"Bump in the Dark" Solo-Game

“Bump in the Dark” is a game where almost no mechanics have changed. It’s pretty much Blades in the Dark with another setting (and a bit less focus on crime). I have 2 groups.

Due to a lot of players cancelling I tried playing the game without any players. Only me, a crew sheet and 2 playbooks.

It worked! And it was fun. Ending out as some sort of complicated and creative solitaire.

Of course it wasn’t as fun compared to when friends join in but it still made for a good story.
I did not have many surprises but the consequences made sure that I didn’t get it to easy even if I was GM and players at the same time.

I have a write-up in my native language. I’ll translate it at some point.


That sounds very cool. So are you using cards as a kind of oracle? Or is that not what you meant by “solitaire”?

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Hey The_Benj

Welcome to the forums. :slight_smile: and thanks for the interest.

I didn’t use cards. I have a writeup from the game I translated to English somewhere on my PC. I can post it late Friday.

Basically I just followed the rules, played the characters, and wrote down their actions when I thought off what they would do. Then describing the risks and position. I rolled the dice in real life and thought up a fitting consequence. Just like most times I GM. Only difference is I need to think of the what the characters would do too.

I had two characters, an ex-soldier and a physics student. So their outlooks and ways to handle a situation was pretty different. They were researching a glowing green rock and ended almost traumatized with lack of stress and one was badly hurt. But they succeeded narrowly success and caused lots of damage to the city university labs during the game.

I got one “heist” off, downtime and XP in around 4 hours. So it’s a bit more time consuming than playing with friends.

Motherloom - Game Run 1
Sunday 7-4-2019 12: 00-16:00

The rain has just stopped. Few clouds are slowly crawling up north. There are still puddles along the curbs, but they disappear quickly in the summer heat and the vapor leaves a warm thick air.

People in the street sweat through their work shirts and summer dresses.

Yasmina is still in her distinctive green hoodie. At her side and a little behind, Timothy follow. He has a thrift-shop polo-T-shirt and shorts on for the weather, but the shorts look too short. His knees are bony and his slender long limbs look even more unnatural.

They are moving a little further inland, to some militant activists “Servants of the Curios Crow” who need the help of a physicist. Timothy is a physicist. But the activists have enemies, and the Curios Crow themselves are not to be taken lightly. In addition, physical injury is always a risk in Albrim’s slum. So Yasmina is there. For she is, in the absence of better words, a warrior.

Liza L33t gives them a crystal to be investigated the Crows have not even dared to do anything with it, as it is said to be very dangerous. The crystal is placed in a portable ice chest lined with tin foil and locked with a large jury-rigged padlock.

Liza L33t laughed when Yasmina and Timothy used their code names, "Scar" and "Beanstalk", but agreed to give them the crystal for study.

Beanstalk quickly study the box and the crystal for ionizing radiation with his geiger counter. [Study 2d: 3,5 = Success with consequence] The crystal is a little radioactive, the consequence comes as soon as the mission starts.

They choose a research mission. The detail is that it has to be done at Albrim State University where Timothy is studying.

Timothy packs most of his improvised stuff into a pair of bags and goes heavy-load.
Yasmina chooses to dress more easily, she does not intend to wake up as the mood around the Arabs is strained. If they are stopped by the police, there is a risk that the crystal will be confiscated if they cannot provide a bribe. So she chooses to go light-load.

Gather info:
Timothy first asks around about the Crystal [Consort 1d: 1] He only gets limited info: "It is dangerous. Don’t touch it.”

Engagement roll:
Luck [+ 1d]
It is not a particularly bold mission.
They know no weaknesses about the thing.
They have no friendly contacts that seem to help. Basil Black, who is Timothy’s rival, is also the enemy of “Curios Crow”, so he can put a stick in the wheel of them. [-1d]
So they end up with 1 dice and hit 5. They start in a risky situation.

At the physics laboratory the mass spectrometer is in use and the cooling box has begun crystallizing. It seems that the danger they are talking about is that crystal is crystalizing surrounding material.

Scar and Bean discuss how they get the other researchers out. Bean suggests that they manipulate the other researchers by stating that their test is radioactive and dangerous so that the other researchers will leave the area, but Scar suggests that they instead try to get the other researchers to help, as she doesn’t know much science.

Bean tries. He is a student and they are researchers, so he will have a limited effect. The risk is that the crystals infect Bean. He wants to make a deal with the devil and getting outsiders into a mission could give heat. [Sway 2d + 1d: 1,5,6] Perfect, the Researchers are interested, but because it is limited in effect, he is not quite there yet.

Bean makes a flashback where he actually books the spectrometer in the calender.

It’s enough for the other researchers to go, so Scar and Bean are left with a few students and not a researcher.

The consequence of the past begins to emerge. There is an effect from the crystal that the geiger counter did not detect and it has affected Bean. A lvl 1 harm: Crystalized fingers [Resist, Prowes 1d: 4 = 2 stress]. He gets his fingers away just in time from the spreading crystals.

Timothy uses the laboratory equipment to study the crystal. It is a reasonably high level of strange relic and is hard to figure out so there will be limited effect [Study 2d: 4,6] I start a clock with 8 tics and strokes 1, for limited effect.

Scar is looking out the window, but get back to the task at hand and wants to help. She chooses to liven up the students with her sergeant-like approach. Intimidating them into action. She only has one dice, so she would like to push herself for an extra dice. [Command 1d + 1d: 4,6] Although they do not like the commanding voice, but she gets the 2 students started properly and I check 1 on the clock.

Bean wants to study it more and has some of his own quality Science gear too. He puts some electrodes on the Green Crystal to measure the voltages and other science stuff. [Study 2d: 4,5] He manages it with a consequence. It mysteriously begins to start a small whirlwind in the room and sparks fly between metallic objects. Paper and dust show a transparent sideways tornado just behind the crystal. A portal is opening up. The immediate effect is that the students are frightened and will run away, but Timothy uses his determination to resist the consequence [Resolve 3d: 1,2,4 = 2 stress]. I dash 1 on the clock (3/8). He shouts "For science!" And it works.

Scar would like to explore escape routes and find a way to safeguard people against the mysterious tornado (to raise the position to controlled). She pushes herself [Survey: 1d + 1d: 2,3] The portal opens and it is now clear that something extra-scientific definetly is going on. Semi-transparent grey tentacles move slowly out of the hole, as dancing smoke and as they hit Scar on her face, great painful marks emerge that shine like oil [lvl 2 harm]. She resists [Prowess 2d: 2,3 = 3 stress]. Scar is very affected by stress, but only get a lvl1 harm "pain mark". This is scary in a way she has not experienced in the war she came from.
She rises from the pain and pulls her good quality aluminum bat and tries to protect her friend, with limited effect due to her pain, but it is offset by the quality of her good old bat. [2d: 4.4]. She gets hold of the tentacles, but she herself get hit several times. She does not choose to resist and gets lvl 2 harm "portal wounds".

Bean continues his investigation. He needs to solve this mystery!! He wants an increased effect on a deal with the devil, but you can’t as I read it. So he changes position for increased effect and does something very desperate. He bargains with the devil and get collateral damage. The sparks change into small lightning strikes and they fry some equipment. [Study 2d + 1d: 2,5,6] He succeeds in his study and I tick 2 on the clock (5/8) without any other consequences. Because it is desperate, he checks 1 XP in Insight.

Because he is a convincing guy, Bean tries to manipulate the students to get extra credit by collecting the notes blowing around in the portal tornado. It’s risky because the tentacles, althoug slow are dangerous. "Hey, the angry little girl holds those who weird tentacles away! It’s totally harmless! ”He baragins with the devil for more heat. [Sway 2d + 1d: 1,2,5] They get the notes together (Ur: 6/8), but the students get a beating. Scar protects them (that was the goal of her action), so no one dies, but one flees and the other is crying behind a table. Bean also gets lvl 2 harm “Plagued conscience” which he resists [Resolve 3d: 1,2,3 = 3 stress]. It’s reduced to lvl 1 “Bad conscience”.

They are almost on target but stressed and beat up. They just have to make the last roll! Desperate for increased effect, they throw themselves into the very last study. Scar must assist because of the lack of students and therefore also risking consequence, shouting “For f****** Science!” And marks 1 stress. Timothy turns the mass spectrometer so that it shoots its measuring laser directly into the portal to see what that is all about! They take the devils outstretched hand as their havoc in the lab will cause Albrim’s Academical society to become annoyed with them. [Study 2d + 1d + 1d: 1,2,4,5] Both are embraced by the tentacles as they push the measuring instrument closer to the portal during the rising wind. The hidden student crying change to wailing!
The last research is checked (8/8) and Bean uses his Mastermind special ability to protect Scar. He marks special armor. He had previously spotted the pattern in the movements of the tentacles and made her stand in a better place. Bean gets lvl 3 harm “Impaled by tentacle” and Scar lvl 2 “Portal wounds”.
In addition, they both get 1xp in insight as the action was desperate.

Bean falls over, speared by one of the tentacles. And even though there is no hole, there is probably the ugly oily-like paste all the way through his chest. Scar must get them out now, in a fighting retreat from the portal, she takes the devils bargain, starts a troublesome 6-tick clock “Scar’s mutation”, grabs the crystal and struggles out [Skrimish 2d-1d + 1d: 5,6].

I roll 6 on “Scar’s mutation” and start out by checking 3 ticks (3/6).

The portal closes as they leave the room.

4 Rep because it was a tier 2 relic. The amount of data was fantastic and Liza L33t pays 4 Coin. Although Scar is unhappy, 1 coin goes to pay for the damage to the laboratory.

2 heat from devils bargain.
It was a reasonably contained event as it was only in one room, so 2 heats.

[Heat 4: 1d: 1 = Gang Trouble or Questioning] Motherloom has no cohorts, so it’s questioning. The police catch the most vulnerable, and it is Shiny, who is Beanstalk’s burlesque friend. She is used to the hard life, but has something to lose. She has 1 dice in her fortune roll [1d: 6]. She’s not talking.

Scar finds a doctor for both of them. [Acquire asset: Tier 0: 2,4] It’s a pretty bad doctor. One of the vagabonds under the bridge has told how she was a nurse before she was thrown out of her job due to drinking the hospital medical alcohol. She is now partially blind. “Laureen Half-eye” (Tier -1). But she gladly helps to get Scar’s protection.

Timothy gets some “doctor” help: [Tier 0: 0d: 3,5] So there is 1 tick on the healing clock. He’s not going anywhere.

Scar is also healing. She has a therapist who helps her with the mental stuff. [Tier 0: 0d + 1d + 1d: 2,6] So it’s 3 ticks on healing and everything pulls a bit down goes a bit down due to her vigorous ability.

Timothy tries again. It probably won’t be that good. [Tier 0: 0d: 5,5] Hey! Half-Eye was able to tend to him. He use 1 coin to improve it to a 6-effect, giving him 3 ticks and his lvl3 reduced to lvl2 harm “Portal wounds”.

Timothy and Scar are both very stressed and use some reputation to indulge vice: Worship.
In the name of science, they sacrifice the recently gained information by sharing the it with the scientific community as they revel in the details of the mystery they have solved.

Scar: [Insight 2d: 4,6 = -6 stress] Nice! In addition, the Science Goddess Neith will assist in the next mission.
Beanstalk: [Insight 1d: 2 = -2 stress] Yes, okay it will be an easy mission next time. But he also gets an assist.

Factions Downtime

  1. Academical society - "Slander" [Tier 2: 2.5]: 2 ticks (2/4)
  2. Traveler - ”Contact” [Tier 3: 2,3,6]: 3 ticks (3/8)
  3. Curious Crow - "Weaponize!" [Tier 2: 3,5]: 2 ticks (2/8)
    Scar mutation (3/6)

XP Crew: Motherloom
Execute a successful research mission: 1
Contend with Challenges above your current station: 1
Bolster your crew reputation: Ambitious? Nah.
Express the goals, drives, inner conflict or nature: 2, lots of nature. They are scientists.
Writeup of the session (house rule): 1

XP Scar: 5
Address challenge with violence or fear: 2
Commanded the students and smash tentacles.

Express beliefs, drives, heritage or background: 2
Selected load based on heritage, "Get back up again" drive.

You struggle with issuses from your vice or trauma during the session: 1
It hurt that the research information is now publicly available.

LVL up! She puts all XP in Insight and gets an extra dot in Tinker.

XP Beanstalk: 5
Address challenge with deception or influence: 2
Got influence over the students.
Cheated the students.
Booked a laboratory so the researchers went away?

Express beliefs, drives, heritage or background: 2
At least he wanted to solve the mystery and used his background as a physics student.

You struggle with issuses from your vice or trauma during the session: 1
It hurt that the research information is now publicly available.

LVL-UP: He gets an extra dice in Insight. He puts it in Study.
The last XP goes to the Playbook.

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