Welcome back to Card Catalog where we are continuing our look at Blades in the Dark! If you read last week’s look at Cricket, you know that the write up seemed shorter than other Card Catalogs and that is because Blades is a very simple system with broad strokes. This is doubly true for the character generation phase where you set in motion your Crew of Scoundrels, but they become truly fully fledged only when they start to accumulate Trauma and work their way up the criminal ladder. I will put the reminder here again that while rich with concepts, Blades is not heavy with details of the places and cultures that are not Doskvol which means I get to make some of it up as we go along! This also means each GM and player has a lot of leeway to introduce things like Iruvian politics and Skovlandian traditions.
After our mastermind like Spider last week, this week we will look at Thistle, the Hound and what that entails!
The Hound is going to be a more combat focused character, but I decided not to go with the Cutter Playbook who are direct enforcers. As a Smuggling Crew, a Hound seemed to make more sense as someone who would not only be able or better suited to engage at range, but also hunt things down – either people or goods to be smuggled in.
- Playbook – Hound. Hounds are sharpshooters and trackers. They are a direct way to work on bounty hunters or ranger type characters as some of the examples provide. For the Green Flyers, a Hound serves several purposes and makes sense to have as they not only can provide muscle and combat abilities but also the ability to ferret out goods for smuggling or smuggling routes.
- Heritage – Skovlanian. The Skovlanians are the people only recently conquered by the Imperium. A scant 2 years ago the War of Unity ended as the Skovlan sovereign was assassinated. The pale skinned and red haired people are a new immigrant population in Doskvol as refugees that now make up a growing blue collar class. I like the outsider background for this Hound and I like the idea of the former insurgent, skirmisher now having to make a life under the conquering powers auspices.
- Background – Military. Like I said a moment ago, a former irregular or skirmisher who was on the line against the Imperium makes for a good background for a character in this sort of story. It also provides a reason for the skills like tracking, sniping, and survival that a Hound would have.
- Action Dots – Hounds start with one Action Dot in Survey and two in Hunt. Survey is the immediate observation and awareness style Action while Hunt covers the variety of things like tracking, shooting, and otherwise finding things “on the ground”. With 4 more Action Dots to allot, I put a two into Skirmish as Thistle will be as dangerous up close and personal as when hunting, an Action Dot into Prowl for the subterfuge and sneaky aspects of the role and her background, and finally one Action Dot into Attune. Attune us used to deepen or work with the Ghost Field that permeates the world of Blades and while usually the province of Whispers, the Hound being able to see auras and maybe have their animal companion go after ghosts is appealing to me. If you recall Attributes, this means that Vey will start with 2 Insight, 2 Prowess, and 1 Resolve.
- Special Ability – Focused. There is a lot of variety in the Hounds Special Abilities. Sharpshooter is clearly one way to go with a Sniper while Scout and Survivor carry their own obvious uses. I chose Focused, which is similar to Cricket’s Mastermind, as it uses the Special Armor but for Vey that can be to resist a surprise or mental harm or to add the bonus for Tracking or Ranged Combat. I probably won’t use the Special Armor ability for the remainder of the playbooks but this shows how the same base mechanic is utilized across different Playbooks to add that flavor and special role.
- Contacts – The Playbooks come loaded with stock contacts to choose from for ease of play, and while an enterprising GM could likely make their own or work with the Players to make new ones, for our purposes I’ll stick with the listed options. Veleris the Spy is the rival for Thistle as I believe that, as you’ll see, Thistle’s secrets would be valuable to the City Council and Bluecoats and so the game of cat and mouse goes on with Veleris. Similarly, Celene, the Sentinel, is the friend. They share a certain sense of perspective as Thistle is also seeking to protect people and things … but that is for the next bullet point.
- Vice – Obligation. Vey has not yet given up on the war of the past that was only just loss. To reduce Stress, she feels the need to help her people here in Doskvol and the Skovlandian underground can always use some aid. Hutton is the name of the person who runs it in the back of the Blades in the Dark book and Vey Welker may try to start smuggling weapons to help her people resist some of the depredations of the Akorosi who still hold them in disdain.
- Finishing Touches – Vey Welker was another name selected from sample options as is the Alias Thistle. For her Appearance, the Brooding and Athletic woman in a Waxed Jacket and Tall Boots fits what we have described so far and is a functional outfit for what she does.
A quick note on Advancement, while this Card Catalog is going to let us stop at a starting character, I want to note that Blades in the Dark provides an interesting way to advance with XP. Every advancement in each category costs the same, but you earn XP not only through the triggers on your sheet, but when you make a roll in a Desperate position – the more adversity you are under the faster you advance. The Adversity based XP must be allotted to the Attribute track where it happens, so making a Desperate roll with Prowl means you get to mark Prowess XP, while the other XP triggers may be allocated between them or for Special Ability advancement.
Vey Welker has never known anything but conflict. She was born into a Skolan already embroiled in the War of Unity. The Imperium will tell you that the Skovlanders rebelled against their rightful rulers, but Vey knew the truth from her youngest memory – Skovlan was always meant to be free and the Immortal Emperor had subverted the way of the world in his mad quest for power as the demons stalked the Shattered Isles. It took a few decades, but now no longer quite a young woman, Vey Walker had lost a belief that freedom would ever be returned to Skovlan.
Her parents had always covered for her, and so when Vey grew into a skirmisher and irregular fighting in the War of Unity they kept their silence well. The skills of a skirmisher to survive in the mountains of Skovlan especially outside the protections of an Imperial Lightning Fence were honed over years of slowly losing battles and actions. The ability to shoot, to hunt, to track, and to hide matched with the awareness of the Ghost Field that enveloped the world made Vey very good at what she did. But never good enough.
When the War of Unity ended in assassination of the Skovlan Queen, it broke Vey. She was captured and her family dispossessed of what land they had kept in their own name. There was nothing left in their homeland and so they choose to head to the port of Doskvol. The Imperium didn’t make it easy though. Instead, the electrotrain they were forced to use, instead of the far faster ships and seaward travel, because it was claimed to be safer, took over a year to reach Doskvol. It traveled the longest way around and through the breadth of the Imperium – showing the refugees just how far the power of the Immortal Emperor stretched.
In Doskvol, Skovlanders had few if any rights depending on where they were in the city. Their fair skin and red hair marked them as outsiders and traitors to the Empire – little shock of it that Vey turned to the Underworld. Hutton was a former Skovlander soldier who now agitated for better treatment, and he put her in touch with other unsavory sorts. The Ministry of Preservation had been short changing the food deliveries to the Skovlander regions of Doskvol and a skirmisher turned Hound was just the right person to undermine that plan. It didn’t take long before the Thistles’ she left behind were her calling card – a beautiful flower protecting itself with spines – and Cricket made he an offer.
A friend, even an Akorosi friend, made things easier. She could help with the larger and larger scores and then keep her parents fed, and Hutton protected. It was hand to mouth and it was week to week, but it was a life better than the train. ANd intime, Skovlan’s Fall will be repaid.
Thistle Playbook Here
Fillable PDF Sheet from ad1066.
Green Flyers & Blades in the Dark Overview Here