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e a rly ac c e s s

q u i c k s ta rt k i t
version iv

one seven design
About This Early Access PDF version iv changelog
This document gives you the basics so you can start playing Blades before 1. Vice. The mechanic for vice and stress 6. Trauma. When a character suffers trauma,
the final game is released. By definition, it's missing some pieces, particularly recovery has changed. Vice is more of an issue you choose a permanent trauma condition
some instructional text and examples as well as the full guide to Duskwall now and can be fraught with trouble. Players to add to your character. These conditions
city which will be in the final game. As such, it's a document that you'll now have a reason to let stress build up a bit affect how your character thinks and behaves,
have to interpret and bolster with your own understanding of roleplaying higher (so they don't overindulge) but also, reflecting how they've changed because of the
practices. If you're brand-new to RPGs, maybe ask a more experienced ignoring your vice has a bad consequence. traumatic experiences they've had. When you
friend to run this for you. It's a tough line to walk, better reflecting the roleplay your trauma conditions, you earn xp
problematic nature of vices. See page 19. for your character.
I'm so excited to share the complete game with you (plus all the amazing 2. Coin value. The scale of value for coin has 7. Bonus Die. There is only one available bonus
add-ons you unlocked during the project). Until then, I hope you can have been tweaked slightly. Each character can now die for rolls now. You either push yourself
fun playing with this incomplete shard. hold 4 coin instead of just 2. See page 20. (taking 2 stress) or you accept a devil's bargain.
3. Engagement Roll. I've rewritten the outcomes This simplifies the dice rolling procedure
If you have questions or want to give feedback, head over to the G+ slightly so there are fewer steps and choices.
of this roll to make it more interesting in play.
Community: Characters can still help each other, using the
4. Tier, Rep, and Hold. I've revised these
https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/112767357581554417629 assist teamwork action. Instead of a bonus die,
systems a bit to make them clearer, more
assistance now improves the position of the
The people there are helpful and friendly and I'm usually on hand to answer strongly connected to fictional positioning,
assisted character. See page 17.
questions, too. and a bit simpler to track.
8. Character Sheets. All of the character sheets
5. Resistance. When you decide to resist a
Please feel free to talk about the game online and share your experiences and the Crew sheet have been tweaked to
consequence and roll the dice, you must suffer
from actual play. However, this PDF is for backers of the Blades in the reflect the new rules. Time to print again. :)
the stress indicated. You can't roll first and
Dark kickstarter only, so please don't redistribute it. Thanks! see how much stress you'll take, then decide
whether or not to resist. You decide to either
accept the consequence or roll to resist and
then suffer the stress.
Attention Game Hackers
If you're excited to use this game as the basis for a hack or your own game
design, I'm glad to hear it! But be advised:

There will eventually be a CC-licensed, SRD kind of thing for Blades. This
is not it! So hold your horses on doing any kind of full-on supplements or
creating actual products or anything. That will come along once the full
game is launched. I know you're hyped to make stuff. Which is great! But
I'll have a more polished final version for you at launch. In the mean time,
go ahead and toy around, just in moderation.

Blades in the Dark is copyright ©2015 by John Harper


All rights reserved.

version 4a | october 2015


overview
overview
“All the coin in the Empire is cold comfort when
a blade comes for you in the dark.”
The Game
Blades in the Dark is a game about a group of daring
—Bazso Baz scoundrels building a criminal enterprise on the
Some people like to get a big-picture overview of haunted streets of an industrial-fantasy city. There
a game; its premise, setting, characters, etc. before are heists, chases, escapes, dangerous bargains,
diving in to all the details. So, here it is. bloody skirmishes, deceptions, betrayals, victories,
and deaths.
summary We’ll play to find out if the fledgling crew can thrive
You play scoundrels on the streets of Duskwall, amidst the teeming threats of rival gangs, powerful
an industrial-fantasy city. There’s primitive noble families, vengeful ghosts, the Bluecoats of the City
electrical technology, the printing press, strange Watch, and the siren song of the scoundrel’s own vices.
alchemy, and simple gunpowder weapons.
You and the other players create a fledgling The Setting
criminal enterprise—your crew—and then take It is the year 847 of the Imperium which united the
on illicit jobs to improve your assets and status. shattered islands of the cataclysm under one rule—all
glory to his majesty the Immortal Emperor.
Game play focuses on the moments of daring
action during a job (with occasional flashbacks) The unquiet spirits of the dead—free to roam the
and the downtime between scores when you world since the gates of death were shattered in
recover and pursue personal interests. the cataclysm—prey on every living thing in the blasted
deadlands between cities. with established turf. They do this by taking illegal jobs from clients,
touchstones The port of Duskwall, like every city-stronghold of the Imperium,
planning their own devious missions, making alliances, destroying
When you’re pitching the game to potential their enemies, and trying to stay one step ahead of the law.
is encircled by crackling lightning-towers which create an electrical
players, here are some media touchstones you barrier that spirits cannot pass. By law, all corpses are incinerated
can use to relate the game to stuff with which with electroplasm (to destroy the spirit essence within). However,
The Players
they’re already familiar. Each player creates a scoundrel character and works with the other
wealthy citizens, heretics of the spirit cults, and the criminal element players to create the crew to which their characters belong. Each
The video game Dishonored, by Arkane Studios. often arrange for a spirit to escape destruction at the crematorium. player strives to bring their PC to life as an interesting, daring,
The Vlad Taltos series of novels, by Steven Brust. Rogue spirits and the illegal spirit essences derived from them are conflicted fantasy adventure character who reaches boldly beyond
rich trade for the black market. their current safety and means. The players decide as a group on
The stories of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, by
Fritz Leiber. The docks of Duskwall, on the cold, windswept northern tip of the tone and style of the game by making judgment calls about the
Akoros, are home port for the titanic iron steamships of leviathan dice and actions, along with oversight from the GM.
The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch. hunters. The blood of those massive demons is the catalyst which
The video game Thief: The Dark Project and its gives potency to the plasmic oils which power the city. The noble The Game Master
sequels, by Looking Glass Studios. elite make their fortunes from the fleets of leviathan hunters they The GM establishes the dynamic world around the characters,
deploy on the ink-dark waters of the Never Sea. especially the law-abiding civilian world and the shadowy criminal
The TV show The Wire, by David Simon et al.
underworld. The GM plays all the non-player characters in the
The Characters world by giving each one a concrete desire and preferred method
theme song The scoundrels attempt to develop their crew from a ragtag group of action. They present opportunities to the PCs. Then they follow
“Furnace Room Lullaby” by Neko Case. of poor independents to a serious mid-level criminal organization the chain of action and consequences wherever it leads.

3
the situation
the situation
This page describes the situation for the Quick Start. Give the
players this overview before going on to character and crew
the lampblacks
The former lamp-lighter guild, turned to crime when their
ii the red sashes
Originally an Iruvian school of swordsmanship, expanded
ii
creation. See page 42 for more details. services were replaced by electric lights. into criminal endeavors.

War in Crow's Foot Turf: HQ in the office of a coal warehouse. Operates


a handful of brothels and cheap drug dens across the
Turf: HQ in their sword-fighting school / temple.
Operates a handful of high-end drug dens across the
Your crew of thieves is caught up in a perilous (and possibly district. destroy district. destroy
profitable) situation in the Crow's Foot district. the red the
NPCs: Bazso Baz (leader, charming, open, ruthless, sashes NPCs: Mylera Klev (leader, ruthless, aggressive, art lampblacks
Roric, the ward boss who ran the criminal operations in whiskey connoisseur) collector).
Crow's Foot, has been killed. People say it was his second Notable Assets: A fearsome gang of leg-breakers Notable Assets: Small contingent of master sword-
in command, Lyssa, who did it. She now controls Roric's and mayhem-makers. A number of smugglers on the fighters. Master alchemist; many potent potions and
impressive gang of cutthroats, who call themselves the Crows. payroll who run their drugs. essences.
Can she establish dominance over the district the way Roric did? Allies: The Fog Hounds, Gondoliers, Ironhook Prison. Allies: The Path of Echoes, Dockers, Cabbies, Inspectors.
When Roric died, the peace he had brokered between two Enemies: The Red Sashes, The Bluecoats, Cabbies. Enemies: The Lampblacks, The Bluecoats, Gondoliers.
enemy gangs fell apart. The Lampblacks and the Red Sashes Situation: The Lampblacks and the Red Sashes are at war over turf and Situation: The Red Sashes and the Lampblacks are at war over turf
have once again exploded into open war on the streets. Will vengeance for deaths on both sides. Bazso Baz is recruiting every free and vengeance for deaths on both sides. Mylera is recruiting every free
their old feud finally be resolved with bloodshed? blade in the district for extra muscle and doesn't take no for an answer. blade in the district for extra muscle and doesn't take no for an answer.
You're either with them or against them. You're either with them or against them.
Your crew of thieves is poised to profit from all of this, or
be swept up in the chaos and destroyed. Who will you side
with? Do you have loyalties and friendships in the mix, or
are you detached outsiders coldly exploiting the situation?
We'll play to find out!
See Starting the Game, page 42.

the crows ii
An old gang with new leadership. Known for running
illegal games of chance and extortion rackets.
Turf: Claims all of Crow's Foot as their turf. Everyone
in the district pays up the chain to them. HQ in an
abandoned city watch tower. Operates many gambling reestablish
rooms across the district. control
of the
NPCs: Lyssa (leader, cold, calculating, killer) district

Notable Assets: A veteran gang of thugs and killers.


A number of small boats. A fortified HQ.
Allies: The Bluecoats, Sailors, The Lost.
Enemies: The Hive, Inspectors, Dockers.
Situation: Lyssa murdered the former boss of the Crows, Roric. She is
a fearsome killer, and few want to cross her, but her position as leader of
the Crows is uncertain. Some were very loyal to Roric. As the power-play
continues, the Crows' hold on the district just might slip away...

4
the core
the core system
system
Rolling the Dice
Blades in the Dark uses six-sided dice. You roll several at once
Judging Position & Effect
When a player character takes action that's blocked by an
things go badly, what are the consequences? Is there just one
consequence, or several? Are they mild or severe?
and read the single highest result. obstacle, you assess their position. This is something the The GM has a menu of options to choose from. By comparing
If the highest die is a 6, it's a full success. Things go well. group does together, but the GM is responsible for making the details of the fictional situation to the possible choices,
If you roll multiple 6s, it's a critical success. the final call. There are three positions: Dominant, Difficult, the GM can make a quick judgment call and communicate
and Desperate. Each position sets a range of bad outcomes their choice succinctly to the players, so they understand the
If the highest is a 4 or 5 that's a partial success. It's reduced that the PC is risking when they attempt their action. The stakes of the action.
performance or a mixed result — mostly good, but with stronger the position, the less severe the consequences.
trouble attached.
If the highest is 1-3 it's a bad outcome. Things go poorly.
The GM also sets the likely effect level for the action. Is it The Conversation, Back & Forth
limited, standard, or great? Can the PC accomplish a little, a So this is the core of it: When the players have the initiative,
If you ever need to roll but you have zero (or negative) dice, lot, or something in between? they say what their characters do, using the details of the
roll 2d and take the lowest result. situation as established by the GM. The GM judges their
This combination of position and effect is something the GM
That's the core dice mechanic for the game. You roll a pool of actions and the reactions of the NPCs to determine position,
assesses a lot. A player announces their action, and the GM
d6s, take the highest die, and judge the result. All the other effects, and consequences, then the dice are rolled and the
responds with position and effect.
systems in the game are expressions of this core. When you're outcome resolves the situation into something new.
Player: "I sneak up and stab him in the back!"
first learning the game, you can always "collapse" back down When the NPCs have the initiative, the GM says what they
to a simple roll, use the outcome to judge how things go, then GM: "He has no idea that you're there. Sounds like a do, using the details of the situation as established. The players
move on, to keep the flow of the game going. Look up the full dominant position and great effect." say how their characters react, resisting consequences and
mechanic later when you have time to learn it. Sometimes the players and GM negotiate a bit about the responding with their own actions, as necessary. The GM
To create a dice pool, you'll assess the trait being used as well action, position, and effect, before settling on a final choice. judges consequences and effects, the dice are rolled, and the
as situational factors. You'll usually end up with a number of outcome resolves the situation into something new.
Player: "I rush across the courtyard and vault over the
dice from zero to four. The most common trait you'll use are hedge, hiding in the shadows there." As you can see, the game is a conversation, back and forth
the action ratings of the player characters. A player might between the GM and the players. The players determine the
roll dice for their Skirmish rating when they fight an enemy, GM: "Sounds pretty difficult to me! There are a few lamps actions of the characters; the GM judges the details of the
for example. in the courtyard. If any of the guards happen to glance in situation, which determines how the systems are engaged. The
that direction, they'll spot you. Plus, I don't think you can outcomes of the mechanics change the situation, leading into
You're also free to assess abstract traits for some rolls. You make it across in one quick dash. Limited effect. You'll
might assess an NPC's loyalty, for example, to make a fortune a new phase of conversation—new actions, new judgments,
make it halfway across, then we'll see what happens." new rolls—changing the fiction and building "the story" of
roll to see if they keep their mouth shut when questioned by
the Bluecoats. Are they extremely loyal (5 dice) or hardly loyal Player: "Oh, I didn't realize it was that big. I thought I the game, organically, from a series of discrete moments.
at all (1 die)? By using abstract traits and simple rolls on the fly, could just dash across real fast. Hmmm. If I don't catch No one is in charge of the story. The story is what happens as
you can roll for any kind of situation that crops up during play. up with the Countess before she gets on the gondola, we're a result of all the actions and consequences. The story emerges
screwed. Okay, I'm going to just run as fast as I can, I don't from the action, in other words. You play to find out what the
A dice pool is always created by assessing the details of the care if I make some noise. Can I get more effect if I make
fictional situation in play. What is your character doing, story of these scoundrels will be.
a desperate roll?"
specifically? This determines which action rating you use to
create your dice pool. The other systems of the game depend GM: "Yep, sounds good to me!"
on this "fiction first" approach. In order to judge position, Position, effect, and consequences are judged by assessing the
effects, and consequences, we need to establish what's going fictional details of the situation. Given the maneuvers and
on in the fiction—on the "movie screen" of our imaginations. vulnerabilities at hand, how effective is this action? When

5
actions & attributes
actions & attributes
Action Ratings
There are twelve actions in the game
Attribute Ratings
There are three attributes in the game Insight Example of Action and Attribute Ratings
Attune
system that the player characters use to Command system that the player characters use to resist Prowess This character has action resolve
overcome obstacles. danger. Each attribute has a rating (from zero
Consort Resolve ratings of Attune 2,
to four) which tells you how many dice to roll
The actions are divided into three sets of four
Finesse Command 1, Consort 0,   attune
when you use that attribute.
actions each, grouped by attribute. The
Hunt
and Sway 1.   command
Finesse, Prowl, Skirmish and Wreck actions The rating for each attribute is equal to the number of dots in   consort
Prowl Their Resolve attribute
are grouped under the Prowess attribute, the first column under that attribute. The more well-rounded   sway
rating is 3 (the first
for example. Skirmish your character is with a particular set of actions, the better
column of dots).
Each action has a rating (from zero to four) Study their attribute rating.
which tells you how many dice to roll when Survey
you perform that action. Action ratings don't
Sway
Resistance Roll
just represent skill or training — you're free Each attribute resists a different type of danger. If you get
to describe how your character performs that Tinker stabbed, for example, you resist physical harm with your
action based on the type of person they are. Wreck Prowess rating. The better your roll, the less stress it costs
Maybe your character is good at Command to reduce or avoid the danger.
because they have a scary stillness to them, while another When the enemy has a big advantage, you'll need to make a
character barks orders and intimidates people with their resistance roll before you can attempt your own action. For
military bearing. example, when you duel the master sword-fighter, she disarms
You choose which action to perform to overcome an obstacle, you before you can strike. You need to make a resistance
by describing what your character does. Actions that are roll to keep hold of your blade if you want to attack her. Or,
poorly suited to the situation will put the character in a more perhaps you face a powerful ghost and attempt to attune with
challenging position, but they can still be attempted. If it's it to control its actions. But before you can make your own
something you're really good at, maybe it's worth it. It's up roll, you must resist possession from the spirit.
to you which action your character performs to overcome The GM judges the threat level of the enemies and uses
a problem. See How to Choose an Action, page XX. these 'preemptive' resistance rolls as needed to reflect
the capabilities of especially dangerous foes.
Action Roll For the details on Resistance Rolls, see page 11.
You make an action roll when your character pursues a goal
that's blocked by an obstacle.
The possible results of the roll depend on your character's
position. There are three positions: Desperate, Difficult,
and Dominant. If you're in a dominant position, the possible
consequences are less serious. If you're in a desperate
position, the consequences can be severe. If you're somewhere
in between, it's difficult, and the risk and reward are more
balanced.
For the details on Action Rolls, see page 9.

6
stress trauma
Stress
&
stress & trauma
Player characters in Blades in the Dark have a special reserve of fortitude and
Obsessed: You're enthralled with one thing: an activity, a person, an ideology.
Paranoid: You imagine danger everywhere; you can't trust others.
luck called Stress. When they suffer a consequence that they don't want Reckless: You have little regard for your own safety or best interests.
to accept, they can take stress instead. The result of the Soft: You lose your edge; you become sentimental, passive, gentle.
Resistance Roll (see page 11) determines how
much stress it costs to avoid a bad outcome. Unstable: Your emotional state is volatile. You can instantly rage, or
fall into despair, act impulsively, or freeze up.
During a knife fight, Daniel's character, Cross, gets
Vicious: You seek out opportunities to inflict savage violence.
stabbed in the chest. Daniel rolls his Prowess rating
to resist, and gets a 2. It costs 6 stress, minus 2 (the result You can play your trauma conditions as much or as little as you like.
of the resistance roll) to avoid the consequences. Daniel They can totally transform your character's persona or have only a small
takes 4 stress and describes how Cross survives the dagger impact—totally up to you. If you do play them strongly, though, allowing
to the chest and keeps on going. a trauma condition to complicate your character's life, you earn xp for it.

In this case, the GM says that the harm is reduced by the Retirement & Your Stash
resistance roll. Cross suffers level 2 harm ('Chest wound') instead of When you fill your last Trauma box and retire, the amount of coin
level 3 harm ('Punctured lung'). you've managed to stash away determines the fate of your character.
 Stash 0-10: Poor soul. You end up in a reeking flophouse, awash
Pushing Yourself
in vice and misery.
For any action your character takes, you may push yourself for greater
performance, by taking 2 stress and choosing a bonus, below:  Stash 11-20: Meager. You end up with a tiny (but warm) hovel that
you can call your own.
 Add +1d to your roll. (See Action Rolls, p. 9.)
 Stash 21-39: Modest. You end up with a simple home or apartment,
 Add potency to your effect. (See Effects, p. 10.)
with some small comforts. You might operate a tavern or other
 Take action despite severe harm (See Consequences, p. 11) small business.
 Stash 40: Fine. You end up with a well-appointed home or apartment,
Trauma claiming a few luxuries. You might operate a medium business or
When a PC marks their final stress box, they suffer a level of Trauma. When several small ones.
you take trauma, clear all of your stress (resetting to zero), and circle one of
your trauma conditions like Bloodthirsty, Cold, Reckless, Unstable, etc. They're
all described on this page.
Stress & The Supernatural
A close encounter with a spirit or demon is a harrowing experience.
When you suffer trauma, you're taken out of action. You're "left for dead" By default, the standard effect is to either paralyze a person with fear
or otherwise dropped out of the current conflict, only to show back up or panic them into fleeing from its presence. A PC can choose to roll
later, shaken and drained. to resist the effect. Characters with lots of exposure to spirits, such as
Trauma conditions are permanent. Your character acquires the new personality Whispers, Rail Jacks, and occult weirdos become less susceptible and
quirk indicated by the condition, and can earn xp by using it to cause trouble. only face fear or panic from exceptionally powerful entities.
When you mark your fourth trauma condition, your character cannot continue Being possessed by a spirit inflicts a level of trauma at the end of every
as a daring scoundrel. You must retire them to a different life or send them to week. Once the possessed body suffers its fourth level of trauma, it can
prison to take the fall for the crew's wanted level (see Incarceration, page 18). no longer sustain its life. The possessing spirit must either bond with the
corpse (becoming a vampire) or abandon it and seek out a new host.
Trauma Conditions
Mind-bending horrors (such as the physical manifestation of a forgotten
Cold: You're not moved by emotional appeals or social bonds.
god or the overwhelming arcane power of a pre-cataclysm artifact) may
Haunted: You're often lost in reverie, reliving past horrors, seeing things. inflict a level of trauma directly, bypassing resistance and stress.
You have been warned.
7
progress
progress clocksclocks
Progress Clocks
Use a progress clock to track the effort made against a
clock examples
complex obstacle. Danger Clock Mission Clocks
Sneaking into the Bluecoat watch tower? Make a clock The GM can use clocks to represent progressive dangers The GM can make a clock for a time-sensitive mission,
to track the efforts of the crew as they attempt to bypass like suspicion growing during a seduction, the proximity to represent the window of opportunity you have to
the patrolling guards. When the PCs make progress, fill of pursuers in a chase, or the alert level of guards on patrol. complete it. If the countdown runs out, the mission is
segments on the clock to track how well they're doing. In this case, when a complication occurs, the enemy ticks scrubbed or changes—the target escapes, the household
1, 2, or 3 segments on the clock, depending on its intensity. wakes up for the day, etc.
Generally, the more complex the problem, the more When the clock is full, the danger comes to fruition ­— the
segments in the progress clock. guards hunt down the intruders, activate an alarm, release the Long-Term Project Clocks
A complex obstacle is a 4-segment clock. A more complicated hounds, etc. (See Consequences & Resistance, page 11.) Some projects will take a long time. A basic long-term
obstacle is a 6-segment clock. A daunting obstacle is an 8-segment clock. project (like tinkering up a new feature for a device) is
The crew is infiltrating the Red Sash's headquarters. 8-segments. Truly long-term projects (like creating a new
The effect level of an action or circumstance is used to tick segments The GM makes a clock for the Alert level of the guards. designer drug) can be two, three, or even four clocks,
on a clock (see Effect Levels, page 10). It's the GM's job to tick a Whenever a PC suffers a complication, the GM fills representing all the phases of development, testing, and
clock so it reflects the fictional situation. If the PCs are making a lot of segments on the Alert clock. When the Alert clock final completion. Add or subtract clocks depending on
progress, the clock should be ticked a lot. This comes with practice, by fills, the guards are aware of the intruders and react the details of the situation and complexity of the project.
properly judging effect levels. But you should always feel free to adjust appropriately.
a clock in play to better reflect the situation if you make a mistake. Tug-of-War Clock
Linked Clocks You can set up a clock that can be filled and emptied
You can't usually fill a clock with the effect of a single action. This is by You can make a clock that unlocks another clock once it's by events, to represent a back-and-forth situation. For
design. If a situation is simple enough for one action, don't make a clock, filled. In the Red Sashes example, above, the GM might example, you might make a "Revolution!" clock that
just judge the outcome based on the effect level of the action. make a linked clock called "Trapped" after the "Alert" indicates when the refugee Skovlanders in the city start to
When you create a clock, make it about the obstacle, not the method. The clocks fill up. When you fight a veteran warrior, she riot over the annexation of their homeland. Some events
clocks for an infiltration should be "Interior Patrols" and "The Tower", not might have a clock for her "Defense" and then a linked will tick the clock up and some will tick it down. Once it
"sneak past the guards" or "climb the tower." The patrols and the tower are clock for "Vulnerable". Once you overcome the Defense fills, the revolution begins. A tug-of-war clock is also perfect
the obstacles —
­ the PCs can attempt to overcome them in a variety of ways. clock, then you can attempt to overcome the Vulnerable for an ongoing turf war between two crews or factions.
clock and defeat her. You might affect the Defense clock
Complex enemy threats should be broken into several "layers", each with with violence in a knife-fight, or you might attempt to Faction Clocks
its own progress clock. For example, the Lampblack's HQ might have lower her defense with lies and deception if you have the Each faction has a long-term goal they're working on
a "perimeter security" clock, an "interior guards" clock, and a "Bazso's opportunity. As always, the method of action is up to the when the game begins. When the PCs take downtime
office security" clock. The crew would have to make their way through players and the details of the fiction at hand. (page 18) the GM ticks forward the faction clocks
all three layers to reach Bazso's personal safe and whiskey collection. that they're interested in. In this way, the world around
Remember, a clock tracks progress. It reflects the fictional situation, so Race Clocks the PCs is dynamic and things happen that they're not
the group can gauge how they're doing. A clock is like a speedometer in You can create two opposed clocks to represent a contest directly connected to, changing the overall situation in
a car. It shows the speed of the vehicle—it doesn't determine the speed. to see who can do something first. The PCs might have the city and creating new opportunities and challenges.
a progress clock called "Escape" while the Bluecoats
Simple Obstacles have a clock called "Cornered." If the PCs finish their The PCs may also directly affect NPC faction clocks,
Not every situation and obstacle requires a clock. Use clocks when a progress before the Bluecoats fill their clock, they get based on the missions and scores they pull off. Discuss
situation is complex or layered and you need to track effort over time away. Otherwise, they're cornered and can't flee. If both known faction projects that they might aid or interfere
— otherwise, resolve the result of an action with a single roll. complete at the same time, the PCs escape to their lair, with, and also consider how a PC operation might affect
but the streets are filled with hunting Bluecoats outside! the NPC clocks, whether the players intended it or not.

8
action
the action roll
roll
action roll When your PC pursues a goal that's blocked by an obstacle you make an action roll.
This is the mechanic the players use to solve problems and get what they want. Along
1d for each Action dot.
Dominant with resistance rolls (see page 27), action rolls determine how things go when the
You act on your terms. You exploit a dominant advantage. crew is on the job, tangling with enemies, and pulling off daring scoundrel moves.
Critical: You do it with increased effect.
6: You do it.
Describe Your Goal & Assess the Obstacle
+ +1d if you Push yourself Your goal is the concrete outcome you'll achieve when you overcome the obstacle.
(you take 2 stress) -or- if you 4/5: You do it, but there's a consequence: it takes extra Your goal might be "get into the manor house" or it might be "see who comes and
accept a Devil's Bargain. time, you have reduced effect, you suffer lesser harm,
goes at the house" — in both cases the obstacle might be "the guard patrol". The
you end up in a difficult position.
guards are the problem you have to deal with in order to get what you want.
Note: You may either push yourself or 1-3: You're blocked, you hesitate, or you falter. Press on
accept a devil's bargain to get one bonus by seizing a difficult opportunity, or withdraw and try Choose Your Action
die. You can't do both. a different approach. Tell the group which action your character performs to overcome the obstacle. It's
usually obvious, but make it explicit anyway. There's some overlap among actions,
meaning several of them might apply, depending on the specific approach you
Difficult take. The choice is yours, as long as your character actually performs the action in
You go head to head. You act under fire. You take a risk. question. You can't roll Sway unless you manipulate by interacting with someone.
Critical: You do it with increased effect.
Determine Your Position & Effect Level
6: You do it. Assess the character's position to perform this action. There are three positions:
4/5: You do it, but there's a consequence: you suffer Dominant, Difficult, and Desperate. Read the profiles for each position. Which of
harm, a complication occurs, you end up in a desperate the various phrases best matches the intersection of the character's goal, obstacle, and
position. action? If there's a position you're angling for, ask the GM how you might make that roll.
1-3: Things go badly. You suffer harm, a complication
Assess the character's likely effect level. Will they have limited, standard, or great
occurs, you end up in a desperate position, you lose this
effect with this action? In general, a player can try to push for a greater effect by
opportunity for action.
accepting a worse position, and vice versa. "Sounds like a difficult position, with
Each time you roll a desperate action,
mark a tick of XP on your character limited effect." "What if I run across, instead?" "Yeah, okay, we can call that desperate,
sheet. See page 18. with standard effect." See page 10 for details on effect levels.
Desperate
You overreach your capabilities. You're in serious trouble. The Devil's Bargain
Critical: You do it with increased effect. PCs in Blades are reckless scoundrels addicted to destructive vices—they don't always
6: You do it. act in their own best interests. To reflect this, the GM or any other player can offer
you a bonus die if you accept a devil's bargain. Common devil's bargains include:
4/5: You do it, but there's a consequence: you suffer
severe harm, a serious complication occurs. Reveal a valuable secret. Make a dangerous promise.
1-3: It's the worst outcome. You suffer severe harm, a Sacrifice coin or an item. Add heat to the crew from evidence
serious complication occurs, you lose this opportunity Betray a friend or loved one. or witnesses.
for action. Suffer harm.
Anger a powerful enemy.

The GM sets the consequences according to the situation. You There isn't always an interesting devil's bargain in every situation. If one doesn't
may suffer one, some, or all of the listed consequences. You may occur to anyone right away, that's fine. The devil's bargain occurs regardless of
attempt to avoid or reduce a consequence with a resistance roll. the outcome of the roll. You make the deal, pay the price, and get the bonus die.

9
effect levels
effect levels
In Blades in the Dark, you achieve goals by taking actions and
facing consequences. But how many actions does it take to
effect levels factors
achieve a particular goal? That depends on the effect level Limited Effect 1 tick - quality / tier +
of your actions. How is the effect diminished? What significant obstacle remains? Do you have superior or inferior abilities, tools, or assets?
The GM judges the effect level using the profiles at right. Which
one best matches the action at hand­­—Limited, Standard, or Standard Effect 2 ticks - scale +
Great? Each effect level indicates the questions that should How does the expected effect manifest? What's left to do, if anything? Do you have an advantage or disadvantage due to numbers or size?
be answered for that effect, as well as how many segments to
tick if you're using a progress clock for this obstacle. Great Effect 3 ticks - potency +
When assessing the effect level, consider three factors: How is the effect increased? What extra benefit manifests? Can a weakness, extra time, or enhanced effort be exploited here?
Quality, Scale, and Potency. If the PC has an advantage in
a given factor, consider a higher effect level for their action.
If they have a disadvantage, consider a reduced effect level. the chase (standard), or even injured by a powerful throw is Tier III. Arlyn can have only limited effect on the lock.
(great)—depending on the assessment of the thug's prowess It's gonna take a while to get it open.
When considering factors, an effect might be reduced below
compared to the PC and the various factors involved. If the Hive had installed a fine lock, Arlyn would have no
limited, resulting in no effect at all — or increased beyond
great, resulting in an extreme effect. Cases of zero or extreme If the player says, "I engage this guy in a knife fight to effect, and would have to try another approach, or improve
effect should be uncommon, though. the death," that would likely be a more complex obstacle, her effect by finding a weakness and gaining potency.
requiring a clock based on the thug's level of threat.
Effects in the Fiction Scale
Tell the players what you're thinking about the scope of the The scale factor considers the number of opponents, magnitude
Effects aren't simply a matter of ticking clock segments. To
obstacle and talk about their goal so everyone's on the same of force, size of an area covered, amount of influence, etc. Larger
bring an effect to life in the game, answer the effect questions
page and can revise as needed. There's no hard and fast rule for scale can be an advantage or disadvantage depending on the
and describe what happens "on screen." The answers to the
what's "simple" or "complex." Go with your gut and use simple situation. When trying to secure an area, more people are better.
questions will tell the group what remains to be done, creating
or complex obstacles as you like, moment to moment in play. When trying to move unseen, more people are a hindrance.
a natural bridge to the next actions and risks at hand.
For simple actions, judge what the effect level means based Potency
on the situation. Do you achieve your goal partially, fully, or
Effect Factors
To assess effect level, first start with your gut feeling, given The potency factor considers particular weaknesses, taking
with great effect? If it's a simple, direct action, even a limited extra time or a bigger risk, enhanced effort from pushing
this situation. If needed, consider each factor and determine
effect may be enough to get by if the player is willing to accept yourself (p. 7), or the influence of arcane powers or
if the PC has an advantage or disadvantage there. If the PC
the poor results. preparations. A spirit has a weakness to the electrical discharge
has the advantage, consider raising their effect level. If they
For a complex obstacle, the GM creates a progress clock to have the disadvantage, consider reducing their effect level. of a lightning hook. A human is vulnerable to the possessing
track the effort made to overcome it. You tick a number of Every factor won't always apply to every situation. powers of a ghost. A sentry is vulnerable to an infiltrator if the
segments on the clock depending on the effect level of your sentry's lantern is extinguished so they can't see.
action and the factors involved. When you fill the clock, the Quality / Tier
The quality factor considers the effectiveness of assets, tools, Dominant Factors
obstacle may be overcome. See Progress Clocks, page 8. If one factor overshadows the others, the side with that
weapons, or other resources, usually summarized by Tier. A
For example, if the player's goal is "I shove him back and run higher tier faction has better quality stuff. Fine items count advantage dominates the situation. It doesn't matter if you
away down the stairs," that might be a simple action. The as 1 tier higher in quality. have a fine sword and extra effort if you try to fight 20 people
shove will have limited, standard, or great effect on the enemy, at once. Their scale dominates the situation and you're left
resulting in a new situation. The enemy thug might be briefly Arlyn is picking the lock to a safehouse run by the Hive. with very limited effect, or no effect at all. (Unless you're a
slowed down (limited), knocked off his feet and delayed in Arlyn has fine lockpicks, but her crew is Tier I. The Hive Cutter with the Not to Be Trifled With special ability, of course.)

10
consequences & &resistance
consequences, harm, resistance
Enemy actions, bad circumstances, or the outcome of an threat, add +1 heat as evidence is left at the scene of the crime, Resistance
action roll can result in consequences for the PC. There are or any other troublesome circumstance you can imagine. A When a PC suffers a consequence, the player may choose to
six types of consequences: serious complication is the same, but with more ticks on the resist it. When a PC resists a consequence, say how they resist
It takes extra time. You lose your opportunity clock (2 or 3) or a more dangerous obstacle or threat. it, then roll using one of the PC's attributes. The character
You have reduced effect. for this action. Suffer Harm suffers 6 stress minus the highest die result to resist.
You end up in a worse You suffer a complication. This consequence represents a long-lasting debility (or death). The attribute you roll depends on the consequence:
position. You suffer harm. When you suffer harm, record the specific injury on your Insight: Consequences from deception or understanding.
A given circumstance might result in one, two, or even three character sheet equal to the level of harm you suffer. If you suffer Prowess: Consequences from physical strain or injury.
consequences, depending on the situation. The consequences lesser harm, record it in the bottom row. If you suffer moderate
Resolve: Consequences from mental strain or willpower.
and the method to resist them are detailed below. harm, write it in the middle row. If you suffer severe harm,
record it in the top row. See an example of severe harm, below: If you suffer more than one consequence at once, you may
Extra Time harm
make separate resistance rolls against each one, if you wish.
This consequence represents slow performance. The action takes Usually, a resistance roll will reduce the severity of a
need
longer to complete than you'd prefer. If there's a countdown clock 3 Shattered Right Leg help consequence. If you're going to suffer fatal harm, for example,
for time during an operation, add ticks when the extra time a resistance roll would reduce the harm to severe, instead. The
complication occurs. If there's no clock, the PC might miss an 2 -1d
GM also has the option to rule that a given resistance roll allows
opportunity due to taking extra time, or be late for a time sensitive a character to completely avoid a consequence. For example,
event, like meeting up with a contact, or getting back to the lair reduced
1 effect the consequence from an action roll is a worse position for the
before the Bluecoat's nightly sweep for scoundrels on the streets. character (things will become desperate). The player rolls to
Your character suffers the penalty indicated at the end of the resist the consequence and takes 3 stress, and the GM says that
Reduced Effect
row if any harm recorded in that row applies to the situation the consequence is avoided entirely.
This consequence represents impaired performance. The
at hand. So, if you have Twisted Ankle harm in the bottom row,
action isn't as effective as you'd prefer. Reduce the final effect By adjusting which consequences are reduced vs. which are
you'll suffer reduced effect when you try to run away from
level by one (after accounting for any factors). avoided, you establish the overall tone of your game (from
the Bluecoats. When you're impaired by harm in the top row
gritty and deadly to free-wheeling and cinematic).
Worse Position (severe harm, level 3), your character can only take action if
This consequence represents losing control of the situation. you have help from someone else or if you take 2 stress to Once you decide to resist a consequence and roll the dice,
The action carries you into an inferior position for future perform the action (i.e. you push yourself). you must suffer the stress indicated. You can't roll first and
actions. Perhaps you make the leap across to the next rooftop, see how much stress you'll take, then decide whether or not
If you need to mark a harm level, but the row is already
only to end up dangling by your fingertips. Or you manage to resist. You decide to either accept the consequence or roll
filled, the harm moves up to the next row above. So, if you
to get past the swordsman's defense and cut her, only to be to resist and suffer the stress.
suffered standard harm (level 2) but had no empty spaces in
disarmed by her counter-move. the second row, you'd have to record severe harm (level 3), Armor
Lose Your Opportunity instead. If you run out of spaces on the top row and need If you have a type of armor that applies to the situation, you
This consequence represents shifting circumstance. You had to mark harm there, your character suffers a catastrophic, can mark one armor box to reduce or avoid a consequence,
an opportunity to achieve your goal with this action, but it permanent consequence (loss of a limb, sudden death, etc. instead of rolling to resist. (All of your armor is restored during
slips away. To try again, you'll have to try a new approach. depending on the circumstances). downtime.)
Harm Examples
Complication
This consequence represents trouble, mounting danger, or a Lesser: Strained, Tired, Nervous, Confused, Slowed, Battered.
new threat. When a complication manifests, the GM might tick Standard: Exhausted, Knife Wound to Arm, Concussion, Seduced.
a countdown clock (like the Alert level of a guard patrol), start Severe: Bleeding Out, Broken Leg, Shot in Chest, Badly Burned.
a new countdown clock and tick it, introduce a new obstacle or Fatal: Electrocuted, Disintegrated, Drowned, Torn Apart.
11
fortune roll
the fortune roll
The fortune roll is a tool the GM can use to disclaim decision making. You
use a fortune roll in two different ways:
fortune roll
Critical: Exceptional outcome. Great effect.
When you need to make a determination about a situation the PCs 1d for each Trait rating.
aren't directly involved in and don't want to simply decide the outcome. 6: Good outcome. Standard effect.

The Lampblacks attack the Red Sashes. How does that turn out? The 4/5: Mixed outcome. Limited effect, or a mix of success
+ +1d for a major advantage.
GM makes a fortune roll for the Lampblacks and another for the Red and trouble.
Sashes. The Lamplacks get a good outcome but the Red Sashes get partial
effect. The GM decides that the Red Sashes lose their hold on a drug den - -1d for a major disadvantage. 1-3: Bad outcome. Poor effect. Trouble or new problems.
in the district, but the Lampblacks suffer some injuries in the skirmish.
When an outcome is uncertain, but no other roll applies to the situation
at hand. Other examples of fortune rolls: The PCs decide to sell raw leviathan blood as a new
While pilfering the workshop of an alchemist, Nails is possessed by a The PCs instigate a war between two factions, then street drug. What does it do to the users? Are they
vengeful ghost. As his control of his body slips away, Nails desperately sit back and watch the fireworks. How does it turn okay, or are there horrible demonic side effects? The
grabs a bottle of quicksilver and drinks it down. Will the arcane out? Does either side dominate? Are they both made GM uses the Quality rating of the raw substance
concoction have an effect on the spirit? Will it poison Nails to death? vulnerable by the conflict? Make a few fortune rolls (which is 0, since it hasn't been processed) as the
Who knows? This is uncharted territory and anything might happen. to find out. relevant trait to see how it goes. She rolls 2d6 and
The GM makes a fortune roll to see how it turns out. takes the lowest, which is a 2: Bad outcome. The
A strange sickness, the Cold Slumber, is sweeping the
users are getting sick and starting to show signs of
When you make a fortune roll you may assess any trait rating to determine city. How badly is Crow's Foot hit by the outbreak?
demonic corruption!
the dice pool of the roll. The GM assigns a magnitude to the arcane plague,
When a faction takes an action with uncertain outcome, you might use and makes a fortune roll to judge the extent of its
their Tier rating to make a fortune roll. contamination.
When a gang operates independently, you might use their Quality rating Since the Cold Slumber is causing widespread death
for a fortune roll (if they face an enemy gang with a leader, though, they across the city, can the Spirit Wardens keep up with
may be at a major disadvantage). the massive increase in cremations needed? Does the
sickness cause a secondary outbreak of rogue spirits
When a supernatural power manifests with uncertain results, you might across the city?
use its Magnitude for a fortune roll.
Inspectors are putting a case together against the
If no trait applies, roll 1d for sheer luck or create a dice pool (from 1 to 4) PC crew. The crew's wanted level counts as a major
based on the situation at hand. advantage for the inspectors.
If two parties are directly opposed, make a fortune roll for each side to
see how they do, then assess the outcome of the situation by comparing
their performance levels.
The fortune roll is a tool to help the GM manage all the various moving
parts of the living city of Duskwall. Sometimes a quick roll is enough to
answer a question or inspire an idea for what might happen next. The
fortune roll is the GM's resource. It should not be used to replace the
players' rolls in the game.

12
factions
factions, tier, & rep
Duskwall is a city of crime, from top to bottom. Every
faction, noble or common, preys on every other. Alliances
of the faction you've preyed on. The bigger the victim,
the more rep it's worth.
are fleeting, vendettas are bloody. Into this swirling chaos By default, your crew needs 9 rep to advance. See the
of corruption, theft, and violence your fledgling crew of tracker at the bottom of the page (which is included on
scoundrels has set its course. Will you be crushed under your crew sheet). When you advance, you can choose
the heels of those above you, or will you rise up? to improve your crew's tier or their hold by one step.
Tier After you advance, you reset your rep to zero.
Take a look at the faction ladders on page 41. Each
notable faction of the city is ranked by tier—a measure Turf
of wealth, influence, and scale. At the highest level are the Another way to assist in the crew's advancement is by
tier v factions, the true powers of the city. Your crew acquiring turf. When you seize and hold territory, you
begins at the absolute bottom—technically not even on establish a more stable basis for your rep. Each piece of
the ladder—at tier zero. turf that you claim represents abstracted support and
assets for the crew (usually acquired via extortion or
You'll use your tier rating to roll dice when you acquire "protection taxes" from the citizens on that turf).
an asset and when you try to reduce heat on the crew, as
well as for any fortune roll for which your crew's overall Each piece of turf that you hold is marked on your rep
power level is the primary trait. tracker. The marks on your tracker from turf reduce the
amount of rep you need to advance. When you advance and
Hold reset your rep, you keep the marks from all the turf you hold.
On the faction ladders next to the tier numbers is a letter
So, if your crew holds 3 pieces of turf, you need only
indicating the strength of each faction's hold on their
6 rep to advance, instead of 9. When you advance,
tier. Hold represents how well a faction can maintain
you'll clear the 6 rep marks, but keep the 3 turf marks
their current position on the ladder. W indicates weak
(as long as you hold those pieces of turf).
hold. F indicates firm hold. S indicates strong hold. Your
crew begins with weak hold. 3 turf, 6 rep needed to
turf
advance. I like to mark
Advancement rep turf on the right side, to
To advance up the ladder, your crew needs rep. Rep is a indicate a "cap" on how
much rep the crew needs.
measure of clout and renown. When you accrue enough
rep, the other factions take you more seriously and you You acquire turf by pulling off a criminal operation
attract the support needed to advance. to seize it. You might get it by force, by negotiation or
To gain rep, accomplish criminal scores. For each intimidation, by deceit or skullduggery—however your
successful score, your crew earns rep equal to the tier crew perfers to operate given the opportunities at hand.

The rep, hold, and tier


tracker. When you fill your
turf hold weak firm strong tier   
  

rep meter, you can choose rep
to improve either your
crew's hold or their tier.

13
Reducing a Faction's Hold -2: Unfriendly. This faction will look for opportunities to hurt your crew intends to capture. The GM will detail the claim
You may perform an operation specifically to reduce the hold you as long as it doesn't create serious problems for them. They with a location and a description and will tell you which
of another faction, if you know of a way they're vulnerable. expect you to do the same, and take precautions against you. faction currently controls that claim. Or the GM might offer
If the operation succeeds, the target faction loses 1 level of -3: Hostile. This faction will go out of its way to hurt you even you a choice of a few options if they're available.
hold (strong drops to firm, firm drops to weak, and if weak if it's not in their best interest to do so. They expect you to do If you choose to ignore the roadmap paths when seizing a
drops, the faction loses 1 tier and stays weak.) the same, and take precautions against you. claim, the GM might tell you that you'll need to investigate
Also, when a faction goes to war, it temporarily loses 1 level and gather information in order to discover a claim of that
of hold while the war persists, to represent the distraction of Claims type before you can attempt to seize it.
dealing with an enemy in open conflict. Each crew sheet has a map of claims available to be seized (see
the example for Thieves, below). The claim map displays a Plan the operation like any other score, and if you succeed,
Your crew can lose hold, too, following the same rules above. default roadmap for your crew type. Claims should be seized you seize the claim and the targeted faction loses the claim.
in order, by following the paths from the central square, the Seizing a claim is a serious attack on a faction, usually
Faction Status
crew's lair. resulting in -2 faction status with the target, and potentially
In addition to tracking rep, hold, and tier, you also track your
You may attempt to seize any claim on your map, ignoring +1 status with its enemies.
status with each faction on the ladder, using the upward and
downward pointing blades on the faction sheet. Status is rated the paths (or even seek out a special claim not on your map) As soon as you seize a claim, you enjoy the listed benefit for as
from -3 to +3, with 0 (neutral) being the default starting status. but these operations will always be especially difficult and long as your hold the claim. Some claims count as turf (see
require exceptional efforts to discover and achieve. The claim page 13). Others provide special benefits to the crew, such
When you create your crew, you assign positive and negative
roadmap shows typical paths for advancement, not an as bonus dice in certain circumstances, extra coin generated
status ratings to reflect your recent history with factions in
absolute restriction on your operations. for the crew's treasury, or new opportunities for action.
the city. Through play, the ratings will change over time based
on your actions. Seizing a Claim Losing a Claim
Every claim in Duskwall is already controlled by a faction. To If you lose a claim, you lose all the benefits of that claim. If
Status Changes
acquire one for yourself, you have to take it from someone your lair is lost, you lose the benefits of all of your claims until
When you execute an operation, you gain -1 or -2 status with
else. To seize a claim, tell the GM which claim on your map you can restore your lair.
any factions that are hurt by your actions. You may also gain
+1 status with a faction that your operation helps. If you keep
your operation completely quiet (no one knows it was you)
then your status doesn't change.
claims: thieves
If you take on a mission given by a faction, you might gain
+1 status with them when you complete it, and -1 or -2 status informants luxury fence gambling den safe houses
with their enemies if the operation isn't quiet. turf +1 quality to hunting +1 coin for burglary Hidden staging areas
+1 coin per downtime.
grounds. scores. throughout your turf.
Status Levels
+3: Allies. This faction will help you even if it's not in their
best interest to do so. They expect you to do the same for them. lookouts
+2: Friendly. This faction will help you if it doesn't create turf turf LAIR turf +1d to spot or evade
serious problems for them. They expect you to do the same. trouble on your turf.

+1: Helpful. This faction will help you if it causes no problems


or significant cost for them. They expect the same from you.
0: Neutral. watch reports city records street fence ambush points
drug den
-1: Interfering. This faction will look for opportunities to +1d engagement roll +1 effect to gather info +1 coin for robbery
+1 coin per downtime.
+1d engagement roll
cause trouble for you (or profit from your misfortune) as long for burglary. on targets. scores for robbery.
as it causes no problems or significant cost for them. They
expect the same from you.
14
gather information
& investigation When a PC wants to know something that isn't common knowledge, they
can gather information. A PC might consort with a friend to learn secrets.
Or they might discern details from a situation. Or they might cipher
information from books or records. Or perhaps they command an enemy to
spill the beans. Any action can potentially be used to gather info, depending
on the circumstances.
If there's a threat or obstacle involved, make an action roll to gather the
information. If not, make a fortune roll to determine the quality of the
information that's gained. When a gather info roll is made during downtime,
the player gets a +1d bonus when a friend or contact is involved, and may
spend coin to boost the result of their roll.
A player may ask the GM specific questions when they gather info. Some
examples are on the bottom of the character sheet. The GM always answers
honestly, but with a level of detail according to the level of effect or quality
of the roll.
Limited: Incomplete information. More information gathering will be
needed to get all the answers.
Standard: Good details. The information is clear. Clarifying and follow-up
questions are possible.
Great: Exceptional details. The information is complete and follow-up
questions may expand into related areas.
Some investigations are complex and require a longer process of information
gathering. In this case, the GM makes a clock (or several) to track the progress
of the investigation. As each instance of information gathering occurs and
the clock is ticked, the GM summarizes the progress, without going into too
much detail. The PC should understand that they're making progress, but
they know that there's more to be discovered. When the clock is full, the
information is complete, and the player can ask questions.

15
planning
planning
Your crew spends time planning each score. They huddle around
a flickering lantern in their lair, looking at scrawled maps,
Loadouts
After the plan and detail are in place, each player chooses their
"No plan extends with certainty beyond the
first encounter with the enemy."
—Moltke the Elder

Mixed Outcome (4/5): The PCs initiate their chosen plan, but an
unexpected complication arises. Here are some options:
whispering plots and schemes, bickering about the best approach, character's load. This indicates how much stuff they're carrying  Rotten luck. A third party interferes.
lamenting the dangers ahead, and lusting after stacks of coin. on the operation. They don't have to select individual items—just You're assaulting the Red Sash's treasury, but wait... a Bluecoat
But you, the players, don't have to do the nitty-gritty planning. the maximum number they'll have access to during the action. squad is here, launching their own raid at the same time!
The characters take care of that, off-screen. All you have to do
is choose what type of plan the characters have already made.
Engagement Roll You begin the arcane ritual to bind the demon, but wait...
To determine the starting situation for the score, make an another occultist in the city has already bound her to service
That's right; the planning phase is over as soon as you start it. and now your power clashes with theirs!
engagement roll. Are the PCs smoothly in control? Or have
There's no need to sweat all the little details and try to cover things not started well? If the situation is already well established,  Tougher than it seemed. The target has resistance to this plan
every eventuality ahead of time, because the engagement roll you can go without an engagement roll. Use it when you need to. that you didn't expect.
(detailed at right) ultimately determines what troubles appear
The engagement roll is a fortune roll, using the vulnerability You attempt to make an arrangement with Bazso Baz, but
when the plan is put in motion. No plan is ever perfect. You can't
of the target as the trait for the roll. The more vulnerable the wait... that's a shrine to the Forgotten Gods in the corner of
account for everything. This system assumes that there's always
target, the more dice you roll. his office... and now he's insisting that you swear to a deal
some unknowns factors and trouble—major or minor— in every
operation; you just have to make the best of it. Judge the vulnerability of the target by comparing the details of with your blood on the idol.
the PC's plan against the awareness and readiness of the target Good Outcome (6): The PCs exploit the opportunity established
There are six different types of plan, each with a missing detail
versus that type of plan. Also, consider the difference in Tiers. by the detail. There are no sudden surprises as the action begins.
you need to provide. To "plan an operation," simply choose the
A lower-tier target should yield +1 or +2d. A higher-tier target
plan and supply the detail. Then the GM will cut to the action Critical: The PCs seize a definite advantage. For example: they've
should yield -1 or -2d.
as the first moments of the operation unfold. already slipped past the first obstacle with minimal effort.
0d Strong: The target is especially resistant.
After the GM describes the start of the action, the players select
Do violence to a target. Detail: The point of 1d Ready: The target is well prepared.
assault attack.
who's on point (see Teamwork, page 17).
2d Average: The target has standard preparations.
Linked Plans
Lure, trick, or manipulate. Detail: The method 4d Weak: The target is ill prepared.
deception of deception.
A common scenario is a team that wants to attempt a two-
6d Exposed: The target is especially vulnerable. pronged approach. "You create a diversion at the tavern, and
The GM uses the outcome of this roll to describe the situation when they send their thugs over there, we'll break in to their
Trespass unseen where you're not wanted.
stealth Detail: The entry point of infiltration. when we cut to the action of the operation, already in progress. house." There are two ways to handle this.
Use the examples below as a guide: 1. The diversion is a setup action that a team member performs
Confront or exploit a supernatural power. as part of the Infiltration plan. If the diversion succeeds, the next
occult Detail: The arcane power you will employ.
Bad Outcome (1-3): The opposition turns the tables! They
teammate who follows up gets increased effect. (See Teamwork,
seize the initiative and launch their own counter-action. For
page 17, for details about setup actions.) If it makes sense, any
example, a plan to assault a gambling den is challenged by a
Negotiate, bargain, or persuade. Detail: The team members who performed the setup action will drift back
social social connection you're using
deception action by the enemy—the crew arrives at the site
in to the main operation and join the team again so they don't
and finds only a meek shopkeeper, confused about why the
have to sit out and wait.
crew has kicked down their door. Or, a plan to infiltrate might
transport Move something from place to place. Detail: be thwarted by an assault—the guards at the site intercept and 2. The diversion is its own plan, linked to a future infiltration plan.
Pickup / drop-off locations & route.
attack the crew before they can break in. You play it out as a full series of actions, with the end goal being,
"There are no guards at the house when we infiltrate it later." It's totally
The Detail As you sneak up to the servant's entrance, the electric lamps fine for a single operation to consist of several linked plans like this.
When you choose a plan, you provide a missing detail, like the near the door suddenly flare to life. "Open fire!" a voice cries
point of attack, or social connection, etc. If you don't know the out. You see the barrels of several rifles appear at the windows Either approach is fine. It's a question of interest. Is the diversion
detail, you can scout it out or gather information in some other above you. What do you do? interesting enough on its own to play out moment by moment?
way. The GM assesses the strength of this detail to determine If so, make it a separate plan. If not, use a setup action.
how many dice you get for the engagement roll. 16
teamwork
teamwork & flashbacks
Teamwork
When the team of PCs engages in an operation together, the GM
The group action result covers everyone who rolled in the
attempt. If you don't roll, your character doesn't get the effects
 Backup: Assist
of the action. When you assist another player who's rolling, ask the GM what
asks the group "Who's on point?" One of the players chooses to your character can do to help. If you accomplish it, the character
put their character in the point role. you assist improves their position by one step (so a desperate
 On Point: Set Up
The character on point leads the action of the team. They go first When you perform a setup action, you may perform an action
position becomes a difficult one, and a difficult position
and make decisions about how to deal with obstacles. They're that will have an indirect effect on an obstacle. If your action has becomes a dominant one).
also the first to face any harm or trouble that comes their way. its intended result, any member of the team who follows through A character may assist a group action, but only if they aren't
All the other PCs on the team are backup for the character on on your maneuver gets +1 effect level. taking part it in directly.
point. The backup characters are following their lead, on the This is how you do the "I'll create a distraction" maneuver.
lookout for danger, ready to step in and help. Do We Have to Use Teamwork?
You roll Sway to distract a Bluecoat with your charms, Teamwork maneuvers are options, not requirements. Each
The point and backup roles shift as the team takes action. During then any teammate who follows through with a Prowl character can still perform solo actions during an operation. If
the course of an operation, each PC is likely to have a turn in action to sneak past him gets increased effect. your character can't communicate or somehow coordinate with
both roles. the rest of the team, you can't use or benefit from any teamwork
This is a good way to contribute to an operation when you don't
Teamwork Maneuvers on Point have a good rating in the action at hand. A clever setup action maneuvers.
When you're on point, in addition to normal actions and rolls, lets you help the team indirectly. Multiple follow-up actions may
you have access to two special maneuvers: take advantage of your setup (including someone leading a group Flashbacks
action) as long as it makes sense in the fiction. The rules don't distinguish between actions performed in the
 Lead a group action.
Since a setup action increases the effect of follow-up actions, present moment and those performed in the past. When an
 Set up a character who will follow through on your action. operation is underway, you can invoke a flashback scene to roll
it's also useful when the team is facing tough opposition that
After you perform any special maneuver on point, you become has advantages in quality, scale, and/or potency. Even if the PCs for an action in the past which impacts your current situation.
backup and someone else takes point. The special maneuvers are reduced to zero effect due to disadvantages in a situation, Maybe you bribed the district watch sergeant to not patrol here
are detailed below. the setup action provides a bonus that allows for limited effect. tonight, so you make a Sway roll to see how that went.
The GM sets a stress cost when you activate a flashback action:
The PCs are facing a heavily armored carriage that is
 On Point: Lead a Group Action immune to their weapons. Arcy the Cutter uses Wreck  0 Stress for a normal action for which you had easy
When you lead a group action, you coordinate multiple as a setup action to pry some of the armor loose with her opportunity. The Cutter Consorted with his friend Chael
members of the team to tackle a problem together. Describe crowbar, giving follow up actions +1 effect—going from to agree to arrive at the dice game ahead of time, to suddenly
how your character leads the team in a coordinated effort. Do zero effect to limited effect. spring up as a surprise ally.
you bark orders, give subtle hand signals, or provide charismatic  1 Stress for a complex action or unlikely opportunity. The
inspiration? Teamwork Maneuvers as Backup Hound arranged to Finesse her pistols under the table ahead
When you're backup, in addition to normal actions and rolls,
Each PC who's involved rolls for the action and the team counts of time so she could retrieve them after the pat-down at the door.
you have access to two special teamwork maneuvers:
the single best result as the overall effort for everyone. However,  2 (or more) Stress for an elaborate action which involved
the character leading the group action takes 1 stress for each PC  Face a danger in place of the character on point.
several special opportunities or contingencies. The Whisper
that rolled 1-3 as their best result.  Assist another character on the team. has already Attuned to the ghost of the former proprietor to
This is how you do the "everyone sneaks into the manor" divine the secret of the hidden safe.
maneuver. Everyone who wants to sneak in rolls their  Backup: Face a Danger After the stress cost is paid, a flashback action is handled just
Prowl action, and the best result counts for the whole When you face a danger in place of the character on point, like any other action—calling for an action roll or fortune roll or
team. But the player on point suffers stress for everyone you roll to resist the effect instead of them. Describe how you simply accomplished, depending on the circumstances.
who does poorly. It's tough covering for the stragglers. intervene.

17
advancement
advancement, heat, & wanted level
PC Advancement
Each player keeps track of the experience points (xp) that their character earns. During the
Heat
Duskwall is a city of prying eyes and informants (both living and ghostly). Anything you do
game session, you mark xp each time: might be witnessed, and there's always evidence left behind. To reflect this, your crew acquires
 You make a desperate action roll. Mark the xp in the attribute for the action you rolled. heat as they commit crimes. After a score or conflict with an opponent, your crew takes heat
 Your character performs an action that matches your playbook xp trigger. For example, according to the nature of the operation:
the Cutter's xp trigger is " When you address a tough challenge with violence or threats." To '  1 heat: Smooth & quiet; low exposure.  4 heat: Loud & chaotic; high exposure.
address a challenge', your character should take a significant action to attempt to overcome a  2 heat: Contained; standard exposure.  6 heat: Wild; devastating exposure.
tough obstacle or threat. It doesn't matter if the action is successful or not. You get xp either
way. Mark the xp in your playbook advancement. Add +1 heat for a high-profile or well-connected target. Add +1 heat if the situation
At the end of each session, you may earn bonus xp. For each bonus below, mark 1 xp if it was happened on hostile turf. Add +1 heat if you're at war with another faction. Add +2 heat
triggered at all, or mark 2 xp if it was triggered a lot during the session. You may mark end-of- if killing was involved.
session xp on any xp tracks you want (an attribute or playbook). You mark heat levels on the heat tracker on the crew sheet.
You've expressed your beliefs, drives, heritage, or background. When your heat level reaches 9,
heat wanted level
You struggled with issues from your vice, ambitions, or flaws during the session. you gain a wanted level (and reset
your heat to zero). The higher your
Finally, you can earn xp by training during downtime. When you train, mark xp in one of your wanted level, the more serious the
attributes or in your playbook. A given xp track can be trained only once per downtime phase. response when law enforcement takes action against you. Also, the combined level of your
heat and wanted level determines the severity of the entanglements that your crew faces after
Marking xp on the playbook playbook advancement
advancement track.
a score. See page 29 for details.

When you fill an xp track, you clear all the marks and your character earns an advance. When Incarceration: Reducing Wanted Level
you earn an advance in your playbook track, you may choose an additional special ability. The only way to reduce your crew's wanted level is through incarceration. When one of your
When you earn an advance in an attribute track, you may add an additional action dot to one crew members, friends, or contacts is convicted and incarcerated for crimes associated with
of the actions under that attribute. your crew, your wanted level is reduced by 1.
This character has filled their Insight attribute track,
so the player chooses to take an additional action
insight Incarceration may result from investigation and arrest by the Bluecoats, or because someone
turns themselves in and takes the fall for the crew's crimes.
dot in the Tinker action.   hunt
study The severity of the prison sentence depends on your wanted level when the conviction occurs:
 
  survey Wanted Level 4: Many years, a life sentence, or execution.
  tinker Wanted Level 3: A year or two.
Crew Advancement Wanted Level 2: Several months.
At the end of each session: Wanted Level 1: A month or two.
 Review the crew advancement items, and mark 1 xp for each item that you did during the Incarceration at Ironhook Prison is demoralizing and brutal. The renown of your crew is
previous session. If you've done an item multiple times, mark 2 xp for it. your only real defense inside. Roll your crew's Tier. On a 1-3, you suffer a level of trauma
When you mark 8 crew advancement ticks, clear the ticks and choose a new crew upgrade or a from the experience. On a 4/5, you keep your head down and do your time without serious
new special ability. incident. On a 6+, you make a name for yourself inside. Your crew gains a prison claim and
In addition, each PC gets 1 coin (+2 per crew tier) as a bonus payment, which they may keep +1 faction status with a faction that you assisted while in prison.
as spendable currency on hand or permanently stash away for retirement. (Prison claims will be detailed in the full game.)

18
vice
vice
“It would be a terrible shame if Madame Tesslyn's
lotus supply went up in flames, wouldn't it? Such
Stress & Relief
The scoundrels of Duskwall are a special lot. They defy the powers that
Overindulgence
If the result of your vice roll means you clear more stress levels
a waste of quality product. Of course, if such a be and dare to prey on those who are considered to be their betters. than you had marked, you overindulge. A vice is not a reliable,
tragedy were to happen, I would be only too They push themselves farther than ordinary people are willing to go. controllable habit. It's a risk—and one that can drive your character
happy to accommodate her clientele while she got But this comes at a cost. A scoundrel's life is one of constant stress. to act against their own best interests.
back on her feet. And the arsonist would warrant Inevitably, each turns to the seduction of a vice to cope.
When you overindulge, you make a bad call because of your vice—in
some measure of my gratitude as well.”
A scoundrel's vice is their obsession, their burden, and their relief. acquiring it or while under its influence. To bring the effect of this bad
—Rolan Volaris
Every free coin and free moment that can be spent in pursuit of their decision into the game, select or roll an additional entanglement for
vice is spent. But with this indulgence comes relief from stress and the the crew, or simply draw +2 heat.
ability to once again face the impossible challenge of the scoundrel's life.
Ignoring Your Vice
Indulging Your Vice If you do not or cannot indulge your vice during a downtime phase,
When you indulge your vice, you clear stress from your character's you take stress equal to your trauma+1.
stress track. Say how your character indulges their vice, including
which purveyor of vice they use to satisfy their needs (see page Roleplaying & XP
45). This indulgence takes time, so it can only be done when Along with your character's heritage and background, their vice
the crew takes downtime. Alternately, you may choose to release tells us what kind of person they are. This obsession impacts their
your character to be "lost in their vice" for a session, allowing them motivations, goals, and behavior. When you ponder what your
to indulge off-camera while you play a different PC. An expert, character might do or say next, you can always consider their vice
gang member, friend, or contact of the crew might be created as an to help you think of something. As an added benefit, by playing to
alternate character to play, thus fleshing out the landscape of PCs. the nature of your character's vice, you earn an xp tick at the end
of the session.
Roll to find out how much stress relief your character receives. A
vice roll is like a resistance roll in reverse—rather than gaining stress
levels, you clear stress levels. The effectiveness of your indulgence
depends upon your character's worst attribute rating. The idea
being, your vice is an expression of your character's weakness. It's
their weakest quality (insight, prowess, or resolve) that is most in
thrall to the obsession of vice. Make an attribute roll using your
character's lowest attribute rating (if there's a tie, that's fine—
simply use that rating). Clear an amount of stress equal to the
highest die result.

19
downtime
coin, entanglements, & downtime
Coin
Coin is an abstract measure of wealth and liquid assets. The
calling. An entanglement might be a rival crew looking to throw
their weight around (and demand some coin), an Investigator
NPC Downtime
The NPC crews and factions also do things when you take
of the City Watch making a case against them (but ready for a
few silver pieces the scoundrels use in their daily lives are not downtime. The GM advances their project clocks and
bribe), or even the attention of a vengeful ghost. See page 29
tracked. If a scoundrel wants to toss a few silver around to achieve chooses a downtime action or two for each faction that they're
for a partial list of entanglements (more entanglements will be
a small goal (bribe a doorman), roll the crew's Tier as an action interested in at the moment. Choose any action that makes
or fortune roll to see how it turns out. included in the full game).
sense for that faction to pursue. For example:
You can spend coin 1-for-1 to increase the result level of any
Downtime roll. (So a 1-3 becomes a 4/5, a 4/5 becomes a 6, etc.).
Crew Downtime Seize a claim or generate hold, make an enemy vulnerable,
Between scores, your crew spends time at liberty, attending or reduce the hold of a vulnerable enemy.
You can do this after the roll.
to personal things. Gather information on the PCs (may be opposed by a PC
 1 coin: A full purse of silver pieces. roll) or another subject.
During a downtime phase, each crew member has time to
 2 coin: A fine weapon. A good weekly income for a small Achieve a short-term objective they're in position to
pursue two downtime actions. You can choose from the list
business. A fine piece of art. A set of luxury clothes and
on page 29, or come up with some other downtime action accomplish.
accoutrements.
of your own if none of those apply. As always, you can only Acquire a new asset.
 4 coin: An exquisite jewel. A heavy burden of silver pieces. pursue actions that you're in a position to accomplish. If a
 6 coin: An average monthly take for a small business. A small
Call in a favor from another faction.
downtime action is contingent on another action, resolve that
safe full of coins and valuables. A rare artifact or valuable. action first before resolving the downtime action. Exercise political pressure or intimidation to force
 8 coin: Liquidating a significant asset—a carriage and horses, someone's hand.
A PC can take more actions, but each additional downtime
a deed to a small property. GM: Take downtime actions and advance clocks for the
action costs 1 coin or 1 rep. This reflects the extra time or
More than 4 coin is an impractical amount to keep lying around. effort spent to squeeze in more opportunities before the next factions you're interested in right now. Don't worry about the
You must expend the excess or put it in your stash (see page operation. When you complete a new score, you reset and get rest. Later, when you turn your attention to a faction you've
7). A crew can also store 4 coin in their lair, by default. If they a "free" downtime phase again. ignored for a while, go ahead and give them several downtime
have a vault, they can store up to 8 coin. Any coin beyond their actions and project clock ticks to "catch up" to current events.
limit must be spent as soon as possible, or distributed among See page 29 for the rules for all the downtime actions.
When factions do things that are known in the criminal
the crew members. GM: If a player can't decide which downtime move to pick, underworld, tell the players about it through one of their
1 unit of coin in silver pieces or other bulk currency takes up offer them a long-term project idea. You know what the player friends or contacts or vice purveyors. These rumors and
1 item slot when carried. is interested in and what they like. Suggest a project that will bits of gossip can lead to future scores and opportunities for
head in a fun direction for them. the PCs.
The Payoff & Entanglements You got that weird vision when you were messing around
After a score, the PCs take stock of their payoff from the with the altar to the Forgotten Gods, remember? You
operation and deal with any outstanding entanglements that want to get to the bottom of that, probably. Okay, start a
the crew is involved in. project—8 segments—called... "Weird God Vibes." What
do you do to work on that?
Payoff
See page 29 for details on the payoff for a score.
Entanglements
Your scoundrels and crew didn't just spring into existence tonight.
You have a complex history of favors, commitments, debts, and
promises that got you where you are today. To reflect this, after
each score, you roll dice to find out which entanglement comes

20
how
how toto usesystem
use the the system
Fiction-First Gaming
This is just a bit of jargon to describe the process of a
around them, then the action mechanic would come in to
play. You might do very well and avoid harm from the fire
to choose a tool, after all. The tools are there for you to use
as you see fit; developing a style of use and set of precedents
roleplaying game, as opposed to other sorts of games you and debris while you work on the lock or you might have to as you go along.
might be used to. abandon your work to keep from being crushed and burned. The text of the game gives you both the set of tools and a
In a standard board game, for example, when you take your If your character knows nothing about safe-cracking, you guide to their usage; which is essentially the best practices
turn, you choose a move from one of the mechanics of the might pay someone to open it for you. In which case, we'd use developed by the author and the playtesters. These best
game, and then use that game system to resolve what happens. the mechanic to acquire an asset—a master locksmith in this practices will start you on your way toward successful game
You might say, "I'm going to pay two wood to build a second case. You might arrange a good deal and get a skilled worker, play—but ultimately they are just a guide. It's up to you and
fort on my home tile." We could call this process "mechanic- or you might have to pay more to get the quality you need. your group to put them into practice and learn the use and
first". What you do on your turn is pick a mechanic to engage, And so on and so forth. There are an infinite number of feel of the tools in play.
then resolve that mechanic. Your choices are constrained by approaches you might take, constrained by the fictional This is one of the most fun aspects of roleplaying games.
the mechanics of the game. You might color it in with some circumstances. Because there's no one right way to use the tools, the act
fictional trappings, like, "The brave citizens of Baronia heed of play is constantly creative—at the level of the fictional
The important concept here is that you first choose what
the call to war and build a stout wooden fort!" but the fiction narrative, of course, but also at the level of the application of
your character does in the fiction, then the group picks a
is secondary; it's flavor added on. In other words, the fiction the game systems. I'll explain the tools and teach you some
mechanic that suits the situation to resolve what happens.
is brought in after the mechanics, to describe what happened. good ways to apply them, but when it's all said and done, your
Once you establish the fictional action, selecting a mechanic
In a roleplaying game, it's different. When it's your turn, you from the options at hand is pretty easy. If you try to do it the experience with Blades in the Dark will be one that you and
say what your character does within the ongoing fictional other way 'round, though—picking the mechanic and then your group make for yourselves.
narrative. You don't pick a mechanic first, you say something trying to "color-in" the fiction after—you'll find that the game
about the fiction first. Your choices in a roleplaying game can become confusing and muddled. "Wait, if you're using Triggering the Action Roll
aren't immediately constrained by the mechanics, they're downtime, do the rest of us all have downtime now? I thought The game is a conversation between the people at the table.
constrained by the established fictional situation. In other we were in the middle of making a deal with Bazso..." You're talking, narrating actions, speaking in character,
words, the mechanics are brought in after the fictional action, making jokes, sketching maps, speculating about what
When something seems weird, or a situation resolves in a might happen, all that good stuff. But it's just talking, right?
which determines which mechanics we need to use.
bizarre way, back out to the level of the fictional narrative. There's a thing that happens in a roleplaying game where the
For example, in Blades in the Dark, there are several different What's going on? What are you trying to do? Which mechanic conversation shifts. Where you go from just talking to using
mechanics that might be used if a character tries to pick the is suited for this? Don't try to force a particular mechanic onto a mechanic. What's that like?
lock on a safe. It's essentially meaningless to play mechanics- the fiction. Take the fiction first (ah, see that? "fiction-first")
first. "I pick a lock" isn't a mechanical choice in the game. To and then use the mechanics to support it. This shift in the conversation is the GM's responsibility (they
understand which mechanic to use, we have to first establish should always be on the lookout), but anyone can call for it.
Think of the mechanics of the game as tools in a toolbox. So, when do you call for it? You call for an action roll when
the fiction.
There's no point saying, "I hammer it" or "I saw it" until you any of these happen:
If your character is at their liberty back at the crew's lair, with know what you're building. Also, there's no constraint that
plenty of time to dedicate to opening the lock on the safe, A player character faces an obstacle that blocks or
says you must always use a hammer and nail every time you
then we would use one of the downtime mechanics—namely complicates the achievement of their goal.
need to attach two pieces of wood. You use the tools that suit
"Work on a long-term project." You might do very well and what you're trying to do. The same goes for mechanics in a A player character leads or gives orders to an NPC or
open it quickly, or it might prove more challenging, requiring roleplaying game. First establish the fiction, then select a NPC group, which faces an obstacle or danger.
several attempts over a longer period of time. mechanical tool from the toolbox that suits the situation you Someone grabs the dice and gets all excited about making
If your character is in a burning building, trying desperately need to resolve. Which tools you pick will often be pragmatic, a roll.
to open the safe while flaming roof-beams are raining down but it can also be a stylistic choice. There's no one right way

21
So, then, what do you actually say? I like to first ask the system gives them a special ability to survive when they Since NPCs don't have stats and action ratings, it's by the
player how they're accomplishing their action. Which of their otherwise wouldn't, so they have some hope of achieving severity of their dangers and harm (and the position of
action ratings will they use? Then, I suggest the position the their long-term goals. the PC's action roll) that their capabilities are manifest in the
character is in and the likely effect level they'll have. It's like: The purpose of threatening harm is not always to inflict it, game. Also, a dangerous NPC can take the initiative. Tell
Player: "So he has the amulet? Okay, I'm forcing him to it's to describe it. The threats become manifest in the minds the players what the NPC is about to accomplish, then ask
hand it over, right now." of everyone playing, even if they're avoided. them what they do. "She corners you at the top of the stairs
and wrestles you into the manacles. What do you do?"
GM: "Okay then. How are you gonna do that?" "The ghost is entangled with your soul."
This is something that will grow and evolve over time as
Player: "I look him square in the eye and I Command "You hear the bone snap as you hit the cobblestones." you play the game. Talk to the group about it as you go. Do
him to hand it over." "You can tell that she'll never trust you again." you want a more deadly, high-stakes, kind of game? Then
GM: "Cool. Sounds pretty difficult to me. He's no push-over The bad outcomes are spoken aloud. They hang there in the PCs and NPCs should threaten lethal harm all the time, and
and his goons are standing right there. Probably a limited room as horrible potential. They're scary. Then the player resistance rolls should only reduce consequences. Do you
effect, unless you have a particularly good threat to make gets to roll their resistance, look you in the eye and say, "No. want a more cinematic, adventurous kind of game? Then
here." It's not that bad. I take the stress instead." It's empowering. describe dangers with less dire consequences. People are "left
They look danger in the face and laugh. That's the nature of for dead." Explosions make you look cool when you dive out
And then the other players chime in and suggest an alternative
a scoundrel. of the way.
position or effect level, or the player revises their statement
to something more or less daring, or everyone just nods and Describing the harmful outcomes with gusto is your job, not You don't have to decide on one approach and stick to it. Be
we've shifted into using the mechanic. inflicting them. The purpose of the effect and stress mechanics flexible and let it change over time according to what the
is to add interesting fictional details to the game when it group is most excited about.
Why We Do This comes to harm and trouble. Instead of simply saying, "You
What's the point of this shift into a mechanic, anyway? Why take 3 damage," you describe how the blade catches under No Whiffing
not just talk it out? The main reason is this: when we just their armor and digs a bloody furrow across their ribs. It Every time you roll the dice in Blades, the situation changes.
talk things out, we tend to build consensus. This is usually a becomes real in the ongoing fiction of the game. Then the There's no such thing as a "nothing happens" result from a
good thing. It helps the group bond, get on the same page, player can "rewind" by resisting it, "No, I take the 2 stress roll. How does this work?
set expectations, all that stuff. But when it comes to action- instead. It's just a scratch." But the only way they can know The "failure" results for action rolls (1-3) are not simply
adventure stories like Blades in the Dark, we don't want whether it's worth it to pay the cost is if you describe the "misses." The character's action has a tangible outcome.
consensus when the characters go into danger. We want to potential harm. Each cycle of threat and stress requires this Something happens which changes the situation. On a
be surprised, or thwarted, or driven to bigger risks, or inspired input of new fiction. And that, after all, is what we're here dominant failure, the character spots a flaw in their approach,
to create a twist or complication. We want to raise our hands to do. and can decide to withdraw or push their luck with a
over our heads and ride the roller coaster over the drop. difficult move. On a difficult failure, the character suffers
When the mechanic is triggered, the group first dips into being NPC Threat Levels a consequence that presents some kind of trouble. Things
authors for a moment as they suss out the position, the danger, The severity of the consequences that you describe (and the get worse. On a desperate failure, the threat dominates and
and the details of the action. Then, author mode switches off and position for the action roll) determines the threat level of the makes the situation much worse.
everyone becomes the audience. What will happen next? We opposition. If they're facing an NPC that you've described as
hold our breath, lean forward in our seats, and let the dice fall. a standard thug, then the consequences will be things like How to Choose an Action
wrestling the PC to the ground, or punching them in the When an action roll is called for, the character is usually
The Purpose of Dangers & Stress face, or maybe cracking a rib with her blackjack if the thug already in motion, doing something in the fiction. This thing
Some GMs get frustrated when they feel like the enemy NPCs has the upper hand. they're doing will almost always determine which specific
or threats "aren't doing anything." They almost inflict harm If they're facing an NPC that you've described as a master action rating to roll. However, a player is free to revise their
on the PCs, but then the PCs take stress (or even trauma) and assassin, then the consequence might be a lightning-fast move character's action in order to use a different action rating, as
avoid the harm. This is by design! that puts a dagger in the PC's heart. long as the character performs the new action in the fiction.
The PCs in the game start out as huge underdogs. The stress

22
For example, Nox wants to sneak in to the secret meeting Failing Gracefully Setting Precedents
room of the Circle of Flame. The GM asks her how she does The system of Blades in the Dark is designed to fail gracefully. What's true for the PCs is true for the NPCs, and vice versa. If
that and Nox's player says she'll climb the outside of the That is, if you just use the core rolls and forget extra details you establish that the Whisper PC is the only one who can talk
tower and slip in through a window. Climbing is a Prowl or special cases, it will be okay. The game will sail along just to the ghost they summoned (due to a special "summoning
action, so that's what she'll roll. fine. The game is better when you use all the details, but the language" that binds them together), then that fact becomes
Nox's player can change her mind at this point, and say, whole thing doesn't come crashing down if you don't. true for NPC-summoned ghosts, as well.
"Hmmm... I'm not good at Prowl. I want to climb in using If you want to ease-in to the mechanics, just start with the If you establish that a skilled NPC can instantly kill an
Finesse, instead. It's like I'm finessing my way in, right?" fortune roll and action rolls. When something bad happens unsuspecting victim, then the PCs can try it, too.
No. Nox can certainly try to use Finesse to sneak in — to a PC and they want to resist it, explain resistance rolls.
through misdirection or subtle action — but Nox cannot Each time you make a judgment call or establish new details
When the group starts asking about teamwork and helping about the game world, they become available to everyone as
"use Finesse" to climb the tower. The action of climbing each other, bring in the teamwork maneuvers. When they
is... well, climbing. Athletic moves like that are the Prowl a new tool in play.
wonder about how much loot they get and how their crew
action. If Nox wants to Finesse, instead, that's fine, but rises in the underworld, bring in the development and faction
that means she is not climbing the tower. stuff. Don't feel like you have to explain everything up front.
In other words, a player is free to choose the action they use The same goes for the fiction. Don't feel like you have to get
to overcome an obstacle, but their character must perform everything perfectly right every time. If you say something and
that action. You can't freely substitute the rating of one action then realize later that it was wrong, just revise it. No big deal.
while doing another (unless you have the Slide's Adaptation
special ability). "I told you that Trayga was seen at the docks, but that was all
wrong. I was thinking of someone else. It was supposed to be Arlo."
"Oh! Well that changes things. Okay, got it."
If you're not sure what to do, keep it simple. Go with what's
obvious to you. Add mechanics when you're comfortable.
Forgive each other's mistakes. Fly casual.

23
gm
gm: goals, principles, & actions
GM Goals
This is what you're trying to accomplish when you run the game.
Paint the world with a haunted brush. There are ghosts and
hollows, weird sounds, arcane energies, and strange cults
have several tools at their disposal to deal with adversity. If
they can react in time, they can make an action roll. If they're
everywhere. How does the haunted city manifest here? hit with trouble, they can roll to resist it. Go ahead and say,
Play to find out what happens. Don't steer the game toward "The Unseen told you what would happen if you interfered.
certain outcomes or events. Be curious! Surround them with industrial sprawl. Duskwall is crowded
They firebomb your lair while you're sleeping." The players
with factories and their choking soot clouds, buzzing electric
Bring Duskwall to life. Give each location a specific aspect will interrupt, flashback, scramble and deal with it! It'll be fun.
lights, ironworks, clanking machines.
(crowded, cold, wet, dim, etc.). Give each NPC a name, detail  Initiate action with an NPC. This is just a restating of the
and a preferred method of problem solving (threats, bargaining, Consider the risk. Think about the risks and dangers inherent
previous GM action, but it's worth highlighting. You don't always
violence, etc.). Give each action context — the knife fight is in most things the scoundrels do. A difficult move is the default
have to wait for the PCs to do something. Your NPCs can initiate
on rickety wooden stairs; the informant huddles among the action almost all the time. When they've taken great care and are
the action, too! The more dangerous an NPC is, the more they
wreckage of the statue of the Weeping Lady; the Lampblacks' building on successes, they might make dominant moves. When
should seize the initiative. The PCs can resist with their attributes.
lair stinks of coal dust. they have to improvise off the cuff or when they're in over their
heads, they're probably making desperate moves. Go with your "She's very smooth and sly. She tells you a lie about why she was
Convey the fictional world honestly. Spirits are terrifying. gut. Call the positions as you see them, but be open to revision. late to the meeting, and it seems totally legit!" "Oh, no way..."
Friends are really friends — they'll help when they can — but it "Okay, resist with your Insight — let's see if she can fool you..."
cuts both ways. If someone is reasonable, they'll listen to reason. GM Actions  Tell them the consequences and ask. "Yeah, you can totally
Don't keep pointless secrets so you can "reveal" them later. Let The player characters have sixteen actions they use. You have smash him. But he'll remember this. And he's friends with
it come out when it comes out. Find reasons to reveal the cool actions, too. When it's your turn to contribute to the game, and Inspector Krop, remember? Still want to do it?"
things in your head. you're not sure what to do, look at your list of actions and pick one.  Offer a devil's bargain. Think of a fun complication or reckless
GM Principles First and foremost, ask questions. decision. Offer them the bonus die in exchange. If you don't
have a good idea, you can offer the devil's die in exchange for
Be a fan of the PCs. Present the world honestly — things really When things are getting started:
heat. There are always unseen witnesses lurking about. The
are stacked against them — but don't make yourself the enemy  What plan did you make? city is alive with informants and gossips.
of the PCs. They have enemies enough. Be interested in the  Who scouted it out? (fill in the plan detail)  Show the downside of their vice. Take a look at the purveyors
characters and excited about their victories.
 How does it start? (make an engagement roll) of vice (p. 45). How do their connections factor in to the
Let everything flow from the fiction. The game's starting  Who's on point? (cut to the action) current situation in a problematic way?
situations and your opening scene will put things in motion.  Make a progress clock or tick one down. Keep a stack of
Ask how the characters react and see what happens next. NPCs And when things are underway:
index cards handy. Make clocks like crazy! Keep them out
react according to their goals and methods. Events snowball.  How do you do that? (which action do you use?) where everyone can see.
You don't need to "manage" the game. Action, reaction, and  What's your goal? (which effect do you want?)  Ask the players. Ask them if this seems desperate. Ask
consequences will drive everything.
 Cut to the moment of crisis. When they say, "We should break them where their character eats their meals. Ask them who
Hold on lightly. Rewind, revise, and reconsider events as needed in to the Dimmer Sisters' house," say "Okay, sounds like a plan. their character slept with last. Ask them questions they can
to accommodate the action of the game. Infiltration? Okay, what's the point of entry?" Then, when they answer from within their character's POV —things they know,
Address the characters. "Silver, where do you go to look for the answer, "All right, so you're on the rooftop of the fabric store suspect, experienced, or hope for.
Red Sashes?" not "Sara, where does Silver go?" This puts Silver across the alley from their house. It's quiet and dark in there.  Actions ripple through the network. Every event has
front and center—his preferences, desires, and style. Silver comes Who's on point?" consequences, good and bad. What one faction loves, another
to life as a character.  Telegraph trouble before it strikes. Show them a threat that's hates. How is a certain faction connected to this? How might
Address the players. "Sara, how do you want to handle this?" not about to hit, then ask them what they do. Then it's easy to know they know about it?
"How does Silver do that?" This puts Sara front and center — her what's at stake when they roll.  Think off-screen. What's happening elsewhere? Put it on
preferences, desires, and style. Sara can consider what she wants,  Follow through and hit them hard. You've telegraphed the screen. Show something only the audience sees.
then filter it through Silver. threat, so go ahead and follow through when it hits. Players
After every GM action, ask "What do you do?"
24
gm
gm: best practices
Convey the ongoing fictional space as accurately as is
desirable for this group. Be concise. Use small details when
Keep the meta channel open. When you portray an NPC,
tell the players things that are going unsaid. Invite them
they help to convey a bigger picture. to ask their Gather Information questions to dig
deeper. The characters have a broad spectrum of senses
Lead an interesting conversation. The game is nothing but
and intuitions to bring to bear in the fiction; the players have
a conversation between you and the players. The goal of the
only the narrow channel of your few words. Help them out
conversation is to answer the question "What happens now?"
by sharing what they might suspect, intuit, feel, and predict.
in the most engaging way possible. The most interesting
conversations are those that are curious—asking questions Be a curious explorer of the game in play. Ask the players
and prompting ideas—rather than dogmatic or one-sided. questions to feed your own interest in the ongoing fiction
Be curious about what the other players have to say. in which the PCs are the protagonists. Your game series
is a cool TV show and you're its biggest fan. When you're
Create an atmosphere of inquiry at the table. This
curious about something that a PC says or does, ask them
means you play to find out what happens, not to make sure
about it! "I'm curious, though, when you tell him you'd
something specific happens. Will they go to war with the
do anything to help, do you really mean that? Anything?
Fog Hounds? Is Nyla badass enough to take out the thugs by
Are you that kind of person? Or are you just manipulating
herself? Can they avoid or predict Casta's betrayal? Play to
him?" These questions will often lead to goals, approaches,
find out. Don't contrive events ahead of time or manipulate
and rolls.
play to bring them about.
Advocate for the interests and capabilities of the NPCs.
Ask questions to lead the assessment of the fictional
Your job is to convey the fictional world accurately,
space when engaging the mechanics. "Which of the position
remember? Believable NPCs with interests and capabilities
profiles matches your situation here? Taking a calculated
make for a more compelling fictional world. Don't be a push
risk, or is it a reckless move?"
over. When the PCs take action against an NPC, remind the
Help the players use the game system to pursue the goals players of their interests and capabilities. "But Quellyn won't
of the characters. Don't let them flounder. When they have a just go along with all this, right? They're a witch, wanted
goal, ask them about any opportunities they have to pursue by the spirit wardens. How are you going to contend with
it. Present two possible approaches from that opportunity that?" When the PCs act in alignment with the interests of
and ask if they want to choose one or invent a third way. NPCs, remind the players of their support and friendship.
Don't block. It's not your job to say "you can't do that." Bring the elements of the game system to life on screen.
You're not the sole authority on what the characters can When an NPC is influenced, what does that look like? When
and cannot do. Instead, ask them: "You need to create an a PC is hunted by the guards, what fictional details convey
opportunity to attempt that, right?" Ask them how they that change in their situation? Ask the other players for ideas
might create an opportunity they need. Don't block. Show if you want to. "Do they come rushing over with lantern
them that there's a path to their goal, even if it might be a lights trained on you?" "Oh, no, maybe they have electric
long or dangerous one. lights here, and they all come on with a massive crackle of
Earn the trust of the group by being a supportive and energy."
fair advocate of the integrity of the fiction. It's your job
to portray a fictional world with integrity, not one that's
contrived and "set up" for particular outcomes. When you
advocate for something, the players know that you do so
on behalf of this integrity, not to get your way or to arrange
situations to your liking.

25
gm
gm: techniques & bad habits
Play Goal-Forward.
Poll the group about what goal they're pursuing, either in
Bad Habits. Avoid These! Don't Roll Twice for the Same Thing
Calling for a specific action roll. This bad habit usually When a PC faces danger, they make an Action roll. Also, they
the bigger picture of the game (best used at the beginning happens if you've GM'd other games where this is kinda can roll Resistance to avoid a bad outcome. However, don't
of a session) or in this microcosm of the present moment your job. You might say, "Give me a Finesse roll," or "That's roll twice for the exact same thing.
(best used when things are underway and the situation is a Consort check" or whatever. Don't do that! Get used to
snowballing). Once you know the goal, have a conversation For example, Arlyn is dueling a Red Sash on the roof. The
saying this, instead: "How do you do that?" Ask them
about opportunities, actions, and effects. The pursuit of Red Sash drives her back with a flurry of feints and slashes,
which action they use.
opportunities and positions to enable certain approaches, and there's a danger that Arlyn will be forced over the edge
the acquisition of information and resources, and the nested Letting planning get out of hand. Some players will plan during the skirmish. Arlyn's player makes an Action roll to
conflicts and that result will drive the action of the game. an operation forever if no one stops them—even if they hate see how her counter-attack goes. She rolls badly! Arlyn is
What are you trying to accomplish? Do you have an doing it! They think it's worth the trouble if they can cover forced over the edge and falls off the roof.
opportunity to do that? How do you want to go about it? every potential issue or avoid some bad outcome. This is
not how Blades in the Dark works. Everything is resolved But she can roll to resist, right? Yes. She can resist the harm
Follow this chain of events as actions and consequences play that results from the fall. But she can't "undo" being forced
out. Let the players lead where the game goes next. by action and effect rolls, so get to them! If someone has a
cool maneuver or idea, that's great, but it's probably still a over the edge. That's already been determined by her Action
Cut to the Action dominant action roll. They can't plan and discuss their way roll. The resistance roll answers "how bad is the fall?" Does
Solicit a goal and plan, then cut to the action and use dice out of making the rolls. An idea is not execution. she simply take some stress and catch herself on a railing on
rolls to move the situation forward. Don't be afraid to resolve the way down, or does she end up with a lasting effect as she
Not giving them what they earn. If they get into position, breaks her leg when she hits the street?
something! They want to eliminate Ulf Ironborn and then make the roll, and have their effect, they get what they
they plan it and do it, despite the odds and dangers? It's done. earned. Don't weasel out of it! Things are hard enough Here's another example: Cross is sneaking into the Red Sash's
Don't string things out. on them already. Don't be a skinflint about victories; temple, trying to elude the notice of their guards. He gets a
defeats will come without your thumb on the scales. The mixed result and a guard is alerted. But how much? Cross's
Put it in Context player can roll to resist the effect. If he pays the resulting stress
scoundrels are at the bottom of the faction ladder, but that
The game is a conversation between the real people at the cost, then the guard hasn't raised the alarm or seen Cross's
doesn't mean they're ineffective. It means they needs lots
table, but the action happens in the fictional space. Always face, but the danger did manifest as a result of the Action roll.
and lots of victories to make it. They're good at the game,
place actions and effects in the fictional context. Where is it So what happens? This is the classic case where the guard and
they just started out with negative points on the board.
happening? Who's there? What's the vibe? What interesting his partner say, "Hey, did you see that?" "What?" "Something
details distinguish this context as the haunted industrial- Saying no. There's always a better answer than "no" or "you
over there by the pillar." "Probably nothing." "Yeah, I'm gonna
fantasy world of Duskwall? can't do that." Offer a devil's bargain! "So... you want to
check, though."
seduce the most experienced madame in the city. Uh huh.
Put it on Screen Okay then. That's desperate, with a -1d penalty. And here's If Cross's own Effect is enough to overcome the obstacle, then
The game is a conversation, but roleplaying can still be a my bargain: regardless of how this goes, you fall in love with he hears that conversation in the distance behind him as he
visual medium in the imagination. Take every opportunity her." Or tell them to start the first phase of a long-term slips inside the temple. If he hasn't overcome the obstacle
you can to bring the game to life in the minds of the players. project clock. That's what they're there for. "You want to yet, then he's hidden behind the pillar as the guard strolls
Describe the action as if it's on screen in a TV show. What trace every contraband route into Duskwall? Okay, start a over to investigate.
does that look like on screen? long-term clock. The first phase is: 'Assemble the list of all In other words, the Action roll determines whether a
the contraband dealers.'" Saying no is boring. consequence manifests or not. The Resistance roll determines
Put it on a card.
Use index cards for NPCs, locations, job offers, leads, etc. how much of that danger manifests or how bad it is. Action
It's easy to lose track of things if you don't have a record of and Resistance don't determine the same thing. Each roll has
it. By putting important things on index cards, everyone can a concrete result that affects the situation.
see them spread out on the table and incorporate them into
the game.
26
gm reference fortune roll
Critical: Exceptional outcome.
gm goals Names Adric, Aldo, Amison, Andrel, Looks Man, Woman, Ambiguous, 1d for each Trait rating. Great effect.
Play to find out what happens. Arcy, Arden, Arilyn, Arquo, Arvus, Ashlyn, Concealed.
Bring Duskwall to Life. Birch, Bird, Branon, Brace, Brance, Brena, Affable Athletic Plump
6: Good outcome. Standard effect.
Convey the world honestly. Bricks, Candra, Canter, Carissa, Carro, Brooding Stout Squat + +1d for a major advantage.
Casslyn, Cavelle, Chime, Clave, Coil,
4/5: Mixed outcome. Limited effect, or
Bright Scarred Weathered
a mix of success and trouble.
gm principles Corille, Cross, Crowl, Cyrene, Daphnia,
Drav, Edlun, Emeline, Flint, Frog, Frost,
Dark Rough Cold
- -1d for a major drawback.
Be a fan of the PCs. Fair Striking Sad 1-3: Bad outcome. Poor effect.
Let everything flow from the fiction. Grine, Helles, Hix, Holtz, Hook, Kamelin, Worn Lovely Stern
Hold on lightly. Keel, Kelyr, Kobb, Kristov, Laudius, Lauria, Lean Handsome Open
Address the characters. Lenia, Lizete, Lorette, Lucella, Lynthia,
Mara, Milos, Mist, Moon, Morlan, Myre,
Wiry Slim Languid duskwall notables city wards (richest to poorest)
Address the players. Huge Delicate Calm Lyssa, a crime boss. Cold and calculating. Killed her Whitecrown Coalridge
Paint the world w/ a haunted brush. Nail, Narcus, Naria, Needle, Noggs, Chiseled Bony Fierce
Odrienne, Orlan, Phin, Polonia, Pool, former boss, Roric. Brightstone The Docks
Surround them w/ industrial sprawl.
Potch, Quess, Remira, Ring, Roethe, Tricorn Hat Wide Belt The Dimmer Sisters. People say they’re witches who Six Towers Crow’s Foot
Consider the risk.
Sesereth, Sethla, Silver, Skannon, Skeever, Long Coat Heavy Cloak drink blood. Never seen outside their home. Charterhall Dunslough
Skinner, Song, Stavrul, Stev, Syra, Talitha, Hood & Veil Thick Greatcoat
gm actions Tesslyn, Thena, Thistle, Thorn, Timoth, Short Cloak Soft Boots
Ulf Ironborn, a brutal Skovlander; craves power. Nightmarket
Silkshore
Barrowcleft
Charhollow
When things are getting started: Mylera Klev, leader of the Red Sash gang. Prizes fine art.
Tocker, Una, Vauri, Veleris, Veretta, Knit Cap Loose Silks
 What plan did you make? (and Slim Jacket Sharp Trousers Baszo Baz, leader of the Lampblacks. Loves whisky.
Vestine, Vey, Volette, Vond, Weaver, Wester. locations public houses
what's the detail?) Hooded Coat Waxed Coat Merrul Brime, a secrets broker; owns the Hooded Fox.
 Who's on point? Family Names: Brogan, Tyrconnell, Undercross The Hooded Fox
Tall Boots Long Scarf Lady Drake, a magistrate on the payroll of criminals.
Dunvil, Comber, Millar, Slane, Strangford, Echo Gardens The Hook & Line
And when things are underway: Hvy Work Boots Leathers The Eye, anonymous leader of The Unseen. The Hand,
Dalmore, Edrad, Lomond, Clelland, Arran, The Night Market The Leaky Bucket
 How do you do that? (which Mask & Robes Eel-skin Bodysuit chief lieutenant. Groll, a mid-level thug with ambitions.
Scapa, Kinclaith, Coleburn, Penalten, The Canals The Devil’s Tooth
action do you use?) Suit & Vest Hide & Furs
Strathmill, Haig, Morriston, Penderyn, Mordis, a merchant of the night market. A fence. Chalk Street Bridge The Black Tree
 What's your goal? (what's the Collared Shirt Scavenged Uniform
Danfield, Hellyers, Walund, Templeton, Hides his true appearance under a robe and hood. Candle Street Bridge The Cat & Candle
effect?) Suspenders Threadbare Tatters
Michter, Bowman, Prichard, Keel, Wathen, Taffer, a merchant of the night market. A cultist. Gaddoc Rail Station The Broken Anchor
Rough Tunic Fitted Leggings
Cut to the moment of crisis. Clermont, Rowan, Booker. Heartbreak Square The Red Lamp
Jira, a merchant of the night market. A smuggler.
Telegraph trouble before it strikes. city descriptors The Anvilworks The Nail & Bottle
Ankhayat, Helker, Jayan, Sevoy, Athanoch, Elstera Avrathi, resident diplomat of Iruvia. The Black Circle The Six Arms
Tell them the consequences and ask. Karmera, Grine, Helles, Hix, Boden, soot-black, cobblestones, dim, ink-dark,
Offer a devil's bargain. cooking-smells, gaslights, oily puddles, Brynna Skyrkallan, resident diplomat of Skovlan. Bellweather The Old Rasp
Farros, Maroden, Karstas, Skelkallan, Crematorium The Moon’s
Show the downside of their vice. moonlight, fog-shrouded, chill, wind- Tyrsin Nol, resident diplomat of Severos.
Basaran, Vedat, Kessarin, Salkha, Daava. Ironhook Prison Daughter
Make a progress clock or tick one. swept, shadowy, brick walls, chimneys, Andris, a spy and informant with flexible loyalties.
Ask the players. Aliases: Birch, Bird, Bliss, Bricks, Bug, carriages, clocktowers, lanterns, pipe- The Blood Pits The Sexton
Krop, a constable of the watch. Refuses bribes.
Actions ripple through the network. Chime, Coil, Cricket, Cross, Crow, Echo, smoke, canals, gondolas, rain-slick, The Lost Ward Hazlewood
Flint, Frost, Grip, Hook, Keel, Mist, Moon, Lewit, Jol, Cinda, Reyf, bluecoats of the watch. Razor Hill Quinn's
Think off-screen. gargoyles, ruins, steeples, bridges,
Nail, Needle, Ogre, Pool, Ring, Ruby, Silver, walkways, scaffolds, alleys, cisterns, Rolan Wot, a judge-inspector. Rooting out corruption.
What do you do? Skinner, Song, Spur, Tackle, Thistle, Thorn, sewers, echoes, ironwork. Casslyn Mora, a judge with family ties to criminals. flashback stress costs
Tick Tock, Trick, Vixen, Whip. Belindra, a jailor of Ironhook Prison.  0 Stress for a normal action for
Ereth Skane, an advocate with unseemly vices. which you had easy opportunity.
consequences
Denkirk Sol, an advocate with surprising scruples.  1 Stress for a complex action or
You suffer harm (1-3). You have reduced effect. You end up in a worse position. It takes extra time. Polix, attache to the Lord Governor of Duskwall. A unlikely opportunity.
secret spiritualist and rune-binder.  2+ Stress for an elaborate action
Nyryx and Hoxan, rogue spirits possessing the bodies which involved several special
You lose your opportunity. Complication (Tick a clock, 1-3 segments. Or a new obstacle or threat appears.) of streetwalkers, looking for a whisper to serve. opportunities or contingencies.
Levyra, a spirit medium.
Kember, a distiller of essences and potions, Insight Prowess Resolve
effect 1. Limited: How is the effect diminished? effect modifiers Hunt Finesse Attune
How does the effect manifest? proprietor of the Devil’s Tooth.
What significant obstacle remains? - quality / tier +
2. Standard: How does the expected effect Raffello, a master painter obsessed w/ the unnatural. Study Prowl Command
If there's a clock for your obstacle, tick - scale + Survey Skirmish Consort
segments equal to the effect level. manifest? What's left to do, if anything? Lannic, an expert art forger.
3. Great: How is the effect increased? What - potency + Tinker Wreck Sway
extra benefit manifests?
PLAYER REFERENCE 1
action roll fortune roll
1d for each Action dot.
Dominant 1d for each Trait rating.
Critical: Exceptional outcome.
You act on your terms. You exploit a dominant advantage. Great effect.
Critical: You do it with increased effect. 6: Good outcome. Standard effect.
+1d if you Push yourself 6: You do it. + +1d for a major advantage.
+ 4/5: Mixed outcome. Limited effect,
(you take 2 stress) -or- if you 4/5: You do it, but there's a consequence: it takes extra time, or a mix of success and trouble.
accept a Devil's Bargain. you have reduced effect, you suffer lesser harm, you end up - -1d for a major drawback.
in a difficult position. 1-3: Bad outcome. Poor effect.
Note: You may either push yourself or 1-3: You're blocked, you hesitate, or you falter. Press on by
accept a devil's bargain to get one bonus seizing a difficult opportunity, or withdraw and try a different
die. You can't do both. approach.
resistance roll
You reduce or avoid the
Difficult 1d for each Attribute dot.
consequences if you take 6
You go head to head. You act under fire. You take a risk. stress minus your highest die
Critical: You do it with increased effect. result.
6: You do it.
4/5: You do it, but there's a consequence: you suffer harm,
a complication occurs, you end up in a desperate position.
teamwork: on point
1-3: Things go badly. You suffer harm, a complication occurs,
you end up in a desperate position, you lose this opportunity Lead a group action. Roll for each character who participates in the
for action.
lead a group action. The best single roll counts as the action result, which
group applies to every character that rolled.
Each time you roll a desperate action,
mark a tick of XP on your character
Desperate Set up another character with your action. If you achieve it, any team
sheet. See page 18.
You overreach your capabilities. You're in serious trouble. set up members who follow up get +1 effect.
Critical: You do it with increased effect.
6: You do it. teamwork: backup
4/5: You do it, but there's a consequence: you suffer severe
Assist another character with an appropriate action. If you achieve
harm, a serious complication occurs. assist it, the character you assist improves their position by one level.
1-3: It's the worst outcome. You suffer severe harm, a serious
complication occurs, you lose this opportunity for action.
face Face danger for a teammate. Step in to suffer a consequence in their
danger place. You may roll to resist as normal, if you wish.

The GM sets the consequences according to the situation. You may


suffer one, some, or all of the listed consequences. You may attempt to
avoid or reduce a consequence with a resistance roll.
PLAYER REFERENCE 2

the payoff  2 coin: Minor job; several full purses.


 4 coin: Small job; a strongbox.
heat  1 heat: Smooth & quiet; low exposure.
 2 heat: Contained; standard exposure.
A score yields 1 rep per Tier of the target and a  6 coin: Standard score; decent loot. After a score or conflict with an opponent, the crew  4 heat: Loud & chaotic; high exposure.
coin reward based on the nature of the operation takes heat. Add +1 heat for a high-profile or
(see list at right).  8 coin: Major score; serious loot.  6 heat: Wild; devastating exposure.
well-connected target. Add +1 heat if the situation
 10+ coin: A treasure trove. happened on hostile turf. Add +1 heat if you're at Plus any additional heat from complications
If you've seized a claim, you gain its benefits
Subtract 1 coin per crew Tier if you pay a war. Add +2 heat if killing was involved. or devil's bargains during the session.
(hold and/or other bonuses).

downtime
tithe to a ward boss or larger organization.

entanglements When you're at liberty between scores and find some respite from peril, you may pursue two
After a payoff, roll an entanglement according to your level of Heat plus your Wanted Level: downtime actions. You also recover all of your armor uses. During downtime, you may take
additional actions by spending 1 coin or 1 rep for each extra action.
level: 0-3 level: 4, 5 level: 6+ For any downtime roll, add +1d to the roll if you get help from a friend or contact. After the roll,
1: Gang Trouble 1: Gang Trouble 1: Gang Trouble you may increase the result level by one for each coin spent, by hiring assistance, paying a bribe,
2: Unquiet Dead 2: Unquiet Dead 2: Demonic Notice etc. (so, a 1-3 result becomes a 4/5, 4/5 becomes 6, 6 becomes Critical).
3: Rivals 3: Reprisals 3: Show of Force
4, 5: The Usual Suspects 4, 5: Questioning 4, 5: Interrogation Visit a purveyor of your vice and roll dice equal to your lowest attribute. Clear
6: Cooperation 6: Show of Force 6: Arrest vice stress equal to your highest die result. If you clear more stress levels than you
had marked, you overindulge (see below).
Arrest. An Inspector presents a case file of evidence out how well they resist spilling some info that they
to a magistrate, to begin prosecution of your crew. shouldn't, or pay the Bluecoats off with 2 coin. Overindulge. You make a bad call because of your vice—in acquiring it or while under its
The Bluecoats send a detail to arrest you. Pay them off Reprisals. An enemy faction makes a move influence. What do yo do? Select or roll an additional entanglement for the crew or draw +2 heat.
with coin (Wanted Level +3), hand someone over against you (or a friend, contact, or vice purveyor). If you do not or cannot indulge your vice during downtime, you take stress equal to 1+ your trauma.
for arrest, or try to flee and take +3 heat if you do. Pay them (1 rep and 1 coin) per Tier of the
Cooperation. A +3 status faction asks you for a enemy as an apology, allow them to mess with you Remove all level 1 harm. You may also begin to heal your level 2 and/or level
favor. Agree to do it or forfeit 1 rep per Tier of or yours, or fight back and show them who's boss. 3 harm, if you have access to proper treatment. Untrained or risky treatments
the friendly faction. If you don't have a +3 faction Rivals. A neutral faction throws their weight recover may call for action rolls. Successful treatment creates a long term project clock
status, you avoid entanglements right now. around. They threaten you, a friend or contact, to heal that harm. Unsuccessful treatments may make matters worse.
Demonic Notice. A demon approaches the crew or one of your vice purveyors. Forfeit (1 rep or 1
with a dark offer. Accept or hide until it loses interest coin) per Tier of the rival, or stand up to them
(you forfeit 3 rep). and lose 1 status with them.
long term Work a Long Term Project, if you have the means. Roll a trait and mark 1
project segment on the project clock per level (1-3: one, 4/5: two, 6: three, Crit: four).
Gang Trouble. One of your gangs causes trouble Show of Force. A faction with whom you have
due to their drawback. Lose face (forfeit rep equal a negative status makes a play against your turf and
to your tier+1), make an example of one of the your vice purveyors. Give them 1 claim and lose acquire Acquire temporary use of an asset. Roll the crew's Tier. The result indicates
gang members, or face reprisals from the wronged access to your current vice purveyors, or go to war. asset the quality of the asset (1-3: Poor, 4/5: Standard, 6: Fine, Crit: Exceptional).
party. If you lack a gang with a drawback, there's Unquiet Dead. A rogue spirit is drawn to you
no entanglement. (perhaps it's a past victim?). Pay 1 coin per threat Mark 1 xp for an attribute or your playbook (if you have the appropriate crew
Interrogation. The Bluecoats round up one of level of the spirit (1-6) to a Whisper or Rail Jack to train training upgrade). You can train a given trait only once per downtime.
the PCs, to question them about the crew's crimes. exorcise it, or deal with it yourself.
Resist with your Resolve to avoid jail time and
exposing the crew to warrants for their arrest, or
The Usual Suspects. The Bluecoats grab gather Spend time to gather information, away from danger. The action roll result
someone in the periphery of your crew, during a
pay them off with 3 coin. routine sweep. One player volunteers a friend or
info indicates the quality (1-3: Poor, 4/5: Standard, 6: Fine, Crit: Exceptional).
Questioning. The Bluecoats grab an NPC member vice purveyor as the person most likely to be taken.
of your crew or one of the crew's Contacts, to question Make a fortune roll to find out how well they resist reduce Say how you reduce Heat on the crew and roll your crew's Tier. Reduce heat
them about your crimes. Make a fortune roll to find questioning, or pay the Bluecoats off with 2 coin. heat by 1 per result level (1-3: one, 4/5: two, 6: three, Crit: four).
character creation
1. Choose Playbook
Your playbook represents the nature of your character, their special
Vices Names: Adric, Aldo, Amison, Andrel, Arcy, Arden,
Arilyn, Arquo, Arvus, Ashlyn, Branon, Brance,
abilities, and how they advance. Playbooks aren’t unique — multiple ƒƒ Faith: You're dedicated to an unseen power, forgotten god, ancestor, etc. Brena, Candra, Canter, Carissa, Carro, Casslyn,
Cavelle, Clave, Corille, Crowl, Cyrene, Daphnia,
players can choose the same one. ƒƒ Gambling: You crave games of chance, betting on sporting events, etc.
Drav, Edlun, Emeline, Holtz, Kamelin, Kelyr, Kobb,
ƒƒ Luxury: Expensive and/or ostentatious displays of opulence. Kristov, Laudius, Lauria, Lenia, Lizete, Lorette,
2. Choose a Special Ability
ƒƒ Obligation: You're devoted to a family, a cause, a charity, etc.. Lucella, Lynthia, Mara, Milos, Morlan, Myre, Narcus,
Choose 1 starting special ability. Naria, Noggs, Odrienne, Orlan, Phin, Polonia, Potch,
ƒƒ Pleasure: Gratification from lovers, food or drink, art or theater, etc. Quess, Remira, Roethe, Sesereth, Sethla, Skannon,
3. Choose a Heritage
ƒƒ Stupor: You seek oblivion in the abuse of drugs, drink to excess, getting Stavrul, Stev, Syra, Talitha, Tesslyn, Thena, Timoth,
...and detail it with a note about your family life. For example, Skovlan: Una, Vauri, Veleris, Veretta, Vestine, Vey, Volette,
Ore Miners. Assign an action dot based on your Heritage choice (max beaten to a pulp in the fighting pits, etc.
Vond, Weaver, Wester, Ylan, Zamira.
starting action rating is 2). ƒƒ Weird: You experiment with strange essences, consort with rogue
spirits, observe bizarre rituals or taboos, etc. Family Names: Brogan, Tyrconnell, Dunvil, Comber,
4. Choose a Background Millar, Slane, Strangford, Dalmore, Edrad, Lomond,
Clelland, Arran, Scapa, Kinclaith, Coleburn,
...and detail it with your specific history. For example, Labor: Leviathan Actions Penalten, Strathmill, Haig, Morriston, Penderyn,
Hunter. Assign an action dot based on your Background choice (max
 Attune to spirits and the ghost field; channel electroplasmic energy; Hellyers, Walund, Templeton, Michter, Bowman,
starting action rating is 2). Prichard, Keel, Wathen, Clermont, Rowan, Booker.
perceive and communicate with ghosts; understand spectrology.
5. Assign Action Dots  Command obedience with your force of personality; intimidate or Ankhayat, Helker, Jayan, Sevoy, Athanoch, Karmera,
Assign 2 additional action dots. No action may begin with a rating Grine, Helles, Hix, Boden, Farros, Maroden, Karstas,
threaten; lead an action with one of the crew's gangs.
higher than 2. Skelkallan, Basaran, Vedat, Kessarin, Salkha, Daava.
 Consort with connections from your heritage, background, friends, or
Aliases: Birch, Bird, Bliss, Bricks, Bug, Chime,
6. Items Carried rivals to gain access to resources, information, people, or places. Coil, Cricket, Cross, Crow, Echo, Flint, Frost, Grip,
You have access to all of the items on your character sheet. For each  Finesse an item from someone's pocket; employ subtle misdirection or Hook, Keel, Mist, Moon, Nail, Needle, Ogre, Pool,
operation, decide what your character's load will be. During the sleight-of-hand; handle a vehicle or a mount. Ring, Ruby, Silver, Skinner, Song, Spur, Tackle,
operation, you may decide that your character has an item by checking Thistle, Thorn, Tick Tock, Trick, Vixen, Whip.
 Hunt a target; gather information about its location and movements;
the box for the item you want to use — up to a number of items equal
attack with precision shooting from a distance. Looks: Man, Woman, Ambiguous, Concealed.
to your chosen load. Your load determines your movement speed
and conspicuousness (items in italics don't count toward your load):  Prowl about unseen and traverse obstacles; climb, swim, run, jump, Affable Huge Lovely Weathered
Light (you’re faster and less conspicuous. you can blend in with citizens). and tumble. Ambush with close violence—a backstab, throat cutting, Brooding Chiseled Handsome Cold
black-jack, etc. Bright Athletic Slim Sad
Normal (you look like a scoundrel, ready for trouble). Heavy (you’re
Dark Stout Delicate Stern
slower. you look like an operative on a mission). Some items count  Skirmish with an opponent in close combat; assault or defend a Fair Scarred Bony Open
as two items for load (they have two connected boxes). Note that the position; brawl and wrestle. Worn Rough Plump Calm
Cutter playbook can carry a heavier load.  Study a person, document, or item with close scrutiny to gather Wiry Striking Squat Fierce

7. Choose a Close Friend and a Rival information and apply knowledge; gain a deeper understanding; do Tricorn Hat Suit & Vest Waxed Coat
You begin with all of your friends. Mark the one who is a close research. Long Coat Collared Shirt Long Scarf
friend, long-time ally, family relation, or lover (the upward-pointing  Survey a location or situation to understand what's going on; sense trouble Hood & Veil Suspenders Leathers
triangle). Mark one who is a former friend turned rival, enemy, scorned before it happens; gather information about opportunities or exploits. Short Cloak Rough-Spun Eel-skin
Knit Cap Tunic Bodysuit
lover, betrayed partner etc. (the downward-pointing triangle).  Sway someone with charm, logic, deception, disguise, or bluff; change Slim Jacket Wide Belt Hide & Furs
8. Choose Your Vice attitudes or behavior with manipulation or seduction. Hooded Coat Heavy Cloak Scavenged
 Tinker with mechanisms to create, modify, disable, or repair; disable Tall Boots Thick Greatcoat Uniform
Pick your preferred type of vice, detail it with a short description and
Heavy Work Soft Boots Threadbare
indicate the name and location of your vice purveyor. For example, a trap, pick a lock, or crack a safe. Use the ubiquitous clockwork and Boots Loose Silks Tatters
Stupor: Trance powder addict. Madame Tesslyn, The Red Lamp, Silkshore. electroplasmic devices around the city to your advantage. Mask & Robes Sharp Trousers Fitted Leggings
9. Record Name, Alias, & Look  Wreck a place, item, or obstacle with savage force or carefully applied
sabotage; breach defenses with force; create distractions and chaos.
cutter
insight
a dangerous and
intimidating   hunt
fighter   study
special abilities
  survey
  tinker
name alias Brutal: Your attacks are more powerful; you hit as if wielding a

heavier weapon. You gain potency vs. physical targets. prowess
look Resilient: When you recover, mark +1 segment on all recovery clocks.
   finesse
Tough as Nails: When you resist with Prowess, you get +1d.
   prowl
heritage:    a koros—the dagger isles background: academic—labor—law Savage: When you unleash physical violence, it's especially
   skirmish
iruvia—severos—skovlan—tycheros trade—military—noble—underworld frightening. When you Command a frightened target, take +1d.   wreck
Ghost Fighter: You may imbue your hands, melee weapons, or tools
 resolve
vice / purveyor: faith—gambling—luxury—obligation—pleasure—stupor—weird with spirit energy. You gain potency in combat vs. the supernatural.
  attune
Not to be Trifled With: In close combat, you are equal in scale

stress trauma cold—haunted—obsessed—paranoid to a small gang.
  command
reckless—soft—unstable—vicious   consort
Leader: When you Command a gang in combat, they stand fast
   sway
harm when they would otherwise break or flee. They get 1 armor.
armor +heavy
need bonus die
3 help Battleborn: You get special armor against physical attacks in

battleborn push yourself (take
combat. When you roll a critical in combat, clear 1 stress.
+ 2 stress) -or- accept a
2 -1d
 Veteran: Choose a special ability from another source.
  devil's bargain.
other special armor

1 less dangerous friends items (Italics don't count for load.) load  4 light  5 normal  
7 heavy
effect coin  
  
 stash
 
 Marlane, a pugilist  Fine hand weapon  A Blade or Two

notes / projects    Fine heavy weapon  Throwing Knives
 
 Chael, a vicious thug
  Manacles & chain  A Pistol   A 2nd Pistol
  
 Mercy, a cold killer
 Rage essence vial   A Large Weapon
 
 Grace, an extortionist  Spiritbane charm  An Unusual Weapon
 
 Stras, a clever blade   Demolition tools  Armor   +Heavy
 Burglary Tools
mark xp: playbook advancement
  Climbing Gear
 When you roll a desperate action.
 Arcane Implements
 When you address a tough challenge with violence or threats.  Documents
 At end of session, if you've expressed your beliefs, drives, heritage, or  Subterfuge Supplies
background. And also mark xp if you struggled with issues from your  Tinkering Tools
vice or traumas during the session.  _________________

teamwork planning & load Choose a plan, provide the detail. Choose your load.
 Assault plan: Point of attack.  Occult plan: Arcane power.
Lead a group action.
 Deception plan: Method.  Social plan: Social connection.
Set up another character.  Infiltration plan: Entry point.  Transport plan: Locations / Route.
gather information
Face danger for a teammate.  What do they intend to do?  How can I find X?
 What might I suspect about this?  What's really going on here?
Assist another character.  What's the danger here?  Ask about a detail for a plan.
hound
insight
a deadly
marksman and   hunt
tracker   study
special abilities
  survey
  tinker
name alias Predator: Take +1d to rolls against weakened or vulnerable targets.

 
 Ghost Hunter: Your hunting pet is imbued with spirit energy. prowess
look It gains potency when tracking or fighting the supernatural, and
  finesse
gains an arcane ability: ghost-form, mind-link, or arrow-swift. Take
this ability again to choose an additional arcane ability for your pet.   prowl
heritage:    a koros—the dagger isles background: academic—labor—law   skirmish
Sharpshooter: You can perform precision and long-range

iruvia—severos—skovlan—tycheros trade—military—noble—underworld
shooting. You can quickly draw and reload your weapons. Your
  wreck
ranged attacks gain potency.
resolve
vice / purveyor: faith—gambling—luxury—obligation—pleasure—stupor—weird Sharp: When you roll resistance with Insight, you get +1d.

  attune
stress trauma Marked Target: When you hunt a target that you've previously
   command
cold—haunted—obsessed—paranoid
tracked or wounded, you get +1 effect level.
reckless—soft—unstable—vicious   consort
harm
Vengeful: After you face a consequence from an enemy (suffered
   sway
armor +heavy or resisted), you get +1d to your next roll against that enemy.
need bonus die
3 help Focused: You get special armor vs. mental effects (fear, confusion,

focused push yourself (take
etc.). When you roll a critical while engaging a target, clear 1 stress
+ 2 stress) -or- accept a
2 -1d
 Veteran: Choose a special ability from another source.
  devil's bargain.
other special armor

1 less deadly friends items (Italics don't count for load.) load  3 light  5 normal  
6 heavy
effect coin  
  
 stash
 
 Steiner, an assassin  Fine pair of pistols  A Blade or Two

notes / projects    Fine long rifle  Throwing Knives
 
 Celene, a sentinel
  Electroplasmic ammunition  A Pistol   A 2nd Pistol
  
 Melvir, a physicker
 A fine trained hunting pet   A Large Weapon
 
 Veleris, a spy  Spyglass  An Unusual Weapon
 
 Casta, a bounty hunter  Spiritbane charm  Armor   +Heavy
 Burglary Tools
mark xp: playbook advancement
  Climbing Gear
 When you roll a desperate action.
 Arcane Implements
 When you address a tough challenge with violence or tracking.  Documents
 At end of session, if you've expressed your beliefs, drives, heritage, or  Subterfuge Supplies
background. And also mark xp if you struggled with issues from your  Tinkering Tools
vice or traumas during the session.  _________________

teamwork planning & load Choose a plan, provide the detail. Choose your load.
 Assault plan: Point of attack.  Occult plan: Arcane power.
Lead a group action.
 Deception plan: Method.  Social plan: Social connection.
Set up another character.  Infiltration plan: Entry point.  Transport plan: Locations / Route.
gather information
Face danger for a teammate.  What do they intend to do?  How can I find X?
 What might I suspect about this?  What's really going on here?
Assist another character.  What's the danger here?  Ask about a detail for a plan.
leech
insight
a saboteur   hunt
and tinkerer
  study
special abilities   survey
Alchemist: You can tinker with chemicals and arcane substances
   tinker
name alias
to create poisons, drugs, and other strange mixtures.
Artificer: When you tinker with a device, tool, or weapon, you

prowess
look may include alchemical or clockwork features.   finesse
Analyst: When you take extra time and care to gather information
   prowl
heritage:    a koros—the dagger isles background: academic—labor—law
during downtime, you get potency.   skirmish
iruvia—severos—skovlan—tycheros trade—military—noble—underworld Saboteur: When you wreck, the work is much quieter than it
   wreck
should be and the damage is hidden from casual inspection.
Ghost Ward: You know how to wreck an area with arcane substances
 resolve
vice / purveyor: faith—gambling—luxury—obligation—pleasure—stupor—weird and methods so it is either anathema or enticing to spirits (your choice).
  attune
Venomous: You're able to secrete a particular toxin through your

stress trauma cold—haunted—obsessed—paranoid skin or saliva and exhale it as a vapor, at will.
  command
reckless—soft—unstable—vicious   consort
Physicker: You can tinker with bones, blood, and bodily humours

harm to treat wounds, stabilize the dying, or study a malady or corpse.   sway
armor +heavy
need Also, your crew gets +1d to long-term project healing rolls. bonus die
3 help
fortitude Fortitude: You get special armor vs. fatigue, weakness, and
 push yourself (take
chemical effects. When you roll a crit while tinkering, clear 1 stress. + 2 stress) -or- accept a
2 -1d devil's bargain.
 
 Veteran: Choose a special ability from another source.
other special armor

1 less clever friends items (Italics don't count for load.) load  3 light  5 normal  
6 heavy
effect coin  
  
 stash
 
 Stazia, an apothecary Fine tinkering tools
   A Blade or Two

notes / projects  Fine wrecker tools
   Throwing Knives
 
 Veldren, a psychonaut
 Blowgun & darts, syringes
   A Pistol   A 2nd Pistol
  
 Eckerd, a corpse thief
Bandolier of alchemy vials (4)
    A Large Weapon
 
 Jul, a blood dealer
  Bandolier of alchemy vials (4)
   An Unusual Weapon
 
 Malista, a priestess Spiritbane charm
   Armor   +Heavy
 Burglary Tools
mark xp: playbook advancement
  Climbing Gear
 When you roll a desperate action.
 Arcane Implements
 When you address a tough challenge with technical skill or chaos.  Documents
 At end of session, if you've expressed your beliefs, drives, heritage, or  Subterfuge Supplies
background. And also mark xp if you struggled with issues from your  Tinkering Tools
vice or traumas during the session.  _________________

teamwork planning & load Choose a plan, provide the detail. Choose your load.
 Assault plan: Point of attack.  Occult plan: Arcane power.
Lead a group action.
Alchemicals Drugs Essences Oils Poisons Potions  Deception plan: Method.  Social plan: Social connection.
 Trance Powder  Dream  Binding  Devilroot  Spider  Infiltration plan: Entry point.  Transport plan: Locations / Route.
Bandolier   Quicksilver  Death  Ghost  Chokedust  Sight Set up another character.
 Bloodneedle  Life  Lightning  Eyeblind  Ironskin gather information
Bandolier  Face danger for a teammate.  What do they intend to do?  How can I find X?
 Spark  Rage  Fire  Standstill  Bull
 Dream Smoke  Shadow  Drift  Skullfire  Viper  What might I suspect about this?  What's really going on here?
Assist another character.  What's the danger here?  Ask about a detail for a plan.
 Black Lotus  Thought  Silence  Heartcalm  Vitality
lurk
insight
a stealthy
infiltrator and   hunt
burglar   study
special abilities
  survey
  tinker
name alias Ambush: When you attack from hiding or spring a trap, you get +1d.

Tenacious: Take 1 stress to ignore a harm penalty.
 prowess
look Infiltrator: When you bypass security measures, you get +1 effect
   finesse
level.   prowl
heritage:    a koros—the dagger isles background: academic—labor—law Fly on the Wall: When you gather information through
   skirmish
iruvia—severos—skovlan—tycheros trade—military—noble—underworld clandestine observation, you get +1 effect level.   wreck
Ghost Veil: You may hide your spirit from the notice of ghosts,

demons, or other arcane powers. You gain potency vs. supernatural resolve
vice / purveyor: faith—gambling—luxury—obligation—pleasure—stupor—weird attention or security measures.   attune
stress trauma cold—haunted—obsessed—paranoid Daredevil: When you make a desperate roll, take +1d.
   command
reckless—soft—unstable—vicious Reflexes: When there's a question about who acts first, the answer
   consort
harm
is you (two characters with Reflexes act simultaneously).   sway
armor +heavy Shadow: You get special armor vs. consequences from detection

need bonus die
3 help or security. When you roll a critical on a feat of athletics or stealth,
shadow push yourself (take
clear 1 stress.
+ 2 stress) -or- accept a
2 -1d
 Veteran: Choose a special ability from another source.
  devil's bargain.
other special armor

1 less shady friends items (Italics don't count for load.) load  3 light  5 normal  
6 heavy
effect coin  
  
 stash
 
 Telda, a beggar Fine lockpicks
   A Blade or Two

notes / projects  Fine shadow cloak
   Throwing Knives
 
 Darmot, a bluecoat
 Light climbing gear
   A Pistol   A 2nd Pistol
  
 Frake, a locksmith
Silence potion vial
    A Large Weapon
 
 Roslyn Kellis, a noble Dark-sight mask
   An Unusual Weapon
 
 Petra, a city clerk Spiritbane charm
   Armor   +Heavy
 Burglary Tools
mark xp: playbook advancement
  Climbing Gear
 When you roll a desperate action.
 Arcane Implements
 When you address a tough challenge with infiltration or athletics.  Documents
 At end of session, if you've expressed your beliefs, drives, heritage, or  Subterfuge Supplies
background. And also mark xp if you struggled with issues from your  Tinkering Tools
vice or traumas during the session.  _________________

teamwork planning & load Choose a plan, provide the detail. Choose your load.
 Assault plan: Point of attack.  Occult plan: Arcane power.
Lead a group action.
 Deception plan: Method.  Social plan: Social connection.
Set up another character.  Infiltration plan: Entry point.  Transport plan: Locations / Route.
gather information
Face danger for a teammate.  What do they intend to do?  How can I find X?
 What might I suspect about this?  What's really going on here?
Assist another character.  What's the danger here?  Ask about a detail for a plan.
slide
insight
a subtle
manipulator   hunt
and spy   study
special abilities
  survey
  tinker
name alias Espionage: When you use a disguise or cover, you get +1 effect.

Expert: When you lead a group action using your highest-rated
 prowess
look action, you can suffer only 1 stress at most from any failed rolls.
  finesse
Tricky Maneuver: Perform a setup action with -1d to give +1d
   prowl
to a teammate who follows your move (in addition to +1 position).
heritage:    a koros—the dagger isles background: academic—labor—law   skirmish
iruvia—severos—skovlan—tycheros trade—military—noble—underworld Adaptation: Take 2 stress to roll your best action rating while
   wreck
performing a different action. Say how you adapt your skill to this use.
Orator: When you manipulate or deceive a group of people, you
 resolve
vice / purveyor: faith—gambling—luxury—obligation—pleasure—stupor—weird never suffer effect reduction due to scale.   attune
stress trauma cold—haunted—obsessed—paranoid Trust in Me: You get +1d vs. a target you have a relationship with.
   command
reckless—soft—unstable—vicious Ghost Voice: You know the secret method to interact with a ghost
   consort
harm
or demon as if it was a normal human, regardless of how wild or feral   sway
armor +heavy it is. You gain potency when communicating with the supernatural
need bonus die
3 help Subterfuge: You get special armor vs. persuasion or deception.

subterfuge push yourself (take
When you roll a critical while using subterfuge, clear 1 stress..
+ 2 stress) -or- accept a
2 -1d
 Veteran: Choose a special ability from another source.
  devil's bargain.
other special armor

1 less sly friends items (Italics don't count for load.) load  3 light  5 normal  
6 heavy
effect coin  
  
 stash
 
 Bryl, a drug dealer Fine clothes & jewelry
   A Blade or Two

notes / projects  Fine disguise kit
   Throwing Knives
 
 Bazso Baz, a gang leader
 Fine loaded dice, trick cards
   A Pistol   A 2nd Pistol
  
 Klyra, a tavern owner
Trance powder
    A Large Weapon
 
 Nyryx, a prostitute A cane-sword
   An Unusual Weapon
 
 Harker, a jail-bird Spiritbane charm
   Armor   +Heavy
 Burglary Tools
mark xp: playbook advancement
  Climbing Gear
 When you roll a desperate action.
 Arcane Implements
 When you address a tough challenge with deception or influence.  Documents
 At end of session, if you've expressed your beliefs, drives, heritage, or  Subterfuge Supplies
background. And also mark xp if you struggled with issues from your  Tinkering Tools
vice or traumas during the session.  _________________

teamwork planning & load Choose a plan, provide the detail. Choose your load.
 Assault plan: Point of attack.  Occult plan: Arcane power.
Lead a group action.
 Deception plan: Method.  Social plan: Social connection.
Set up another character.  Infiltration plan: Entry point.  Transport plan: Locations / Route.
gather information
Face danger for a teammate.  What do they intend to do?  How can I find X?
 What might I suspect about this?  What's really going on here?
Assist another character.  What's the danger here?  Ask about a detail for a plan.
whisper
insight
an arcane
adept and   hunt
channeler   study
special abilities
  survey
  tinker
name alias Compel: You can attune to the ghost field to force a nearby spirit to

appear before you and follow a direct instruction you give it. prowess
look Tempest: Channel energy to produce storm effects (fog, frost, wind,

rain, lightning). Costs stress equal to the magnitude of the results (0-6).   finesse
Occultist: You may consort with ancient powers, forgotten gods
  prowl

heritage:    a koros—the dagger isles background: academic—labor—law or demons. If you have control over the entity, take +1d.   skirmish
iruvia—severos—skovlan—tycheros trade—military—noble—underworld
Ritual: You can study an occult ritual to summon a supernatural

  wreck
effect or being. Costs stress based on the magnitude of the results
(2-6). Answer the GM's questions to create the ritual (page 42). resolve
vice / purveyor: faith—gambling—luxury—obligation—pleasure—stupor—weird
Iron Will: When you roll resistance with Resolve, you get +1d.
   attune
stress trauma cold—haunted—obsessed—paranoid Strange Methods: When you tinker with a device, tool, or
   command
reckless—soft—unstable—vicious weapon, you may include electroplasmic or arcane features.   consort
harm Ghost Mind: You know how to find the weakness in each ghost, demon,
   sway
armor +heavy or arcane force. You gain potency when you study the supernatural.
need bonus die
3 Warded: You get special armor vs. supernatural effects. When you
help
warded  push yourself (take
roll a critical while dealing with arcane powers, clear 1 stress. + 2 stress) -or- accept a
2 -1d
 Veteran: Choose a special ability from another source.
  devil's bargain.
other special armor

1 less strange friends items (Italics don't count for load.) load  3 light  5 normal  
6 heavy
effect coin  
  
 stash
 
 Nyryx, a possessor ghost   Fine lightning hook  A Blade or Two

notes / projects    spirit mask
Fine  Throwing Knives
 
 Scurlock, a vampire
  Electroplasm vials  A Pistol   A 2nd Pistol
  
 Setarra, a demon
 Spirit bottles (2)   A Large Weapon
 
 Quellyn, a witch  Ghost key  An Unusual Weapon
 
 Flint, a spirit trafficker  Demonbane charm  Armor   +Heavy
 Burglary Tools
mark xp: playbook advancement
  Climbing Gear
 When you roll a desperate action.
 Arcane Implements
 When you address a tough challenge with arcane power or knowledge.  Documents
 At end of session, if you've expressed your beliefs, drives, heritage, or  Subterfuge Supplies
background. And also mark xp if you struggled with issues from your  Tinkering Tools
vice or traumas during the session.  _________________

teamwork planning & load Choose a plan, provide the detail. Choose your load.
 Assault plan: Point of attack.  Occult plan: Arcane power.
Lead a group action.
 Deception plan: Method.  Social plan: Social connection.
Set up another character.  Infiltration plan: Entry point.  Transport plan: Locations / Route.
gather information
Face danger for a teammate.  What do they intend to do?  How can I find X?
 What might I suspect about this?  What's really going on here?
Assist another character.  What's the danger here?  Ask about a detail for a plan.
standard items cutter items lurk items
A Blade or Two: Perhaps you carry a pair of large fighting
  Fine hand weapon: A finely crafted one-handed melee
  Fine lockpicks: A finely crafted set of lockpicks.
 
knives. Or two curved swords. Or a rapier and stiletto. Or A weapon of your choice. Fine shadow cloak: A hooded cloak made of rare Iruvian
 
heavy butcher's cleaver. Up to you. Fine large weapon: A finely crafted two-handed melee
  shadow-silk that blends into the darkness around it.
Throwing Knives: Six light blades, suitable for throwing.
  weapon of your choice. Light climbing gear: A well-crafted set of climbing gear
 
A Pistol & Shot: A heavy, single-shot pistol, devastating at
  Manacles and chain: A set of heavy manacles and chain,
  which is less bulky and heavy than a standard set.
20 paces, slow to reload. A small pouch of powder and shot. suitable for restraining a prisoner. Silence potion vial: A vial of golden liquid that negates all
 
A Large Weapon: A weapon meant for two hands. A Rage Essence Vial: A single dose of Rage Essence, which
  sound within 10 paces of the drinker for a span of several minutes.
 
weapon of war, like a battle-axe, greatsword, warhammer, or greatly enhances the user's strength, resistance to pain, and Dark-sight goggles: A mechanist device that allows the
 
pole-arm. A lightning hook. A hunting rifle. A blunderbuss. irrational aggression for the span of several minutes. wearer to see in pitch darkness as if it were day.
A bow or crossbow. Demolition tools: A sledgehammer and iron spikes.
 
An Unusual Weapon: A curiosity of the blacksmith's art
 
or a tool turned into a weapon. A whip, a flail, a hatchet, a
Heavy drill. Crowbar.
slide items
shovel, a length of chain, a razor-edged fan, steel-toed boots.
  Armor: A thick leather tunic with a high collar, reinforced
gloves and boots.   +Heavy: The addition of chain mail
hound items Fine clothes and jewelry: An outfit of such fine make as
 
to pass as a wealthy noble.
Fine disguise kit: A theatrical make-up kit equipped with
 
Fine pair of pistols: A pair of finely crafted pistols, made
 
or metal plates, a metal helm. for greater accuracy and speed of reloading. an impressive array of expert appliances to fool the eye.
Burglary Tools: A set of lockpicks. A small pry-bar. Vials
  Fine long rifle: A finely crafted hunting rifle, deadly
  Fine loaded dice, trick cards: Gambling accoutrements
 
of oil to silence squeaky hinges. A coil of wire and fishing at long range. subtly altered to favor particular outcomes.
hooks. A small pouch of fine sand. Trance powder: A dose of the popular drug, which induces
 
Electroplasmic ammunition: A bandolier of
 
Climbing Gear: A large coil of rope. A small coil of rope.
  electroplasmicly charged shot, suitable for harming spirits a dreamlike state.
Grappling hooks. A small pouch of chalk dust. A climbing and demons. A cane-sword: A slim sword and its sheath, disguised as
 
harness with loops and metal rings. A set of iron pitons and a noble's cane.
A fine trained hunting pet: An animal companion that
 
a small mallet.
obeys your commands and anticipates your actions, of a
Documents: A small collection of slim volumes on a
 
variety of topics, including a registry of the nobility, city watch
commanders, and other notable citizens. Blank pages, a vial
species of your choice.
Spyglass: A sturdy, collapsible version.
 
whisper items
Fine lightning-hook: A long, two-handed pole with a loop
 
of ink, a pen. A number of interesting maps.
leech items
of heavy wire at the end, connected to an electroplasmic capacitor.
Arcane Implements: A vial of quicksilver. A pouch of
  Suitable for grappling a spirit and dragging it into a spirit bottle.
black salt. A spirit anchor in the form of a small, heavy stone. Fine spirit mask: An arcane item which allows the trained
 
A spirit bottle. A vial of electroplasm, designed to break and Fine tinkering tools: A finely crafted set of tools for
 
detailed mechanist work. A jeweler's loup. Measuring devices. user to see supernatural energies in great detail. Also affords
splatter on impact. some measure of protection against ghostly possession.
Subterfuge supplies: A theatrical make-up kit. A selection of
  Fine wrecker tools: A finely crafted set of tools for sabotage
 
and destruction. A small, powerful drill. A mallet and steel Spirit bottles (2): An arcane device used to trap a spirit.
 
blank documents, ready for the forger's hand. Costume jewelry. A metal and crystalline cylinder, the size of a loaf of bread.
A reversible cloak and distinctive hat. A forged badge of office. spikes. A prybar. Electroplasmic battery, clamps, wire. Vials
of acid. Spark-torch cutter and small fuel tank. Ghost key: An arcane device which can open ghost doors.
 
Tinkering Tools: A set of tools for detailed mechanist
 
work. A jeweler's loup. Measuring devices. Blowgun & darts, syringes: A small tube and darts that
  Demonbane charm: An arcane trinket which demons
 
can be filled from alchemy vials. Empty syringes. prefer to avoid.
Spiritbane Charm: A small arcane trinket which ghosts
 
prefer to avoid. Bandolier of alchemy vials: A strap worn across the body,
 
fitted with pouches which can hold up to 4 vials of alchemical
agents.
crew creation
1. Choose Crew Type Creating a Cohort Crew Upgrades
Your crew type represents the nature of A cohort can be a gang or an expert. When you create an expert,  Quality: Each upgrade improves the quality rating of all the crew's assets
your crew, its special abilities, and how record their type—a doctor, investigator, occultist, assassin, etc. of that type—beyond the quality established by the crew's Tier and fine
they advance. In the full game, there are When you create a gang, choose the gang type from the list below: items. So, if you are Tier 0, with fine lockpicks and +1 quality tools upgrade,
several to choose from. In this quick start, your picks could contend equally with the lock on a Tier 2 faction's door. By
Adepts: Scholars, tinkerers, occultists, and chemists.
you're Thieves. upgrading your assets, you can better compete with higher-Tier opponents.
Killers: Assassins and murderers.
2. Choose a Special Ability Carriage House: You have a carriage, horses, and a house/stables.
Rooks: Con artists, spies, and socialites.
Choose 1 starting special ability for the Boat house: You have a small boat, a dock on a waterway, and a small
crew. Rovers: Sailors, carriage drivers, and death-lands scavengers. house to store boating supplies.
Shadows: Scouts, infiltrators, and sneak-thieves. Investments: +1 stash per PC, per score.
3. Choose Reputation
Ambitious, brutal, daring, honorable, Thugs: Toughs, brawlers, and roustabouts.
Hidden Lair: Your lair has a secret location and is disguised to hide
professional, savvy, subtle, or strange. You (You can add an additional type to a cohort by unlocking a cohort it from view.
earn crew XP when you bolster your advance. When a cohort performs actions for which its types Prowess, Resolve, or Insight Training: If you have the
crew's reputation. apply, it uses its full quality rating. Otherwise, its quality is zero.) appropriate training upgrade, you can choose to train that attribute
4. Assign Crew Upgrades during downtime.
Choose zero, one, or two edges:
Mark 2 upgrade boxes. If you choose a Quarters: Your lair includes living quarters for the crew.
cohort, create it using the procedure at Fearsome: The cohort is terrifying in aspect and reputation.
Secure Lair: Your lair has locks, alarms, and traps to thwart intruders.
right. Independent: The cohort can be trusted to make good
decisions in the absence of orders and act on their own initiative. Vault: Your lair has a secure vault. You can store up to 8 coin, instead
5. Choose A Favorite Contact of just 4. A separate part of your vault can be used as a holding cell.
Loyal: The cohort can't be bribed or turned against you.
You begin with all of your contacts. Workshop: Your lair has a workshop appointed with tools for
Mark the one who is a close friend, long- Tenacious: The cohort won't rest in pursuit of a task.
tinkering and alchemy, as well as a library of books, documents, and
time ally, or partner in crime. maps. You may accomplish long term projects with these assets without
Choose a number of flaws equal to edges (0 to 2):
6. Crew Name, Lair Details leaving your lair.
 Principled: The cohort has an ethic or values that it won't betray.
Thinking of a name for your crew can be Mastery: Your crew has access to master level training. You may
Savage: The cohort is excessively violent and cruel.
tricky at first. It's okay to start out without advance your PC action ratings to 4. This upgrade costs 2 advances
a name and later acquire one based on Unreliable: The cohort isn't always available. to unlock.
what the crew is like. Describe the Wild: The cohort is drunken, debauched, and loud-mouthed.
location of your lair and what it looks like. Initial Hunting Grounds: The Drop
(You can add an edge or remove a flaw by unlocking a cohort Your crew of thieves begins with a single area in the district that they use as
7. Tier, Hold, Rep & Cash advance.) hunting grounds for burglaries or robberies (choose your preferred type).
You begin at Tier 0, with weak Hold Record the expert's name or the names of notable NPCs in the The local ward boss (Lyssa) has given them permission to operate there.
and 0 Rep. You start with 2 coin. gang. The area is small, consisting of three blocks along Ash Way, between Rye
8. Assign Faction Status Ticks Your cohort begins with a Quality of 1. (You can increase its street and Cinder street—referred to as "The Drop" due to its precipitous
Each player assigns a positive tick and quality by 1 by unlocking a cohort advance.) terrain and ramshackle scaffolds and elevated walkways. It starts with a
a negative tick with any Tier 1 or Tier 2 Quality of 1.
faction (to represent past interactions). When you send a gang to achieve a goal, roll their Quality to see
The GM can make a fortune roll using the quality of the hunting ground
Then, as a group, assign one positive and how it goes. Or, a PC can oversee the gang operation by leading
to determine if there are currently any passing opportunities for thievery
one negative tick at Tier 3. Say why you a group action (the PC rolls Command, the gang rolls Quality).
and how lucrative they may be.
have good or bad status with these factions. The quality of any opposition relative to the gang's quality affects
the position and effect of the action.
thieves
cohort quality 

type(s)
BROKEN 
IMPAIRED 
edge
special abilities WEAK 
ARMOR 
name reputation Everyone Steals: Each PC may raise one action rating from
 flaw

lair zero to 1, from the following options: Prowl, Finesse, or Tinker. name(s)
heat wanted level Pack Rats: Your lair is a jumble of stolen items. When you roll
 cohort quality 
coin   
  
 |  
  

to acquire an asset, take +1d.
claims
type(s)
safe houses Slippery: When you roll entanglements, roll two dice and keep
 BROKEN 
informants luxury fence gambling den IMPAIRED 
turf Hidden staging the one you want. When you reduce heat on the crew, take +1d. edge
+1 quality to +1 coin for burglary +1 coin per
areas throughout
WEAK 
hunting grounds. scores. downtime. Synchronized: When you perform a group action, you may ARMOR 
your turf.  flaw
count multiple 6s from different rolls as a critical success.
name(s)
lookouts Shadows: All of your cohorts add the Shadows type for free.
 cohort quality 
turf turf LAIR turf +1d to spot or
evade trouble on Second Story: When you execute an infiltration or burglary,

your turf. you get +1d to the engagement roll. type(s)
BROKEN 
IMPAIRED 
Hardcases: When you execute a robbery or shakedown, you
 edge
WEAK 
watch get +1d to the engagement roll. 
city records street fence drug den ambush points ARMOR
reports flaw

+1d engagement
+1 effect to gather +1 coin for robbery +1 coin per +1d engagement Ghost Echoes: From weird experience or occult ritual, all crew

info on targets. scores downtime. roll for robbery. members gain the ability to see and interact with the ghostly name(s)
roll for burglary.
objects, structures, and passages that exist across Duskwall. cohort quality 

turf hold weak firm strong tier   


  
 crew advancement
type(s)
rep BROKEN 
 Execute a profitable burglary, robbery, or other theft. IMPAIRED 
edge
 Improve the quality or variety of your hunting grounds. WEAK 
 Bolster your crew's reputation or develop a new one. flaw
ARMOR 
 Contend with challenges above your current station. name(s)
contacts crew upgrades
Dowler, an explorer
  Fine Building Plans
  lair quality
Laroze, a bluecoat Fine Rooftop Routes  Carriage Documents
  
   
 Boat Gear
  
Amancio, a broker
  Elite Shadows (+1 Quality)
   Hidden Implements
  
Fitz, a collector
  Prison Escape Methods
   Quarters Lair
  
 Secure Supplies
  
Adelaide Phroaig, a noble
  Underground maps & passkeys
 
 Vault Tools
  
Rigney, a tavern owner
  Thief Rigging (-1 load weight)
   Workshop Weapons
  
hunting grounds (description / type) quality cohorts training
Add a Cohort:  Prowess

      Resolve
 Advances:  Insight
   Mastery
   Investments
factions of duskwall
criminal underworld city institutions labor & trade faith & weirdness
   The Unseen    iv s    Duskwall Council    v s    Ministry of Transport    v s    Ecstasy of the Flesh    iv s

   The Silver Nails    iii s    Ironhook Prison    v s    Leviathan Hunters    iv s    The Horde    iii s

   Lord Scurlock    iii s    Spirit Wardens    iii s    Ministry of Provisions    iv s    The Weeping Lady    iii f

   The Hive    iii s    Bluecoats    iii s    Merchant Guild    iv s    The Reconciled    iii f

   The Circle of Flame    iii f    Skovlan Consulate    iii s    Sailors    iii s    The Path of Echoes    iii f

   The Crows    ii w    Inspectors    ii s    Seaside Dockers    iii f    The Forgotten Gods    ii w

   The Lampblacks    ii w    Ink Rakes    ii f    Canal Dockers    ii s    Deathlands Scavengers    ii w

   The Red Sashes    ii w    Sparkwrights    ii f    Gondoliers    iii f      


   The Dimmer Sisters    ii s    Imperial Guard    i s    Cabbies    ii s      
   Ulf Ironborn    i f    Iruvian Consulate    i f    Rail Jacks    ii f      
   The Fog Hounds    i f    Severosi Consulate    i w            
   The Eels    i w    Dagger Isles Consulate    i w            
   The Lost    i w            
                  others
                     Skovlander Refugees    iv w

                       
                       
                       
                       
                       
                       
factions of duskwall
Bluecoats: The street patrol of the City Watch. Known as Lampblacks: The former lamp-lighter guild, turned to crime
the meanest gang in Duskwall. Corrupt, violent, and cruel. when their services were replaced by electric lights.
other factions
Cabbies: The coach operators of the city. An impressive gossip Leviathan Hunters: The daring captains and crews that
network. grapple with titanic demons on the Never Sea to drain their
Church of the Ecstasy of the Flesh: The "state blood for processing into electro-plasm.
religion", if there is such a thing. They honor the sensual life Lord Scurlock: An ancient noble, said to be immortal, like
of the body and abhor the corrupted spirit world. Structured the Emperor. Possibly a vampire.
as a mystery cult. Lost: A group of toughs, bravos, and ex-soldiers dedicated to
Circle of Flame: A refined secret society of antiquarians protecting the downtrodden and the hopeless.
and scholars; cover for extortion, graft, vice, and murder. Path of Echoes: A popular mystery cult which borders on
Crows: An old gang with new leadership. Known for running open rebellion against spirit laws. They revere the ancients, and
illegal games of chance and extortion rackets. seek to gain knowledge from the past -- including consorting
Deathlands Scavengers: Convicts from Ironhook given with ghosts.
the choice of execution or work as scavengers outside the Rail Jacks: The men and women who protect the electro-
lightning barrier. The shortest of life spans. trains of the imperium from the savage spirits of the Deathlands.
Dimmer Sisters: House-bound recluses with an occult A job for the desperate. Have recently been making noises about
reputation. forming a union.

Dockers: The hard-bitten laborers who work the docks. Reconciled: An association of spirits who have not gone
feral with the passage of years.
Duskwall Council: The rulers of the city government, lead
by the Lord Governor. Red Sashes: Originally an Iruvian school of swordsmanship,
expanded into criminal endeavors.
Eels: A new crew of scoundrels, getting into the spirit trade.
Sailors: The captains and crews for merchant and Imperial
Fog Hounds: A gang of smugglers looking for a patron. Navy ships. Leviathan Hunter captains are the most powerful
Forgotten Gods: A jumble of cults and mysteries which and wealthy.
attempt to follow the old ways from before the cataclysm, doing Silver Nails: A company of Severosi mercenaries turned to
the bidding of demons and darker things. crime when the war for Skovlan Unity ended.
Gondoliers: The guild of canal boat operators. Venerated Skovlander Refugees: Hopeless refugees from the Unity
by ancient tradition. Said to know occult secrets (many things War, turned to criminal opportunities when denied all others.
are submerged in Duskwall.)
Spirit Wardens: The bronze-masked hunters who capture
Hive: A guild of legitimate merchants who secretly trade in and destroy rogues spirits. Also run Bellweather Crematorium.
contraband. Named for their symbol, a golden bee. Membership is secret.
Horde: A mass of hollows, all united in some fell purpose, Ulf Ironborn: A brutal Skovlander, newly arrived in
controlled by an unknown power. Duskwall and fighting everyone for turf.
Inspectors: The investigators of the City Watch. They have Unseen: An insidious criminal enterprise with secret
a reputation for ethics and integrity (no one likes them). They membership.
present evidence for prosecutions to the city magistrates.
Weeping Lady: A charity and pseudo-religion, honoring
Ironhook Prison: Where many scoundrels spend the bulk the first Lord Governor of Duskwall, said to be a champion
of their lives. Several criminal operations are run by convicts of the poor.
inside its walls.
starting the game
starting the game
Explain the Situation
Read or summarize the info on page 4.
The Next Scenes
Play the NPCs. Mylera, Bazso, and Lyssa all have thiefy things Score I
that need doing, so they'll offer the PCs jobs (until the PCs make One of the gang leaders (Bazso Baz or
Make Characters and the Crew an enemy of them, of course). Use the scores tables on page 43 Mylera) offers you a score: Burgle the war
Follow the procedures on page 30 and page 38. Ask some of for ideas. Also, each faction is vulnerable to thievery in some way. treasury of their rival.
these questions while they do it: How can the players use their crew's strengths to profit from this
situation? Ask them how they want to gather information, which Where is it? Maybe it's a secret.
Have you ever been locked up? For what crime? What's the plan? Provide the detail.
leads to a plan (or vice versa).
Why did you become a scoundrel? Engagement roll. Cut to the action.
Don't waste time waffling around. Give them straightforward
How did you join this crew? Did another member vouch for you? avenues to pursue at first. "Do you want to rob the Crow's card
Were you a founding member? game on Bell street? It's probably not defended much right now."
What's your vice? What is it, specifically? (what kind of drug,
etc.) Why does that thing consume you?
There are three sample starting scores, at right. Offer those, ask them Score II
which they want to pursue. Ask them to pick a plan and provide
When was the last time you used your blade? Why? the detail, then ask who's on point, and get to it. One of the gang leaders (Bazso Baz or
Who do you trust the most on the crew? Who do you trust the Mylera) offers you a score: Plant this strange
artifact somewhere in their rival's HQ.
least? What's that about? Or will we find out in play? The Campaign
Has [faction] ever tried to recruit you ? What happened? You, This quick start isn't really meant for a campaign, but, you can easily What does it do? It's covered in weird
uh, don't secretly work for them, do you? play out the consequences of the starting situation over several runes and makes your head go swimmy
sessions. Who ends up running the ward? Do the PCs use the when you hold it in your hand. Want to
bother to find out what it is?
The First Scene situation to rise up in the faction ranks? Do they manage to play for
all three sides, or do they have to take a stand? Plenty of material What's the plan? Provide the detail.
After they make characters and the crew, tell them this: to work with there. Engagement roll. Cut to the action.
You're in the cramped office of the Lampblack's leader, Bazso Keep some index cards on the table with pressing questions written
Baz, overlooking the coal warehouse floor below. Several of his on them. Sandboxy campaigns can get complicated—a few guiding
bravos hang about, sizing you up. Bazso wants your answer. Are questions can help keep the action focused.
you with them, or against them? What do you say? Will you
side with the Lampblacks? Will you just pretend to? (Good luck, Will Lyssa seize control of the criminal world of Crow's Foot? Score III
Bazso is very sharp). Will you tell him to fuck off? What ever became of Roric's ghost? Lyssa is vulnerable. She needs assistance if
she's gonna seize control of the ward.
Are you actually here to kill him for the Red Sashes? (If so, do a How will the feud between the Lampblacks and the Red Sashes
flashback and pick a plan for the assassination.) come to an end? Steal some loot and bring it to her to help
her pay for bribes and thugs to seize the
Play Bazso. React to their answer how he'd react. If they're with It's natural for question cards to eventually collect a clock or two, ward. Profit and status both, for you.
him, he has the perfect assignment for thiefy types like them: go tracking the status of some developing circumstances.
steal the Red Sashes war treasury from their vault. Without their What's the plan? Provide the detail.
backup funds, the Red Sashes won't be able to afford a war. Engagement roll. Cut to the action.
If the PCs are against him, he says he's very sorry to hear that. They
better get off his turf and stay out of the war, or they're all dead. He
threatens them with an easy confidence. What are they gonna do?

42
scores 11 Cutter
CONNECTED TO...
Marlane, a pugilist or Chael, a vicious thug.

CLIENT / TARGET WORK TWIST OR COMPLICATION 12 Cutter Mercy, a cold killer or Grace, an extortionist.

civilian skullduggery An element is a cover for heretic spirit cult 13 Cutter Stras, a clever blade or a family member.
1
practices. 14 Cutter Vice purveyor.
1 Academic or Scholar 1 Stalking or Surveillance
An occultist has foreseen this job and warned
2 Laborer or Tradesman 2 Sabotage or Arson 2 15 Cutter Weapons dealer.
the parties involved
3 Courier or Sailor 3 Lift or Plant Rogue spirits possess some/most/all of the 16 Hound Steiner, an assassin or Celene, a sentinel.
3
4 Merchant or Shopkeeper people involved 21 Hound Melvir, a physicker or Veleris, a spy.
4 Poison or Arrange Accident
5 Artist or Writer 5 Burglary or Heist 4 Rogue spirits haunt the location 22 Hound Casta, a bounty hunter or a family member.
6 Doctor or Alchemist 6 23 Hound Vice purveyor.
5 The job furthers a demon’s secret agenda
criminal violence 24 Hound Weapons dealer.
1 Drug Dealer or Supplier 1 Assassinate 6 The job furthers a vampire’s secret agenda 25 Leech Stazia, an apothecary or Veldren, a psychonaut.
2 Mercenary or Thug 2 Disappear or Ransom 26 Leech Eckerd, a corpse thief or Jul, a blood dealer.
3 Fence or Gambler 1 An element is a front for a criminal enterprise 31 Leech Malista, a priestess or a family member.
3 Terrorize or Extort
4 Spy or Informant 4 Destroy or Deface 32 Leech Vice purveyor.
2
5 Smuggler or Thief 5 Raid or Defend 33 Leech Chemical dealer.
6 Crime Boss 3 The job is a trap laid by your enemies 34 Lurk Telda, a beggar or Darmot, a bluecoat.
6 Rob or Strong-arm
political underworld 35 Lurk Frake, a locksmith or Roslyn Kellis, a noble.
4 The job is a test for another job
1 Noble or Official 1 Escort or Security 36 Lurk Petra, a city clerk or a family member.
The job furthers a merchant lord’s secret
2 Banker or Captain 2 Smuggle or Courier 5 41 Lurk Vice purveyor.
agenda.
3 Revolutionary or Refugee 3 Blackmail or Discredit 42 Lurk Thieves tools dealer.
6 The job furthers a crime boss’s secret agenda.
4 Clergy or Cultist 4 Con or Espionage 43 Slide Bryl, a drug dealer or Bazso Baz, a gang leader.
5 Constable or Inspector 5 Locate or Hide 1 Job requires travel by electro-rail 44 Slide Klyra, a tavern owner or Nyryx, a prostitute.
6 Magistrate or Ward Boss 6 45 Slide Harker, a jail-bird or a family member.
2 Must visit the death-lands to do the job
strange unnatural 46 Slide Vice purveyor.
1 Ghost of (roll again) 1 Curse or Sanctify 3 Job requires sea travel 51 Slide Food & Entertainment provider / host.
2 Occult Collector 2 Banish or Summon 52 Whisper Nyryx, a possessor ghost or Scurlock, a vampire.
4 53 Whisper Setarra, a demon or Quellyn, a witch.
3 Vampire or Other Undead 3 Extract Essence
4 Demon (disguised) 4 Place or Remove Runes The job furthers a revolutionary’s secret 54 Whisper Flint, a spirit trafficker or family member.
5
agenda.
5 Possessed or Hollow 5 Perform / Stop Ritual 55 Whisper Vice purveyor.
6 Whisper or Cultist 6 The job furthers a city official’s secret agenda 56 Whisper Arcane implements dealer.
6
6* Crew Crew Contact
score locations & claims
proprietor faction in control location
civilian 11 Bluecoats 41 Leviathan Hunters mood type
1 Academic or Scholar 12 Bluecoats 42 Leviathan Hunters 1 Haunted or Cursed 1 Ship or Dockside
2 Laborer or Tradesman 13 Weeping Lady 43 Lord Scurlock 2 Abandoned or Decrepit 2 Canals or Grotto
3 Courier or Sailor 14 Cabbies 44 Lord Scurlock 3 Busy or Crowded 3 Town House or Apartment
4 Merchant or Shopkeeper Church of Ecstasy of 4 Lavish or Refined 4 Tavern or Restaurant
15 45 Path of Echoes
the Flesh
5 Artist or Writer 5 Dank or Dismal 5 Shop or Marketplace
16 Circle of Flame 46 Path of Echoes
6 Doctor or Alchemist 6 Serene or Silent 6 Tower or Keep
21 Circle of Flame 51 Reconciled
criminal district type
22 Dimmer Sisters 52 Sailors
1 Drug Dealer or Supplier 1 Whitecrown or Brightstone 1 Manor or Villa
23 Dockers 53 Silver Nails
2 Mercenary or Thug 2 Six Towers or Charterhall 2 Sewer or Slaughterhouse
24 Duskwall Council 54 Spirit Wardens
3 Fence or Gambler 3 Mightmarket or Silkshore 3 Workshop or Factory
25 Duskwall Council 55 Ulf Ironborn
4 Spy or Informant 4 Coalridge or The Docks 4 Barracks or Bunkhouse
26 Duskwall Council 56 Ulf Ironborn
5 Smuggler or Thief 5 Crow’s Foot or Dunslough 5 Rail Station
31 Forgotten Gods 61 Red Sashes
6 Crime Boss 6 Barrowcleft or Charhollow 6 Library or School
32 Gondoliers 62 Lampblacks
political
33 Hive 63 Crows
1 Noble or Official
34 Hive 64 Unseen
2 Banker or Captain
35 Hive 65 Unseen
3 Revolutionary or Refugee
36 Inspectors 66 Unseen
4 Clergy or Cultist
5 Constable or Inspector
6 Magistrate or Ward Boss
strange
1 Ghost of (roll again)
2 Occult Collector
3 Vampire or Other Undead
4 Demon (disguised)
5 Possessed or Hollow
6 Whisper or Cultist
purveyors of vice
drink & drugs (stupor, pleasure) weird
Mardin Gull, The Leaky Bucket, Crow's Foot. The hooded proprietor of a half-flooded grotto tavern
Pux Bolin, the Harping Monkey, Nightmarket. near the docks. Strange passageways lead to stranger
Helene, Silver Stag casino, Silkshore. chambers beyond.
Harvale Brogan, The Centuralia, Six Towers. Father Yorren: a member of a heretical branch of
Freyla, The Emperor’s Cask, Whitecrown. the Cult of the Weeping Lady, he helps move certain
Avrick, powder dealer, Barrowcleft. artifacts and forbidden mystic supplies around by
Rolan Volaris, The Veil, Nightmarket. using the seal of the Cult. Sells from the Weeping Lady
Madame Tesslyn, The Red Lamp, Silkshore. charitable house in Six Towers.
Traven’s smoke shop, Coalridge. Salia: One of the Reconciled, this ghost meets with
Eldrin Prichard, The Silver Swan pleasure barge, Brightstone canals. clients often in different bodies. Recognizing her is
part of the test in getting what you need (Charhollow)
faith Sister Thorn: The leader of a gang of Deathlands
Mother Narya of the Weeping Lady. scavengers, known for bringing lost mystic pieces, and
Ilacille, the ruins of the Temple to Forgotten Gods, Coalridge. the most quality essences from made cannibal ghosts
Nelisanne, Church of the Ecstasy of the Flesh, Silkshore. from outside the city. Usually wears her Rail Jack suit
Lord Penderyn, The Palace of Echoes, Brightstone. and gas-mask at all times. Met near the Train station in
Dunslough.
gambling Ojak: This shadow-skinned Tycherosi organizes the
Spogg’s dice game, Dunslough.
Rooftop Market (Silkshore) once a thirty-day where all
Grist, boxing, the Docks.
manner of folks can cater to weird and unusual vices.
Helene, Silver Stag casino, Silkshore.
Only select clientele are invited.
Master Vreen, hound racing, Nightmarket.
Aranna the Blessed: A member of an underground
Lady Devera, The Dusk Manor Club, Whitecrown.
cult, Aranna is a servant of a Forgotten God. She has
lovers powerful resources through the members of her cult
Jewel, Bird, and Shine, Catcrawl alley, the Docks. in both this city and beyond (A barge often moored in
Madame Tesslyn, The Red Lamp, Silkshore. Nightmarket).
Rolan Volaris, The Veil, Nightmarket. (Weird purveyors by Stras Acimovic)
Eldrin Prichard, The Silver Swan pleasure barge,
Brightstone canals.

luxuries, pleasures
Singer, bath house, Crow’s Foot.
Traven’s smoke shop, Coalridge.
Dunridge & Sons fine fabrics and tailoring, Nightmarket.
Chef Roselle, The Golden Plum, Six Towers.
Maestro Helleren, Spiregarden theater, Whitecrown.

obligation
Family members (heritage) or former co-workers (background)
Mother Narya of the Weeping Lady (a charity).
Hutton, Skovlander Refugees/Revolutionaries, Charhollow.
The Silver Nails, a mercenary company.
The Circle of Flame, a secret society.
45
the unquiet
the unquiet dead dead
“They say anything can be sold on the streets
of Duskwall. But have you ever tried to unload
Spectrology
It’s said that the cataclysm which shattered the earth, banished the
a cursed spirit bottle? Yeah, all of sudden the sun, and turned the seas to black ink was caused by a sorcerer who
market dries up.” consorted with demons and tore down the Gates of Death. But who
—Flint believes such ancient tales? Whatever the truth of it, one thing is
certain: once a body dies, its spirit does not disperse as they once
details did long ago. It becomes a ghost: a spectral entity composed of
A spirit rises from its corpse three days electroplasmic vapors.
after death, unless the body is dissolved in It takes roughly three days for a ghost to become free of the corpse.
electroplasm before then. It is then free to wander the world, consumed by darker and darker
Bellweather Crematorium (operated by the urges until it goes entirely mad and monstrous. If the corpse is
bronze-masked Spirit Wardens) handles most dissolved in electroplasm before then, the spirit, too, is destroyed.
of the corpse disposal in Duskwall. But some
But there are other ways for body and spirit to relate...
rogue spirits still haunt the city.
 Soul. A living body with its own spirit. The normal state of affairs.
Ghosts are not the only undead. A variety of
strange beings stalk the darkest shadows. Possessed. A living body containing two (or more) spirits.
 Hollow. A living body without a spirit. Usually dim-witted and
death & ghost characters easily controlled.
The full game will include rules and a playbook  Hull. A clockwork body animated by a bound spirit.
for playing ghost characters. Undead. A dead body animated and sustained by a spirit.
Sometimes called a “vampire”—though only some crave hot
blood.
Ghost. A spirit without a body. Craves life essence and
vengeance on its earthly enemies. Can coalesce into semi-solid
electroplasmic vapor or diffuse into a fine haze.
Spirit-Well: A rift in reality where ghosts and other
supernatural beings congregate to draw energy. In ancient myth,
a spawning ground for demons.
Electroplasm: The energetic residue distilled from spirits
and leviathan blood.
Whisper: A person sensitive to spirits. May be able to summon
and communicate with ghosts.
The Spirit Bells
[A set of arcane bells at Bellweather Crematorium that ring when
someone dies in the city. A deathseeker crow leaves the belfry and
flies to the district where the dead may be found, circling ever closer
to the corpse every minute.]

46
strange forces Ancient Magic, Modern Science: Gothic
Storytelling in Duskwall
By Andrew Shields
When improvising, it helps to have a few key themes to fall back on so you have a
Demons into existence according to the elemental affinity and
consistent flavor for your setting. For Blades in the Dark, one of those key themes is
Demons are the first beings, brought into existence at power level of the demon (the Whisper's Tempest ability electroplasm. Duskwall runs on electroplasm. It is the distilled essence of the ghost
the origin of reality, as the primal forces of the universe is a lesser form of this power). field, rendered from demon blood. You can connect it to technological industry, with
coalesced into the elements of nature. Each demon strain Strange Travel new lightning wall technology, electric lights, and gadgets. You can also connect it
to the supernatural, with ghosts, other undead, leviathans, Whispers, and ancient
is thus connected to an element. There are demons of the A demon may teleport from one site of their elemental
runic magic. Electroplasm fuels the technology and energizes the supernatural.
earth, demons of flame and smoke, demons of the sea, affinity to another. For example, a sea demon could
demons of the sky and stars, etc. If you are hard pressed and need to think up something valuable to reference, steal,
teleport from the water in a fountain in a city square to a or wreck, how does it relate to electroplasm? If you need to think of a cool site for
Demons are immortal, corporeal creatures. Most appear canal under a manor house across town. The greater the something to go down, keep that electroplasmic lens in mind to give it unique
as bestial humanoids with physical features related to their distance, the more powerful the demon must be. A demon touches. Maybe you need a quick obstacle; maybe it relates to electroplasm.
element. A sea demon is covered in dark scales and has black may bring others with them when they travel. You don't want the scoundrels to run across electroplasm walls as an obstacle over
shark eyes. An earth demon has flesh of stone with molten and over. But there could be a restless spirit that manifests and is intensely territorial.
Remote Viewing Or maybe a team of Spirit Wardens picked tonight of all nights to do an alley sweep
fires burning within. And so on. Most demons can assume
A demon may use their elemental affinity to achieve to wipe out the residuals. Or maybe there is a Whisper with an independent agenda
the form of their corresponding element and some few
clairvoyance. For example, a fire demon could gaze into in your way, communing with the spirits, and you're reluctant to interrupt. Maybe
can disguise themselves with a convincing human illusion. when you were casing the location an illegal leviathan blood vendor spotted you
a fireplace and see out of the cook-stove at the Bluecoat
The exceptions are the massive Leviathans. No one knows tower down the lane. The greater the distance, the more and thinks you're spying for the bluecoats, and sends thugs after you.
the true shape of these horrors which dwarf the largest powerful the demon must be. Need a rich NPC? Maybe they own a leviathan hunting fleet of four ships. Maybe
iron ships. Only parts may be glimpsed when they crest the they made their fortune from whispers prodding ghosts for blackmail material.
surface of the ink-dark sea, drawn by electroplasmic lures. Whispers Maybe they manufacture the restricted electroplasmic barrier technology. Maybe
they curate a museum of art made by ghosts.
Unlike humans, demons are not animated by a spirit in the [...] Both those sets of improvisations were based on thinking on how it traces back
ghost field. Their blood contains the electroplasmic essence to electroplasm, but also thinking of the breadth of how that could apply.
that gives them immortal life.
Ritual Questions
Finally, the power of Gothic storytelling (for me) comes in the uneasy clash
What is the effect you want to achieve and how do
Before the events that caused the cataclysm, it's said that of a rational, intellectual, scientific worldview, and a superstitious, emotional,
you make it weird? I want to search the scene for traces magical worldview. Electroplasm has that built in, as people were coping with it
the Immortal Emperor bound most of the demons and of those who attacked. I do this by seeing the ghosts of before industrialization harnessed it properly as a mass-produced energy type. As
imprisoned them in the dark, hidden places of the world. the actions they left behind. they lost sight of its identity as anything but a resource, they lose the respect the
Only a few escaped this subjugation, and scholars believe superstitious showed. If you feel you are at risk of getting stale in improvisation,
that it was these few that broke the Gates of Death in   What is the weird ritual you perform? I pull out my
jump back and forth across the Gothic line.
their rebellion and freed the greatest of their kind—the pipe and drop in a ball of the good stuff. You know, black
lotus laced with crematory ash. They go to meet a contact, you want to make him interesting. Maybe he's proud
Leviathans—to shatter the world. of his electrified walking stick, and he lights his cigarettes with it. Or, to jump to
Why does that work? That’s easy. You want to see the other side, maybe he's got runes on his hat-band so he can trap a ghost there
Demonic Powers beyond the veil, you gotta take a little trip there yourself. if he gets in a pinch. Either way, your contact just got more interesting, and also
Every demon has some supernatural abilities in common. is a flavor fit for Duskwall.
What is the price and to whom do you pay it? Well the
Hideous Strength & Speed door swings both ways right? You borrow some death. You need a heist location. On one side of the Gothic line, it's an abandoned
distillery for leviathan oil. The Spirit Wardens were underpaid and sloppy in
Demons possess titanic strength, able to rend steel with They borrow some life.
clearing it out, and all the dead in a half mile congregate here, corporeal or
their bare hands, shatter stone, etc. They are also extremely How did you learn this technique? I bought some shit otherwise. But the office still has the safe...
swift, sometimes moving faster than the eye can follow. off this guy once and it turns out he gave me some of On the other side of the Gothic line, three ragged basements connect to the
Arcane Speech his personal stash by mistake. Now I’m a regular buyer. cellars of a wealthy aristocrat. One of them houses a squatter who has covered
all surfaces with chalk runes, trapped by a paranoia that there is a specific ghost
Demons speak the ancient tongue of sorcery, which every
out to get her. Maybe tonight there is.
human ear can discern. They may also speak arcane effects

47
duskwall
overheard in crow's foot rumors on the street
1
Someone is trying to organize a union
OR
Weekly, or whenever you need one
The ministry of transport is taking control of
"Lyssa did it with her own hands, they say. Eye "He threatened you? What, with a blade?" for Canal Dockers. the gondoliers.
to eye, cold as can be." "Oh, no, warden sir, nothin' plain like that, or I The Path of Echoes will buy inhabited A leviathan hunter ship returned to port, no
2 OR
"If she stuck her own boss she's a dirty scuttler," wouldn't have summoned yeh. He, well... it was spirit bottles, no questions asked. crew living, carrying a demon.
(spits)"... but not one I'll cross any time soon." awful strange. He spoke in my Rickard's voice, sir." There’s a Bluecoat constable that takes A corrupt magistrate is seeking secret passage
"He threatened you with a stage trick?" 3 OR
bribes to frame targets for crimes. out of the city ahead of charges.
"I heard that new Inspector used to be a captain "Not a trick sir! Rickard's own voice! Such awful The streetwalkers and pleasure houses The Church of the Ecstacy of the Flesh is
things he said, too." 4 OR
in the Imperial Cavalry..." are infiltrated by rogue spirits. seeking a new Apex.
"I guess snoopin' crooks in Duskwall beats riding (sigh) "Hardly a crime, madame."
The new drug, Lure, is made from leviathan The Spirit Wardens are stockpiling
down devils in the deathlands, eh?" "But Rickard's dead these seven years, sir! Never 5 OR
blood and turns people into demons. electroplasm, expecting a shortage soon.
made it over from Skovlan. How could this
Lampblack scuttler have his voice?" All the well-to-dos are buying Turner's The vault at Charterhall Bank was ransacked,
"Red milk, I call it. Y'take scarlet toad venom, 6 OR
new locks—said to be impossible to crack. but they're covering it up.
distill it pure—a method whispered to me
by a demon, hahaha!—cut it with a vesch of "That bum. Roethe. That... thing is twisted. I was
fractionated spirit essence, the best memories of walking late the other night and can swear I saw city events in the newspapers Weekly, or whenever you need one
former life— dam't hard to get—but if y'got some, him surrounded by a damn horde of dregs like 1 2 3 4 5 6
even a dram..." him. And they were pleading allegiance like he
"Yes, yes... as I said, Lord Scurlock has..." was the dammed king of the alleys. It was the 1 Plague Festival Raids Revolution Accident Disaster
"Highest high silver can buy—lord, lad, or lady." mockery of a court, with throne and everything.
He... it's gathering an army, I tell you." 2 Refugees Strike Prohibition Construction Siege Charity

"Ya see, there are two types in this world. Me, 3 Demolition Election Scandal Martial Law Conscription Exodus
an' doffing idiots. That's why I bet on Marlane." "Do you know why the Crows dispose of bodies
in the canals after midnight? The spirits of the 4 Shortage Excess Discovery Paranoia Assassination Witch Hunt
drowned live there. Well, 'live', right? They claim
"You punched a guy out of his pants!"
everything that touches the water after the clock 5 Parade Celebrity Holiday Riots Gang War Hysteria
"They were kinda loose, I guess. Boots came off,
strikes twelve. Well, everything except those
too. Then his pregnant wife came at me. What Political Supernatural
gondoliers." 6 Crime Spree Prison Break Diplomacy Cult Gatherings
are you supposed to do about that?" Upheaval Weather
"Yeah, and I suppose you have just the charm to
sell me to keep me safe and sound..."
"There goes another crow. How dreadful!" "What fortune! It just so happens I do..."
"Whassat? Seven inna last half hour? Naw, mate, district events Weekly, or whenever you need one
this is Crow's Foot. Like, where they perch, get it? Strange plasmic fog fills the streets— Spirit wardens set up a watch post and
"Tally's missing from the orphanage. I asked the 1 OR
Night's just getting started." deathseeker crows shun the district. deathseeker crow roost in the old temple ruins.
headmistress if he was taken already, but she
shunned me out! I'm desperate, I can't leave my Bluecoats suspend street patrols, citing Bluecoats set up checkpoints for contraband
2 OR
"... seen her in the mirror." little brother like this!" 'budget cuts'. It's free reign for crime! or whatever they feel like confiscating.
"Like, behind him?" Citizens rally against extortion, bringing Local talent (band, chef, tumblers) becomes
"No, just her reflection, in the mirror." 3 OR
(sung as an out-of-tune sea shanty) in hired bravos from other districts. popular, swelling crowds at market and shops.
"Inky hell."
"... pawned my farm for a 'viathan hunter Canals become choked w/ debris, Canals throughout district are drained for
4 OR
lost me ship to the ink overflowing with foul effluvia. maintenance (or some strange purpose).
"Looks like a regular tattoo to me." paddled back home on a dead god's shell " The ramshackle shanties of The Drop are A raging fire sweeps across Crow's Foot,
"Naaaaw, see how the crab's claw wriggles? Ink's (louder, as if expecting others to join in) 5 OR
marked for demolition. threatening to destroy the district.
laced with demon blood." "I'd sell me soul for a drink!"
"Sure, and I'm the weepin' lady." A group of scoundrels, recently escaped An ancient crypt beneath the district, covered
"Oh, you'll see. Once it sets in..." 6 from Ironhook, go to ground nearby, OR in strange markings, is exposed and attracts
attracting bounty hunters. wailing hollows.
49
the wide world
blackvale
Tycheros

Akoros lockport

[Dark forests, rocky hills. Rich coastal cities and some mining colonies deep inland.]
Skovlan duskwall
Severos
[Windswept grass plains. Outside the Imperial cities, some native Serverosi still live
in tribes, scavenging the death-lands on their ghost-hunting horses.]
arvaedh
Iruvia whitehollow
[Golden deserts. People say that some positions of power are openly held by demons
in Iruvia.] wintercliff

The Dagger Isles


tyrmoor Akoros
[Tropical, jungle. People there live without lightning barriers. How do they manage
that?]

Skovlan ilysia
[Cold, mountainous, wild. The last holdout from Imperial control. The war of Skovlan
Unity ended only a few years ago.] imperial
city
sevrin
Tycheros
[A far off land, disconnected from the Empire. People say the Tycherosi (rudely Severos
called "Strangers") have demon blood. If you play one, tell the group what your
telltale demonic feature is.] cullfield
south
point

a note about the world thorn


The islands have wildly different climates due to magical weirdness from the
cataclysm. The "water" of the Never Sea seems to be composed of opaque black ink, sunfall
but it's possible to see constellations of shimmering stars far below the surface. The irondale
sun is a dim ember, providing only purpleish twilight at dawn and dusk; leaving the bright
harbor
world in darkness otherwise. (eldira)
Don't expect realism here.
Iruvia
The kethrys

Dagger u'duasha
mistport
Isles

alduara