Today, we will wrap up our look at Blades in the Dark with Lenia Daava – the Slide known as Sinker. As in “Hook, Line, and …”. Yes, I made a bad joke on several levels here. The Slide is one of the Playbooks with the greatest flexibility and you’ll see why when we get deeper into it. As a Scoundrel who focuses on being a Spy and being a manipulator, this Playbook is one of the potentially most interesting to play because it is all about interacting with N.P.C.s and as the design of the game itself pushes the setting from intense moment to intense moment, the Slide will always be the “Extra” character emoting, sneaking, or otherwise at the crux of their actions that in other games are long slow set ups. I am going to wrap up my conscious effort to have a breadth of backgrounds by using the Dagger Islands and their piracy ways as an origin, but a Law background to be a washed up Bluecoat recruit.
A Slide is the Playbook for manipulating people and doing the “social” work to get the plan together as compared to the Lurk Playbook which focuses on actual Stealth. The Slide is compared to a Spy in the classic espionage style and it made sense for one of those to help out the Green Flyers as Smugglers. Their additional XP trigger is using deception or influence, so you can see how that works well with Cricket’s Spider manipulations.
- Playbook – Slide. Every crew needs someone who can lie, and not just lie but lie well. A Slide is the Playbook that excels at telling everyone what they want to hear or need to hear whether its what is truly in front of their eyes or not. They are the talkers, the smilers, the ones who get the people to do what is needed. Even if every Scoundrel can lie, only a Slide truly views other people as their tools.
- Heritage – Dagger Islands. It’s been a conscious effort to use the breadth of the world in Blades in the Dark to see how this taughtly written but incredibly fruitful background can be used. The Dagger Islands are described as an archipelago, covered in lush jungles until the cataclysm and that persist to this day without the benefit of Imperial lightning barriers to keep the demons and ghosts at bay. I like the idea of someone cut off from their home and having grown up on a ship, and known for corsairs … well I think this sounds like the start of a pirate family which could play into future stories about this Smuggling crew nicely.
- Background – Law. A washed up orphaned police officer recruit just sounds like a fun concept to play in this world. While Cricket and Sphinx don’t have traumatic stories and just sort of wandered into the life of the Scoundrel, like Thistle, Sinker will definitely be shaped by past trauma. Here, I will have her entire family that left the Dagger Islands for Doskvol lost and killed not long after her arrival. That will let her be sent as a ward of the city to the Bluecoat Academy to be trained as a Bluecoat and give us the Law background!
- Action Dots – Slides begin with an Action Dot of Consort and two Action Dots in Sway befitting their place as manipulator and social creature. As a washed up Blue Coat recruit, I definitely want to put one Action Dot into Hunt for the investigative and tracking aspects as well as one in Survey for similar purposes. The final two being put into Prowl and Skirmish provides a breadth of abilities and also befits a former pirate child now loose on the streets of Doskvol. This also plays into my attempt to have Sinker be the character that can back up or fill in any of the gaps that the Crew needs in a Score spreading out the Action Dots. For the Attributes as resistances, this means that Insight, Prowess, and Resolve all start with 2!
- Special Ability – Rook’s Gambit. Special ABilities are the place where you can really shape what direction you start a Scoundrel in Blades in the Dark. Slides obviously have several that revolve around social abilities but also can gain extra Stash in downtime from a side hustle. Playing into the coverage of the weak spots and generalist style I see for Sinker, I start with Rook’s Gambit that allows Sinker to use the highest Action Rating, right now a 2 in Sway, for any other Action rating.
- 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. The friend or close acquaintance is Harker, the Jail Bird. As a Blue Coat cadet, I am sure that Lenia came into contact with individuals who ended up in jail and this lets them have a relationship with somebody on the inside. Similarly, Bazso Baz, the gang leader, will be the enemy. This may as well be the leader of the gang who killed the Daavas after they got to Doskvol. It is an easy way to make a personal tie to this history.
- Vice – Stupor. Lenia has never processed the trauma of losing a family. Going from moving to Doskvol, to losing the rest of the Daava family, to being a ward of the City has not given much time to get situated. This means that the truly dangerous Vice of Stupor is appropriate taking other vices like gambling or pleasure to distinct extremes This is a good time to use the Silver Stag casino again and Lady Helene to not only tie Sinker closer to Cricket but also look forward to Cricket’s Spider special abilities that help downtimes come into play.
- Finishing Touches – Lenia Daava is another example of a name that was selected from the examples of the book using everything that I can out of the Blades book to show how I made the character. As far as appearance goes, since Sinker is less well known than the other three, but no less important, I want to make sure that this Scoundrel could be anything for anyone. Accordingly, Sinker is described as having an Ambiguous but slim figure that exudes ferocity clad in a half cape and tricorn hat that cold just as easily be the outfit of a Blue Coat on the way home.
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.
The Daavas had long loved the Dagger Islands and the freedom that the waves would allow. Many families flitted between the Dagger Islands and their strange jungles since the shattering of the gate of death a millennia ago. Many of those families also took it upon themselves to help themselves as best they could to the people who did not live on the waves and amongst the coves and reefs that the Dagger Islands so generously provided. The Daavas were one such family that the Empire would label pirates.
Putting down roots was never something the Daavas saw as their family way. They danced with the Daggers and knew the secrets none inside a Lightning Fence ever would. It was with both horror and awe that the Akorosi observe the Dagger Islanders for their comfort without a regular home but moreso that they do not use the Lightning Barriers decreed by the Immortal Emperor. The Daavas had made it for hundreds of years but their way of life was fast coming to an end.
The Unity War was draining on the Islanders, and more specifically on the pirates like the Daavas. You would think it would make piracy more lucrative, but the Akorosi knew what they were doing – supplies did not go by the Dagger Islands on the way to the front line or the depots. The Iruvian did not see trade with Severos helping and so those shipments were no longer available.
The Islanders also knew something few others knew – Leviathans, those awesome and awful beasts whose full shape was never able to be seen beneath the waves, were growing stronger and ranging further. The Leviathan Hunters of Doskvol know this well, but the Islanders’ strange ways to survive without the barriers means they too knew things were changing. The Daavas then choose to settle down and to do so in Doskvol where such knowledge may prove fruitful.
Without knowing the true culture of the streets of Doskvol, Lenia’s father didn’t know the danger he caused for himself when he and the family arrived. By saying what he knew, even in half truths, the Leviathan Hunters’ paid him heed … and Bazso Baz did the dirty work.
Left alone in the world, Lenia was of an age where it was perfect to begin the training of a Blue Coat. The orphanage was as brutal as you would expect one to be in Doskvol but Lenia had learned tricks that the Akorosi didn’t realize – a smile, the right word at the right time and a whisper in the wrong ear all would be equally useful. Lenia survived for years, and some would say thrived, and the frequent sneaking out to the vice dens and the underbelly of Doskvol did catch up.
No longer could the Blue Coats keep trying to train this lost Dagger Islander but also this Cricket who seemed as disenchanted with the Academy had become close. They easily hatched a plan. Sinker, as the last of the Daava’s was becoming called, would easily sway things from the shadows as the Green Flyers would smuggle what was needed in and out. A Slide was the most useful when nobody knew there was a Slide around. The Silver Stag was an easy location to find new marks anyway, when Lenia wasn’t going to far to forget the face of her dead father still twisted in a grim rictus.
Sinker Playbook Here
Fillable PDF Sheet from ad1066.