The Porcelain Dolls: Session 7 (March 30th 2016)


Several weeks ago, coming off of one of his week-long binges, Shade exits Setarra’s brothel one morning and notices a young Iruvian woman who makes her way through the crowd on the street, effortlessly picking pockets as she goes. Intrigued, he keeps an eye out for her, and spies her on several other occasions on the streets of Nightmarket. He brings this information to Constance, who sets about making inquiries as to the young woman’s identity. Neither Lyssa for Mylera Klev has ever heard of her, so she seems to be independent. Constance decides to try and recruit her before someone else does.

The next time Shade encounters the girl, he manages to corner her long enough to offer her a job (his quick talking manages to save him from getting a knife in the throat for his trouble). She follows him back to the Leaky Bucket to meet Constance and the rest of the crew. The girl, who doesn’t speak the entire time, remains suspicious of Shade and Boots, but bonds with Constance, who is well served with her experience in dealing with Marlane. When asked her name, she writes something in a curly flowing script that no one can read (Gloves was not present at the time), so she writes in Akorosi: “Kamali”. Constance presents her with an offer: join the crew, and earn an equal share. Kamali agrees.

A little about Kamali, the group’s new Lurk (and Fly on the Wall): She was the daughter of an Iruvian merchant prone to falling for get-rich-quick schemes. Her father was more or less swindled into coming to Doskvol to work with his brother who was starting up an important/export company, with promises of big big money and a life of luxury. Once the family got to Akoros, the business dried up, and they were stuck there. Some time ago, Kamali was raped, and her family blamed her for it. This came to a head when her oldest brother attempted to kill her to restore the family’s honor (rich cultural heritage). A Bluecoat named Darmot intervened, killing her brother. Darmot took Kamali in and looked after her for a while, until she was caught attempting to burglarize Roslyn Kellis’ townhouse. Darmot was able to keep Kamali out of Ironhook, but absolved himself of all responsibility for her afterward. Kamali is an accomplished pickpocket, safecracker, and assassin. In a crowd, she’s inconspicuous. In the dark, she’s downright invisible. She never speaks; it is unknown if she is unable to, or simply chooses not to. However, she can read and write extremely well (in several languages). She’s about 19 or so. And she really does not like being touched.

[Kamali is being played by the same player as Constance.]

The Hit List Job (part 1):

Mylera Klev has tasked the Dolls with scoping out the Bell & Birch, and getting her a list of notable regulars. The payment for this job is the opportunity to gather intel on the establishment so they can rob it themselves.

The crew has two clocks: The Regulars represents their obligations to Mylera, and they can use Consort or Survey to advance it. Standard Operating Procedure represents all the pertinent details of the day to day operations of the Bell & Birch, and will give them vital information on how to approach robbing the place. Each of these clocks is 8 segments.

Opposing them is a Suspicion clock (6 segments), which advances every time someone messes up a roll. However, Gloves has some degree of control over this one (more on this below).

Kamali gets a job serving drinks in order to observe the business (her starting playbook ability makes her exceptionally adept at this). Gloves places himself front and center at one of the dice tables to observe the comings and goings of the patrons, as well as take attention away from the rest of the crew. They both make good progress on these tasks.

Shade is there to gamble and observe as well, but almost immediately gets spotted by one of the bar girls, who turns out to be possessed by Tocker, who is working security for the place, in exchange for small quantities of unrefined leviathan blood on a regular basis.

I presented Gloves with a mini-game of sorts. I decided that the drama of the scenes in the Bell & Birch wasn’t about whether he was winning or losing. After all, Liar’s Dice becomes a lot simpler when you can tell with absolute certainly if someone is lying or not. Instead, each game night spent in the place ends with a choice: if he decides that he’s winning, he adds 1 Coin to a running total (to be collected at the end of the job) but also advances the Suspicion clock for the job. Alternatively, he can choose to lose, which will wipe out his winnings, but also reset the Suspicion clock. The first night he decides he’s winning.

The second night, Kamali and Gloves are back in the place, and make more progress on the clocks, but Shade has other business. He talks to Nyryx (who shows up riding the body of a young man Shade hasn’t seen before). They hatch a plan to capture Tocker. Shade also visits Flint, a spirit trafficker who used to work the rails years ago. He gets some advice on how to capture and bottle the rival ghost.


I admit I dropped the ball a little bit this session, skimping somewhat on presenting the results of Gloves’ and Kamali’s actions in favor of Shade’s scenes. Even in a game that drips atmosphere as much as Blades in the Dark, there is always the danger of becoming complacent and lazy as a GM, and boiling down actions to ticking off segments on a clock, with no supporting narrative (like those people who used to play D&D like: “Roll to hit.” “18.” “Roll damage.” “12.” “You kill it.”). I resolved to fix this next session.