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Old Dec 5th, 2021, 11:47 AM
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MoldyNolds' Duskwall Rising

Game NameMoldyNolds' Duskwall Rising
Game SystemBlades in the Dark

ThemeA group of daring scoundrels building a criminal enterprise on the haunted streets of an industrial-fantasy city. There are heists, chases, escapes, dangerous bargains, bloody skirmishes, deceptions, betrayals, victories, and deaths. My overall mood for this game is going to lean towards the darker side. The setting presented in the book strikes me as very Gothic and gothic. If emo-steampunk-witchcraft sounds intriguing then you'll probably want to read on!

Mood/Flavor/InspirationGames: Thief Series | Dishonored | Bioshock Series | The Darkest Dungeon | Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura | Arkham Horror
Movies/Shows: Dark City | The Robert Downey Jr. versionsSherlock Holmes | League of Extraordinary Gentlemen | Gangs of New York | Ronin | The Warriors | Penny Dreadful
Literature: Lovecraftian Horror | Deepgate Codex Series | The Black Company Series | The Aeronaut's Windlass
Music: Abney Park | The Cruxshadows | The Birthday Massacre | Victor Sierra

The Game
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The Setting
The game takes place in the cold, foggy city of Doskvol (aka Duskwall or “the Dusk”). It’s industrial in its technological development. Imagine a world like ours during the second industrial revolution of the 1870s—there are trains, steam-boats, printing presses, simple electrical technology, carriages, and the black smog of chimney smoke everywhere. Doskvol is something like a mashup of Venice, London, and Prague. It’s crowded with row-houses, twisting streets, and criss-crossed with hundreds of little waterways and bridges. Also like our world, Duskwall and all known lands are populated by humans, except for perhaps the Tycherosi. The specific cultures and hertiages are explained in more detail in the rulebook.

The city is also a fantasy. The world is in perpetual darkness and haunted by ghosts—a result of the cataclysm that shattered the sun and broke the Gates of Death a thousand years ago. The cities of the empire are each encircled by crackling lightning towers to keep out the vengeful spirits and twisted horrors of the deathlands. To power these massive barriers, the titanic metal ships of the leviathan hunters are sent out from Doskvol to extract electroplasmic blood from massive demonic terrors upon the ink-dark Void Sea. Corrupt Bluecoats patrol the streets, shaking down the populace for protection money. Spirit Wardens rigorously pursue deaths within the city to prevent restless spirits from wreaking havoc. Occult forces conduct secret rituals behind closed doors. Factions within the city constantly push up against each other in a dizzying, shifting array of territory grabs and power moves.

You’re in a haunted Victorian-era city of eternal night, rife with crime and opportunity, trapped inside a wall of lightning powered by demon blood.

The point of all this is to create a pressure-cooker environment for our criminal escapades. Traveling outside the lightning barrier is a very bad idea, so it’s impractical to “leave town and wait for the heat to die down” after you pull off a score. Everything the players choose to do has consequences for their characters and shifts the balance of power around in the city—driving the action for a sandbox style of roleplaying game.

The Characters
Every player character in Blades in the Dark is a daring criminal of the underworld of Doskvol, known in common parlance as a scoundrel. Scoundrels are familiar with all of the various feats of skullduggery represented by the actions of the game. They’re all able to Skirmish in a knife-fight, Prowl in the shadows, Attune to strange energy, Consort with contacts for information, and so on. Because of the way the dice system works, every scoundrel can roll at least 2d for any action in the game (+1d from pushing or a Devil’s Bargain, and a +1d assist from a teammate). A roll of 2d is pretty good, statistically—a 75% chance of success. This means that all of the “zero rating” actions on your character sheet don’t actually represent deficiencies or gaps of skill; they indicate the actions for which your character is likely to burn stress and rely on teamwork. As a scoundrel of the Dusk, with your crew at your back, you can attempt almost anything.

The scoundrels attempt to develop their crew from a ragtag group of poor independents to a serious criminal organization with established turf. They do this by taking illegal jobs from clients, planning their own devious missions, making alliances, destroying their enemies, and trying to stay one step ahead of the law. There are several character types to choose from, each representing a different style of scoundrel:
  • Cutters are intimidating fighters.
  • Hounds are deadly sharpshooters and trackers.
  • Leeches are tinkerers, alchemists, and saboteurs.
  • Lurks are stealthy infiltrators.
  • Slides are manipulators and spies.
  • Spiders are devious masterminds.
  • Whispers are arcane adepts.
The Crew
In addition to creating scoundrel characters, you’ll also create the crew by choosing which type of criminal enterprise you’re interested in exploring. The crew gets its own “character sheet,” just like a player character.

The crew type isn’t restrictive (any crew can pursue a variety of activities); it’s there to help focus the game play by providing unique bonuses and offering some narrative glue to your group.
  • Assassins are killers for hire.
  • A Cult serves a forgotten god.
  • Bravos are thugs and extortionists.
  • Hawkers sell illegal products.
  • Smugglers transport contraband.
  • Shadows are thieves and spies.

Gameplay
Play to find out what happens.

This phrase stuck with me the first time I read it in Dungeon World, and it's an important enough concept to make its way into the PbtA hack known as Blades in the Dark. I'm a firm proponent of letting the Players drive the game wherever they want it to go. As GM my job is not to railroad, but to recognize when Players are saying "this aspect of the setting/mechanics looks important/fun/engaging" and then expand on that for them. This requires a certain level of initiative from Players in order to jumpstart each new story thread.

The title of this game, Duskwall Rising, is an homage to the West Marches style of gaming. There won't be any over-arching epic plots (at least no artificially manufactured ones). I'm going for more of a persistent world with shifting factions and consequences that leave lasting impressions on the PC's, their crew, and Duskvol at large. Plots will be episodic in nature and character-driven, meaning as the GM I'll be looking to each of your PC's individual and group motivations to drive the story forward and see how those motivations change with a changing Duskvol.

Gameplay will follow the three modes as described in the rulebook. Each chapter, episode, score, or whatever you want to call it will have its own folder with individual threads dedicated to Free Play, The Score, and Downtime. This is a game centered around leaping before you look. Rarely will you make a Perception test or plan ahead for a score in the conventional ways that other, traditional TTRPG's handle those sorts of things. BitD is a game of instant action and consequences. High risks and high rewards. No battlemaps, we'll be using theater of the mind along with some strategic maps of Duskwall and its districts. Planning and preparation are handled only on a very high-level prior to a heist, and through flashbacks during a heist. It definitely takes some getting used to, for me too, but we'll try and get there together!

I don't plan on pulling any punches when it comes to character death. The mechanics allow for a progressive descent into trauma and/or retirement over a number of heists. It is virtually impossible for a scoundrel to go from good health to character death in a single heist. Should we end up playing long enough for death to occur I would consider it a success from a narrative standpoint. Congratulations! We can discuss at that point if you want to continue on as a Ghost, Hull, or Vampire (with their own separate playbooks) or start a new playbook with some free upgrades to keep you on par with overall crew effectiveness.

Posting Rate & Structure
 

Applications
No dice rolling in this thread!
(We don't roll stats in this game anyway, but I have to say that )

Please post a completed application no later than 11:59am WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 5TH (EST/GMT-5) to be considered for this game. My goal is to send invites before the weekend so we can get started with crew creation and housekeeping bits right away and into the game ASAP.

A Note on Mature Story-Telling
 


A completed application should include:
 

I will attempt to provide at least one round of feedback for each application presented to me within a reasonable amount of time. Applications posted within a few days of the deadline will get less input than those I get to see earlier. I'm ultimately looking for 4-5 players.

About Me
 
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He/Him | I have taken the Oath of Sangus
Currently GM'ing: 1,000,000 Ways to Die in the Weird West | MoldyNolds' Duskwall Rising
Current Characters: Rolf da Minek | Vittoro Gabríka de Campos

Last edited by MoldyNolds; Dec 8th, 2021 at 03:48 PM.
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Old Dec 5th, 2021, 11:49 AM
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Applicants
Player
Alias
1st Choice
Status
Humble Hero
Spider
Complete
cottontailwind Mister Fortune
Whisper
Complete
Hotshot lasgun
Cutter
Complete
HotsuSama
Lurk
Reviewed
Solitaire64
Leech
Complete
Chylopan
Slide
Complete
Niyaga
Hound
Complete


FAQQ: I'm very much interested in this but I don't have the book. Is that a problem?
A: No problem at all. I'm not super worried about the mechanics, we can go over those as needed. I guess my initial... not concern, let's call it consideration, is that there is a lot of lore contained in the rulebook and I was hoping to not regurgitate it all into a lore thread. If that doesn't bother you, or if you have another way to reference the lore than I'd love to see you apply!
EDIT: Psychic Nomad was kind enough to provide the link to a BitD SRD! You can find it HERE.
Q: you allowing homebrew?
A: Since I don’t fully have a grasp on how the core rules and playbooks balance against each other I’m going to say no homebrew stuff for now. That may change in the future, however!

Q: What's the difference between demons/devils and spirits?
A: In my opinion, and the manner in which I've chosen to define and separate demons and spirits comes from a paragraph of information under the Church of Ecstasy faction (p286):
QuoteThe purest beings (according to the teachings of the Church), are those entirely without spirits: the demons. Demons are immortal, but never fade into madness or lustful hungers as rogue human spirits and vampires do. They are perfect; and the most devout of the Curch seek to become as they are, to unlock the secret of ascension. Many dark experiments and rituals with hulls, hollows, vampires --and the rare demon-- are conducted in the labyrinthine dungeons below the Church's chief cathedral in Brightstone.

Expanding on this bit of info, I draw a very clear line between spirits and demons. Spirits live inside humans until the death of the body, at which point the spirit would normally have entered the Gates of Death, until the Cataclysm broke them. Now spirits roam the ghost field, slowly going insane from being trapped. During that time they have limited interactions with the material world and can, potentially, possess other humans or hulls. Think Ghostbusters, or Poltergeist. Demons on the other hand have no internal spirit. They are unable to possess human bodies or hulls. I would liken them more to djinn or fae creatures. They interact with mortals through carefully worded bargaining or arcane summoning rituals.
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He/Him | I have taken the Oath of Sangus
Currently GM'ing: 1,000,000 Ways to Die in the Weird West | MoldyNolds' Duskwall Rising
Current Characters: Rolf da Minek | Vittoro Gabríka de Campos

Last edited by MoldyNolds; Dec 29th, 2021 at 07:03 AM.
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Old Dec 5th, 2021, 12:31 PM
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Posting Interest. I'm going to need to take a look at the game mechanics to be sure, but this concept, and the way you've described how it works in regards to Player gameplay interests me.

Regardless of whether this gets passed just interest for me, good luck with both your recruitment and future with this game. It certainly looks like it will be engaging.
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Old Dec 5th, 2021, 12:54 PM
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Definitely interested. I have the rules, but I've never played the game (either in-person or PbP). Whether I get chosen or not, I'll be following the game closely. I'm very curious to how flashbacks work.
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Old Dec 5th, 2021, 02:09 PM
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Hi there Saratek and Attitude! Posting interest is always welcome

I've played BitD a couple of times as a player and once as the GM and I still don't feel like I've given it the attention it deserves. There is a certain elegance to the mechanics that I feel compelled to explore more fully. My hope is that by playing through pbp we can all take our time and walk through all the different aspects of the mechanics without feeling rushed or "on the spot".

That and the setting just screams at me to explore it through creative writing
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Currently GM'ing: 1,000,000 Ways to Die in the Weird West | MoldyNolds' Duskwall Rising
Current Characters: Rolf da Minek | Vittoro Gabríka de Campos
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Old Dec 5th, 2021, 05:03 PM
PsychicNomad PsychicNomad is offline
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I'm very much interested in this, playing a whisper, but I don't have the book. Is that a problem?
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Old Dec 5th, 2021, 05:35 PM
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Hmm.

I've been telling myself I'm at capacity or close to it. But a chance at BitD is going to test that.

HMM.

I'll be keeping this in mind and lurking. Damnit, I'd probably play a Lurk too...
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Old Dec 5th, 2021, 07:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PsychicNomad View Post
I'm very much interested in this, playing a whisper, but I don't have the book. Is that a problem?
Welcome! No problem at all. I'm not super worried about the mechanics, we can go over those as needed. I guess my initial... not concern, let's call it consideration, is that there is a lot of lore contained in the rulebook and I was hoping to not regurgitate it all into a lore thread. If that doesn't bother you, or if you have another way to reference the lore than I'd love to see you apply!

EDIT: use the free Player's Kit that I linked in the application section. Let me know if you need any assistance!

Quote:
Originally Posted by HotsuSama View Post
I'll be keeping this in mind and lurking. Damnit, I'd probably play a Lurk too...
Please or Lurk away...lurk away in whatever manner you see fit
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He/Him | I have taken the Oath of Sangus
Currently GM'ing: 1,000,000 Ways to Die in the Weird West | MoldyNolds' Duskwall Rising
Current Characters: Rolf da Minek | Vittoro Gabríka de Campos

Last edited by MoldyNolds; Dec 5th, 2021 at 07:10 PM.
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Old Dec 5th, 2021, 07:31 PM
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Unscrupulous people doing unscrupulous things in an unscrupulous world? Posting for interest/working on an app right now...
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Old Dec 5th, 2021, 08:03 PM
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Originally Posted by cottontailwind View Post
Unscrupulous people doing unscrupulous things in an unscrupulous world? Posting for interest/working on an app right now...
Indeed, there is not a scruple to be found among Duskwall. In fact, the absence of scruples was one of the first signs of the coming Cataclysm, according to ancient soothsayers...

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Currently GM'ing: 1,000,000 Ways to Die in the Weird West | MoldyNolds' Duskwall Rising
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Old Dec 5th, 2021, 08:21 PM
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Ok, I've downloaded the player kit, but it's late now, so I'll be back tomorrow.
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Old Dec 5th, 2021, 10:25 PM
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Most of the moods/flavor you listed are ones I enjoy, so my interest has been piqued quite significantly. I'm in 3 games so far, but might be able to wiggle in a fourth... so, since this sounds really fun, l start formulating ideas for the application!

Application StatusCompleted

Application
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Name: Silas d'Averon

Alias: Redeye

Playbook: am happy to adjust/changeSpider

Look: Silas is a thin man, one who wears the hardships of life on his face, through the mixture of wrinkles and scars that surround his scowl. His dark hair is kept short, shaved and faded sides and back, with the longer bulk of the top slicked back away from his eyes. And his eyes, likely his most notable feature, are very different; one ice blue, his original hue from birth, while the other is a sickly orange iris with black sclera, from an incident he doesn't speak of. His face is angular, giving him the pointed chin and defined cheekbones, as well as his long crooked nose. His lips are thin, easily able to sneer or grimace in equal measure, while his teeth are quite healthy save for a chip on one front tooth.

Knowing the importance of a first impression, Silas always presents himself well. He favors expensive-looking three-piece suits, of typically dark colors and shades - blacks, reds, blues and grays. He uses large coats and wide collars to broaden his stature, to appear more intimidating with a facade of size, in spite of his lean frame. His intent is to present class, sophistication and above-all professionalism; as each of those is important to how he runs his gang, with a focus on becoming wealthy and influential in higher social circles. Yet, even he knows everyone must start at the bottom... but that doesn't stop him dressing for the position he wants.

On the rare occasions when someone might meet Silas in his personal office, he is said to resemble a predatory bird. One that looms over his visitors on a high-backed chair, that is an equally richly decorated piece of furniture with carved wood, gold-trim and velvet cushions. Certainly a comfortable seat, at a large wooden desk, from which to observe the building and expansion of a criminal empire...

Motivation: Simply put, Silas wants to control it. All of it. But not as the figurehead; no, he understands that those in the public eye have a bullseye on the back. So he wants to be the puppeteer - the hand that guides the change - from the fathomless recesses of the shadows... all the while moving up in the world.

Heritage/Background: Were someone to ask Silas about his past, it would not be a long tale. Born into the low class of Doskvol, his childhood was fraught with danger and threat from the start. His parents were decent people, all told, even though they were forced to make poor decisions to survive. Begging, odd jobs, and other less respectable ventures were pursued, all in an attempt to gain coin and change circumstances.

Yet, between the rival gangs, Blue Coats, and religious zealots, climbing from the muck was difficult. Silas' father didn't make it, he died when the boy was five. His mother went soon after, killed amid a drunken altercation in a pub, where she was moonlighting as a barmaid - Silas was eight.

Being an orphan in Doskvol was almost certainly a death sentence, yet the boy was cunning and smart, if malnourished and small for his size. He started to make himself useful, he used his size to advantage and spied, he crept into places he shouldn't and learned all kinds of secrets and information that others would pay to know... and he told them, for money, without hesitation. For many years, the skinny pale boy proved his worth, and it was enough to begin to turn life around.

Silas' methods had been perfected by young adulthood. He had developed a small network of contacts, his information was regarded as solid by those he typically dealt with, and he even had enough backing to start making 'friends'. And for those people he couldn't afford or charm, he planned and plotted and brought about his own designs to fruition - Silas was not afraid to play the long game. In fact, one of his most prized companions and source of information was a childhood friend, William, whom was routinely, with fancies of heroism and doing goodencouraged to seek out a foster home and then pursue a position in the Blue Collars... and so it came to be.

In more recent years, Silas has looked to expand his operation. He understands he is small-time, he knows that his sway over gang territory is insignificant; however, he knows the price of information, what some would pay to know it, and what others would pay to keep it hidden. It all comes down to checks and balances, pros and cons, what can be used now to earn a favor later. And manipulation had become Silas' main source of income, and he was good at it, very good in fact...

Vice/Purveyor: Luxury. Silas is addicted to anything and everything that is luxurious or opulent or costly. To him, it is a representation for others to see, to show how much more he has, and therefore (in his mind) how high above them he is. By indulging in every aspect of luxurious excess, he feels validated and powerful in his choices in life, and the continuing desire to have more is what motivates him.

Dangerous Friends:
Friend: William Turnsby - Blue Coat: A childhood friend that ran with Silas, and others, as fellow orphans. William was a very gullible and trusting sort as a child, and it was clear he wouldn't last long on the streets. Silas helped him see the positives of finding foster parents, or at least adults willing to take him in for their own benefit, and continued to remain in contact with William as they grew.

When William expressed interest in the Blue Coats, Silas saw an opportunity. He guided William in that direction, and years later his friend was a law enforcement officer - who happened to be an excellent connection, and childhood friend to boot!

Rival: Gareth Billem - Thug One of the first men Silas crossed, when the youth found out information by spying in a steam duct of a rundown spa establishment. The information proved detrimental to Gareth's prospects as a new gang member, where he was - confusingly - open to his friends about a plan to kill the leader and assume the position... and it goes without saying that, had Silas not informed the gang leader, Gareth might have been living a very different lifestyle - rather than that of a lowlife thug, who no one trusts beyond once-off jobs.
Role-Playing Samples:

 


 


Do you have access to the BitD rulebook? I don't presently, but I'm happy to purchase a copy if I'm fortunate enough to get into the game. Given the time of year, I need to be frugal with my limited funds, so I can't buy every rulebook that interests me. That said, this setting does interest me, and I like to support creators, so: I don't, but can.

Have you played BitD before? I have not, however I'm a quick study and I think play-by-post is a little more forgiving, in the sense that quality RP posts can make up for mechanic/system deficiencies. And I've set about reading the system information and delving more into it, so hopefully I'll be up to speed by the time it's important to be so!
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Last edited by Humble Hero; Dec 11th, 2021 at 07:08 PM.
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Old Dec 5th, 2021, 10:33 PM
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me me me! you allowing homebrew?

https://itch.io/jam/unusual-suspects...ok-jam/entries
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Old Dec 5th, 2021, 10:54 PM
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Welcome Humble Hero! Glad to hear you’re vibing on my flavor choices

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hotshot lasgun View Post
Wow, these are amazing! I peeked at a five or six and while I’m certainly no expert, some of them seem to introduce some new abilities and mechanics. Since I don’t fully have a grasp on how the core rules and playbooks balance against each other I’m going to say no homebrew stuff for now. That may change in the future, however!
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Current Characters: Rolf da Minek | Vittoro Gabríka de Campos
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Old Dec 5th, 2021, 11:18 PM
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Honestly, I'm kinda happy to hear no homebrew. I have no BitD experience and I'm more intrigued to see how it plays as from the original ruleset.

Anyway, screw it. I have a basic concept that I'll flesh out over the next couple of days and post up.
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