Sunday, February 18, 2024

The Valkyrie Heist

Mike Royal needed an extra week to prep the next Pulp Cthulhu adventure, so I offered to run a Blades in the Dark one-shot in the usual timeslot. Most of the group was new to Blades, save for one player who had been in a previous one-shot I ran of it and a player who had run the game before but never had the opportunity to play a scoundrel. People really seemed to love this one--so much so that there were requests to come back to these characters and their capers at some point. Here's what went down.


Ilya, the Lurk

Dusk, the Spider

Poppy, the Slide

Blunt, the Cutter

Miranda, the Whisper

Hawky, the Hound


This was the intro to our one-shot:

This morning, the Valkyrie, the largest and most luxurious airship in the known world, docked in Brightstone. The Valkyrie will be taking on supplies during the day, but tonight it will host a banquet and ball before departing in the early hours of the morning. The Valkyrie and its passengers are bound south to Iruvia. As part of the festivities, Marist Larkin, a celebrated chef, will be preparing an exclusive tasting menu for the invited guests. 

The Valkyrie has one added attraction that your gang has learned of: Severina’s Tear, a fist-sized sapphire intended to be one of the crown jewels of the new queen of Iruvia, is secretly being transported aboard the airship. Your goal is to make your way onto the Valkyrie, steal Severina’s Tear, and fade away into the underworld before the airship departs for Iruvia.

Their first order of business was figuring out how they would gain entrance to the Valkyrie. Ilya leaned on his friend, the noblewoman Roslyn Kellis. Roslyn had a genuine ticket, but could produce counterfeits that would pass casual inspection. In return, Roslyn wanted Ilya to publicly embarrass a rival named Aisling Bennigard. Figuring that two ways in were better than one, Blunt hatched a plan to arrive at the Valkyrie before the event started in the guise of a deliveryman and then hide himself inside to scout around.

Other pre-mission preparations included figuring out the list of notables who would be aboard. They learned a bit about the ship's captain, the chef, and learned that Sergeant Dresher, an Akorosian military leader, was also seen entering the airship for unknown reasons. Miranda made a dangerous deal for supernatural back-up: she bound the demoness Sitarra to a poison ring that could be triggered for aid. However, if Sitarra was not given a soul in return for her help, she would take a chunk of Miranda's as payment.

Most of the group made their way down the red carpet leading to the Valkyrie (Blunt was already hidden inside) and were shown to a table in the airship's banquet room. Aisling Bennigard was pointing out by Roslyn and Hawky noticed that three members of the Red Sashes gang, including a swordsman called Reaper who had beef with him, were also posing as guests. The group also noticed that the chef, Marist Larkin, seemed to be in a foul mood this evening.

Feigning a fainting attack, Miranda was accompanied by Hawky and Dusk as they pretended to look for a couch upon which to rest the lady. They managed to bluster their way past the guards and made their way to the third floor. When their elevator opened, they had a moment of panic when the elevator opposite also opened--but luckily it was just Blunt, who had also made his way to the third floor of the airship's gondola. 

Operating under the theory that the chef may be in a bad mood because her kitchen had been commandeered as a place to store Severina's Tear, Poppy made her way into the kitchen--just in time to hear Marist Larkin inform her sous-chefs that "the assault will start when we serve the soup course." FLASHBACK: the group had bribed the produce supplier to provide Larkin with substandard edible lavender. So when Poppy appeared with a cachet of fresh, exquisite lavender, she had an easier way in with the chef.

During their conversation, Poppy won Larkin over by listening to her complaints about being as artist serving the pinnacle of haute cuisine to wealthy pigs who failed to appreciate the rarefied experience. Larkin warmed to Poppy and appreciated her sympathy as an artist frustrated by the whims of the rich, so much so that she warned Poppy that she and the kitchen staff were planning on poisoning the soup. Anyone who survived, or declined the soup, was to be knifed. 

Meanwhile, Ilya did a bit of subterfuge, stealing a socialite's ring, planting it on Aisling, and then calling attention to the theft. As an embarrassing tumult broke out, the soup course came out of the kitchen to be served. Poppy gathered up Ilya, tipped off Roslyn, and they exited the dining room. As they left, chef Larkin gave Poppy a knowing nod. Ilya and Poppy now made their way to the third floor of the airship.

Up on the third floor, Hawky, Dusk, Blunt, and Miranda noticed that one room in the hallway was under guard. In fact, one of the two guards approached them to escort them out of the area. Blunt attempted to push past the guards and Miranda theatrically collapsed onto the floor. The guards picked Miranda up to carry her to the infirmary, and that's when the rest of the gang struck. Dusk produced a bottle of slumber essence and held a rag full of it over one guard's mouth, while Blunt and Hawky bludgeoned the other into unconsciousness. During the struggle, Miranda made her way to the guarded room and used her spirit key to bypass the lock.

At this point they were joined by Ilya and Poppy. The room they were infiltrating was a storage room with a safe, but the safe's door hung open--someone had beat them to the punch and stolen Severina's Tear. As they looked about, they quickly deduced that the ventilation shaft leading into this chamber was just wide enough for the teenage girl who was accompanying Reaper. Ilya produced schematics of the Valkyrie and they confirmed that this ventilation shaft had an outlet in the airship's ballroom. FLASHBACK: Dusk had rigged a device on the doors of the ballroom that would hold it closed on a timer.

Knowing that they had little time to confront the Red Sashes and get their hands on Severina's Tear, the gang rushed down to the ballroom. When they disarmed their timed lock and pushed wide the door, Miranda threw in a vial of ectoplasm and opened her mind to the ghost field, causing the ectoplasm to cohere into nightmarish specters that forced the Red Sashes back into the ballroom. This was Blunt's cue; he strode in and confronted the three Red Sashes in combat, on his own.

FLASHBACK: since Hawky knew that Reaper and his crew would be gunning for the gem too, he had discovered that Reaper was superstitious and believed that only a pure maiden was fit to sharpen his dueling sword. Hawky had arranged to have a package delivered to her business, and while she was at the door he came in through the window and sabotaged Reaper's blade.

Blunt turned the faulty blade aside easily, punched Reaper in the face with a cestus, and sent him crashing to the ground. Reaper's bearded associate tried to psychically assault Blunt, but he got a punch to the face for his troubles as well. The teenage girl, who was now in a tug of war over her handbag with Ilya, merely got a backhand that sent her reeling. With the handbag now in their possession, they looked inside: they had obtained Severina's Tear.

To take care of loose ends, Hawky shot Reaper through the eye, sending blood and brains cascading across the carpet. Eager to make sure that Sitarra wouldn't consume her own soul, Miranda set it on the teenage girl (FLASHBACK: they had been seeding her mind with occult ideas that made her amenable to this!), but things didn't go according to plan. Yes, Sitarra claimed the girl's soul, but she also claimed the girl's body--which was now issuing a horrible ululating scream and hovering mid-air.

It was now time to go. They saw the soldiers who had been hidden in the airship rush down the stairs and head for the bloodbath still unfolding in the dining room. With that distraction aiding their escape, the crew made their way into the dark of a Doskvol night.