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q u i c k s ta rt k i t

one seven design


About This Quick Start PDF how to use the quick start
This quick start gives you the basics so you can start playing Blades before
the final game is released. By definition, it's missing some pieces, particularly 1. Read this whole document. materials needed
some instructional text and examples as well as the full guide to Duskwall 2. Print all the reference and character sheets (pages 26 through At least 7 six-sided dice.
city which will be in the final game. As such, it's a document that you'll 38). You might want multiple copies of the Action & Effect
Printed character, crew, and
have to interpret and bolster with your own understanding of roleplaying sheet (page 26).
reference sheets.
practices. If you're brand-new to RPGs, maybe ask a more experienced 3. Brief the group on what Blades in the Dark is all about, using
friend to run this for you. Pencils and erasers.
the Overview on the next page.
Index cards and marker.
4. Give a summary of the situation the characters will find
I'm so excited to share the complete game with you in November (plus all Printed Duskwall map and
themselves in for the Quick Start scenario, using the information
the amazing add-ons you unlocked during the project). Until then, I hope on page 4. Crow's Foot map.
you can have fun playing with this incomplete shard.
5. Create the player characters and the crew, using the instructions
If you have questions or want to give feedback, head over to the G+ on page 29 and page 36, respectively.
Community: 6. Follow the guidelines for starting the session on page 25. Ask
the players to choose a score to pursue, or create their own.
https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/112767357581554417629
7. Start the first team operation by asking the group to choose a
The people there are helpful and I'm usually on hand to answer questions, plan type and provide a detail. Ask them who's on point, and
too. jump in to the action.
Please feel free to talk about the game online and share your experiences 8. Now you're into regular play, as discussed in How to Use the
from actual play. However, this PDF is for backers of the Blades in the System (pages 16 through 18).
Dark kickstarter only, so please don't redistribute it. Thanks! 9. When a PC faces an obstacle or danger, they'll make an action
roll to resolve it. Consult page 11.
10. To see if they overcome the whole obstacle or danger (or if
there's more left to do) make an effect roll (page 12). When
Attention Game Hackers they resist the effect of a threat, you also use an effect roll.
If you're excited to use this game as the basis for a hack or your own game 11. Continue with actions and effects (and teamwork moves) until
design, I'm glad to hear it! But be advised: the operation is resolved or abandoned.
12. After a score, the crew will attract heat (p. 28), earn coin
There will eventually be a CC-licensed, SRD kind of thing for Blades. This and hold through development (p. 28), and have some
is not it! So hold your horses on doing any kind of full-on supplements or breathing room (called downtime) in which to recover and
creating actual products or anything. That will come along once the full pursue personal projects (p. 20). The characters and crew
game is launched. I know you're hyped to make stuff. Which is great! But also earn XP for advancement (p. 19).
I'll have a more polished final version for you at launch later this year. In 13. Once that's done, pick or create a new score, and start the cycle
the mean time, go ahead and toy around, just in moderation. over again.

Blades in the Dark is copyright 2015 by John Harper


All rights reserved.

version beta 08 | 03.14.2015


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 Well play to find out if the fledgling crew can thrive
amidst the teeming threats of rival gangs, powerful
You play scoundrels on the streets of Duskwall,
noble families, vengeful ghosts, the bluecoats of the City
an industrial-fantasy city. Theres primitive
Watch, and the siren song of the scoundrels own vices.
electrical technology, the printing press, strange
alchemy, and gunpowder weapons.
The Setting
You and the other players create a fledgling It is the year 847 of the Imperium which united the
criminal enterpriseyour crewand then take shattered islands of the cataclysm under one ruleall
on illicit jobs to improve your assets and status. glory to his majesty the Immortal Emperor.
Game play focuses on the moments of daring
The unquiet spirits of the deadfree to roam the
action during a job (with occasional flashbacks
world since the gates of death were shattered in
to planning sessions to improve teamwork).
the cataclysmprey 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 youre pitching the game to potential their enemies, and trying to stay one step ahead of the law.
players, here are some media touchstones you is encircled by crackling lightning-towers which create an electrical
can use to relate the game to stuff with which barrier that spirits cannot pass. By law, all corpses are incinerated The Players
theyre already familiar. with electroplasm (to destroy the spirit essence within). However, 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,
The TV show The Wire, by David Simon et al. deploy on the ink-dark waters of the Never Sea. especially the law-abiding civilian world and the shadowy criminal
underworld. The GM plays all the non-player characters in the
theme song The Characters world by giving each one a concrete desire and preferred method
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 25 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 Notable Assets: A fearsome gang of leg-breakers
collector).
Crow's Foot, has been killed. People say it was his second and mayhem-makers. A number of smugglers on the Notable Assets: Small contingent of master sword-
in command, Lyssa, who did it. She now controls Roric's payroll who run their drugs. fighters. Master alchemist; many potent potions and
impressive gang of cutthroats, who call themselves the Crows. essences.
Allies: The Fog Hounds, Gondoliers, Ironhook Prison.
Can she establish dominance over the district the way Roric did? Allies: The Path of Echoes, Dockers, Cabbies, Inspectors.
Enemies: The Red Sashes, The Bluecoats, Cabbies.
When Roric died, the peace he had brokered between two Situation: The Lampblacks and the Red Sashes are at war over turf and
Enemies: The Lampblacks, The Bluecoats, Gondoliers.
enemy gangs fell apart. The Lampblacks and the Red Sashes vengeance for deaths on both sides. Bazso Baz is recruiting every free Situation: The Red Sashes and the Lampblacks are at war over turf
have once again exploded into open war on the streets. Will blade in the district for extra muscle and doesn't take no for an answer. and vengeance for deaths on both sides. Mylera is recruiting every free
their old feud finally be resolved with bloodshed? You're either with them or against them. blade in the district for extra muscle and doesn't take no for an answer.
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 25.

the crows ii
An old gang with new leadership. Known for running
illegal games of chance.
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 Crow's, Roric. She is a
fearsome killer, and few want to cross her, but her hold as the new leader
of the Crow's is uncertain. Some were loyal to Roric. As the power-play
continues, the Crow's hold on the district just might slip away...

4
factions
factions, tier, & hold
Faction Ladder
The goal of the game is to advance your crew up the faction ladder,
Gaining Hold
Your crew generates hold primarily with development rolls
to tier 3 (or beyond!). Your crew begins at tier 0, with 0 hold. (see Heat & Development Rolls on page 28). You may also
Hold represents how strongly a faction can maintain their earn hold by striking a deal with a faction that involves them
position at their current tier. The more hold you have, the "paying" you 1 of their hold in exchange for some service or
harder it is for you to lose your position. asset. 1 hold is generally worth 1 coin.
NPC factions generate hold via downtime actions. They may
Advancement also gain hold by striking deals and trading with another
To advance up one tier, you must have at least 3 hold on faction.
your current tier, then do one of the following:
Achieve +3 faction status with a faction one or two tiers above Reducing a Faction's Hold
you, then successfully perform the next mission they request. You may perform an operation specifically to reduce the hold
Take advantage of a faction one or two tiers above you of another faction. A successful operation results in -2 hold.
when they're reduced to zero hold. Successfully perform a You may first have to gather information (see page 10) to
mission to seize their position in that tier (they drop down discover what you can do to reduce their hold.
one tier and reset to 1 hold). A faction at zero hold (or less) is vulnerable to lower-tier
Whenever you change tiers, your hold resets to 1. factions who want to move up a tier (See "advancement" at
left). A faction reduced to -3 hold instantly drops down 1 tier
Factions & Scale and resets to 1 hold.
Faction tier level determines the scale of that faction's gangs.
Tier 3 (top). Huge gangs. (40 people) Faction Status
Tier 2 (middle). Large gangs (20 people) +3: Allies. This faction will help you even if it's not in their
Tier 1 (bottom). Medium gangs (10 people). best interest to do so. They expect you to do the same for them.
Tier 0. Small gangs (5 people). +2: Friendly. This faction will help you if it doesn't create
serious problems for them. They expect you to do the same.
Status Changes +1: Helpful. This faction will help you if it causes no problems
When you execute a score, you gain -1 status with any factions or significant cost for them. They expect the same from you.
that are hurt by your operation. You may also gain +1 status 0: Neutral.
with a faction that your operation helps. If you keep your
operation completely quiet (no one knows it was you) then -1: Interfering. This faction will look for opportunities to
your status doesn't change. cause trouble for you (or profit from your misfortune) as long
as it causes no problems or significant cost for them. They
If you take on a mission given by a faction, you gain +1 expect the same from you.
status with them with you complete it, and -1 status with
-2: Unfriendly. This faction will look for opportunities to hurt
their enemies if the operation isn't quiet.
you as long as it doesn't create serious problems for them. They
NPC Faction Project Clocks expect you to do the same, and take precautions against you.
You may also add or remove a segment on a faction's project -3: Hostile. This faction will go out of its way to hurt you even
clock when you perform a mission or pull off a score. if it's not in their best interest to do so. They expect you to do
the same, and take precautions against you.
5
actions
dice, actions,&& effects
Rolling the Dice
effects
Blades in the Dark uses six-sided dice. You roll several at once
Action Roll
You make an action roll when your character tries to do
Effect Roll
You make an effect roll to find out the scope of your character's
and read the single highest result. something that's blocked by an obstacle or when they're action. Is this action enough to overcome the obstacle or
threatened by danger. defeat the threat? Or is there more left to do?
If the highest die is a 6, it's a full success. Things go well.
If you roll multiple 6s, it's a critical success. An Action Roll answers two questions: An Effect Roll answers this question:
If the highest is a 4 or 5 that's a partial success. It's a mixed Do you accomplish your action? -and- What's the scope of my action?
result some good, some bad.
How much trouble are you exposed to when you do this? In general, a full success on the effect roll means that your
If the highest is 1-3 it's a bad outcome. Things go badly.
The possible results of the roll depend on your character's action has overcome the problem. Lesser rolls mean that
If you ever need to roll but you have zero (or negative) dice,
position. There are three possible positions: Desperate, you make progress, but will have to attempt more actions to
roll 2d and take the lowest result.
Risky, and Controlled. If you're in a controlled position, finish the job.

Action Ratings most of the possible dice results are good. If you're in a
Resistance Roll
There are sixteen actions in the game system that the desperate position, most of the results are bad. If you're
somewhere in between, it's risky, and there's a mix of good When you resist a bad effect, your effect roll tells us how
player characters use to overcome obstacles Attune
and bad dice results. much stress it will cost you to avoid the bad outcome. The
and face dangers. Each action has a rating Cipher better your roll, the less stress it costs (or you can choose to
(from zero to four) which tells you how For the details on Action Rolls, see page 11.
Command suffer the effect and save your stress).
many dice to roll when you perform that
Consort For the details on Effect Rolls, see page 12.
action. Action ratings don't just represent Effect Ratings
skill or training you're free to describe how Deceive There are six effects in the game system
your character performs that action based Force
Discern which you use to determine how much
on the type of person they are. Maybe your Finesse
Feint impact an action has on the situation. Each
character is good at Command because they effect has a rating (from zero to four) which Influence
have a scary stillness to them, while another Mayhem
tells you how many dice to roll when you Insight
character barks orders and intimidates Murder
apply that effect. For example, when you Maneuver
people with their imposing size. Prowl Stalk a target, you use your Insight
Will
You may use any action to overcome an Secure rating to find out how much you learn about
obstacle or danger. Actions that are very Stalk them.
poorly suited to the situation at will put the
Stitch
character in a more challenging position, but
Supply
Effects Are Also Resistances
they can still be attempted. If it's something Your effect ratings also indicate how well your character can
you're really good at, maybe it's worth it. Sway resist those effects. If you get stabbed, you resist with your
It's up to you which action your character Tinker Force rating. If someone tricks you with a clever ploy, you
performs to overcome a problem. resist with your Insight. When you encounter a terrifying
(But here's a bit of advice: if you think a combination of obstacle spirit, you resist with your Will. And so on. The better your
and action is silly, don't choose it! Pick something else. You're roll, the more easily you can avoid a bad effect by taking
responsible for the tone of the game). stress (page 7).

6
stress trauma
Stress
&
stress & trauma
Player characters in Blades in the Dark have a special reserve of
Stress & The Supernatural
A close encounter with a spirit or demon is a harrowing
fortitude and luck called Stress. When they suffer an effect that experience. By default, the standard effect is to first freeze a
they don't want to accept, they can take stress instead, person in place with fear, then panic them into fleeing from
to avoid the effect entirely. The result of the Effect its presence. A PC can choose to take stress as normal to
Roll determines how much stress it costs to avoid. resist these effects. Exceptional NPCs, such as Rail Jacks and
Daniel's character, Cross, is losing a fight with an occult weirdos, are more resistant to the supernatural terror
assassin sent by The Unseen. The GM describes of spirits but it still takes its toll eventually.
how the assassin slips past Cross's defenses and Being possessed by a spirit inflicts a level of Trauma at the
puts a dagger through his eye. Daniel rolls his Force end of every week. Once the possessed body suffers its fourth
effect to resist, and gets a 1-3: a diminished result. He level of trauma, it can no longer sustain its life. The possessing
can take 4 stress or a knife to the eye, his choice. spirit must either bond with the corpse (becoming a vampire)
or abandon it and seek out a new host.
Trauma
When a PC marks their 8th and final stress box, they suffer a Ghost Qualities
level of Trauma. When you mark a level of trauma, clear all Roll 1d. Add +1 to roll for each year of ghostly existence.
of your stress, resetting to zero. You also improve your Vice
rating by 1 (this is the only way Vice rating advances). You may 1. Jealous, desperate, violent, hysterical, skittish, or fleeting.
choose to be "left for dead" or otherwise dropped out of the 2. Curious, deceptive, clever, probing, or knowledgeable.
current conflict, only to show back up later, shaken and drained. 3. Prophetic, insightful, true, revelatory, guiding, or
Trauma levels are permanent. Trauma represents how worn instructive.
down your character is. When you mark your fourth trauma 4. Reactive, territorial, dominant, insistent, bold, or
box, your character cannot continue as a daring scoundrel. You demanding.
must retire them to a different life at your first opportunity. 5. Angry, unpredictable, aggressive, wild, savage, or vengeful.
Retirement 6. Mad, chaotic, vengeful, bizarre, destructive, or insane.
When you fill your last Trauma box and retire, the amount
of coin 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 in vice and misery.
Stash 11-20: Meager. You end up with a tiny (but warm)
hovel that you can call your own.
Stash 21-39: Modest. You end up with a simple home or
apartment, with some small comforts. You might operate
a tavern or other small business.
Stash 40: Fine. You end up with a well-appointed home
or apartment, claiming a few luxuries. You might operate
a medium business or several small ones.

7
teamwork
teamwork
Teamwork
When the team of PCs engages in an operation
This is how you do the "everyone sneaks into
the manor" situation. Everyone rolls their
Moves as Backup
The only thing tougher than scrounging on
these haunted streets is trying to do it alone.
Arlyn Grel

When you're backup, in addition to normal actions


Teamwork Summary
Moves on Point
together, the GM asks the group "Who's on point?" Prowl action, and the best result counts for and rolls, you have access to three special teamwork
the whole team. But the player on point suffers moves: Lead a group action.
One of the players chooses to put their character in
the point role. stress for everyone who does poorly. It's tough Face an effect in place of the character on point. Overcome a group
covering for the stragglers. Assist another character on the team. problem.
The character on point leads the action of the team.
They go first and make decisions about how to deal The group action may extend to the effect roll, if Follow through on a setup action. Set up another character.
with obstacles. They're also the first to face any harm you wish. Everyone may roll for effect and take the
or trouble that comes their way. best result, but stress applies again for 1-3 results. Moves as Backup
Backup: Face an Effect
Otherwise, only the leader rolls for effect. Face an effect for the
All the other PCs on the team are backup for the When you face an effect in place of the character on
character on point. The backup characters are The group action move is good when none of the team point, you roll to resist the effect instead of them. character on point.
following their lead, on the lookout for danger, ready members are experts at a given action and can all You may spend stress to avoid the result, as normal. Assist another character.
to step in and help. contribute to improve the performance of the team. Describe how you intervene to face the effect meant Follow through on a
The point and backup roles shift as the team takes for them. setup action.
On Point: Overcome
action. During the course of an operation, each PC is
likely to have a turn in both roles. There's no official When you overcome an obstacle or danger the whole Backup: Assist Changing Roles
"team leader" as far as the game is concerned. team is facing, you can solve a problem for everyone, When you assist another character, take 1 stress
but risk stressing out your teammates. You become backup after
to give them 1 bonus die to their roll. Only one
Moves on Point you use any special move on
Roll your action as normal, but if your result is less than teammate can assist a given roll. Describe how your
When you're on point, in addition to normal actions point.
6 each member of the team suffers 1 stress. It's stressful character assists.
and rolls, you have access to three special moves: to watch a teammate do less than perfectly on an action You take point when you
Lead a group action. that affects everyone. (This stress happens on the initial Backup: Follow Through follow-through as backup.
Overcome an obstacle or danger for the whole team. roll only, not any follow-up rolls from a 1-3 result.) When you follow through on an action set up by You can't freely shuffle
Set up a character who follows on your action. The result of the point character's roll applies to the character on point, you become the character people between roles. If the
everyone on the team. on point. You add their effect dice to the effect roll wrong person is on point, two
After you perform any special move on point, you for your next action. (Your next action may include
become backup and someone else takes point. The This is how you do the "I'll lure the guard characters can swap if one of
a special point move, like Overcome.)
special moves are detailed below. away" situation. The point character rolls them takes 1 stress. Smoothly
their Sway action, and the result covers for Do We Have to Use Teamwork? shifting the point role around
On Point: Lead a Group Action everyone to gain access to the manor. Teamwork moves are options, not requirements. the team is a mini game that
Each character can still perform solo actions during requires actual teamwork
When you lead a group action, you coordinate The overcome move is good when you have an expert
multiple members of the team to tackle a problem an operation. You can Sway that guard with your among the players. You won't
on the team with a high action rating to deal with a always get it just right. That's
together. Describe how your character leads the team charm to gain access to the manor without using
particular problem.
in a coordinated effort. Do you bark orders, give subtle the Overcome move, leaving the rest of your team just the nature of teamwork.
hand signals, or provide charismatic inspiration? to figure out their own way inside.
On Point: Set Up
Each PC who's involved rolls for the action and the If your character can't communicate or somehow
When you perform a setup action, you do something
team counts the single best result as the overall coordinate with the rest of the team, you can't benefit
that makes one of your teammates more effective. If
effort for everyone. However, the character leading from any teamwork moves.
your action is a success, you add your effect dice to
the group action takes 1 stress for each character the effect roll of the teammate who next takes point
that rolled a 1-3 result. and follows through on your setup (see Backup:
Follow Through).
8
progress
progress clocksclocks
Progress Clocks
Use a progress clock for a goal that takes several
Long-Term Project Clocks
Some projects will take a long time. A basic long-term project
Campaign Countdowns
In the full version of the game, the GM has several campaign
actions to resolve. clock (like tinkering up a new feature for a device) has 8 countdowns that represent the unstable situation in the city.
seegments. Truly long-term projects (like creating a new When one of the NPC factions fills its project clock, the GM
Sneaking into the Bluecoat watch tower? Start designer drug) should be broken up into several phases, each
a clock for the security coverage of the patrols. advances the campaign countdown clocks. When a campaign
with its own clock. The phases are, generally: 1) Figure out how clock is full, a campaign event occurs. This is one of the systems
When the PCs fill the clock with their effect to do it, 2) Muster resources and test things out, 3) Complete
rolls, they've overcome the patrols obstacle. the GM uses to make the city of Duskwall come alive as a
the project. Add or subtract phases depending on the details dynamic backdrop for the game.
Generally, the more complex the goal or problem, of the situation and complexity of the project.
the more segments in the progress clock. For this quick start, you won't need campaign countdowns
Tug-of-War Clock unless you play a whole lot! If you do, by that point, I bet you'll
An effect roll is used to tick segments on a You can set up a clock that can be filled and emptied by events, have all sorts of ideas for campaign countdowns of your own
clock. Each effect result level indicates how many segments to to represent a back-and-forth situation. For example, you might design. Share them on the G+ community for others to use, too.
tick (see page 12). Also, effort spent during downtime (see make a "Revolution!" clock that indicates when the refugee
page 20) can tick a clock representing a long-term project. Skovlanders in the city start to riot over the annexation. Some
events will tick the clock up and some will tick it down. Once
Countdown Clocks
it fills, the revolution begins.
The GM can use a progress clock to represent a countdown
threat, like reinforcements that are on the way, or the time it A tug-of-war clock is also perfect for an ongoing turf war
takes for the burning building to collapse. When a PC takes between two crews or factions.
action, the GM fills in a segment on the countdown clock.
When the clock is full, the time-based threat manifests. The Linked Clocks
GM also has the option to include the advancement of a You can make a clock that unlocks another clock once it's filled.
countdown as a danger on a roll. So if the PC rolls a 4/5 on a In the "Revolution!" example, above, the GM might make a
risky move, for instance, the clock counts down, but on a 6+, countdown clock called "Imperial Troops Arrive" when the
they do their action quickly enough so no countdown occurs. "Revolution!"clock fills up. A multi-phase long-term project is
essentially a set of linked clocks.
Mission Clocks
The GM might make a special countdown clock for a time- Faction Clocks
sensitive mission, to represent the window of opportunity Each faction has a long-term goal they're working on when the
you have to complete the operation. If the countdown runs game begins. When the PCs take downtime (page 20) the
out, the mission is scrubbedthe target escapes, or another GM ticks forward the faction clocks that they're interested in.
crew completes it first, etc. A mission clock might tick down In this way, the world around the PCs is dynamic and things
one segment per hour, or per day, or per week, depending happen that they're not directly connected to, changing the
on its nature. overall situation in the city and creating new opportunities
and challenges.
Recovery Clocks
When A PC suffers a lasting effect, like an injury, it has a The PCs may also directly affect NPC faction clocks, based
progress clock associated with it, representing the time needed on the missions and scores they pull off. Talk to them about
to recover. The more serious the effect, the bigger the clock. known faction projects that they might aid or interfere with,
During downtime, you can receive aid to tick segments on and also consider how a PC operation might affect the NPC
your recovery clocks. clocks, whether the players intended it or not.

9
info & planning
information & planning
Gather Information Scouting the Detail
"No plan extends with certainty beyond the
first encounter with the enemy."
Moltke the Elder

If it makes sense, any team members who performed the setup


action can drift back in to the main operation and join the team
The flow of information from the GM to the players about the When you choose a plan, the GM will ask you to provide a
fictional world is very important in a roleplaying game. By missing detail, like the point of attack, or the social connection, again so they don't have to sit out and wait.
default, the GM tells the players what their characters perceive, etc. If you don't know the detail, you can scout it out by 2. The diversion is its own operation, linked to a future
suspect, or intuit. But there's just too much going on to say gathering information. infiltration plan. You play it out as a full series of team actions,
everything it would take forever and be boring, too. So, the Some groups of players naturally fall into a creative mode with the end goal being, "There are no guards at the house when
players have a tool at their disposal when they want to know when the GM asks about the detail. They invent something we infiltrate it later."
more about something in the fiction. Their characters can interesting and supply the detail from their imagination in Either approach is fine. It's a question of interest. Is the diversion
perform a special kind of move called Gather Information. the moment. This is fun! But be aware that inventing details interesting enough on its own to play out moment by moment?
When your character gathers information, you ask the this way makes scouting actions irrelevant. If you don't want If so, make it a full operation. If not, simplify it to a setup action
GM questions about the fictional world, based on what the scouting and casing targets to be a focus of play, go ahead and as part of the main plan.
character is doing to discover the details. For instance, you simply invent the detail off the cuff. Otherwise, try to refrain
decide to beat up Avrick the powder dealer to make him talk, from doing this. If your characters don't already know the Flashbacks
you could ask questions about where Avrick gets his supply, detail, say so, and follow up with gather information actions The rules for actions and effects don't distinguish between
if he's lying, what he intends to do later, etc. Or maybe you to discover it. Or, play with a mix of approaches. actions performed in the present moment and those performed
decide to stalk the Night Market and find out who's carrying in the past. When an operation is underway, you can invoke a
The Five Plans flashback scene to roll for an action in the past which impacts
the heaviest purses home.
Assault plan. You intend to do violence to a target. Detail: your current situation. Maybe you bribed the district watch
A list of sample questions is provided on the character sheet, The point of attack. sergeant to not patrol here tonight, so you make a Supply roll
but you can ask any question related to the situation at hand. to see if it worked.
Deception plan. You intend to lure, trick, or manipulate.
If the action of gathering the information is blocked by an
Detail: The method of deception. The GM sets a stress cost when you activate a flashback action:
obstacle or exposes your character to danger, you make
an action roll as normal. If there's a question of how much Infiltration plan. You intend to trespass unseen where 0 Stress for a normal action for which you had easy
information can be gathered, then you roll for effect. you are not wanted. Detail: The entry point of infiltration. opportunity. The Cutter Consorted with his friend Chael
Occult plan. You intend to confront or exploit a to ask him to arrive at the dice game ahead of time, to suddenly
Planning supernatural power. Detail: The arcane power you will spring up as a surprise ally.
Your crew spends time planning each score. They huddle around employ. 1 Stress for a complex action or unlikely opportunity. The
a flickering lantern in their lair, looking at scrawled maps, Social plan: You intend to negotiate, bargain, or persuade. Hound arranged to Feint her pistols under the table ahead of
whispering plots and schemes, bickering about the best approach, Detail: The social connection you're using. time so she could retrieve them after the pat-down at the door.
lamenting the dangers ahead, and lusting after stacks of coin.
2 Stress for an elaborate action which involved several
But you, the players, don't have to do the nitty-gritty planning. Linked Plans special opportunities or contingencies. The Whisper has
The characters take care of that, off-screen. All you have to do A common scenario is a team that wants to attempt a two-
already Attuned to the ghost of the former proprietor to
is choose what type of plan the characters have already made. pronged approach. "You create a diversion at the tavern the
divine the secret of the hidden safe.
That's right; the planning phase is over as soon as you start it. Dimmer Sisters own, and when they send their thugs over there,
Just choose and go. we'll break in to their house." There are two ways to handle this.
There are five different types of plan, each with a missing detail 1. The diversion is a setup action that a team member performs
you need to provide. To "plan an operation," simply choose the as part of the Infiltration plan. If the diversion succeeds, the
plan and supply the detail. Then cut to the action as the first next teammate who follows up gets increased effect dice. (See
moments of the operation unfold at the target location. Teamwork, page 8, for details about setup actions.)

10
action
the action roll
roll
action roll
1d for each Action dot. Desperate Risky Controlled
You take a huge risk on a slim chance. You face a dangerous opponent on equal You take time to carefully execute a plan.
Youre stuck in a bad position. You face footing. You act under fire. You take a You hedge your bets and play it safe. You
+1d if the target matches your a threat thats out of your league. calculated risk. exploit a dominant position.
+ Background.
Crit: You do it and avoid the danger. Crit: You do it with increased effect (+1 Crit: You do it with increased effect (+1
effect result level). level) and you may create an additional
+ +1d for the Devils Bargain 6: You do it but face the effect of the
opportunity that follows on from this
danger. 6: You do it and avoid the danger. or you
action.
may choose to overreach and get +1 effect
+ +1d for Backup (they take stress). 4/5: Things go badly. You face the effect of
level but also face effect from the danger. 6: You do it!
the danger at hand. You must abandon this
-1d if youre hindered by any approach or try again by taking a bigger 4/5: You do it but face the effect of the 4/5: You do it with reduced effect (-1
- risk and rolling a desperate move. danger. level), or try for full effect by taking a
relevant lasting effects.
bigger risk and rolling a risky move.
-1d if you face veteran, elite, or 1-3: It gets worse! You face a more potent 1-3: Things go badly. You face the effect
- effect from the danger (-1 to your resist of the danger at hand. You must abandon 1-3: You reveal a flaw in this approach
well-prepared opposition.
effect level). You must abandon this goal this particular approach (youll have to that will expose you to danger. You may
(you cant achieve it for now) or try try another way) or try again by taking a back out now (abandon this method of
again by taking a bigger risk and rolling bigger risk and rolling a desperate move. action) or go ahead with it by rolling a
a desperate move. risky move.

When your PC pursues a goal that's blocked by an obstacle Also consider the desired effect of the PC and the possible some advantage which helps you now, but works against your
or exposes them to danger you make an action roll. effect of the threat they're facing. In general, the bigger the overall well being, security, or future plans. Common devil's
desired effect, the bigger the risk. bargains include:
Choose Your Action
Tell the group which action your character is using to deal with By revising their approach and desired effect, a player can Revealing a valuable secret for a momentary edge.
the obstacle or danger. It's usually obvious, but make it explicit modify their position. Discuss alternate goals, approaches and Sacrificing coin, an item or a crew asset.
anyway. There's some overlap among actions, meaning several effects and how the PC's position might change as a result. Suffering stress or a lasting effect.
of them might apply, depending on the specific approach you Be explicit about what they'll accomplish and what they're
risking! (Even if the risk is "You don't know what will happen Betraying a teammate, friend or loved one.
take. The choice is yours, as long as your character actually
does the action in question. You can't roll Murder unless you if you do that.") The players need information to make good Angering a powerful enemy.
proceed with serious violence. decisions about their actions. Once you're happy with the Making a dangerous promise.
assessment, assemble the dice pool for the roll. Adding heat to the crew with evidence or witnesses.
Position & Desired Effect
Assess the strength of the character's position to perform The Devil's Bargain There isn't a devil's bargain in every situation. If one doesn't
this action. There are three positions (from worst to best): PCs in Blades are reckless scoundrels addicted to destructive occur to anyone right away, that's fine.
Desperate, Risky, or Controlled. Look at the profiles for vicesthey don't always act in their own best interests. To
The devil's bargain occurs regardless of the outcome of the
each position. Which of the various phrases best matches the reflect this, the GM or any other player can offer you a bonus
roll. You make the deal, get the bonus die, and pay the price.
character's current situation? die if you accept a devil's bargain. Take some action or exploit

11
effect
the effect roll
roll
There are two cases when a player makes an effect roll:
1. To determine the scope of their character's action.
remarkable or when the
players do something "the
effect roll
1d for each Effect diamond .

+ +1d if you have a Fine Item.


Critical: Your effect is extreme
beyond what we would expect given this
situation. 6 segments. 0 stress
hard way." 6: Your effect is completeit's what
2. To resist a negative effect from a threat. we would expect given this situation.
For example, if the player's goal is + +1d for the Devils Bargain
We'll go over both cases here. 4 segments. 1 stress
"I shove him back and run away
Determine the Scope of Your Action down the stairs," that might be a 4/5: Your effect is partialblunted,
4-segment obstacle. If they say, + +1d for Backup (they take stress). diffused, or only incomplete. 2
In Blades in the Dark, you overcome obstacles and face
dangers by making action rolls. But, how many action rolls "I slip past his defense, kill him, segments. 2 stress
-1d if your opposition is especially
does it take to deal with a particular problem? If you're not and run down the stairs," that -
potent in this effect category. 1-3: Your effect is diminishedmuch
sure, you make an effect roll to find out. might be an 6-segment clock less than we would expect given this
(or more). Tell the players what situation. 1 segment. 4 stress.
If you've played other roleplaying games, you're probably
you're thinking about the scope of the obstacle and talk about
familiar with a system where you make a roll to attack in
their goal so it's clear and they can revise as needed.
combat, then make a follow-up roll for damage. The result
When a PC suffers a lasting effect, make a note of
of the damage roll tells you if you defeat the target, or if they Resist a Negative Effect it on an index card, along with its recovery clock.
still have hit points left, so you'll need to attack them again. When you resist a negative effect from a threat, you roll one of Most lasting effects should be 6- or 8-segment
This system is similar, but it applies to all kinds of actions and your effect ratings to find out how much stress it will cost to clocks. If a lasting effect hinders a character's
effects, not just attacks and damage. avoid the effect. This is always optional. You don't have to take action, they take a -1d penalty to the action roll. broken
the stress; you can suffer the effect, instead. Sometimes this is a If multiple lasting effects apply to the action, take leg
The default case is an obstacle which has 4-segments of scope. good idea, especially when you expect to face worse things soon. a -2d penalty.
See the table, top right, that shows how much effect you have,
and how many segments of progress it's worth. When a player Your character's remaining stress boxes indicate how much When a PC inflicts a lasting effect on an NPC,
rolls for effect and gets a 6+, they overcome a 4-segment trouble they can avoid. When you're maxed out on stress you put it on an index card for future reference. It
obstacle. This is the standard case, so you don't need to draw can't wriggle out of bad outcomes anymore (unless you take can be used as leverage until the target takes
a 4-segment clock for each and every obstacle. Just keep it trauma). If you've played other RPGs, you can think of stress time and effort to recover from it. Generally,
in mind. When a player rolls less effect (1 or 2 segments) as your "hit points." But you get to decide when to spend them. an NPC recovers 1 segment each time the PCs seduced
then maybe draw the clock real quick, fill in 1 or 2 parts, and NPCs can't take stress. They just suffer whatever effect level have downtime, unless a PC does something
describe how their effect manifests, without overcoming the you roll against them. Things may be tough for your fledgling to maintain the effect.
obstacle. Then ask them what they want to do next. crew, but at least you have a safety net that your enemies don't.
Retroactive Effect
Lesser obstacles (a modest lock, a trusting mark, a weakened Armor Sometimes, you'll realize that you need to establish an effect's
enemy) can have smaller clocks. 3-segment or 2-segment clocks If you have a type of armor that applies to the situation, you magnitude after the fact. This is okay! You can make the roll
are fine. If you imagine a 1-segment obstacle, that's the sign that can mark one armor box to avoid a negative effect, instead of to determine what exactly happened in the past.
you don't need to roll for effect at all. They just overcome it. taking stress. (All of your armor is restored when you have You threw your opponent down a flight of stairs, but didn't
Very involved obstacles (a series of guard patrols, a complex downtime.) If an NPC has armor, you'll usually take a -1d bother to roll effect. Later, you meet up with your team,
lock, a suspicious mark, a veteran fighter) call for bigger clocks. penalty to your effect roll. and the GM says, "As you're giving the package to Boxer,
8-segment or 12-segment clocks are good (for a 12-segment, that thug from before shows up...' and you say, 'Whoa,
I usually draw two 6-segment clocks. It's just faster, to me). Lasting Effects
A lasting effect persists beyond the current situation. Physical hang on. I threw him down a flight of stairs! I could have
The vast majority of obstacles should be 4-segments. Use injuries produce obvious lasting effects, but social influence, broken his neck!' "Yeah, okay, good point. Roll for effect
smaller or larger clocks when you want to highlight something fatigue, arcane events, etc. can also have long-term effects. to see how bad the fall was for him."

12
example of play
example of play
Breaking Into the Manor House
Rivka and her crew of scoundrels are on a job. They heard
On Point
The GM asks the question that starts the action on a team
desperate if you had to do this in the middle of a fight, or if they
knew we were coming. So risky seems right." Everyone agrees.
from their smuggler friend, Hoxley, that the Dimmer Sisters operation: "Okay, who's on point?" "Cool," Allison says. "Cylene's Attune rating is 2."
had recently acquired a valuable arcane relic from the time "Well," says Allison. "When we cased the place last time, the "Okay, take 2 dice. You're on point, so you get to decide: are
before the cataclysm, The Eye of Kotar. Dimmer's had some arcane wards set up, plus some goons you leading everyone to attune together, or are you handling
Rivka's crew has a -2 status rating with the Dimmer Sisters, patrolling around. We'll have to assume that's still true." this yourself to overcome the obstacle on behalf of the team?"
which means they're enemies. Stealing the Eye will hurt the The GM shrugs. "Yeah, they haven't had a reason to change "And what's the difference, again?"
sisters, loosen their hold in the underworld, and put a valuable things. It's been quiet with them. Your last recon still counts."
treasure in the crew's vault, to boot. Everyone agrees that this "If you lead, everyone will roll to attune, and the team will keep
The GM checks her notes, but doesn't find the Dimmer Sisters'
is the job they want to pursue. the best result. But, you'll take stress for everyone who fails
details from the last time. Oh well. Rachel quickly makes a
their roll, since you're leading and covering their mistakes."
new set of progress clocks for their security, based on what
The Plan she knows about the Sisters' operation. She puts them out on "Okay. So we have a better overall chance, but I risk some stress.
Rachel, the GM, asks the question that kicks off every job the table for everyone to see. Wards: 6, Patrols: 4, Locks: 6. Especially because these yahoos aren't any good at attuning."
in Blades in the Dark: "Okay, you want to rob the Dimmer
"I'll take point," Allison says. "The Sisters are all "Right. Or, if you handle it yourself to overcome the obstacle
Sisters. Excellent. What's the plan?"
whispery like me, after all. Wards are my thing." for the whole team, then you're the only one who rolls, but
The players look at the list of plans on their character sheets whatever you roll counts for everyone."
"Great," says Rachel. "Your gondola bumps against
and quickly choose one. "I vote for infiltration," says Dylan.
the ancient dock below the Dimmer's manor. An wards "That sounds good," Dylan says."
"Yeah," says James, "Let's keep this nice and quiet. We already
open stone doorway lies beyond, shrouded in pitch "Yes," Rachel says. "But, if Allison doesn't roll a full success,
have enough heat as it is." The other players agree.
blackness. When you shine your lantern toward it, the rest of you take stress. It's tough to stand by and watch
The GM asks the group for the detail that completes the plan: the darkness is not dispelled. A coldness creeps over someone do something and not do it just right!"
"What's your point of entry?" everyone. You can see your breath mist in the air."
patrols "Ha! Yeah," Sarah says. "That is so true."
"Well," says Rivka. "We've cased the Dimmer Sisters' manor "'Hold up, everyone,'" Allison says, in character. "'I'll
before. I think using the underground canal entrance is good. take care of this.' Cylene's eyes glow softly and she "Okay," Allison says. "So if I lead, I risk stress. And if I overcome,
We have cistern keys to deal with any gates down there, and approaches the doorway, sending out arcane power they risk stress. Got it. Since I'm pretty good at this, I think
that approach will keep us out of sight from witnesses on the against the protective wards that must be there." 'overcome' makes sense. They're just gonna hold me back."
street." Everyone agrees. locks "You're on point, it's your call." James says.
"Okay," Rachel says. "Your first obstacle. It sounds
"Cool," Rachel says. "That's the plan your characters made, like you're using the Attune action to get past it." "Okay," Rachel says. "So you have 2 dice so far. You also get
probably huddled around their sketch of the Dimmer's manor a bonus die if your background matches the target in this
"Yep. Attune it is. How strong is my position here?"
house and the canal map. Now, on to the operation! So... case, The Dimmer Sisters, since they set up the wards."
you're making your way through the underground canal, "You're dealing with arcane wards set by the Dimmer sisters
poling your gondola silently through the disused tunnels." specifically to catch someone breaking in to their home. You're "My background is Noble," Allison says.
going after them where they're strong and prepared. But this "Yep, same as the Dimmers. Take a bonus die."
"I have a lantern held out," Allison says. "But it's shuttered
is something you're prepared for, as well. You're a professional
down to a faint glow. Is it all moldy and slimy down here?" "Sweet. Any more dice?"
Whisper who does this for a living, and you're not under any
"Oh, yeah," Rachel says. "The walls are covered in glistening other pressures. Sounds like the definition of a risky position, "Two more, if you want them. A teammate can give you a
wet ooze, completely obscuring the stone. The water is black to me: You face a dangerous opponent on equal footing." bonus die if they assist you and take a point of stress. And
and oily. There's a stench of waste and rot." you can accept a devil's bargain for a bonus die."
"Yeah, that sounds about right," Sarah says. "It would be
"Ugh," says James.

13
"Okay... let's talk teamwork first. Who wants to back me up?" says. "That's part of the risky move. You should know what the
"I'll do it," Dylan says. "You know I never leave your side, danger is so you can decide if you're taking the risk or not."
Cylene. No matter how weird things get. That's 1 stress for "Eh, it's fine," Allison says. "It's not like we were gonna turn
me." Dylan passes the bonus die over. around and leave. We're here to do a job. But I'd like to know.
"Aw, you're the best, Frost," Allison says. What's the danger?"

"Nice," says Rachel. "What does Frost do to assist?" "Well, the Dimmer's don't mess around," Rachel says. "So
it's the obvious thing. The darkness in the doorway isn't just
Dylan thinks for a moment. "Frost walks up beside Cylene as barrier, it's a trap. It swirls out and wraps you in choking,
and silently places his hand on her shoulder. He closes his cold vapors. You feel your heart stop."
eyes and opens his mind, letting her take whatever strength
from him she needs." "Holy crap."

"Whoa," Sarah says. "That's cool." "Yeah. Uh, sorry. They do have a certain reputation about
how they deal with interlopers."
"Yeah, awesome!" Allison says. "Okay, Rachel... let's hear your
devil's bargain." "Yeah. No, I get it. It makes sense. We know they have a pile of
bodies in their basement, after all. But, yeesh. Maybe I don't
"Hey," Rachel says, "It's not just my job! Anyone can propose a want to show them who's boss."
devil's bargain. Think of a cost or complication or nasty little
twist and if Allison accepts it, she gets a bonus die." "No, you're good," Dylan says. "I'm your backup, right? I can
face danger in your place. I got this. Go ahead and smash
"Oh, I have one," James says. "It's the obvious thing. When you them. I'll deal with the death vapors."
meddle with the Dimmer's wards, you leave a trace of yourself
behind. They'll be able to figure out who did it. Eventually." "Ooookay," Allison says. "If you say so! I overreach."

"Oh, that's good. So mean, and so good," Allison says. "I love it. "Okay, you're gonna roll your effect to see if you can bypass
Yes. Devil's bargain for me. We're good? I have 5 dice. Let's roll." this whole ward problem with this one action, or if there's still
more stuff to do. More you know death vapor stuff to do."
"Okay," Rachel says, "Let's do it."
"Wonderful. And I choose which effect to roll, based on what
Allison rolls all her dice and keeps the highest. It's a 6! Cylene did, same as picking my action. So this is definitely
"Suck it," says Allison. "Full success." Will. I'm attuning and channeling my willpower, and Frost's,
too, to bypass the barrier ward."
"What's it say for a full success on a risky move?" Rachel asks.
"Yep. Take dice equal to your Will. Do you have a fine quality
Allison reads from the reference sheet:
item that applies to this?"
6: You do it and avoid the danger. or you may choose to
"Yep, I have my fine spirit mask. It helps me see arcane energy.
overreach and get +1 effect level but also face an effect
So, 2 Will + fine item, that's 3 dice. No devil's bargain, thanks.
from the danger.
Let's roll it." Allison rolls and gets a 6 again! A complete effect.
"Hmm," Allison says.
"Bam," Allison says. "That's a complete effect, so that's 4 ticks
"Oh jeez," James says. "You're going to overreach, aren't you?" on the Wards clock."
"I sure am," Allison says. "I'm gonna show these Dimmer's "Yep," Rachel says. "But... it's actually a critical result! Since
who's boss. Spoiler alert: it's me." you decided to overreach, you get to bump up your result by
"Here we go," Sarah says. a whole tier. From a success to a crit."

"Okay, wait. First, what's the danger?" Dylan asks. "Oh right! Bad ass. So that's 6 ticks on the clock, right? I beat
the whole thing."
"Oh, damn! I should have said that to begin with," Rachel

14
"You sure do," Rachel says. "We'll get to that, but "Nice," Rachel says. "So, Allison, you totally wrecked the
first we have to find out what happens with the wards. Want to tell us what happens? Remember, you leave
heart-stopping death vapors." some trace of yourself behind, from the devil's bargain."
"Oh yeah." wards "Right. So, from behind my spirit mask, my eyes glow even
"How are you resisting the vapors, Frost?" Rachel asks. brighter, and twin beams of pale blue light spill out, burning
through the death vapors and ripping the arcane energy of the
"Uh... Force is my best effect rating... but, no. I can't use ward apart. This causes a chain reaction through all the wards
force against death vapors, "Dylan says. "I guess Frost has to across the building, and they each fade out silently, one by
summon his Will against this stuff." one. In their place, a single scorched rune remains, a symbol
"Well, it depends," Sarah says. "Are the vapors actually that encodes my name in an ancient language."
attacking his lungs and heart, physically? Because resisting And that's the first part of the operation in the bag. Allison
physical attack is totally a Force thing." used her teamwork move on point to overcome the wards for
"Yeah, that's true," Rachel says. "I guess the vapors are both the whole team, so now she hands off the point position to
arcane and physical, really. It's up to you, Dylan." someone else. Maybe James steps up so Dor can be on point
and use his Lurk talents to lead the team past the Dimmer's
"Okay, yeah, that does make sense. Frost is really tough and
patrols and find where they keep their artifact collection.
can push through pain and damage, so sure. I'll roll Force."
"Okay," Rachel says. "So... Frost, you step between Cylene and Questions to Consider
the death vapors. You feel them envelop you, filling your What if the team had no Whisper? How would things have
lungs, withering your organs. You collapse on the gone differently? Can anyone deal with arcane stuff, or does
dock, face down in the muck. Not moving. it require a specialist? Would they need to hire an NPC
Not breathing." whisper for the operation?
"I struggle with every ounce of strength What if they didn't know about the wards ahead of time
within me!" Dylan says. He rolls and the and just blundered into them? How would you handle that?
dice betray him. He gets a 3. A weak
What if Allison had rolled lower for her effect, leaving more
effect.
to do with the wards? She's handing off point to someone
"Oh no," Allison says. else, so how might they deal with it? Maybe they just do
"Ouch! Okay then. So I'm gonna a setup action and hand point back to Allison again, or
die, huh? Yeah, no thanks," Dylan maybe they think of something else. Are the PCs daring
says. "I'll take stress to avoid that and proud, or ultra-cautious and pragmatic?
effect. Obviously. Thanks to my What if the Dimmer Sisters had been tipped off to this
awful roll, that's gonna cost me 4 infiltration? Maybe there was an opportunity for that,
stress! Which is almost all I have left, or maybe the PCs planned their operation secretly and
but hey, that's what stress is for, right?" attacked before the Dimmer's were wise to it. Could that
question be resolved by an action roll? How would you
"Right! Tell us how Frost resists the vapor
handle that?
and doesn't die."
Setting the effect of the ward to "you die" was pretty harsh!
"Oh, yeah, I think it's just like you said, but, Do you think that's a fair move, given the Dimmer's lethal
after a beat, he suddenly twitches and stands reputation? When would you inflict a lethal effect like that?
up, alive after all. He pulls his pipe from his
belt, lights it, and takes a long, thoughtful drag.
'Well, shit.' he says."

15
how
how toto usesystem
use the the system
The game is a conversation between the people at the table. You're
talking, narrating actions, speaking in character, making jokes,
Why We Do This
part i
What's the point of this shift into a mechanic, anyway? Why not
Failing Gracefully
The system of Blades in the Dark is designed to fail
sketching maps, speculating about what might happen, all that just talk it out? The main reason is this: when we just talk things gracefully. That is, if you just use the core action roll
good stuff. But it's just talking, right? There's a thing that happens out, we tend to build consensus. This is usually a good thing. It and forget extra details or special cases, it will be
in a roleplaying game where the conversation shifts. Where you go helps the group bond, get on the same page, set expectations, all okay. The game will sail along just fine. The game
from just talking to using a mechanic. What's that like? that stuff. But when it comes to action-adventure stories like Blades is better when you use all the details, but the whole
thing doesn't come crashing down if you don't.
in the Dark, we don't want consensus when the characters go into
Triggering the Action Roll danger. We want to be surprised, or thwarted, or driven to bigger If you want to ease in to the system in play, just
This shift in the conversation is the GM's responsibility (they should risks, or inspired to create a twist or complication. We want to raise start with the action roll. Then, when something
our hands over our heads and ride the roller coaster over the drop. bad happens to a PC and they want to resist it,
always be on the lookout), but anyone can call for it. So, when do
add effect rolls. When the group starts asking
you call for it? You call for an action roll when any of these happen: When the mechanic is triggered, the group first dips into being about teamwork and helping each other, bring in
A player character faces an obstacle that blocks or complicates authors for a moment as they suss out the position, the danger, the teamwork moves. When they wonder about
the achievement of their goal. and the details of the action. Then, author mode switches off and how much loot they get and how their crew rises
A player character faces danger from a threat an NPC; a everyone becomes the audience. What will happen next? We hold in the underworld, bring in the development and
dangerous situation or environment. our breath, lean forward in our seats, and let the dice fall. faction stuff. Don't feel like you have to explain
everything up front.
A player character leads or gives orders to an NPC or NPC
group, which faces an obstacle or danger. The Purpose of Effects & Stress The same goes for the fiction. Don't feel like you
Some GMs get frustrated when they feel like the enemy NPCs or have to get everything perfectly right every time. If
Someone grabs the dice and gets all excited about making a roll.
threats "aren't doing anything." They almost inflict effects on the you say something about an NPC and then realize
So, then, what do you actually say? I like to first ask the player how PCs, but then the PCs take stress (or even trauma) and avoid the later that it was wrong, just revise it. No big deal.
they're accomplishing their action. Which of their action ratings effect. This is by design! "Hey, I told you that Trayga was seen at the docks
will they use? Then, I suggest the position the character is in, to that night, but that was all wrong. I was thinking
The PCs in the game start out as huge underdogs. The stress system
start a brief conversation about that. To use the action mechanic we of someone else. It was supposed to be Arlo."
gives them a special ability to survive when they otherwise wouldn't,
need to know the strength of the character's position Desperate,
so they have some hope of achieving their long-term goals. "Oh! Well that changes things. Okay, got it."
Risky, or Controlled. It's like:
The purpose of threatening effects is not always to inflict them, And also:
Player: "So he has the amulet? Okay, no, I'm forcing him to hand
it's to describe them. The threats become manifest in the minds of
it over, right now." "Oh, dammit, I would have totally brought my
everyone playing, even if they're avoided. wrecker tools on this job. I forgot to mark it. Can
GM: "Okay then. How are you gonna do that?" I have them anyway?"
"The ghost is entangled with your soul."
Player: "I look him square in the eye and I Command him to "You hear the bone snap as you hit the cobblestones." "Oh, sure. But that means you would have been
hand it over." heavy loaded when you bluffed the butler, right?
"You can tell that she'll never trust you again."
GM: "Cool. Sounds pretty risky to me. He's no push-over and Kinda hard to hide that."
The bad outcomes are spoken aloud. They hang there in the room
his goons are standing right there." "Oh, yeah, right. Damn. Can I just take 1 stress
as horrible potential. They're scary. Then the player gets to roll
And then the other players chime in and suggest an alternative and we call it good?"
their effect, look you in the eye and say, "No. That doesn't happen.
position, or the player revises their statement to something more I take the stress." It's empowering. They look danger in the face "Works for me. It's not a big deal."
or less daring, or everyone just nods and we've shifted into using and laugh. That's the nature of a scoundrel. Fly casual. If you're not sure what to do, keep
the mechanic. it simple. Go with what's obvious to you. Add
Describing the harmful effects with gusto is your job, not inflicting
them. The purpose of the effect and stress mechanics is to add mechanics when you're comfortable. Forgive each
other's mistakes. Have fun.
16
how
how toto usesystem
use the the system
interesting fictional details to the game when it comes to harm and
trouble. Instead of simply saying, "You take 3 damage," you describe
No Whiffing
part ii
Every time you roll the dice in Blades, the situation changes. There's
Setting Precedents
What's true for the PCs is true for the NPCs,
how the blade catches under their armor and digs a bloody furrow no such thing as a "nothing happens" result from a roll. How does and vice versa. If you establish that the Whisper
across their ribs. It becomes real in the ongoing fiction of the game. this work? PC is the only one who can talk to the ghost
Then the player can negate it with a simple statement of mechanics, they summoned (due to a special "summoning
"No, I take the 2 stress instead." But the only way they can know The "failure" results for action rolls (1-3) are not simply "misses."
language" that binds them together), then that
whether it's worth it to pay the cost is if you describe the potential The character's action has a tangible outcome. Something happens
fact becomes true for NPC-summoned ghosts,
effect. Each cycle of threat and stress requires this input of new which changes the character's circumstances. On a controlled as well.
fiction. And that, after all, is what we're here to do. failure, the character spots a flaw in their approach, and can decide
to withdraw or push their luck with a risky move. On a risky failure, If you establish that a skilled NPC can instantly
the character's action fails, but the threat hits them. Things get kill an unsuspecting victim, then the PCs can
NPC Threat Levels worse. On a desperate failure, the threat dominates and makes the try it, too.
The severity of effect that you describe (and the position for the
situation much worse. Each time you make a judgment call or establish
action roll that you choose) determines the threat level of the
new details about the game world, they become
opposition. If they're facing an NPC that you've described as a In each case, the player gets a choice to push their luck and try again.
available to everyone as a new tool in play.
standard thug, then her effects will be things like wrestling them It's more dangerous, but if the player cares enough to keep trying
to the ground, or punching them in the face, or maybe cracking a (and facing threat effects) they can overcome a string of unlucky
rib with her blackjack if she's got the upper hand. rolls and achieve success at a cost.
If they're facing an NPC that you've described as a master assassin, Also, remember that an effect roll always makes progress. Even on
then her effects might be a lightning-fast move that puts a dagger a 1-3 result, you have some effect, and tick 1-segment if a clock
in the PC's heart. is involved. There aren't any "zero segment" outcomes. When
describing a character's effect, something concrete always happens.
Since NPCs don't have stats and action ratings, it's by the severity
They don't just swing and miss, or try to persuade but get ignored,
of their effects (and the position you set for the PC's action roll)
or any other kind of null result. The action has an effect.
that their capabilities are manifest in the game.
Your punch connects with a meaty thud to the side of their head.
This is something that will grow and evolve over time as you play
They stagger for a moment but don't go down. They snarl and
the game. Talk to the group about it as you go. Do you want a more
grapple you!
deadly, high-stakes, kind of game? Then PCs and NPCs should
threaten lethal effects all the time. Injuries are bloody and leave She looks at you sideways, "You want me to tell you that? I don't
permanent scars. Do you want a more cinematic, adventurous know, love... you're asking quite a lot. What's in it for me?"
kind of game? Then describe effects with less dire consequences. You slip past the sentry near the stairs, but before you can get
People are "left for dead." Explosions make you look cool when further into the house, another patrol rounds the corner ahead,
you dive out of the way. lanterns held high. You barely squeeze into a dark alcove before
You don't have to decide on one approach and stick to it. Be flexible the light hits you.
and let it change over time according to what the group is most A bad effect roll can't "undo" a successful action roll. If you try to
excited about. sneak past a guard and roll a 6+, but then roll a 1-3 on effect, the
guard doesn't spot you. You already did it without danger as a result
of the action roll. The low effect roll just means that this problem
isn't solved yet. You're not free and clear; there's more left to do.
But so far you've done it without trouble.

17
putting ittogether
putting it all all together
I like to think of the Blades system as a guitar. I've built this
thing with strings that make particular sounds, but you're
The GM sets the scene, describing the twisty little street
where the building with Tress's flat is. Laborers shuffle to
about what Arlyn does, and then see how effectively she
does it. Each successful roll accomplishes a concrete goal
the one who plays it. You decide which chords to strum and and from work, weak light from cheap lanterns flickers on determined by the player (and affirmed by the group), leading
what kind of music comes out. Is it fast and rocking? Slow the cobblestones, a few vendors call out their wares of eel up to the goal of murder.
and moody? Jangly and weird? Up to you. The system itself pies and boot-black. Tress's window, four stories up, is dark.
gives you an instrument to play the music on, and it's distinct "What do you do?" Version III
from other instruments. A guitar is not a piano. Let's say Tress is an important NPC and the whole group is
And they play it out as a series of actions. First Arlyn prowls invested in getting rid of her. When Arlyn's player says, "I'm
Let's look at some examples of playing chords on this guitar. around to a rear entrance and creeps stealthily up the stairs, sick of Tress's shit. I'm gonna sneak in there tonight and kill
avoiding any prying eyes. Then she secures entry to the flat, her," the other players say, "Yes. We're going with you." The
Murder in the Night past Tress's modest lock. Then she murders Tress there in her GM asks what the plan is, and who's on point, and the murder
Arlyn (a PC) has found out where her enemy, Tress, sleeps. sleep, quiet as death. becomes a team operation. This is just like Version II, but with
Maybe this discovery was a long-term project that Arlyn has Or maybe Arlyn just walks boldly up the stairs, kicks down the team at her back, Arlyn's chance of success rises and the
been doing during her downtime. Arlyn's player says, "I'm sick the door and kills Tress in the ensuing struggle. It's up to her stress from resisting effects and such gets spread around the
of Tress's shit. I'm gonna sneak in there tonight and kill her." player. But since this is an important moment, the GM puts team instead of concentrated on her alone.
it all in context in a little scene, with specific details, and it's
Version I played out action by action.
Version IV
Let's say this is a minor side issue. Tress isn't that important; Just for fun, let's flip it around. Let's say that Tress is the PC
just an annoying enemy NPC that needs killing. The GM says Here's an aspect of the game that may be interesting if you've in this scenario. An enemy NPC has discovered where Tress
"Yeah, well, you know where she sleeps now. It's not like she played other RPGs. In Blades, the GM doesn't decide the steps sleeps and decides to sneak in at night and murder her. You
has a fortress and guards or anything. You're using Murder, needed to kill Tress. The GM doesn't say, "Okay, first you need can totally do this! The GM says, "You know Arlyn? That killer
yeah? Okay, sounds risky to me. There might be a witness to roll Prowl to sneak in. Okay, now you need to roll Secure who hates your guts? I guess she figured out where you sleep
or you could leave some evidence behind or something like to pick the lock," etc. The player decides what the steps are, by because she shows up in the middle of the night to murder
that. Let's roll and see." And Arlyn's player makes an action saying what their character wants to accomplish and how they you. Let's see how that goes."
roll to accomplish the murder, just like that. do it, which determines the action and effect rolls. The player
This triggers an action roll for Tress, since she's facing danger
says, "I don't want any witnesses, so I'll Prowl around back
Maybe Arlyn makes an effect roll to resist if the danger of a and sneak in." They set the goals and go after them. from a threat. Maybe the GM says, "You're sleeping and Arlyn
witness or evidence manifests. But they probably skip Arlyn's is picking the modest lock on your door. What do you do?"
effect roll on the actual murder, because no one is really that Arlyn's effect rolls for her actions determine how involved The player says, "Uh... well, I'm sleeping. So... I don't know?"
curious about how thoroughly the murder is done. It's just it all is. Like, maybe the GM imagines that Tress's modest Another player says, "You could discern the attack. Discern
done. Simple and quick, doesn't derail the session, but gives security is only a 2-segment clock (this is just in her mind, covers 'anticipate and foresee' actions, right?" "Oh, right. Cool.
Arlyn's player some satisfaction. And if the roll goes badly, she doesn't even bother to write it down). But if Arlyn rolls It's like a little flashback, almost. Maybe I heard a rumor or
with desperate follow-ups, etc. then you've just spun out some diminished Finesse effect (1 segment) when she secures entry got a weird vibe when I went to bed. I'll start with that."
interesting problems to deal with, and maybe Tress is a more then maybe the GM steps in and says, "Heh, okay. The lock And you follow the actions and effects to see where it goes.
important enemy NPC now, too. on her door is modest, but not that modest. Let's say there's Maybe that Discern roll is desperate, and it doesn't go well,
1 segment left to go. Want to keep picking the lock or do and Arlyn is suddenly on Tress, stabbing away, and Tress rolls
Version II
something else?" And that complicates things slightly, since Murder or Mayhem to fight back, and rolls Force to resist the
Let's say this murder is a fairly important thing in the
Arlyn rolls again, with another chance for trouble to creep in. stabbing, etc.
campaign. Tress isn't a big, powerful NPC, but she's an
important character and everyone is like, "Oh shit, you're No one has to decide ahead of time how difficult or As GM, you can push as hard as necessary, because everything
gonna kill Tress? Dang." You want to spend a little time with complicated it is to kill Tress. You just play in the moment, comes down to action rolls, resistance, stress, flashbacks and all.
it, and the other players are interested. using the fictional details as imagined to prompt the questions You can't just dictate outcomes, so everyone is on equal footing.

18
advancement
advancement & coin & coin
It would be a terrible shame if Madame Tesslyn's
lotus supply went up in flames, wouldn't it? Such
Scores
One way you advance the level of your crew is by executing criminal
You may spend any ticks you have for desperate moves to supplement
other advancement ticks. For example, if you have 1 tick in Blade and 3
a waste of quality product. Of course, if such ticks in desperate moves, you can combine those ticks (4 total) to add a
jobs that suit your crew type. These activities are called scores. A
a tragedy were to happen, I would be only too new Blade action dot. You can't spend desperate move ticks on their own.
score is one operation one smuggling run, one rogue spirit hunt, one
happy to accommodate her clientele while she got assassination, one jewel heist, etc. If the operation was profitable (you got
back on her feet. And the arsonist would warrant the reward you were going for), you count it as advancement for the crew. Crew Advancement
some measure of my gratitude as well. At the start of each session:
Rolan Volaris Development Review the crew advancement items, and mark 1 advancement tick
Your scoundrels and crew didn't just spring into existence tonight. You for each item that you did during the previous session. If you've done
have a complex history of favors, commitments, debts, and promises that the same item multiple times, you can take multiple ticks.
got you where you are today. To reflect this, after each score, you roll dice When you mark 6 crew advancement ticks, clear the ticks and choose
to find out how much hold they gain, how much of their hard-won riches two (a given item may be chosen only once):
they manage to hold on to, and what past entanglements come calling.
ffA new crew upgrade.
See Heat & Development Rolls on page 28. ffIncrease one of your crew effects by 1 (except Renown).
The game will naturally flow from executing a score, to downtime, to ffAdd a new special ability.
development, to dealing with old debts, and then moving on to a new score.
In addition, each PC gets 1 coin (+1 per crew tier) as their share
of the profits, which they may keep as spendable currency on hand or
PC Advancement permanently stash away for retirement. A character can hold up to 2
At the start of each session, recap the previous session. Then each player personal coin. Any excess must be stashed or spent immediately.
does all of the following:
Ask the other players which action category your character best Coin
embodied during the previous session (Blade, Book, Cloak, or Mask). When the crew completes a profitable score, they're rewarded with coin.
Mark 1 advancement tick in that category. Coin is an abstract measure of significant wealth. The few silver pieces
Choose one advancement category (actions, effect, or playbook) to the scoundrels use in their daily lives are not tracked. If a scoundrel wants
which your character devotes their personal training time. Mark to toss a few silver around to achieve something, roll the Supply action.
1 advancement tick in that category. If your crew has the Training
You can spend coin 1-for-1 to increase the result level of any Acquire
upgrade for that category, mark +1 advancement tick.
Asset, Reduce Heat, Recovery, Project, or Gather Information roll. (So a
Mark 1 advancement tick for effects. 1-3 becomes a 4/5, a 4/5 becomes a 6, etc.). You can do this after the roll.
Review your playbook advancement items, and mark 1 playbook 1 coin: A coffer of silver pieces. A fine artwork. A handful of
advancement tick for each item that you did during the previous session. common jewels. The monthly take of a small business.
If you've done the same item multiple times, you can take multiple ticks.
2 coin: A fine piece of art. An exquisite jewel.
When you mark 4 action category ticks, clear the ticks and add a 3 coin: The monthly take of a thriving business.
dot to one of the actions in that category. (Level 3 and level 4 skills are
4 coin: Liquidating a significant asseta boat, a property deed.
locked until you get the Expertise and Mastery crew training upgrades.)
More than 4 coin is an impractical amount to keep lying around. If
When you mark 4 Effect ticks, clear the ticks and add a diamond to
the crew has a vault, they can store up to 8 coin, otherwise any coin
one of your effects.
beyond 4 must be spent during the session in which it's acquired.
When you mark 6 playbook advancement ticks, clear the ticks and
1 parcel of silver coins or other bulk currency takes up 1 item slot
choose a new playbook special ability -or- add two items from another
when carried.
playbook to your list of item options.

19
downtime
downtime
The bone must be reset, Im afraid. Here,
breathe this black lotus vapor while I consult
Crew Downtime
When you're not pursuing a score, your crew can spend some time
NPC Downtime
The NPC crews and factions also do things when you take downtime.
Edvards treatise on anatomy. recovering and dealing with other issues. During a downtime phase, The GM advances their project clocks and chooses a downtime
Melvir Kepp each crew member may do all of the following: action for each faction that they're interested in at the moment:
Recover from lasting effects. Plan an operation to: generate +1 hold, to make an enemy
summary vulnerable, or to inflict -1 hold on a vulnerable enemy.
Indulge your vice to clear stress.
When you have downtime between operations, Execute an operation (above).
the crew recovers from lasting effects (like Restore all of your armor.
injuries), restores their armor, and indulges in In addition, choose one special downtime action: Gather information on the PCs (may be opposed by a PC roll).
vice to clear stress. fWork
f on a long-term project. Achieve a short-term objective they're in position to accomplish.
Each PC also gets the option to take a special fReduce
f heat on the crew. Acquire a new asset.
downtime action, like working on a long-term GM: Take downtime actions and advance clocks for the factions
fAcquire
f use of an asset (including hiring +1 scale worth of people
project, reducing heat on the crew, or acquiring you're interested in right now. Don't worry about the rest. Later,
for one of your gangs).
an asset for the next score. when you turn your attention to a faction you've ignored for a while,
The crew can take several downtime phases in a row, but each go ahead and give them several downtime actions and clock ticks
additional downtime costs 1 coin or 1 hold. When you complete to "catch up" to current events.
a score, you reset and get a "free" downtime phase again.
See page 27 for the rules for all the downtime rolls.
GM: If a player can't decide which special downtime move to pick,
offer them a project idea. You know what the player is interested
in and what they like. Suggest a project that will head in a fun
direction for them.
You got that weird vision when you were messing around with
the altar to the Forgotten Gods, remember? You want to get to
the bottom of that, probably. Okay, start a project8 segments
called... "Weird God Vibes." What do you do to work on that?

20
gm
gm: goals, principles, & actions
GM Goals
This is what you're trying to accomplish when you run the game.
hollows, weird sounds, arcane energies, and strange cults
everywhere. How does the haunted city manifest here?
they can react in time, they can make an action roll. If they're
hit with trouble, they can roll to resist it. Go ahead and say,
Surround them with industrial sprawl. Duskwall is crowded "The Unseen told you what would happen if you interfered.
Play to find out what happens. Don't steer the game toward
with factories and their choking soot clouds, buzzing electric They firebomb your lair while you're sleeping." The players
certain outcomes or events. Be curious!
lights, ironworks, clanking machines. will interrupt, flashback, scramble and deal with it! It'll be fun.
Bring Duskwall to life. Give each location a specific aspect
Consider the risk. Think about the risks and dangers inherent Tell them the consequences and ask. "Yeah, you can totally
(crowded, cold, wet, dim, etc.). Give each NPC a name,
in most things the scoundrels do. A risky move is the default smash him. But he'll remember this. And he's friends with
detail and a preferred method of problem solving (threats,
action almost all the time. When they've taken great care and Inspector Krop, remember? Still want to do it?"
bargaining, violence, etc.). Give each action context the
knife fight is on rickety wooden stairs; the informant huddles are building on successes, they might make controlled moves. Offer a devil's bargain. Think of a fun complication or reckless
among the wreckage of the statue of the Weeping Lady; the When they have to improvise off the cuff or when they're in decision. Offer them the bonus die in exchange. If you don't
Lampblacks' lair stinks of black lotus smoke. over their heads, they're probably making desperate moves. have a good idea, you can offer the devil's die in exchange for
Go with your gut. Call the positions as you see them, but be heat or stress.
Convey the fictional world honestly. Spirits are terrifying. open to revision.
Friends are really friends they'll help when they can but it Show the downside of their vice. Take a look at the purveyors
cuts both ways. If someone is reasonable, they'll listen to reason. GM Actions of vice (p. 35). How do their connections factor in to the
Don't keep pointless secrets so you can "reveal" them later. Let The player characters have sixteen actions they use. You have current situation in a problematic way?
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 Make a progress clock or tick one down. Keep a stack of
things in your head. you're not sure what to do, look at your list of actions and pick one. index cards handy. Make clocks like crazy! Keep them out
where everyone can see.
GM Principles First and foremost, ask questions.
Ask the players. Ask them if this seems desperate. Ask
Be a fan of the PCs. Present the world honestly things really When things are getting started: them where their character eats their meals. Ask them who
are stacked against them but don't make yourself the enemy What plan did you make? their character slept with last. Ask them questions they can
of the PCs. They have enemies enough. Be interested in the answer from within their character's POV things they know,
Who scouted it out? (fill in the plan detail)
characters and excited about their victories. suspect, experienced, or hope for.
Who's on point? (cut to the action)
Let everything flow from the fiction. The game's starting Actions ripple through the network. Every event has
situations and your opening scene will put things in motion. And when things are underway:
consequences, good and bad. What one faction loves, another
Ask how the characters react and see what happens next. NPCs How do you do that? (which action do you use?) hates. How is a certain faction connected to this? How might
react according to their goals and methods. Events snowball. What's your goal? (which effect do you want?) they know about it?
You don't need to "manage" the game. Action, reaction, and
Think off-screen. What's happening elsewhere? Put it on
consequences will drive everything. Cut to the moment of crisis. When they say, "We should break screen. Show something only the audience sees.
Hold on lightly. Rewind, revise, and reconsider events as in to the Dimmer Sisters' house," say "Okay, sounds like a plan.
needed to accommodate the action of the game. Infiltration? Okay, what's the point of entry?" Then, when they After every GM move, ask "What do you do?"
Address the characters. "Silver, where do you go to look for answer, "All right, so you're on the rooftop of the fabric store
the Red Sashes?" not "Sara, where does Silver go?" This puts across the alley from their house. It's quiet and dark in there.
Silver front and centerhis preferences, desires, and style. Who's on point?"
Silver comes to life as a character. Telegraph trouble before it strikes. Show them a threat that's
Address the players. "Sara, how do you want to handle this?" about to hit, then ask them what they do. Then it's easy to know
not "How does Silver do that?" This puts Sara front and center what's at stake when they roll.
her preferences, desires, and style. Sara can consider what Follow through and hit them hard. You've telegraphed the
she wants, then filter it through Silver. threat, so go ahead and follow through when it hits. Players
Paint the world with a haunted brush. There are ghosts and have several tools at their disposal to deal with adversity. If

21
gm
gm: best practices
Convey the ongoing fictional space as accurately as is
desirable for this group. Be concise. Use small details
Keep the meta channel open. When you portray an
NPC, tell the players things that are going unsaid. Invite
when they help to convey a bigger picture. them to ask their Gather Information questions
Lead an interesting conversation. The game is nothing but to dig deeper. The characters have a broad spectrum of
a conversation between you and the players. The goal of the senses and intuitions to bring to bear in the fiction; the
conversation is to answer the question "What happens now?" players have only the narrow channel of your few words.
in the most engaging way possible. The most interesting Help them out by sharing what they might suspect, intuit,
conversations are those that are curiousasking questions feel, and predict.
and prompting ideasrather than dogmatic or one-sided. Be a curious explorer of the game in play. Ask the
Be curious about what the other players have to say. players questions to feed your own interest in the ongoing
Create an atmosphere of inquiry at the table. This fiction in which the PCs are the protagonists. Your game
means you play to find out what happens, not to make series is a cool TV show and you're its biggest fan. When
sure something specific happens. Will they go to war you're curious about something that a PC says or does,
with the Fog Hounds? Is Nyla badass enough to take out ask them about it! "I'm curious, though, when you tell
the thugs by herself? Can they avoid or predict Casta's him you'd do anything to help, do you really mean that?
betrayal? Play to find out. Don't contrive events ahead Anything? Are you that kind of person? Or are you just
of time or manipulate play to bring them about. manipulating him?" These questions will often lead to
goals, approaches, and rolls.
Ask questions to lead the assessment of the fictional
space when engaging the mechanics. "Which of the Advocate for the interests and capabilities of the NPCs.
position profiles matches your situation here? Taking a Your job is to convey the fictional world accurately,
calculated risk, or is it a reckless move?" remember? Believable NPCs with interests and capabilities
make for a more compelling fictional world. Don't be a
Help the players use the game system to pursue the
push over. When the PCs take action against an NPC,
goals of the characters. Don't let them flounder. When
remind the players of their interests and capabilities. "But
they have a goal, ask them about any opportunities they
Quellyn won't just go along with all this, right? They're a
have to pursue it. Present two possible approaches from
witch, wanted by the spirit wardens. How are you going to
that opportunity and ask if they want to choose one or
contend with that?" When the PCs act in alignment with
invent a third way.
the interests of NPCs, remind the players of their support
Don't block. It's not your job to say "you can't do that." and friendship.
You're not the sole authority on what the characters can
Bring the elements of the game system to life on screen
and cannot do. Instead, ask them: "You need to create an
(especially effects). When an NPC is influenced,
opportunity to attempt that, right?" Ask them how they
what does that look like? When a PC is hunted by the
might create an opportunity they need. Don't block. Show
guards, what fictional details convey that change in their
them that there's a path to their goal, even if it might be
situation? Ask the other players for ideas if you want to.
a long or dangerous one.
"Do they come rushing over with lantern lights trained
Earn the trust of the group by being a supportive and on you?" "Oh, no, maybe they have electric lights here,
fair advocate of the integrity of the fiction. It's your job and they all come on with a massive crackle of energy."
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.

22
gm
gm: techniques & bad habits
Play Goal-Forward.
Poll the group about what goal they're pursuing, either in the
Bad Habits. Avoid These! Good Habits
Calling for a specific action roll. This bad habit usually happens
"How do you do that?" (Which action
bigger picture of the game (best used at the beginning of a session) if you've GM'd other games where this is kinda your job. You
or in this microcosm of the present moment (best used when things might say, "Give me a Murder roll," or "That's a Consort check" or do you use?)
are underway and the situation is snowballing). Once you know whatever. Don't do that! Get used to saying this, instead: "How
the goal, have a conversation about opportunities, actions, and

What effect do you want?
do you do that?" Ask them which action they use.
effects. The pursuit of opportunities and positions to enable certain
Which plan did you make? Use the
Letting planning get out of hand. Some players will plan an
approaches, the acquisition of information and resources, and the planning system! Ask them to choose one,
operation forever if no one stops themeven if they hate doing it!
nested conflicts and that result will drive the action of the game. supply the detail, and say who's on point. Then
They think it's worth the trouble if they can cover every potential
What are you trying to accomplish? Do you have an opportunity describe the opening moment of the operation,
issue or avoid some bad outcome. This is not how Blades in the
to do that? How do you want to go about it? Follow this chain of already underway.
Dark works. Everything is resolved by action and effect rolls,
events as actions and consequences play out. Let the players lead
so get to them! If someone has a cool maneuver or idea, that's
Give them what they earn.
where the game goes next.
great, but, at best, it's still a controlled action roll. They can't
plan and discuss their way out of making the rolls. An idea is
Say yes, and show them a path to
Cut to the Action not execution.
Solicit a goal and plan, then cut to the action and use dice rolls to what they want, filled with danger
move the situation forward. Don't be afraid to resolve something! Not giving them what the earn. If they get into position, make and opportunity.
They want to eliminate Ulf Ironborn and then they plan it and do the roll, and have their effect, they get what they earned. Don't
it, despite the odds and dangers? It's done. Don't string things out. weasel out of it! Things are hard enough on them already. Don't
be a skinflint about victories; defeats will come without your
Put it in Context thumb on the scales. The scoundrels are at the bottom of the
The game is a conversation between the real people at the table, but faction ladder, but that doesn't mean they're ineffective. It means
the action happens in the fictional space. Always place actions and they needs lots and lots of victories to make it. They're good at
effects in the fictional context. Where is it happening? Who's there? the game, they just started out with a negative score on the board.
What's the vibe? What interesting details distinguish this context Saying no. There's always a better answer than "no" or "you can't
as the haunted industrial-fantasy world of Duskwall? do that." Offer a devil's bargain! "So... you want to seduce the
most experienced madame in the city. Uh huh. Okay then. That's
Put it on Screen desperate, with a -1d penalty. And here's my bargain: regardless of
The game is a conversation, but roleplaying can still be a visual how this goes, you fall in love with her." Or tell them to start the
medium in the imagination. Take every opportunity you can to first phase of a long-term project clock. That's what they're there
bring the game to life in the minds of the players. Describe the for. "You want to trace every contraband route into Duskwall?
action as if it's on screen in a TV show. What does that look like Okay, start a long-term clock. The first phase is... 'Assemble the
on screen? list of all the contraband dealers.'" Saying no is boring.

Put it on a card.
Use index cards for NPCs, locations, job offers, leads, etc. It's easy
to lose track of things if you don't have a record of it. By putting
important things on index cards, everyone can see them spread out
on the table and incorporate them into the game.

23
city wards
gm reference duskwall notables (richest to poorest)
The Eye, anonymous leader of The Unseen. The Hand, chief
Whitecrown
gm goals Names Adric, Aldo, Amison, Andrel, Arcy, Arden, Arilyn, Arquo, lieutenant. Groll, a mid-level thug with ambitions.
Play to find out what happens. Arvus, Ashlyn, Birch, Bird, Branon, Brace, Brance, Brena, Bricks, Candra, Lyssa, a crime boss. Cold and calculating. Killed her former Brightstone
Bring Duskwall to Life. Canter, Carissa, Carro, Casslyn, Cavelle, Chime, Clave, Coil, Corille, Cross, boss, Roric.
Six Towers
Crowl, Cyrene, Daphnia, Drav, Edlun, Emeline, Flint, Frog, Frost, Grine, The Dimmer Sisters. People say theyre witches who drink
Convey the world honestly. Charterhall
Helles, Hix, Holtz, Hook, Kamelin, Keel, Kelyr, Kobb, Kristov, Laudius, blood. Never seen outside their home.
Lauria, Lenia, Lizete, Lorette, Lucella, Lynthia, Mara, Milos, Mist, Moon,
gm principles Morlan, Myre, Nail, Narcus, Naria, Needle, Noggs, Odrienne, Orlan, Phin, Ulf Ironborn, a brutal Skovlander, looking to seize a ward. Nightmarket
Be a fan of the PCs. Polonia, Pool, Potch, Quess, Remira, Ring, Roethe, Sesereth, Sethla, Silver, Mylera Klev, leader of the Red Sash gang. Prizes fine art. Silkshore
Let everything flow from the fiction. Skannon, Skeever, Skinner, Song, Stavrul, Stev, Syra, Talitha, Tesslyn, Baszo Baz, leader of the Lampblacks. A connoisseur of whisky. Coalridge
Hold on lightly. Thena, Thistle, Thorn, Timoth, Tocker, Una, Vauri, Veleris, Veretta,
Vestine, Vey, Volette, Vond, Weaver, Wester. Merrul Brime, a secrets broker, proprietor of the Hooded Fox. The Docks
Address the characters.
Lady Devira, a city magistrate on the payroll of criminals. Crows Foot
Address the players. Family Names: Brogan, Tyrconnell, Dunvil, Comber, Millar, Slane,
Paint the world with a haunted brush. Strangford, Dalmore, Edrad, Lomond, Clelland, Arran, Scapa, Kinclaith, Mordis, a merchant of the night market. A fence. Hides his Dunslough
Coleburn, Penalten, Strathmill, Haig, Morriston, Penderyn, Danfield, true appearance under a heavy robe and hood.
Surround them with industrial sprawl. Barrowcleft
Consider the risk. Hellyers, Walund, Templeton, Michter, Bowman, Prichard, Keel, Wathen, Taffer, a merchant of the night market. A cultist.
Clermont, Rowan, Booker. Grel Oro, a merchant of the night market. A smuggler.
Charhollow
gm actions Elstera Avrathi, resident diplomat of Iruvia. locations
Ask questions! Looks Man, Woman, Ambiguous, Concealed. Kurt Skyhold, resident diplomat of Skovlan.
Undercross
When things are getting started: Affable Worn Athletic Lovely Plump Stern Tyrsin Nol, resident diplomat of Severos.
Echo Gardens
What plan did you make? (and what's Brooding Lean Stout Handsome Squat Open Andris, a spy and informant with flexible loyalties.
the detail?) Bright Wiry Scarred Slim Weathered Languid The Night Market
Krop, a constable of the watch. Refuses bribes.
Who's on point? Dark Huge Rough Delicate Cold Calm The Canals
Fair Chiseled Striking Bony Sad Fierce Lewit, Jol, Cinda, Reyf, bluecoats of the watch.
And when things are underway: Rolan Wot, a judge-inspector. Rooting out corruption. Chalk Street Bridge
How do you do that? (which action Casslyn Mora, a judge with family ties to criminals. Candle Street
do you use?)
What's your goal? (which effect do
vice Belindra, a jailor of Ironhook Prison.
Bridge
When they overindulge or spend coin, their purveyor may Ereth Skane, an advocate with unseemly vices. Gaddoc Rail Station
you want?)
offer them a lead on a new score. Denkirk Sol, an advocate with surprising scruples. Heartbreak Square
Cut to the moment of crisis.
Polix, attache to the Lord Governor of Duskwall. A secret The Anvilworks
Telegraph trouble before it strikes.
Tell them the consequences and ask.
flashback stress costs spiritualist and rune-binder. Black Circle
Offer a devil's bargain. 0 Stress for a normal action for which you had easy Nyryx and Hoxan, rogue spirits possessing the bodies of
Cathedral Hill
opportunity. streetwalkers, looking for a whisper to serve.
Show the downside of their vice. Bellweather
Make a progress clock or tick one down. Levyra, a spirit medium.
1 Stress for a complex action or unlikely opportunity. Crematorium
Ask the players. Kember, a distiller of essences and potions, proprietor of the
2 Stress for an elaborate action which involved Devils Tooth. Ironhook Prison
Actions ripple through the network.
several special opportunities or contingencies. Raffello, a master painter obsessed with the unnatural.
Think off-screen.
Lannic, an expert art forger.
What do you do?

teamwork: on point teamwork: backup gather information planning downtime bonus dice
What do they intend to do? Choose the plan the characters have Choose your carried Items.
Lead a group action. Face an effect for the made, establish a detail, cut to the action. Restore your Armor. + Assist (They take 1 stress)
What might I suspect based
character on point. on this? Assault plan: Point of attack. Recover & indulge your Vice.
Overcome a group problem. What's the danger here? Deception plan: Method. and choose 1: + Devil's Bargain.
Assist another character. Reduce heat on the crew.
Where could I go to find X? Infiltration plan: Entry point.
Ask about a detail for a Occult plan: Arcane power. Work on a project clock. Background (Action)
Set up another character. Follow through on a setup. + Fine Item (Effect)
plan. Social plan: Social connection. Acquire an asset.
starting the game
starting the game
Explain the Situation
Read or summarize the info on page 6.
The Next Scenes
Play the NPCs. Mylera, Bazso, and Lyssa all have thiefy things that Score I
need doing, so they'll offer the PCs jobs (until the PCs make an One of the gang leaders (Bazso Baz or
Make Characters and the Crew enemy of them, of course). Use the scores tables on page 40 for Mylera) offers you a score: Go rob the
Follow the procedures on page 31 and page 38. Ask some of these ideas. Also, each faction is vulnerable to thievery in some way. treasury of their rival.
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? Who's on point?
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
Who do you trust the most on the crew? Who do you trust the the detail, then ask who's on point, and get to it. One of the gang leaders (Bazso Baz or
least? What's that about? Or will we find out in play? Mylera) offers you a score: Plant this strange
artifact somewhere in their rival's HQ.
Has [faction] ever tried to recruit you ? What happened? You, The Campaign
uh, don't secretly work for them, do you? This quick start isn't really meant for a campaign, but, you can easily What does it do? It's covered in weird
play out the consequences of the starting situation over several runes and makes your head go swimmy
The First Scene sessions. Who ends up running the ward? Do the PCs use the when you hold it in your hand. Want to
situation to rise up in the faction ranks? Do they manage to play for bother to find out what it is, or not?
After they make characters and the crew, tell them this:
all three sides, or do they have to take a stand? Plenty of material What's the plan? Provide the detail.
You're in the office of the Lampblack's leader, Bazso Baz. He to work with there. Who's on point?
wants your answer. Are you with them, or against them? What
do you say? Will you side with the Lampblacks? Will you just
pretend to? (Good luck, Bazso is very sharp). Will you tell him
to fuck off?
Are you actually here to kill him for the Red Sashes? (If so, do a
Score III
flashback and pick a plan for the assassination.) Lyssa is vulnerable. She needs assistance if
she's gonna seize control of the ward.
Play Bazso. React to their answer how he'd react. If they're with
him, he has the perfect assignment for thiefy types like them: go Steal some loot and bring it to her to help
steal the Red Sashes treasury from their vault. If they're against her pay for bribes and thugs to seize the
him, he says he's very sorry to hear that. They better get off his turf ward. Profit and status both, for you.
and stay out of the war, or they're all dead. He threatens them with What's the plan? Provide the detail.
easy confidence. What are they gonna do? Who's on point?

25
action & effect rolls
action roll
1d for each Action dot. Desperate Risky Controlled
You take a huge risk on a slim chance. You face a dangerous opponent on equal You take time to carefully execute a plan.
Youre stuck in a bad position. You face footing. You act under fire. You take a You hedge your bets and play it safe. You
+1d if the target matches your a threat thats out of your league. calculated risk. exploit a dominant position.
+ Background.
Crit: You do it and avoid the danger. Crit: You do it with increased effect (+1 Crit: You do it with increased effect (+1
effect result level). level) and you may create an additional
+ +1d for the Devils Bargain 6: You do it but face the effect of the
opportunity that follows on from this
danger. 6: You do it and avoid the danger. or you
action.
may choose to overreach and get +1 effect
+ +1d for Backup (they take stress). 4/5: Things go badly. You face the effect of
level but also face effect from the danger. 6: You do it!
the danger at hand. You must abandon this
-1d if youre hindered by any approach or try again by taking a bigger 4/5: You do it but face the effect of the 4/5: You do it with reduced effect (-1
- risk and rolling a desperate move. danger. level), or try for full effect by taking a
relevant lasting effects.
bigger risk and rolling a risky move.
-1d if you face veteran, elite, or 1-3: It gets worse! You face a more potent 1-3: Things go badly. You face the effect
- effect from the danger (-1 to your resist of the danger at hand. You must abandon 1-3: You reveal a flaw in this approach
well-prepared opposition.
effect level). You must abandon this goal this particular approach (youll have to that will expose you to danger. You may
(you cant achieve it for now) or try try another way) or try again by taking a back out now (abandon this method of
again by taking a bigger risk and rolling bigger risk and rolling a desperate move. action) or go ahead with it by rolling a
a desperate move. risky move.

effect roll Scale When you take an action to Gather


Information, the effect of your roll allows
1d for each Effect diamond . Critical: Your effect is extreme Mismatch: +1d effect if you're larger. you to ask the GM a question. You always
beyond what we would expect given this -1d effect if you're smaller. get an honest answer, even on a 1-3, but the
situation. 6 segments. 0 stress better the roll, the better the information.
+ +1d if you have a Fine Item. Overwhelmed: +1 effect result level if
6: Your effect is completeit's what you're larger. -1 effect result level if you're Extreme: An expansive and far-reaching
we would expect given this situation. smaller. answer, allowing a follow up question or two.
+ +1d for the Devils Bargain 4 segments. 1 stress
Outclassed: Larger unit gets critical Complete: A complete, detailed answer.
4/5: Your effect is partialblunted, effect while smaller unit has a weak effect.
+ +1d for Backup (they take stress). Diminished: A simple answer, but not the
diffused, or only incomplete. 2 whole story.
Sometimes, larger scale is a hindrance. In
segments. 2 stress
-1d if your opposition is especially this case, reverse the large / small modifiers Weak: A single nugget of information,
- 1-3: Your effect is diminishedmuch above.
potent in this effect category. leaving much more to learn.
less than we would expect given this
situation. 1 segment. 4 stress. You can acquire assets to hire a larger gang for Also remember you can spend coin for +1
an operation (up to +1 gang size) effect level when you gather information.
downtime rolls or
You may take more than one downtime phase between scores, but each
additional downtime phase costs 1 coin or 1 hold.

acquire asset roll recovery roll


1d for each Supply dot. Critical: You may acquire a rare or 1d for each Action dot. Critical: Tick 6 segments of
unusual form of a fine asset. recovery.

Increase the rolled result level by +1 6: You acquire a fine asset. Increase the rolled result level by +1 6: Tick 4 segments of recovery.
for each parcel of coin you spend. 4/5: You acquire a standard asset. for each parcel of coin you spend. 4/5: Tick 2 segments of recovery.
1-3: The asset isn't available right now. 1-3: Tick 1 segment of recovery.

Temporary Use
When you acquire an asset this way, its for one use only. This may be a single instance (like Heal Thyself You may distribute segments among any effects
pouring a vial of poison into a goblet, or luring a rogue ghost into a spirit bottle) or a single period You may attend to yourself if you have appropriate to the expert attending to you a
of use (like hiring a boat for a couple hours). the skill, but its far from ideal. You suffer physicker for injuries, an advocate for legal
1 stress. woes, an occultist for supernatural effects, etc.

reduce heat roll vice roll


1d for each Action dot. Critical: Reduce heat level by 2. 1d for each Vice effect diamond. Critical: You clear 6 stress.
6: Reduce heat level by 1. 6: You clear 4 stress.
Increase the rolled result level by +1 4/5: Reduce heat level by 1 if you take Increase the rolled result level by +1 4/5: You clear 2 stress.
for each parcel of coin you spend. 1 stress. for each parcel of coin you spend.
1-3: You clear 1 stress.
1-3: Reduce heat level by 1 if you take
2 stress. Increase the rolled result level by +1 Leads: If you spend coin or overindulge, the
if you choose an overindulgence. purveyor will be willing to discuss a lead on a
new criminal job, if youre interested.

work on a long-term project Overindulgences


Critical: Advance the project clock Broke. You pawn off your assets to pay for a Bad Rep. You let word get around about your
1d for each Action dot.
massive indulgence in your vice. Lose access vice problem. Lose one status level with your
by 6 segments.
to all but one of your personal items or gear least understanding faction connection until you
Increase the rolled result level by +1 6: Advance the clock by 4 segments. (its your choice which one to keep) until you assure them that youre reliable. Mark the status
for each parcel of coin you spend. 4/5: Advance the clock by 2 segments. next complete a profitable job. box with a slash to show the temporary reduction.
Tapped. You really overdo it. Your current Lost. You lose yourself in your vice. Play a different
1-3: Advance the clock by 1 segment.
purveyor cuts you off and you need to find a character (maybe "graduate" one of the NPCs from
new source for your vice. your crew's units to PC status) until this one returns.
Group Action
Remember you can use teamwork to lead a group action to allow multiple PCs to roll for the
single best result. The PC who initiates takes 1 stress for each 1-3 result rolled.
heat & development rolls When you complete a score, roll Heat. If the score
was a success, roll Development.

heat roll When you complete a score development roll When you complete a successful score

Roll dice based on the events of last Critical: The crew takes 3 heat. 1d for each crew Resources Critical: Your crew gains 2 hold and
session: 6: The crew takes 2 heat. effect diamond. 3 coin and roll an entanglement, below.
1d Smooth & quiet. Low exposure. 4/5: The crew takes 1 heat. 6: Your crew gains 2 hold and 2 coin
2d Under control. Medium exposure. +1d for each level 3 faction status and roll an entanglement, below.
1-3: The crew takes 0 heat. +
you hold (positive or negative). 4/5: Your crew gains 1 hold and
3d Loud & chaotic. High exposure.
2 coin and roll an entanglement, below.
4d Wild. Devastating exposure. Wanted Level
If you need to take heat, but don't have any 1-3: Your crew gains 1 hold and
boxes left, you must mark a box of wanted 1 coin and roll an entanglement, below.
+ +1d for high profile target. level instead. The bad news is: wanted level
marks are permanent. The good news is: when Entanglements (Heat levels 1-4)
+ +1d if killing was involved. you mark a wanted level, reset your heat to zero 1: Unquiet Dead. The rogue spirit of a past 4: The Little Guy. An equal- or lower-tier
and advance your Renown by 1 (this is the only victim finds its way to you. Pay 1 coin to a crew asks you for a hand. You may give them
-2d if the action happened on turf way to advance Renown). Whisper or Rail Jack to exorcise it, or deal 1 coin or 1 hold in exchange for a favor of
- with it yourself. your choosing.
you or a friendly (+3) faction control. Your wanted level represents the threat level of
Bluecoats and Inspectors sent after you when you 2: Rivals. A faction with whom you have a 5: The Law. The Bluecoats aren't messing
attract the attention of the law. neutral status throws their weight around. Pay around right now. Pay them off with 1 coin or
them 1 hold or 1 coin, or lose 1 status take +1 heat.
with them.
6: Cooperation. A +3 status faction asks you
3: Old Debts. A friend calls in their marker. for a favor. Agree to do it or give them 1 hold.
Pay them 1 coin or agree to perform the favor If you don't have a +3 faction status, you avoid
they ask. entanglements right now.

Entanglements (Heat levels 5-8)


1: Demonic Attention. A demon 4: Opportunists. An equal- or lower-tier crew
approaches the crew with a dark offer. Accept plans to betray you to facilitate their climb up the
it or weasel out and hide until it loses interest ladder. Give them 2 hold or endure whatever
in you and lose 3 hold. comes of their betrayal.
2: Vengeful Dead. The rogue spirit of a 5: Investigation. An Inspector of the watch
vindictive enemy finds its way to you. Pay has started a file on your crew's crimes, to build
2 coin to a Whisper or Rail Jack to exorcise a case for your arrests. Pay them off with 2 coin
it, or deal with it yourself. or take +2 heat.
3: Show of Force. A faction with whom 6: Cooperation. A +3 status faction asks you
you have a negative status makes a play on for a favor. Agree to do it or give them 2 hold.
your turf. Pay them 2 hold or 2 coin, or If you don't have a +3 faction status, you avoid
go to war. entanglements right now.
character creation
1. Choose Playbook
Your playbook represents the nature of your character, their
Actions Effects
Actions are grouped into four categories: Blade (the bloody actions Force: How hard do you hit? How strong is your hold? How
special abilities, and how they advance. Playbooks arent unique of battle), Book (the actions of knowledge and reason), Cloak (the
multiple players can choose the same one. scary is your display of violence? How badly do you wreck it?
subtle actions of the shadows), and Mask (social actions).
Finesse: How quickly or smoothly do you do it? How stylish
2. Choose a Special Ability Attune to spiritual forces and electroplasmic energy; or impressive is it? How hard is it to detect?
Choose 1 starting special ability. Note: the Veteran ability can understand spectrology, ancient lore, rituals, and occult
Influence: How thorough is your manipulation? How far do
be taken twice, which is why it has two dots. Each time you practices.
you get with this ploy? How well do you allay their suspicions?
choose it, fill one dot. Cipher information with books and academic knowledge; do
Insight: How much do you find out? How detailed or broad
research; employ codes and secret messages; forge documents.
2. Choose a Heritage is the information? How accurately can you predict with this
...and detail it with a note about your family life. Ex. Skovlan: Command obedience with your force of personality; knowledge?
Ore Miners. intimidate or threaten; execute an action with one of the
Maneuver: How much ground do you cover? How good is
crew's units.
3. Choose a Background the position you take?
Consort with your friends and contacts to discover information
...and detail it with your specific history. Ex. Academic: Former or gain access to people or places; acquire new connections. Will: How well do you resist it? How brave are you? How
Legal Advocate. much inner power can you muster?
Deceive with falsehoods, disguise, or bluff; detect lies; evade
4. Assign Action Dots questions and scrutiny; conceal your true intentions. Names Adric, Aldo, Amison, Andrel, Arcy, Arden, Arilyn, Arquo,
Assign 6 dots (in addition to those already marked for your Discern what's really going on; put the pieces together; gain a Arvus, Ashlyn, Birch, Bird, Branon, Brace, Brance, Brena, Bricks,
playbook). No action may be higher than 2 (until you unlock Candra, Canter, Carissa, Carro, Casslyn, Cavelle, Chime, Clave, Coil,
deeper understanding; focus and judge; anticipate and foresee.
Expert training for the crew). Corille, Cross, Crowl, Cyrene, Daphnia, Drav, Edlun, Emeline, Flint,
Feint an opponent with subtle action; misdirection, Frog, Frost, Grine, Helles, Hix, Holtz, Hook, Kamelin, Keel, Kelyr, Kobb,
5. Assign Effect Diamonds distraction; sleight of hand, pickpocketing; blending in to in Kristov, Laudius, Lauria, Lenia, Lizete, Lorette, Lucella, Lynthia, Mara,
Assign 4 diamonds to effects (Force, Finesse, Influence, Insight, a crowd; remaining inconspicuous. Milos, Mist, Moon, Morlan, Myre, Nail, Narcus, Naria, Needle, Noggs,
Odrienne, Orlan, Phin, Polonia, Pool, Potch, Quess, Remira, Ring,
Maneuver, Steel) in addition to those already marked. No effect Mayhem wrecks with savage force; brawl and wrestle; fight Roethe, Sesereth, Sethla, Silver, Skannon, Skeever, Skinner, Song, Stavrul,
may begin higher than 2 (but may advance further after character in a group skirmish. Stev, Syra, Talitha, Tesslyn, Thena, Thistle, Thorn, Timoth, Tocker, Una,
creation). Murder a target with precision violence; execute a killing Vauri, Veleris, Veretta, Vestine, Vey, Volette, Vond, Weaver, Wester.
6. Choose Items Carried and leave little evidence; engage in skillful combat. Family Names: Brogan, Tyrconnell, Dunvil, Comber, Millar, Slane,
Check the boxes of the items you carry. The number of items you Prowl about unseen and overcome physical obstacles; Strangford, Dalmore, Edrad, Lomond, Clelland, Arran, Scapa, Kinclaith,
check determines your movement speed and conspicuousness general athletic ability. Coleburn, Penalten, Strathmill, Haig, Morriston, Penderyn, Danfield,
Hellyers, Walund, Templeton, Michter, Bowman, Prichard, Keel, Wathen,
(items in italics don't count toward your load): 3: Light (youre Secure entry into a protected area by defeating locks and Clermont, Rowan, Booker.
faster and less conspicuous. you can blend in with citizens). avoiding alarms or traps; secure an area against infiltration.
4 or 5: Normal (you look like a scoundrel, ready for trouble). Looks Man, Woman, Ambiguous, Concealed.
Stalk a target to discover where it is, where it's going, where
6: Heavy (youre slower. you look like an operative on a mission). Affable Worn Athletic Lovely Plump Stern
it's been, and who's connected to it.
Some items count as two items for load (they have two connected Brooding Lean Stout Handsome Squat Open
boxes). Note that the Cutter playbook can carry a heavier load. Stitch up wounds and provide long-term care; remove a Bright Wiry Scarred Slim Weathered Languid
lasting effect penalty for one sequence of action. Dark Huge Rough Delicate Cold Calm
7. Choose A Favorite Friend Supply the temporary use of an asset by mustering finances; Fair Chiseled Striking Bony Sad Fierce
You begin with all of your friends. Mark the one who is a close
bribe or coerce with money; trace supply routes for goods Tricorn Hat Tall Boots
friend, long-time ally, or lover.
and services. Long Coat Mask & Robes
8. Choose Your Vice Sway attitudes and behavior with charm, manipulation, or Hood & Veil Suit & Vest
Pick your preferred vice from the list. You indulge your vice to bravado; seduce and lure; make a convincing case. Short Cloak Thick Greatcoat
clear stress. Your vice rating begins at 1. Knit Cap Loose Silks
Tinker with devices and chemistry to create, modify, or Slim Jacket Waxed Coat
9. Record Name, Alias, & Look repair. Hooded Coat Long Scarf
cutter
blade

command


mayhem

special abilities
murder


stitch

name look Deadly: Any attack you make does +1d effect or ignores 1

armor, your choice, moment to moment.
book
heritage:akorosdagger isles background:academicbluecoatlabor Not As Bad As It Looked: After a battle, you instantly get

iruviaseverosskovlantycheros merchantnobleunderworld two ticks toward recovering from lasting effects.
attune


cipher


vice affiliationdrinkdrugsfaithgamblingloversluxuriesweird Wolfpack: Take 1 stress to give your team +1d Force in battle.


supply

Not to be Trifled With: In combat, you ignore 1 level of

tinker

stress trauma armor +heavy scale differential.
lasting effects battleborn Battleborn: You get special armor against physical attacks in
cloak
combat. When you roll a critical in combat, clear 1 stress.

feint

Daring: When you roll 1-3 and choose to try again with more

prowl

coin
stash risk, you get +1d.
notes

secure

Experienced: Choose an additional background with which

stalk

you get a bonus.

Veteran: Choose a special ability from another playbook.
mask
items (3,4)Light. (5)Normal. (6,7)Heavy. Items in italics don't count. dangerous friends
consort

A Blade or Two Fine hand weapon Marlane, a pugilist

deceive

Throwing Knives Fine large weapon Thena, a veteran warrior


discern

A Pistol & Shot Manacles & chain
sway

Chael, a vicious thug

A Large Weapon Rage essence vial desperate rolls
An Unusual Weapon Mercy, a cold killer

Wrecker tools
Armor +Heavy Concealed blade Grace, an extortionist
effects
Burglary Tools Spiritbane charm Stras, a clever blade


force
Climbing Gear
Books / Maps
playbook advancement

finesse
Spectrology Gear Defeat a superior opponent.

influence
Subterfuge Supplies Solve a problem with violence.

insight
Tinkering Tools Destroy an enemys asset, influence, or resource.

maneuver
A small personal item Express your relationship to the crew. Why are you here?

will

teamwork: on point teamwork: backup gather information planning downtime bonus dice
What do they intend to do? Choose the plan the characters have Choose your carried Items.
Lead a group action. Face an effect for the made, establish a detail, cut to the action. Restore your Armor. + Assist (They take 1 stress)
What might I suspect based
character on point. on this? Assault plan: Point of attack. Recover & indulge your Vice.
Overcome a group problem. What's the danger here? Deception plan: Method. and choose 1: + Devil's Bargain.
Assist another character. Reduce heat on the crew.
Where could I go to find X? Infiltration plan: Entry point.
Ask about a detail for a Occult plan: Arcane power. Work on a project clock. Background (Action)
Set up another character. Follow through on a setup. + Fine Item (Effect)
plan. Social plan: Social connection. Acquire an asset.
hound
blade

command


mayhem

special abilities
murder


stitch

name look Detached: Take -1d to an action roll to clear 1 stress.

Unorthodox: Take 1 stress to substitute one effect rating for
book
heritage:akorosdagger isles background:academicbluecoatlabor another.
iruviaseverosskovlantycheros merchantnobleunderworld
attune

Predator: Take +1d to rolls against injured, weakened, or

cipher


vice affiliationdrinkdrugsfaithgamblingloversluxuriesweird vulnerable targets.

supply

stress
Marked Target: When you gather information about a

tinker

trauma armor +heavy person, you and your team get +1d effect against them.
lasting effects cold Cold: You get special armor vs. mental effects (fear, confusion,
cloak
etc.). When you roll a critical while hunting a target, clear 1 stress.

feint

Daring: When you roll 1-3 and choose to try again with more

prowl

coin
stash risk, you get +1d.
notes

secure

Experienced: Choose an additional background with which

stalk

you get a bonus.

Veteran: Choose a special ability from another playbook.

mask
items (3)Light. (4,5)Normal. (6)Heavy. Items in italics don't count. deadly friends
consort

A Blade or Two Fine pair of pistols Bell, a duelist

deceive

Throwing Knives Fine long rifle Oman, an assassin


discern

A Pistol & Shot Electroplasmic ammunition
sway

Celene, a sentinel

A Large Weapon A fine trained hunting pet desperate rolls
An Unusual Weapon Melvir Kepp, a physicker

Far-sight spyglass
Armor +Heavy Concealed blade Veleris, a spy
effects
Burglary Tools Spiritbane charm Casta, a bounty hunter


force
Climbing Gear
Books / Maps
playbook advancement

finesse
Spectrology Gear Hunt or ambush a challenging target.

influence
Subterfuge Supplies Establish your dominance over a person or situation.

insight
Tinkering Tools Seize control of an enemy's asset, influence, or resource.

maneuver
A small personal item Express your relationship to the crew. Why are you here?

will

teamwork: on point teamwork: backup gather information planning downtime bonus dice
What do they intend to do? Choose the plan the characters have Choose your carried Items.
Lead a group action. Face an effect for the made, establish a detail, cut to the action. Restore your Armor. + Assist (They take 1 stress)
What might I suspect based
character on point. on this? Assault plan: Point of attack. Recover & indulge your Vice.
Overcome a group problem. What's the danger here? Deception plan: Method. and choose 1: + Devil's Bargain.
Assist another character. Reduce heat on the crew.
Where could I go to find X? Infiltration plan: Entry point.
Ask about a detail for a Occult plan: Arcane power. Work on a project clock. Background (Action)
Set up another character. Follow through on a setup. + Fine Item (Effect)
plan. Social plan: Social connection. Acquire an asset.
lurk
blade

command


mayhem

special abilities
murder


stitch

name look Ambush: When you attack from hiding or spring a prepared

trap, add +1d to your roll.
book
heritage:akorosdagger isles background:academicbluecoatlabor Composure: Add an additional stress box.

iruviaseverosskovlantycheros merchantnobleunderworld
attune

Intensity: You may spend 2 stress on any roll, for +1d.

cipher


vice affiliationdrinkdrugsfaithgamblingloversluxuriesweird
Scout: When you fill segments of a progress clock for any

supply

stress
kind of reconnaissance or infiltration, fill +1 segment.
tinker

trauma armor +heavy

lasting effects shadow


Shadow: You get special armor vs. detection and security.

When you roll a critical on an athletic feat or during an cloak
infiltration, clear 1 stress.

feint

Daring: When you roll 1-3 and choose to try again with more

prowl

coin
stash risk, you get +1d.
notes

secure

Experienced: Choose an additional background with which

stalk

you get a bonus.

Veteran: Choose a special ability from another playbook.

mask
items (3)Light. (4,5)Normal. (6)Heavy. Items in italics don't count. keen friends
consort

A Blade or Two Fine lockpicks
Telda, a beggar

deceive

Throwing Knives Fine, light climbing gear
Darmot, a bluecoat


discern

A Pistol & Shot Shadow essence vial

sway

Frake, a locksmith

A Large Weapon Silence potion vial
desperate rolls
An Unusual Weapon Roslyn Kellis, a noble

Dark-sight goggles

Armor +Heavy Concealed blade
Petra, a city clerk
effects
Burglary Tools Spiritbane charm
Loop, a bounty hunter


force
Climbing Gear
Books / Maps
playbook advancement

finesse
Spectrology Gear Discover a powerful or compromising secret.

influence
Subterfuge Supplies Infiltrate a new, challenging, or interesting location.

insight
Tinkering Tools Execute an operation without being detected.

maneuver
A small personal item Express your relationship to the crew. Why are you here?

will

teamwork: on point teamwork: backup gather information planning downtime bonus dice
What do they intend to do? Choose the plan the characters have Choose your carried Items.
Lead a group action. Face an effect for the made, establish a detail, cut to the action. Restore your Armor. + Assist (They take 1 stress)
What might I suspect based
character on point. on this? Assault plan: Point of attack. Recover & indulge your Vice.
Overcome a group problem. What's the danger here? Deception plan: Method. and choose 1: + Devil's Bargain.
Assist another character. Reduce heat on the crew.
Where could I go to find X? Infiltration plan: Entry point.
Ask about a detail for a Occult plan: Arcane power. Work on a project clock. Background (Action)
Set up another character. Follow through on a setup. + Fine Item (Effect)
plan. Social plan: Social connection. Acquire an asset.
slide
blade

command


mayhem

special abilities
murder


stitch

name look Ace: When you lead a group action using your highest-rated

action, you suffer 1 less total stress from the failed rolls. book
heritage:akorosdagger isles background:academicbluecoatlabor Im Outta Here: When your cover is blown or you need to

iruviaseverosskovlantycheros merchantnobleunderworld flee, take +1d to rolls to escape.
attune

Adaptation: Take 1 stress to substitute one action rating for

cipher


vice affiliationdrinkdrugsfaithgamblingloversluxuriesweird
another.
supply

stress Trust in Me: You get +1d when you roll vs. a target you have

tinker

trauma armor +heavy

lasting effects suspicious


a relationship with.
Suspicious: You get special armor vs. persuasion or deception.

cloak
When you roll a crit while manipulating someone, clear 1 stress.
feint

Daring: When you roll 1-3 and choose to try again with more

prowl

coin
stash
notes
risk, you get +1d.
secure

Experienced: Choose an additional background with which
stalk


you get a bonus.

Veteran: Choose a special ability from another playbook.

mask
items (3)Light. (4,5)Normal. (6)Heavy. Items in italics don't count. low friends
consort

A Blade or Two Fine clothes & jewelry
Bryl, a drug dealer

deceive

Throwing Knives Fine disguise kit
Bazso Baz, a gang leader


discern

A Pistol & Shot Fine loaded dice, trick cards

sway

Harker, a jail-bird

A Large Weapon Trance powder
desperate rolls
An Unusual Weapon Arlynne, a tavern owner

A cane-sword

Armor +Heavy Concealed blade
Nyryx, a prostitute
effects
Burglary Tools Spiritbane charm
Lanette, an informant


force
Climbing Gear
Books / Maps
playbook advancement

finesse
Spectrology Gear Gain someones trust or betray someone who trusts you.

influence
Subterfuge Supplies Pass yourself off as someone or something youre not.

insight
Tinkering Tools Make a new friend, ally, lover, rival, or enemy.

maneuver
A small personal item Express your relationship to the crew. Why are you here?

will

teamwork: on point teamwork: backup gather information planning downtime bonus dice
What do they intend to do? Choose the plan the characters have Choose your carried Items.
Lead a group action. Face an effect for the made, establish a detail, cut to the action. Restore your Armor. + Assist (They take 1 stress)
What might I suspect based
character on point. on this? Assault plan: Point of attack. Recover & indulge your Vice.
Overcome a group problem. What's the danger here? Deception plan: Method. and choose 1: + Devil's Bargain.
Assist another character. Reduce heat on the crew.
Where could I go to find X? Infiltration plan: Entry point.
Ask about a detail for a Occult plan: Arcane power. Work on a project clock. Background (Action)
Set up another character. Follow through on a setup. + Fine Item (Effect)
plan. Social plan: Social connection. Acquire an asset.
whisper
blade

command


mayhem

special abilities
murder


stitch

name look Channel: Use electroplasmic energy to produce supernatural

effects. Costs stress equal to the magnitude of the effect (0-4).
book
heritage:akorosdagger isles background:academicbluecoatlabor Control: You can attune to the ghost field to compel a spirit

iruviaseverosskovlantycheros merchantnobleunderworld or demon to follow a direct instruction you give it.
attune

Strange Methods: When you tinker with a device, tool, or

cipher


vice affiliationdrinkdrugsfaithgamblingloversluxuriesweird
weapon, you may include electroplasmic or arcane features.
supply

stress Summon: Perform a ritual to force a supernatural being to appear

tinker

trauma armor +heavy

lasting effects beyond


before you. Costs stress equal to the magnitude of the being (2-6).
Beyond: You get special armor vs. supernatural effects. When

cloak
you roll a critical while dealing with arcane powers, clear 1 stress.
feint

Daring: When you roll 1-3 and choose to try again with more

prowl

coin
stash
notes
risk, you get +1d.
secure

Experienced: Choose an additional background with which
stalk


you get a bonus.

Veteran: Choose a special ability from another playbook.

mask
items (3)Light. (4,5)Normal. (6)Heavy. Items in italics don't count. strange friends
consort

A Blade or Two Fine spirit anchor Nyryx, a possessor ghost

deceive

Throwing Knives Fine lightning-hook Hoxan, a rogue spirit


discern

A Pistol & Shot Fine spirit mask
sway

Scurlock, a vampire

A Large Weapon Demon blood vials desperate rolls
An Unusual Weapon Setarra, a demon

Ghost key
Armor +Heavy Demonbane charm Quellyn, a witch
effects
Burglary Tools Spiritbane charm Flint, a spirit trafficker


force
Climbing Gear
Books / Maps
playbook advancement

finesse
Spectrology Gear Encounter a new spirit or demon and interact with it.

influence
Subterfuge Supplies Learn something new about spectrology or demonic lore.

insight
Tinkering Tools Acquire or craft a strange item related to demons or spirits.

maneuver
A small personal item Express your relationship to the crew. Why are you here?

will

teamwork: on point teamwork: backup gather information planning downtime bonus dice
What do they intend to do? Choose the plan the characters have Choose your carried Items.
Lead a group action. Face an effect for the made, establish a detail, cut to the action. Restore your Armor. + Assist (They take 1 stress)
What might I suspect based
character on point. on this? Assault plan: Point of attack. Recover & indulge your Vice.
Overcome a group problem. What's the danger here? Deception plan: Method. and choose 1: + Devil's Bargain.
Assist another character. Reduce heat on the crew.
Where could I go to find X? Infiltration plan: Entry point.
Ask about a detail for a Occult plan: Arcane power. Work on a project clock. Background (Action)
Set up another character. Follow through on a setup. + Fine Item (Effect)
plan. Social plan: Social connection. Acquire an asset.
standard items cutter items slide items
A Blade or Two: Perhaps you carry a pair of large fighting
Fine hand weapon: A finely crafted one-handed weapon
Fine clothes and jewelry: An outfit of such fine make as

knives. Or a sword and dagger. Or A heavy cleaver and long of your choice. to pass as a wealthy noble.
stiletto. Up to you. Fine large weapon: A finely crafted two-handed weapon
Fine disguise kit: A theatrical make-up kit equipped with

Throwing Knives: A brace of six light blades, suitable for
of your choice. an impressive array of expert appliances to fool the eye.
throwing. Manacles and chain: A set of heavy manacles and chain,
Fine loaded dice, trick cards: Gambling accoutrements

A Pistol & Shot: A matchlock pistol, devastating at 20
suitable for restraining a prisoner. subtly altered to favor particular outcomes.
paces, slow to reload. A small pouch of powder and shot. Rage Essence Vial: A single dose of Rage Essence, which
Trance powder: A dose of the popular drug, which induces

A Large Weapon: A weapon meant for two-hands. A
greatly enhances the user's strength, resistance to pain, and a dreamlike state.
weapon of war, like a battle-axe, greatsword, warhammer, irrational aggression for the span of several minutes. A cane-sword: A slim sword and its sheath, disguised as

or pole-arm. Wrecker tools: A heavy sledgehammer and crowbar.
a noble's cane.
An Unusual Weapon: A curiosity of the blacksmith's art
Iron spikes. Heavy gloves.
or a tool turned into a weapon. A whip, a flail, a hatchet, a
shovel, a length of chain, a razor-edged fan, steel-toed boots.
Armor: A heavy leather tunic with a high collar, heavy hound items whisper items
Fine spirit anchor: An arcane item which can hold a ghost

gloves.
+Heavy: The addition of chain mail or metal plates, Fine pair of pistols: A pair of finely crafted pistols.
in place near it.
a metal helm.
Fine long rifle: A finely crafted hunting rifle, deadly
Fine lightning-hook: A long, two-handed pole with a

Burglary Tools: A set of lockpicks. A small pry-bar. Vials
at long range. loop of heavy wire at the end, connected to an electroplasmic
of oil to silence squeaky hinges. A coil of wire and fishing capacitor. Suitable for grappling a spirit and dragging it into
Electroplasmic ammunition: A bandolier of

hooks. A small pouch of sand. a spirit bottle.
electroplasmicly charged shot, suitable for harming spirits
Climbing Gear: A large coil of rope. A small coil of rope.
and demons. Fine spirit mask: An arcane item which allows the trained

Grappling hooks. A small pouch of chalk dust. A climbing user to see arcane energies in great detail. Also affords some
A fine trained hunting pet: An animal companion that

harness with loops and metal rings. A set of iron pitons and measure of protection against ghostly possession.
obeys your commands and anticipates your actions, of a
a small mallet.
species of your choice. Demon blood vials: A small set of tough crystalline vials,

Books / Maps: A small collection of slim volumes on a
containing blood from demons.
Far-sight spyglass: A device which allows you to see

variety of topics. Blank pages, a vial of ink, a pen. A number
clearly over extreme distances. Ghost key: An arcane device which can open ghost doors.

of interesting maps.
Demonbane charm: An arcane trinket which demons

Spectrology Gear: A vial of quicksilver. A pouch of black

salt. A spirit anchor in the form of a small, heavy stone. A


spirit bottle. A vial of electroplasm, designed to break and
lurk items prefer to avoid.

splatter on impact. Fine lockpicks: A finely crafted set of lockpicks.


Subterfuge supplies: A theatrical make-up kit. A selection of


Fine, light climbing gear: A finely crafted set of climbing

blank documents, ready for the forger's hand. Costume jewelry. gear which is less bulky and heavy than a standard set.
A reversible cloak and distinctive hat. A forged badge of office. Shadow essence vial: A vial of shadow essence designed

Tinkering Tools: A set of tools for detailed mechanist
to break and splatter on impact, releasing an ink-dark cloud.
work. A jeweler's loup. Measuring devices. Silence potion vial: A vial of golden liquid that negates all

Spiritbane Charm: A small arcane trinket which ghosts
sound within 10 paces of the drinker for a span of several minutes.
prefer to avoid. Dark-sight goggles: A mechanist device that allows the

wearer to see in pitch darkness as if it were day.
crew creation
1. Choose Crew Type Crew Upgrades Crew Effects
Your crew type represents the nature of your crew, its special
Adepts: Your crew has a gang of scholars, tinkerers, Gangs: How effective are your gangs (Adepts, Killers,
abilities, and how they advance. In the full game, there are
occultists, and chemists. Thugs, Rooks, Shadows, and Rovers)?
several to choose from. In this quick start, you're Thieves.
Killers: Your crew has a gang of assassins and murderers. Lair: How useful is your base of operations? (It's workshop,
2. Choose a Special Ability library, etc.) How secure is it?
Thugs: Your crew has a gang of toughs, brawlers, and
Choose 1 starting special ability for the crew.
roustabouts. Morale: How well can your crew and gangs hold together
3. Choose Reputation Rooks: Your crew has a gang of con artists, spies, and during adversity?
Your crew's reputation represents how you use your Renown socialites. Resources: How well can you develop, given your
effect rating to impress or frighten other crews. available assets and debts?
Shadows: Your crew has a gang of scouts, infiltrators,
4. Assign Crew Upgrades and sneak-thieves. Transport: How quickly can you get your gangs in
Mark 2 upgrade boxes. If you choose one of the gangs (Adepts, Rovers: Your crew has a gang of sailors, carriage drivers, position? How advantageous is your maneuver?
Killers, Thugs, Rooks, Shadows, Rovers) also choose which and deathlands scavengers. Elite Gangs: When you employ an Elite gang, you get +1d
NPC among their roster is the leader of that gang). effect (like a fine item).
Hidden Lair: Your lair has a secret location and is
5. Assign Effect Diamonds disguised to hide it from view.
Renown: How impressive is your crew? How much clout
Assign 4 diamonds to crew effects (Gangs, Lair, Morale, Secure Lair: Your lair has good locks, alarms, and traps do you have among the other crews and factions? Your
Resources, or Transport) in addition to those already marked. to thwart intruders. renown advances when your Wanted Level increases.
No effect may start higher than 2.
Library: Your lair has a collection of useful books,
6. Choose A Favorite Contact documents, maps, intelligence reports, and case files for
You begin with all of your contacts. Mark the one who is use in research.
a close friend, long-time ally, or partner in crime. Quarters: Your lair includes living quarters for the crew.
7. Assign Faction Status Ticks Vault: Your lair has a secure vault. You can store up to
Each player assigns a positive tick and a negative tick with any 8 cash, instead of just 4. Your vault can also be used as
Tier 1 faction (to represent past interactions). Then, as a group, a holding cell.
assign one positive and one negative tick at Tier 2 and again at Workshop: Your lair has a workshop appointed with tools
Tier 3. Say why you have good or bad status with these factions. for tinkering and alchemy, as well as a library of books,
8. Crew Name, Lair Details, & Patron or Boss documents, and maps.
Your crew has a patron or ward boss who has helped you get Blade, Book, Cloak, Mask Training: Your crew
started. They may sometimes come to you with requests. In has access to special training. When you choose the
the quick start, this person is Lyssa, the new boss of Crow's corresponding action category for your personal training
Foot. Choose a quality that best describes her. during PC advancement, you mark +1 segment.
Thinking of a name for your crew can be very hard at first. Expertise: Your crew has access to expert level training.
It's okay to start out without a name and later acquire one You may advance your PC action ratings to 3. This upgrade
based on what the crew is like. costs 2 advances to unlock.
Mastery: Your crew has access to master level training.
9. Tier, Hold, & Cash
You may advance your PC action ratings to 4. This upgrade
You begin at Tier 0, with 0 Hold. You start with 3 cash.
costs 3 advances to unlock.
thieves

hold
tier
factions

The Unseen
iii 7

The Silver Nails iii 6
tier special abilities
Lord Scurlock
iii 5
name lair Everyone Steals: Each PC chooses to take level 1 in Prowl,

The Hive
iii 4
Feint, Secure, or Finesse (choose one which is currently zero).
absentbolddrivencarelessfiendish hold

The Circle of Flame
ii 4
ward boss meticulouspatientruthlesssavvyweird Pack Rats: Your lair is a jumble of stolen items. When you

roll to acquire an asset, take +1 result level (as if you'd spent

The Crows
ii 3
coin
coin on the roll).
The Lampblacks ii 3
wanted
|


heat Slippery: When you roll entanglements during development,

The Red Sashes
ii 3
renown ambitiousbrutaldaringprofessionalsubtlestrange roll two dice and keep the one you want. Also, when you reduce



The Dimmer Sisters ii 5
heat on the crew, take +1d to the roll.
roster
Overwatch: When you're backup and you face an effect for the

Ulf Ironborn i 3

adepts killers thugs others character on point, you can share the stress cost between 2 PCs.
The Fog Hounds i 2
Vincen Crane Zana Alpha: When you lead a group action, you do +1d effect.
The Eels
i 3
Kyra Dro Chalk Experienced: Choose an additional reputation with which
The Lost
i 3
Tor Tevis Whistler you may employ your Renown.

Duskwall Council iv 8
Vetta Aslyn Grip Veteran: Choose a special ability from another crew.


Skovlander Refugees
iv 2
rooks shadows rovers crew advancement
Ironhook Prison iii 9
Lyzelle Avery Kam Execute a profitable heist, robbery, or shakedown.
Spirit Wardens iii 6
Corlane Merrick Ruby Gain access to a new avenue of thievery or type of victim.
Bluecoats
iii 7
Grevor Adra Hester Complete a profitable side job (of your own or for a client).
Inspectors
i 9
Quinn Sloane Drake Contend with challenges above your current station.
Leviathan Hunters iii 8
crew effects crew upgrades contacts
Sailors
ii 5


gangs Adepts
Hidden Lair
Blade Training
Fine Building Plans
Dowler, an explorer

Dockers
ii 4
Killers
Secure Lair
Book Training
Fine Rooftop Routes
Laroze, a bluecoat

Gondoliers
ii 4


lair
Thugs
Library
Cloak Training
Elite Shadows
Amancio, a fence

Cabbies
i 3


morale
Rail Jacks
i 3
Rooks
Quarters
Mask Training
Prison Escape Methods
Fitz, a collector


resources Shadows
Vault
Expertise
Secondary Lair
Adelaide Phroaig, a noble

Church of the

iii
Ecstasy of the Flesh 5


transport Rovers
Workshop
Mastery
Thief Rigging (-1 load)
Rigney, a tavern owner

The Weeping Lady ii 5
notes
The Path of Echoes
ii 4

The Forgotten Gods i 3
Deathalnds

Scavengers

i 3










scores To generate a score, roll or choose on the following tables. Still a work in progress.

1. CLIENT / 3. TARGET 2. WORK 4. LOCATION 5. TROUBLES 6. TWIST OR COMPLICATION


civilian skullduggery mood barriers An element is a cover for heretic spirit
1
cult practices
1 Academic or Scholar 1 Stalking or Surveillance 1 Haunted or Cursed 1 Stronghold (high walls, etc.)
A seer has foreseen this job and
2 Laborer or Tradesman 2 Sabotage or Arson 2 Abandoned or Decrepit 2 Masterwork security (locks, etc.) 2
warned the parties involved
3 Courier or Sailor 3 Lift or Plant 3 Busy or Crowded 3 Natural Feature (cliff, island) Rogue spirits possess some/most/all of
3
the people involved
4 Merchant or Shopkeeper 4 Poison or Arrange Accident 4 Lavish or Refined 4 Safe, lock-box, vault
5 Artist or Writer 5 Burglary or Heist 5 Dank or Dismal 5 Runes / Wards 4 Rogue spirits haunt the location
6 Doctor or Alchemist 6 6 Serene or Silent 6 Electroplasmic Security The job furthers a demons secret
5
criminal violence type dangers agenda
The job furthers a vampires secret
1 Drug Dealer or Supplier 1 Assassinate 1 Ship or Dockside 1 Traps (deadly or entangling) 6
agenda
2 Mercenary or Thug 2 Disappear or Ransom 2 Canals or Grotto 2 Toxic Substances
An element is a front for a criminal
1
3 Fence or Gambler 3 Terrorize or Extort 3 Town House or Apartment 3 Clockworks / Automatons enterprise
4 Spy or Informant 4 Destroy or Deface 4 Tavern or Restaurant 4 Alarms 2
5 Smuggler or Thief 5 Raid or Defend 5 Shop or Marketplace 5 Rogue spirits
3 The job is a trap laid by your enemies
6 Crime Boss 6 6 Tower or Keep 6 Electroplasmic Devices
political underworld type opposition
4 The job is a test for another job
1 Noble or Official 1 Escort or Security 1 Manor or Villa 1 Guards / Scouts / Sentries
The job furthers a merchant lords
2 Banker or Captain 2 Smuggle or Courier 2 Sewer or Slaughterhouse 2 Bluecoats / Imperials 5
secret agenda.
3 Revolutionary or Refugee 3 Blackmail or Discredit 3 Workshop or Factory 3 Guard Dogs / Lookouts The job furthers a crime bosss secret
6
agenda.
4 Clergy or Cultist 4 Con or Espionage 4 Barracks or Bunkhouse 4 Trained Killers / Thugs
5 Constable or Inspector 5 Locate or Hide 5 Rail Station 5 Whispers / Bound Spirits 1 Job requires travel by electro-rail
6 Magistrate or Ward Boss 6 6 Library or School 6 Hollows Must visit the Deathlands to do the
2
strange unnatural ward job

1 Ghost of (roll again) 1 Curse or Sanctify 1 Whitecrown or Brightstone 1 3 Job requires sea travel
2 Occult Collector 2 Banish or Summon 2 Six Towers or Charterhall 2
4
3 Vampire or Other Undead 3 Extract Essence 3 Mightmarket or Silkshore 3
4 Demon (disguised) 4 Place or Remove Runes 4 Coalridge or The Docks 4 The job furthers a revolutionarys
5
secret agenda.
5 Possessed or Hollow 5 Perform / Stop Ritual 5 Crows Foot or Dunslough 5
The job furthers a city officials secret
6
6 6 6 Barrowcleft or Charhollow 6 agenda
purveyors of vice
affiliation lovers
The Silver Nails, a mercenary company. Jewel, Bird, and Shine, Catcrawl alley, the
The Unseen. Docks.
The Hive. Madame Tesslyn, The Red Lamp, Silkshore.
The Circle of Flame. Rolan Volaris, The Veil, Nightmarket.
Eldrin Prichard, The Silver Swan pleasure barge,
drink Brightstone canals.
Mardin Gull, The Leaky Bucket, Crow's Foot.
Pux Bolin, the Harping Monkey, Nightmarket.
luxuries
Singer, bath house, Crows Foot.
Helene, Silver Stag casino, Silkshore.
Harvale Brogan, The Centuralia, Six Towers.
Travens smoke shop, Coalridge.
Freyla, The Emperors Cask, Whitecrown.
Dunridge & Sons fine fabrics and tailoring,
Nightmarket.
drugs Chef Roselle, The Golden Plum, Six Towers.
Avrick, powder dealer, Barrowcleft. Maestro Helleren, Spiregarden theater,
Whitecrown.
Rolan Volaris, The Veil, Nightmarket.
Madame Tesslyn, The Red Lamp, Silkshore. weird
Travens smoke shop, Coalridge. The hooded proprietor of a half-flooded grotto
Eldrin Prichard, The Silver Swan pleasure barge, tavern near the docks. Strange passageways
Brightstone canals. lead to stranger chambers beyond.

faith
Sister Narya of the Weeping Lady.
The ruins of the Temple to Forgotten Gods, [... MORE TO COME HERE ...]
Coalridge.
Nelisanne, Church of the Ecstasy of the Flesh,
Silkshore.
Lord Penderyn, The Palace of Echoes, Brightstone.

gambling
Spoggs dice game, Dunslough.
Grist, boxing, the Docks.
Helene, Silver Stag casino, Silkshore.
Master Vreen, hound racing, Nightmarket.
Lady Devera, The Dusk Manor Club, Whitecrown.
39
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
Its 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. dabbled in forbidden magic and tore down the Gates of Death.
Flint But who believes such ancient tales? Whatever the truth of it, one
thing is certain: once a body dies, its spirit does not disperse as they
details once did long ago. It becomes a ghost: a spectral entity composed
A spirit rises from its corpse three days of 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 rogue
But there are other ways for body and spirit to relate...
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
easily controlled.
Undead. A dead body animated and sustained by a spirit.
Sometimes called a vampirethough only some crave hot
blood.
Ghost, Spirit, Shadow. 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.

40
duskwall
Map is a work in progress...
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 deathlands 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

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