CANCELED: We’re Live!

Update: Hi all, due to the increasing number of Covid-19 cases in Idaho and low vaccination rates statewide, I’ve decided to cancel my show on September 26 for Hackfort. Thank you all for your understanding and support throughout this event. The folks at Hackfort have been extremely supportive and compassionate of this decision, so please give them some love and stay safe if you plan on going to Treefort.


Update: We’ve been rescheduled! We’ll be live at the Boise Centre Expo Hall on Sunday September 26 from 1:00-1:45 PM in Room 120. You can find the Boise Centre Expo hall at 850 W Front St Boise, ID 83702.

D-Pad Diaries will be live at Boise Centre Expo Hall Saturday, September 25 from 5:00-5:45 as a part of the Hackfort lineup. The game we’ll be chatting about: Dota 2. Stay tuned for more details.

Kenshi Transcript

Table of Contents
00:00 Cold Open (Body Horror)
01:02 Intro
01:51 Kenshi, What is it?
02:30 Meet the Team
03:42 The Dangers of the Wasteland (Mentions of Starvation, Violence, and Slavery) 
05:00 Mining Days
06:05 The Party Begins
08:20 Journey to Royal Valley
09:54 Royal Valley Begins (Body Horror)
12:20 Chase Through Royal Valley (Disturbing Violence and Body Horror)
17:06 Being Chased by Skin Bandits (Disturbing Violence and Body Horror)
18:52 Conclusion

00:00 Cold Open (Body Horror)
Small homes and shops made of sandstone blocks sat around what seemed to be the town square. As the crew got closer, several figures came into view which appeared to be human at first. As the group got closer, the ambiguous humanoid shapes grew in detail and horror. Rather than legs, they had long slender pegs with no toes. Their abdomen was less wide than a pipe which lead up to a rib cage that seems to fold in on itself. Perhaps most frightening though, was the face: it essentially resembled a piece of post modern sculpture with eyes or a shoebox with two holes. Speaking of which, several shoeboxes stopped their current tasks and snapped their gaze toward my encroaching party. 

01:02 Intro
Welcome to D-Pad Diaries, a new game and story each week hosted by yours truly. This week’s episode: Kenshi.

Good whatever to whoever wherever you are, my name is Kyle and you’re tuning into another episode of D-Pad Diaries. 

I’ve decided to add content warnings to each episode going forward so folks can be more informed about specific content that could potentially be disturbing or alarming. You can find the content warning both here in the audio podcast and included in the transcripts.

This episode features the following content that could potentially disturbing for some listeners: mentions of slavery and starvation, body horror, and disturbing violence. 

01:51 Kenshi, What is it?
Today’s episode is on Kenshi, a strategy role playing game developed by Lofi Games where you guide characters through a harsh sci-fi wasteland filled with flesh-stealing robots, monumental steel carcasses, and mobs of people who want to see you dead. An unforgiving, but eventually rewarding game Kenshi starts you out as a nobody and forces you to slowly crawl up the food chain. Today, I shall tell the tale of Saru, Izumie, and Taco, who started out with only rags on their backs, pocket change, and a rusty pipe to fend off the hostile inhabitants of the world of Kenshi. 

02:30 Meet the Team
Saru is an older man with a slouch, a shock of white hair on his head and onyx mixed with indigo skin long weathered from the harshness of the wasteland. For whatever reason, he decided to quit whatever life he had before and scavenge the greater world lying beyond the horizon near retirement age. Probably looking for treasure or whatever. 

Saru started in the beginning city named the Hub which was a relatively small settlement squatting in the middle of a vast desert with a hill as neighbor, this desert doing it’s best to kill anything outside of the Hub. Perhaps one day too, the desert would try to take the Hub out for good but for now the city stood defiant against buffeting winds and wandering outlaws.

I was excited to explore the vast world outside, but the aforementioned dangers prevented Saru from exploring any further than just outside the city walls. Through several in-game days of scavenging around the site of finished battles and picking equipment from the dearly departed, Saru managed to scrounge up enough coin to buy enough food and supply to ensure a safish travel to the next settlement. 

03:42 The Dangers of the Wasteland (Mentions of Starvation, Violence, and Slavery) 
Safish is quite a relative word which can mean many different things to many different people. For Saru, it meant not getting instantly killed or enslaved once walking out of the Hub, or more likely, starving to death in the vast wasteland. So safish, in Saru’s context, means first and foremost means having a meal every few days so as to not starve while traveling. Secondly, it means to avoid the large roving bands of bandits and slavers who will kill or enslave anything on two legs. Maybe even four legs.

After a safish journey across the wasteland, the next settlement’s name was Catun which was, for what it’s worth, a fairly prosperous city of trade perched atop a plateau South of the Hub. 

For an actual reasonable amount of safety, travelers should travel in high numbers and with many weapons. Saru did not have the coin for a vast number of people nor coin for people wouldn’t be knocked over by the wind, so it looked like he was again stuck, but this time in Catun. So Saru, like many others in this land, rolled up his sleeves and got to work. 

05:00 Mining Days
Iron isn’t a bad trade with the right amount of equipment and personnel. Of course, Saru was more economical than that and would be satisfied with using a rusty old pick he found tossed out among the trash heaps. The metal bit was blunt and the wooden handle would leave a few splinters in the palm after a few handshakes, but it was free.

Venturing just a little out of Catun, there were several spots where iron ore could be found and, once removed, sold to the various traders found throughout the city. With his pawn shop special pick, Saru saddled up and went outside the safety of the city walls to begin his mining adventure. Walking down the main road, he spotted a good gaggle of rocks that shined with a rusty brilliance. With a swing of the pick, Saru’s latest entrepreneurial exploit began.

I’m going to time jump here because Saru essentially spent several in-game weeks gathering up an inventory of iron to sell to the local traders. Other than having his back more crooked and getting less than what he wanted, Saru doesn’t really have much to share other than that.

06:05 The Party Begins
Now a little more liquid, Saru walked with a swagger to the local recruiting grounds: the tavern. Here, adventurers and those seeking, well, something different than whatever they had before, come to be swooped up by prospective scouts into a life of fame and fortune. Saru did not have enough cash for fame and fortune. Whatever kids that got picked last in the gym class would have to do. 

My party expanded to three people: Saru, Izumie, and a man who’s real name is not worth knowing so we shall call him Taco. Izumie is a young woman with little experience of the wasteland, but was excited to leave town and go experience the world outside, harsh or otherwise. She had brunette hair and a lighter complexion. Her outfit was composed of a well-worn t-shirt and pants. Perhaps her most valuable possession were her shoes, since shoes seem to be hard to come by in this game. Taco, the worst member of the group, had an unkempt beard and only pants to shield his peachy skin from the sandstorms and acid rain of the world, along with a flimsy sword that was somehow worse than Saru’s rusty pipe. Taco said that he would lend his aid to the party and single-handedly take us to glory. It was my philosophy that just numbers were important to have in a party at this point, but Taco really was a negative if you catch my drift.

In order to recoup or establish a crew who can’t stand on their own two feet, I decided to venture in the South corner of the world in hopes of finding some rare goods or additional recruits who wouldn’t break the bank. You see, the South I had never explored and now with 3 fine adventurers, I was going to take this world by storm. Saru would guide them away from the dangerous roaming mobs and into promised neverlands that would have all the shoes and usable pickaxes they could ever dream of. The destination I had chosen to hopefully improve fortunes was called Royal Valley. It was near the coast, had a lovely name, and smelled of potential opportunity. With the rest of the money Saru earned from mining iron spent on food, camping gear, and medical supplies, the crew dubbed the “Nice People” set off for Royal Valley.

08:20 Journey to Royal Valley
The first day or two was fairly safe albeit the crew had to avoid a few roving bands of looters and wolves. When encountering these hostile hoards, Saru and friends would simply employ two tactics in this order: hide, and if that fails, run like hell. So far, this survival strategy seemed to be working for the group, although Taco had insisted during the entire start of the trip that he could single-handedly take down a small army of bandits with his can opener that he called a sword. Saru and Izumie, wanting to make it Royal Valley alive, decided to appeal to Taco’s ego rather than his logic and said the following: “you’re wasting your time, you have better things to do.” 

“Of course,” said Taco, “You’re absolutely right-- there are better things to do than teach these punks a lesson.” Saru and Izumie were regretting letting Taco come along. 

More days of travel, more hiding and the occasional running because Taco couldn’t keep his mouth shut from issuing loud verbal challenges to the bandits they encountered. Other than that, the traveling to Royal Valley was progressing well enough and with little to no harm so far. After about 5 days of travel, the crew saw something delightful: a faint but noticeably blue line just on the horizon. Saru and Izumie gave each other a curt nod with a slight smile. Taco kept to the back of the crew bellowing about some shoe he won in a bar fight. As they neared the horizon, the blue line grew into a blue stripe, then the horizon turned all blue. Finally, they made it to the beginning of Royal valley which hugged the sea.

09:54 Royal Valley Begins (Body Horror)
The sun was low on the horizon and Izumie and Saru began setting up camp. Izumie pitched the tents and rolled out the sleeping bags, Saru got the campfire lit and the food cooking, and Taco told everyone to wake him up when dinner was ready. 

Izumie, having finished pitching the tents, found a nearby rock where she could lay out her medical supplies and begin assessing the health of the party so far in the trip. Saru, despite his age, was extremely spry and had no major injuries. Izumie, examining herself, was also relatively athletic and had no major problems. Taco, other being Taco, was in fairly good health if unconditioned to the harsh life of the desert. 

After camp was setup, the crew noticed a large island just about a mile off of the coast. It seemed accessible via a delta that snaked from the mainland to the island. Perhaps here, with my party of three, could I make a peaceful living searching the waters for fish and selling my catch to the locals. A peaceful, morally straightforward way to live. 

After having breakfast the following morning, the crew of 3 headed toward the delta.

As my party came into the island, there seemed to be no local inhabitants there save a few plants making residence upon the hills. A wooden sign staked into the ground read “Beware of Fishman Island”. Strangely, they spelled fisherman wrong. Whatever, local inhabitants might not put much stock into signcraft. As the troupe made it’s way more onto the island, there were several buildings and huts gathered around both the interior and along the waterfront. Izumie noticed some humans in the distance slowly roaming in herds along the coast. Odd way to fish...

The crew, save Taco, scoped out the large groups but couldn’t make out much details due to the sun glare and the general distance. Taco, having had enough of the sneaking, called out to the herds asking if they had any spare fish, or better yet, a meal already prepared. Izumie tackled Taco before he could finish his sentence, but the damage was already done. 

After the roaming people finally located the sound and moved closer to the crew, all three of the group realized that these are not people-- these were not fishermen but fishmen. Humanoid creatures with crablike claws and crustation heads.


12:20 Chase Through Royal Valley (Disturbing Violence and Body Horror)
The Nice People had gained a lead on the school of pursuing fishmen after escaping back to the mainland but were still being chased. Saru, Izumie, and Taco bustled straight into Royal Valley hoping to find somewhere to hide, or in the very least, make suitable grounds for a last stand. Spotting a winding mountain range, Saru led the charge into the theorized haven of hills that lay within the Royal Valley. The Nice People climbed for some hours, went up switchbacks and double backed on paths to lead their assailants astray. After an afternoon full of tactical retreats upon the mountain, it seemed that the party had lost the misspelled fishermen. It was time to make camp and heal up from the awful encounter. 

Izumie and Saru tended to their usual responsibilities while Taco found a tree to practice his sword technique on. As the evening came to a close, small bursts of orange and red embers started to dot the mountainside some several miles away. The group gazed at the lights with hope, but decided to travel there in the morning when they all got their 8 hours. After he had scarred up a poor random tree, Taco came back and found a spot to sleep next to Izumie and Saru. Poor Taco had to make his own bed this time.

With the fear of fishmen hanging about in their dreams, our intrepid party didn’t find much sleep during the night. Once dawn broke the horizon, I gathered up my party from the camp and had them travel toward the direction of the spotted lights some several miles away. Packing up, the crew surveyed the land to find the best route to the assumed settlement with the lights. The mountain range was rather hilly and filled with a dense forest, so travel would take some time. Better wake up Taco and get started.

The crew traveled for several hours, going in and out of thickets, climbing up steep inclines, and avoiding the various roaming packs of wolves in the forest (note that roving bands of killers, humanoid or not, should be considered part of the landscape at this point). As the sun lazily fell into evening, the crew finally came upon the outskirts of the village. 

Small homes and shops made of sandstone blocks sat around what seemed to be the town square. As the crew got closer, several figures came into view which appeared to be human at first. As the group got closer, the ambiguous humanoid shapes grew in detail and horror. Rather than legs, they have long slender pegs with no toes. Their abdomen was less wide than a pipe which leads up to a rib cage that seems to fold in on itself. Perhaps most frightening though, is the face: it essentially resembled a piece of post modern sculpture with eyes or a shoebox with two holes. Speaking of which, several shoeboxes stop their current tasks and snapped their gaze toward my encroaching party. 

The crew began to slowly back away as several of the shoeboxes heads started to make their way toward my group. As they advanced, the party turned around and walked then trotted, then jogged, then sprinted. The shoeboxes followed suit. 

The terrain that took the crew an entire day to trek through, now took them about an hour or two to sprint through with the shoeboxes in tow. Rushing through the forest groves and rocky outcroppings generated a large volume of noise that not only clued in the shoeboxes of where the crew was running, but other wandering groups as well. 

The crew bursted out of the forest and onto the coast of Royal Valley heading east. On the left was a sheer rock face that could not be climbed while on the right was an ocean and behind us was the shoeboxes… along with the Fishmen. To our great luck, it looked like the Fishmen and the shoeboxes began skirmishing with each other. The group took the diversion and ran further into the coastal region known as Cheater’s Run.

Stuck in the natural alleyways that was Cheater’s Run, the crew had no available shelter, natural or otherwise. Everyone’s skin was burning from the downpour provided by the fat dark clouds overhead. The party pushed forth to find some form of shelter. After a skin burning amount of time later hobbling along the coast, the party finally found what appeared to be an abandoned village. 

The huts looked similar to the shoebox village, so we approached with extreme caution, even Taco did this time as well though he remained in the back. As we advanced toward the nearest hut, we hadn’t been attacked yet so, so far so good. Izumie went forward to open the door slowly, but really couldn’t see that well from the outside. Lighting a torch, she saw several figures huddled on the floor with skin stretched taught over their metal skeletons. 

One of them got up and greeted us: “ Hi there, flesh brother! Welcome to your fellow human village! Come in, rest your tired sinews… That’s some fresh looking skin you have there brother.”

“Can I have it?”


17:06 Being Chased by Skin Bandits (Disturbing Violence and Body Horror)
There’s some sort of courage that takes hold in humans when you not only know that your life is in danger, but also your skin.

Hoofing it to the edge of Cheater’s run, Saru, Izumie, and Taco were nearly going at superhuman speed to get away, but the skin robots being robots, didn’t tire or have a maximum speed so they were gaining steadily on us. The terrain slowly gave way into a bed of rocks and forced the team to slow down to avoid twisting an ankle and becoming someone’s next Sunday best. 

Saru looked backed, and saw the robots were ever closer. He looked ahead and saw that there was still about a mile to clear before they were out of the narrow passage. Then Saru looked at Taco.

Izumie first heard what sounded like a sandbag hitting the pile of rocks, the second thing she heard was Taco grunting. The last thing she heard was Saru screaming to hoof it one last time. She didn’t remember what happened after that, only that her heart pounded like a racehorse’s.

Izumie and Saru rounded the edge of straight away and hid among a pile of bushes gasping for air as if they were breathing for the first time. She waited for her demise. 

Then waited some more.

Then kept waiting.

Finally, she got up and looked around the corner at the straightaway-- nothing in sight. 

“Saru, where’s Taco?”

“He tripped.”

Izumie stood still for a moment. 

“That’s too bad she said” 

Saru pulled out a canteen of water, put a little on his forehead and took a swig. He offered it to Izumie. Izumie took it and took a swig as well.

Saru looked at the horizon and nodded, “Yep, too bad.”

18:52 Conclusion
Hey folks, thanks for listening to this episode. If you liked it, how about following us on Instrgram @thedpaddiaires and on Twitter at @dpddairies, maybe even leave us a nice review on Itune as well! You can also check out our website for transcripts for episodes and to find out more about the show. For the streams, check us out on Twitch at on Wednesday and Fridays at 7. Thank you for listening and hope to see you on the next one. 

[Music attribution]

Witcher 3 and a Tour of the Skellige Isles Transcript

Table of of Contents
Introduction: 00:48
Skellige Isles: 03:17
The Tragedy of Undvik (Deceptions of Violence): 04:15
Madness in Spikeroog (Depictions of Self-Harm and Violence): 05:49
The Isle of the Gods: 09:45
Yngvar's Fang: 11:39
Ard Skellige and the Lighthouse (Violence): 12:13
Conclusion: 17:08

Welcome to D-Pad Diaries, a new game and story each… week, two weeks? 


Welcome to D-Pad Diaries, a new game and story in irregular time intervals. This episode: The Witcher 3 and a Tour of the Skellige Isles.

Content Warning: This episode contains depictions of violence and mentions of self-harm. If you wish to skip these sections, please see the timecodes in the description.

00:48 Introduction
You ever go to one of those restaurants that tout those large burgers, and say to yourself: “How big could it possibly be?” You get your significant other, your friend, and your 2nd cousin down to the restaurant, find a table by the window and order the Gut Buster 3000. You have a smug look on your face-- you can eat this monster burger with four people right? How big could it possibly be… oh my god the burger is being brought to by a team of professional weightlifters.

The Gut Buster 3000 is The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. It is a game not only broad in scale, but in detail as well. Substantial villages, questlines, characters, and items might not ever be seen if you don’t go off the beaten path. The base map alone, according to Rashid Sayed at Gaming Bolt, is 137 km^2 which is about ¾ the size of Washington D.C. What do you do in such a big game?

Well, you play a grumpy old man named Geralt of Rivia who is a witcher and slays monsters for a living. Our scrooge Geralt is a mutated human capable of incredible feats of strength and endurance and gets paid by kings and peasants alike to get rid of beasties. Basically Geralt is fantasy pest control.

Why are there monsters in this world, and while we’re at it, what is this world that Geralt is in? Well some time ago, two worlds, one with beasties and one with boring humans, got a little too jiggy with it and smashed into each other. The beasties spilt into the human world, and ever since, we’ve had witchers to deal with things like dragons, harpies, and wraiths. In addition to beasties, there are also dwarves, elves, and your other expected fantasy creatures. 

One other important facet of the setting: this game is set in a dark and grim fantasy world with warring factions and political squabbles out the wazoo. 

03:17 Skellige Isles
A particularly interesting political arena are the Skellige Isles, a group of islands populated by a loosely associated group of sea-faring clans. You can obviously draw a lot of comparisons from Skelligers and the Vikings that existed several centuries ago in our own world. Skelligers and Viking share these traits: they are a sea-faring people, they raid and trade with foreign lands, they are considered a menace and brutes by their enemies, and they practice a polythestic religion. Interesting side-note: Vikings were much less interested in raiding and more interesting in settling and trading. Thanks Crash Course!

There are various landmasses in the Skellige Isles which humans and other forms of life call home. I would love to talk about all of these places in detail, but unfortunately there is way too much to cover in one episode, so we’ll talk about my personal highlights instead. Let’s start with a tragedy on the island of Undvik.

04:15 The Tragedy of Undvik (Deceptions of Violence)
Undvik, former home of Clan Tordarroch. To one half island a mountain that dominates the landscape and overshadows everything nearby. The other half, deep ravines and cliffs that drop into the ocean below with waves that rush up against the cliff sides. Nowadays, the only inhabitants are the various flying harpies that prey upon the lost sailor or foolhardy adventurer that dares to tread these coasts. 

Upon landfall, an explorer might notice the distinct lack of the living accompanied by the surplus of dead dotting the landscape in and outside of the villages all the while harpies circle overhead looking for their next meal. The astute may observe the smashed buildings and trampled carts and come to the conclusion that something bad happened here. Or rather a big bad thing happened here, for you see an ice giant awoketh. 

Giants are a head above the rest when it comes to the other creatures in the Witcher universe, as in they are quite large and grumpy and have a tendency to bash in things that upset them, and seeing that there was a whole island of aggressive vikings-- I think you can figure out what happens from here on out. 

So basically here you as the player, as Geralt of Rivia, on this island which you learn (a there was a giant here and (b you have to go rescue some idiot who goes off to try to kill the giant with a handful of other men. Nothing could go wrong right? 

05:49 Madness in Spikeroog (Depictions of Self-Harm and Violence)
Let’s see, what other place of interest is there on Skellige… oh, the island of Spikeroog. Quite a nice island with a large mountain on it and a picturesque beach. A Jarl by the name of Ulalryk who had violent delusions. Quick side-note: if you didn’t know, jarls are basically the equivalent of lords in terms of power— they own and rule over some land that others live on and tend to, these people are usually called serfs or peasants. They have lots of responsibility and should be pretty sound of mind when it comes to making important decisions for their court and whatnot. Typical Skellige stuff you know. Well we should  get to more of this Ulalryk fellow huh? Oh, but first we should talk about Cerys!

Cerys was a character that tried to be the first queen of the Skellige Isles. To prove her worth as a candidate, she needed to do a great deed to bring honor to her name and clan. Her deed: to free Ulalryk from whatever curse had befallen him. Geralt, having heard of Cerys’ plan from her father, sailed to Spikeroog to assist. 

Back to Ulalryk. As a boy, we learn (through Geralt’s perspective) that Ulalryk had expressed anger toward his father’s decision to give the family sword to Ulalryk’s younger brother. By speaking out against his father, Ulalryk had committed a grave dishonor against his father and Skellige tradition and, as punishment, was staked out at sea for 3 days. Pretty brutal parenting if you ask me.

To make amends, Ulalryk decided to go fishing with his younger brother. As storms of the isle picked up and tossed and turned the boat, Ualryk’s brother was thrown into the sea and his cries for help were not heard. Ulalryk learned too late that his brother had drowned at sea while he was busy with the sails of the ship. Ulalryk was racked with guilt ever since.

Our pal Ulalryk has had violent delusions that pushed him to do some weird things such as some sacrifices in the name of some unknown gods and isolating himself from the rest of the world. Those close to Ulalryk said that his personality changed quite dramatically in recent years and he hadn’t been the same since. 

As Geralt and Cerys reached the Jarl’s hall, they learned of something rather dark: the gods who spoke to Ulalryk demand his eye as a sacrifice. Geralt and Cerys decided they need to immediately intervene before things get worse. 

Cerys, being extremely clever and forward thinking, concocted a plan to draw Ulalryk to the old family home atop the mountain on Spikeroog and enlisted Geralt’s help. The only stipulation: Cerys will not be able to tell Geralt of any of the details. 

Later that night, Cerys stole the baby of Ulalryk and the Jarl and his guards chased after her. Geralt wasn’t aware of what was happening, but continued to trust Cerys. As Cerys entered the home of the Jarl, she threw the child into a burning oven and closed the door all the while Geralt fended off the guards and Ulalryk. Geralt, overcome with immense guilt for defending a child killer, learns first hand what had been affecting Ulalryk— a dark shadowy creature called a hym. 

Hymns feast on the feelings of guilt ridden creatures, acting as parasites that push their host more and more to edge. As the shadow creature revealed itself to Geralt, Cerys revealed her true design: she merely tricked everyone into believing that she had killed the child. What she actually thrown into the fire was just a swaddle of blankets. The real baby was safely hidden away. Geralt was relieved, and the hym was trapped with a host that did not actually feel any sincere guilt. As a result, the hym faded away. 

What a story! Now, please note that I did my best to research that quest and get as many details as accurate but also only tell the important bits of the quest. As a result, most information should be accurate but there may be a few errors here and there. 

09:45 The Isle of the Gods
Next up we have the island of Hindarsfjall, a Nordic paradise filled with lush forests and fertile farmland. Skellige is a rather religious region, with Hindarsfjall especially so with the priests of Freya calling this island home. Freya is one of the chief deities, so her importance is remarkable in the local culture. On Hindarsfjall, there’s an entire garden and temple dedicated to the deity of fertility, love, beauty, and motherhood. 

Let’s talk about Freya’s Garden, a religious site with marble columns and walls adorned with over growing ivy vines, a canal that runs through the complex providing water to all of the trees, bushes, flowers, and other plant life. One of my favorite places in the Witcher 3, Freya’s Garden is a lush and beautiful area that is reminiscent of both gardens I have visited in both my current home and the Rose and Japan gardens of Portland, Oregon. It’s not often that a video game setting can truly capture the wonder of nature on an electronic screen or bring to life a place that doesn’t actually exist, yet when visiting Freya’s Garden this is exactly what I felt. Sometimes I’ll just come back to this spot in the Witcher 3 just to revisit the beautiful setting and experience the captivating atmosphere. 

Of course, there are some very interesting stories about the garden, including that it is actually in ruins now (beautiful ruins mind you) and imprisons an immortal werewolf that can never get enough food or drink, forever trapped in the wonderful area with bountiful food yet one who is always starving. Sounds much like some Greek myths I’ve heard before. As this being the Witcher 3, you can dive into what is causing this and also learn how you can fix it. Yet I think that this is one quest that I don’t want to spoil for you listeners out there as it’s just super good. If you want to find out what happens at Freya’s Garden, I would encourage you to watch some quests of it on YouTube or even play it yourself. If you are a fan of fantasy and the Witcher 3, you certainly will not be disappointed.

11:39 Yngvar's Fang
Before we get to the biggest island of all, I want to have a quick shoutout to the island of An Skellig which is a tiny island off to the north that has a really cool fortress on top of a mountain pass called Yngvar’s Fang. Here you can find that a previous witcher came to the Skellige isles before and actually befriended a Jarl from a long time ago. It’s a story you learn about while collecting an armor set and read through scattered journal entries throughout the Skellige Isles, but the circumstances as to why the witcher was there and where they ended up is pretty cool nonetheless. 

12:13 Ard Skellige and the Lighthouse (Violence)
Now let’s get to the biggest and most complex island of them all: Ard Skellige. Now this island is so big that it not only has one, but two clans locked in bitter rivalry over who owns the island. To the North we have the biggest seat of power in all of Skellige: Clan an Craite who owns the largest port and the most impressive hall of any of the clans. There’s a whole quest line that takes place in this setting involving the An Craites and political intrigue, and the ascension of the throne. That quest stabs right into the heart of the deadly clan politics and who is the ultimate ruler over the isles. It’s honestly one of my favorite quests and involves some of the best characters in the game including Cerys. If you like Game-of-Thrones-type-stuff, I would encourage you to watch some gameplay of the “King’s Gambit” quest line. One of the best quests in the Witcher 3 in my opinion. Again, I’m not going to spoil it for you, I’ve already done that for one quest.

Traveling to the south Ard Skellige, we can see the other clan inhabiting the largest island in the Isle. The Drummond clan, fierce rivals of the Clan An Craite to the North, are led by a man named Lugos “Madman” Drummond, a leader with a fiery temper that even Skelligers are sometimes taken back by. 

Now let’s get to the last quest we are going to talk about today, The Phantom Of Eldberg.

In a tavern (how many fantasy stories start out with this line) there were murmurs of phantoms haunting a lighthouse at one of the southernmost portions of the island. Many folks have gone there to try and rid the place of the ghosts, but none have come back alive. So they’ve decided they needed a professional. Geralt, being the capable monster slayer that he is, decided to take the job. 

After a boat trip, some inclement weather, and a few hours later, he was coming close to the inlet where the lighthouse was located. As he advanced forward, a fog began to grow thicker and thicker around the Witcher until it was incredibly hard to see. Geralt stumbled through the darkness until he heard a screech, then a sharp pain raked across his back. Geralt rolled forward and saw what had attacked him from behind: a wretched human corpse cowled in human rags with pale skin revealed just behind it’s hood and dress. Geralt pulled out his silver sword and got to work as the many other wraiths began to form. 

Sometime later and splattered in ectoplasm, Geralt finally stumbled through the fog and found what seemed like a little hut. Geralt knocked and waited for a response. 

A rather frightened man named Mikkjal said that he was going to go to the lighthouse to investigate, but due to the whole ghost thing, he decided to barricade himself in the cottage below. With the new information at hand, Geralt headed up toward the end of the inlet which contained the lighthouse. It was rather spooky, a stone tower that poked out of the mist and was unlit. The folks at the tavern had stated that with the lighthouse dark, it was virtually impossible to guide ships toward the safety of land.

Getting closer to the tower, Geralt saw some strange runes drawn in what appeared to be blood. Always a good start, that. Being a diligent fellow, our friend the witcher decided to head further into the lighthouse to get some more clues.

Some knick knacks, food, and other junk one might put together after occupying a space for a few days at a time was all that Geralt found at first. As Geralt rummaged through everything a little further, he did find a curious letter tucked away in a bookshelf. Hmm, very interesting: it appears that our friend Mikkjal had been purposely putting the lighthouse out as ships came in, and got half of whatever his associates scrounged up. Learning this detail, Geralt now had enough information to determine why these ghosts were there: a penitent, a wraith that haunts people who have wronged others in some way, had attracted them here. 

Knock knock

Mikkjal answered the door: “Uh hello?”

Geralt showed note.

Mikkjal looks like he’s about to split.

Geralt (who’s really me): “Na uh, you’re going to fix this shit and leave forever”

Mikkjal eyes the two swords on Geralt’s back and agreed.

So to fix this shit, Mikkjal had to climb all the way to the top of the lighthouse and light the beacon. As he did so, Geralt fought off several waves of wraiths until, yep you guessed, the big bad peninent came to wreck house. I played around with the thing for a second or two until Mikkjal finally lit the lighthouse, and only then was I able to have a chance of beating the penitent. 

It was actually not too hard, all and all. A few magic spells, a few swipes and the big bad ghost was killed pretty easily. After that initial encounter, I instructed Mikkjal to get out of Dodge, and that he did. After that, I went back to the tavern to collect my reward for ridding the lighthouse of ghosts. It was like 50 bucks and pat on the back. So much for being a witcher.

17:08 Conclusion
And with that my friends, we have reached the end of our tour of Skellige and this episode on The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. Thank you so much for watching. If you liked it, how about leaving a review on Apple Podcasts? You can also follow us on Instagram @thedpaddiaries and on Twitter @dpaddaires, and visit our website to view episode transcripts, news and more at 

New Episode: Blades in the Dark

Finally! We have a new episode up featuring Kyle and a friend named Savannah chatting about a tabletop roleplaying game called Blades in the Dark. This is also the first episode of D-Pad Diaries to feature a transcript for your reading pleasure. Links to both the new episode and transcript are at the bottom of this article. Thank you so much and please enjoy :).

Or listen on your favorite streaming platform

Blades in the Dark Transcript

Cold Open

S: He likes to create stuff, he likes to test out like different
chemicals and things.

K: Yeah.

S: He comes in handy when you break the stock of your gun on someone’s

K: Go boom

S: Haha, or if you want something to explode. He’s very handy in those

Theme Music

[Theme music fades in]

S:Very good at putting things together and pulling them apart.[Theme music is a darker melody lead by a lute and supported by
lower stings instruments. The tune is reminiscent of danger and
adventure in equal measure]


K: Welcome to D-Pad Diaries a new game and story each week hosted
by yours truly. This week’s episode: Blades in the Dark.

Hello and welcome to another episode of D-Pad Diaries. Thank you so much
for joining us and being patient and sticking in there for the more than
half a year that this podcast has been out due to COVID and other
personal reasons, I decided to take a break from the podcast but now
that I’m back up and running. Got some rhythm in my life, we’re going to
get things going.

So this episode is on a game called Blades in the Dark and I have a
wonderful guest who is a friend of mine named Savannah. Savannah plays
in a session with me where I GM a game called Blades in the Dark. Blades
in the Dark is a tabletop roleplaying game which can be shortened to
TTRPG. We’ll be describing what Blades in the Dark is more thoroughly in
the remainder of this episode, but for now all you have to know is that
Blades in the Dark is a tabletop RPG.

Also in the episode we compared Blades in the Dark to another tabletop
roleplaying game called Dungeons and Dragons. This is a very popular and
very widely known tabletop RPG, and we kind of use it as a baseline to
compare different systems and different ideas in Blades in the Dark so
that way if you are familiar with Dungeons and Dragons, or know of
Dungeons and Dragons, then you’ll kind of have an understanding of we’re
talking. Now Dungeons and Dragons can also be called, on the shorthand,
D&D for all of the uninitiated out there.

Another tabletop roleplaying that we compared Blades [in the Dark] to is
Vampire: The Masquerade, tabletop roleplaying that instead of high
fantasy setting that Dungeons and Dragons usually goes off of,
Vampire:The Masquerade is set in a modern, dark, supernatural universe
where the player characters take the roles of vampires in a game of
social subterfuge and cloak and dagger trying to usually escalate or
rise up the ranks of vampire society in whatever setting that takes

With those notes out of the way, we can now dive into this newest
episode, so far, of D-Pad Diaries. Thank you all again for hanging in
there, sticking with me and I hope that you enjoy the episode.

Interview Starts

03:22 K: So the entire game of Blades in the Dark centers around you as
a scoundrel you know in this world along with a group of other
scoundrels performing things called scores which are essentially
criminal activities or clandestine activities ranging from robberies to
assassinations to occult rituals, you know different stuff like that

S: Mhm.

K: And then you can do scoundrels, you can do scores, and there’s
essentially fighting the other factions in the game to try to be on top

S: Yeah it’s got a very Peaky Blinders feel to it. Which I believe is
one of the inspirations for the..

K: That’s actually one of the cultural touchstones it has.

S: Yeah, so if you’re familiar with the show Peaky Blinders, thinking
just of the Shelby Clan and what they go through to a certain extent,
but how they’re structured it’s kind of like, you know it’s a gang. It’s
a Birmingham street gang in a way and you play one of the gangsters in a
group of other ne’er do wells. You’re trying to maintain your lifestyle
and climb up the underbelly of the city that you’re in. You know you
want to be on top and you don’t want to have to follow anybody’s rule
except your own.

K: Yeah exactly. You’re not necessarily playing the bad guy. Right?

S: Yeah yeah. I guess the bad guy is another thing that I like about
this system is that the “bad guy” is society I guess. It’s the circumstances that you find
yourself opposed to. The morality aspect is a lot more of a grey area.

K: Interpretative?

S: Yeah, much more interpretative. There’s no such thing as the
alignment chart like you see in D&D. You don’t have your chaotic good,
lawful good. If your lawful good your character is not gonna succeed in
the game.

K: Even the authorities..

S: Oh yeah, they’re the [laughs]

K: The book literally describes the police of this world, who are called
the Blue Coats, as the biggest gang in all of Duskwall right.

S: Yeah,

K: And it’s like, it’s very… the game system does not ascribe any
moral high ground to any single…

S: Yes, no one is spared the chaos or the compromising that these
circumstances can hold over a person.

K: But that’s definitely not to say that there isn’t morality in this
game right. It’s just more of like…

S: Right, very subjective [laugh].

K: It’s more reflective of the real world right?

S: Hmm, hmm.

K: You know you find yourself in situations where you need to do A to
get to B because you need to survive at the end of the day right?

S: Right.

K: I mean not that like you and I are fighting for…

S: [quick laugh] Not right now.

K: Yeah, but this game is more like you have maybe hyperboles maybe
exaggerates as all storytelling does. You know you have these choices,
decisions you need to make and then you kind of reflect on was this a
good decision or a bad decision, and you know most of the time you don’t

S [laugh] Most of the time there is no such thing.

K: You know most of time it’s just the decision that you made in that
time. You know that’s the cool thing about Blades in the Dark. Also if
you’re like interested in social commentary, the game is great for
having a system like that.

S: Oh yeah yeah, it’s great if you want to explore social commentary
within the scope of a tabletop game. But you don’t have to get into it
if you don’t want to.

K: No, it’s like. I mean it’s a dark gritty world right? Every group
gonna have it’s their own sorta of like flavor of it right?

S: Yeah exactly.

K: You know some people want to have like, funny enough people wanna
be…essentially the game steps on you and it’s fun. You know [laugh]?

S: Hmm yeah [laugh]

K: I mean I shouldn’t say that steps on you, but it’s hard it’s
challenging right?

S: Yeah Yeah.

K: I would argue that it’s not pure escapism right?

S: There’s no argument there. I wouldn’t argue with you. I would say
that’s correct. Haha.

K: I mean you’re an underdog and you’re always going to be a underdog in
the game unless you fight tooth and nail.

S: Right.

K: Whereas in D&D you’re an underdog for a bit, and then you..

S: Then you level up and it’s fine haha.

K:And then you can almost become a god in D&D. In Blades in the Dark,
it’s like “sure maybe you can become a god, but there’s going to be a

S: “but you’re a lot more likely to get possessed by a demon and

K: “and then die”

[Both Savannah and Kyle laugh]

Stress and Trauma


K: So we talked about, well I’ve been kind of outlining what’s
interesting in the game- you have scores with your crew right?

S: Hmm.

K: And your crew if your gang or whatever and the score is whatever
mission or job that you’re doing. And then you have the factions that
you’re fighting and stuff. One of the things that I find most
interesting about the game is the stress and trauma.

S: Right, which sound like things that you don’t want inside of roleplay
game, but it’s just a game mechanic.

K: So what’s it do, how have you experienced it?

S: Usually within games systems there are things built in to prevent
players from essentially god modding, [players] getting overpowered or
stacking things disproportionately in their favor, a lot of realism.

K: Just like your character becoming so powerful just through playing
the game that it becomes boring.

S: Right right. And it’s also… the stress and trauma are kind of a way
to keep the pacing of the game. Cause a lot of the game mechanics that
you see in roleplaying games are more so to keep you burning through
plot or burning through like the storyline or the setting’s super fast.
So stress and trauma are built into this game. When you do on score
whether you’re robbing a bank or taking out a hit or ferrying cargo or 
smuggling goods, you’re going to encounter obstacles. Sometimes you’re
going to roll really bad.

K: Yeah

S: So the stress mechanic allows you to take stress points, which you
have a limited number of, kind of compensate for those dice failures or
maybe your character’s attributes which are not as high in certain

K: Yeah.

S: So for example my character is not, in anyway, like charisma based.
He has no point in any of the charisma stats. So when, in the course
of any of our scores he has to talk to somebody or has to weasel his way
out verbally, instead of just like blowing up the place, I usually have
to take stress points so I can add extra dice to my roll to give me more
of a chance of success.

K: Yeah.

S: Then if you rack up too many stress points you gain a trauma. And
that’s just affects how your character interacts with other NPCS or
nonplayer characters or character in your group or the environment.

K: Say you’ve gotten one trauma. At that point you would’ve to have pick
up a new conditions…so say you get one trauma, you’d have to pick
cold. You yourself become cold.

S: Not physically, emotionally.

K: Emotionally yeah.

S: You’re freezing all the time!

K: Or you become haunted, obsessed, paranoid, reckless, soft. In this
game that’s bad because you lose your edge and you’re not able to…

S: You’re not taken seriously, you don’t have the same reputation.

K: Yeah. Unstable or vicious. So it’s like these different ways your
characters can become emotionally damaged from doing this traumatic
stuff right?

S: Yeah yeah.

K: So it’s like, in other tabletop roleplaying the game mechanics will
have like a name to them and kind of have something to do with it, but
kinda of not. So like in Dungeons and Dragons you can get an inspiration
dice sometimes if you do something.

S: Right, if you have a bard.

K: But you don’t necessarily have to do something inspiring to to get an
inspiration die which is essentially… it’s a bonus die for you to up
your rolls right?

S: Right right, or like in, hope this is a good example, Vampire: The
Masquerade you can get a bestial failure right, and it’s not necessarily
that you failed so bad that it’s considered bestial. It’s that you
failed specifically on your hunger dice, so the consequences are going
to be related to what Vampire: The Masquerade what their whole hunger
and vampire mechanics.

K: So basically things are like oh that’s how this works. It’s literally
like this thing in tabletop roleplaying games. The dungeon master or the
game master or whatever is like actually it’s not that.

S: Actually this is how it is.

K: Why is it called that then?  

S: Because Wizards of the Coast said so!

K: I can’t think of anything that comes to mind, but in Blades in the
Dark you have like… stress is literally stress and trauma is trauma is
literally for your character.

S: Right, so a good example of taking stress: one of the things that my
character can do according to his, I guess what you would refer to his

K: Yeah.

S: Is, it’s a sharpshooter feat essentially and you it says “you can
push yourself to do one of the following: make a ranged attack at
extreme distance or unleash a barrage of rapid fire to suppress the
enemy.” So when you push yourself you’re literally taking stress points
because it is a stressful situation that you’re in and that you’re
trying to resolve. Like I said, this game’s really initiative. It’s
kinda of literal in a lot of ways.

K: Honestly that’s of one of my favorite things. So like where, where it
says… can you read that description again?

S: Yeah: “You can push yourself to do one of the following: make a
ranged attack at extreme distance beyond what’s normal for the weapon or
unleash a barrage of rapid fire to suppress the enemy.”

K: So you’re what are the long range rules or what are the long range
rules and as the game master you’re like they’re right there!

S: Yeah yeah

K: Literally, it’s as it sounds. Which is great you know, wherein D&D
it’s like what’s the range spell attack.

S: You have to look up that specific weapon or that specific spell.

K: Yeah, and you’re like this does 1d8 damage.

S: You’re like actually it’s foggy outside so it’s like a 1d6 [laugh].

K: Yeah, and then you’re like having to consult charts and stuff to
figure out let’s see it’s x distance away with y damage and z character

S: Right.

K: And it like no, it’s… this game is very lean. Which is cool.



So you’re referring to the class?

S: Yeah

K: In this game it’s called playbooks because I don’t know why I’m like
picky about terminology when it comes to Blades in the Dark so please
excuse me.

S: [Laughs]

K: I think the distinction is, if nothing else, interesting to note at.

S: Hmm.

K: So in D&D or Dungeons and Dragons you have like your class which is
like. You pick your character with a specified, you know with a
predetermined abilities and stuff.

S: Like fighting style and how many hit points you have you get.

K: Yeah, so say you pick like a fighter class and it… fights.

S: [Laughs]

K: You can have a sword or bow and arrow or what have you.

S: They stab stuff.

K: Yeah or you have a wizard and you can do all this stuff. But like it
can be, it’s pretty linear to how you advance or how you progress in the

S: Right

K: Or how you develop your character. So you know you get levels in D&D,
levels one through twenty. Level one anything can step on you and you
can die. Level twenty you can step on anything and everything else will

S: Haha, yeah it’s a very specific… it can be a pretty specific
progression tree.

K: Yeah, just going by the book.

S: Yeah.

K: It’s pretty specific. In Blades in the Dark it’s more, it’s not
necessarily like a railroad system. It’s not just like super linear in
D&D, there are some options you can pick and stuff. But it’s fairly
straight forward. Blades in the Dark is also straight forward but in a
different way. 

S: Hmm

K: Here’s like, you don’t ever level up you get experience points and
stuff right? But it’s literally as it sounds it’s not like you know kill
a monster get five-hundred experience points.

S: [Laughs]

K: In Blades in the Dark you get experience points for doing things that
actually would make you experienced at that right?

S: Yeah so, for example in Dungeons and Dragons when you pick a class
you know, you have your group of players get together and they all make
their characters. Everybody’s got a different class and usually that
dictates who in the party does what job based on where they have the
most number of points, the most advantages and that largely falls under
their class type. If you need to sway a large group of people or talk
your way out of something, you’re probably going to go with the bard in
your party. Or if you need a wall run through you’re probably going to
point to your barbarian. If you need to lockpick, these are very broad
generalizations, but you go to a rogue for lockpicking and stuff.
Whereas with the playbooks as they’re called in Blades in the Dark it’s
basically just a bit of reference material to say hey here’s how you
build your character, here’s where you have a few extra points to move
around. But you can do anything.

K: Yeah.

S: You have a couple of specific abilities that might give you an edge,
but overall everybody can kinda compensate for each other.

K: No exactly, it’s less of like in D&D you pick one class and you can’t
do other things.

S: Right, right right.

K: In this game it’s more of you can pick a playbook and you can do
those things. It’s going to be limited, you’re not as experienced, but
you can still do those things. Everyone can shoot a gun or something
like that.

S: Yeah.

K: And maybe use it well. In D&D, not everyone can shoot a gun.

S: Yeah and like I think my favorite example of kinda the exclusionary
properties is like if you pick a spellcasting versus like a more marshal
class. If you’re gonna pick a barbarian, you’re probably not gonna be
casting spells because it’s not built into your class right.

K: Yeah

S: Versus, you can pick any playbook you want and you can talk to
ghosts. There’s a playbook that specifically makes it a little easier
for you talk to ghosts

K: Yeah.

S: But just because you don’t pick that one, doesn’t mean that you can’t
talk to ghosts.

K: Yeah. And that playbook specifically is called the Whisperer right?
And their whole sorta of stick is to like… their the mage or the
wizard, typical magic character.

S: Yeah yeah.

K: It’s very specific to this… it has it’s own little twist in this

S: Yeah it’s very specific to the world-building.

K: Which is cool. Everyone can still do sorta of magical stuff right?
Which is cool.

S: Hmmm. Yeah yeah yeah.

Teck Prichard


K: Talking about playbook, can you tell us about your playbook and your

S: Yeah, so picking a playbook was probably the hardest part of
character creation for me because there were… because I didn’t have a
whole lot of experience or any experience really with this play system
so I didn’t want to get pigeonholed into a specific character archetype.

K: And then you played the and you’re like oh.

S: And then I played the game and I was like I could have done anything.

K: Yeah [laughs]. You’re like pigeonholing doesn’t really…

S: Yeah, it doesn’t really exist. So I went with the Hound playbook. And
that is a deadly sharpshooter and tracker by definition. They get hired
to, like archetypal bounty hunter almost, they get tired…they get
hired not tired [laughs]. They get hired to find things, find people.
Eliminate people. This says why have a fair fight when you can stalk and
ambush your prey on your terms. The underworld is your hunting ground.
That appealed to me.

K: Like a ranger, a hunter.

S: Yeah yeah, kinda of deal with your problem from a distance which is
hilariously the kind of scores that we’ve done so far because I haven’t
been able to do any of that. Which is fun, it kind of pushes the, my
creative boundaries. But yeah, so I’ve got this sharpshooter character.
You want me to, you want me to give you run down on Teck?

K: Yeah sure give us a rundown on Teck.

S: Okay, my character’s name is Teck Prichard. He is known by the
underground as the Grim which is really edgy I know…but mostly because
that is an anonymous identity that he uses and he is kind of like a
disenfranchised member of a military that was conquered by the city that
you operate in.

K: The Empire.

S: The Empire, yeah. So his country was taken over by the Empire in a
war that recently within the setting had ended and rather than trying to
fight back against it, he said you know what if you can’t beat em join
em. And he switched sides and did contract work for their military for a
little while, which has not earned him a fantastic reputation among

K: Well maybe not like switch sides.

S: He decided not to have a side.

K: Disillusioned right?

S: Disillusioned is very good word for it.

K: I think your character’s ideal is the highest bidder [laughs].

S: Yes, he’s very much a mercenary cause… I don’t know, character
development for me really happens through play.

K: Yeah.

S: So it’s an ongoing process. But he’s kinda of an aloof guy. He’s not
super sociable. Like I said he’s got no charisma ability whatsoever.

K: He does have a dog though right?

S: He does have a dog! Which is probably the single linchpin in why I
picked this playbook because it was a tie between this and the Cutter
playbook which is the brawler type

K: Yeah.

S: So I read a little bit through them and this says yeah you get a
hunting pet. And I’m like I can have a dog? I can have a dog! My in real
life puppy, who is a lovely individual…

K: Mess?

S: Lovely mess. I love her very much. There is a version of her, I just
piloted her over into the game. So, he’s got a dog. She’s a lot more
obedient than my dog is in real-life [laughs]. Between that and the big
old long rifle that he carries around, he keeps on eye on stuff. He’s
very good at getting information about scores. The last couple, so the
two scores we’ve done so far I felt my biggest contribution to the
success was getting information about about the place that we’re hitting
or the place that we’re hitting in order so that we don’t get absolutely
slaughtered when we go in there.

K: Yeah.

S: Even though we do keep blowing things up. I’m not sure why that

K: That’s a recurring theme.

S:Yeah, Riley likes explosives. That something that we’re probably never
gonna get away with.

K: I know there’s a lot of other stuff to talk about in the game right,
but I’d like to know to what was your special ability that you chose for
you playbook or for your character.

S: Oh yeah so the Sharpshooter feat that I mentioned earlier, that’s
what I went with. Cause it’s kinda of your basic feat right? I really
like it because it just fit the way I imagined myself playing right? I
thought of okay what kind of of playstyle do I want to use, what kind of
situations do I want to be the most useful. And that fit. There’s a
couple others in here that I was really drawn to. One is Ghost Hunter
which just sounds cool. So basically your hunting pet is imbued with
spirit energy. It gains potency when tracking or fight the supernatural
and gains an arcane ability. So you can pick from one of these three
arcane abilities so if that you’re hunting ghosts your pet is useful
against them. Which really sounds more like a cat thing than a dog thing
I suppose.

K: Yeah.

S: Then other one was Scout and that is, you get an extra, you get plus
one to the effect so your effect is going to be greater in the situation
and you get an extra dice to avoid detection, which hindsight
considering we like to use explosives, I probably could have used that.
But it’s fun, the Sharpshooter ability has come in handy a couple times.
And I like the way if kinda of coaxes me into playing.

Scores I


K: Gotcha. Cool, so we talked about playbook, we talked about stress and
trauma. Can you tell us a little about a score. So just tell us like
what was a score you’ve been on.

S: Right, so the way that, nobody in this group, nobody in our group
right now has seen the show Leverage, but it is the perfect parallel
to how these things are setup. It’s basically just a heist. And whatever
kind of heist is up to your group. You decide what score you want to
take. So do you want to steal a valuable item from a bank vault which is
what our last score was… do you want to assassinate a political rival
or what have you. So the two scores that we’ve done.. the most recent
one was that we had to break into a vault and steal some incriminating
evidence about a local gang boss right?

K: Hmm.

S: The first one we did, oh that was so long ago.

K: The boat?

S: The boat! It went so horribly wrong [laughs]. It was fantastic first
session to dip our toes into water or more like jump in headfirst. But
we were getting ghost essence essentially right? These canisters of
ghostly essence or spirit essence. We were trying to steal them for a
local proprietor. Out of the two, I like the second score because it was
a little bit easier to get through because we knew what we were doing.

K: Yeah.

S: The roles were a little bit more intuitive, the flow was a little
better. But man that first score was chaos central. In a fun way though.

K: Yeah.

Character Progression


S: So the one of the biggest highlights for this game is that yeah
there’s a lot of failure, a lot of dark aspects, a lot of consequences,
and a lot of these things that kind of sound negative, but when you play
it doesn’t matter if you succeed your score or not. As long as you
approached obstacles in your score a certain way, you’re gonna earn XP.

K: Hmm.

S: You’re gonna get to “level up”. It’s not quite the same, but similar

K: Progress.

S: Yeah, you’re gonna progress whether you succeed or not. And if you
succeed, if doesn’t mean everything’s gun ho. It doesn’t that that…

K: Well in fact the more you succeed the more you gain…

S: Haha, there are equal consequences built in. The big theme of this
game like the bigger they are the harder they fall or the bigger the
risk the bigger the reward.

K: Yeah, and the bigger the consequences.

S: And the bigger the consequences. So this game, no matter how you
play, there’s gonna be consequences, the more familiar you are with the
game the more you realize well we’re gonna get consequences anyways, so
why not go all out.

K: Yeah, if you love getting into trouble, this is the game for you.

S: Oh my gosh yeah, if you play Dungeons and Dragons and your go to is
rogues all the time I mean this is your game.

K: Yeah.

S: It’s rogue central. It’s rogue heaven essentially.

K: It’s not like you all play as rogues, I mean yes you play as rougeish
archetypes. But if you’re like nah I’m not really into sneaking then
there’s a character for you. You could literally just be a Cutter and
just beat everything up. Or just like punch everything.

S: Yeah yeah it’s like if your like multiclassing you multiclass a rogue
and barbarian you get to be a Cutter. Or if you want freakin’ see
ghosts… that part twists me up sometimes. The ghosts freak me out.

K: Also, if you’re like me. I’ve always enjoyed games with violence in
them like combat and stuff. But recently I’ve been trying to, well I
guess not recently but ongoing thing just trying to find ways that are
interesting game without you know nonviolence. Cause like in D&D it’s
like oh here’s this thing, punch it kill it.

S: Let’s break it!

K: Yeah, that’s essentially how you progress. But like in this game, you
don’t have to kill anything at all. You don’t even have to hurt anything
to progress.

S: Yeah, and I liked that too. It’s like you don’t have to cut through
like a freakin’ swarm of goblins to gain certain xp. You don’t have to
take down creatures or anything like that. You’re gonna gain xp just by
addressing problems in a certain way.

K: Your character class is like, you’re a Hound. You have a gun.

S: No no, I have a gun. If I shoot things, I get experience points.

K: Yeah, but you’re one of the few that has using violence as…

S: Yeah.

K: And it’s not only violence right? It’s also…

S: Right right. So at the bottom here, at the bottom of your playbook or
your character sheet essentially it tells you how to gain experience
points. So everybody gains experience points from rolling a desperate
action. So if you decide undertake something where the environmental
circumstances are stacked against you, you’re gonna get experience
points. But for me specifically.

K: And you just have to attempt it.

S: Yeah, you just have to try it. You have to have the balls to try it
and if you do.

K: There you go!

S: There you go. Here are those points, it doesn’t have to end up well.
But for me if I address a challenge with tracking or violence. If I
express my beliefs, drives, heritage, or background. Or if I struggle
with issues from my vice or traumas. And I guess we’ll explain vices in
a minute. But the tracking or violence… it’s hilarious that you
mention wanting to kind of wanting to get through situations without
using violence because I don’t necessarily like doing… I don’t like
heavy violence in role-playing games. I have experienced a lot of
violence in my life so the escapism part for me is to kind of get away
with that.

K: Yeah.

S: Ironically, I think I picked one of the playbooks that’s most prone
to violence.

K: Yeah.

S: And certainly out of our entire group. The three characters player
characters that we have right now. The first score I accidentally killed
an NPC because I succeeded too well in a roll. It’s a really
well-balanced game. No matter what you do, bad things are gonna happen.
But also no matter what you try, you’re gonna get rewarded in some way.

K: Yeah, which is fun right?

S: Yeah.

K: But even like, yeah you probably are the most ehh… maybe you might
be the most violent character. I don’t know, it’s more like you use
violence the most I would say.

S: Yea.

K: It’s like..

S: There’ the most opportunity right?

K: Yeah that’s the best way to put I think. But like still… it’s a
like a gun is just part of your character class?

S: Yeah, specifically.

K: There’s also like the tracking and the dog and you’re a scout. All
these other abilities to utilize other than just the gun.

S: Right, so if we did a score where we were trying to find a fugitive
then I could roleplay stuff that’s less of the shootout and…

K: Of the bang bang.

S: Yeah the bang bang. My baby shot me down type stuff. But so far we
haven’t done a score like that so we have to kind of have to lean on
different aspects of the playbook.

Scores II


K: Yeah, cool. So scores right? So usually game masters decide what the
party is doing right? But Blades in the Dark again is a little
different. You want to tell us a little more about scores and how those
are created.

S: I think that’s more of your area of expertise. I don’t make scores

K: Honestly yeah. No that’s… so scores are really cool. They’re player
driven. In Dungeons and Dragons, Vampire: The Masquerade, other…

S: Pathfinder

K: Pathfinder, what have you. It’s usually the game master that decides
what the group’s doing.

S: Like your overarching plot line, the campaign.

K: Exactly, but in Blades in the Dark the game encourages you to be like
setup the preconditions and just roll with the rest.

S: Right right. That’s why I was bringing up Leverage.

K: Yeah, and literally I made the first score, but then the second they
totally decided what they wanted.

S: Right, so the reason that I brought up Leverage because it very
much, score session, so sessions where all we do is roleplay the score.
They play out like TV episodes, like almost a police procedural-esque
type thing. Your central goal, you know what you want to accomplish on
the score, is paramount and how you get there is up to your player
character. So like I guess the game master a few things called clocks
which are just environmental factors that progressing along and behind
the scenes of the characters actions.

K: Yeah, essentially they’re like… they push the game along.

S: Right.

K: If your characters are getting a little too comfortable right, like
your players are getting a little too comfortable. You can be like they
rolled this right and you can add that to the clock.

S: Like why you guys were sitting around debating what to do, this is
what’s happening at that time.

K: Yeah, so you’re debating so loudly I decided to make a roll behind
everyone’s backs and the guards heard you and are now coming toward your
direction. So it’s like fun stuff like that and it’s like, this game’s
much more built into the game. It’s super collaborative.

S: Yeah yeah.

K: I don’t to say that the game master has level control, but it’s more
just like…

S: It’s a different kind of control.

K: Yeah it’s like instead of… I feel like in D&D the dungeon master is
behind a curtain sometimes.

S: Like a Wizard of Oz style.

K: Yeah, you really don’t know what’s going right? In here, the players
kinda of know what’s going on right? But in here, the players kinda of
know more what’s going on, but there’s still those hidden surprises and
stuff right? But it’s more like the players are literally deciding what
their doing next session right?

S: Yeah [laughs].

K: We want to go to that place. Okay cool, what are you gonna do there?
We want to do a score. It’s like okay cool, tell me what you want and I
can plan something around that.

S: Right.

K: And then the entire game, it’s just not okay cool you do it and it’s
done– that score has lasting implications for the entire rest of the
game right?

S: Right, cause the “community” that you are operating in is fairly

K: Yeah.

S: You’re within the bounds of a city so it’s gonna have ripples. You
don’t just blow a hole in a bank vault and nothing happens. The cops are
gonna going looking for people who did it, it’s going to cause and

K: They literally did blow a hole in a bank vault last time.

S: [Laughs] that was not my idea.

K: Yeah, so there like they got everything finished and stuff right?
They’re hired by a certain faction to retrieve that evidence, they got
paid a lot by that faction. But they really really pissed off the

S: Yeah….

K: The Bluecoats…

S: The cops yeah…

K: And also just they just got a lot of what’s called Heat. Just

S: It’s like in GTA when you assault a random citizen you’re gonna have

K: Wanted?

S: Ah shit, I’m gonna act like I’ve played GTA before. Yeah, you’re
gonna be wanted. Your wanted level is going to be super high for a
little while and your kinda have to work around it.

K: The funny thing about… in GTA you kinda of just walk away and it
goes away eventually.

S: [Laugh] Run fast!

K: Again, this is a game of consequences right? So it’s like sure you
just blew in a bank vault and got a ton of experience points and coin,
but it was super noticeable

S: Everyone’s super annoyed!

K: You’re on the radar. And so the only way to lower that heat level is
by taking with your character to try to like persuade people right?

S: Yeah yeah, and we actually learned that from our first score is that
is where I am very very weak. So after your score, if your Heat is
really high which if you play right you’re constantly…

K: There’s constant Heat.

S: Constantly high Heat.

K: There’s always something that challenging you right? Where’s it’s
like cool maybe on that one score we didn’t get a lot of Heat, but also
we didn’t get a lot of Coin.

S: We’re broke guys!

K: Yeah, we’re safe but we’re also broke.

S: Right, I went to my default way of playing which is let’s try and
spread some rumors or you know schmooze some guys. Like really charisma
based stuff because my current character in our D&D campaign is very
charisma based.

K: Hmm.

S: So I try to kinda of fall back on that and I, ooh man, I failed very
bad. And kinda of just, my character made an ass of himself. And didn’t
drop the Heat at all. So it’s really fun, it pushes you into kinda of
thinking outside the box and….

K: But also helps you.

S: Yeah, it helps you. You’re constantly checking yourself going okay so
we had a lot of fun doing this, there was a lot of consequences and you
kind of find that happy medium of much risk you want to take versus how
much shit you want to deal with on the backend. For instance the amount
of Heat that we have right now is high enough that we need… we’re
gonna have to lay low for a little while. And none of our player
characters are really high charisma based.

K: See see, but the game’s not gonna let you lay low.

S: No, we can’t just disappear.

K: Without out consequence. Yeah, you can lay low, but it’s not like
we’re gonna wait for this certain level happens of heat and then we can
plan for this thing to happen right?

S: Right.

K: As soon as you start getting Heat, things happen.

S: Right.

K: So what’s going to happen is you all rolled the highest amount of
Heat you can get in a single roll.

S: [Laughs] yeah.

K: So what’s gonna happen with that is you’re going to have a demon…
you’re going to have to deal with demon.

S: Oh yeah that’s how we got the door open. I completely forgot about

K: Yeah, so that’s another thing.

S: Oh man.

K: If you generate any amount of Heat, it’s not cumulative but per unit
of Heat on a single thing there’s always repercussions, short term and
long term.

S: Yeah, it’s it own level and then you have to deal with each level of
heat on it’s own in addition to the accumulation.

K: And the accumulation is one of your of your character’s goes to
prison [laughs].That’s the only way to, other than like having your
characters try to get down the heat, that’s the only other way to try to

S: Right, it’s like something you have, well that gets into downtime I

K: Yeah.



S: So you have two types of sessions, well for us, you either play a
score session or downtime session where you deal with the consequences
from that score.

K: Yeah.

S: The downtime session you can only take two…

K: Actions.

S: Yeah, you can take two specific actions and if you want to reduce
Heat that’s one of your actions. So it kind of excludes things like
spending your money or getting rid of your stress or trying to upgrade
your hideout or whatever.

K: I don’t want to say that… like large-scale actions.

S: Yeah,

K: Like if you want to be like I want to go buy something. You’re like
okay cook we can buy it.

S: Yeah there’s like a difference between everyday action and something
that is going to take…

K: Be substantial.

S: Like take things off of your character sheet or add them to your crew
sheet. You know that kind of thing.

K: Yeah. I think, let’s see we’ve talked about scores, characters… I
want to talk about vice…



S: Vice…

K: And then we can move onto the crew stuff.

S: I’m very familiar with Vice.

K: So Vice, you want to tell us what kind of Vice is in terms of Blades
in the Dark, why that’s interesting. At least I find it interesting.

S: Well it’s really interesting cause so you have this whole stress and
trauma mechanic right? And it would be kinda of unfair if there was know
way to counteract that bar.

K: Yeah.

S: If you have a limited amount of stress then you’re just gonna max it
out, gain trauma and that’s it. So they have this counter system called
Vice and depending on how you build your character you specify a type of
Vice that your character indulges in to relieve stress. So the, let’s
see what we got here. You’ve got faith, gambling, luxury, obligation,
pleasure, stupor, or weird.

K: So initially when I saw faith, I thought that was weird one right?

S: Hmm.

K: But specifically it’s meaning like occult faith so like occult or
something like that.

S: Yeah yeah yeah, they all have their own really interesting…

K: Darker flavor,

S: Yeah, darker flavor, interesting definition. I mean pleasure and
stupor are kind of your general vices. Like what you think about when
you think of the word vice. You participate in substance abuse of some
sort or some sort of excessive activity that put’s you another sort of
mental state. My favorite and the one I went with, is weird. And that is
kind of a catch-all phrase for something that doesn’t into any of the
other categories. So something that even among the underbelly of the
city is kinda of looked at sideways. So my character likes to go and
like… how do I explain it… it’s not possession.

K: Maybe like voluntarily allowing a spirit to posses you.

S: Yeah in a very passive way. So he kind of sits back and just watches
memories from other spirits kind of taken over his psyche. It’s fun to
roleplay. You can pretty much pick anything. You can think of a Vice and
kind of retroactively fit it into one of these categories or there’s
suggestions built into the categories of the playbook.

K: The reason why Vice exists to not only reduce stress right is to like
to also give your character some sort of flaw or something like that.

S: Like scummy flavor.

K: Yeah, or maybe just like something that makes them a little more
tragic in a sense right? I mean there’s a potential for a lot of tragedy
in this game right? This is definitely a darker world so it’s your
characters may have some sort of mental or physical addictions to things
or some things with how they cope with this lifestyle that could to
their own self-destruction. Light stuff, right?

S: [laughs] exactly. I think it’s also a good mechanic to have in their
to prevent people from making a character and going well I don’t care
about moral or ethics or whatever so I can do whatever horrible stuff I
want and not have any consequences. Well there’s gonna be consequences.
Nobody gets out of that.

K: Yeah, if your character is like, one thing is called… I’m sure
you’ve heard the term of murder hobo for D&D.

S: [laughs] yeah chaotic neutral.

K: For those of you who isn’t familial a murderhobo is a sort of
playstyle in Dungeons and Dragons and other tabletop roleplaying games
where essentially you’re just some “warrior” who goes towns killing
things, who doesn’t really ever have a set home. And it’s kind of just
like this wandering person who doesn’t really have anything good or bad.

S: Yeah, it’s like different from mercenary, so like a mercenary or a
monster hunter does it for the coin or the reputation or what have you.
A murderhobo just does it because they think that’s the best use of
their time or they’re bored.

K: Yeah no, it’s mostly a player thing, it’s a player style. It’s like
go to a town, kill the monster… well no a murder hobo is someone who
goes to a town, kills everyone who lives in that town, goes to the next
town kills… [laughs] they’re like look at me I’m so powerful I can
exert my will on anything right?

S: Yeah.

K: But like in this game… you wanted to be a murderhobo it’s okay you
kill, you’re gonna try to kill someone who’s way over, you take stress
or like other games you can take hits and stuff. In other tabletop
ropeplaying games you can have absurd amount of damage that would kill
any human being but you can take like five or six or those before you go
down. In this, it’s like cool you want to go punch that person and try
to kill them. You miss and you get your teeth knocked out.

S: [laughs] cause you are in fact a real person.

K: And you go to prison, yeah! So this game is everything is dangerous
in this game. And that’s just to say that hey, this is a game about dire
situations, you’re the underdog, you’re scoundrel and you’re going to be
climbing your way to the top even like.. everything is precarious and

S: Yeah, it’s like you worked really heard to get the crown, but do you
have what it takes to keep it?

K: Yeah no no exactly right? It puts you in some morally challenging
positions sometimes. Like nothing’s that I would say, it’s a dark world
but it’s not to the point to where’s its emotionally abusive to it’s

S: Yeah yeah, I mean there’s….

K: It’s a healthy amount.

S: Yeah, “healthy”. One my favorite benchmarks for the emotional labor
on the part of the players is Vampire: The Masquerade because it deals
with such sketchy dark themes and it has the potential to spire really
really hard if you’re careful. Vampire: The Masquerade has a disclaimer
saying that you’re playing monstrous characters, you’re not excusing the
monstrous actions. And there’s a system built into that roleplay where
you as a group agree on certain subjects that you won’t broach.

K: Subject matter.

S: Certain subject matter that you all won’t touch on and Blades in the
Dark, basically the same thing. Not necessarily written in stone, but
it’s intuitive right? Saying ok look we’re comfortable playing this kind
of stuff, we’re not gonna to the really really just like nasty
unnecessarily hard stuff.

K: So I guess to put it, it’s like dark enough to a point it has
reflections and parallels of the underbelly of society in our real world
right? But it kinda of allows you to contextualize it in your own way.

S: I like to think of it as it’s dark enough to make you squint your
eyes a little bit, but not so dark enough that it makes you want to shut
your eyes and turn away.

K: No exactly right… it’s fun. I know that’s weird to say but it’s
like it feels like..

S: Well it’s like when people play games Call of Duty or Doom or
something like that where there’s a lot of violence, a lot of death, a
lot of gore people… most people, most healthy people don’t think that
in real life scenarios that stuff would be fun right? It’s not actually
something that they actually want to do in real life, but it’s an
escapism, it’s a fantasy, it’s fun to indulge in the context of the

K: That’s a whole another topic of violence in video games. I’m not
gonna touch that subject.

S: With a 10 foot pole?

K: Well no I would like to talk about sometime but that would take a lot
of due diligence and research.

S: Right right.

K: In the context of this game, it’s a dark and gritty world but not to
the point of where it’s like, it’s all with the group you’re playing

S: Right.

K: The book does a good job of, it suggests things but not up the point
where… you need to contextualize it as a group.

S: Yeah yeah.

K: There’s like drug trafficking, murder, all these things but you also
you think of like why is all that in the game but on your cable TV and
you see like NCIS: Los Angeles.

S: Or like Law and Order: SVU. Stuff that deal with really mature
themes. But at any point you can turn it off and it’s the same thing
with this game.

K: Well it’s more of like subject matter of what you would see in those
television shows is kinda of what you would see in here right?

S: Yeah yeah, exactly

K: I personally like to explore darker subject matter and that’s not for
everyone. I love this game a lot, but I definitely know that some people
want a more lighthearted fair which is totally doable.

S: Right, yeah!

K: There’s great games for that.

S: And that goes for any sort of material that you consume whether it’s
music or video or books or televisions or gaming systems.

K: Definitely knowing what you are up for and kinda feeling comfortable
and you trust the group that you play with is a large part in not being
only enjoying yourself and feeling emotionally safe in Blades in the
Dark but also in any tabletop roleplaying game.

S: Right, exactly.

K: Let’s see, we were talking about vice right?

S: Vice yes.



K: Ok cool, so going on from vice, we go to the crew right?

S: The creeew. This is another thing. I like how we are constant putting
it up against Dungeons and Dragons, but it’s the easiest thing, it’s
there to poke at. So one thing that can happen when you’re in a party
playing D&D is your adventuring party doesn’t get cohesive for awhile.

K: They’re not collaborative.

S: They’re not collaborative. They all have, and that’s just how it be.

K: Unless you as a group agree to be like, okay we are going to do these
things as group right?

S: Right, unless you’ve like built that into your backstory or you’ve
independently agreed to But most of the time, you make your characters,
they have their own backstories, their own pasts and motivations, and
the DM creates a situation that throws them all together. That does not
make them cooperative. Blades in the Dark, you start off cooperative.
Everybody that makes a character in your group is making it within the
context of your gang, and your goal is to advance the… your street
cred, your resources, your hunting territory, whatever you wanna call
it. That’s from the outset. That’s just how the game is structured.

K: Yeah, so you have a playbook, or character sheet, for your character,
but you also have a character sheet for your crew.

S: Yes.

K: Which is, I think, amazing.

S: Yeah, this is where the, like, more specific collaborative effort
comes in, especially with deciding what kind of subject matter you guys
want to deal with when you’re picking the type of crew you want to play.
You can pick something that’s heavy on the drug trafficking ring like
smuggling, you can pick something that’s heavy on the violence like
assassins, or you can pick what we did, which is kind of a catch-all for
everything else. So, our group picked the what’s called Shadows and
they’re thieves, spies, and saboteurs, so pretty much everything else
aside of smuggling and assassinations. Or the occultist stuff, but
that’s not something I’m super familiar with in this game yet. That’s
the really interesting thing is that the assumed cooperative effort from
the outset between the players.

K: Well, I don’t say the game forces you to be cooperative, right, it
encourages you to be more, it rewards you to be cooperative.

S: Right, right.

K: And it’s just built into the game, like you’re literally… the
nature of the game is you’re just operating as a group.

S: Mhm.

K: You do stuff as a team and not only do you get rewards or–I don’t
want to say rewards but–you get special abilities as a player, but you
get special abilities as a team, right, which is really cool.

S: And it can be, your relationship to the other players can be as
clinical or familial as you want. You guys can be super comfortable with
each other, or you can play it to where you’re all just in it because
the other players have abilities or have connections that you don’t.

K: Yeah, just practically…just on strictly pragmatic terms.

S: Yeah, and that’s kind of… our group is somewhere in the middle.
We’re a bunch of weirdos. It’s really fun to explore from having that
kind of expectation from the outset saying, “Look, we’re not thrown
together under mysterious circumstances, we are a gang, we have similar
motivations. We might not individually like each other, but we all have
skill sets that compliment each other.”

K: Which is, I think, honestly cool, right. And it kinda blew my mind.
Like, there’s no other–that I can think of or anything I’ve heard
about–table top roleplaying games that give your group who’s picking a
specific playstyle as a group, you know specific attributes, abilities,

S: Yeah, you get bonus for picking a playstyle not just specific to your
character but specific to your other player characters, and that’s
really cool.

K: And not only does your crew get that, but your crew literally like…
you can expand and get different buildings and stuff like that. I feel
like there’s multiple games within Blades in the Dark. You have the
score game, and then you have your downtime, which is almost like a…

S: Clean-up crew [laugh].

K: Like a strategy game, kind of.

S: Yeah, you go from like a-football-game-to-a-chess-game-type

K: Yeah, exactly. But I find it really cool. So, can you tell us a
little more about your crew? What’s their name, their backstory?

Crew Backstory


S: So our crew is called the Twisted Knickers, and that has a few
different references. You pick a reputation type, so do you want your
crew’s reputation to be that you’re particularly violent or crafty or
mysterious, and we just picked strange because we’re just a bunch of

K: That’s all the word was.

S: Was just “strange” [laughs]. That’s the only thing that’s written in
reputation. So, “twisted” referring to the fact that we’re a bunch of
weirdos, and then “knickers”–“twisted knickers” meaning getting your
panties in a wad, and also “knickers” being that we steal stuff, so we
intend to knick things, which I thought was super clever. Pat myself on
the back. But, it’s a heh, we have three of us. There’s me, I’m our
sharpshooter. We have Arvo, or Moss as he’s colloqui–I can never say
that word!

K: Alias.

S: It’s his alias, yes. Colloqu–

K: Colloquially?

S: I hate that word so much. But yeah, his alias is Moss, and he’s kind
of an alchemist-type character. He likes to create stuff. He likes to
test out different chemicals and things. He comes in handy when you
break the stock of your gun–

K: Go boom.

S: –on somebody’s head

[Kyle and Savannah laugh]

S: Or if you want something to explode. He’s very handy in those
situations. Very good at putting things together and then pulling them
apart. Then, we have Serethee, who nobody in our group can remember how
to say her name so we just call her Wraith. She is our Whisper, so our
expert on all things supernatural in the occult. Between the three of
us, none of us are particularly good in talking to people.

K: But you have other means.

S: But we have, yes. So we have to try other routes to attain our goals.

K: Well, I wouldn’t say you’re not good at… I would say you’re not
exceptionally gifted at talking to people.

S: Yeah, we don’t have anybody who’s like heavy stats in charisma. We
did at one point, and unfortunately they were unable to keep playing
with us, which is… which makes me sad because it was a lot of fun. But
there is a character archetype that is kinda heavy charisma-based.

K: Yeah, so there’s just like your smooth-talker, let me kinda…

S: What they call a lide, I think?

K: Yeah, they’re called a slide. So here, let me just tell you the
different playbooks here. We have the Cutter, which is like the brawler.
We have a Hound, which we’ve been talking about. We have the Leech… oh
man, what was the Leech?

S: Isn’t Arvo… I think that’s what he is is a Leech.

K: Arvo is a, yes, Arvo’s a Leech, who’s like a tinker or an alchemist
sort of person. Then we have the Spider, who’s like a sort of criminal

S: Yeah, like Machiavellian-type.

K: Yeah. Political intrigue and all that sort of great stuff. And then
the Whisper is the… oh wait, did I go over Lurk?

S: No.

K: I think lurk is like the standard… so, Leech is a saboteur and
technician, kind of your mad scientist, if you will. The Lurk is a
stealthy infiltrator and burglar.

S: So you’ve got sharpshooter, you’ve got mad scientist, you’ve got
occultists, you’ve got cat burglars, you’ve got brawlers, and you’ve got
your string pullers.

K: Yeah. So everything you need to start your own criminal organization.

S: Haha, everything you need to start your own criminal enterprise.

Conclusion of Interview


K: Yeah. Which is cool… so okay, I just want to make sure we cover,
I’m just gonna look at the table of contents here and make sure. So
we’ve got characters, we’ve got the basics, score, downtime. We talked
about the setting. I think, broadly speaking, we covered everything. I
guess, is there anything else you wanted to bring up, or anything else
that interests you about Blades in the Dark?

S: That’s actually pretty comprehensive, we kind of went over all of my
favorite bits. I’m one of those people who really likes to try and draw
parallels to other media that I’ve consumed, so one of the pop culture,
you said pop culture touchstones, is Peaky Blinders, which I am
intimately familiar with. It’s one of my favorite shows.

K: I can also just read from the book here and tell you, “So, if you
like any of these things and you also like collaborative storytelling,
then this game might be for you.”

S: Yeah, so it literally says, “Here’s things that if you like these
you’d like Blades in the Dark.”

K: So if you like Peaky Blinders, The Wire,
Spartacus–particularly season 2–and Narcos, you might like this
game. If you like the books of Vlad Taltos, the stories of Fafhrd and
the Grey Mouser, that first word is F-A-F-H-R-D, The Lies of Lock Lamora, Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie. Video games: Thief: The Dark Project and it’s sequels, Dishonored, and Bloodborne, and
films: Crimson Peak, Gangs of New York, Ronin, and Heat and
Thief. Which are kind of all the sort of cultural touchstones for

S: As far as those of the list that I’m actually familiar with, the ones
I’ve most seen or that come to mind mostly is obviously Peaky Blinders, Crimson Peak, definitely for the supernatural aspect of it.
I like throwing Leverage out there just because it’s like the perfect
kind of mindset to have when you’re doing scores. It’s like your score
is an episode of Leverage. It’s rather self-contained within one

K: But has overall implications for the larger seasonal quarter.

S: Yeah, exactly, exactly. Obviously if you like those things, you’re
gonna probably enjoy Blades in the Dark as a system. The flare, the kind
of setting flavor is very Victorian, that kind of industrial-type–

K: Sprawl.

S: Sprawl, yeah. And the character interactions–I’m really glad they
put Peaky Blinders in here because if you need an example of how the
corruption doesn’t skate over anybody in this world, Peaky Blinders is
an excellent material to take your cues from. Because in that show,
everybody from the high political offices to the cops to your regular
run-of-the-mill people to your gang factions… they all are just trying
to get by and none of them are… hehe none of them are free from sin.
None of them are gonna get out of it scathed.

K: Unscathed.

S: Or, unscathed. They’re all gonna get scathed, yes.

K: Lots of scathing.

S: Much scathing going on. But yeah, so even if… and you can play a
well-intentioned character in this for the most part. It’s just, know
that’s gonna come with its own set of…

K: Challenges.

S: Challenges, yeah.

K: I mean, just like in real life, like we’re all trying to be I guess
the best person we can be, but then like there comes times in our life
where we have to make difficult choices and you’re like, “Was that the
best choice looking back, or could I have…”

S: Right. Like a good example is like if you find a hundred dollars on
the street. There’s people that are gonna look for the person that it
belongs to, or just put it in your pocket and keep walking.

K: Keep it, yeah.

S: And each of those people like–the person who puts it in their
pocket, you’re a hundred dollars richer. The person that looks for the
person who dropped it, you’ve got that sense of moral high ground or
that sense of integrity to you. It’s all relative.

K: It’s like neither is the wrong choice.

S: Yeah. [laughs] First of all, finders keepers is the kind of person I

K: [laughs] but yeah, it’s escapist to the point to where… it’s
escapist to the point to where it’s like you feel like you’re in a
different world and you have more agency and different accountability
for your actions. But it’s realistic enough to be like, “Oh, would I
actually do this in this situation, or would I be that sort of person in
this situation.”

S: Right, like it’s got its own escapism but with like pretty empathetic

K: Yeah no definitely. I always like to have games that hearken back at
least a little bit to our, or parallels, our real world a little bit.

S: Yeah definitely.

K: But yeah. Cool, I don’t have anything else to talk about. Do you?

S: No, I think that pretty much covers it. Covers all my favorite bits
of the game.

K: Yeah, I love Blades in the Dark. I’ve played it three, four times

S: I think we’re on four. I don’t know. Sometimes real life gets in the
way. We go for a ways between sessions, but it’s always a lot of fun
when we get to it.

K: It’s awesome, if you wanna try it out, it’s like 30 bucks.

S: Yeah.

K: For like a hard copy and a PDF, so you get both, which is really
cool. So, go support John Harper, who’s the person who made the game and
also like…

S: Yeah, support your content creators, guys.

K: Yeah, come on. Come on.

[Savannah laughs]

K: Subscribe to my–no I…

[Savannah laughs]

K: Speaking of content creators…

S: There’s a leak.

K: Yeah. Subscribe to my Patreon, please. I don’t have a Patreon.

[Savannah laughs]

K: But yeah, cool. Well, thanks so much for talking with me. I
appreciate it, and I had a lot of fun.

[Theme music fades in]

S: Yeah, me too! Thanks for having me on.

K: Yeah, definitely.

[Theme music plays]

K: Thank you all for tuning in to this episode of D-Pad Diaries. If
you’re interested in learning more and staying tune with updates and new
episodes of the podcast, you can follow us at
That’s You can also find us on Twitter at
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[Music ends]

K: Music from Midnight Tale by Kevin Macleod, License CC By