Actual Play: The Good Shepherds – Session 1 – A Simple Job

My regular Sunday Night group, having just wrapped up the last arc in our Burning Wheel game, met this week to build characters and run our first session of Blades in the Dark. I am on the player’s side of the screen for this game which should be fun. I believe none of us have actually played BitD before, although the GM is a kickstarter backer and so is pretty familiar with it.

The Crew

We started off picking our classes (called ‘playbooks’ because class is something of an ugly word, I guess), and what type of gang we wanted to be. The big interest in gangs from my other players were for the “Hawker” (listed as ‘Vice Dealers’ in the book) and “Smugglers”. Hawkers rubbed me a bit the wrong way (although I am sure there are pretty cool things you could do with it like dealing in banned books, or something else that is forbidden but less sleazy than the obvious answers), and who doesn’t want to be Han Solo? So we ended up going with Smugglers.

I’ve been on a kick of social characters lately, so I decided to mix it up a bit and play a more ‘action oriented’ character, and picked the Cutter. Sergeant Holtz Ferros, or “Sarge”, a Doskvol native, with a military background, after the war ended, dishonest work was all that he could find. His vice is his obligation to his family, he has a wife and kids to look after. I still gotta give those kids names, come to think of it.

The two other members on the crew are “Loki” and “Echoes”. Loki’s real name is Anatole Silivasi, he’s from Tycheros, and has been a criminal his whole life. He’s grabbed the ‘Spider’ playbook (a ‘mastermind’ type of character), and has a special ability that makes deals he shakes on magically binding. His vice involves the company of women of the evening. I don’t actually have access to Echoes’ sheet at the moment, but I know he picked the “Hound” playbook (a hunter/tracker), and has the sharpshooter special ability. He is from Skovlan, and was an honest merchant in his past life.

We went through crew creation, some answers to the questions were easy, and some we struggled with. For example, when the list of reputations was read, we knew exactly that we wanted our reputation to be a “professional” crew, it just fit the three characters we had made. The more mechanical stuff gave us a bit more trouble, but we ended up dumping almost all of it into our boat, “The Kraken”. When it came time to decide what we (primarily) smuggled, we ended up going with “People”, we decided that the city is on high-alert, making it hard for ordinary people to get in and out. We help people who want in get in, and people who want out get out.

We call ourselves “The Good Shepherds”, and are currently based out of a bar “The Slaughtered Prince”. We have friends among “The Lost”, a group “dedicated to protecting the downtrodden and the hopeless.”, and also among the citizens of one of the districts (I want to say Coalridge, but I’m not sure), as well as the Gondoliers . The Fog Hounds (another smuggling group) has noticed us and sees us as upstarts, cutting into their work, we’ve caught the attention of one of the cults of Forgotten Gods when we helped some of their less willing members escape, and the city inspectors aren’t exactly our fan either.

The Job

We were eager to start and were willing to go late to do so, so we decided on a simple transport job to get started. There is this reporter who made the mistake of writing an unflattering article about Lord Scurlock, and now needs to get out of the city or suffer his wrath. No sooner do we get him on the Kraken, then some goons from the ministry of transportation decide they need to inspect our ship and see our papers, what with the lockdown and all. Echoes steps up and tries to talk them out of it, getting only a partial success, they leave, but our passenger is being hunted and his hunter is now on our trail.

We head out to sea and try to star the boat to our destination, while also keeping an eye out for sea monsters and the like. Another partial success, which results in some engine trouble. Echoes and Loki manage to get it all fixed up, and we finally make it. After failing to find a secluded spot to land, the harbor patrol on the other end ALSO wants to harass us. We have a flashback of telling our passenger that we’ll probably be searched, so they need to hide in our secret hold, and then let them search the ship. They don’t find anything but decide to keep bugging us about papers and the like. I step up and yell at them that we did everything they wanted already, so stop wasting our time and get off our boat. My intimidating weapon and my buddies help the matters, but the fact that I am intimidating the harbor patrol makes the roll count as desperate, sweet, exp!

I manage to get what I think was the only 6 of the night, and they back off, and are probably not likely to mess with us in the future. We let our passenger off, get paid, and call it a job. On the entanglement roll, one of Echoes’ buddies gets picked up by the cops, and we have to spend a good chunk of our score on bailing him out. But we ended up with rep, minimal heat, and more coin than we started with, so it is a good night.  Lord Scurlock ain’t exactly pleased with us for this, but I’m sure it’ll be fine. We’ll do our down time next week and dive into a new job.

Character and crew gen was really tight, but the actual job was kinda slow. No one was really ready to get into their character’s headspace just yet with them hot off the presses. As a result we were very mechanically focused, which isn’t what BitD seems to support. We maybe should have let these guys digest for a bit and given our GM time to think of an interesting job rather than just have him pull one out of thin air. But really we were all excited to play and I think that is a good thing in and of itself. I hope in future games I get to know my fellow crew members a little better.

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