Actual Play – Lady Blackbird (10/20/2013)

GM: Ajit George
Players: Sean Nittner (Naomi Bishop), Jason Morningstar (Lady Blackbird), Daniel Levine (Kale Arkam), James Stuart (Cyrus Vance), and Kristin Firth (Snargle)
System: Lady Blackbird

Game Description

Lady Blackbird is on the run from an arranged marriage to Count Carlowe. She hired a smuggler skyship, The Owl, to take her from her palace on the Imperial world of Ilysium to the far reaches of the Remnants, so she could be with her once secret lover: the pirate king Uriah Flint.

HOWEVER, just before reaching the halfway point of Haven, The Owl was pursued and captured by the Imperial cruiser Hand of Sorrow, under charges of flying
a false flag.

EVEN NOW, Lady Blackbird, her bodyguard, and the crew of The Owl are detained in the brig, while the Imperial commander runs the smuggler ship’s registry
over the wireless. It’s only a matter of time before they discover the outstanding warrants and learn that The Owl is owned by none other than the infamous outcast, Cyrus Vance.

How will Lady Blackbird and the others escape the Hand of Sorrow? What dangers lie in their path? Will they be able to find the secret lair of the pirate king? if they do, will Uriah Flint accept Lady Blackbird as his bride? By the time they get there, will she want him to?

Walking Tall

Jason, Kristin, and I showed up at Ajit’s full table, expecting we would never get in. Of the players though, three of them were priority four, and we were all three or lower this session so, like that, we ousted 60% of the table. Everyone seemed to be in good spirits about it though, there were lots of great gaming prospects Sunday morning.

Though I had a lot of fun hanging out with James on Friday, this was my first chance to game with him, as well as the first time I met Daniel. Suffice to say we had a table of awesome peeps.

Highlights of the game

Jason pushed really hard as Lady Blackbird and as a player. He’s just so good. He started by giving Naomi (my character) all of these impossible orders… you know like, take out those five guards, but don’t kill any of them! He also pushed as a player, putting his character in danger and constantly complicating her own life and that of those around her.

James played Vance as a pick-your-gender-pronoun killer. He got tangled up with ladies and men, and it always ended in disaster. Why did Captain Hollis want Vance so bad? Yep, it was a lover’s quarrel!

Ajit had some simply brilliant set pieces. The jail in the opening scene was a gumball machine full of spheres, each of them with a single prisoner in them! The final scene was at a royal ball, with a glass floor overlooking an arena battle below!

Reincorporation. Ajit kept bringing back all these ideas that we developed throughout the game. Uriah Flint has the most amazing and spangle covered boots. Goblins were too poor to pass up work and often were no better off that slaves. All these things that we introduced were folded back into the game.

Kale and Naomi had a fling aboard the owl. She told him it meant nothing, but it did. When it was time for them to part ways on Haven it was Kale and Naomi’s affection for each other that kept the group together. In the final showdown Naomi was forced to choose whether she would save the Lady Blackbird or her new love Kale. I scratched that Key of the Guardian right off my right off my sheet and wrote in Key of Love.

The Lady died because of that choice. Which is all kinds of crazy. Count Carlowe ran her through with his sword. Cyrus bested him in battle but then instead of killing him, reached down and teleported himself and Natasha aboard the Owl (which was crashing through the ceiling of the party) to try and save her life. We didn’t fail many rolls in this game (even challenging ones), but Cyrus failed this one… and the Natasha died in his arms. Fuck yeah.

Ajit called for a ton of flashback scenes which was great. We saw Natasha and Naomi before they left, arguing like sisters about whether or not she should marry the count. We saw Naomi booking passage for two passengers, no questions asked. All of these moments built the characters and the world around them. Natasha’s younger brother Tima was staged to marry Carlowe’s sister in what was clearly now a power grab (the Carlowe family wanted to be joined with the Blackbirds and they didn’t care what it took to make it happen).

Jason introduced Naomi’s tantamount role in the of Chezka, Tima’s bodyguard. Naomi had to convince Chezka to help them save Tima from this marriage, but to convince him, she would have to best him in a match of martial prowess…on the dance floor. I got describe the dance as starting off stilted, with each of them trying to act as the lead. But as their struggle continued they became in sync with each other and instead of countering each other’s moves they were exaggerating them and building off of them. Soon the dance escalated to something fierce; a mixture of flamenco dance intensity and martial arts. It led to aerials and finally step, counter step, step, counter step, our arms moving like serpents interlocking, till the dance reached it’s crescendo with an inside turn where Naomi cradled Chezka in her arms. Or so it looked, his right arm was actually twisted behind his back, held fast, but appearing to all as the embrace of dancers, not combatants.

Kristin got the award as best Snargle ever. She was the moral compass, she was the humor, but she was also the confounding creature that gave us all pause, unable to parse the information we had just received. Together with her companions Bargle and Gargle (and oh so many more), Snargle flew the ship to safety and kept us all from killing each other.

The reveals…oh the reveals. “I’m Lady Blackbird of house Blackbird”. Yeah, that one is expected. “I’m Cyrus Twilight of house Twilight” was not. So much fun.

There were a lot of refreshment scenes which was great mechanically because it allowed us to keep refreshing our personal pools, but it was really great for the fiction because we got to see all of our character’s relationships develop.


Thoughts on this game

Ajit had some really strong techniques here, that I’ll be sure to steal when I run the game in the future.

Have Jason it a game. It will be better for it. Or at least more dire.

I’ve played Naomi twice now and loved her. Snargle as well. Time for me to take a Cyrus or Natasha. See how holding the reins, instead of bucking them, feels again.

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