The Obsidian Eagle: A Lady Blackbird hack

Here is The Obsidian Eagle, a setting-hack of John Harper’s Lady Blackbird.

Back before Apocalypse World came out, Lady Blackbird hacks were all the rage, but I never got around to playing any of them.  Since we’d just finished playing Cogs, a two-year campaign of Steampunk Dystopia with some heavy influence from Firefly, a different Steampunk Firefly take didn’t really appeal.  But I liked the simplicity of the system and the completeness of the module, so I wanted to do SOMETHING with it.

Well, so a week and a half ago we invited one of Bekka’s IRL friends to join us on Skype for a one shot, and we decided on Sword-and-Sorcery as the genre.  That implied the possibility of In A Wicked Age, of course, but honestly in the games of IAWA I’ve played the system hasn’t really clicked for me.  Plus, Bekka has had bad experience with competitive-player-character games, in which all the PCs are pitted directly against each other.  So, long story short, I decided to try giving Lady Blackbird a try, but using IAWA’s oracle system to come up with the situation.  The Obsidian Eagle is the result: I think the most obvious IAWA material in it are probably the character names (most of them, anyway), and the fact that Gorbeh Sahra is a girl with the soul of a leopard (which is an oracle element I’ve always thought was cool.

The longest bit of prep was definitely the city map of Sharukish; it’s the first city map I’ve done in a long, long while, and for the most part I’m happy with how it turned out.  It was a learning experience, to be sure.

We played the first session over Skype last night, and it seemed to really well!

Bekka played Zatika Eil-Bet, the Bandit Queen
Hannah played Ehsan Baryamin Gemegishkirihalat, the crippled older brother of the God-Emperor
Tyler played Ammit Sahandir, the Apprentice Sorcerer

The two other pregen characters, Gorbeh Sahra (the girl with the Leopard’s soul) and Freydron Leir (Zatika’s bodyguard, a barbarian), were played as NPCs.

We began in the Grand Market, where Zatika and Freydron were mingling with the crowd while they waited to sneak into the palace to attempt to steal the Obsidian Eagle.  A crash and an overturned cart announced the arrival of Gorbeh, pursued by several Imperial Guards.  Gorbeh fled to the top of a lamp-post, and although the guards were stumped as to how to get her down, she was stuck without an escape.  Zatika, hitting her “sympathy” key, paid a nearby street urchin to pickpocket the guards’ orders, which provoked one of the three guards to give chase.  Meantime, Ehsan and Ammit arrived at the market separately (Ammit guided by a magic jewel given to him by his master, and Ehsan because he’d arranged for Gorbeh’s escape and this was the most logical place for her to flee).  They arrived to see a big commotion, which turned out only to be the stray guard pursuing Zatika’s hired street urchin.  However, the drama did draw them both together, and recognizing each other they joined forces (at least temporarily) to look for Gorbeh.  They began trailing backwards in the direction from which the guard and the urchin had come.

This led them to the scene with Gorbeh and the guards, as well as Freydron and Zatika.  Ammit immediately recognized Freydron, and while Zatika knew Ehsan by sight, he did not see through her clever disguise.  In either case, she and Freydron decided it was time to move on, and fled down an alleyway.  Ehsan, drawing on all the authority invested in the Emperor’s brother, demanded to know what the guards were doing.  By now, one of the guards had tried to climb up the lamppost and he and Gorbeh had both fallen off, collapsing into the other guard in a tangled mess.  The guards stood quickly up, managing to keep hold of Gorbeh as they tried helplessly to answer Ehsan’s questions.

That’s where we left off; we’ll be picking it up again next week.  In all, I think it was a success; everyone seemed to have a good time, and the relationships between the characters started coming to the front almost immediately.

Anyway.  Download the file, give it a read, and let me know what you think.  I’ll be working soon to clean up the pdf, as it’s still very first-draft-ish at the moment.  Watch the blog for updates.

Arkham Horror as an RPG

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Here’s something I want to do someday: Turn “Arkham Horror” into an RPG.  Here are some ideas toward that end:

  1. Keep the characters and their stats the same.  You should be able to play the Arkham Horror RPG with the characters from Arkham Horror, out of the box.  One problem with this is the special abilities, and the starting position.  They might need to be ignored or changed somehow.
  2. Keep the basic mechanics the same. D6 pools, choosing between going fast and being sneaky, Sanity/Health, all that.
  3. Keep clue tokens, but tie them to the fiction less abstractly.  “You start with three clue tokens?  Okay, so what are your three clues?”
  4. Construct the scenario via a timeline like Dogs In the Vineyard’s town generation or Apocalypse World’s countdown clocks.  Keep Doom tokens to do the counting down.  “What would happen if the Investigators didn’t show up?”
  5. Monsters and combat would work the same basic way, but of course we’d want to make room for custom monsters and interactions with people/social “combat”

Of course, for rules-lite Cthulhu it’s hard to beat Cthulhu Dark by Graham Walmsley.   Still, I love the flow of AH, and I think it could be adapted fairly easily.

How would you play Arkham Horror as an RPG?  What would you keep?  What would you throw out?  What would you add?