Lady Blackbird: Wild Blue cosmology

The solar system in which John Harper’s Lady Blackbird takes place (the Wild Blue) is described in these terms:

The worlds of the Wild Blue float in a sky of breathable gases circling a small, cold star. … The heavier gases [known as the Lower Depths] form a dense layer of fog below the “sky” of the Wild Blue.

Trying to imaging the exact meaning of these sentences I came up with a few possibilities:

A. The breathable gases form a sphere encircled by a “shell” of heavier gases (darker in my sketches). You go “down” whenever you move away from the central star. You go “up” when you move towards the star.

B. The breathable gases surround the orbital plane of the worlds of the Wild Blue. If you move perpendicularly away from the orbital plane, you go “down” towards the heavier gases (so two opposite directions are both “down”). You go “up” when you move toward the orbital plane of the Wild Blue worlds.

C. The breathable gases surround the orbital plane of the worlds and extend in one of the two directions perpendicular to it. If you move in the opposite direction, you go “down”. Thinking in terms of the directions on the Earth, one could say that moving North you go up through the breathable gases, while moving South you go down. The Wild Blue is made of two hemispheres: an upper (Northern) one made of breathable gases and a lower (Southern) one made of heavier gases. You go “up” when you move North from the orbital plane.

I think that the idea I prefer is C, which is also the weirdest in physical terms. It possibly has some implications on the structure of the worlds too, since each world will have a Northern hemisphere facing the breathable gases and a Southern hemisphere facing the heavier gases. I guess that the quality of the air and the color of the sky could be different in different places of a planet.



Prep for Solo Lady Blackbird

A few weeks ago, I draw this sketch of the Hand of Sorrow, based on the 1912 American battleship Texas.


I have also drawn sketches of the main characters. Lady Blackbird and her bodyguard Naomi:


Cyrus Vance, Captain of the Owl starship:


Kale and Snargle, the crew of the Owl:


Finally, I created this simple die drop table to have some suggestions about the rooms inside the Hand of Sorrow and the entity (minor, normal, major) of the encounters. It is pretty generic and I can use this or something similar for other games.


Solo World Builder Dice Killer

Here is a solo session with World Builder Dice Killer by Jakob Lindsay.

The idea was to create a sketchy setting for my Dungeon Squad 2 games. It was great fun!

I used as an inspiration source the Golden Tarot by Kat Black.

The two opposing factions were the White Dice against the Red/Green Dice. I initially put two features in the center of the map:

* The Red Lakes: the first faction to have two dice on the shores could freely remove an enemy D6

* The Ghost River: to cross the river, a unit must roll > 2 or it is removed from play


I rolled all the dice on an A4 sheet, and most of the dice fell on the right of the Ghost River, with two white dice and one red D6 on the left of the river.

These three on the left were the origin of the first conflict, where I used Tarot cards to identify the units:

* White D6 (2 of Cups): the Horde of the Frog People

* White D8 (King of Swords): the army of Eskandar, the Skorpion King

* Red D6: the Rose Citadel of the Golden Queen


The citadel was easily captured by the White Armies.

The second battle occurred in the South:

* Green D10: the Fleet of the Green Leaf Elves

* White D8: the Black Pillar of the Thunder Dwarves


The Dwarves were doomed according to the rules, since they could never roll a 10 and defeat the powerful Elves. But their opposition lasted many turns.

More battles in the North:

Green D8: the Amazons of the Northern Hills attack

White D6: the Rat Queen

The Amazons obtained a quick win and moved towards the Red Lakes, were the final showdown was starting.


Two Red units (D6 and D8) reached the shores of the Red Lake: a White D6 (the Horde of the Frog People) was removed from the game.

White D10: Prince Greyfish of Vesperus attacks

Red D6: the Star fortress

Greyfish conquered the Star fortress, and soon after defeated the Amazons, who were never seen in the world ever after.

In the meantime, the Scorpion King successfully crossed the Ghost River and moved towards the East.

In the end, the Elves managed to conquer the Black Pillar and and they traveled North to join the fight on the shore of the red lakes (the kingdom of the Dwarves still exists in the Eastern Mountains).

The last dice to be defined was:

Red D8: the Lovers. King Kadmus and Queen Ewena: the last descendants of the Rose Kings.


Their army was destroyed by the joint forces of Prince Greyfish and the Scorpion King.


The Western conquerors must still defeat the army of the Green Leaf Elves. Even if outnumbered, the Elves manage to defeat Greyfish and finally the Scorpion King!

The Scorpion people still rule at the West of the Ghost River, and the Rose Citadel is still under their dominion. In the East, the Green Leaf Elven Princes rule from the Star Fortress.


DungeonSquad2: The Secret Cavern of the Rat Things!

So here is my first try at Dungeon Squad II, by Jason Morningstar.

The main characters are:

  • Glaukus the Silent: a Halfling Hero
  • Doratia the Curious: an Elfless Rascal (Doratia’s throws daggers which count as the arrows)
  • Ursus the Irascible: a Gnome Rascal (he knows a combat spell which was not used during this adventure)

(free Paper Friends miniatures by


I rolled the adventure name from the rules:

The Secret Cavern of the Rat Things!

I drew a simple isometric map while going, rolling for the encounters in each room. All the role-playing has taken place in the sketching of the setting, which I greatly enjoyed.

The first room was The Tomb of an Ancient Queen. Our heroes were confronted by three goblins (2 danger points each: total 6). Ursus gets wounded, but he and Doratia easily kill the three opponents.


The second room contains “An Idol of a long forgotten god”…a Rat God, I would say. A large trap occupies the center of the floor, and Doratia triggers it loosing 2 of her six hit points. From the left, two Rat Things enter the room and attack. Also this time, Doratia and Ursus do the work, while Glaukus keep timidly at a distance (2 Danger Points for the trap, 3 for each Rat: total 8 danger points for this room).


The third and last room is occupied by a Strange Fighting Machine, operated by a Giant Rat thing (4 Danger Points: the total is now 18 DP, equal to the total of the characters hit points). This time, Glaukus attacks first, but he is immediately badly wounded by the Giant Rat. Ursus hits the enemy first and Doratia finishes the enemy with a well aimed dagger.


I will likely work on some background for the characters, and try to add some story and interactions. But I greatly enjoyed this game “as is”. Drawing the map and the encounters on the fly has been fun. I am rather pleased with the simple, childish, look of the result.


The Bronze Plate 5/5: showdown in the Circular Temple

January 25th 1958: The cold war is raging on the Earth. On Mars, the war is not so cold. The NATO and the Soviet Union confront each other to gain control of the Red Planet. The two armies are fighting also in Martian city M17, with Sergeant Ratti leading a squad that escorts the anthropologist Petri in his search for Martian relics. Prof. Antjanov leads the opposing soviet squad.

Thanks to the Martian Bronze Plate, Antjanov can now open the doors of a circular temple in the Northern part of city M17.


Ratti and his guys are on the watch, and when the doors open they enter the building from the South, while the Soviets are entering from the North.


Inside the building a terrifying Martian robot performs the functions of a lethal automatic guardian. It moves randomly through the building, shooting at every turn whoever is in from of it.

The Russians can open the doors of the external rooms, so they move quickly through the building, looking for Martian artifacts. But the Italians are more lucky: they find a relic in the very first room and Verdi is quick to grab it.

Olenev reaches a minor plot point, but he is unable to understand how to remove it from the niche it is fixed to.

Golkin, who had reached the Eastern side of the building, is knocked out by the robot.

The Soviets open the door to the room in the Western area that contains the major plot point, but Ratti gets to it first. It is a strange cubic device!


Ratti is attacked by Antjanov and Berzenko. He is wounded, but he manages to resist.

In the meantime, Petri finds another minor plot point in a room on the opposite side.


Campano runs in support of Ratti and starts a furious fight with his well known adversary Berzenko. Verdi joins the fight too, while Olenev is still busy with the artifact he has found.


Both Berzenko and Campano go down. Antjanov is badly wounded, and the Italians leave the fight as winners. Verdi and Petri have a minor artifact each and Ratti proudly brings that strange cube to the NATO base. Hey, apparently some kind of map with craters and channels is engraved on the device!!! Without doubt, that will be the next place to explore!

The Bronze Plate 4/5: (Smash and Grab) a Martian iron shield

January 24th 1958: The cold war is raging on the Earth. On Mars, the war is not so cold. The NATO and the Soviet Union confront each other to gain control of the Red Planet. The two armies are fighting also in Martian city M17, with Sergeant Ratti leading a squad that escorts the anthropologist Petri in his search for Martian relics. Prof. Antjanov leads the opposing soviet squad.

Ratti is back in command of the Italian / NATO league. The four guys go searching for Martian artifact in an unexplored villa. Of course, they meet with Antjanov & C, who had exactly the same idea. In the center of the courtyard, there is a circular well at whose bottom something very interesting can be found.


The Nato squad enters from the Southern door, while the Soviets enter from the North.

Antjanov moves to the Western corner of the room to pick up a Martian artifact. Ratti goes straight to the courtyard, while Petri investigates the content of the Southern room.


Ratti reaches the border of the circular well, dodging all the shots of the Russians. Petri collects a minor plot point.


Ratti climbs down the well and is lucky enough to immediately find the major plot point: a Martian Iron shield.


Golkin fails his  first attempt at digging out a Martian artifact in the North-East corner of the courtyard. Berzenko shoots Petri down. Antjanov tries to reach the well to stop Ratti, but slips on the acid that covers the center of the courtyard.


In the last two turns, Ratti has to face the combined attacks of Antjanov, Berzenko and Olenev. He is hit twice, but he does not go down and manages to take the Martian shield home. Campano collects a minor plot point and knocks out Golkin.


A very enjoyable game, with the result uncertain until the end. One more shot, and Ratti would have dropped the Martian Shield.