Monday, November 07, 2011

Lady Blackbird

Lady Blackbird is a wonderful little mini-game produced by the esteemed John Harper. The premise is that in a "world" of cloud islands floating in an infinite sky, a swashbuckling aristocrat flees an arranged marriage and an Imperial cruiser aboard a diesel-punk skyship. The rules are light but the scenario is rich and I've heard nothing but good things about how it plays out in one-shots and Con games.

We did not play Lady Blackbird on Saturday night. But we might as well have been playing it, because that evening's introduction of Oddesey's new character to our Knights of the Astral Sea campaign allowed me to loot the Lady Blackbirdscenario for this session's premise. It helped that Odsysey's character concept was a swashbuckling space-opera heroine fleeing multiple arranged marriages and an evil despot of a father. It helped even more that one of the "worlds" in the Knights of the Astral Sea multiverse is the Cloudlands, a dieselpunky, Flash Gordon-style space opera setting that features countless worlds in an infinite sky. I came up with this setting in the late 90's and was totally floored when I saw the similarities in Lady Blackbird. I knew that it was only a matter of time that I'd do something with Lady Blackbird in my game.

My regular chronicler was absent during this session, so there won't be a play report from Queen Genevieve's perspective. But for the benefit of all the absent players (and anybody else that is following the story), I'll try to summarize.


While Queen Genevieve completed her negotiations with King Oberon of the Summer Court (and while handsome young Jude continued to fend off the advances of Queen Titania), the rest of the party lounged in a stately tower overlooking the sweltering City of Brass. While tinkering with a mysterious gadget that she had just found, Myria accidentally teleports the party to a mist-shrouded clearing in an as-yet-unknown world (that it was not in Faerie was immediately apparent). General Picton (commandant of the Queen Air Force) takes to wing is able to gather enough intelligence that the more seasoned interdimensional travelers of the group could guess that they were in the Cloudlands. 

Hiking down a path, the party arrives at small but relatively crowded smugglers port. Language is not an issue, thanks to Lord Tybalt's telepathy talent. Of the myriad of locals, only Iris (Odyssey's new PC) found it odd that these "circus performers" (they were a strange group) arrived on no known sky ship and that they were speaking an obscure language of a distant outpost of "Britannic" traders (i.e. English). While she approached the party to make conversation, an Imperial Cruiser flying the banner of her evil father appeared in sky overhead and all hell broke lose. She beckoned the party to follow her to the ship that she arrived on, a strange jet-powered craft named (appropriately enough) The Lady Blackbird. 

A brief and bloody aerial battle ensued but the Blackbird was able to jump out to a remote navigation beacon. Unfortnately, further jumps were impossible until repairs were made. In that time, the party was introduced to the crew and General Picton conducted reconnaissance on a nearby clous island. He discovered, almost too late, that it was a trap and that three Imperial gunboats were preparing an ambush. 

As it turns out, half of the Blackbird's crew (all but Captain Vance and the plucky but recently killed gunner, Snargle, were in the process of selling out Iris. A major fight ensued, with General Picton boarding one of the gunboats and Lord Tybalt boarding the others. The session ended with the enemy forces destroyed and the Blackbird's crew slain. Still in possession of the gadget that Myria was tinkering with, the party was able to teleport themselves and the Lady Blackbird(!!!) back to the City of Brass. They also learned a crucial bit of information: the Spanish Empire was in cahoots with Iris' father and were moving against (or had already moved against) the Britannic outpost on that world. As it happened, the Lady Blackbird was appropriated Spanish technology that would no doubt provide a crucial bit of intelligence to Queen Artoria and her boffins. That is, of course, after Queen Genevieve and her friends used it to depose the evil Chairman Meow and reclaim the throne of the Autumn Court.


Trey said...

Sounds like a great game. Chairman Meow always makes me chuckle.

Dangerous Brian said...

Damn that sounds insane. Insanely good that is.

Risus Monkey said...

A great time was had by all. And yes, Chairman Meow is the gift that keeps on giving.

John Harper said...

Very cool!

Risus Monkey said...

@John Harper: And it was. One of these days, I hope to play Lady Blackbird proper. It seems like it was tailor made to resonate with my sensibilities.