Following on from the help everyone gave me in this thread
, we played Lady Blackbird. I was running it, and we had five players for the five main characters. We haven't finished it yet, but we got a goodly way through. Lots of hilarity and action and tension. The players universally told me they really enjoyed it, which is great. This is the first time any of us have played anything free-form or improvisational. The quieter players found it hard to come up with things on the spot, and so ended up doing less, but they both told me they enjoyed listening to the other three mess around.
Here is the full actual play
on my blog. Please do go read it!
A few highlights for me:
When The Owl
was plummeting out the side of the The Hand of Sorrow with engines not yet engaged. Kale was in the engine room and Snargle was in the cockpit and the two of them yelling and cursing at each other the intercom was hilarious. "Pull the lever, Snargle!". I interjected that there were two levers, one labelled "Do not pull" and the other "Meatballs". The look on their faces! The engines juddered into life a few lines of dialogue later with meatballs raining down on top of Snargle's head.
Also, Kale's plan to disable the Hand of Sorrow (well, Kale's execution of Cyrus' plan) was to blow up the whole engine room whilst standing next to the engine. I got to use the "Dead" (presumed) condition very early on, and again, that really shocked them. I let Kale narrate his own entrance back into the story at a suitable juncture.
Things I'd like to improve: It was very action-packed, and I feel we didn't get to develop the characters much. I need to learn to ask better questions, to set up better refresh scenes. I realized I wasn't coming up with many good ideas for these, so I asked the players what they thought would be interesting dynamics to explore. However, the players came up fairly blank at this, so until they get more used to this I need to lead the way better!
I also felt... it's hard to explain this. That the game felt less real to me? The players didn't feel this at all. But the freedom I had as the GM to introduce pretty much anything made it all feel a bit arbitrary to me. The players seemed to feel the risk and surprise of it, so I was apparently doing a fair enough job at projecting real consequence to their actions. But since behind the scenes I was just making it up as I went along, and since they were shooting from location to location, it felt a bit like just a series of random whimsies on my part. I am thinking that if I can get some better recurring antagonists and so on things will be less random.
Thank you @John_Harper
for your lovely game!
(Note, my players read the blog... although it doesn't make much difference when I'm planning ahead so little)