Home > Gaming > [Lady Blackbird] A Meeting, A Pirate & A Bloody Nose

[Lady Blackbird] A Meeting, A Pirate & A Bloody Nose

Read the Intro, First Session Report, Second Session Report, Kale’s Second Session Report, Third Session Report and Kale’s Third Session Report.

The curse has been broken! By that I mean the curse that kept me from playing with the rest of the group since September (which isn’t entirely fair, as in there we had the High Holy Days and our move to a new apt, but alongside days when it all seemed like it would work, then it didn’t). But that’s the past and last night I got to rejoin the crew of The Owl for the penultimate session of our Lady Blackbird game. (There have been two sessions since the Third Session linked above, but no reports have been written for those.)

A Meeting

The game started with a flashback to the moment when the crew of The Owl met Lady Blackbird and Naomi for the first time. Yes, we went for the trope and we actually met in a tavern called The Harping Monkey and we basically recreated the set-up of the moment when Luke and Obi-Wan meet Han Solo in Mos Eisley. It was a simple scene, full of loaded statements that alluded to situations we had already played through. At one point Rich actually flashed us forward to the present, to the crew atop the Owl as it nears a storm in the aether trying to get the savage elf-girl Briaria to not kill the pirate she has in a lock and knife pressed into his neck.*

Personally, I had little to add here; I was getting back into character with Kale and trying to get a grasp of our situation going forward. I put out two flags during this part, sending some stuff Rich’s way to see if he wants to run with it:

  1. When we first meet Lady Blackbird, she’s wearing a hood. The moment she takes it off and we see her face, I went pale and tense, muttering “Oh, shit” under my breath. I leaned over to Vance and said, “That’s Lady Blackbird. We have a big problem.” I stayed out of the fee conversation, except to demand that she double her very generous figure, though Vance actually lowered it for her.
  2. Atop the Owl, wind beating all around, when I take a look, my first look, at the savage elf-girl, I yell out, “Briaria, what the HELL do you think you’re doing!” The rest of that scene I acted it as if I knew to some extent this girl.

Whether either of these offers gets picked up, we’ll see. I’m personally far more interested in the first one. It actually ties to something else that happened right at the end.

A Pirate

Once inside the Owl with Briaria and the pirate, Torres, we split into two groups, with Naomi and Vance having a chat with elf-girl, while I went to get Torres patched up and fly the ship as fast as possible to the next stop, Nightport. It turns out that Torres and I know each other, and I ran with that. Our chat was short but full of neat nuggets, most important being the one where I asked, “Did you get the message out to Flint?” Now Torres was my accomplice, and suddenly the only one outside of the crew to know of our cargo and mission. We discussed our need for a pilot to navigate the last part of our voyage, and Vance eventually showed up to talk to Torres though only through me, even though they were standing not five feet apart. I chided Vance for letting the ship get out from under his control; “It’s your ship, man, so act like it.”

Here I had a good chance to get into Kale’s skin finally. He wasn’t the nervous Steve Buscemi-esque guy he’s been so far, but that was fine because the company was different (it’s with Lady Blackbird that he gets all tongue-tied). I didn’t quite catch the ramifications of bringing in Torres, an outsider, into knowledge of our secret cargo and mission, but it wouldn’t be long before I did. I also enjoy the moments when Vance and Kale get to trade quips; these two are best friends, and when Chuck plays Vance, even though I’ve actually never met him outside of the game, we click just great in how we portray the relationship between the two buddies.

A Bloody Nose (And More)

Upon reaching Nightport, we bid goodbye to Torres. I called in the return favor for having healed him after his encounter with Briaria, and asked him to lead his pirate crew away from us long enough for us to reach Flint and finish our mission; he agreed. Vance and I realized that we indeed needed a pilot so the search for one we could trust began in earnest. Meanwhile, Naomi decided that just having had this pirate on board was enough to suspect him of putting Lady Blackbird in danger, so she decided she was going to kill him. I as a player decided that I did not like that and would oppose her attempt, so after some back and forth figuring out how, we got to that scene. This is the point where things took a dark turn and Kale went from the Steve Buscemi above to this:

Naomi tracked Torres down to a house where he had been having a bit of a romp. As she was about to knock on the door to deal with the pirate, a thrown knife thunked into the door right where her hand would’ve been, courtesy of me. “What are you doing” I asked. She started with some babble about security and safety and Lady Blackbird and the pirate. I told her that she need not worry about him, and of course she could not believe that I would trust a pirate. Mind you, she doesn’t know for sure that Torres knows about the mission and was actually helping us, she’s just going on a barbarian’s hunch. But apparently she doesn’t trust me either, so what be done; she has issues. I told her flat out, “I’m gonna tell you something once and only once, so please pay attention.” She doesn’t. She starts blabbing about this and that and how she’s going to protect her charge and blah blah blah.

When she finally shut up, I just flat out told her, “Listen, if I wanted you captured, you would’ve been captured already. If I wanted you dead, you would be dead already. Can we both at least agree on that?” Simple question, right? Nooo, she has to start yappin’ again about honor and duty and a bunch of other bullshit I did not pay attention to. “Naomi, it’s a simple yes or no question. If I wanted you or Lady Blackbird captured or dead, that would’ve happened already. Yes or no?” More words other than yes or no start to pour out of her mouth. “Geez, you talk a lot for a fighter! Yes or no? That’s all I’m asking for, yes or no? Yes or no? YES OR NO!”

I guess I kinda asked for it. She just went berserk and bull-rushed me. I tried to weave out of the way, but damn, she was fast. (Mick rolled 14 dice and I rolled 12 – Mick beat me by 2 successes.) Naomi tackled me to the ground and started to lay into me with the fury of a wild beast. Punch, punch, punch, punch, punch, punch. Through the punches, through the ringing in my ears, through the thump of my head being slammed against the ground, I could hear her saying something about talking to her like that, that only two people could, blah blah Lady Blackbird. And that’s when I realized it. That’s when I started to laugh.

I guess this threw her off and she threw me off against the side of the building (from which Torres was now long gone). I just kept laughing, cause I finally understood Naomi, and she was so wrong about so many things. Through the swelling, through the falling teeth, through the blood in my mouth and the pain in my ribs every time I said a syllable, I told her so. I told her how deluded she was, how much of a fool she was. And then I gave her the key to it all. “And that Lady Blackbird you worship so much, she’s not the paragon of virtue you think she is. But you’ll find out soon enough.”

As she walked away, leaving me in a serious amount of hurt, I laughed once more, because I now had Naomi’s number, and thus, Lady Blackbird’s as well.

We called scene and session at this point, frankly all of us surprised the story had gone to such a dark place all of a sudden. No one had been planning on anything even like this, but it just emerged, which is fantastic when it happens organically in a game.

We have one more session planned to finish the game by the end of the year, so it will be very interesting to see how the saga of Lady Blackbird comes to a close.


* How we got to this point is something I only know second-hand. Briefly, we were “attacked” by pirates with whom we had made a deal to get info on the location of Pirate King Flint, and somehow this savage elf-girl that followed us from Nematron (session 3, above), since she’s starstruck with Naomi, killed a whole bunch of pirates thinking she was helping us, in turn souring the deal with the pirates and getting them now on our tail as well.

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  1. December 18, 2009 at 12:05 PM

    Great AP, Daniel! I love seeing your point of view on how things played out. That ending scene really cooked things up, I look forward to ending this with one heck of a bang.
    .-= Rich Rogers´s last blog… Canon Puncture 81: Game Advocates – Burning Wheel =-.

  2. December 18, 2009 at 12:12 PM

    Thanks. I’m hoping you and Mick will write one as well, because (a) Mick had very different episodes than mine, and (b) I wanna see how this played out from your point of view.

    #notsosubtlehint 😉

  3. Mick Bradley
    December 18, 2009 at 1:01 PM

    Well, I concur that this session DESERVES a detailed AP from my perspective, but I’m honestly not sure I’ve got the time to write in up in the midst of everything else I’m doing. But we’ll see.

    One thing is certain: My take on the overall conflict between our characters is undoubtedly different than yours, Daniel. (And I DO mean yours and mine, not just Kale and Naomi’s) But that adds to the fun and I think it made for some great conflict.

    Lots of subjective stuff happened that I would describe from a different angle, but that’s good because it is all subjective, as it should be. But there is one objective factual error to correct: we established that Naomi overheard Kale’s conversation with Torres just before Torres left. Naomi DOES know that Torres knows the secret. And since Arkham follwed her around while she was stalking Torres, I suspect it is also true that Arkham suspected she’d overheard it.

    But you’re right about one thing: Naomi does indeed think Arkham is either a total idiot for trusting Torres OR he’s actually in league with Torres in some sort of plot that is not in Lady Blackbird’s best interest.

    As to your having my number … well, to be honest, dude, the fact that you missed the two most extremely important scenes between Naomi and the Lady has you – and Mr. Arkham – very much in the dark about where Naomi and the Lady are coming from. I assure you, no one is going to end up surprised that she’s not a porcelain doll with spotless panties. But we shall see.

    All of which proves one important point that you’ve made, D. A detailed report of what happened in the sessions you missed would be a big help to all of us being on a compatible page for the endgame. I’m not suggesting that you are currently not on a compatible page, but probably Rich and I ought to come up with a detailed AP, as you suggest.

  4. December 18, 2009 at 1:35 PM

    There’s a strange In Character/Out of Character mix in there, so comments like “I got your number” are very much to be taken in Kale’s voice. We did established that Naomi heard that conversation but not that Kale knew about it. Why Kale was following Naomi could’ve been for various reasons, and to be honest, I’d rather it be something other than he knowing she heard Torres and him talk. Likewise with whatever happened with Naomi and Lady B; Kale wasn’t there, so he’s making conjectures. (And if Kale was there being played by someone else, then I should’ve been told.)

    There’s a certain untold statement in your penultimate paragraph that says, Since you missed those sessions and pivotal scenes, I got the better hand and you’re at a disadvantage, so you’re not gonna be able to affect the story as you think you will be.

    Now, let me be VERY clear that I don’t believe that what you are saying, but it could be implied. And that worries me in the sense that you are 100% correct; any idea I may have had in mind of stuff to throw out as a potential flag to the game can be completely irrelevant because I lack pivotal information.

    So yeah, having the information that I am missing would be very helpful in helping me have a meaningful contribution to the ending of this game.

  5. Mick Bradley
    December 18, 2009 at 1:55 PM

    Well, all I mean to say is that your perception that Naomi will be rocked to learn that Lady Blackbird is not a paragon is shaky, because yes, you missed some important stuff. I totally don’t mean that as a slam on you, dude, but you did miss it.

    I don’t think your efforts are in any way completely irrelevant. You WILL have a meaningful contribution to the endgame, I have no doubt.

    But I will write up a report about my take on what happened in the scenes I’m thinking about, and hopefully that will give some context.

  6. December 18, 2009 at 2:32 PM

    Well, you and Rich have 2 weeks to enlighten me, then, so I don’t make an ass out of myself in pretending that I have this key piece of info that I’m hoping will throw a nice dramatic twist into our story only to find out what I’m thinking is baby’s play compared to what is already known.

  7. December 20, 2009 at 9:49 AM

    Mick, there’s something that had been bothering me and I was finally able to put my finger on it. Quoting from your post at Harping Monkey, in referring to Kale you describe him as:

    a manipulative loudmouth prick who thinks he knows more than everyone else in the Blue

    This doesn’t make any sense. Kale and Naomi have barely exchanged any words during this whole game. When they have, Kale has been a very subdued, nebbish person, especially if Lady B was around. I have never played Kale as a know-it-all except when with Vance as that’s part of their back-n-forth, and at no point have I tried to manipulate anything or anyone, except if anything now with Torres because he’s helping me complete the mission of delivering Lady B to Flint (which is the only thing I can concede that Naomi could interpret that way). Overall, Kale has been very much the Chewie type of first-mate.

    So it kinda raised an alarm during the game (though I decided to keep going along with it) and especially as I read your couple of comments from the other side, that Naomi would feel this way about Kale. How?

    I believe Arnold mentioned to me that he played Kale in some of the sessions I didn’t make it to, and if that is the case, and during his portrayal of Kale he ran afoul of Naomi, I wasn’t made aware so I could take that into account. If nothing happened, then in simple words, WTF?!

  8. Mick Bradley
    December 20, 2009 at 3:45 PM

    Okay, fair enough. I’ll give it my best shot. Let me start off by clarifying that the words you’re taking issue with are spoken from Naomi’s point of view and are thus subjective, in the same way that your description of events in the OP are mostly subjective from Kale’s POV.

    As Mick the player, I assure you that the only basis for Naomi’s distrust and distaste of Arkham comes from what you’ve portrayed in-game and what you’ve written in Arkham’s voice. None of it comes from Arnold’s brief portrayal or Rich’s occasional use of Arkham in NPC mode.

    On the other hand, do some of Naomi’s attitudes stem from moments of your portrayal that I heard as a player but Naomi did not experience as a character? Yes, probably. But not in any way that I think is over the line or inappropriate. We agreed that Naomi heard the secretive conversation between Arkham and Torres about Torres not telling what he knows and leading the pirates on a false trail, for example. Other moments have occurred where it seems to Naomi that Arkham knows – or thinks he knows – more than he’s letting on. Yelling at Briarea with authoritative recognition on the hull of the ship, for example. Successfully pointing a gun at her without getting your throat ripped out. Stuff like that.

    Maybe this isn’t your intent and my impression is WAY off, but I think you’re actually doing a brilliant job of portraying a guy whose true loyalties, motives, and agenda are very murky. And that is FUN! I’ve really had a great time playing off that and it was so cool how it came to a head in the last scene last week. So it actually surprises me that you’re wondering why Naomi doesn’t trust you.

    Ultimately, though, 90% of the “manipulative loudmouth prick know-it-all” labeling comes from the direct encounter our characters had in the final scene the other night. Other bits of it come from the encounter on the hull with Briarea. And all other nebbishy or subdued behavior behavior prior to those scenes by Arkham are now colored by what you did last week, which to me makes all the nebbishy subdued stuff feel like an act – like Arkham is hiding something.

    For clarity’s sake, for the rest of this comment I’ll be speaking AS Naomi and saying “you” in regard to Arkham, okay? That’s the clearest way for me to express it.

    You spoke with authority and foreknowledge to Briarea, as though you know her and can control her – Big red flag. You told me I have no idea what I’ve gotten myself into. You told me you could have easily neutralized or killed me any time you wanted to. You implied you know things about Lady Blackbird that would rock my world into rubble. You said all those things with a confidence and casualness that seem to be meant to make me feel small, stupid, and clueless.

    For these reasons I labeled you a prick who thinks he knows better than everyone. Because you are asserting that you know a whole bunch of things that I don’t know – and I infer that Vance doesn’t know, either – and you’re doing it in an extremely prickish way. Either that or you are batshit crazy – but even then you’re still being prickish.

    In an attempt to assert your superior will over my clueless barbarity, you gave me a series of orders and then attempted to demand that I reply to them with a yes or no answer, as if you have the authority to demand anything of me, or even the cohones to back it up.

    You threatened my life by asserting that you could easily dispatch me any time you decided you wanted to. But even more than that, you threatened Lady Blackbird’s life by either trusting a pirate with dangerous information OR being in league with said pirate, I don’t know which. Either way, you’re putting my Lady in danger.

    I am a bred-and-trained pit-fighter who grew up in slavery. I’ve been trained to thoughtlessly destroy any threat to my survival or to anyone under my sworn protection. I despise the empire and most other authority figures – except in cases where a person has clearly proven their worth in wielding such authority. My Lady has. Vance is well on his way. They can get away with a great deal of things with me because they possess the gravitas to back it up. You … not even a little bit.

    So you’ve told me what to do, told me you know more than I do, told me that my loyalty to the Lady is foolish, and tried to force me to cower to your superiority. Oh, and you claim to have the power to easily kill me.

    You are trying to manipulate me, you are acting like you’re better than me, and that you have both more knowledge and more power than I do.

    You are a manipulative prick know-it-all.

    But you’re right, I ought to apologize for calling you a loudmouth.

    Okay, back to Mick-voice now. Daniel, does any of this really surprise you? Are you attempting to portray your character differently than I’ve described?

    I actually hope not, because I really kinda like it. But if Arkham is not supposed to be coming off as manipulative, prickish, or know-it-allish, then I’m really misreading the tea-leaves.

  9. December 20, 2009 at 11:26 PM

    Ultimately there is a level of irrelevance between what I’m trying to portray and what you are perceiving, and that has been the case here. At this point, with only one session left, it’s better to run with it and see what happens, but had this been a longer-term game, yes, there would be corrections I’d attempt to make to the general perception.

    It’s just one game of many, so no biggie. We’ll see what comes out of it all and try to have the most fun in the meantime.

  10. Mick Bradley
    December 21, 2009 at 10:37 AM

    Facing the consequences of misunderstood motives between characters is a time-honored form of good story conflict.

    I think we’re in good shape on that count. So stick to your intent, I’ll stick to mine, and we’ll let things play out as they will. We just need to make sure Rich is aware of all this in case he wants to account for it in the endgame.

  11. December 21, 2009 at 12:23 PM

    @Mick Bradley
    Rich should be getting all our comments, so I’m gonna guess he’s aware.
    BTW, I hope this didn’t come across as whining, cause it wasn’t. But it is hard to come back to a game that is not GM-led after 2+ months, jump in cold turkey and hope that I can add meaningfully to the story again since there’s a huge gap I just have no knowledge of. I also have the pressure of trying to make this really fulfilling, considering it is probably the last regular game I’ll be able to play in months.

  12. December 22, 2009 at 9:07 AM

    @Daniel I wasn’t getting the comments emailed to me. Luckily, Mick pointed me back to it.

    This is some interesting stuff. some of my thoughts as I read through your banter.

    1. The scenes in particular where Lady Blackbird is revealed to have a bit of an edge that Daniel missed would be the flashback to when Naomi was first “hired” by Lady Blackbird. This established Lady B’s strength of character and also established Count Carlowe. It did not involve Arkam and would not have influenced his future conversations. The second one would have been when she used her stormblood magic to bring a huge storm cloud down on the Red Scourge when The Owl was escaping, something she bragged about to the crew. Since Lady B was more proud of herself for contributing, I’d say that didn’t make her seem too dark. Honestly, I could see how Arkam would still think of Lady B as a bit foppish, which is how I’ve portrayed her at times. I think Arkam laying down a hint that Lady B isn’t all Naomi thinks she is is a fair statement. Now, would Daniel have made that statement with the player knowledge of scenes missed, maybe… maybe not. That’s hard to say.

    2. I would say that in the last game session, we saw a side of Arkam we hadn’t before. Honestly, I did not catch the tone of familiarity that Arkam hinted at with Briarea in his AP and I feel stupid for missing it. I was trying so hard to set that scene up well I think I went into NPC tunnel vision. But I did enjoy the Arkam-Torres reveal. I like how Daniel was pushing hard to explain why Arkam had a goal of getting Lady B to the Pirate King, this is fitting for a game coming nearing completion.

    3. Could there be some play with player knowledge instead of canon established character knowledge going on? Maybe. Probably. I dunno if that is a bad thing, since in my mind, some of the character relationships have been touched on, but would have been there during scenes we didn’t play. Is Arkam a know-it-all? n the last scene, he played it a bit that way. Is Naomi a hyper violent chick with lots of paranoia? Definitely. Is anyone playing wrong? Not at all.

    I’m still having a bunch of fun.
    .-= Rich´s last blog… [MtB] friggin woot =-.

  13. December 22, 2009 at 1:48 PM

    @Rich
    Didn’t you subscribe to the comment thread when you posted? I assumed you had, thus why I thought you were getting the messages.

    In reply to:
    1. Again, a report on these sessions would be good. Obviously, even with that Arnold told me, there was a lot left out.
    I don’t know that Kale sees Lady B as foppish, but he does subscribe to the noble stereotype. I think Kale has encountered Lady B before (I hinted at that when we had the meeting flashback and he recognized her immediately the moment she took off her hood), and that’s why he’s always so nervous around her, and I think Kale may know a thing or two about her past. We’ll see.

    2. I think it’s okay if we let the flag I put out with Briaria go; I’m far more interested in the store with Lady B than with elf-girl (and this is fully understanding that to Naomi/Mick, it is a different story).
    As for the Torres thing, the way I see it, I have two VERY conflicting Keys, that of Brotherhood with Vance, and that of The Mission. By the time this game is over, I will have crossed one of them out of my sheet. We’ll see which.

    3. Nothing to add here, except I’m looking forward to next week.

  14. Mick Bradley
    December 22, 2009 at 2:20 PM

    1. When we got back onto the Owl after the incident at Nemetron, Lady Blackbird took Naomi to her quarters and took her to task for behaving so violently, taking such risks, and for – in Naomi’s interpretation – not growing far enough toward being a self-controlled humane woman. I believe there was even something from the Lady about her being ashamed and disappointed in Naomi. In any case, it got harsh, and Naomi was hurt and angry and lashed out verbally. In a nutshell, it was the first real argument the two women had been through, and the gist of it was that Naomi felt for the first time like the Lady was not asserting her strengths as a confident, capable woman but was instead asserting her power as a gentlewoman/noble.

    Anyhow, Naomi went back to her own quarters and got really really drunk. Arkham probably doesn’t know much about the actual gist of the argument, but he’d probably know that one occurred, and he’d certainly know about Naomi getting drunk.

    That’s part one of my “filling you in.” There’s more, but I don’t have time to write at this point.

  15. December 22, 2009 at 3:07 PM

    @Mick Bradley
    Cool, thanks for that.

  1. December 18, 2009 at 1:27 PM

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