Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Playing Lady Blackbird

Last Saturday, I ran Lady Blackbird with a couple of friends. It was fun and everyone laughed a lot. Still, it was not as I had hoped it would be.

For those of you who doesn't know, Lady Blackbird is both a scenario and a game system. John Harper designed it, and distributes in freely on the web (see the link above). It's a pdf with a setup, some sketchy setting information and five characters with a rules summary. This means that all the time when you play Lady Blackbird, the character will be the same, and it will start the same way and diverge from there.

So, what did I like? Well, the game system if easy enough and the character are all fun an easily triggers ideas for play. Also, all characters have relations to each other and other forces in the world. It's a good setup.

So, what did I not like? Well, the game system really demands you to invent stuff. You should go out of your way to really, really grab xp at every opportunity. You should also look for opportunities to reinvent the character and take the meagre stuff on your sheet and develop it, though play. You think this all sounds like positives? Yeah, kind of. But, it also mean you have to have proactive players. You have to be able to design and add to the setting as a player. This is not for everyone. Actually, I think the old saying that a good GM can make anything fly is wrong. Good players, can make anything fun! Mine weren't too bad, actually.

What am I complaining about then? Maybe I'm just teasing, to make a bland post more dramatic? Anyway.

It went well, like I said. But, it took quite long in the session until people actually remembered their keys, and that they gained xp for them! Also, I tried to follow the GM advice and ask questions and follow along, and not try to steer the action. Those times I tried to force the issue by pointed questions about how people felt about being treated "like that", they more often than not shrugged and let it pass. But, it shall be said that they did create more trouble for themselves after a while anyway. I just wished they had responded like I wanted them too! Yeah, I know. They did well.

Now I want to run this game again, to see if it will differ as wildly as it seem to have done, in podcasts and forum posts. Interesting game.


  1. If this was the first time your players had encountered the game, it's probably reasonable to assume they need to get used to this new play style.
    Definitely run it again and share how it goes, using the same players if you can!

    Also - I find that a group of players with an interest in a little struggle over who's in charge can make things that much more interesting, due to Keys.

  2. Yeah, I'd love to play it again. It is a very special game with pre-gens and all, but at the same time so very primed for replay.


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