Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Lady Blackbird Actual Play: Session 1

The Wild Blue

Used under licence from Lady Blackbird
After looking forward to it for some time, we recently played Lady Blackbird by John Harper for the first time. In this post I don't intend to say anything about Lady Blackbird, or to review, or even to discuss how our session went - I'm just posting the write-up of what happened. The idea being that people looking for examples of how the game might go can find one here.

Our first session played in about 4 hours plus breaks. It was very action orientated. I look forward in future sessions to hopefully having more character interaction and tough choices.

Warning - it's long! Lady Blackbird starts with the crew of the Owl in the brig of the Hand of Sorrow. Read more about the starting situation here.

  • Kale drew Essence from the lights to shatter the lock. Failure, so he sets the whole room on fire, shatters the whole cell door, and alerts all the guards
  • Cyrus positions the three of them by the door while Naomi smashes their separate cell open. When the three marines pile in Cyrus takes them down in hand-to-hand while Snargle distracts them with scary Goblin hissing and crest and Kale Light spells them with a flash.
  • Guard’s room: they get their things back, loot the guards. Yellow alert flashing and sirening. Plan: let’s get to the engines (opposite direction from the Owl) with the men disguised as marines.
  • Natasha tries to use magic to knock out the alarms, but only succeeds in upgrading it to a red alert.
  • They fast talk and then knock unconscious the engine room guard. Cyrus and Kale go in to the deafeningly loud engine room. The engine room is huge and the engine takes up most of the space. Lots of people rushing around, lots of steam.
  • Kale reverses the primary valve whilst Cyrus runs for his life. Huge explosion that rocks the ship. Kale is presumed dead.
  • It turns out that Natasha convinced Snargle to head for the ship. They make their way until they reach a bulkhead checkpoint. A captain on duty here, with three marines.
  • Natasha tries to be imperious and ladylike but rolls badly and the captain realizes she shouldn’t be there - and that the marine with them is a sky goblin.
  • Cyrus arrives, having torn off after Natasha, and aids Naomi in beating up the troops. Cyrus puts on the Captain’s uniform.
  • Kale’s voice comes over the intercom but is cut off.
  • The lights all switch off and Snargle scouts ahead in the dark, skittering along the ceiling pipes on his claws. The coast is clear.
  • Just then, a hairless and scalded Kale drops out of an air vent in the ceiling onto Snargle. Before they leave he proceeds to McGuyver a trap in the checkpoint. The others run for their lives - wisely, as it blows up in his face, leaving him injured - bruises and concussion. Cyrus hauls him along.
  • They make their way to the hanger, which is vast (think Star Wars). There is confusion, with marines and engineers rushing every which way in the dark - and The Owl is about to be jettisoned over the side.
  • Snargle spreads wings he didn’t have before and glides over, dodging fire and doing aerial acrobatics.
  • Meanwhile, the others commandeer (with Cyrus as an officer) a nearby fighter ship (it’s a tight squeeze).
  • Snargle drops into the pilot’s seat just as it tips over the edge. He gets the engine going but is in a steep dive by the time they get going.
  • The others are just out of the Hand of Sorrow when Commander Clayholt’s voice comes over the intercom. He knows its Cyrus, his old companion and now enemy. He tells them to give it up and for the pilot to turn the ship around. Cyrus leans on the throttle and doesn’t let the pilot do so.
  • Hand of Sorrow opens fire on both the Owl and the fighter. The pilot ejects, then the engine on the fighter is holed and it goes into a tail spinning nosedive.
  • Cyrus warps Natasha over to the Owl, which alarms Naomi, but there isn’t time to explain (“Just trust me”).
  • Snargle, in some crazy piloting, and assisted by Natasha’s wind magic, brings the Owl into matched velocity and spin with the diving ship and harpoons it. But he fails the roll - I tell them I’ll explain how in a moment.
  • Kale is vomiting all over the place - concussion plus weightlessness don’t agree. Cyrus throws him over the gap into the open cargo hold, and Naomi and he follow. Natasha’s wind magic makes all this possible.
  • They cut loose from the fighter - but just then that failed roll comes back and the Owl’s engines die. They plummet into the corrosive lower depths.
  • They slap Kale into a semblance of consciousness and he uses some parts he stole from the Hand of Sorrow to get the ship working again. He yells over the coms for Snargle to pull the two levers on the right. “What, the ones labelled ‘meatballs’ and ‘never pull’?” Those ones. The engine coughs back into life and they level out.
  • But they are low on fuel, and the ship is crippled - they can’t gain altitude and only go slowly, and they have four hours before the corrosion gets through the protective coating.
  • Natasha and Cyrus have a shouting match over the mess he’s made of things, and Cyrus makes out that this is ordinary living on the Owl.
  • Meanwhile, Naomi patches Kale up, and they talk about Kale’s previous experiences of hijinks with the captain. Naomi hints at her past, but doesn’t reveal much.
  • Kale gets to work fixing the engine properly. Snargle tries to figure out where they are from the charts.
  • Naomi catches Cyrus taking a hit of some green-glowing drug. He explains that it renews his warpblood powers. He hints at his past in the military, where promotion to a shock troop officer status came through developing these powers. We learn more in a flashback where Clayholt tries to get Cyrus to complete the mission by shooting a slave woman in the head. Cyrus refuses.
  • The engine is working again (although maybe not for long). They begin ascending cautiously. By now nearly 2 hours have passed.
  • They find a dead sky squid entangled in the wreckage of a sleek pleasure ship. Natasha recognizes it as the ship she and Uriah went squid hunting in. She doesn’t say anything.
  • Cyrus gets into the one working Miasma suit, and Kale patches up the dodgy one (brotherhood right there). They attach themselves to the ship and Kale jump magics them across (literally a big jump).
  • On board Cyrus nearly gets flattened by a falling arm from the squid, but chops off a bit to take back to Snargle. He finds fuel that’s survived the miasma. Kale loots a safe. As an aside, it turns out that skyship fuel is essence-infused squid oil (or maybe sky whale oil, no one is sure).
  • Just as they are getting ready to go back, the ship begins to fall from the squid’s grasp. Cyrus grabs Kale as he falls and then warps him (along with the fuel) back to the cargo hold. He then begins to inch his way up the rope, using his survivor trait.
  • He gets there, but only just as the cable snaps and he heaves himself up by the fingertips into the tiny airlock.
  • Natasha grabs the safe, opens it with the combination, and retrieves the wine and two glasses inside. She offers it to the captain as a peace offering, but he’s not buying.
  • They rise further, up into the open blue, and head towards Haven. As they travel, they all gather round the mess table to share the wine (Snargle eats the tentacle) and we learn more about Snargle and his extended cousins. OOC we learn that Natasha knew that Uriah had a sky goblin crew mate before she met him. Maybe it was Snargle?
  • They arrive in Haven and split up. Snargle and Kale to get more fuel, and the capacitor they need to get the ship really up to speed. Cyrus doesn’t tell the others where he’s going, but it’s off to a bar he knows to get information - he’s suspicious of his passengers. 
  • Natasha and Naomi have a conversation in the cabin where Natasha admits she doesn’t know how to find Uriah, and she’s not even sure that he’ll still want to help them - but that the “project” is the priority, and if Uriah won’t help them, they just have to do it alone. Mariah Connolly is mentioned in connection with this as a women who help escaped slaves. They head out into Haven to find out what the rumour mill is saying - rather like Cyrus.
  • Kale hits upon the idea that instead of buying parts, they could steal them from another ship in the big, poorly patrolled, sunbaked space of the landing docks. Snargle uses his new mimic tag to look very similar to a man they see near a ship, and spins him a line about being his long lost brother and then darts into a shadowed space behind the ship. The guy draws his gun and follows, whereupon Kale thumps him and they steal his clothes to make Snargle’s disguise complete.
  • Snargle walks up the ramp and immediately finds a tough who recognises him as the captain and asks him about the job - is it still going ahead? Snargle tries to bluff his way through, but the guy draws a knife on him ands holds it to Snargle’s throat. 
  • Snargle shifts shape to get the drop on him and escapes and Kale comes up from behind and knocks the guy unconscious.
  • Meanwhile, Cyrus goes to a seedy quarter and to a pub called the Slaver’s Hand. It’s a pub affiliated with the anti-slavery movement, and Cyrus has friends there because of the way he left the military.
  • He meets up with August, the barman to ask for rumours. August tells him about Lady Blackbird and the blood hunters who are after her. Cyrus puts two and two together and heads back to the ship.
  • He almost bumps into Natasha and Naomi, who spot him in these streets. Naomi knows the Slaver’s Hand from when she escaped from slavery. They get a table and try and eavesdrop on rumours.
  • Abel, a tall, muscled guy who was a pit-fighter with Naomi, comes over and says Hi. He’s now running a “mostly legitimate” business out of Haven. They ask him what’s going on, and he tells them about a plague in Nightport. He tells them that there are active slavers in disguise on Haven, and that they should come to a meeting with him where something is going to be done about it. They decline and start heading back to the ship.
  • Back to Kale and Snargle. They search the ship and discover it’s an empty slaver ship (on Haven!). They find the parts they need in the engine room. Kale, in character so far, decides to randomly sabotage the ship. Just then they hear voices echoing over the ventilation. It’s the port authorities come to raid the ship!
  • Snargle takes the capacitor and jumps into the rubbish chute to get away. Kale’s plan is to lock himself in a slave cell(!) and wait for the port authorities to free him. But Snargle gets stuck in the chute, and once Kale’s used his picks to lock himself in the cell’s electrification jumps to life. They are now both Trapped.
  • Gunfire is heard as slavers on the ship (who Kale and Snargle hadn’t bumped into) fight off the port authorities. Then one of the slavers tries to take off without their captain, and the engine explodes. The ship is now on fire and smoke begins to pour into Kale’s cell.
  • Cyrus gets back to the docks, finds The Owl empty, sees the slaver ship broken in half and billowing smoke, puts two and two together and rushes over.
  • Meanwhile, Natasha and Naomi meet Abel in dark alleyway... with two bloodhunters in tow. Naomi tries to shoot them as they run at her with swords drawn, but misses. Not to worry, as she easily disarms and defeats them with a bare fists. She decides to kill them - she is serious about protecting Natasha. Abel pales and runs off. They don’t pursue - they need to get off Haven before more hunters find them
  • They get back to The Owl and yell over the comms, “Where are you? We need to lift off now!” Cyrus says he’d like to know too. Kale explains, and the women acts as a comms relay.
  • Cyrus grabs a miasma suit helmet off the wall and another one for Kale and then dives into the smoke. He makes his way to the cell that Kale said he was in, but stumbles on the way, cracking his mask. He takes a deep lungful of smoke and falls unconscious inches from Kale’s cell - and in fact, briefly touching it, getting an electric shock.
  • Snargle’s chute melts and he manages to squirm away from the hot metal to fall into the inner workings on the ship. Which are on fire. He tries to make his body snake thin and squirm out of an exhaust port.
  • Kale reaches through the bars while woozy from the smoke and grabs Cyrus’ gun to shoot out the lock. He then takes the working helmet - to put it on Cyrus! Brotherhood in action. He then crawls under the smoke, dragging Cyrus with him. They emerge into the fresh air and he falls unconscious.
  • Cyrus revives in time to have snake-Snargle fall on his head. They help Kale back to the ship and as soon as they are on board lift off flying through the turbulence as the slaver ship finally explodes altogether.

And they still don’t know how to find Uriah in the remnants! Off to plague-ridden Nightport...

Much of the flavour is missing in this write-up, but it was long enough as it was!

1 comment:

  1. I also posted about this on Story Games, on this thread