The Porcelain Dolls Session 02: January 20 2016

Note: Originally posted to the Blades in the Dark Google+ Community in April 2016.

The crew has agreed that they will attempt both jobs: stealing the painting for Mylera Klev, and the case of whiskey for Baszo, and keep everything as quiet as possible in order to keep on the good side of both factions.

Shade talks to a possessor ghost friend of his named Nyryx, and persuades them to jump from body to body in order to do a little recon at the coal warehouse (in return, Shade agrees to help Nyryx get rid of a rival named Tocker sometime in the future). As a result of this, they are able to confirm the presence of the painting in a large vault in the basement, protected by a strong lock, but no guards actively patrolling that level. Meanwhile, Boots leads a group action with the others to scout out the entrances and exits, as well as the surrounding buildings, finding the best rooftop vantage point as well as identifying their point of entry: a coal chute that leads into the basement.

Next, Shade performs a ritual (killing an anonymous street urchin in the process) to summon a small air demon, who looks like Tinkerbell, but made out of smoke, with a mouth that would make a sailor blush. While petulant and verbally abusive, it agrees to do recon on the Red Sashes’ HQ (a former manor house known locally as The Temple). It reports that the case of whiskey is kept in the larder off the kitchen, and while it would be a simple matter to get to it, the roving guards would make it difficult to do so unseen. Again, the rest of the group scouts around (again with Boots in the lead), identifying all entrances and exits to the house.

The Playing Both Sides Job:

That night, they hit the coal warehouse first. They get a 6 on the Engagement roll, so no complications. While Boots and Shade keep watch from nearby rooftops, Thorn and Constance slip into the parking lot and down the coal chute without incident. I put out two clocks: theirs is Open the Vault, and mine is Guards Alerted (each with 8 segments). Thorn decides to use Tinker to pick the lock, reasoning that while Constance could use her demolitions tools to break the door open, that would definitely cause more noise. There are a couple of tense rolls, and every time Thorn gets a 1-3, I tick off a segment of the Alert clock, and they can hear the guards arguing upstairs about whether they heard a noise or not. Thorn gets the vault open, grabs the painting, considers taking some of the Lampblacks’ coin as well, but then thinks better of it. Meanwhile, Constance rigs up a bag of grain with a hole in the bottom, situated on the edge of a shelf, for a time-delayed distraction. This is when I hit them with their second clock: Escape (only 4 segments this time). Things get really tense as there are a lot of 4s and 5s, while Thorn gets up to about 7 Stress. In the end, they creep up to the ground floor, and find an unguarded side door to make their escape. Upon examining the painting, Thorn and Constance discover that it moves (like in Harry Potter). Shade later speculates that the artist somehow utilized electroplasm in the paint.

Next comes the second job. This time their plan is to cause enough outside distractions to draw all of the inhabitants of the house away from the side with the kitchen, which will allow Thorn to slip in, grab the case from the larder, and exit without having to risk any more Stress. Boots is on a rooftop across the street from the Temple, carrying lots of guns. Thorn is hanging out near the side entrance. Constance has called on her friend Marlane from the docks to help provide a distraction. Marlane is mute, which suits Constance fine; she’s gotten quite adept at interpreting body language. Shade is down the street, ready to act as backup if necessary.

Again, there are two clocks: they have Distractions!, and I have We’ve Been Spotted (again, both 8 segments). This time they only get a 4 on the Engagement roll, so I go with the complication in the example: As they’re getting into position, some Bluecoats come barreling up the street and start yelling at the gate guards, demanding to speak to Mylera. Constance and Marlane choose that moment to start a bare-knuckled boxing match out in the street. She rolls a critical, so it definitely gets the Bluecoats’ attention. As they crowd around, she asks them Tyler Durden style, “Who’s next?”, and the sergeant steps up and takes his jacket and shirt off. While this is happening, Shade finds someone on the street who’s drunk, but not yet passed out, and offers him a purse full of coins to go toe to toe for 30 seconds with the sergeant. The drunk takes him up on it, lurches over to loudly declare that he’s next, and predictably, gets knocked out with a single punch. Meanwhile, Boots starts shooting out windows from a nearby rooftop. I give him the option of using the rifle (which would make the roll easier, but the ammo was distinctive, so there was a greater chance of discovery when the scene was investigated later), or use his pistols (which would not convey as much of a bonus on the rolls, but would not arouse suspicion after the fact). He goes with the pistols. The first shot misses a window, but the second one finds its mark, drawing the interior guards (visible by the lamps they carry as they move past the windows). By this time the fight club has died down, and the sergeant remembers that he and his men were there for a reason, so they go back to interrogating the gate guards. However, they’re now in a position that Boots is able to shoot one of the statues on the roof of the Temple and cause it to come crashing down on the front walk. What he didn’t intentionally plan was that it in fact lands on the sergeant’s head, splitting his skull and spilling a lot of blood on the walkway. However, in the end this has the desired effect, and Thorn is able to retrieve the whiskey without making a single roll.

The next day the group splits up again, with Shade and Boots going to see Mylera, to present the painting immediately upon accepting the job. Mylera is duly impressed, though a little distracted by the fact that there is an investigation going on regarding the sergeant getting killed on their front doorstep the night before (which of course Shade and Boots know nothing about). Meanwhile, Thorn goes to pick up a case of the cheapest, lowest quality whiskey he could find, and swaps out the bottles. When he goes to talk to Baszo, he accepts the job and offers the case of cheap whiskey as a placeholder. When Baszo opens it and sees what’s really inside, he is duly impressed.

The crew earns a total of 4 Rep and 4 Coin, 1 of which Constance brings to Lyssa, to inform her that the crew did both jobs and also offer her The Crows’ cut. Lyssa is duly impressed, and the crew’s reputation as Daring is reinforced. After that, they take their well-earned downtime actions. Everyone has at least 6 Stress, so they all indulge their Vices. Additionally, Boots and Constance work to reduce their Heat, which was more than they were expecting due to the unforeseen deaths that occurred. An Entanglement roll results in The Unquiet Dead, so I rule that the body of the bum that Shade killed for the ritual was not found in time, so they’ll have to contend with his ghost later on.

Notes:

This was our first real interaction with the Mechanics, and I’m loving every minute of it so far. The clocks just *work*. Since they were attempting two jobs at once, I wanted to make sure they were very distinct in nature, with very different kinds of obstacles. Nearly all the details were improvised on the fly.

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