Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Blades in the Dark: Turf Expansion

There were blades, it was dark, yurz.

So, last time, the scoundrels got in a spot of bother with the Lampblacks and agreed to kill a couple of Red Sashes in order to clear their debt. Not quite ready to jump into that, though, they looked to expand their turf instead.

They zero in on three options. First, they could procure the services of a high-end fence named Cricket. Cricket normally didn't work with arcane or ghostly smuggling things, though, and that's basically the crew's bread and butter. Sure, they could turn her, but they weren't sure who she was already beholden to, if anyone, and decided just expanding operations was a better idea for now.

And then there's the Island, a gambling den near their lair. It's called that because you access it via a thin gangplank. The crew didn't know if they could continue to turn a profit with it, but the location would be useful for boating purposes.

Finally, a brothel called the Ruby, run by a Tycherosi woman named Jayan. The Ruby catered to a higher-class clientele, folks who were happy to buy and sell while enjoying the services. Useful place to drum up jobs or find fences, but the Wraiths apparently had some influence there.

The crew decides to split up and check these places out. Copper and Cage got to the Island (Copper is thrilled, as she's a gambler at heart; Cage less so). The place is dirty and rough, run by Skovlander refugees, and they're proud of it - they've taken a bunch of NO SKOVS signs from other establishments and nailed them to the walls in defiance. Copper fits in pretty well; she bets on some rat races and chats up Spur, one of the Skovs running the place. Cage plays some Liar's Dice but loses, and in general isn't as happy to be there, but they do learn that the place answers to one Ulf Ironborn, a Skovlander trying to carve out some room in the underworld for himself. He's based in Dunslough, which is a bit of a trek, so maybe they could negotiate a way in, or smoke the Skovs out?

Meanwhile, One-Eye and Siren hit the Ruby. One-Eye talks to Jayan and tries to ferret out some information about the Wraiths, but Jayan is reticent and all One-Eye learns is that Jayan considers the Wraiths "the devil I know." Siren, meanwhile, buys the services of a submissive girl and gets some information out of her. Specifically, the Wraiths don't really run the place or exert much influence. Instead, they sometimes steal from the clients, and sometimes use the place to find buyers for stolen goods. One-Eye, likewise, slips into the lounge and talks with Varuin, a client, relaxing after a session. He tells her more or less the same thing - you have to watch your wallet around here, but it's a nice place and the clientele here is friendly to commerce.

The crew reconvenes and talks about their options. Cage is interested in getting into the Ruby, in no small part because the owner, like him, is Tycherosi. One-Eye worries about trying to muscle in on the Island because she's a Skov (though other Skovs view her as a sell-out), and she knows how pig-headed they can be. That said, they're probably too far away from Ulf Ironborn to be a really firm hold.

The other issue is, the crew's position with the Wraiths is already tenuous. If they hit the Ruby, they risk going to war, and that has the potential to attract more attention and take up more focus than they're ready to commit. So, they could hit the Wraiths directly, weakening their hold, and then take the Ruby. They could try to lure Wraiths away and get them to join up, and work toward assimilating them. The crew decides to do more research.

Cage goes to the Ruby and talks to Jayan, and learns that the Wraiths don't have any real claim on her except that she's afraid they'll hurt her or steal her shit if she stands up to them (Jayan is violence and crime averse in general). One-Eye hangs around the Ruby and watches, and sees that the Wraiths use the back-ways, the staff entrances and hallways, and avoid Jayan's notice. Siren and Cage trail a Wraith back out of the Ruby and find that they have rooftop perches and use lamps to communicate across the city, back to a tower in Silkshore.

The tower, which the crew also investigates, is the remains of an old watchtower (much like theirs). Getting in would be hard; the stairs don't really work and the Wraiths get in by climbing the outside. The crew figures they could unleash some ghosts or otherwise sabotage the place, but that would pretty much ensure war, and all they want is the Ruby.

Instead, they decide on a deception score. They'll release some ghosts in the Ruby, and then show up in their capacity as purveyors and traffickers of spirits to deal with them (you know, putting the Frighteners on people).

So! The score begins with the crew distributed severally around the brothel, and two nasty ghosts tearing the place up and sending the clients out. One-Eye jumps in to help people with medical issues, but the others figure they need to pick their moment. They see a Wraith jump down off a building and start drawing a rune. One-Eye tosses a smoke bomb and Cage tries to mess up the rune, but misses, and the rune works - the ghosts back off. Copper throws her drink at the rune and ruins it, but the Wraith figures out the con and runs, probably intending to get to the lamp and summon help.

Copper hits him with rage essence and drives him into a frenzy. He tackles her, but Siren knocks him out with the butt of her pistol. Figuring that they can deal with him later, the crew now has to deal with the ghosts. Siren shoots one with spectral bullets and dissipates it, and the other one charges at her. Cage shoves it roughly into a spirit bottle, and the folks standing around see that Widdershins handled the ghosts (though not gracefully; there was some bumblefucking due to missed rolls, Cage nearly hit Copper with a lightning hook, that kind of thing).

One-Eye drugs the Wraith and tells him that he got possessed, but that Widdershins helped him, and he agrees. But now the rest of the Wraiths arrive, and it's time to negotiate...which is a skill that this crew is, shall we say, less than stellar at. The crew stays focused - they want the Wraiths to give up the Ruby, not go to war over it, but their best social action is Command, which means they basically have to intimidate them into it. Cage finally manages it, but at the cost of taking Trauma. He becomes Unstable, uncorks one of the spirit bottles, and threatens the Wraiths with rampaging ghosts if they don't just piss off.

The Wraiths decide that this really isn't worth and it leave. Their position with the crew worsens (they're not at war, but it's close).

The ruckus in the street attracts some legal attention, though, and Cage gets arrested. He spends the next month in Ironhook, and comes out of it...changed (poor sucker got another Trauma for his trouble). During that time, Copper finishes training Button, and One-Eye finishes her designs for her alchemical eye (now she just needs to build it).

Next time, they need to look into the Red Sashes a bit more. Cage is ready to stab someone anyway.