The Long Con

Not the long confidence game, but the idea of focusing an entire weekend on playing one game. I found this, thanks to Kelley Vanda (one of my G+ friends.)

http://www.conplanner.com/ConventionHome.aspx?c=1182

Friday night game. Same table, same players, for two sessions on Saturday. Then one more on Sunday morning.

Just like that, I get this feeling, like before I leveled up in adulting, when I could spend a weekend on a game because my friends and I had nothing better to do. This time never existed! But I could have a piece of it, right here.

Immediately the doubts creep in. That’s spending money; can’t you do something like that at home? What if you don’t get enough players? What if the people that end up at your table wreck this thing by having a miserable time and your bucket list objective gets soured? What if you end up with a cold that weekend?

To that I say, yeah, well… what if it goes right?

Then it gets really, really quiet.

I could take a basic setup for Blades in the Dark and play out a whole miniseries in that frame of time. We could make a story together that would be the stuff of legends; the game is so fast, so energetic, so flexible, we could spin out a truly amazing arc from the origin of the crew to its destiny, over the course of SEVENTEEN HOURS of gaming. To put that in perspective, the five sessions of the Unrecommendables so far have been about 15.

I’m going to have to think about this.

OKAY I THOUGHT ABOUT IT.

It just doesn’t make sense for me to go. I’ve already taken on Axes and Anvils as an “unfunded mandate” that I’m going to do, and going to find the money for. That’s not going to be easy. I said yes to that, and so I’m saying no to the long con. It just doesn’t make sense to spend money on a weekend that I’m going to need to make a game.

Maybe another year.

YET I AM STILL THINKING ABOUT IT.

Only the context has changed. I know a place where people could stay for a weekend, so no hotel bills, and I could drive them around for errands if needed. We could make our own long con, if I had 3-4 people from out of town who wanted to visit. They would pay their airfare, and I would cover food expenses while they were in town. This idea also has merit, and holds my attention. Not this year, but maybe next year, with some of the people who game with me online who might be willing to head to the Midwest for an event such as this.

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Happy Anniversary, Kristy!

We’ve been married 14 years. That is a LOT of games. And you’ve curated the music for them, up to the point of even making some.

I’d link to it if I could, but we have this neat collections of songs we did in Techno Ejay that were based around a 3E game around the turn of the century.

Shadowed PathAs I have done, I will strive to continue to keep you supplied with fictional rogues and character angst. It is the least I can do.

After all, my two greatest sources of emotional security here are that I still make you laugh, and you can’t get rid of me; I’m holding all your favorite NPCs hostage in my  head. =)

Happy anniversary!

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Lasers and Feelings: The Preserve

Ship-graphic-310x175

I was joined by Eric and Slade for a one-shot session as part of Antigen Con 2. The session was about 2:40 long.

The captain was Elias Winter, a dangerous man motivated by solving weird space mysteries. He was intensely technically minded, with no room for instinct or feelings (rating 5.)

Number One was Nyl Finity, also the helmsman and pilot extrodinaire, a reckless man driven to prove himself. His skills were honed, but he relied on passion and intuition (rating 3.)

They crewed the Space Federation Ship Terrapin. It had superior sensors, but suffered from battle damage months ago that left it so jury-rigged that it was almost impossible to repair the system without gutting everything and starting over; many mysterious system failures routed back to that traumatic event and the sub-standard battlefield repairs that ensued.

The NPC bridge crew included:

  • Tactical: Dave Serrano. Big strapping fellow, easy-going and deadly.
  • Science: Ruby Clemons. Attractive, taught kung fu classes, collected poisons.
  • Diplomat: Drew Bradley. Older, but tough, former Collective prisoner of war.
  • Engineering: Hedlog, Andorian pugilist. Eager to fight, eager to jury-rig systems.
  • Medical: Vrez, Mantisaarian medic. Insectoid, unbothered by discussing living meat.
  • Communications: Melanie Perry.

Finity worked with Hedlog to arrange for an array of emergency power measures to pull energy from communications, engines, life support, and everywhere else to power up the phaser banks in times of battle. Priorities, man, priorities!

The crew fitted a holographic nose-cone art projector so they could change up the standard picture of a rampant battle turtle.

Mission

Bradley briefed them on their mission. They were to go to the moon of Saguak in the Lavask system. Intelligence reported that the Collective were harvesting furry little critters called tuftmidgets (basically ewoks) for experimentation, exploiting a pre-warp culture. Their orders were to use whatever form of diplomacy seemed best and put a stop to it.

(Aside: Yes, I used the Collective from “X-Com: Enemy Within” video game and I’m not sorry.)

They arrived at the moon, and detected no ships in orbit or on the planet. Scanning more closely with the ship’s superior sensors, they not only detected a cloaked Collective scout ship, they picked up its designation (Disk Blue 38) and captain (Ethereal Marker.) This could help diplomatically; the Collective is a series of “temple ships” with many smaller ships under their control. When they misbehave, the leaders tend to disavow governed ships, even if that ship can be traced to a temple ship authority. Still, the collective was one of humanity’s earliest allies after the transthink mutation, so some caution was advised.

To set the tone, they changed the holographic nose cone art to a savage tuftmidget.

Diplomacy

Before even hailing the ship, the captain figured it was best to have the initiative in diplomacy. He ordered Finity to snatch the scoutship with the tractor beam and hurl it, spinning, into the atmosphere below. The psychers would be busy reinforcing the shields and landing the ship properly, and then conversation could commence.

The plan worked like a charm, sending the ship into the atmosphere like a wheel of fire. The captain took an away team including Finity, Bradley, Hedlog, Seranno, and a security officer to “negotiate.” They ended up mid-canopy, one of the safest areas (higher areas and lower areas were rife with big predators, and tuftmidgets were like mice or rabbits in the food chain of this place.)

etherealThey had a crisp and unpleasant conversation with the Ethereal Marker (as his elite muton bodyguard looked on and his sectoids simpered near him.) Marker insisted they join him for dinner for further discussion. Captain Winters issued a flat demand that the Collective ship leave, and leave the tuftmidgets alone. Marker grudgingly agreed. Then the away team beamed back to the Terrapin.

But something interfered with the beam.

Preserve

The away team found themselves in a more humid environment, under a red sun, with two moons in the sky. They still had their communicators, but no one answered them, and the tricorders and phasers were gone.

As they struggled to get their bearings, they heard screaming and roaring. They investigated, finding six hunters killing a big lizard (a fangstrider, apparently.) The hunters were surprised to see the away team, asking if they were from within the earth or the sky; the captain replied the sky, and they all went back to the settlement together with the hunting trophy prize.

They entered a palisade with tents and a big cook pit. Vinewise, the leader, offered hospitality if they could prove they were not spies (by stripping and showing they did not have tattoo markers of the enemy.) They all obliged, except Finity, who challenged someone to a fight to prove he was not a spy. One of the big guys accepted, and after a little dancing sparring, hurled him bodily into a tent and decided he didn’t think Finity was a spy.

Everyone got dressed again. They talked to Vinewise, who explained his settlement of 50 adults and 20 children was banished from a bigger tribe ruled by Chief Talonwise, one of several tribes in the area. They disagreed over whether there was a war between the stars or not, for example. Captain Winters said he was part of that war in the stars, but Vinewise laughed and poked him with a stick; humans cannot fight among the stars.

Vinewise offered to help solve the mystery of how they got here, but only if they became members of his tribe; those with no connection to the world would die, and he would give them a connection to the world. They were cautious, but they agreed. They then got drunk and received the attention of some of the unattached tribal women.

Quest

When the tribes faced a mystery, they went on a quest to a local volcano. There, in a secret temple, they received wisdom. So, off to the temple they went, escorted by some of the tribal warriors (including the women they bedded.)

To make the journey easier, they went to a nearby swamp and summoned some massive centipedes to kneel upon and ride. Both Winters and Finity tried to control centipedes, who knocked them over and mauled them a bit, squirting them with mild poison. The patched-up explorers contented themselves to ride as passengers.

Z.2011.10

The bushcraft of the native guides kept them out of the path of local dangers, in spite of some close calls.

After a long hung-over day of pain and irritation, the away team held a hushed conversation around the campfire that night. It turned out Bradley had once been a prisoner of war of the Collective years ago. He was concerned that they could be sharing a hallucination; the Collective had psychers, after all, and they had no way to know whether the stimulus into their mind came from information fed to their mind by their bodies, or fed to their mind by their captors.

Why? Well, the Commune was known to have harvested humans before the incident leading to the transthink mutation. These humans had not been exposed to the virus bombing. The Collective may have used clones to sow dissent and split one group off to be used as  test subject, by provoking them to interact socially with explorer class humans. What might they learn about the transthink mutation, about communication, and about the gap between baseline and evolved humans? After a sobering discussion, they slept on it.

Temple

The next day they reached the base of the volcano, and found the many carved stories of former quests. People came here to look for answers to sickness, answers to lights in the sky, answers to leadership decisions.

Meanwhile, a strange metal and meat hybrid creature decloaked and was strangling Lela, Winters’ new girlfriend, a strapping Nordic woman. Finity quickly adjusted his communicator to transmit a painful squeal on the floating cyborg’s neural channel, distracting it so Winters could find an opening and shiv it in its head, tearing it off the victim whose death it was savoring. Lela lived, the seeker died.

seeker

Finity and Hedlog hunched over the corpse, wiring it to a communicator, figuring out it was communicating with a base and other seekers. They also saw that it had a patina of lichen and such, the chassis was scratched, it had been here quite a while. It did not recently come from a ship. So, it was likely attached to the temple as a guard rather than pursuing the away team specifically.

The barbarians were not interested in going further, unsettled by the attack; they set up a base camp. Meanwhile Vinewise led the away team up the long steep path to the temple in the volcano wall.

Captain Winters succumbed to his injuries and the centipede poison. Finity dragged him up as far as the entry to the temple, but then Vinewise intervened. He gave the captain drugs from a centipede and some other local wildlife, to revive him.

The drugs interacted weirdly in Winters’ mind, and for a moment he had enough rudimentary expansion of his consciousness that he felt the psionic trigger to open the back wall of the temple. He triggered it, and they found that beyond the basalt stone of the chamber there was a powered inner sanctum of alien technology.

Searching the room, they found what might be a psionic communications array. Hedlog worked on jury-rigging it to operate on speech instead of psionics, and Finity dubbed the methodology “psysonic.” Meanwhile Winters looked for other sensor equipment and found a way to interact with another holographic display channel to see the location of the other four seekers, two of which were monitoring the base camp.

Winters managed to use the psionic interface, issuing a clumsy “return” order to the seekers. Then the explorers searched for weapons, finding some wrist-mounted plasma weapons of the sectoids and figuring out how to use them.

As the seekers returned, Hedlog slammed one in the door, killing it. Then the explorers attacked, blowing the other three away (and Finity’s weapon overheated.)

Rescue

Once the communication array was working, they finally hailed the Terrapin. Clemons was acting captain, she was relieved to hear from them. The Terrapin had been searching for them for two weeks! The ship zoomed to orbit their planet, following the beacon, and when the explorers left the shielded temple the ship could beam them up.

Turns out Marker had kidnapped the away team and bought time by putting a corruption in the transport beam so it built clones with embedded behavioral routines (which fooled the crew for about six hours before the away team ended up in the brig.)

Meanwhile the real explorers were kept unconscious and shipped to the preserve, then beamed down, unaware any time had passed.

While the away team got their parasites cleansed and their wounds healed, then bathed and in new uniforms, the crew was busy. Orbital weapons cut the temple out of the ground and burned it. Seranno went down as an emissary of the Fedaration and invited people to join them in the sky (about a third of the banished tribe accepted.)

Also, just for fun, Seranno found the mighty predator that lumbered by while they were travelling. With the captain supervising, he cut it down with orbital phasers, and beamed the head up to the shuttle bay as a trophy.

Winters and Finity had a brief and unsettling chat with their clones, then ordered them deeply scanned, and beamed into space. (Winters toyed with the idea of keeping his for spare parts, but the paperwork and cultural questions of ethics and regulations got daunting, so he abandoned that direction.)

Resolved to keep an eye out for Ethereal Marker on the spaceways, the explorers returned to their duties.

Some quotes:

“They watched in stunned, naked silence.”

“Captain, I think YOU should psychically interface with it.”

“That’s us: always reckless, never tasteless.”

“Time for some blitz negotiation.”

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Blades in the Dark: Construction

BitD Title_01 by James Dudli

This game was hosted by Antigen Con 2, an online convention during Gen Con. I got to play with three players I had not played with before, and they used pre-gen characters. The session was about two hours.

We had a slide, the Doctor. A cutter, Wrench. And a lurk, Smith. They formed a rook gang for the Crows, with a backup vehicle, and they worked for Stella doing a spy mission.

The Mission

Stella informed them that spirifers were taking over customers of their gambling dens and making them hollows, then using their occupied bodies to rob Crow establishments. The attacks must stop! Hollows were tracked back to an area, and the suspected organization that might be involved was the Rising Dawn construction company, run by Iruvians. The task was to figure out if the Rising Dawn and their gangs (called Sunuppers) were involved in the attacks by hollows.

Preparing

Wrench and the Doctor hung out where the Iruvians drank while off-duty, and found out they had a horror of the state of Duskwall medicine. The Doctor tried a meet and greet with the foreman, Darmaan, who coolly brushed him off.

Still, he had acquainted himself with Darmaan. So he was on hand a few days later when Smith ran Darmaan down on his bicycle, knocking him down a slope, so the foreman broke his leg quite badly.

Going In

Since the Doctor was on hand, he immediately tried to help Darmaan. Along with his assistant the Wrench, they hustled the injured foreman to the Rising Dawn headquarters, and took him down to the basement office so they could fix his leg in a safe place for him.

Darmaan screamed with pain, so the Doctor sent everyone from the room but his assistant the Wrench, and one Iruvian. He set the leg, deliberately laming the foreman for the rest of his life. The Iruvian was sent to go get some supplies to ease Darmaan’s semi-conscious suffering.

As the Doctor started tossing the office for information, the Wrench strode out and commanded the guard standing at the sewer/canal entry door to go help get supplies. The worker scuttled off, and Smith (who had scouted the location previously) stole up the stairs outside the metal door. Unfortunately, it was locked with a proper lock, and the guard took the key. Smith took his time, and accidentally scratched up the lock, but with Wrench helping by listening on the other side, he got it unlocked.

Not quite fast enough! A pair of Iruvian workers spotted the Wrench and challenged him, asking what he was doing; he couldn’t bluff them very well, so he whipped out his custom-weighted hammer and fought with them. He darted through the door, and they pursued him down the stairs, to where Smith drew his blades and leaped into the melee.

Smith stabbed one to death, but the other was big and roaring with fear and rage. Using a carpet knife to cut at them, he was a formidable foe, hurling the Wrench at the ink-black waters of the canal; the Wrench splayed out prone rather than falling into those haunted waters, and Smith tried to whip his night cloak over the dangerous worker’s head to distract him long enough to finish him off.

The big man would not fall, so the Wrench tackled him into the waters, going in with him. He wasn’t under for long, but he came face to face with the pale face of a ghostly girl, who slid into him through his eyes before Smith dragged him out of the canal waters. Now struggling with a psychic hitch hiker, the Wrench reeled, and managed to stagger back up to where the Doctor worked, while Smith waited in the sewer.

Retrieving the Information

Meanwhile, the Doctor had tossed the office, stuffing Iruvian correspondence and codes and worker information into a satchel. He dosed Darmaan with trance powder and got further secrets from the foreman; there was a hospice run by a mystic, and they hollowed out those who did not have others who cared about them. He was never to speak of it! Also, there was a deeper secret he would not divulge.

Frustrated to have almost enough to please Stella, but not enough, the Doctor got the Wrench’s help to secure a wheelbarrow from down the hall, and they resolved to bluff their way out and interrogate the foreman at their leisure somewhere safe.

They blustered their way down the hall, and almost got past some guards, but suspicion snapped around them. The situation turned into a grand melee, and as the Doctor tried escaping with the wheelbarrow, its wheel shattered under the weight of its load.

As they struggled to escape with the foreman, their armor was slashed to ribbons as Smith snuck up to the confrontation to assist. He pounced in and grabbed the foreman, under the Doctor’s orders, dragging him out of the melee as the Wrench was pinned to the wall, a cut claiming one of his eyes!

The Doctor sprang clear of the fracas and drew their attention, momentarily pausing the battle with an impassioned declaration that this was all a misunderstanding–and in that moment of distraction, the Wrench struck decisively, and they all sprinted away slamming the door behind them. Angry workers almost caught them, but the gondola that waited for their pre-arranged signal was in place, and they made a messy but effective getaway.

Wrapup

The Doctor was willing to interrogate Darmaan to death, and he found out that the Iruvian embassy was smuggling bottled spirits into Duskwall to aid the new crew working Crow’s Foot, now named the Wax Mask. Finally possessed of enough detail to return to Stella without fear of failure, the gang finished out the adventure by getting paid in style.

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Blades in the Dark: A Night at the Theater

BitD Title_01 by James Dudli

The Unrecommendables had another great adventure. This time Aldo and Wolfram gained a new crew member. The session lasted three hours.

Fergus and Child, twin teen agents of Carrow, escorted Nivirald Templeton “Duster” to the bookshop lair of the Unrecommendables. They offered his services on behalf of Carrow, as buy-in of the haunted village into the criminal activities of the crew. The crew were happy to add a whisper to their membership, and they sealed the deal with blood-tainted alcohol.

First Down Time

Aldo relaxed, going on a shopping spree to get new boots and a coat and eat fine food and otherwise relieve stress. Then he undertook the bureaucratic process of purchasing the Worldstage Theater for back taxes. He ran into trouble with a powerful matriarch, Maude Selvericus. He reminded her of a man who done her daughter wrong, and she shut him down in every way. He only reached her by promising to turn lots of paperwork in at a later date, or insisting it was already on its way through the system. Clever as he was, Aldo could not penetrate the bureaucracy. To break the news as gently as possible, Aldo brought a luxurious devilfish platter for the crew and gangs to eat while he explained that they still did not own the theater.

Wolfram finished vetting a gang of thugs led by Tallow, promising to take care of them in case of prison (or their families in case of death.) Then he caroused with his new gang, before retreating to solitude and worship to clear stress in meditating on his strange gods.

As the new guy, Duster wanted to be helpful. He consulted with Vincen, leader of the Adept gang. Vincen suggested a renovation project at the bookstore to add a lounge and espresso machine and tea cart would boost business! Duster took the job on, commanding the work crew and scaring them with his birthmark-marred visage and spookyness. Wolfram was indifferent to the effort, but it was popular with others. The effort and expense also increased the profitability of the book store significantly!

In the spirit of being helpful, Duster also tried to get some dirt on Maude Selvericus. He tried to see if the spirits around her posh mansion in Undercross could help, but he couldn’t get close for long enough to tell. A burglar named Slick spotted him, and offered to get him some time by the building if Duster would help him later. Duster agreed. In his sensing of the home, he realized the staff were hollows. He lured the maid out to talk to him. The maid was a body with a terminal illness, and forced inside was a young man who displeased Maude when he worked in disbursal, so she had her (illegal) spirifer pull his spirit out and install it in this body, locking it in place with a brand, and forcing him to be her maid and sand her corns. Knowing Maude illegally tortured and killed her underlings if they displeased her, Duster reported back to the crew.

Since Duster was sleeping in the basement of the bookstore, his energetic presence re-animated a ghost that lay outside the escape door, scratching piteously at the metal, the sound digging into the psyche of the living who were near and heard the whimpers.

Second Down Time

The crew needed some more time before tackling the haunted theater.

Aldo attempted to penetrate the bureaucracy once more–but he forgot about all the promised paperwork from his last attempt! Fines and fees and permits in arrears became tangible threats, and he had to break off his attempt to get to Maude’s office, escaping the red tape just before it snapped around him.

Wolfram decided to help figure out the ghost problem. Stoic, night after night, he sat awake in the pitch darkness of the basement, trying to tune in to the pathos and horror of the mewling scratching ghost. He ended up laying near the door, open to the weird supernatural desperation on the other side, coming to understand it. As he did, it absorbed his name and identity, crying out in the back of the mirror.

Determined to not only get Maude to sign off on his ownership of the theater, but now planning to get her in his pocket for future favors, Aldo paced her maid while she went to the market. He tried to convince the maid to help him, but she feared torture and refused. His pitch did not go unnoticed, however, and Maude’s agents reported his effort to her.

On his way home the next day he noticed children watching him and the bluecoats get all inattentive. His danger sense tingled, and he found he had to escape mounted bluecoats, using his blinking ability from being Chosen.

The increased attention on the Unrecommendables resulted in Wolfram’s friend Omar being swept up by bluecoats for questioning. Rather than trusting him not to crack, Wolfram paid a prince’s ransom to get him out relatively unharmed, for which Omar was grateful. A grateful assassin is sure to eventually be a useful assassin.

After consulting with Wolfram, Duster tried to loosen and repel the ghost at the door without making a gap so other ghosts would come. Wolfram’s insights helped in this delicate matter. Attuning with and then Invoking the ghost, Duster learned it was a prisoner from over a century ago, when their lair was a hidden dungeon; she died desperately scritching at the door to get OUT, but was confused in death. Now she clawed at the door to get IN, and should she realize the difference, her fearful wrath could be very bad. Duster disentangled and released her spirit.

Duster was also approached by Slick, who stole a box and found it bound shut by a spirit. The spirit’s essence was bound to the box; release would kill it. But it had forgotten much of what it was. Duster managed to untangle it, finding it was a noble boy who wanted to protect his sister from life on the streets; he had been sacrificed to bind the box shut. Inside, Duster saw rows of teeth in velvet padding; best not to ask questions about that. Slick left very happy.

Worldstage Theater Cleansing

Finally it was time to clear the two critic ghosts lethally haunting the Worldstage Theater. Before they went, Wolfram sent the adept gang to get a fine spirit anchor. They tried to go through Jimmy Two Fingers, who is crazy, but this time the crazy did not work out for them. Instead, Aldo went to the Dimmer Sisters. They loaned him a fine spirit anchor, just because they are friends.

Well armed and backed up by the adept gang (who wore all their charms and amulets), they faced the theater. Aldo blinked up to the ledge and let himself into the second floor, and carefully navigated down to the main door and unbarred it to let them in. They saw evidence of many accidents all around them.

Everyone but Aldo headed to Box 4, where the critics were dug in while alive, and where they died. Aldo headed to the main stage, avoiding a falling light along the way. Duster saw the tattered remains of spirits all over the theater, like an audience.

To gain the critics’ attention, Aldo switched to his native tongue of Skovlan and delivered a sad poetry cycle, revealing an artistic soul under all his bluster and cunning. The tattered ghosts were pulled under the stage, or up towards Box Four; Duster realized they faced critics who animated and armored themselves with artists, not spectators, and drew power from them in death as they had in life. Vetta, one of the adepts, freaked out and ran screaming.

Realizing his danger as his breath chilled to be visible, Aldo switched over to a snarky clog dance, and barely evaded the wrathful strike of one of the critics. Meanwhile another snatched Duster by the throat, up in the box.

(Wolfram also went to the Dimmer Sisters, in secret, to borrow a blank book and a lightning hook. They gave him this equipment, on the condition he would spend a night in their mansion. He was happy to agree.)

Wolfram threw down the book, and tried to use the lightning hook to drag the critic spirit into it (so it could write out its reviews endlessly.) The spirit resisted and backhanded him off the balcony, he twisted through space and crashed down through the rotten seating below. Fortunately he rose unhurt, and grimly strode towards the stairs to rejoin the battle in the box above. He avoided an “accident” along the way.

The critic gripping Duster was rebuked by the whisper’s power, and as it released him and oriented on Vincen, Duster hurled down his own spirit anchor and began binding the critic ghost to it. Meanwhile Aldo blinked up to the balcony to help, as the ghost pursing him broke off and went after Wolfram.

As Duster locked one of the ghosts in the spirit anchor, the other struck at Wolfram, who barely evaded the blow and came up with his electroplasmically charged ammunition. He fired one shot into the center mass of the critic ghost, who knocked his gun away. Then he came up with the other gun and fired through its head. It tried to infect him with supernatural fear, but he rejected its intimidation, his teeth glittering as he sneered at it.

Meanwhile Aldo took the empty fine spirit anchor, and blinked to catch up with Wolfram. He thrust the spirit anchor into the ghost’s mass, trying to use his amateur guesswork to bind the ghost to the anchor. It repelled him painfully.

Meanwhile back in Box Four, Duster created an etheric breeze, dragging ghosts away from the ruptured critic, taking the initiative. Wolfram chambered another round, lined up, and blew the deadly ghost away.

Before they left, they found Vetta huddled in a corner, her hair pure white. She was relieved to see them alive. Exhausted and victorious, the crew left the theater. Now it was ready to be a vessel for their future plans.

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Blades in the Dark: Three Playbooks

I didn’t want to horn in on the human playbooks, as that’s still under development. You know what would be cool, though? Supernatural playbooks. Even if players don’t make these into characters, they outline my idea of how such creatures work. That can be handy when using them as NPCs too.

DEMONS Demon Playbook 7.15

HULLS Hull Playbook 7.15

VAMPIRES Vampire, 7.23.15

Bonus playbook! INFERNALIST Infernalist Playbook 8.15

Bonus playbook! EXORCIST Exorcist, 8.15

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Blades in the Dark: What Happened to the World

cloudy seaAbout 1,200 years ago there was another jarring twist, the Gates of Death tried to snap open and swallow the world. Once more, anonymous and long-forgotten heroes thwarted the attempt. However, even a momentary breach drew a mass of the world down below the surface, this time some islands in the sea.

The sky is not broken. Instead, when you look up, you see the deep cracks and rivulets in the ghost of the surface. To see the sky, we look up past the memory of the surface and its ocean, that rematerialized after the Gates of Death were again clamped shut. In the meantime, what we know as the world was disconnected and drawn into a dream-like state, out of synch with the real but still somehow in the dream of the earth.

Dragged below the surface, our part of the world was wrenched away from the ley lines that carry the living energy of the earth. Because of that breach, life does not flow into the pulse of the planet anymore. In a realm already saturated with the desperately escaping dead, our own lives and deaths are washed out in that background, with no currents to carry them away.

Also, we breached some of the veins of the earth that carry demonic energy. The spills formed into leviathans, or perhaps the concept of leviathans filled themselves out with demonic ichor and energy. That ichor was the waste product of a planet’s life and creativity, siphoned away from living systems to protect them. Demonic dreams and ideas took on further flesh, mingling with the dream realm of humanity and creating hybrids and shapes alien to all their sources and to each other. Demonic energy warped humans, and humans gave shape to demonic energy in an incestuously creative dance.

Now trapped between the reality of the earth and the reality of the Gates of the Dead, the land jutting from an ink-black ocean polluted with death and demons hosts still-living, still-vibrant descendants of those who walked beneath a proper sun. The dream worlds connect with the living, and some ideas drift back and forth. The dream worlds also connect with the dead, in some awfully peculiar ways that allow a human mind to sense, adjust, and command electroplasmic energy.

Spun loose of the sunlit world and the Gates of the Dead, Neversea holds its pockets of islands and life against a backdrop of half-freed ghosts gone mad from cannibalized hope. Demons drift through the deep below, their mournful dirge echoing and resounding beyond the walls of this half-real place. Humans, as always, continue to do what they do even in this peculiar supernatural terrarium.

Duskwall rears against this backdrop.

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