On August 7th, the topic is my favourite free game. I find it hard to pick favourites. There are so many great free games out there. Some of my favourites include Fudge by Steffan O’Sullivan and Lady Blackbird by John Harper.
I fell in love with Fudge when I first found it online in its little corner of usenet in the early 1990s. It came out in 1992 and I found it a few years after its release. I enjoy it as it provides me with a system using descriptors rather than just numbers. The game showed many options as it was meant as a universal system. Additional, I enjoy the stress system of health where only the worst injury counts and you don’t get worse unless you suffer a worse wound or enough small wounds accumulate. It provide a good mix of potential one hit knock-out and drawn out death by many blows. Fudge also provides basic tools to create your own game. Since then, there are many other games which Fudge spawned including a small game known as Fate.
Fudge released some various settings which I enjoyed. My favourite is Terra Incognita which I describe as National Geographic Society as a secret agency. You discreetly explore the world, use cool gadgets and have tea at four. A fun setting which focuses on exploration and dealing with problems in a non-violent manner.
I played Lady Blackbird at GenCon 2014 for the first time. The setting is a space steam punk scenario. You see some influence from Star Wars and Firefly in it. There are characters provided with some rules to create your own but you are highly encouraged to use the provided ones. Three characters are the crew of the Owl, a smuggler ship and the two other characters are her passengers, Lady Blackbird and her bodyguard . Lady Blackbird ran away from an arranged married and hired the Owl to be reunited with her secret lover, the pirate king Uriah Flint. Unfortunately, the ship gets caught in Imperial entanglements.
The dice mechanic is simple as it is a pool of d6 where a success is any result of 4 or above. If you roll enough successes then you succeed. Where the game shines, it is the keys attached to each character. They are goal in the adventure which the player can follow or ignore. If they follow, they get rewarded with experience which they can spend to change the character or buy extra dice in their general pool. Alternatively, you can do the complete opposite and buy off the key and replace it with a different one.
I found Lady Blackbird a very character forward game. There is no set path. You have a map of the galaxy, you have an initial set-up and folks have goals. How the group goes about it is left to the group. When I played at GenCon, Lady Blackbird revealed she had the jewel of the storm to give as her dowry to Flint. This led to dealing with the Underworld as my character tried to replace it with a fake to sell the original in the market. My character had the key of greed and key to accomplish their mission of delivering Lady Blackbird to Flint. He figured the jewel of the storm wasn’t part of the agreement. He failed hilariously. The jewel of the storm is purely a creation of the Lady Blackbird’s player.