As previously announced, I ran Black Feather Blade at Dueling Grounds in Toronto, Ontario for Free RPG Day 2016. Joining me were Heather Bishop and Morgan Clayton, who were part of the original playtest group, to run the NPC groups of Duani and Seldon Esh respectively. If you are running this game at a convention (or otherwise) and can take the opportunity to allow players to run the NPCs, the adventure will be all the better for it.
Black Feather Blade was designed with two Robert E. Howard stories in mind – The Black Stranger (aka The Treasure of Tranicos) and Hills of the Dead. If you are fortunate enough to read both before running the adventure, it will be to your benefit. In The Black Stranger, Conan has to deal with other groups who are after the same treasure as he is. Because each group is roughly balanced, politicking and exploiting events becomes the order of the day. The likely culminating events of Black Feather Blade is an homage to Hills of the Dead.
We only had three other players, but two of them were author Marzio Muscedere (Steel and Fury) and author/artist Elias Scorsone (Wrath of the Frost Queen and Dungeon of the Dragon Master). Marzio also has a new adventure in the works with Purple Duck, Death Slaves of Eternity – look for it this July!
Six PCs entered. Two PCs survived. Spoilers follow. Select text to read.
- The first PC death was due to the giant dire mole. The mole managed to survive the adventure, much injured, having retreated into its tunnels.
- For the first time running this adventure, I have seen players explore all six burial mounds.
- A certain curiously carved silver whistle was found, but the players had the good sense not to blow it.
- Great use was made of the “sacrifice chain” mechanic. We actually got to the “lover or family member” option because, when his wizard died, Elias decides that he and his elf PC had been lovers. When his elf fell to a swarm of corpse parts, I let him use the accumulated Luck to modify the “roll over” check to see if the elf survived, but sadly Malotoch’s favor was not enough!
- Once the titular Black Feather Blade was found, there was a three-way combat in the final tomb, with a swarm of corpse parts attacking everyone involved. What fun!
Free RPG Day swag included the Goodman Games preview of DCC Lankhmar and Mutant Crawl Classics, as well as Slügs! for Lamentations of the Flame Princess. Without going into spoilers, both scenarios from the Goodman Games release are excellent, and if you did not pick this up you should try to get the pdf when it appears on RPG Now. I am a fan of Lamentations of the Flame Princess, and found Slügs! an amusing read, but I don’t think I would use it much at the table. It’s a sort of mini-bestiary, containing a bit more goofiness than grit. But then, who knows? Some of the slügs described are potential denizens of ruined Toronto once I get Toronto Crawl Classics up and running….!