Often we play long campaigns that don’t have a stopping point in mind, and so the pace of the game can be quite casual. My preference is for short-run campaigns, or campaigns where there’s a time limit. No time to haggle over the price of blue-fletched arrows. There’s a sense that we’ve got to get to the meat of the story if we only have five or seven game sessions.

We’re playing Lady Blackbird. ((Get it at http://www.onesevendesign.com/ladyblackbird/)) Last year, I said we had five sessions, but I think we really had eight. But we got to some good points in the game. One of my favorites was Amy’s last scene in the game.


Let me see if I can pitch Lady Blackbird in one sentence: Imagine a steampunk Millennium Falcon adventure where Princess Leia is being transported to her secret lover by a smitten Han Solo.

Yeah, that’s pretty good.

So Amy is playing Lady Blackbird and during the whole trip, the Lady doesn’t have any chemistry with our captain and is actually looking forward to meeting her beloved pirate Flint when…it is discovered that her jilted fiance, Count Carlowe, and the pirate are working together, secretly meeting at the pirate’s base. Carlowe arriving on his private skyship, the Dagger of Light. Amy has taken this woman from someone with a rebellious streak to an even stronger person with a sense of independence and leadership. The Owl — our Millennium Falcon — was destroyed. Our Lady takes this moment, this revelation that the two men in her life were working against her all along, and looks at the four crew, her faithful companions and says this:

“So. Who wants to steal the Dagger of Light with me?”

Right there, that was it. The perfect ending for our tale of Lady Blackbird. Confident, in control. In command.

One year ago: Favorite new roleplaying game of the past 12 months.

I’m going to take this one as new to me, although I think it did come out in the past year. The Dracula Dossier, from Pelgrane Press. It’s spy stuff meets vampire hunting, based on the GUMSHOE-driven Night’s Black Agents game. NBA, I’m not too wild about: it’s the freelance/burned spies working together thing that doesn’t get me motivated. I’d rather it be an actual spy agency that gets the job done instead of the protagonists of Burn Notice. ((Where do they get their funding is the question I ask.)) My old group didn’t have a good time with the actual GUMSHOE system. ((Although GUMSHOE One-on-One looks good.)) But the presentation of The Dracula Dossier and the Dracula Unredacted book makes me want to pick up that thing.

Also, I’m assuming it’s difficult to bury the “…but you’re really going up against vampires!” bit of NBA when your burned agents start off out of the company. I’d rather lay that vampire thing down in the storyline and have it be the big reveal a few sessions in as the players go “What the hell? We’re so screwed!”

Two years ago: First game purchased.

I initially went with Twilight: 2000, but — speaking of spies — I think I’ll also look at Top Secret: S. I., a game I would have gotten around the same time. Around that time, the thing with roleplaying games is you had a group of protagonists that did everything as a group and that really isn’t how secret agents operate. The entire concept of individual spies working remotely just really didn’t work with 80’s RPG design and game play.

The thing that I really remember from the game session or two where we tried Top Secret was when we thwarted an actual terrorist attack.

See, we were in the empty attic in military housing over in West Germany — outside Campbell Barracks, to be exact. If you’re familiar with the area, we were on the side of Campbell between the actual base and the high school and could look down on the street that went up to Romerstasse, the main road. Also on that street was the entrance to the HQ of (I think) NATO buildings. And as we were taking a break after arguing if characters knew how to swim if they didn’t have the swim skill, one of us looked out the window and saw a parked car facing the entrance to the NATO building and inside that car were three or four men and in the laps of those men, hidden from the view of passersby, were submachine guns.

We called the MPs. The MPs were on the way, but was anyone else outside? Just some children playing in the courtyard. So we had to clear the kids out.

MPs showed up. Took the car away. Crisis averted. All because some kids pretending to be spies blew the cover of those guys.


  • Thomas

    Nah, you didn’t play asshole Han Solo. If I recall correctly, the way that you played Vance and Amy played the Lady, there wasn’t any chemistry between the characters — and that’s perfectly fine! We had a wonderful run of Lady Blackbird. There were many good gaming moments in there, but I think Amy’s decision to steal that ship (and us ending immediately after that decision was made) really was a fantastic moment of that game.

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