The Porcelain Dolls Session 16: May 15 2016

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

The Sash Stash Crash & Smash:

The crew decides to hit the Moon’s Daughter and pin it on the Lampblacks. Shade suggests hitting them where their supply of Trance Powder is stored. Constance reasons that the main stash would be somewhere other than the restaurant. She considers asking Lyssa to call in the Bluecoats on the Sashes. Boots confirms that the Sashes don’t currently have any protection agreement in place with the Bluecoats.

Constance decides that someone will enter the restaurant and arrange for a large purchase, one that they will not be able to fill with what they have on hand. Boots will follow the Sashes’ man to the location of their stash. Once the product is delivered to the Moon’s Daughter, the Bluecoats, who will have already been tipped off, will raid the restaurant to provide a diversion. Boots will then inform the Lampblacks of the location of the stash, who will of course hit it, and the Dolls will receive a cut of what is taken.

Boots volunteers to assist the Lampblacks in their raid, as does Kamali. Shade is reluctant to be seen making a direct move against Mylera, but he says he knows of a way to lend aid.

Constance wants Gloves to make the buy, and allow himself to get arrested along with the Sashes. Gloves asks for hazard pay, but Constance is not amused.

Constance goes to see Lyssa, who was aware of the Sashes’ drug operation, but not that the Moon’s Daughter was one of the distribution venues. Because she’s miffed at the Sashes for apparently holding out on her, Lyssa agrees to arrange for the intervention of the Bluecoats, as well as protection and an expedited release for Gloves, should he be caught up in the raid. Lyssa also resolves to speak to Mylera personally regarding the matter, and thanks Constance for bringing it to her attention (Faction status goes up to +2 with the Crows).

I ran this as two linked jobs running more or less concurrently, and the crew split up again so most everyone will be able to take advantage of the Downtimes afterward.

Part 1:

Engagement roll for the first one is not great (3). Gloves goes to the Moon’s Daughter, speaks to the maitre d’, asks for the special, and is ushered into the back room, where Branon Avrathi is waiting to deal. Gloves names a quantity that he expects will be more than what the Sashes have on hand, to prompt them to pay a visit to their stash. However, he underestimates how much the Sashes keeping on hand when Branon produces the requested amount with no fuss. This is good news for Gloves, who will not be around for the Bluecoat raid, but bad news for Boots, who now has a harder time tracking the Sashes’ bagman, now that they don’t know when he will go to re-up. Eventually, however, he does, and while Boots is able to keep up, he is spotted just as the man is going into the building where the stash is being kept.

Constance meets with Prichard and Lady Drake. Prichard acknowledges that Baszo is being reckless, and that he has tried to dissuade him from this war, but Baszo holds Mylera responsible for the death of his wife. Constance recommends that Baszo be removed from the equation, sooner rather than later, and makes her intentions to take over the Lampblacks known. Prichard says that he and Baszo have been close friends for many years, but admits that an overabundance of sentiment is what got them in the current situation.

Constance also informs Prichard of the location of the stash, and recommends hitting it while the Sashes and the Bluecoats are distracted. She gives them a time (around noon the next day) and a place (about two blocks from the antique store where the drugs are being kept). The Lampblacks will assault the place, assisted by Boots, Shade, and Kamali.

Part 2:

The next day, Shade performs a ritual that will swap his appearance with another, grabbing a random passerby from the street. Kamali and Boots were warned of this beforehand, but are still nonetheless startled to see a complete stranger approach them for the job. The Lampblacks are late, by nearly half an hour, and look as though they’ve already been in a scuffle. There are five of them, two of which are Coil and Vale from the Bell & Birch (now demoted to footsoldiers), but they don’t recognize Kamali.

Shade performs his cloak of invisibility ritual, and envelopes himself and the Lampblacks in the Ghost Field so they can approach the front of the antique store unseen. In the process, the Lampblacks and Shade all take Level 1 Harm in the form of mild frostbite (no Resistance roll, and even if I did permit it, Shade was now at 8 Stress). Meanwhile, Kamali is in the alley by the back door, setting a tripwire before climbing up on a perch, and Boots is on the roof of the building across the street, with a good view of the alley and the back door.

Shade drops the cloak as the Lampblacks rush the front door of the shop. His Stress is dangerously high, so he decides to back off. Kamali and Boots hear the commotion in the shop, and the back door flies open. Three Sashes emerge, the first hitting the tripwire and falling flat on his face. The second tumbles over his buddy into the alley, while the third manages to parkour his way over the both of them and begins sprinting down the alley to get help. There are now two clocks: The Survivors (6 segments) of the fight inside, who are running to go get reinforcements, and They’re Getting Away! (4 segments), which is the countdown.

Kamali drops down and stabs the first Sash in the back and attempts to attack the second, but he has gotten his footing and now whirls to face her (2 segments filled). Boots takes a shot at the third, and hits him right between the eyes. The bullet exits his skull, ricochets off the brick wall of the alley, and wings the second (3 more segments filled, bringing it to 5).

The problem is that Kamali is not nearly as effective in a straight fight, and the dice seem to agree with this assessment. She narrowly avoids serious Harm on more than one instance, but the Stress is slowly piling up. There’s only so long she can keep this up. Boots has the choice of taking the time to reload his rifle, or make a Desperate shot with a pistol. He decides to go with the latter, and gets a 5. The result is that the remaining Sash trades swings with Kamali for a bit, then Boots hit him right in the back of the neck, his throat explodes, and Kamali is hit in the shoulder (Level 3 Harm reduced to 2 by a Resistance roll).

Three remaining Lampblacks emerge from the shop to see Shade arrive and use his electroplasm to dissolve the three bodies in the alley. Unfortunately he doesn’t have enough for the four bodies inside (two of which are Lampblacks). They grab the stash and make a run for it. Kamali refuses to let anyone touch her, and manages to limp home on her own with a bullet in her shoulder.

Notes:

A couple of house rules: First of all, I’ve decided as a matter of principle, I’m not going to try and squeeze in Downtimes at the end of a session any more. It encourages everyone to kind of rush through it before they scatter for the evening. Instead, they can take the time until next session to decide what they’re going to do, and it allows me to zoom in on certain actions if it’s necessary, especially indulging Vices, which too often get relegated to “Okay, you take off 3 Stress”. I want to see more of what actually happens when they’re doing this stuff (and there are opportunities for more story there). So next session we’ll see Payoff (I informally promised them 10 Coin worth for this job at the end of this session), Heat (this will be a noisy one), Entanglement, and Downtimes.

Second, I clarified (for our group) the difference between Resistance rolls being able to lessen or mitigate incoming Harm, and being able to eliminate it entirely. The two examples with Kamali above illustrate it quite well. The first time she was actively dodging a melee attack, so it was kind of an all or nothing deal. The second time, it was an incoming bullet. The best she could hope for is to weather the hit.

I had to make a choice at some point as to whether or not the Sashes’ business at the Moon’s Daughter was known to Lyssa or not. Either one would have been equally interesting to me, so I let a die decide (even/odds). If it had been, the conversation with Constance and Lyssa would have gone very differently, with Lyssa demanding some form of compensation for the loss of income from their cut of the Sashes’ drug trade.

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