The Porcelain Dolls Session 25: July 20 2016

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

Downtime Actions for The Rich Kid Rid & Bid:

  • Constance: Reduces Stress twice (for a total of 4), and reduces Heat (3, for 1 Coin).
  • Kamali: Reduces Stress (by 3), and trains Prowess and Personal (for 1 Coin).
  • Boots: Trains Prowess.
  • Gloves: Trains Prowess and Personal.
  • Gears: Reduces Stress (overindulging, and is Lost for a while), and makes some progress on the workshop project (3 more ticks, 2 left).
  • Shade: Works on a project to learn a ritual that will allow a ghost to manifest (3 ticks, 5 left), trains Personal (and takes Warded as an advance, 1 Coin).

When Constance follows Yanth Agog’s instructions (fill a tin cup with water, bring it to the north end of Charterhall, and place it on a fence post outside the clerk’s office on Sabre St), she witnesses the corpse haulers taking away the body of Sevoy (the Ink Rake that was spotted at the Bell & Birch, which was subsequently reported to the Red Sashes).

Kamali hangs around waiting for Boots, and leads him out into the city, bringing him to Darmot’s flat. Introductions are made, as is tea, and we get to learn a little more about Kamali’s background (Darmot was the one that saved her from being killed by her brother, and took her in for a while when she had nowhere else to go). When Boots explains that he accidentally shot Kamali, Darmot stresses the importance of the Bluecoat tradition that Boots had previously related to her. She relents and gives Boots the bullet.

Constance brings the group together (minus Gears), doles out the cash and instructs them to stash it. She also decides that the group needs to find Aleira, and this will win the loyalty of the Lampblacks rank & file. Once they are on the Dolls’ side, Constance will move against Baszo. Shade already has eyes looking into this. Gloves says that Mylera is also looking into it, but Constance doesn’t want to rely on that.

Everyone knows that the Lampblacks are enemies with the Cabbies, the Red Sashes are enemies with the Gondoliers, and both are enemies of the Bluecoats. Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess.

  • Boots will investigate Brock’s murder.
  • Kamali will spy on the Sashes.
  • Shade will use his ghost informants to investigate the kidnapping.
  • Gloves will talk to Brime’s network.
  • Constance will talk to Lyssa.


This was a short session, so not a lot here, but we did get a couple of nifty character moments.

Gathering Information: I believe I mentioned this before in a comment, but it bears expanding on, so here’s my take on Gather Info rolls. I’ve divided Gather Info rolls into two types: Downtime, and Everywhere Else. In the rules as written, there are two phases: The Job, and Downtime. I know the rules are set up in such a way that a job can be run without any planning. However, I personally like to have a little context for what’s going on in the job (it goes a long way to help me frame the opening scene based on the Engagement roll). So what I’ve been doing is inserting what I guess could be called an additional phase before the job, where each character gets one action (usually Gather Info, but it doesn’t have to be). Mechanically speaking, these act as 0 Stress flashbacks that happen to be shown before the job rather than during. They are subject to the usual Position rules (and the Consequences that go with them). They do not come out of a player’s Downtime actions, and you can’t spend Coin to get more than one (however, you’re always free to request a flashback during the job to gather more info), but I do allow PCs to use their Contacts (see below).

Update (November 23 2016): John Harper has since clarified this in the rules, and there are three distinct phases: Free Play, The Job, and Downtime. So the way we have been playing is actually more in line with the final rules than we thought.

Conversely, Gather Info rolls made during Downtime are considered “safe”; in other words, not subject to the usual Position & Consequence rules, but instead use the results of the roll to determine how many questions the player gets to ask (1/2/3/5), or simply the quality of the information they receive (Poor/Standard/Good/Excellent).

Using Contacts: I also frequently encourage players use a Contact to get a bonus die, even outside of Downtime actions, as long as it makes sense in the fiction (and that’s not insignificant), for example, waaaay back in Session 1 Constance brought Marlane along with her to help deal with the Red Sashes, and they ended up starting an impromptu Fight Club in the street outside the Sashes’ HQ to create a diversion.

As for the mechanical difference between Friends (up arrow), Rivals/Enemies (down arrow), and Acquaintances (everyone else), the way I run it is that a player can always use any of the people on the list to get +1D, but only someone listed as a Friend will do it for free. The rest will almost certainly ask for something in return. I’ll even let them use a Rival/Enemy, but the price will be much higher.

Thus far, the question of using Coin to bump up the results of a roll hasn’t really come up a whole lot, but I’d limit that to Downtime actions as well, unless it really made sense (like you were trying to bribe a guard or something).