointed - he was hoping that she knew more about smuggling operations into Six Towers. He asks Esme about it and she says that she doesn’t know much about the illegal activities in the district. She suggests that Leander talk to a retired sailor called Old Jobi who would know ‘who’s who’. Leander thanks Esme and asks her to pass a message to Nessa (of the Greycloaks) to meet that evening.

Veretta finds Decker and confronts him about their run-in with the Fog Hounds during the recent Three Ships score (see Session 3). Decker claims not to know who hired the Fog Hounds - Veretta doesn’t believe him. Pressing him further, Decker tells Veretta that he’s aware of a man named Mr Jeffrey Clark who is researching the lost district of Old North Port in the hope of retrieving artifacts from outside the lightning field. Veretta returns to the library to retrace Mr Clark’s research (Study roll = 5). Mr Jeffrey Clark is described by one of the librarians as a tall man with a dark handle-bar moustache and is not a regular member of the university but was given library access. Veretta finds out that Old North Port is a ruined precinct but the withdrawal to Duskwall was done hastily. Old North Port was the main docks for ships before The Docks were dredged. Veretta’s keen observations lead him to believe that Mr Clark was most interested in a collapsed section of the old Treasury/Trade building. A fire collapsed part of the building and records in the ledgers indicate that efforts to recover goods held there were abandoned. Perhaps some Coin and artefacts may have been left behind?

Leaving the Cat’s Cradle, Leander thinks about returning to the Emporium to help Nyryx but instead decides to follow up who would be supplying drugs to the Bloodletters (a Six Towers gang) in order to find out who the rival smugglers are. He tries to find Rolan, who is a relatively wealthy fellow who is known to the Crew (because Rolan tried to hire the Crew and they refused) but he locates him in a restaurant in Brightstone and Leander doesn’t wish to embarrass him by asking such questions in a high quality establishment. As such he makes the long walk south to Nightmarket to Vroon’s Race Track. He didn’t want to see Bryl and the conversation with Nyryx regarding Bryl over the breakfast table was not positive. She doesn’t understand why he continues to associate with the drug-dealer who was probably responsible for the death of Leander’s father. Bryl is surprised to see Leander (who he refers to as “Lee”, same as Nyryx). Bryl has had rotten luck on the dog-racing today and is hoping that Leander’s appearance will improve his luck. Leander makes small talk then asks about drug smuggling. Bryl is charming but tells Leander nothing that he doesn’t already know. (Unfortunately the Devil’s Bargain that Leander took means that Bryl will tip off the competition that Leander is asking) Bryl convinces Leander to stick around and bet on the dogs. Bryl’s luck does change and they both win some money (Fortune roll of 6)

Leander returns to the Emporium just before lunchtime and proceeds to cook a marvellous lunch for Nyryx to apologise for abandoning her. She is a little miffed but she appreciates the cooking.

That evening the rain has slackened to a drizzle. Leander and the crew head to the Cat’s Cradle. Leander introduces Esme to Nyryx and he asks Esme to shelter her if for some reason he can’t. Veretta fills the crew in on what he has learnt about Old North Port.

Shortly, Nessa arrives with three of her Greycoats. They are much more confident than the last time that Leander saw them. Leander joins Nessa and they get straight down to business. The hardware that the Emporium Crew acquired for them in the Thunderchild Score (see Session 1) is still much appreciated and they feel they’re in a much better position to defend themselves. Leander asks about the arcane stuff that Nessa mentioned that they had acquired from their Bluecoat days and she offers to sell it to them. Leander likes this (it’ll make Veretta happy) and he says that he’ll discuss with the crew. He also explains that the Emporium crew want to expand in Six Towers (acquire Turf) and they need allies. He also suggests that the Greycoats could use allies too. (Consort = 6) Nessa likes this idea and says that if Leander’s crew agrees to it, they’ll have an alliance. She warns him that this means that the Greycoats’ enemies could become their enemies too, but she’d like to work with a more professional crew than the Fog Hounds.

She then offers a score. They are looking to bring up to ten ‘inerts’ (dead bodies) into Duskwall and need someone to get the goods from the train station in Nightmarket to Charterhall University. There is a rail clerk who can be bribed at Gaddoc station and a morgue attendant who is part of the operation. She says that there is ‘stuff’ in the bodies but doesn’t say what the stuff is. It is worth 6 Coin, and if they can pull it off, there’ll be other jobs. She warns them that the previous crew failed and the Bloodletters know what is going on. Hence there is competition and is always the threat of Inspectors and the local toughs that watch the bridges between Nightmarket and Charterhall.

Leander discusses these over with the crew. Bas admits to knowing something about this Inert smuggling score, having been approached by his contact Ekkert (a corpse thief) and thinks there might be a new spice being hidden in the bodies. They agree to Nessa’s deals and they have an alliance. Hal is reluctant to get involved with the dead. Leander and Nessa shake hands. Nessa’s grip is rock hard and she tells him coldly not to f&ck this up.

The Emporium crew have another quiet drink. Leander and Veretta have plans that evening to meet with Lord Scurlock (Veretta sent a letter to request an audience earlier in the day and that audience has been granted). Nyryx agrees to stay with Hal and Bas as they head back to the Emporium.

On the way to Scurlock’s estate, Leander and Veretta are ambushed by three thugs with pistols (a Desperate position). Leander and Veretta have no idea who these guys are but Leander tries to talk his way out of the situation (Sway = 5). Leander feels that he’s getting through to them (that it’s all been a misunderstanding) but the complication is that the smallest of their three assailants is a bit twitchy on the trigger. He accidentally shoots Leander in the leg and Leander topples back (marking Armour on the character sheet, hence only Level 1 Harm). Things quickly get out of hand. The leader of the thugs grabs Leander and menaces him with the pistol, telling him to stay off their turf and out of their business.

Then Leander does something truly risky. Feigning defeat, he blows Trance Powder in the leader’s face (Sway= 6) and immobilises him. Realising that they only have the advantage for about two seconds, Leander and Veretta swing into action. Veretta draws a pistol and Leander pops his sword cane. Before the others can react, Leander has run one of the scoundrels through (Skirmish = 6, assisted by Veretta) and Veretta fires a warning shot at the third assailant. The sound is deafeningly loud. The remaining assailant deserts his companions and hightails it into the rain. (Note - He later drops a hint with the local Bluecoats that a certain crew might have been involved in the death of his companion failed ambush (+2 Heat).

Leander is astonished. He stands over the body and realises as the Death Bell rings that he’s actually killed someone. He’s never killed anyone before. Veretta sighs and tells Leander that they should run for it. Leander thinks for a sec and decides to take the other fellow with them (he’s Tranced. Sway = 5, therefore successful). A few blocks away, Leander suggests that Veretta head to see Lord Scurlock alone. Leander wants to introduce their captive to ‘Uncle Hal’. Veretta asks if he’ll be okay given that he’s been shot. Leander looks a bit pale but he nods.

Veretta meets with Lord Scurlock at his dilapidated manor. Scurlock is inscrutable as always but gives Veretta quite a bit of information during their fireside chat (Consort = 5):

  • Under Charterhall there is a disused canal system and pulley rail car system. It was mostly walled in centuries ago. Word has reached Scurlock that a strange ‘impenetrable’ darkness has been spotted in one part of that canal system. Scurlock believes that this is caused by a powerful magical artefact. He doesn’t know if it was placed there deliberately or has always been there. He does know that it was not there when the canals and railcars were in use. Scurlock would be willing to pay 8 Coin for the retrieval of this artefact.
  • At a comment from Veretta, Scurlock says he does not know who is backing an excursion to Old North Port but does recall that the Treasury building was true to its name.
  • Scurlock’s sphere of influence is great but his care for the welfare of Six Towers is small. He does not know about any Tower Guard group, he has heard of the BloodLetters (and wryly notes he is fond of the name) but takes little interest in their affairs.
  • An explorer from a recent expedition to the Lost District just died from a strange fever. In her delirium she told a story of a ruined mansion half-sunken in the mire that some of her team investigated (after the fever had started) on their way back. All but one of the group that entered that mansion returned but the one that did reported finding a hall of ancient relics. Scurlock shows what the survivor had in her possession: an old ceremonial dagger, used in certain rituals. Scurlock remembers that Hall and its owner and is willing to back another expedition there.

Reaching the Emporium, Hal and Leander go to work on their captive. Who is he and who are these people? (Sway = double-6 - a Critical on 2 dice. Woo!) The man’s name is Elgin and he is the brother of Samuel Smith who runs a smuggling group called the Tower Guard in Six Towers. There are eight of them, now seven because Leander killed one of them. He doesn’t know who tipped them off but they’ve been following the Emporium Crew around, waiting to get the drop on them. A drugged Elgin admits that they supply the Bloodletters on occasion but try to avoid them where possible. Hal, feeling quite protective of his companions and angry with himself for not being there, beats the sh&t out of Elgin for good measure and dumps him near the alleyway where he lives off Coleburn Avenue.

So what now???

Updated Faction Relationships

  • Grey Cloaks +1 (now friendly, could become +2 or +3 with further collaboration)
  • Tower Guard -1 (rival Tier 1 smuggling group in Six Towers)
  • Fog Hounds +1 (updated in Session 3)
  • Circle of Flame -1 (no change)
  • Lord Scurlock +1 (no change)
  • Spirit Wardens -1 (no change)
  • Sailors +1 (no change)
  • Imperial Military (no change)
  • Bluecoats 0 (no change)

Active Progress Clocks

  • (Greycloaks) Secure Six Towers as their turf (3 of 8) <-- improved position due to positive relationship with the Emporium Crew
  • (Greycloaks) Avenge their expulsion (1 of 8) <— as the Emporium armed them in Session 1
  • The Enemy of My Friend is … (1 of 8) <— The Emporium’s new alliance with the Greycloaks means that their enemies may become the Emporium’s enemies.
  • Fiendishly Clever Plan (3 of 8) <-- thanks to the Emporium Crew for bringing back both Balthazar and the Dollmaker, the group that Babel belongs to is progressing their ‘fiendishly clever plan’.
  • (Leander) Ghost Hunter (3 of 6) <-- A dark haired, dark cloaked figure is hunting possessor ghosts. Nyryx is in danger.

Session 5A - The Tower Guard Score Part 2 - 17th October 2020

Synopsis - The Tower Guard Score:
In the wake of the Tower Guard’s ambush of Leander and Veretta, the crew of the Emporium gather hastily in the kitchen to plot their next move. Nyryx joins them. The crew is concerned that the Tower Guard know who they are and where they are, hence the crew cannot wait for the Tower Guard to regroup from their disastrous ambush. Veretta points out that it may all be a misunderstanding. Nevertheless, they quickly decide to launch an assault in the middle of the night with the aid of a ‘friendly ghost’ that Veretta brings with him in a spirit jar. Veretta and Leander don’t tell the others that the ghost in the jar is Nyryx (her body is asleep in Leander’s room). This remains their secret. Most of the crew go with Normal or Heavy Load.

They start the Engagement in a Risky position (4). The leader of the Tower Guard, Samuel Smith, is not asleep. He’s awake and arguing with one of his people. They have two lookouts posted - one on the roof and one at the window. The plan was for Nyryx to possess Samuel’s wife who is asleep inside but the plan is hastily changed.

Hal and Leander climb to the roof to neutralise the lookout. A group Prowl roll to get into position (4) results in them being placed in a Desperate position. There is no cover on the roof and it’s a long drop to the street level. They time it perfectly with a group Skirmish roll (6), immobilising the lookout with Trance Powder. However, Hal goes wild and goes to beat the guy senseless, forcing Leander to try to calm him down and remind him of the mission. The tranced and beaten lookout is left tied up to the chimney.

Back in a Risky position, Hal signals to the others that the rooftop lookout has been taken care of. Veretta releases Nyryx in ghost-form (whom none of them recognise as she looks nothing like her present physical form). Nyryx floats into the house and makes an attempt to possess the lookout at the window. She succeeds in this (with a 6) and gives Veretta and Bas in the street below a gesture to indicate this.

As the Emporium crew gets into position, Nyryx listens to Samuel Smith chewing out one of the Tower Guard. It is the man who shot Leander and fled the scene before the Emporium crew could catch him.

At the front door to the apartment, Bas attempts to pick the lock and although he manages it (Tinker roll - 5), Samuel inside is alerted. Nyryx hears it too and draws a pistol on Samuel and the other Tower Guard as the rest of the Emporium crew head in, guns at the ready.

Samuel expresses his disgust at Sandor’s apparent betrayal but then is astonished when Nyryx tells him with a smile that she isn’t Sandor.

At this point, the crew goes into a tense negotiation with the Tower Guard. They explain that there has been a misunderstanding but not to mess with their activities in smuggling arcane or weird sh&t. A group Sway succeeds (with a 4 - Leander was leading but only managed to get a ‘3’ on three dice - clearly he was in an agitated state having recently being shot) and Samuel agrees that the Tower Guard will stay out of the Emporium crew’s way. He clearly did not expect them to come back and hit them in force so quickly, nor to have ghost allies. The deal is done and the crew departs. (The deal works with Greater Effect because the Tower Guard were not aware that the Emporium crew only wants to deal in the arcane and that isn’t their area of interest anyway). Nyryx leaves Sandor’s body and Sandor collapses in a heap on the floor. The consequence of the partial success (from the group Sway) is that the crew will take +1 Heat as word of their midnight deal with the Tower Guard leaks out.

Score Results - The Tower Guard Score:

  • Turf Acquired - tick on the Smugglers Claims map

  • Reputation: +2 (from 0 to 2)

  • Heat: +3 (from 3 to 6, not affected by Just Passing Through crew ability as our Heat is >4)

  • Coin: 0

  • Individual XP: Veretta (2xp), Leander (3xp), Bas (2xp), Hal (4xp)

  • Crew XP: The crew earned enough XP to purchase 2 new upgrades: The Emporium acquires a new vehicle (a boat) and also a Hidden Lair. Hence the Emporium shop becomes their place of business but not where they sleep - they now have another place in Six Towers and this place is a safe haven.

  • Faction Adjustments: I think we are now 0 with the Tower Guard (Neutral) as we have an arrangement in place. It’s not friendly but it’s not unfriendly either.

Downtime - The Tower Guard Score:

Leander

  • Recover - being both bruised and recently shot, Leander is introduced to Sawtooth by Hal. The doctor is able to help to a limited degree until Leander pays over 1 Coin. At that point, his Level 1 Harm conditions are cleared.
  • Reduce Stress - heading to the Singer bath house with Nyryx, they are both pampered and perfumed. Leander returns much relaxed. (Stress reduced by 6 - Leander was previously on maximum stress - one more and it would have been a Trauma)
  • Long-Term Project - for an additional Coin, Leander continues his hunt for the Ghost Hunter that is looking for possessor ghosts and putting Nyryx in danger. He uses Sway and gets a 6, completing the Clock. Hence what happens is this - in asking around, he gets various tidbits of information but not enough to help him to narrow down who might be doing this. He talks further with Nyryx about who else might be threatened and Nyryx reveals that there are others like her in the city called the Reconciled. Leander persuades Nyryx to introduce him to another member of the Reconciled. He finds this very creepy as he doesn’t like Ghosts, but he meets Carro, a well-dressed man who looks healthy and well-fed. Carro tells him that the one he is after is a Skovlan warlock named Urs Knieppson who can be found in Nightmarket. Urs has been looking for something which he thinks the Reconciled know about but Carro does not know what it is. He suggests to Leander that the Reconciled would be grateful if Urs were no longer to hunt them (but stops short of offering a reward of some kind)

Veretta

  • Reduce Stress - Veretta attempts to lose himself in his studies of the Weird (Stress reduced by 2)
  • Reduce Stress - Feeling still quite stressed about not being able to find more objects of arcane value, he redoubles his efforts. (Stress reduced by 6, leading to overindulgence and a consequence for the group - Decker has been apprehended by the police and has been talking, resulting in +2 Heat for the Emporium crew)

Hal

  • Train in Resolve
  • Train in Insight

Bas

  • Starts Inventing and Crafting (two actions) - exact outcome is to be determined but he is working on some sort of Ghost Repellent which works based on alchemy, not arcane. The Ghost Repellent is a 8-segment Clock and he marks 2 segments for his Study roll.

Session 5B - The Corpse Thief Score - 17th October 2020

Synopsis - The Corpse Thief Score:
A few days later, the Emporium crew embarks on the score which Nessa (of the Greycoats) offered them - to transport number of ‘inerts’ (dead bodies) safely from Gaddoc Train Station (in Nightmarket) to Charterhall University. The bodies probably have illicit substances inside but the Emporium crew knows better than to ask too much about what they are being asked to carry. They know that the Bloodletters fouled up the last time another crew attempted this. They are to meet a rail clerk named Simmonds and pick up the bodies, then get them across town safely to their destination.

The plan is for Leander to meet the rail clerk, with forged papers to back him up. He and Bas will pick up the goods. Hal is waiting on the boat at the nearby docks and then they will take the bodies to the docks in Charterhall where Veretta will be waiting for them with their goat-drawn carriage. Leander and Bas adopt a Light Load. Hal and Veretta decide upon a Normal Load.

The Engagement Score puts them in a Desperate position, right from the beginning. Leander goes to the rail office and asks to meet Simmonds. Simmonds turns out to be an attractive red-haired lady who happily hands over the key to Warehouse 3B. Leander flirts with her a little, introducing himself as Keeta.

However, the key doesn’t unlock Warehouse 3B, and when Leander returns to the office, there is no sign of the red-haired woman whom he met. When he asks to speak with Simmons again, a bullish man comes to the desk instead and the red-haired lady is nowhere to be seen. At this point Leander and Bas aren’t sure if they’ve been conned or there has been a genuine foul-up. They return to Warehouse 3B and Bas pops the lock open (group Tinker, with Leander playing the role of the annoyed boss while Bas fumbles at the lock - they get a 4 but there is a complication). A clock is started, making it more difficult for them to Escape.

Inside Warehouse 3B, they search for the cargo - they don’t even know where it is. (A group Survey results in a 3 - they find nothing - not even something worth stealing. The clock increments up) Feeling conned and that the score is a bust, Leander and Bas leave the railway station before they are challenged by one of the rail inspectors.

Meeting Hal at the docks, they explain their sorry situation to the incredulity of Hal. However whilst doing so Bas spots his friend Eckerd (the corpse thief) working nearby with a crew of four to load what look like bodies onto a nearby canal boat. Bas asks Leander to come with him and then heads over to talk to his friend. Leander has never met Eckerd before so has no idea what Bas’ angle is. Guessing that Eckerd has his hands on the same corpses that they were meant to collect, Bas does a deal with him. He offers a genuine document that authorises the bearer to deliver a total of thirty bodies to Charterhall University in exchange for Eckerd giving up the five bodies that he has on his boat. Eckerd judges this a good deal and agrees to give up the bodies after Leander confirms that these are indeed the ones that they want.

The crew of the Emporium leave on their new boat just as the Spirit Wardens arrive. It is unknown what has attracted them but they have a large metal Hull with them.

The trip on the waterways of Duskwall are uneventful and they arrive at the docks in Charterhall to find Veretta waiting patiently for them. They transfer the bodies to the carriage. Hal and Bas join Veretta whilst Leander remains on the boat.

As they make their way to Charterhall university, a group of toughs flags down the goat-drawn carriage. Luckily it’s the Lampblacks and they only have to identify themselves in order to be let through. (Leander played for a flashback, and met with Bazso Bas ahead of the Score to secure the bridge. He agreed to this because he was amused by the request, but Leander will owe him a favour in the future)

Reaching Charterhall university, the local Bluecoats who secure the university grounds stop the Emporium crew and ask to see their papers. Bas has given up the genuine papers that he has so they are forced to use Leander’s forgery. (Finesse = 6) They succeed in handing over the bodies to the morgue and the Score is complete.

Score Results - The Corpse Thief Score

  • Reputation: +2 (from 2 to 4)
  • Heat: +1 (from 6 to 7, not affected by Just Passing Through crew ability as our Heat is >4)
  • Coin: +6 (2 in the Crew Kitty, 1 for each of the 4 PCs)
  • Individual XP: Veretta (1xp), Leander (4xp), Bas (4xp), Hal (2xp)
  • Crew XP: +2
  • Faction Adjustments: Now +2 with the Greycloaks because we’ve sealed the alliance with them. Increment the “Greycloaks Seize Six Towers” by 1 segment (now 3 of 8)

Downtime - The Corpse Thief Score
Here was my suggestion regarding getting the Emporium working as a shop (yes we’re going to turn the Emporium into a candy shop) - I like the idea that everybody contributes:

  • We spend 2 Coin to buy the unwanted Arcane sh&t from Nessa (we’ll do this as part of the introduction to next session)
  • Leander spends one of his downtime actions to Reduce Heat. The action he would take is to run the Emporium business.
  • Veretta spends one of his downtime actions to Acquire Assets for the shop. He would make a roll for it but we could choose to spend one of our 2 Coin from the Crew kitty in order to get Greater effect.
  • Bas spends one of his downtime actions to Craft saleable items (candy?) and we choose to spend one of our 2 Coin from the Crew kitty in order to get Greater effect.
  • In the spirit of the ‘candyman’ idea, we fabricate a cart and Hal goes out to sell our first batch of candy. This has the effect of Reduce Heat as he runs into people who know him and he convinces them that he’s gone straight.

Three of the PCs have agreed to this approach, and we’ll work out what happens in our next session (Wednesday 28th October).

But this is the ultimate cover. The Emporium crew runs… a sweet shop. Perfect cover for when our contacts come to call - they’re just in the shop because they love our candy.

Hal is no longer a thug - he’s out selling candy/lollies/sweets in some of the more affluent areas of Duskwall.

Bas is not just the guy who works in the morgue. By night, he’s the master chef, brewing sweet confectionary to bring delight to small children…

You get the idea…


LEANDER has already been to Nightmarket in search of URS KNIEPPSON, the Skovlan warlock who has been hunting the Reconciled for unknown reasons. Now he is in Crow’s Foot. The streets are dark. Poorly lit. This is not a nice area – he’s travelling alone and he could easily run into either Lampblacks or Red Sashes. LEANDER looks up and realises that he has reached his destination – the Old Forge Tavern. The sign above is worn and cracked – it carries the symbol of an anvil and hammer. LEANDER heads for the door.

CUT TO – INTERIOR – OLD FORGE TAVERN

The bar is a crude mix of old wood, aging iron and rough-hewn stone. Nevertheless, there is a warm inviting glow coming a nearby hearth and a heavy-set Skovlan bartender named GUNNAR is pouring a thick ale from a barrel into a tankard while a brawny customer waits.

Only a few loyal patrons frequent the tavern at this time and they cluster in small groups. All appear to be working class. The majority look like Skovlanders. LEANDER stands out as he enters the bar as his clothing is much finer than that of the locals, and he is physically smaller.

Quickly surveying the place, LEANDER makes his way over to the bar, waits for the customer to be given his ale and then offers a smile to GUNNAR.

LEANDER:
(gesturing to the drink that the customer has accepted) Another one of those, if you please.

GUNNAR seems faintly surprised, but he gets a fresh tankard and starts pouring. Time passes. When the tankard is full, he places it on the bar and stares at LEANDER.

LEANDER produces some coins onto the bar.

LEANDER:
Is this enough?

GUNNAR takes two coins and leaves the others. He still says nothing. LEANDER takes the tankard and sips at the drink. It’s very strong stuff but he doesn’t choke.

LEANDER:
It’s good. (conversationally) I’m looking for Urs Knieppson. I was told that he might be here.

GUNNAR looks hard at LEANDER, then looks past him as if confirming that he is here alone.

GUNNAR:
What do you want with Urs?

LEANDER:
(quickly) He’s not in any trouble. I understand that he is looking for something. A friend suggested that I might be able to help.

GUNNAR’s stern face is unreadable. He appears unimpressed.

GUNNAR:
(at last) You are prepared to wait?

LEANDER nods. GUNNAR turns away from LEANDER and calls over to ULF IRONBORN who is sitting with HAVID and MAGNI at a nearby table. All three of the Skovlanders are big – much bigger than LEANDER.

GUNNAR speaks in Skovic. Subtitles appear in Akorosian for the benefit of the uneducated viewer.

GUNNAR:
(in Skovic) Ulf, this whelp wants to talk to Urs.

ULF IRONBORN looks up from his tankard and frowns. He glares at LEANDER, then gets slowly to his feet. ULF IRONBORN is broad-shouldered and powerfully built. His hair is shaved on the sides but is mane-like elsewhere. He is armed both with sword and dagger.

ULF IRONBORN:
(in Skovic, to GUNNAR) Who is he? Did he come alone?

LEANDER:
(in halting Skovic) I’m Leander, and yes, I came alone.

ULF IRONBORN walks over to the bar, faintly amused. He has a swagger about him, partly because he has already drunk a lot of ale and partly because he is ULF IRONBORN (oh fear his name for he is large and scary)

ULF IRONBORN:
(in Skovic, to LEANDER) Where did you learn to speak our language?

LEANDER:
(in slightly more fluent Skovic) From my father, and some of his friends. He was a merchant.

ULF IRONBORN:
(in Skovic, very surprised) A merchant? Are you saying that you, and your father were friends of my people?

LEANDER frowns. He understands the intent of the question but he hasn’t spoken Skovic in a number of years.

LEANDER:
(in halting Skovic) My father was a …. craftsman.

(switches back to Akorosian) He had no enemies amongst the Skovlanders. At least, none that I know of.

ULF IRONBORN:
(switches to Akorosian) Ah…. and now you wish to speak with Urs. (he gestures to HAVID and MAGNI) We will… keep you company until Urs arrives. Yes?

LEANDER nods. He looks a little uncomfortable given the physical size of the Skovlanders.

WIPE TO – INTERIOR – OLD FORGE TAVERN

The table that ULF IRONBORN, HAVID, MAGNI and LEANDER are sitting at is half covered in empty tankards of ale. The centre of the table is littered with dice and examples of LEANDER’s silver jewellery. Some are of Skovlander design. Others are Iruvian.

MAGNI roars with laughter as ULF IRONBORN picks up two pieces of Skovlander jewellery and drunkenly scrutinises each. He finally chooses one.

ULF IRONBORN:
(in Skovic) This one…. is real.

LEANDER:
(shakes his head and replies in fluent Skovic) My father made that one. And this one – (he points a finger to the other piece in Ulf’s hand) – this one I made.

ULF IRONBORN picks up the other piece of jewellery and gives it a hard look. MAGNI laughs even louder.

ULF IRONBORN throws down the pieces and is suddenly irate.

ULF IRONBORN:
(in Skovic) Trickery. No, I will not –

HAVID sits forward.

HAVID:
(in Skovic, less drunk than the others) Ulf, you gave your word.

ULF IRONBORN gives a roar of disgust and gets to his feet, stalking off in the direction of the bar to buy another round.

HAVID:
(switching to Akorosian, he counsels LEANDER) You may be skilled, but I think Ulf’s patience is reaching its limits. Be warned….

LEANDER listens drunkenly. He is clearly inebriated.

LEANDER:
Is Urs coming?

HAVID:
(returning to Skovic) Who can say? Not I. Maybe he will. Maybe he won’t.

LEANDER groans. He has understood the gist of it. He looks at the ceiling, worried that this has all been a waste of time. As he sits back, MAGNI notices the pistol that LEANDER is carrying underneath his coat. It’s no ordinary pistol. It’s one of the firearms that the Emporium Crew stole from the Imperial Cruiser and it’s a military grade weapon. MAGNI stops laughing. He waits until ULF IRONBORN is back in earshot before confronting LEANDER. (GUNNAR is pouring fresh tankards of ale)

MAGNI:
(in Akorosian) That’s a nice pistol that you have there.

ULF IRONBORN sits down heavily. He seems to have forgotten his anger for the time being. He is quite drunk.

MAGNI:
(in Skovic, speaking quickly) Brothers, this man is more than he appears. He carries a sidearm with the symbol of the Imperial Military imprinted upon it.

ULF IRONBORN is too drunk to properly comprehend but HAVID’s gaze becomes hard.

HAVID:
(in Akorosian) Where did you get that pistol, friend?

LEANDER gives HAVID a cold stare.

LEANDER:
(in Skovic) Where … is … Urs?

There is a sudden silence at the table. HAVID and MAGNI seem about to leap on LEANDER but ULF IRONBORN hasn’t given them a signal to act due to his drunkenness. LEANDER is getting cranky as he feels that he is being conned. He hasn’t picked up the danger that he’s in. HAVID and MAGNI are wondering if LEANDER works for Imperials and the Skovlanders hate them the Imperials because of the Unity War and years of oppression. They are ready to throw themselves at LEANDER at the slightest sign from ULF IRONBORN.

Instead ULF IRONBORN lets out an almighty belch as GUNNAR arrives with four tankards of ale.

ULF IRONBORN:
(in Akorosian) I kept … my word.

LEANDER nods drunkenly.

LEANDER:
(in Skovic, tiredly) Next round is mine….

HAVID and MAGNI still seem ready to leap upon LEANDER but neither LEANDER nor ULF IRONBORN seem to notice. ULF IRONBORN acknowledges LEANDER’s statement with a drunken nod. HAVID and MAGNI sit back slightly. They glance at each other and decide to bide their time.

ULF IRONBORN:
(in Skovic) So, friend…. Do you have a name?

LEANDER’s laugh is a short chuckle.

LEANDER:
(in Skovic) It’s Leander.

There is no recognition on ULF IRONBORN’s face. To the Skovlanders, LEANDER is a nobody.

ULF IRONBORN:
(in Skovic, looking suddenly less drunk) I’m Ulf, son of Ulfnir. And these are my kinsmen -

LEANDER nods respectfully. He has no idea that Ulf is actually ULF IRONBORN. Even if Ulf introduced himself as ULF IRONBORN, LEANDER is drunk enough that he might not figure out just how dangerous this individual is.

HAVID:
(in Skovic) Havid, son of Brecca.

MAGNI:
(in Skovic) Magni, son of Atgeir.

LEANDER:
(in Skovic) A pleasure to meet you all.

HAVID:
(in Akorosian) Now that we are all friends, will you tell us where you got your pistol from?

LEANDER appears surprised.

LEANDER:
(in Akorosian) This? This one?

LEANDER takes a look at his pistol and comprehension dawns as to where he acquired it and that the others have also spotted it. His eyes narrow as he drunkenly realises that having a military-issue pistol might be a problem in front of a group of Skovlanders. He starts to feel the gravity of the situation.

LEANDER:
(in Akorosian) It’s stolen.

The Skovlanders seem surprised.

MAGNI:
(in Skovic) Is he -?

HAVID:
(in Skovic, cuts him off) There was a theft. Or at least, I heard of one. A lot of weapons went missing.

LEANDER:
(in Akorosian) My Skovic is a little rusty. Could you speak in Akorosian, if you don’t mind?

ULF IRONBORN is looking at LEANDER with respect for the first time in the evening. He’s drunk but he’s weighing up the situation. He seems to have put two and two together.

ULF IRONBORN:
(in Akorosian, in a measured tone, his voice slurs) Friend Leander, did you steal guns from the Imperial Military?

LEANDER takes a deep breath. If he doesn’t answer truthfully they’ll think he’s some sort of spy. He nods.

LEANDER:
(in Akorosian) Enough to start a small war, yes, we did.

ULF IRONBORN, MAGNI and HAVID look at one another in astonishment. Then a smile trickles across MAGNI’s face. ULF IRONBORN erupts in laughter and the others follow. LEANDER stares at them – he doesn’t see the funny side at all.

After a good thirty seconds of laughter, ULF IRONBORN leans forward.

ULF IRONBORN:
(in Akorosian) The lad here is a rebel! And do you still have enough to start a small war?

LEANDER:
(in Akorosian) No, only a few pieces.

The three Skovlanders look disappointed, then HAVID claps LEANDER on the back.

HAVID:
(in Skovic, talking to the others) Still, a useful man to know.

MAGNI:
(in Skovic) Better not kill him then.

LEANDER looks offended at the suggestion. He understood what MAGNI said.

MAGNI:
(in Skovic, to Ulf) Should I see if Urs wants to talk to him?

The penny drops for LEANDER.

LEANDER:
(in Akorosian) You mean, he’s been here the whole time?

MAGNI ignores LEANDER’s comment. ULF IRONBORN gives a curt nod and thumbs MAGNI to go and get URS KNIEPPSON.

URS KNIEPPSON is literally sitting at the next table with a few other Skovlanders. He’s been in the tavern right from the beginning when LEANDER first walked in.

LEANDER just stares at the situation. He tries to think clearly but his brain is befuddled by booze.

URS KNIEPPSON gives a respectful nod to MAGNI and gets up. He is a big man, broad shouldered like the other Skovlanders but he is an old soldier, his face worn and his hair grey. He has scars on his face.

He sizes up LEANDER and then pulls up another stool to the table. URS KNIEPPSON has been drinking but he is not drunk.

LEANDER:
(in Skovic) I’m Leander –

URS KNIEPPSON:
(in Akorosian) I know. I have ears and I have been listening. Why are you looking for me?

LEANDER takes a deep breath and tries to sober up quickly.

LEANDER:
(in Akorosian) I know that you’re looking for someone or something. It’s making one of my friends very nervous.

URS KNIEPPSON raises a battered eyebrow but says nothing.

LEANDER:
(in Akorosian) I don’t know the word in Skovic but I’m talking about the ghosts who don’t go mad when their body dies. The ones who live on, and on…

MAGNI, HAVID and ULF IRONBORN look confused.

URS KNIEPPSON:
(in Akorosian) You have my attention. Now, what do you want?

LEANDER:
(in Akorosian) I want to help you if I can –

URS KNIEPPSON:
(in Akorosian after snorting) I don’t need your help, Akorosian.

LEANDER frowns, but he was prepared for this.

LEANDER:
(in Akorosian) My friend is afraid of you. Surely you can understand that? They don’t know what you want but they feel threatened. Can you tell me what you want?

ULF IRONBORN:
(in Skovic) Urs, what are you talking about?

URS KNIEPPSON ignores him. His attention is fixed on LEANDER.

URS KNIEPPSON:
(in Akorosian) I don’t care about your ghost friends, even though they should not be. But they are my only link to recovering my master’s ashes.

LEANDER concentrates but the booze is affecting his thinking.

LEANDER:
(in Akorosian) So …. you just want your master’s ashes?

URS KNIEPPSON nods gravely.

LEANDER:
(in Akorosian) Okay, okay. I think I can help you.

URS KNIEPPSON:
(in Akorosian) I don’t want your help.

LEANDER:
(in Akorosian) But if I could just ask them if they knew…. and assuming that they have them …. if they could give them to you, would that be acceptable?

URS KNIEPPSON thinks for a moment. He seems willing to at least consider it.

LEANDER:
(in Akorosian) I just mean that they might be more willing to tell me than you. If I can find a way to get what you’re after, would you stop hunting them?

URS KNIEPPSON considers the idea thoughtfully.

URS KNIEPPSON:
(in Akorosian) I admit that would have no further reason to hunt them.

LEANDER:
(switching to Skovic) Then do we have a bargain? Do I have your word?

URS KNIEPPSON:
(in Skovic) Very well. You have my word.

LEANDER takes a deep breath. He feels that he has done it.

LEANDER:
(switching back to Akorosian) Ok, can you give me some time? A few weeks perhaps. And as much information as you can to help me to ask the right questions. I promise to do my best to help you to find what you’re after.

URS KNIEPPSON cocks his head thoughtfully.

URS KNIEPPSON:
(in Skovic) So…. let us begin. This is what you need to know ….

FADE OUT - OLD FORGE TAVERN

As URS KNIEPPSON leans forward to share detailed information with LEANDER.

CUT TO – EXTERIOR – SIX TOWERS, APPROACHING THE EMPORIUM

LEANDER is flanked by two large Skovlanders who are seeing him ‘home’ – HAVID and MAGNI. His escorts stare at the shop-front of the Emporium and the bright-coloured candies in the front of the store.

HAVID:
(in Akorosian) You live… here?

MAGNI:
(in Akorosian) What are these things? (pointing to the objects in the window)

LEANDER:
(fishes drunkenly for a key in his pocket) Oh, those black and white ones are humbugs. Our first batch. Would you like to try one?

MAGNI nods slowly, as if unsure what he is agreeing to. LEANDER opens the door to the shop. He heads inside into the dark shop-front and comes back shortly after with two small bags of lollies, one for each of them.

The large Skovlanders open up the bags and each try a lolly.

MAGNI’s face lights up in surprise as he tastes one.

MAGNI:
(in Skovic) It’s sweet.

HAVID:
(in Akorosian, nods in appreciation) It is very good.

LEANDER seems to be pleased with the reaction. He bids them goodnight and the camera begins to pan back as HAVID and MAGNI leave the Emporium, wandering back to their own homes, occasionally stopping to fish another humbug out of the small paper bags.

FADE OUT ……