Inkwell Ideas: Fantasy NPC Deck 2!

I had the opportunity to work with Joe Wetzel of Inkwell Ideas on doing NPC descriptions for his second deck of NPCs! He was a fantastic collaborator, and I’m grateful for the chance to freelance for him. I think this deck is a lot of fun, and each card should provide ideas for one or three adventures. Take a look!

NPC deck 2

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The Black Space Hack Character Sheet

Now we’re getting some progress with releasing the Black Space Hack! Check out the character sheet by Vandel Arden.



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Silent Legions: As Above, So Below. Session 4

Silent Legions AASB Banner

After their adventure in sabotage, they retreated from Blakelee West and the Candlemach Cathedral. Terry dropped off the rental and got his car back, and headed to Shroud Ridge. Truc and Jason got into a fender bender with an irate cabby, but eventually made it back.

They reflected on the various scenarios that could result from their adventure, hoping that Fr. Silva would destroy himself, but unable to be sure. A phone chat with a largely unsympathetic Bought didn’t settle their nerves, so they decided to revisit the Slaysor Mansion.


Sneed was quite pleased to see them, and Truc returned the altar-finding amulet to him. They accepted Sneed’s offer of tea and biscuits, and lingered past sunset; he found sunset a pleasurable experience. Danielle Sawyenta (“the Mistress”) wanted to see them if they were open to the idea. They strolled into the parlor, an area behind the velvet rope that museum patrons got to look at but not enter, and made themselves comfortable.

Danielle was sympathetic to their uncertainty about whether the sabotage would work, and Fr. Silva would summon a vengeful ghost but it would kill him instead of his target. She could not scry through the defenses of the cathedral, but she was willing to risk going with them after midnight to the cathedral to see if the deed was done. She would consult a ghost who could tell her what happened. They agreed.

Truc was somewhat unsettled by Sneed and Danielle’s attention to him, especially in the context of Grifton as a dark and lovely conflagration of power that draws hopefuls from all over, and has seasoned Truc since before he was born in its energies. There were too many meat analogies, and the creepy wizard types looked too salivatory when they looked at him. Especially since they were only polite to Terry, and Jason mainly got into philosophical challenges with them, regarding life and death and the role of the doctor. She asked if he would say she was alive, enjoying his discomfort. She airily noted that when Sneed died he would continue to serve her until she was finished with him, and he didn’t seem upset by that idea.

Truc loaded an app on his phone to pick up police band and tuned it to Blakelee West after some struggles with the technology. He also sent Emilia a vague text that everything was fine. Eventually the midnight hour was upon them, the clock chimed, and they headed out.


Truc noticed he was smelling something like a musty old library, and he commented, but no one else could smell it–then he felt Danielle’s voice in his mind telling him she linked to him to keep him safe, and that was distressing.

Quarter after midnight, and there was chatter on the police band for a “code 71.” Nobody knew what that was (and Terry would, as a former cop) so it was a made-up code. They got to one of two main entries to Blakelee West, and saw a policeman had set up a roadblock to check cars. Danielle telepathically assured Truc it was fine, and drove past it; Truc did too.

They turned off the lights on the vehicles, seeing the black SUVs with their paramilitary teams sweeping the silent and abandoned neighborhoods looking for lights or cars. Parking a quarter mile away, they slunk around to approach the cathedral from the rear.

Sneed cast a ritual involving stones in a circle that would hide them from ghosts if they stayed inside it, and Danielle focused her energies. She was dressed in black leather, with a big knife and a heavy ornate staff of black wood.

She called forth “The Bishop” and a cowled figure stepped through some sort of intangible barrier at the back of the church, touching down on the grass and wilting it instantly with a blight that spread every second of the conversation. Lapsing into an Irish accent, Danielle greeted Bishop as an old friend, but very respectfully, and asked after Fr. Silva. Bishop confirmed he was dead, and would not escape. He confirmed by pulling back the hood to show them Silva’s horror-wracked last expression, and Silva’s face flicked off the ancient bone of the Bishop’s skull a moment too soon as the cowl was replaced, affording Terry a disorienting look at all the death he ever saw etched into that skull.

Danielle thanked him and offered him favors, and the Bishop stepped back into the intangible barrier surrounding the cathedral. Spent and drained, she was ready to go, trusting that the Bishop would not lie. They left a 10 meter patch of dead grass, and headed back to the cars. Danielle assured them they did not want to know what she would offer as favors; it wouldn’t be Silva’s people still in the cathedral, anyway.

All’s Well That Ends Well

Danielle and Sneed went one way, and the SUV with Truc, Terry, and Jason went another. Soon the intreped investigators were back in the Havershaum Estate in Shroud Ridge, returning to the cabana in the wee hours of the morning.

As they entered, they saw a horrible stinky figure in a duster, heavy gloves, and a stained hockey mask waiting for them inside. He introduced himself as Brick, and made himself comfortable as his stench swelled around them. He congratulated them on a job well done.

Truc asked about his friend, the one they saved, and he suggested Truc didn’t REALLY want to know. But offered to tell him, if he insisted. He didn’t insist. (By now Truc picked up a habit of stress eating when confronted with difficult news.)

Brick was feeling friendly and chatty, offering them a reward. Terry banked his, and Jason banked his with Terry, reluctant to enter into a personal relationship with a Power. Truc wasn’t sure what to make of the offer, so Brick left it open; he offered his services hunting out mysteries or people in the slaughterhouse district, for example, a place he knew well. Brick observed the wizards didn’t pay much mind to Terry because he smelled of Singleton, and they would be reluctant to tangle with that. He left them with Bought’s phone number on a stained business card, and after a pleasant chat, he stumped out of their cabana, his stink mysteriously vanishing behind him (though Jason still resolved to burn the chair he sat in.)

With that, Terry broke out some thin cigars he had been saving for a special occasion. Their survival in navigating this tricky minefield seemed to be as special an occasion as they could hope for. Reflective, they celebrated life and its surprises, as dawn hinted at the horizon.

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Black Space Hack: Salvage Jousting


The Vista Trade Corporation subcontracted with Salvage Collect to do salvage of the Six Lights hauler, a massive cargo ship. It had a life support critical malfunction, and triggered the distress beacon. The crew escaped in life support pods and are awaiting pickup, they will be dangerously low on supplies when help arrives.

The Graamin mutant scavengers were headed to the site and they had a head start, so Salvage Collect were hoping to even the odds with superior firepower. They hired a number of additional spacers to assist in the operation.

Emily Taylor (Iris) is a doctor with fast reflexes. Faden Ren (Simon) is a mutant telepath with fast reflexes and a melee focus. Torque (Ben) was a salvager. Don Coup (Jordon) was a mutant spacer. Ayar Aichitzi (Matt) rounded out the team of tough spacers.

The battle group was 3 Starlaunch assault ships, each one supported by 4 Starlaunch Interceptors. They jumped out on a 2 day tesserarch departing from Synobeth Station. During the jump out the interceptors were stowed, so spacers have some freedom of movement aboard the assault ship.

Space Battle

Torque and Emily stayed on the assault cruiser (with Emily as the team captain.) Faden, Torque, and Don headed out in the interceptors. Ayar immediately drew some interceptors with a grudge to take him down, but he managed to survive. Don was cut away from the herd, and probably blown to stardust; they didn’t find any remains later. Faden got shot up, and decided to dock and go into the ship for the last interceptor. He was going too fast to dock, and when Torque tried to help with the tractor beam, the ship got broadsided by one of the enemy interceptors, and Faden barely hit the ejector seat in time–but his aim was perfect, and he hit the airlock. The cockpit crew of the assault cruiser manipulated the airlock to get him in and to the dock to board the last interceptor and rejoin the fray.

Working together, Faden and Ayar pushed back at the aggressive interceptors while Torque and Emily stopped firing on the interceptors and sent missiles streaking at the other cruisers the mutants were using, destroying two of them! The spacers were armed with fine missiles that ignored energy shielding, and they made the most of them.

Meanwhile the mutants called back their fighter screens (in part to shoot down missile volleys before they reached the support ships.) They tried to get clear of the hauler with their loot and escape, but the spacers managed to target and disable the Nurat cruiser with missiles to the engines and gun systems.

Two of the three Starlaunch assault cruisers survived the assault, driving the enemy interceptors to flee and hope for pickup later after the Starlaunch ships left with their prizes. The spacers found the escape pods, and Emily treated any wounds among the survivors, then they turned them over to Captain Williams of the other Starlaunch ship (he insisted.)

Long Road Home

The spacers turned their attention to boarding the Six Lights hauler and getting it ready to limp home. They would look after the hauler, and Williams would look after the captured Nurat cruiser with loot from the hauler.

The spacers explored the engineering section, finding it somewhat messed up, but nothing they couldn’t rebalance with time. Then as Torque and Ayar were walking the spine of the ship (which was loaded with prefab buildings and an atmospheric processor to make a colony) they found some emergency automatic hull sealant.

Calling in the assault cruiser to scan from outside, they realized that there had been a hull breach from a tumbler. Tumblers are bioweapon mine fields, dormant in the void until something brushes them and they climb aboard and hunt spacers. Back in the day, centuries ago before they were outlawed, there were proprietary blends and flavors of the monsters. But, they were all smart, sneaky, scan resistant, and hungry for human flesh.

The cockpit had been pretty thoroughly looted, but the spacers set up a temporary base, and got the Six Lights hauler ready to go.

Over the following week, they patrolled and looked for the tumbler, but it eluded them (though it did snatch Ayar and devour him messily.) They dropped off the hauler and assault cruiser, and report, and got enormous bonuses for returning some of the interceptors and the assault cruiser, as well as the hauler and the captured disabled mutant ship with captives and all the loot! Time to party! And also to get that signing bonus to Ayar’s beneficiary.


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The Black Space Hack: Undersea


The Telmek Company hired some spacers to go retrieve special samples from one of their scientific expeditions. Rather than pull the whole (expensive) expedition out, they’d grab the red-hot licensing discovery and fly it back safely.

Faden Ren (Simon) was a mutant telepath with a melee focus. Gunther Kline (Shawn) was a focused tech expert. Amaris Grayley (Elizabeth) was a fast-moving linguist with neural data storage. Emily Taylor (Iris) was a doctor with fast reflexes.

They headed to Zygaran Two, an icy moon off the shoulder of a gas giant. The ocean froze there, and the ship landed by the Mast Sea’s west coast, discovering a number of pre-fab building habitats built around the Cramlien research craft. They expected a team of 8 scientists and 3 crew, but it was too cold for a warm welcome.

Welcome to Base Camp

They were greeted by Donaldson, the comm officer, who took them into the habitat where they met Durham, the security officer. Dr. June Avila greeted them, somewhat disappointed they didn’t have a xenobiologist with them. They also met Dr. Vee Sularia, the lead researcher, and Burl Patterson, the ship captain.

Everyone was on edge, nervous, hiding something. They complained of not sleeping well, and they had irritated eyes. Dr. Sularia assured them they were preparing the samples for transport, and the spacers were escorted to an observation room so they could see the surface; once the magnalock snapped shut, they realized it was a handy holding cell too.

After searching the room they realized some components were damaged and replaced, and something in here had actually scratched metal. Gunther popped the magnalock with his multitool, and they cautiously ventured out without supervision.

They met the wild-eyed young woman, Helen Roth. She ushered them back in, and told them that the digging found a habitat structure in the frozen ocean with life forms that weren’t dead, only dormant. Also a signal that could be a Melestrian Era Scattering lost ship. Could these creatures be human? And the dreams intensified, and got worse. The hibernating things woke up and proved dangerous–then she got paranoid, looking around at something only she could see, whipping out a super-heated ice pick and trying to defend herself. She fell screaming, and her neck broke.


They ventured out again and ran into Donaldson, who told them he was opportunistic and wanted to get out of this and get some fat bonus money and put it all in the past. So, he wanted to get some data and samples maybe, then get off this moon while there was still time. Part of the problem was the proprietary information was all coded through the Cramlien research craft, and if it got a certain distance away it would auto-corrupt; the databank in Amaris’s head could prevent that.

They got across the bitter cold to the prefab building over the mine shaft, and found Donaldson’s code had been changed, he was locked out. Again they had to defeat the security, but this time the cold took a toll on their bodies. They eventually staggered in, and then took the lift down the endless 45 degree shaft cut through frozen ocean, glittering denizens of the deep looking through the ice at them as they descended, absorbing and reflecting light from their bioluminescence.

The hallucinations were getting worse for the crew, apparently. They found Dr. Avila’s lab, with frozen fish-people and also thawed fish people and one she was vivisecting that apparently was hard to kill. She thought they were hallucinations, then could not bear their noise, and came at them with a gun. They put her down, and put her corpse with another corpse she had shoved off to the side.

Rather than risk anything waking up (there was scattered gunfire, the captain and security officer were hunting something in the excavated habitat) they sawed off a head and put it in a specimen jar, then downloaded masses of the experimental data into Amaris’s head.

Some mutagenic force, possibly psychic in nature, had caused mutation on what were once humans into these hardy and immortal fish people. That was a massive find to the sponsoring corporation, and what they came to find. Now it was time to take the self-interested double agent Donaldson and get out.


Their ship was half-buried in ice, a storm was raging and they knew they wouldn’t be able to immediately leave. However, the Cramlien research craft was much bigger and stronger. The only one aboard was Dr. Sylaria, the leader of the expedition. She let them aboard, and took off, tearing loose of the ice and dragging their ship along with the tractor beam.

She was going to keep them off the bridge, but together they persuaded her to let them come up and help. She had the place set up with plants and incense and soft lighting, and she was meditating and preparing herself, resisting her dreams. They realized she was going to jump the research craft directly into the sun to cover up the event and hopefully discourage future expeditions. The dreaming force deep below that changed the fish people was at work on her and her crew, and what if its mutagenic force changed them too?

The spacers had a quiet desperate message sent to their bosses asking for the override codes for the ship, then negotiated with Sylaria. They appealed to her, and she agreed to let them escape in their ship (thinking the data would be wiped, when in fact it was protected.) They got down to their ship before they got the message from the corp with the override codes.

Returning to the ship, they took control and locked the doctor up, then took the research vessel and its prize data and even a sample back to the corp; the Telmek Company was overjoyed and paid them huge bonuses to keep their mouths shut.


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Blades in the Dark: The Horsemen

greater kc rpg dayBitD Title_01 by James Dudli

I ran a session of Blades in the Dark at the Greater Kansas City Role Playing Game Day. I had three players:

  • Andrel Rowan. Leech. (Shawn)
  • Phin Farros. Lurk. (Brendan)
  • Don Coup. Spider. (Jordon)

All three were Severosian, strangers in a strange land. They may or may not have the ultimate goal of wiping out factions and burning the city down, eventually “cleansing” it by dropping the electroplasmic walls. Also, Rowan and Farros might have once been merchants who were deprived of their livelihood by unreasonable taxes unfairly enforced. In any case, they now formed a crew of thieves.

We had a leisurely pace for making characters and the crew, and played less than 4 hours, but we had two rollicking heists and two downtimes and supplemental planning–we covered a lot of ground.

Skovlanders Are a Problem

Ulf Ironborn and his Skovlander ne’er do wells strutted around Three Steeple Square like they owned the public space and all adjacent businesses and residences. This was adjacent to Adelaide Phroaig’s mansion, with its yacht launch area, which was next to the secret lair under the house. The Horsemen (my name for the crew, as they are all Severosian,) determined they’d get rid of the Skovlanders and take over the Three Steeple Square area for its own good.

The overall plan was to target them on the night of their Fire Festival, where they burned figures in effigy for some bizarre cultural reason (no one cares enough to figure the event out.) Arrange for them to escalate their misbehavior, and have the bluecoats primed to take them down; evidence that they are stealing from nobles, maybe a painting in the fire or something. Details. Let’s not get too far ahead.

Farros was frenemies with Roslyn Kellis, a noblewoman. She was totally into collecting the study miniatures of horse sculptures, and she had stables for purebreed champion horses. Maybe it could seem the Skovlanders stole from her.

To further assist in the framing, they wanted some Skovlander cultural items. Asking around, they found that a ship was returning from Skovland with General Swiftly, a brutal Akorosian conqueror with a ship hold stuffed with rebel loot from the recently concluded war of Skovlander insurgence. And they needed some Coin on hand to fund the effort.

As an enthusiastic effort before beginning properly, Rowan made identity-blurring collars they could wear to reduce chance of identification during mischief.

The General’s Ship

Farros stole them a fishing boat, knifing a fisherman and dumping him overboard. Rowan and Coup rowed out, so Farros could save his strength. They missed the timing or angle, because as they approached the big ship steaming into the harbor, the harbor patrol was also closing in. The small boat was tossed in the big ship’s wake, but got close enough for Farros to use his climbing gear to get up to a porthole on the deck below the main deck, and enter as the longboat rode the wake swells further back out of the way.

They weren’t worried about General Swiftly’s whisper, Tellisaand; Rowan’s friend Stazia was the apothecary who supplied Telisaand with her trance powder, and she could arrange for an addictive and overpowering dose for the night in question. All Rowan had to do was escort Stazia to one of her Forgotten Gods worships, and get her home in one piece even though she was likely to be out of her head. He readily agreed.

They had acquired blueprints of the ship, and knew where the main hold security would be. As Farros headed that direction in his shadow cloak, Coup produced a firebomb he got for the mission. He hurled it up towards the deck, but that was too high; it did smash through the porthole and set some poor soul on fire, then catching on other flammables, causing quite a consternation aboard the ship.

Farros found the door to the ship’s central reinforced hold. As a guard left, he slipped in behind the guard. Their earlier inquiries with various bribeable dock workers and bluecoats revealed that the swords (the main treasure of the expedition) were not in the booby-trapped weapon racks and crates. They were wrapped in the middle of big bolts of fabric, making them difficult to find and even more difficult to steal.

Since the Horsemen knew this ahead of time, their leech, Rowan, made a big batch of spray designed to discorporate cloth and leave everything else unharmed. His speedy execution meant it would give off a huge rush of air and a mighty stink, but that was a small price to pay.

Only two guards were left in the central hold, so Farros acted quickly and sprayed down a pile of bolts of cloth. He retrieved two swords and a black walking stick, resisting the horrible fumes that downed the guards who rushed to intervene. In no time he was back through the ship, out the window, hanging by his climbing gear until the others could apply tremendous sacrificial muscle strength and energy to get the boat in position to pick him up. As the harbor patrol boarded the beleaguered ship, they drifted away, and escaped into the city with their loot.

Down Time

When they got home, there was magical writing on the wall with water, an address. Discomfited, they ignored it for the moment. Later Farros went out and found the address was for a long-abandoned orphanage in Seven Shallows, an unpleasant slum; he got the creeps, and returned, not investigating further.

They sold one of the swords for six Coin, keeping the other to frame the Skovlanders. Coup investigated the black stick, and had a dizzying sense it was drawing vitality from him. Coup did some further research, finding that it was the scepter for the Galamin Family of Skovlander aristocrats, whose successors insisted they consorted with demons. The stick was in the portrait of Scaliat IV.

Their various activities lowered stress, built supplies, and mitigated the heat clinging to their activities with the uncomfortable and disapproving scrutiny of the authorities.

Now that they had a beautiful ancestral sword suitable for framing Skovlanders, it was time for the next stage of their plan–frame the Skovlanders for robbing an aristocratic residence.

Coup was tickled with the idea of actually making a public monument, whether it was initially possible or not. He spent his entire take from the ship heist to buy a modest block of granite infused with leviathan blood, from some god-forsaken spot out far beyond the walls. It took time for Salia, the information broker, to help him find it. He was delighted when it was in hand. They could use the block as a smaller test statue for the big monument, and in the meantime, they could use it for wilier purposes.

Rowan was involved in recruiting four of Ulf’s Skovlanders for an evening of fetch-and-carry, moving the granite on a litter. He hired Sven, Barth, Alex, and Johan. He also had to arrange for excellent clothes for Coup and decent clothes for the servants, and Farros paid for the clothes out of sheer delight at their naughty plan.

They all worked together around a lone candle to craft the perfect invitation to provoke Kellis to respond to their philanthropic effort, and they achieved outstanding success; an appointment for the following week.

Statues of Rosalind Kellis

While Coup was walking in the front with his Skovlander bearers and dealing with the butler and soliciter and eventually Kellis herself, Rowan set up a block and tackle on the roof and lowered Farros in.

Coup pitched the idea of a statue infused with ghost energy. Kellis enthused over the plan, wanting it in a public place to keep the peasantry demoralized and overshadowed, the steed modeled after her own prize stallion Abraxis. While the solicitor worked on paperwork and Coup shared drinks with the haughty noblewoman, the Skovlanders were escorted out to a side gallery, out of the way.

Farros knew she would do this, as he consulted a maid that Kellis had a brutally carnal relationship with before tossing her aside once the maid grew stale. Bitter, the maid recounted that’s where the guests would be put. As Ferros and Rowan examined the blueprints, they realized there was a secret door to another gallery. If they robbed a few items from the adjacent gallery, and left the secret door open a crack, the theft would be blamed on the unsupervised Skovlanders!

As Farros crept through the shadowy house, he passed a painting that disgorged an invisible ghost dog that caught his scent. Moving fast and trying to outpace the ghost sentry, Farros climbed down into the gallery and stole two of the horse miniature statues, as well as cutting out two horse portraits. (Rows of portraits showed the lineage on both sides of Abraxis, showcased in a huge painting of a mighty stallion.) Now they had material to frame Ulf’s gang, and also some extra to liquidate into sweet Coin.

Coup’s conversation with Kellis was getting personal and potentially steamy; he excused himself, only managing to do so gracefully by promising to meet next week for sherbet. As he was heading out with his sullen Skovlanders, Farros raced through the halls upstairs, the ghost dog closing in fast. He barely managed to dodge it and make it to the cable and extraction as the dog’s spectral baying resounded through the house. They all managed to get away clean.

Down Time

Coup was more committed to actually making a monument in a public place than ever before. He began the search for artists as the rest of the crew worked to reduce stress and heat.

Rowan had a terrible dream of an albino creature forcing him to speak out in favor of killing a demon. He finished his research on the scepter and discovered it was created by a demon with an affinity for stone, with the power to kill other demons. Like, for example, the water demon that contacted them as soon as they got the scepter.

As this was a one-shot session, we’ll never know what happens next. However, it was a great game!

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Guns of Telluria, Train Ride


We had a brief outing with one player, who played Ferlin “Husk” Williams, an older veteran of the Tellurian War. Over the course of the war he got weirded so he could detect the presence of nearby arcana. He was promoted to sergeant in the cavalry, but after the Battle of New Orleans he fell in with a bad crowd and was part of a scheme to steal some arcana. Demoted and released, it was up to him to find his way in the world, with the assistance of his nephew Cuthbert Nevins. He heard of a field in Granada, MS that had a doorway to an abandoned fey outpost, so he signed on as a roof rider in the driving rain, and headed from New Orleans north.

They met the grouchy sergeant, Darmott, and headed up to the roof of the armory car. Husk assigned Nevins the gun; the teenager had not yet killed anyone or seen anyone die, and that needed fixing. Cpl. Nguyen was on roof patrol duty, and made sure they were settled in.

The trip was mostly uneventful. At one point a satyr mounted on an elk led a mass of deer and wolves on a wild ride at the train, trying to sweep aboard and make off with prisoners. Nevins trained his machine gun on the crowd and chopped a number of animals up, and Husk brought down the elk mount with the Redcapper gun. The satyr got on the roof and blew his horn at them, freaking Nevins out, but Husk finished him off with the big gun.

Cpl. Nguyen and her fire team provided backup once Nevins stopped shooting the machine gun down the length of the train roof. They found the satyr’s horn, and Husk was pleased to get it as booty (since the soldiers couldn’t claim a bounty, and he could.)

They arrived in Granada and got paid, and Husk shared some of the money with Nevins (but not his whole share.) Then it was a matter of waiting until morning, to sell the horn and find some other hopefuls interested in probing the farmer’s field for fey loot.

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