Friday, June 7, 2013

Lady Blackbird

Lady Blackbird is scheduled to marry Count Carlowe, but she has no intention of doing that. Instead, she has hired the crew of the Owl, a small but fast skyship, to take her from the her homeworld Ilysium to the far side of the system, where her former lover, the pirate king Uriah Flint, has his hideout.
Unfortunately, the Owl was captured by the Imperial cruiser Hand of Sorrow and it's only a matter of time until they are all arrested for various reasons. They have been taken to the brig of the cruiser, to await their fate.

This is the starting point of Lady Blackbird, a science fiction/steampunk setting that is best played with a lot of creativity and love for storytelling. There are five ready-made characters who have a handful of special abilities and gifts. Of the sixteen pages the rulebook has, the rules take up half a page.

The job of the GM is to ask questions, whatever interests her or what she thinks will make the stories interesting. If the characters want to do something, it's best to says yes and then introduce an obstacle (like guards, a sky squid, a fire breaking out ect.) or ask a question like: 'do you think the ship takes damage during that manoeuvre' or 'does this spell come with any side effects' or 'any rumours about this place you have come across'. The story is built from what the players answer and what they do, they have a great deal of control over their situation and the world they play in. As a GM, it's very hard to plan anything, but it's an excellent chance for improvisation. And you can steer the players gently in the desired direction with your questions.

I'm running a game of Lady Blackbird at a German RPG forum. We only just started, but I'm enjoying myself immensely already. My players have come up with very nice back stories and ideas that have a lot of potential. They have also, five posts into the game, already started to bicker among themselves and have kicked down the door to their cell, making a lot of noise in the process.

Lady Blackbird is published under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 3.0 license and there are a lot of hacks out there, different settings and more stuff people have come up with. And this is exactly why I love Creative Commons. if people like your stuff, they want to create new things from it. So let them and take pride in it.

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