In the first of the Freebie Friday segments, let’s look at a great, free, minimalist RPG from One.Seven Design, Lady Blackbird.
Lady Blackbird is an adventure module for 2-6 people. It contains a starting situation, setting, pregen characters, and quick-play rules perfect for a no-prep game of 1-3 sessions or more.
The designers go on to give a brief outline of the background to their game. Lady Blackbird is a scenario-based game, and this story is core the product:
Lady Blackbird is on the run from an arranged marriage to Count Carlowe. She hired a smuggler skyship, The Owl, to take her from her palace on the Imperial world of Ilysium to the far reaches of the Remnants, so she could be with her once secret lover: the pirate king Uriah Flint.
However, just before reaching the halfway point of Haven, The Owl was pursued and captured by the Imperial cruiser Hand of Sorrow, under charges of flying a false flag.
Even now, Lady Blackbird, her bodyguard, and the crew of The Owl are detained in the brig, while the Imperial commander runs the smuggler ship’s registry over the wireless. It’s only a matter of time before they discover the outstanding warrants and learn that The Owl is owned by none other than the infamous outcast, Cyrus Vance.
How will Lady Blackbird and the others escape the Hand of Sorrow?
What dangers lie in their path?
Will they be able to find the secret lair of the pirate king? if they do, will Uriah Flint accept Lady Blackbird as his bride? By the time they get there, will she want him to?
Go. Play. And find out.
This rulebook is only 16 pages long, of which only 14 are actually pages of rules. This also includes premade character sheets for each of the Owl’s crew. The rules are very straightforward, with a dice-pool system, that gives some limited resource management, and an interesting system of traits and ‘keys’ that really helps to define your character’s part in the story.
The game is very highly regarded, and is ranked at the 25th best RPG on RPGGeek.com, putting it ahead of a lot of highly regarded classics, such as Paranoia, Shadowrun and any of the World of Darkness titles.
Even if you don’t intend to play it, you should go pick it up and at least have a look, even if only for the wonderful example of design, and the interesting GM notes that would probably apply to most RPGs.