Seize Everything
Seize Everything

Line of the Night: Blades in the Dark

Tonight, I finished season one of the Blades in the Dark game that I’ve been running for my friends in Seattle since January. This campaign saw our gang, a group of shadowy thieves known as the Slug Street Crowd, advance from ambitious petty criminals to the ward bosses of the Crow’s Foot district, tangling with cultists, nobility, rival gangs, and the occasional goat along the way.

While we’ve been playing, we’ve been recording good quotes that came up during the game. Here’s a few of them.

Featuring Brett as Phin Coleburn, the cunning mastermind Spider; Peter as Edward Lake, the tinkerer alchemist Leech; Caitlin as Strix, the magical Whisper; Colin as Cricket, the skulking Lurk; and Jake as Brick, the brutal Cutter who barely ever rolled less than a six. I’m going to use character names here, even when it might make more sense to use real ones.


Grab it while you can, boys.


GM: “Hm. You rolled a four, which is success with consequence…what’s a good consequence to go along with successfully scouting out a drug den?”

Cricket: “Yo. Do these drugs. Prove you’re not a cop.”


GM: “Alcahest also kills 98% of germs.”

Lake: “Problem is, those germs become ghosts. Alcahest use is really putting the world in a worse place.”


Cricket: “Psst. Hey. Hey Roque. I stole this idol and it’s whispering to me and I wanna sell it.”


Cricket: “I hope the floor manager’s all right.” (after shooting the floor manager)


“Wait, did you say silence potion? I thought you said violence potion!”


GM: “The third brothel is called Sluice. There’s no sign, just some drainage pipes where a sign would be.”

Lake: “I’m here to get my pipes drained.”

GM: “Dammit…I did give you a lot of material to work with there, didn’t I?”

Lake: “I’ll give them a lot of material.”

GM: “Oh fuck off.”

Lake: “That’s the plan.”


GM: “There’s no hatch up into the building…except for the lavatory hatch.”

Brick: “Oh shit.”


Coleburn: “Remember to use your…burglary…holes.”

Lake: “…Do you mean the thieves’ rigging?”


The Hollow King: “You said you’re from the Court of Forgotten Dreams?”

Lake: “The Forgotten Court of Dreams.”

Coleburn: “No relation.”

Lake: “We’ve been at war forever. Over the name, you see.”


Strix: “Can we have a clock for the destruction of the world, please?”


Lake: “So what do we do? Do we just break into his house and go ‘we love you?'”


Lake: “Oh yes, arts and culture? I actually used to be a playwright.”

Journalist NPC: “Oh yeah, I think I saw you at the theater last–“

Lake: “Nope. No. Wrong guy.”


Strix: “Instead of belittling the servants…”

Lake: “What? I don’t understand.”

Strix: “In addition to belittling the servants…”

Lake: “Tell me more.”


Coleburn: “One of those award envelopes could easily go missing…”

Cricket: “Yeah, like this one.”


Lake: “What’s the boat called? Wait, no. Colin. Think of a name!”

Cricket: “Uh…Wide Boat.”

GM: “What?”

Strix: “Do we know the schedule of when the guards change on Wide Boat?”

GM: “…Goddammit, Colin.”

Cricket: “Wide Boat!”


Strix: “Does Cricket want to leave his life of crime to be a painter?”

Cricket: “No, it’s just a hobby.”

Lake: “Painting? Or boats?”

Coleburn: “Crime.”


Strix: “This is gonna sound a little racist, but Lake, you’d sound the most…Iruvian.”

Lake: “Yeah, don’t mention my professional acting skills, Strix.”


Brick: “If we get the whole boat, that’s gonna be a huge blow to the Red Sashes. Like…that might reduce them to public school teachers.”


Brick: “I’m givin’ ‘er all she’s got, captain!”

Lake: “Well, stop! We’re trying to slow down!”

Brick: “I’m givin’ ‘er all she’s got!”


Brick: “We could gas them.”

Lake: “I don’t have any…” rummages through pack “…I don’t have a ton of gas.”


Brick: “Lake is standing there with his lightning rod. What happens next will shock you!”

Lake: “I’m standing there looking intimidating with my lightning rod, and then Brick runs in and punches someone.”


Lake: “I present Phin with a shitty Good Acting Award that I just made.”


Lake: “The less we kill everyone on the boat, the better.”

Coleburn: “You can rock the boat. Don’t tip the boat over.”


Lake: “We’re about making money and looking good.”

Coleburn: “And we’re all out of money.”


Vanderson: “I feel quite inclined to introduce you to my lady friend here.” The swordmaster draws his blade.

Lake: “I was about to say the same to you!” Points at Strix.

Strix: Middle fingers.


GM: “The Sergeant is immaculately dressed, clean shaven, really nice hair, wears nicer fabric than the typical uniform…”

Strix: “So he’s a vampire.”

Lake: “No, he’s just gay.”


Lake: “I could invent a cell phone. Or, like, a walkie talkie.”

GM: “Why isn’t it in circulation? What’s the downside?”

Coleburn: “It’s actually just a box to talk to a ghost who relays your message to the other box.”

Lake: “New message. They said ‘release me.'”


GM: “How did you plan for this?”

Coleburn: “Well, four months ago…” trails off.

Lake: “No, keep going. This is the most Spider shit we’ve ever done.”


GM: “There’s something in the exhibit that looks like the Pope’s chair.”

Strix: “I sit in it.”

GM: “It’s labeled ‘Sacrificial Throne.'”

Strix: “I don’t sit in it.”


GM: “A zap of electricity travels through your tools into your body, scorching you and throwing you back, while the glass case falls off the pedestal in the other direction. Red lights flick on.”

Coleburn: “Also, we all die, and our next of kin hear sirens.”


GM: “You feel a wetness seeping in through your coat hood.”

Cricket: “I’ve got a bad feeling about what I just landed in.”


Gang Member: “I swear, we were just about to jump in and stop them. We weren’t actually going to let anything happen to you.”

Coleburn: “Yeah, this gang hasn’t allowed a member to be sacrificed to demons in at least, like, a week.”


Strix: “What’s the mortality rate for this clinic?”

GM: “Funny you should ask.”

Lake: “You mean the people who profit from turning dead people into spirits to sell on the black market…aren’t good at saving lives?”


GM: “There’s a shelf full of heavy things.”

Coleburn: “Luckily my man Lake is on it.”

Brick: “Ah yes, Lake. The tinkerer. Not the guy who can push himself to perform feats of strength beyond ordinary humans.”


GM: “Discuss among yourselves what you want to do.”

Lake: “Well, there’s a room that looks like there’s a bunch of water in it…”

Strix: “Let’s lick it!”

GM: “There’s a portcullis in the way.”

Lake: “Strix, how long is your tongue?”


Coleburn: “Are there any books called ‘How to Run Your Own Infirmary and Also Cast a Variety of Rituals?'”

Lake: “Nothing by that title, no.”


Count Avid Miklos: “I didn’t know I had a half brother until recently. My father was a very good man, he did lots of charity…”

Lake: “But he also liked to fuck.”

Coleburn: “He gave a lot to the poor.”

AIRHORNS


GM: “He’s got a vial labeled ‘Doctor Azair.'”

Lake: “Doctor doctor, gimme the news, you’ve got a bad case of being juice…”


Strix: “What if we roll the consequence that the Dockers now take over Crow’s Foot?”

Brick: “The crow’s foot is now wearing dockers.”


GM: “The wizard’s name is Zeuben.”

All: “Like the sandwich?”


Brick: “They also use the rats for sport. They put little costumes on them to represent important historical figures, and have them duke it out. In the Epic Rat Battles of History.”


GM: “As far as Sergeant Sandy knows, he’s just been dealing with a concerned citizen. A citizen who tipped him off to a drug bust, and then came back later to buy some police uniforms. Out of civic duty.”


Coleburn: “There can be no representation without taxation, after all.”


Strix: “You can fake cry, right?”

Lake: “I mean, I’ve never real cried, but I can fake cry, yes.”

Coleburn: “He fake cries frequently.”

Cricket: “Every night. For practice.”


Coleburn: “So we get the Ambassador to adopt Lake.”

Lake: “Then I become Vanderson’s brother. He wouldn’t kill his brother, would he?”

Coleburn: “His own flesh and blood?”


Coleburn: “I planned for this. I knew we would be up against robot hulls, so I brought some…hullnip.”


Ambassador Vanderson: “You’ll never get the documents! They’re locked in that safe that can only be opened with my hand! And I’ll never let you get them!”

GM: “You grab him, and he realizes ‘Oh wait, shit–‘”


Lake: “As we leave, do we yell about Slug Street?”

Coleburn: “Nah, this was 100% the Billhooks.”

Lake: “Luke Cage did this!”


Lake: “You can kill robots, they don’t have ghosts.”


Coleburn: “Yeah, the carriages are drawn by goats. Or as they’re colloquially known, horse-rats.”


Vlasko: “That’s big, not like this stuff. This is chicken change.”

Cricket: “What the fuck is ‘chicken change?'”

Vlasko: “Obviously you’ve never been to the Dagger Isles, Cricket.”


Cricket: “Should I roll Finesse to do the vomiting?”

Coleburn: “Yeah, you need the right trajectory.”


Guard: “Uh…Mr. Lake. Your clothes are hanging a lot…differently now.”

Lake: “It’s for you.Strips.


Lake: “Perhaps you should ‘try the crab.'” Wink, wink, nudge nudge, meaningful glance.

Cricket: Tries the crab.


Cricket: “Doc, my eye’s been twitching for the past week.”

Coleburn: “Have you slept?”

Cricket: “No?”


Sergeant Sandy: “But first, steal me a drink from that bar. Prove you’re not a cop.”


GM: “He has one of those wavy knives. I think the technical term is athene?”

Coleburn: “I think the technical term is ‘wavy knives.'”


Coleburn: “Are you telling me animals are bacteria?”

GM: “Yes. Large single-cell organisms. Welcome to Doskvol science.”


Coleburn: “Wait. Are there cavalry inside the office?”


Coleburn: “This is the office of the man who killed you.”

Ghost: “I was mauled by a bear.”

Brick: “You ever ask yourself why a bear was in your living room?”


GM: “You hear a pff sound, like the guard has dropped the pigeon’s message into a pneumatic tube.”

Strix: “They have pneumatic tubes? Why do they even need the pigeons, then?”

Coleburn: “Do you know how hard it is to fit pigeons into those tubes?”


Coleburn: “I’m not going back to prison for the first time.”

Brick: “‘We’re not going back to prison! You don’t know what it’s like!’ ‘You…YOU don’t know what it’s like.'”


GM: “The last file is an investigation into Toker Shipping Imperial.”

Brick: “Hehehe. It’s a drug shipping company.”

GM: “Wait, there’s an L there in my notes. Tolker Shipping Imperial.”

Strix: “So it’s an elf shipping company.”


Cricket: “I feel like we don’t have enough time to toss the office. I just jiggle his pens.”


Coleburn: “Maybe we meet Baz at a race. It could be the…what’s it called…”

Lake: “The races.”


Baz: “You don’t need rat licenses. You don’t tell the city council about this business, you don’t lose a cut of the profit to them.”

Brick: “You don’t…rat them out?”


GM: “Brick slipped the madam a couple of slugs and they let him into the brothel.”

Cricket: “And by slugs he means punches.”


Brothel Customer: “I want my money back! This is too real!”

Brick: “I put my hand around his throat and say, ‘It’s about to get a lot more real.'”

Rest of the party breaks out into Let’s Get It On

Brick: “I pull out my scary hand tool.”

Lake: spit take “…Your WHAT?”


Coleburn: “I’m assuming my cover identity, Biz Limpcuit.”

Lake: spit take number two


Strix: “Brick is our master baker.”

Lake: “I master bake a lot.”

Brick: “Yeah, at home I master bake for the missus.”

Coleburn: “Sometimes when I’m out at a restaurant, I master bake in public.”

Lake: “People will watch you do anything. I stream myself master baking online.”

Cricket: “I hate you all for this.”


Lake: “We’re so deep in the Ministry’s bowels, we’re in the prostate of the bureaucracy.”

Brick: “They put the state in prostate.”


Strix: “Time to get out of here?”

Coleburn: “Time to thieve and leave. To crook it and book it. To steal about and peel out.”


Cricket: “Wait, there are carnivorous fish in here?”

Strix: “Yeah. That’s why you don’t put meat in your wetsuit.”

Cricket: “But I have all these treats, in case we see a dog and I need to pet it.”

GM: “Cricket opens his shadow cloak and it’s just lined with steaks.”


Cricket: “Idea. We could change the street names on the cult’s summoning stuff.”

Coleburn: “Yeah, if we wanted to, like…conjure a leviathan into Whitecrown.”

Strix: “That would be pretty entertaining.”

Cricket: “It would be.”

Coleburn: “…It would be.”


GM: “He’s convinced you’re some sort of rival cult infiltrating his group.”

Coleburn: “We are the Court of Forgotten Dreams.”

Strix: “It’s the Forgotten Court of Dreams.”

Coleburn: “Sorry, I’m new here.”


Strix: “Ssh. Play along. We’re not cultists, we’re Slug Street.”

Pickett: “You were in on this too? I should have known! Is this why Baz came for me?”

Strix: “Just…shut up. We need you alive so we can double cross you later.” Aside: “Maybe he’ll believe that.”


Cricket: “I pull him off the catwalk into the water. I don’t know what action that would be…”

Coleburn: “I think that’s a Ledge Takedown.”


Cricket finds out that his sinister trinket from a forgotten god makes him invisible to possessed people, in a room full of possessed cultists.

GM: “Cricket has gone from terrified to going ‘This is the best.'”

Coleburn: “Well yeah, he just turned on god mode.”

Cricket: “Literally!”


Strix: “I’m three for three on almost getting my friends sacrificed. I gotta stop letting people into cults.”


GM: “You can climb the plumbing pipes, just don’t break them. You might not like what’s inside.”

Cricket: “Poop ghosts!”


Coleburn: “Let’s keep counting our goats before they hatch.”

GM: “Goats don’t lay eggs?”

Strix: “In Duskwall, goats are reptiles.”


Brick: “For this heist, we need to be prepared for combaaaaat.”


Coleburn: “But the guards won’t know from the bleating of a goat whether it’s shaved or not…”

Cricket: “This is a good conversation. Should we shave the goat.”


Lake: “The goat had last words. That’s…uncommon.”


Brick: “Can I use the girl as a fine two-handed weapon?”


Coleburn: “It turns out that the real ward boss…was friendship.”


So…where’s Slug Street?

Theme song plays, screen fades to black.


NEXT SEASON:

The Slug Street Crowd is the top dog in Crow’s Foot, but they’re chafing under the control of the Hive, which isn’t inclined to let their new allies get too big or too far out of line. The False Count, Lostra Miklos, and his cult of possessor ghosts is still out there somewhere, plotting revenge on the thieves who have twice foiled his machinations. The spirit-trader Flint is still chained to a wall in Slug Street’s basement, with Strix trying to use him to find out where the ghosts of her parents ended up, and the swordmaster Vanderson, son of the Iruvian Ambassador Vanderson, is drinking away his sorrows and thinking dark thoughts about the criminals who destroyed the Red Sashes and broke his friends. The master assassin known as the Grey Man is still out there somewhere in the shadows taking apart the individuals responsible for nearly killing him years ago, the betrayed former leader of the Lampblacks Bazso Baz is now a part-fish monstrosity bent on vengeance, and Silver Nails mercenaries are hunting for the thieves who stole artifacts from the Lost District that they regard as being rightfully theirs. On the legal side of things, Inspector Jean-Pierre Noveuk le Baptiste is carrying both a concussion and a grudge against the criminals who broke into his office and cleared out his evidence safe, the Ministry of Preservation still wants answers about who broke into their Records room and gained access to their Emergency Measures Census, and Inspectors Sibelle and Deilah are struggling to rebuild their case against friend of Slug Street and terrifying inhuman vampire Lord Scurlock.

Slug Street is running Crow’s Foot. But they’ve left a lot of loose ends in their wake, and someday they might find that not all of those ties were severed as cleanly as they might have liked…

But in the meantime, I think we’re going to take a break from Blades in the Dark and play a different game for a while. We’ll come back to Doskvol some other day, perhaps. I love BitD’s flashback and loadout mechanics, and how cinematic it makes everything, but there are elements of the game that are too obviously mechanical in nature that take me out of the immersion with annoying regularity. Downtime actions, for example, are very strictly regimented and always feel unnatural to play through. Also I really wish that money meant more than it does (there’s just not that much that you can buy, when it comes down to it), and that gear progression was more interesting, and that gear was more specific and interesting in general, rather than being as vague as “A fine hand weapon” or whatever. It’s a great system, don’t get me wrong, and I’d run it again in a heartbeat, but maybe it’s time to try something else for a bit.

The sun sets on Doskvol as it always does: without a sound, barely changing the texture of the darkness.

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