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Adam Schwaninger
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Doctors Without Mourners
or the Dead Setters do downtime
or Looking For Healer

In the aftermath of the Narcoleptic Dire Goat Caper, where the Dead Setters got the Charterhall Bank hit squad off their backs, only Raven the Hound and Rook the Cutter could make the game. Last time we broke after payoff but before entanglements, so we rolled two (the crew has Slippery), and got either 1) Show of Force or 2) Reprisals or Unquiet Dead. So three choices, really:

1. Lady Clave, who was using the Cabbies to move refined leviathan blood on the black market, would try to strongarm the Dead Setters out of their own distribution contract with the Cabbies. Clave was set up as a pressure point in this 3-way smuggling network with the Setters and Clave both using Cabbies to transport their leviathan blood, but the players didn't want to go there yet.

2. They weren't very enthused about a random victim of Raven's coming back to haunt her either. Neither was I, really - it'd be a round of electroplasmic ammo and Ghost Fighter and then the entanglement would be over.

3. Raven's physicker contact, Melvir, however, would be victim of Reprisals by none other than the Bluecoats, who were - 2 status. The cops beat up the street doc but Melvir hadn't had much contact with Raven. I made a fortune roll to see how effective the Bluecoats' interrogation was and they crit. I told Raven to change her up arrow to a down arrow. Melvir was intimidated into being an informant for the cops, but Raven didn't know that yet.

On top of all that, Raven had been forced to part ways with the Path of Echoes (her vice purveyor). Her vice was basically being a serial killer, and the Path used her to eliminate certain people whose spirits were deemed important somehow. Or that were obstacles to the Path of Echoes' goals. Raven tracked down one of the Reconciled, a possessor ghost named Nyryx, and on a gondola floating on the canals, Raven agreed to let Nyryx "ride along" in exchange for the Reconciled providing her with targets. Raven hunted down some offscreen/montage informants to reduce heat, and she had to go (her player was ill). I'm excited to see how the Reconciled will use Raven, though. She hasn't cared much about who she kills as long as their bodies aren't immolated correctly afterwards. Her first victim will be a priest of the Church of Ecstasy of the Flesh. More on that below.

Meanwhile, Rook had to get his burned hands looked at, and with the crew's Leech indisposed, he had to go to his own physicker contact, Sawtooth. Rook took Sawtooth as an enemy a while back, and we hadn't seen her appear before. A Tycherosi with jagged, awful needle teeth, she usually wore some sort of mask for hygiene as well as to hide her heritage. Rook didn't know she hated him, and she knew Rook could easily kill her with his bare hands. She also knew Rook rarely had to use outside medical help. This was her one shot to get revenge-

- Wait, revenge for what? At this point in the session, I was racing to keep up and at the same time, I was overjoyed that something as simple as a Recover downtime action was proving so dramatic. A while back, Rook and Ulf Ironborn incited the Skovlander refugees to riot. In fact, I still had a "Martial Law" clock looming over the city, waiting for more trouble. I decided that Sawtooth's husband was killed during the riots and she manifested her grief as a hatred for Skovs, but Rook and Ulf in particular.

And that's why the burn ointment for Rook's hands also came with a topical application of the poison Heartcalm. Best case scenario, Sawtooth would go about her business and several days later Rook would die, possibly during one of his pit-fighting indulgences. Noone would suspect Sawtooth.

It didn't go that way, of course. Heartcalm is unreliable, and I rolled crap on 4 dice. Rook resisted level 3 harm, not fatal harm (he's got 4d in Prowess and +1d for Forged in the Fire), and what's more, also resisted (via Insight) Sawtooth's subterfuge, so he pieced together who must have poisoned him.

Rook did end up going to the fighting pits, as those rolls nearly trauma'd him out and he needed to unwind, short of breath as he might have been. Unfortunately for Sawtooth, Rook also had Calculating, the bonus downtime action ability. He tracked her down seeking refuge at a Church of Ecstasy of the Flesh - I deemed it likely that the pious there wouldn't look down upon Tycherosi like most regular Duskwallers might.

Rook found her. She was not a physical match for him, nor were the handful of acolytes or priests or other citizens hoping for ascension into demonhood. Rook tried to convince her to drop her vendetta, but was spectacularly unsuccessful. The acolytes intervened and asked Rook to leave. It was late, and none of these people would hold their own against Rook in a fight. I decided a choice was in order, rather than a roll:

1. Rook leaves (as blustery and savage as he likes, but he leaves) and Sawtooth stays at the Church.
2. Rook takes Sawtooth with him and I mark -1 status with the Church.

It was a hard decision, but we jump cut to the church doors slamming open and Rook dragging Sawtooth into the rainy street. One more jump cut after that, to her body hitting the water of the canal and sinking beneath.

The Dead Setters are 4 Coin away from Tier IV, but they have nearly the entire Tier IV structure of the city annoyed or actively pissed at them. The Church of Ecstasy of the Flesh is just another in a storied lineup that includes the Bluecoats, The Unseen (harboring a mild beef from literally a year ago, I just don't know how to use them), Ironhook Prison (again, not sure how wide-ranging this is outside prison), and The Leviathan Hunters (currently with Lady Clave as the face of that enmity).

I also started a clock called Lord Scurlock is Annoyed With You. They said they'd free Setarra's children and haven't done dick about that yet. Scurlock misses his demon, backstabbed in highly-rational-but-cold blood after she was weakened by conflict with another demon. Considering Scurlock is their Patron, and the only way they can possibly get to Tier IV with the coin requirements being so high, I feel like they should take this seriously. We'll see!


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EDIT: Seems I've hyped this prematurely. Read the comments, seems it's a bit crap.

This game seems to be relevant to Blades. :)

Looks like a delicious stew of Banner Saga, Gunpoint, maybe Mark of the Ninja.

I learned who James Bond was from Sir Roger Moore's role in Cannonball Run. He was by far the smarmiest Bond who ever smarmed, and a private funeral in Monaco is Bond as all fuck. #slappersonly

Alice and Belle are Disney's Ryu and Ken.

Palette swapped with slightly different haircuts.

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Glow in the Dark Relics Playtest 1
Despite catch-up character creation eating into our session time (doesn't it always take longer than you think it will?), we had a successful Relics playtest with +Matt Schwaninger, +Thomas Berton, +Jason Eley, and +Logan Shoup playing a Driver, Shark, Leftover, and Junker respectively. Their settlement was the Leftover Nestor Carlisle's spaceship crash site in an overgrown, mutated park in the middle of the Boneyard.

From my first playtest (Shepherds), I learned how much better it is to have a starting situation that comes from internal pressure, ie. "You are out of damn near everything" rather than being approached by some questgiver* whom the players might not engage with. The tribe decided to raid the Monarchs' (bug and plant mutants in the Boneyard) drug stockpile so they'd have goods to trade with Hightower (a +1 faction that ostensibly controlled the surrounding territory) for food.

One of their settlement's farmer-scavs was once a slave for the Monarchs, and provided exceptional info. The tribe took Rooster's custom ride, "Layla" (a Mustang-esque dualie) into the old metro tunnels, approaching the Monarchs' lair near where they kept their slave pens. A risky engagement roll resulted in an "All The Guards!" clock being ticked and a mediocre force of guards in the underground itself. Time was an issue, but the tribe had avoided the bulk of the plant- and bug-people topside.

A flurry of rolls after that saw one thorn-man burned to death by Torch the Junker and another locust-mutant crushed under Layla's wheels. We had to call it there, but we'll be back to finish up this run.

I had a great time finding out about this new tribe of survivors. I'm curious as to whether a Shark (mainly a social playbook) and a Driver (well, driving-focused, naturally) can both be effective on the same run, or if we'll see one waxing as one wanes depending on the type of score the tribe chooses.

It should also be fun to see Tuesday Grace the Shark contend with Torch, because Tuesday's built her whole background on a web of lies about being an engineer and having all this technical knowledge so she can pass herself off as important. Will Torch expose her comrade? Will she even care?

Also wanted to touch on the survivors' Taboos for a moment. In Glow in the Dark, you have a background and a taboo, something that you won't do or a moral code that sets you apart from the largely amoral rank and file of the wasteland. You also mark XP if following (or breaking!) your taboo causes you trouble. I'm toying with the idea of having a set list as the playbooks develop, but at this point in development it's been more freeform.

Rooster the Driver won't break an oath. Simple, solid, and easy to bring it into play yourself.

Torch the Junker won't put out a fire. This is maybe a little more suited for a Trauma (and would be a fine embellishment on a future Unstable or the like), but for now it seems pretty ripe for drama, especially since she just burned a plant-man to death in an enclosed space.

Tuesday the Shark will not abide senseless suffering. She'd give a parched man a drink or shoot him, but she wouldn't leave him. I think it'll be cool to see how the nuances of this play out when you get into situations like the Monarchs keeping slaves.

Nestor the Leftover won't tolerate barbarism. Again, the boundaries of this are proving pretty interesting. Burning a plant-man didn't seem barbaric, and led into us learning that Nestor's got a dose of that sci-fi racism against mutant abominations.

* Baszo's offer in the BitD quickstart averts this, as choosing to not engage in such a charged situation is still making a dramatic choice.


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The Narcoleptic Dire Goat Caper

The Dead Setters turned the tables on the hit squad from Charterhall Bank, ambushing their would-be ambushers. The Setters had Rook the Cutter, fresh out of Ironhook (and whose player had to skip about a month due to an online class), and Deemo the Leech, fresh out of her player having a baby. Ironically, the other guys couldn't make it so we had the inverse of our usual suspects. Charterhall Bank's squad included Mr. Green and Mr. Veldt, both essentially former blades-turned-respectable (played by the Stabbington brothers from Tangled), leading six combat hulls in two goat-drawn carriages.

The crew had exceptional intel, and placed their ambush along an industrial boulevard in Coalridge. They paid a coin to their new Cabbie associates so they'd have a proper roadblock, but the engagement roll went south. Green and Veldt spotted the trap and one of their hulls disembarked while the carriages were still rolling. The machine slammed into the Cabbies' roadblock, clearing a path and then stood its ground, electroplasmic emitter charging up to cover its masters' escape.

Rook clambered out of the toppled Cabbie carriage and traded railjack hammer for electroplasmic lightning with the combat hull. Rook was still standing at the end of it. Meanwhile, the bank carriages thundered past on the cobbles... flashback!

Cut to Rook leading his pit fighters as they toil in the street, uprooting cobblestones and digging down into the packed earth. They make a trench and cover it up with tarps, dirt, and broken stone. There's no way those heavy carriages, laden with hulls, will make it across.

And they don't. A goat breaks its leg, loosing one of those horrible human screams. Another goes narcoleptic, tumbling to the ground. The lead carriage's wheels break as it hits the mother of all potholes. The second carriage, pulling four heavy hulls, can't stop in time. The goats see the gap and leap, but the carriage slams down into the trench.

Deemo releases two of her gadgets - the first is a clockwork gyro-drone, a little flying device that can drop a payload and return to its mistress. It's carrying the second gadget - Quality VI chokedust. Not that weak-ass drown powder, we're talking the old-school quickstart rules chokedust here. It's been Deemo's specialty since v4 of the rules and she missed it, so she made more during downtime and was wildly successful at it.

Green and Veldt have to escape. They're not a hit squad of elite badasses anymore; they're scared and can't breathe and all their hulls just can't seem to kill one guy with a hammer. Thanks, Battleborn and Not to Be Trifled With.

They try carjacking the last upright carriage the Cabbies brought. Deemo uses binding oil on the wheels. A crit! Green and Veldt get just enough momentum before the axles lock that they're thrown to the street and lose their guns.

They try just legging it. Rook finishes off the last hull and uses Savage (as the two men are terrified) to Command them to stop - or else. Partial success.

"Which one stops?" I say.

"Veldt!" Deemo's player suggests. "Green shot my drone, he's gotta die." And so we learned a bit about Deemo's priorities. Rook agrees. Veldt stops short, shouting "Don't shoot! I have a family! This was just a job, you know?!"

Green, on the other hand, meets the Dead Setters' pit fighters coming the other way.

"Do you want him dead, or captured, or maimed, or what?" Then I look at the cohort's flaws. Wild. Unreliable. That settles that.

Deemo helps them kick Green to death in the street.


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Inspired by +Benjamin Baugh's post here (, I discovered that the Prisma app plus GTA V's Director Mode results in pretty neat Apocalypse World-esque pics.
#apocalypseworldrpg #gtav #prisma #glowinthedarkrpg

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The Third Rails Give Peace a Chance,
Trucks Mate For Life

The Third Rails out of Prism City hosted peace talks between Blacksand, a fortress-refinery taking cues from Gastown and Elvis, and the sentient drone semi truck-deity Big Red. Tensions started high as each contingent arrived with enough armed guards to fight a small war should things go south (mixed result on the social plan's engagement roll).

The Rails' main goal was to quell the animosity between the two factions, with a secondary goal of making some sort of trade deal with Blacksand (they had arranged one previously with Big Red). They did not want Blacksand to find out that they had allied with Big Red to take down a Blacksand convoy previously.

Gameplay-wise, I started each faction off with grievances to overcome and then something they wanted if they were going to move forward. Blacksand wanted Big Red to lay off their convoys, but their real problem was with the Tier IV trading hub Hightower, which was cutting in on their business. They needed allies more than they wanted retribution for their losses.

Big Red was easy. It wanted a bride.

"A bribe?"
"No, a bride."
"I ain't marryin' no goddamn truck!" shouts one of the Blacksand guards, resplendent in body armor festooned with Vegas showgirl plumage.
"Our lord is not simply a truck!" bellows Big Red's chief Mechanizer in return.

Johnny Tabernacle, the Third Rails' Leftover, stepped in trying to bring everyone around to the idea that maybe Big Red wanted a truck bride, not a human one. With a six, he defused the situation, the guns went back down, and the exchange mutated into whose issues would get addressed first.

This was more interesting for me, because I've done lots of Glow in the Dark sessions that head towards violence. This was new territory. Was there enough structure here in my hack to make these negotiations compelling?

Gotta pause here to talk about the PCs. I've got a Leftover (social, some tech, middling combat), a Reaper (killing and bossing), and a Junker (hacking and scrounging). Zeke the Junker was throwing in some assist dice here and there, but this was clearly Johnny's show. Lt. Dan the Reaper, however, looked like he didn't have a lot to do aside from being there in case the guns came out. So I changed the game from figuring out this NPC on NPC shit and focused on making the NPCs want the PC tribe's stuff.

1. Big Red wanted a truck. Zeke had a truck, a big tandem tractor trailer they hijacked from NOAH the mad AI (1 upgrade in Cars plus the Quality upgrade for Vehicles). Zeke and the other PCs had to convince Big Red and its Mechanizers to look for their Bride of Truckenstein somewhere else, which was hard because really, the Rails' truck was perfect. While we still didn't know what Big Red's intentions were or even if this mandate was from the truck itself or something its acolytes just said their god desired, this was the best and fastest way to suddenly make Zeke care very deeply about what was going on.

2. Lt. Dan Halen recently tracked down an enemy on his revenge list. Bubba the mutant was in charge of a small Last Cavalry (Tier IV paramilitary nomadic raiders) recon force currently camped out in the Barrens near Dead Horse. This intel had an expiration date, however. The Last Cavalry was nomadic, and helping Blacksand against Hightower first or searching for some other suitable bride for Big Red would mean Bubba would vanish and Dan would have to restart his long-term project.

Zeke had an idea. "The Last Cavalry's mobile. They'll have lots of trucks." A controlled Sway later and Big Red was onboard. So many sixes.

Blacksand still wanted their Hightower problems addressed first, however, and a controlled group sway roll on 5d6 produced naught but 3s. Would Dan try to coerce or intimidate them? Would they try their argument again, pressing their luck and eroding Blacksand's patience? Johnny tried the Barter route, offering them a larger cut for their help against the Last Cavalry and arguing how they'd all be able to use any stolen warfighting gear against Hightower together. The sixes were back and the three factions parted ways.

The trade deal the Third Rails wanted would be contingent on their help against Hightower, but for the moment they had brought a tenuous peace to their corner of the wasteland.

No payoff, sadly, and Fallout for the score/run/job was Wastrels (pay Upkeep again) - easily explained by the Third Rails being generous hosts. While everyone's load stayed Light, the tribe's Supplies dropped from 5 to 3 even as their Rep maxed out. They'll be ready to move to Tier I as soon as they can get 8 supplies (and if they're smart, more than that to account for increased Upkeep, which means I'll want their allies to claim enough loot to make the PCs' situation untenable without conflict). Muahaha. The Third Rails also dinged over in tribe XP and picked up the first dot in Gyros (the explanation for which I am eagerly awaiting) and a Farm, which should help mitigate their upkeep in the future.


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Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Glow in the Dark: Robots and Monkeys Session 0
Had a good survivor/tribe creation session with +Thomas Berton and +Jason Eley last night for my Relics tribe playtest! The as-yet-unnamed settlement has sprouted up around Jason's Leftover's spaceship crash site. Thomas' Shark, Tuesday Grace, spun a web of lies to her small group of refugees about being an engineer and knowing all about the World That Was, so we've got a charlatan and an actual Charlton Heston-style astronaut-out-of-time. +Logan Shoup will join us in 2 weeks as well for our starting situation (and finalizing names for stuff).

The guys really went for all the robot choices when it came to contacts and factions, and their settlement has a farm, bootstrapped by seeds stolen from the Ape Empire's fertile valley.

From a playtest perspective, I've got a lot of conceptual blanks for Relics that, while I've got lots of touchstones in my head, I'm not sure which ones deserve to be put to paper yet. We'll find out.

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