Players: Tony, CJ, Zane, Eric
System: Blades Against Darkness
Blades Against Darkness is an upcoming Swords and Sorcery/Western hack for Blades in the Dark. The game takes place in a frontier setting composed of guns and strange magic. We have civil war technology and monsters and magic are strange, absurd, and alien. Our city of Ironwood was formed as a hub of economic activity (lumber if you could guess by the name) and sits on top of a ruined volcano and home to the ruins of once powerful sorcerer kings. This was session #2 but will be my first write up.
Before we jump into the report, here's a quick Dramatis Personae:
Tony, Pangit, the goat horned godson Chosen to debauchery.
CJ - Staven, an Ushdvani PTSD war veteran Widowmaker
Zane - Thron, the manipulative Edroshani Copperhead
Eric - Gwala, the forsaken Ushdvani Warden
Phil - Jikali, the ostracized and enigmatic Trau Chimera
Last session, our band of tomb robbers blew up a demonic power plant in the Ashlands, and so we started this session off doing downtime! After a brief discussion if our antics constituted 4 aggro or 3 aggro, we settled on 3 aggro (aggro being this hack's mechanical replacement for heat) as well as 5 coin for looting these obsidian tablets to sell to the Trau-- the "simple merchants" who lived on this continent for millennia.
Our actions in downtime really played on what we did last session. Our contact for our first mission put pressure on our poor, indebted Thron, that the location we blew up was supposed to be given to the Grey Foxes company. She needs a new spot to be found, FAST to make good on her promises to them and its up to poor, hungover Thron to solve it. Gwala was injured after some bad rolls and encounters with some steam vents. I spent the downtime healing my burns and ended up pissing off the earth spirits who were assisting me. They need me to restore the earth by dumping some alien god relic into the sea of magma its perched over. Apparently it gives the earth spirits bad vibes. ,
Staven and Panjit end up trying to recruit for the church of Pan.. Panjit's religion, Staven thinks a Bacchanalia would do the mind and body right and delightfully helps Panjit plan this.
Phil couldn't make it tonight, so we roleplayed his Chimera (wizard) off talking to the skull of the sorcerer king he found last session.
The rest of our downtime actions were in response to Thron's escapades. We all decided that figuring out a new adventure spot (and one that Thron's friend could give to the powerful faction, the Grey Foxes) could be done together and so we reconed the ashlands and think we found a good spot to adventure in.
We didn't get too far into our mission before having to call it for the night. Downtime ended up taking quite a lot of time! However we were able to find a secret way into this engineer compound where one of the buildings was COVERED in ice in the middle of a basin in a volcano!
We learned last week that a lot of ice like that usually means golem activity. Golems are mechanical constructs (wands, tools, machines, etc) imbued with a spark of the creators soul which, when pushed to the limits, absorbs heat from the world around it making things very cold.
It was also extremely dark where we were going, so as a Warden, I invoked powers of animals, and called upon the ability of an Owl to see in the dark, until someone suggested I use the power of an Anglerfish! And so it was. Anglerfish Gwala is now the lightsource for the party!
We get close to the building when we find the remains of previous adventurers. Apparently some sort of ghost like being did a number on this party… and it was at that moment we saw a spectral fin breach the floor and dive back below. Some ghostly animals from the nearby fossils must have been attracted to either this place or our magic!
We proceed with caution until we get to the room with this MASSIVE silver tomb. That’s where we stopped!
While this particular session wasn’t as strong as my first taste, I’m still excited to come back for week 3!
Blades Against Darkness is so good! This game is much a work in progress, but it has a lot of potential. Its flavor stems from a gritty fantasy/western crossed with dungeons that are more in line with HR Geiger and the Metroid video games.
The playbooks themselves are very interesting! Each one is a riff on your classic D&D class archtype- Chosen are your cleric, warlock, and paladins, Widowmakers are your fighters, Rogues are your Copperheads, Chimeras are your wizards, and Wardens are your Druid/Ranger/Barbarians. Each one’s moves make you go, “OH MAN I WANNA PLAY THAT” which is quite an impressive feat!
When you go on an adventure, the GM starts a sort of “grind” mechanic like you would in Torchbearer. Every 4 moves the GM makes a move! The alien-ness of our dungeons is also a very nice touch. Last week, I made the observation that dungeon delving in Blades Against Darkness is like your whole team is hacking into a secure facility. Now not every dungeon is like this, but for the first the dungeon we did—the Ashlands Powerplant—it occurred to me that this dungeon is similar to hacking in cyberpunk! The party links up and enters this dungeon which is itself a sort of monumentally massive supercomputer. The dungeon sort of registers the hack, and begins to find and trace its invaders and send response things at the invaders. Treating the dungeon crawling aspects like your racing against the tracing clock was awesome! Its an analog I really wanna see more of as we play. Hopefully it doesn’t get stale.
As with most RPGs I play, my dice cursed me with horrible rolls this and previous session and more level 2 harm is just around the bend for me… but the thing with blades and blades games, it captures the best parts of PBtA format games of having failure fall forward and progress the story in interesting ways.