Ghost Echoes: Game 3

Ghost Echoes: Game 3

Ghost Echoes: Game 3

Helena’s notes:

“Yesterday I was introduced to a Stranger by the name of Sebastion. He seems at home here, taking my presence in stride. In what might have passed for a rather unremarkable moment were we not meeting within the Echo of The Devil’s Midwife, I witnessed him grasp at a phantom glass only to come away with a finger of whiskey from the bar. I wonder: if Rigney were tending to the dishes on the other side might he have turned, confused, to find the glass missing and his best bottle of brown short one pour? This requires further study.

As I pondered this, William arrived, looking a bit less agitated than previous. Perfect timing as I’d been meaning to offer him a proposal. I relayed Stazia’s request and he and Sebastion both seemed excited by the prospect of pulling one over on the Rail Jacks and, by extension The Wardens. Sebastion was especially intrigued and offered his services as a spirit speaker right then and there. Of course! He came off as a more worldly sort but I’ve heard rumors of Tycherosi whispers and their odd methods.

In any case, a shipment of charged spirit bottles is just what I need to further my research into the manipulation of hollow vessels. The Sisters have offered a fair sum for one in particular, more than enough to catch the interest of my new compatriots. It’s been so long since I’ve ridden the train to Whitehollow. Different times.

William, still manic from our previous encounter, offered up some rumors he’d heard about a dice game the Jacks play when most of the passengers are asleep. I’m not usually one for deception but perhaps I can stand to leverage a few pinches of Spark in a game of chance. Regardless, William seems especially adept at worming his way into peoples … good graces, and he seems convinced that stealing the keys to the vault car will be a trivial matter once the Jacks are sufficiently loaded.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous, but there’s something about this that has me excited. Ghosts, trains, the graces of Stazia and the Dimmer Sisters, and myself, right in the middle of it all. I used to read stories like this and laugh them off as the musings of bored poets but hear I am, Helena: Doctor. Ghost-friend. Train robber.

I write this as we wait at the station, headed to Whitehollow. The ride there should be enough time to case the train. We make our move on the trip back.

Doskvol, I’ll see you again soon.”

BitD: Ghost Echoes, Games 1 & 2

BitD: Ghost Echoes, Games 1 & 2

BitD: Ghost Echoes, Games 1 & 2

In Doskvol, there are all kinds of criminals. Thieve’s that kill, thugs that steal, protectors who exploit those that depend on them.

But our band of Shadows is a bit … different. You see, they work for a ghost.

Open one special door on the hour, as the old grandfather clock strikes, and you might just find yourself somewhere strange. The ghost echo looks a little different to everyone, reflecting the world back at you in odd ways.

Perhaps, as William was, you will be horrified to find yourself in a burnt out shell of a building. Ash blows in the wind and light from the Dimmer Sisters, provides the only illumination.

Or maybe, as Sebastion often is, you are transported back 200 years to a Doskvol not all that different from today’s. The rooms smell of lamp oil and the halls reverberate with the pleasant music of unseen men and women.

Or, if you have a particularly scientific mind, as Helena does, you might be treated to a complex world. Each object simultaneously a whole and a division of it’s component parts. In the darkness of the sky, stars and comets swirl in an abyss.

Regardless, Amancio is always there. She asks them for things sometimes, an old phonograph, a painting of a matron wearing a barkeep’s uniform. Odd bits and ends of personal significance. Each addition seemingly adding new shape and detail to the echo.

Of course the crew wants things, too. Electrum coins emblazoned with the bust of an old mayor. Guidance for experiments into the nature of the beyond. Or maybe they just want to find love in odd places.

Whatever one might want, a visit to the echo marks you as a friend to the weird people of the world


And that is a mixed bag, to be sure.

Mothlands Game 5: Month of Moths

Mothlands Game 5: Month of Moths

Mothlands Game 5: Month of Moths

We began our fifth game of Mothlands licking wounds and prepping for the Month of Moths: a season without fire or light. The dreaded Moths are out hunting and all must hide lest they swoop down in the night and snatch you up in their many talons.

This is the last day of winter and a celebration is under way.

Freeplay and Downtime saw us training, healing wounds, and indulging our comforts. With the festivities underway, we got to see how they did or did not play into our characters lives. Sarzi, our Spear, had helped Elox, the Recluse, and Pi, the Mouse, set up a training ground to practice at swordplay. We then got treated to some fallout from our entaglement as a very angry Templar of The Spirited Way grilled a friend of the crew for some dirt on our heroes. The friend gave up nothing but the Templar will be back.

At the festival, Sarzi shared some of the traditions of her own people by spinning poi while Jin, our Favorite, engaged in some pre score planning. Using a lead they’d gotten, previously, the crew secured a dangerous job, acquiring a Moth for the Emperors private collection.

On the first day of the Month of Moths, our crew set out with a small group of other underclass people who had been desperate enough to take on this dangerous job. They would be competing with the crew for coin and prestige so whittling down their numbers became a bit of a side mission. It said a lot about the crew when they chose to use social maneuvering to frighten the competition away rather than deadly traps or other more blatant methods, so when they found the moth, hibernating beneath the mud of a sandy river shoreline, only 6 of the 12 remained. More coin for the crew.

Taking their time, Elox helped in constructing a net sturdy enough to keep the beast under control. With enough manpower and time, it should wear itself out. Even so, it was the size of two buffalo with deadly jaws and piercing tendrils capable of spearing a man at 30 feet. Staying away from its front side would be key.

Thanks to their preparation, and considering their number advantage and excellent ground work, I took a few ticks out of the Moth’s clock right off the bat. They were greatly outclassed by the creature but they had every advantage. They needed it.

At the least, the net would keep the thing from extending its maneuvering wings and buzzing away. Pi also volunteered to dump an alchemical concoction on it: two substances that, when combined, acted as a glue. This would gum up the works, so to speak, and help secure the netting.

When the moment was right, the team enacted their plan, trapping the Spitter Moth up in thick cords of rope. Pi, being a danger seeker, chose to drop on the thing from above to deliver the glue, but was injured in the effort, resisting the bucking and thrashing of the creature to avoid being thrown free and losing the opportunity. She’d get it on the next try, barely jumping free.

Not being able to fly away, the Moth began to spin. Sarzi and her cohorts held on fast but some were thrown free, giving the beast an opportunity to strike out. Jin, who had been studying the scene, waiting to direct the action, became a target of the darting tendrils but managed to spot the creatures warning display just in time to throw themselves to safety. Elox was not so lucky, but managed to Ruin the beasts leg as it sat, briefly immobilized. The emperor wanted it alive, but he didn’t specify whether he wanted it intact.

A struggle ensued, with the crew managing to get the thing on its side and subdue it into exhaustion. A victory worthy of the personal congratulations of the emperor, but we will get to that next time.

The fellowship is getting more ambitious every day. I can’t say what that will mean for them in the Month of Moths but I look forward to finding out.

Mothlands Game 4: Grave Robbers

Mothlands Game 4: Grave Robbers

Mothlands Game 4: Grave Robbers

Last time on Mothlands, our crew had seized territory from the Serpent’s Coil: a band of hawkers with exclusive access to a predecessor temple.

With the temple now in their control, there was only one thing to do: find a way into it’s unplumbed depths and haul the plunder back to the surface.

It was a simple job, but potentially a lucrative one. We began the mission repelling down an ancient elevator shaft into the eerily pristine hallways of what the players understood to be an ancient hospital. Sneaking forward, our Mouse, Pi (think Lurk) quickly spots someone toiling away in an operating theater, working on some unseen object. A partial success also meant I got to describe the black iris of a camera watching her back.

Minutes later the crew is dealing with their first demon, an AI android referred to as Sera. Sera is on a singular mission to repair her damaged sisters but doesn’t have the parts. Sera is also critically damaged and this leaves her open to suggestion. The crew uses this to their advantage and promptly distracts her so as to loot the ancient surgical auger from the ceiling (think a surgical robot that can be controlled with a thought). They also manage to score a bundle of predecessor clothing and some surprisingly fresh predecessor food from the vending machine in the lobby.

But, this entire time I’d been ticking a clock labeled “Alerted.” The party had assumed it was attached to Sera when in fact it had been for her sister, and her sister had a different mission: security of the compound.

A brutal fight ensued. Quick thinking and teamwork, as well as the fortunate fact that the demon didn’t immediately recognize the crew’s primitive weapons as dangerous, allowed our Spear, Sarzi, to lop the things head off. We ended the fight with a first person view of her foot stomping its face. A new trophy for their lair.

Our Recluse (think Leach) also went deep down the crafting hole deciding to take up the Medicine special ability to supplement his penchant for dabbling with auger. I’m a little concerned he’ll put two and two together and create some horrible abomination of flesh and ageless predecessor metal but sometimes the worst decisions are the best to roleplay.

Overall, my players are really starting to get a feel for the rules this time around and I was very happy with how much character development we got out of even a simple job like this one. What’s more, a few of my players got to shine like they never had before, in part thanks to two of the more social characters being absent for this session. I look forward to seeing how our little crew of upstarts moves into Tier 1 as we approach the Month of Moths. 1 day left ….

Mothlands: Game 3

Mothlands: Game 3

Mothlands: Game 3

Blood in the Turf

The start of game 3 had our fellowship struggling to benefit from their newfound reputation to earn a bit of scratch before the beginning of The Month of Moths. Having earned a pretty penny hawking auger (predecessor devices of mundane and spiritual power) the group naturally turned in that direction, preying on a bauble hawker in market and following him home to his suppliers, The Serpent’s Coil.

The serpents, it seemed, had discovered a predecessor ruin and were mining it for useful artifacts and valuables. We decided the mission would be a split plan. The first leg was a simple deception to dupe the merchant, Nadir, into setting up a delivery. The second was an assault plan to take over the smuggler’s boat and then their claim.

The first portion went of without a hitch, leading to some important intel that scored them a crit on their engagement roll. With that in mind, we decided to start the second half of the mission with the players already having taken over the ship and headed to the secret camp with a hostage in tow.

This was great, but the crew hadn’t seen much action before and the ensuing battle for the camp would take a toll on them.

The Serpent’s Coil were a small gang but they weren’t pushovers. Even with several of them being taken out nearly immediately, a few failed rolls lead to a tense brawl between The Spear (think Cutter) and their freed hostage. In the struggle, The Spear was pushed into the trauma zone. We decided she had become Cruel and we ended the fight with her nearly twisting the man’s hand off.

The fight highlighted a few difficulties the crew would face in the future. Namely that some of the crew are a bit hesitant to resort to violence while others are more than happy to get their hands dirty.

They also have a penchant for befriending one another’s rivals. This has caused a bit a tension as one such Ally/Rival loaned the fellowship his barge as a hideout in exchange for hiding his stash of yet to be fenced goods … something our Favorite (think Slide) wouldn’t be too happy about.

And in downtime we got to advance some interesting clocks, including deciphering the strange comings and goings of a mysterious individual who, we determined, was hiring a group of nobodies to help the Emperor capture a Moth to display in the Zoo, all under the radar.

I’ve been really happy with how our games have run, even with one of the players often having to drop out early. The loose threads we create in each session are more than adequate to keep the action going and we can all see how the rules compliment the underlying concepts of the game.

Alright, GMs and ambitious players: What are custom special abilities are you most proud of or just want feedback on?

Alright, GMs and ambitious players: What are custom special abilities are you most proud of or just want feedback on?

Alright, GMs and ambitious players: What are custom special abilities are you most proud of or just want feedback on?

For Mothlands I have two.

For “The Heart: A Charismatic Empath” I wanted to write something that embodied my re-imagining of The Slide.

Like a Book: When you Study someone with an

empathetic eye, gain potency and you may notice tells

too subtle for others to see. How are you alike?

And for “The Mouse: A Stealthy Sneak and Thief” I really liked the Ghost Veil move but needed to reflavor it away from the supernatural.

Perfect Timing: You concentrate a moment, syncing

with the rythms of the world. Take 2 stress, plus 1

stress for each extra feature: It lasts minutes rather

moments, you hide in plain sight, you climb like a


Mothlands, Game 2: The Corvid Come Calling.

Mothlands, Game 2: The Corvid Come Calling.

Mothlands, Game 2: The Corvid Come Calling.

Our first game since character creation found the fellowship beginning their first mission on a good foot. The Corvid, a loose network of patriotic gossips and spies, had agreed to take a look at the wares dubbed “triangles”: Devices capable of imprinting people with a sort of mind-link through which they can send simple messages.

The party themselves had been the first test subjects and they used their new found abilities to impress The Corvid. Still, some found the idea of connecting one’s mind to another’s distasteful, if not down right undesirable, for someone with a closet full of skeletons.

Unfortunately, the Corvid had little to offer in way of monetary compensation. They peddled primarily in secrets, after all. Recognizing a few of The Corvid, (they were all masked), some of the party leveraged their connections to sway the decision in their favor, even managing to eek out a few extra coin with the help of a sharp watchman’s eye and a little arm twisting. A deal was struck and the “triangles” were passed off to The Corvid, perfect marks for their first score.

In downtime, we got to dive deep into the background of some of the characters, one of whom had a lot of questions about their past. With the reluctant help of another PC, they dug into the archives at the Spirited Way and found references to another with a similar story about traveling to Reprieve (the current planetary location) from the moon, Beacon. They also attracted a bit of attention to themselves spending time with friends in the army they had abandoned and it might just be that this comes back bite them in the rear. Meanwhile, one of the masked Corvid had caught the eye of our Will (think The Whisper, but for ancient devices instead of ghosts) and she spent her free time looking into his strange habit of appearing and disappearing at odd times around the city, always after checking a strange auger hanging around his neck.

And, of course, we ended with another sort of clock. 7 days until the Month of Moths begins. The world is about to turn upside down.

Mothlands, Game 1

Mothlands, Game 1

Mothlands, Game 1

Today I GMed my first game of blades. In an original setting, no less.

And it went even better than I could have hoped.

When we went around the table for character creation, I had people explain their backgrounds and heritage and everyone immediately started getting into character, tying their stories together and explaining how they knew one another.

Which was good because for the last two dots I’d had the idea of asking them to think of a positive and a negative bond with their fellow player characters. I essentially got a nice little pre-game narrative in which the team agreed to hawk what they THOUGHT were strange worthless baubles off on chumps. Before the game had started we had the seeds for our first score.

The last hour or so was spent in free play with the training wheels off. They researched angles of attack, they talked to contacts, and they dabbled with the wares only to discover they weren’t so worthless after all. As we played the scenes we were also discussing what their first crew special ability would be and they chose the equivalent of “bound in darkness” (I’m using custom character and crew sheets for my setting). Suddenly, we had a reason to rope in the more hesitant PC as the activation of the device loosely connected their minds to one another by way of a silvery implant. Play inspired the advancement decisions and those initial advancement choices inspired the role play.

So now the crew is on a mission to sell the damn things BACK to the people who offloaded them on the crew in the first place. Not a bad idea considering they happen to be a network of gossips and spies. The perfect product, perhaps, but one that’s going to have far reaching political and societal implications, and they’re only just getting a foot in the door.

I was really surprised the directions the crew took and how easy it was to improvise with good input from them. We even ended up starting out the story in a different city than I had expected based largely on three of the characters sharing a common heritage.

What’s more, I had a lot of opportunities to describe (and flesh out) the setting based on their questions and their choices, and I hinted at a thing or two down the road with a couple ambiguous clocks. That really got their intention.

Considering this was the first official game for all of us, I have to hand it to John for making an evocative, intuitive, and functional game. Even with a lot of the knobs tweaked, the good stuff shined right on through.

This coming week I will be running the first session for my original setting: Mothlands in a lightly hacked version…

This coming week I will be running the first session for my original setting: Mothlands in a lightly hacked version…

This coming week I will be running the first session for my original setting: Mothlands in a lightly hacked version of Blades. Mothlands is a science-fantasy setting focusing on Bronze Age cultures living on two worlds once inhabited by the same post scarcity civilization.

I’ve put together a short primer and am sharing some PDFs of my hacked Blades character sheets and Crew Sheet. I hope some of the appeal shines through.

If you like what you see, I have a lot more material written up including a twenty plus page setting guide, various factions and tables, as well some some rules alterations (many of which are also reflected on the character sheets), a Pinterest board and a Spotify playlist! Regardless, I’m super excited to get all the pieces moving for my own game.

I’m a “fiction first” player and GM, so a lot of the important bits are in the flavor. Enjoy.

So I’m working on a little hack for an original setting.

So I’m working on a little hack for an original setting.

So I’m working on a little hack for an original setting. I love the mechanics of Blades, how it promotes story telling, and its vision of how a team works together to tackle a goal.

Where I could use some help is in imagining a version of Blades in which the players travel between cities. I understand there are a couple hacks that attempt to do this by focusing on a particular vessel or ship (Scum and Villany) but my goal is to go beyond that for a world trotting adventure.

Perhaps each city would be its own hold map where players garner political support, subvert other factions, and go on “side quests” with some objectives requiring additional steps to take on? Think of it kind of like a Super Mario world level, with secret paths and branching levels leading up to a story focused “castle” that advances the crew on to the next location.

Anyhow, I figure I’m not the first to consider this by any means. What say you?