Blades of the Jhereg: Statement of Intent

Disclaimer: One of the stretch goals for the original BitD Kickstarter was Blades of the Jhereg, a FitD setting based on Steven Brusts’ Taltos series. I am NOT officially associated with John Harper, and can’t claim to be creating that stretch goal product. I first stumbled onto BitD through my love of the Taltos series, and just eventually decided that I had enough ideas about how the setting would work to actually create my own version.

So that’s what I’m working on now: A Blades hack set in Adrilankha. You and your group play a Jhereg crime organization seeking power and fortune. As the Taltos books were a primary inspiration for Blades in the Dark, many of the rules are brought over as is. The main changes/additions are:

  • New playbooks (some based on existing ones, some new, such as sorcerer, witch, and familiar)
  • New backgrounds/heritages (Dragaeran, Easterner, etc.)
  • Jhereg organization (new crew type) and crew rules
  • Rules for sorcery/witchcraft/psionics
  • Setting (obviously)

I’ve got my first playtest scheduled for the end of the month, so that will force me to get some polishing in. Enough to put an Alpha version out soon.

I mainly wanted to get this out there so folks know to watch this space for future updates. Also, please leave a reply if you have opinions on what this setting should include – any ideas about abilities, items (Items have been a big challenge – Brusts’ characters travel light!), for example.

Thanks!
D

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We should talk. I messaged you. :slight_smile:

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I’m interested in seeing how you handle morganti blades and Great Weapons.

That’s a fun one!

Current thought:
Morganti blades are in regular use by the Jhereg, and as such, you will be able to acquire them through an Acquire Assets check (requires a minimum effect result). You can also buy a crew upgrade that gives you access to them whenever you want.

Using them causes 1 stress per scene in which they are used. Wielding one gives you +1d to actions to intimidate, and potency in combat. Anyone killed by one has their soul destroyed, which is likely to result in increased heat and reduced faction status.

I’m not planning to cover Great Weapons in detail – it’s certainly an area players can explore if they wish. But Brust has laid out some guidelines. I’d say:

  • No stress cost
  • They protect your soul from being destroyed
  • You/They can choose not to destroy souls
  • They can be your witch’s familiar (Morrolan/Blackwand)
  • Each is unique and may have additional abilities

Let me know what you think!
D

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The effects of Morganti weapons in the books seem stronger than this. How about a similar effect to a ghost or demon appearing in Blades: everyone in the area must decide to run, freeze, or resist those consequences with Resolve? That would do a pretty decent job of replicating the spine-chilling fear that Brust describes. It’d also make these extremely powerful weapons dangerous to use for everyone involved.

That brings up a great point about how players are affected by opponents wielding Morganti blades, which I hadn’t put much thought to. I’ll make a note to add some details about that. Thanks!

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Hey man. email me about this, my screenname @ gmail.com. I started something like this too. I was working on Playbooks being each race. A Dzur is similar to a Cutter, and Issola is similar to a Slide, and work from there. Then make one for sorcery and witchcraft that you can main, or take powers as the Veteran power.

For Crews, most of them fit different groups of Jhereg, but you could also have The Lavodes, Phoenix Guards, Revolutionaries, etc.

I don’t think Increased Heat / Reduced Faction Status is enough. Bear in mind to the Dragerans they objectively know about souls and the afterlife. They know reincarnation is both real and something to aspire to. Carrying one, let alone using one is a huge deal.

I think you want something the equivalent of the Deathseeker Crows and Spirit Wardens in regular Blades. There are people out there who will try to hunt you down and kill you just for having one.

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From a mechanics perspective, that’s exactly what Heat does in Blades. It’s not like murder is a trigger that makes the Spirit Wardens automatically go after you. For one thing, an individual killing can’t necessarily be traced back to you as a group. But if you’re murdering people with Morganti Blades on every mission, the Phoenix Guards will come after you (and your Jhereg bosses) may not appreciate the extra attention.

I’m certainly interested to see how it playtests.

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Will do. I’ll have the playbooks ready shortly, and I’m happy to hear feedback. My focus is playing a Jhereg organization, so the Houses mostly act as background, rather than playbooks.

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Sure. But my point is that murder in Blades has 2 responses. Mechanically a score where death occurs raises extra heat. But you also have the phenomena of the Spirit Wardens / Deathseeker Crows in the fiction.

Murder in Drageara is meant to be taken far more lightly than murder in Duskvol. Sometimes it’s just a warning. But murder with Morganti is in fiction treated as a much bigger deal and is much more like murder in Duskvol IMO.

Can you think of any examples where Morganti murder is treated as a bigger deal? The only time I can recall any Imperial reprisal in the books is when Vlad assassinates Tagichatn, who had the title of Duke, which led to Vlad being questioned under the orb. So it’s clear that murder of nobility is taken seriously.

Just HAVING a Morganti weapon will get you arrested. Using it is far worse. Here’s an example. In Jhereg I think, he talks about the different kinds of murder. You can send a message, let them get rezed. You can kill them in a way that they can’t come back, which costs double to triple. But a Morganti killing is 10k as much. If you have to pay more, it’s because the consequences are worse.

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The enmity that the Left Hand of the Jhereg hold for Vlad is specifically because he kills one of their high level sorcerers with Lady Teldra in Dzur. It’s at that point that he realises that she’s still Morganti.

That enmity carries on over several books.

(Edited to fix autocorrect errors. Telstra tcha!)

Lady Teldra :wink:
But you’re not wrong.

It’s rare I blame autocorrect because you know, I should reread my posts before posting.

But damn autocorrect. :slight_smile:

And it’s particularly galling because Teldra (frowns at autocorrect and overrules) is my favourite character in the series in both forms.

She’s your favorite because you’re a man of class.

I think that one scene is the only one in any book to make me tear up. I was so mad/sad about it.

I figured it was autocorrect. I just wanted to mess with you =D

No worries :slight_smile: gentle leg pull is always welcome. (And have edited post :-))

Man, that scene is still my hands down … favourite is the wrong word because I hate it so much. But most reread, certainly.

It’s been a couple of years since I read the books, but I think you’re right here. I seem to remember that:

  1. Jobs with Morganti weapons cost a LOT extra.
  2. The weapons are often custom made, and,
  3. The weapons are disposed of after the job is done.

Like the OP, I don’t see the need for custom triggers when extra heat would do the trick. Sure, fictional triggers should exist in all things, like when your Bravoes get a bit too murder-y and the Inspectors start dogging their heels.