“At Ettenmark Fields the forces of the living finally met their match against the might of the Cinder King. As the undead forces broke the line of humanity and shattered the armies of Aldermark, the Legion turned and fled the field. It was only by virtue of Shreya clearing a path – her Chosen might scattering the corrupted – that the last tattered remnants of the Legion were able to escape and regroup. Reduced to a fraction of our size, our only hope of survival is to beat the Cinder King’s advance and fall back to the blessed protection of Skydagger Keep, high in the mountains, where even the forces arrayed against us cannot hope to succeed.
I am Lorekeeper Graf Cyprian Garossi, and this is the record of the last days of the Legion…”
Due to the pandemic interfering with my regular organised Tuesday night gaming, our regular GM proposed giving Band of Blades a try. Published by Evil Hat and written by Stras Acimovic and John LeBoeuf-Little, Band of Blades tells the tale of the Legion – an elite fighting force – and their retreat to the mighty Skydagger Keep following defeat at the hands of the mighty Cinder King and his army of potent undead.
Band of Blades uses a variant on the Forged in the Dark rules (created by John Harper and initially found in the excellent Blades in the Dark) to tell the tale of the Legion and their retreat, and the conflict they face on the way to safety. Band of Blades differs in a number of ways from both Blades in the Dark and more traditional games – there is a clear campaign structure as you retreat from location to location with fairly limited options along that route. It is also an ensemble play game, where you play a character from a roster of available people rather than making one character and sticking with them (although there is one exception – the Medic playbook – where you can play them more traditionally). There are also clear victory conditions, and – much like in board games such as Pandemic – the line between win and lose is a fine one.
As well as playing one of many heroes of the Legion, there are more high-concept, tactical roles that need filling; from the Commander and Marshall (who choose the missions to be undertaken as well as the squads that will do them) through to the Loremaster – a secondary role who’s main responsibility is to record the Annals of the Legion. These form a record of the game, as well as contributing to victory points at the end.
I ended up playing the Loremaster, and after the first mission (where I was still finding my feet in the role and recorded the outcomes with bullet points) I decided to write the missions up in real time and in an IC format. I’ve been meaning to post them to this blog so that the other players can read and enjoy them, as well as refreshing on what happened in the game. After each mission there is also an admin phase, where – aside from a small framing scene – most of the other actions are plotting what happens next and what missions are available. I also wrote those up as IC as I could, but they are a bit shorter and a bit drier, somewhat unsurprisingly.
My intention is post all of the completed missions so far, and try to keep this updated as each mission wraps – whether I will stick with that remains to be seen!