I started with my crew hired to go spy on something the fog hounds were smuggling into the docks by an unknown patron. it turned out to be a person getting shadowed into the city to meet with a member of the city council and then they could go try to figure out who the person was or why they had to meet in secret. They eventually got pulled into taking sides in an political battle with the city council but one they had very limited information on. Different councilors were outsourcing jobs to various gangs in different parts of the city so they got to meet a bunch of different factions that way.
I just started a new game last Friday, my first try running BitD, and new to all my players as well.
They’re a crew of Hawkers in Crow’s Foot dealing in spirit essences out of an apothecary shop, on the spike shaped island on the west side. I’m starting with the War in Crow’s Foot, but really just created characters and set the scene so far. It’ll all kick off this Friday.
We initially set aside the Hawkers sheet, but some of the players wanted to be smugglers trading in corpses and extracting and selling their essences. This really seemed too complex and dangerous to me. Too many problems to solve all at once.how to key away the Deathseeker Crows and Wardens? Where do the corpses come from? Where and how do they extract the ghosts from the corpses, and refine the spirit of essences? Who are their customers. Way too much in one go. So I suggested they pick on one aspect of it to focus on, and selling refined spirit essences fit the bill.
So one F the PCs has an apothecaries as an ally, who they decided minds the shop. Another us a Whisper who checks and handles the essences. A third is a disgraced academic, who knows which researchers and decadent students are interested in essences. It all seems to fit together nicely. They’ve not yet finalised crew relationships yet.
So the next issue is how to kick things off. Maybe the crew is transporting a new load of merchandise to the shop. I think I’ll start with some street scenes and vignettes in Crows Foot on the way. They witnesses some lampblacks strong-arming a street vendor for protection. Some Red Sashes harass and chase off some Skovlander street performers. Describe the hustle and bustle and build to a confrontation.
My first game (still ongoing) began in a war between the Gondoliers and the Dimmer Sisters. The Spirit Wardens were quietly supporting the Sisters in the hopes of annihilating the Gondoliers, gaining popular support, and leveraging that support into additional funding and influence (and if the Sisters lost, well, that’s another dangerous mystical force off the street). The Eely-Feelies (a group of Shadows with a reputation for violence & daring) ran stealth ops for the Gondoliers while also getting lucrative jobs from a contact in the nobility. I think I should have done more to build more urgency into the situation from the beginning, but the war is about to come to a head (the Sisters just struck the Gondoliers headquarters and kidnapped Griggs to get arcane information), and the slow start let us ease into the system (none of us have really played RPGs before).
I feel like I got the hang of the starting situation with my second game (I play with writers, and goddamn Session 0 is so fun I could be convinced to play it as a stand-alone). My players ran Strangford & Coalburn, Ltd., a transportation company that was a front for their smuggling operation Bleater & Grabber Unlimited. They used to be crewmembers on the Fog Hound, and they’d become targets of the Fog Hound’s “eliminate competitors” clock once they quit to start their own shop. Bleater & Grabber Unlimited ran missions on the ‘one for the heart, one for the pocketbook model,’ smuggling revolutionary graphic novels to a new union of ironworkers in Coalridge for Ulf Ironborn one evening, then sneaking a cursed artifact into the basement of the Red Sashes’ Temple of the Falling Star for the Billhooks the next.
In that second game, I discovered it’s really helpful to have one or two Tier 1 factions that the Crew can go toe-to-toe with from the get-go (the Fog Hounds, the Night Queen’s cult in the Nightmarket, a veteran editor for the Ink Rakes). I feel like this lets the Crewmembers start throwing their weight around right away, without their agency being hampered by worrying about potential catastrophes (like, say, running an op against the Spirit Wardens in Session 2)?