This work is based on Blades in the Dark, a product of One Seven Design, developed and authored by John Harper, and licensed for our use under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 unported license.
Recently, I’ve been introducing friends to the wonderful system of Blades in the Dark, where we get to be daring scoundrels looking for fortune in a cursed city. This heist worked beautifully as an introduction and can range from one to three sessions, depending on your allotted time.
Inspiration came from this wonderful article, which suggests breaking the score into two parts: the fast and punchy part and the main operation.
Maria Coseren, a famous actress and opera singer, is coming to Doskvol. The high-profile clientele is paying a hefty price to see her miraculous performance, which is aided by her curious mask. This artifact allows its wearer to assume the appearance of any person they have seen. For the performer, it is the ultimate prop. For a scoundrel, it is a tool with vast possibilities.
Your crew is tasked with stealing the mask during its transportation through Shade Street, a wide boulevard filled with nooks and shadowed alleyways.
Mr. Sallivan, an independent antique dealer, gave you the job and the Shade Street briefing. What will he give you in return? Does he honor their deal or get rid of you? Where are you supposed to make the handoff, and is it interrupted by a third party?
Irelen, the Dimmer Sister, believes there’s a spirit trapped in the mask. She gave you information on how to break the arcane ward on carriage doors. What will she use the mask for? Why did she come to you?
Karth Orris, a ruthless Hive commander, wants to sell this mask to the highest bidder. With the Ministry of Preservation on his tail, he needs the score done quickly and with no witnesses. What does he offer in return? Do you honor your deal? What happens when the highest bidder offers to pay you double to cut Karth out of the deal?
Shade Street is a mile-long lynchpin connecting the Docks and Charterhall. Every valuable import has to pass over it. The mask will travel via an armored carriage, pulled by two horses and guarded by two Bluecoat officers, one rifleman, and a driver. No one knows that the mask inside is a useless duplicate.
A well-prepared machine. The carriage has a hidden steam engine that the driver can start in an emergency. The wheels can eject severing spikes to cut down the chasers.
How do you catch up to the speeding carriage? What happens when the driver is shot and there’s no one at the wheel?
A sniper in the nest. Someone spoke about the job. Right when things were going well, a rifleman shot at your squad.
How do you deal with suppressing fire? Who is the attacker, and what are they after—the score or your heads?
A luring trap. The carriage doors are reinforced and warded. The carriage has no useful cargo. Whoever picks the lock is instantly shoved inside by an arcane ward. When the culprit is captured, the doors close and electrify the target.
How do you escape? Was this the ministry’s plan, or did another crew set you up?
The crowd wants a piece of the cargo.
A hostile scoundrel joins the score.
The driver starts the steam engine.
The sniper is defeated.
The carriage has fled!
It was all a bigger trap; the carriage detonates.
Another crew arrives and wants the loot.
Realize it was a decoy.
Downtime and Gathering Information
The mask is a useless fake; anyone can see it after a thorough look.
Do you try to touch up the fake and sell it as an original? What happens when the deceived find out?
Do you search for the true artifact?
The Imperial Transporter
The real mask is aboard the Imperial Transporter, a devastating airship armed with hook cannons, two sentient automatons, elite guards, and a vault. Gathering information reveals the following:
- The transporter is airborne for a full week, circling the skies of Doskvol.
- Every eighth day, the transporter docks for one hour. It resupplies and refuels.
- The transporter’s biggest strength and weakness is its spark core. It powers everything.
- While refueling, the spark core is off, and it cannot hold the ship afloat. The ship rests on two enormous iron supports.
- Its vault holds immeasurable treasure.
- Although the guards and crew are loyal, the dock workers aren’t.
Spirit infestation. During docking, spirits seized control of the ship, preventing refueling.
What is their true cause? How can you appease them? Is there any benefit to be gained from their presence?
Master thief. A master thief named Valeris has been sent after the same score. They wear an electroplasmic shield generator that stops any fast projectiles.
Who sent the thief? Perhaps Valeris is the crew’s rival or a reminder to pay your hunting ground tax. Is there a deal to make with them?
Early lift-off. Due to security concerns, docking has been cut short. The airship is taking off just as your crew is approaching it.
How do you get on board in time, and what is your plan B if you don’t? Who is issuing the orders, and can they be silenced?
The automaton guardian is defeated.
The spark engine starts or shuts down.
The vault doors open.
Emergency! The ship takes off.
Valeris’ shield is penetrated.
One of the supporters breaks, and the ship goes into free fall, its engine still shut.
The spark core explodes.
The Imperial Guard arrives.
The spirits finish the ritual and possess the transporter. They use the ship’s defenses to kill everyone on board.