Blades Ep 7: The Astounding Tentacle Assassination Pt 2

With injuries like these, Vand the Whisper, Veleris the Hound and Miss Ruby the Spider could really do with a cocktail, a massage and two weeks on a beach in Iruvia. What they have is two canisters of Leviathan Oil, some hastily trained orphans, a bag of improvised explosives and a priest to kill.

Time to do the Deep Lord’s work.

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Pic is Urban Explorer Aboard Derelict Frigate by Tom Blackwell on Flickr, CC A N$.

Blades in the Dark is a fantastic game, and you’re likely to be hearing a lot more of it and its descendants from us.

Urban Explorer Aboard Derelict Frigate by Tom Blackwell CC A N$ 1

Pic is Urban Explorer Aboard Derelict Frigate by Tom Blackwell on Flickr, CC A N$.


Karma in the Dark: The Team

Having taken a look in our previous installments at the City and the Factions that we created for our Karma in the Dark game, its probably time that we took a look at our leads! The base unit of Karma is a team of crooks toeing the line between striving and selling out… and its these desperate folks that we’ll be following on their adventures.

The Laundry

Our group decided on a crew of Cleaners… that being cleaners in the Jean Reno sense, specializing cover-ups, frame jobs, and at the extreme end outright assassination. Their lair is tucked away in the guts of a long abandoned tower block in the labyrinthine heart of Metro East’s decaying coastal highrises. Though partially collapsed, the team is in the process of stripping the building for resources.

Having chosen Anarchy as their Ideal, they’re going to need all of the resources they can get… but with their Tenacious rep and a knack for getting others to take the blame for their misdeeds, if anybody’s going to get away with it.

Jury the Rigger (Tech Jockey)

The teams resident tech head and getaway driver, Jury grew up in the elegant surrounds of one of the Clan capsule communities until the orcish tusks and muscles manifested along with puberty. Packed away to a vocational education away from prying eyes, Jury makes most of his money as a mechanic down in the lower levels these days. Despite little hints of sentimentality for his upbringing, Jury prefers a world where people have a purpose of their own, rather than being viewed as disposable.

Rebellion: Consumerism, Virtue: Give new purpose to the forgotten, Look: Mechanic Chic

Evie (Mystic)

Having made an unceremonious exit from her Clan after an unforgivable betrayal, Evie refined her understanding of the Source to push her body past the limitations of the petty laws of physics. As a highborn and an elf, she enjoyed a more refined upbringing than her compatriots, which made the fall more even more scarring, leaving Evie distrustful and wary of authority structures. Admittedly, when you’re a Source-fueled brawler who can free-run up sheer glass walls, structures begin to feel less and less real.

Rebellion: Exploitation, Virtue: I keep my promises, Look: Goth Clergy, Jaded: Distrust

Bertrand (Shadow)

If a life spent in and out of prison taught Bertrand anything, it was how to keep his head down. With a knack for co-opting social groups and a will to collapse concentrated power, he knows that power isn’t established by violence or strength, but by having others willing to use those for you. Understated, unobtrusive and on the run, Bertrand acts as a parasite living in the body of large and dangerous factions, and for now remains undetected… only time will tell how much damage he can do.

Rebellion: Monopoly, Virtue: I will feed the hungry, Look: Grey and Greasy

Fixer: Granny Lock

The ageing matriarch of an ever larger clan of low grade street criminals, Granny Lock has her ear to a lot of keyholes, including a string of recent coffee dates with Doctor Pierce of the Tailors’ Union. Granny shifts seamlessly between nurturing and ruthless; she knows from harsh experience that the city runs on the law of the wild, but also that its impossible to survive there alone. To her, the team are somewhere between adopted wastrels and a tentative retirement plan… no sense letting such talent go to waste, after all…

Traits: Ambitious, Patient, Drive: Secure the family’s future, Circle: Organised Crime

Tune in this Sunday to see what happens when the City and the Team collide…



Karma in the Dark: The People

Having given a description of our future-Sydney, Metro East, in last weeks post, lets take a look at some of its inhabitants. Building factions is collaborative in Karma in the Dark, and you can basically make as many as you like. With our team of ne’er do wells inhabiting an abandoned building down near the flooded districts and the industrial zones, that strongly influenced the flavour of our factions, and Karma gives you a lively nest of vipers right out of the gate.

The Marine Patrol Corps (Police Faction)

A municipally funded force has the primary function of keeping a lid on any crime and unrest in the city’s vital aquacultural centres. Painfully underfunded and thinly stretched, the MPC would have their work cut out for them if it was just jittery unions they had to worry about; with the continuing campaign of sabotage perpetrated by the Circle of the Tides they are beginning to get desperate. Their shows of force might not be enough to stop the situation from boiling over… they need up to date gear and boots on the ground, fast, and they are getting rapidly less picky about who supplies those.

Drive: Order, Goal: Acquire Up to Date Hardware, Methods: Shock and Awe, Crackdowns

Relevance: 5 (Pervasive, Protective)

The Circle of the Tides (Arcane Faction)

A loose conclave of mystics, beast speakers and environmental extremists who have taken the Outbreak’s mission to annihilate technology as their own, seeking to defend a natural world that each day grows more complex and dangerous with each day. With extensive knowledge of the city’s flooded districts, powerful magic and a bestiary of awakened animals at their disposal, they seek to rid the coastline of exploitative resource extraction and return to the world to a state of balance. Viewed by some outsiders as misguided and others as a deranged death-cult, the Circle nonetheless continues its mission in places where those same outsiders would struggle to survive.

Drive: Defend the Natural World, Goal: Disrupt the Kelp Farms, Method: Secrecy, Hit and Run

Relevance: 3

The Circus Maximus (Entertainment Faction)

The Circus is a loose alliance of celebrities, entertainers and their myriad support staff, driven by the whims of the Oligarchs’ patronage and sharpened by their precarious position. With the favour of the great clans comes some of the benefits they enjoy, including the coveted biotech and longevity treatments… as long as one can hold the spotlight. Their power comes from being able to make or break reputations, and cultivation of powerful friends… though some whisper their attempts to secure monopoly rights in the burgeoning international market are their first step in replacing the nobility they have imitated for so long.

Drive: Power, Goal: Acquire an export monopoly, Method: Social Engineering

Relevance: 5 (Pervasive, Trendsetting)

Circus Maximus Agent: Clint Burgundy

Clint was one of the beautiful people once, but that was a long time ago. With the good life of sex, drugs and loud music having turned him into something of a greasy walnut of a human male, he clings on to his place in C-Max as a broker, enabler and troubleshooter. The team has landed on his Shit List due to their cover-up activities… if there’s a PR clusterfuck looming, Clint wants to be the one in control of it.

The Tailor’s Union (Crime Faction)

In Metro East, the rich get access to tailored bioware, and the finest medical care that can be found. For everyone else… there’s the Tailor’s Union. Where there is a demand a supply will surface soon enough, and the Union have a strong hand in keeping the city’s poor and desperate alive, running the black clinics, pharmaceutical smuggling and illegal cybernetics that keep the human element from breaking down. The fact that they cement this position with a merciless network of blackmail and a small army of augmented assassins has not done anything to hurt their reputation.

Drive: Expand criminal empire, Goal: Inflitrate the MPC, Method: Secrecy and Terror

Relevance: 4 (Consuming)

Tailor’s Union Agent: “Doctor” Francis Pierce

A quiet, almost monkish demeanour hides the scalpel sharp mind of “Doctor” Pierce, with the willowy troll being perhaps the most capable surgeon ever to have their license revoked. Not cruel, or malicious, they might best be described as efficient, whether in an improvised operating room or aboard a smuggling sub… and they owe the team one, on account of some help with some personal problems…

Artemis Pharmaceutical Futures (Corp Faction)

The local branch of APF has seen better days… a long way from their patron’s heartland, the lab has been struggling to produce the results that they need to avoid being written off as a loss come next review. The Head of Research is going to need to get creative… especially after a rather nasty chemical spill that they may or may not have been responsible for. There’s a lot to worry about, but Artemis aren’t to be written off just yet; they might not be a big lab, but their parent corporation doesn’t like competitors messing with their assets…

Drive: Secure more funding for research, Goal: Cover up recent accident, Method: Market Manipulation

Relevance: 4 (Protective)

Tune in next week, and we’ll meet the team!




Blades Ep 6: The Astounding Tentacle Assassination Pt 1

With the wounds of their last encounter barely closed, the Disciples of the Depths set their eyes on clearing the Docks of their competition. Will Veleris the Hound, Vand the Whisper and Miss Ruby the Spider be able to send a Priest of Ecstasy to their God once the stars are right?

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Blades in the Dark is a game of heists and bastardy set in a haunted industrial city, and is a product of John Harper’s fevered mind. Check it out.

Urban Explorer Aboard Derelict Frigate by Tom Blackwell CC A N$ 1

Pic is Urban Explorer Aboard Derelict Frigate by Tom Blackwell on Flickr, CC A N$.


Karma in the Dark: The City

Well, the Liberation Industries team took to the world and character creation section of our Karma in the Dark game with characteristic gusto. The full recording of this technologically hobbled session is still available through the Whimsy and Metaphor Twitch, and should surface on our Youtube pretty soon. But for those in the Too Long, Didn’t Listen camp… I’m going to do a few quick blog posts here to summarize the results, and whet your appetites for when the next live sessions air.

Welcome to Metro East

Now Karma offers us some downright robust world building tools; though the game’s elevator pitch is probably “Blades Powered Shadowrun” its got a lot more going for it than that, and can basically handle all of your magic cyberpunk needs. It lets you build a world with a strong focus on privilege, and the exact avenues that power is expressed in that dystopia.

Naturally, we decided to set our game in Sydney, Australia. Or at least, what’s left of it.

Power is influenced by three factors in Karma, chosen by the players at the start of the campaign. Our group chose Metatype as one factor in a nod to classic Shadowrun; elves and humans have an easier time negotiating society than their goblinoid cousins. The other two factors we chose were Bloodline and Property, with family ties to the Oligarch Clans offering a measure of protection, and a citizen’s social clout strongly resting on how much capital they can bring to bear.

With that in place, we have a distinctly neo-feudal city.

Glittering Heights, Murky Depths

Even before the magical Outbreak hit, Metro East was not doing so well. With its lower levels subsiding in ever greater floodwaters and further growth choked by geographical restrictions, the skyline grew desperately taller, clawing for the sky even as the building’s foundations were swallowed by the sea. The city grew upwards in layers, like a mad termite mound.

Then the Outbreak struck, and the world changed completely. With the return of magic to the world, technology that had been the lifeblood of a globalised economy – wireless communication, positioning satellites, even long distance radio – went silent in the face of a global magical susurrus. Technology had to be rebuilt in shielded, wired form, and cities were left to fend for themselves. It is a metropolis of text-fed terminals, flickering hologram billboards, and murky phone booths with gnarled nerve-jack leads swinging in the ever present storm winds.

The crash was eighty years ago, and only now are we returning to the globalised world that was lost. So far, even the great corporations have been unable to challenge the primacy of the City States, but with more ships arriving in Metro East from abroad every day, that may be set to change.


It is a city of great divisions. Industry is driven by intensive, exploitative aquaculture and risky ocean mining, offset by a ravenous urge for respect that has manifested in a cutting edge fashion scene. The Oligarchs maintain their hold through monopolies on the most alarming magic – they say the rites of divination that keep them ahead of their rivals are unspeakably horrid – and access to the best medical care. They have developed a taste for flaunting their elegant, tailored bioware, the symbol of their coveted longevity, with the fashion for gauzy, revealing garments that display humanity’s augmented peak. For the kelp-fed poor, crude cyberware can be the difference between life and death, but social pressure often drives it to be covered; given the harsh weather, the working classes make their way in shrouds and bulky raincoats through the torrid, waterlogged industrial quarters. Life expectancy gets lower the deeper you go.

Metro East is viewed by outsiders as both an enclave of vain upstarts, and a pit of desperate criminal savagery… and both of these statements are true.

Tune in next week, and we’ll take a look at some of the City’s movers and shakers, at least in the tumbledown neighbourhood our characters inhabit. If you have any questions, drop a comment, or have a look at Cass K Designs; this game comes thoroughly recommended!



More Shadows! More Running!

Hey hey imaginary listeners!

We are taking the Liberation Industries magic into the modern age with the help of Whimsy and Metaphor, and taking our teeth to Cass K’s fantastic Shadowrun/Blades in the Dark hybrid, Karma in the Dark!

The show will be airing on Twitch at 7pm tomorrow (Sunday 1st April), Australian Eastern Standard Time. The first session will be mostly world creation, but for the die-hards among you I look forward to seeing you there!

Get Twitchy with Whimsy and Metaphor!

Shadowrun - Seattle - Liqueur Felix A N$

Shadowrun – Seattle – Liqueur Felix A N$

Planescape Ep 7: Anarchists Anonymous Pt 3

With the secret meeting place located, our daring adventurers traipse through the mysterious but surprisingly spacious sewers beneath the Hive. Will Carson the Half Elf Gunslinger, Domingo the Anthropig Mathematician and Valanthe the Wood Elf Druid prove a match for the subterranean Anarchists?

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Powered by Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition.

Pic is Underground by Chelmsfordblue on Flickr, CC A.

Planescape Ep 6: Anarchists Anonymous Pt 2

With their path to the planes conditional on returning stolen records to the governors, Carson the Half Elf gunslinger, Valanthe the Wood Elf druid and Domingo the Anthropig mathematician hunt the streets of Sigil on the trail of the Anarchists… though they do manage a short stop at the Cavern to help their old pal Sig with a planar problem of his own…

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Dungeons and Dragons 5e is a product of Wizards of the Coast. If you’ve heard of us and not them… well, don’t I just feel special right now.

Pic is Underground by Chelmsfordblue on Flickr, CC A.

Planescape Ep 5: Anarchists Anonymous Pt 1

After a string of downright creepy dreams, our intrepid heroes beat feet onto the weird streets of Sigil. While not enduring apparently random encounters, Carson the Half Elf Gunslinger goes to the murder museum, Valanthe the Wood Elf Druid assists some poultry in need, and Domingo the Anthropig Mathematician does some paperwork.

They call them Adventurers for a reason kids.

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This session features Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition. It doesn’t talk much, but it is most certainly present in the studio and contributing.

Pic is Underground by Chelmsfordblue on Flickr, CC A.


Blades Ep 5: The Underground Knifefighting Fiasco Pt 2

Its a filthy damned mess for the Disciples of the Depths in this episode as Veleris the Hound, Vand the Whisper and Miss Ruby the Spider conclude their brutal dealings with the Gondoliers and then do what they can to handle the fallout. This one is going to need stitches…

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Blades in the Dark, the game of heists and skulduggery in a haunted industrial metropolis, is brought to us by John Harper and Evil Hat games. It is rich, exciting and captures the feeling it was aiming for perfectly. So stitch some razors in your cap and give it a try!

Urban Explorer Aboard Derelict Frigate by Tom Blackwell CC A N$ 1

Pic is Urban Explorer Aboard Derelict Frigate by Tom Blackwell on Flickr, CC A N$.