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Castle Blackbird

A Dark 19th Century Game by GremlinLegionsTM

Based On:
Lady Blackbird by John Harper
Blackbird Pie by Jamie Fristrom
Ravenloft and Masque of the Red Death for AD&D 2nd Edition by TSR

With Inspirations:


Soul Eater by Atsushi Okubo

Berserk by Kentaro Miura
Priest by Min-Woo Hyung
Le Chevalier D'Eon by Tou Ubukata
Hellsing by Kouta Hirano
Koudelka by Yuji Iwahara

To Play, You Will Need:

These rules.
Copies of the dramatis personae provided in this document for
the players, or copies of the blank character sheet if they wish
to make original characters.
Writing utensils, and plenty of blank paper to write notes,
sketch maps, or to wad into balls and throw at the dog.
Six-sided dice in three colors white Story dice, and red and
black Effort dice. The players each start with one Story die,
and seven black Effort dice. Pools of additional dice should be
within easy reach of the players.
Red Experience tokens. The Game Master will have a pool of
them for later distribution six or eight per player should be
Plenty of imagination and enthusiasm.

And These May Be Helpful:

Hellboy and B.P.R.D. by Mike Mignola, from Dark Horse Comics
Gotham by Gaslight and The Doom That Came to Gotham by Mike
Mignola, from DC Comics
Gotham Central from DC Comics
Knights of Pendragon from Marvel Comics

Bram Stoker's Dracula
Dark Shadows
Being Human
Doctor Who, classic episodes State of Decay, The Talons of WengChiang, Image of the Fendahl, and Ghost Light
Torchwood, episodes Small Worlds and Countrycide
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The Murdoch Mysteries

Markers or miniatures to represent the characters and their

adversaries. While normally we'd discourage their use for a
narrative game, they can be handy sometimes to show relative
distances and positions.
Old atlas and city maps, Victorian-era photos, costume books,
and other visual references.
A book of names. This is useful for both GMs and players
alike, who may need to come up with names of friends,
contacts, and enemies on the fly, and wish to avoid a slew of
NPCs all named Sven or Hershel. Baby name books are
good, cheap, and readily available, though perhaps a little
embarrassing at the game table. We prefer Gary Gygax's
Extraordinary Book of Names from Troll Lord Games, which
guarantees you'll never have a duplicate name, ever again.

Version 05.20.11

Roleplaying Games
Call of Cthulhu and Cthulhu by Gaslight by Chaosium
Trail of Cthulhu by Pelgrane Press
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay by Games Workshop/Fantasy Flight Games

Works of Literature
Bram Stoker
Robert Lewis Stevenson
H.P. Lovecraft
Jules Verne
Oscar Wilde

Mary Shelly
Edgar Allen Poe
H.G. Wells
Arthur Conan Doyle

Heraldic Crests
PR Compass Rose

Medieval Dingbats
PR Astro

Image Resources:
Split Eye Productions

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
To view a copy of this license, visit
or send a letter to
Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300,
San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.

Europe by Gaslight

Secret Societies

The late 19th Century is a time of prosperity for the civilized

world, after the chaos and upheavals of the past century. During
the height of Victorian England and Europe's Belle Epoque,
the older nations expand and fortify their territories in the New
World, Asia, and the dark continent of Africa, while younger,
upstart nations like the United States and Japan grow in power
and prominence.

The courts and board rooms are not safe from corruption or
influence, often being manipulated by secretive societies and
criminal masterminds. These groups have exclusive memberships
and guard their plans under the guise of rituals and tradition,
while quietly gathering money and power to use for their own
ends. Some have actual, esoteric goals, whether the practice of
occult arts, the collection of hidden truths, and even the hunting
of legendary creatures.

The affluent classes of this time enjoy prosperity and amenities

that make their lives increasingly comfortable. The Industrial
Revolution introduces great advances in technology and
conveniences become more accessible to those with wealth and
power, such as telephones, electric lighting, and improved health
care and medicines. The elite are able to travel in comfort aboard
luxury steamships and locomotives, live and work anywhere
within Europe, and explore and gallivant to their heart's content.
Things are not so pleasant for the working classes and the poor,
and society's rapid modernization becomes a curse. Entire
neighborhoods become slums and stately homes become row
houses, in some cases with as many as fifteen people residing in
a single room. Life is difficult and unrewarding, and the average
person barely earns enough to sustain themselves, much less their
families. Both children and adults work long hours under terrible
conditions. The criminal classes fare only a little better, but more
opportunities are available through cunning and deceit. Knowing
what to steal, when to kill, and who to blackmail becomes a path
to power and prosperity for the most devious.

Civil Unrest
While international relations are relatively peaceful, after the
horrors of the Franco-Prussian War and the American Civil War,
this is by no means a time of social tranquility. New philosophies
and schools of thought spread through the intelligentsia and the
common classes alike, and some of the most dangerous ideas
find purchase with ambitious or fiery individuals. Some take
up the banner of social equality and economic empowerment,
such as the Feminists, Abolitionists, and Socialists. Others are
conservative, such as the Temperance League, fighting against
what they see as moral corruption. Others are more extreme, like
Communists and anarchists, who use intimidation, violence, and
even explosives to wreak terror upon the lives of the public.
The territories are also unstable, as the natives grow restless
under the yoke of colonial rule. Rising tensions from being
exploited by European businesses and governments eventually
turns to discontent and revolt. Across the developing world,
colonies suffer setbacks and sabotage, sometimes even rebellion.
Foreigners also emigrate to Europe, taking jobs as cheap labor
and personal servants. They bring with them their strange
traditions, addictive drugs, inscrutable methods and criminal

Foremost among these secret societies are the Freemasons

and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. The Masons
hold considerable influence in many corners of society, and
membership is seen as a secure path to success. While they keep
their membership hidden, their power and prominence makes
secrecy impossible, and whispers abound about which politician
or mogul might be found on their rosters. The Golden Dawn
seeks, instead, wisdom and eldritch power, gaining strength
through the popularity of spiritualism and mediums. Unlike the
Masons, they don't camouflage their existence, and have several
prominent and visible members, including entertainers, writers,
and eccentrics. Their stranger practices, however, are kept behind
closed doors, and would lead to scandal and even persecution if

Buried Horrors
Despite the reasoning and scientific advancement of this
era, superstitions still run rampant, and strange murders,
disappearances, and disasters will still be quickly blamed
on vampires, wolfmen, ghosts, and Satanists, particularly if
sensational claims sell newspapers. However, some incidents
will, indeed, have strange circumstances and events which baffle
the authorities and investigators, and there are many individuals
purporting psychic or magical powers, such as the Golden
Dawns own Alestair Crowley.
The gypsies will also tell disturbing tales of reclusive immortals
who control beasts of legend, and pull the strings of power in
royal houses and radical groups alike. They are called the Seven
Lords, described as heroes from a war lost to time who were
tasked with guarding mountain crypts of ebony and granite.
The passing centuries left their souls vulnerable to the horrors
they guarded, causing them to shrivel and die, leaving behind
demonic servants in the form of men. They have since turned
the stone prisons into massive fortresses and castles where evil
things grow. Scholars would label these legends as morality tales,
attempts to personify the Seven Deadly Sins of the Bible. Those
with close ties to the gypsies claim otherwise.

The Rules
When your character confronts a Challenge, whether a difficult
task, obstacle, or adversary, you will need to roll some dice to
see if he succeeds. Take your starting Story die, and add one if
you have a useful Trait, and one per applicable Tag related to
that Trait. Characters cannot use more than one Trait at a time. If
the collected Story dice don't seem like enough, you can spend
Effort dice to include applicable Tags from other Traits on a
one for one basis. If any of your friends are feeling generous,
they can give you one of their own Effort dice to your roll.
Take your dice and roll them. Each die resulting in a 4 or greater
counts as a Hit, and if the total equals or beats the Challenge,
you can describe how the character succeeds. All of the Story
and Effort dice used are discarded, with the exception of
the character's starting Story die. The GM will describe how
this affects the story, particularly if information or clues are
If the character loses, you discard the collected Story dice,
but keeps all of the Effort dice, and add one more to the pool
total, to a maximum of 10. The character's goal is out of reach,
maybe even lost, and the GM has the opportunity to escalate
the situation, such as by introducing a complication, bringing
in reinforcements, forcing a difficult decision, taking away an
advantage or Tag, concealing information, providing false leads,
or inflicting a Condition.

Magical Traits
Some Traits represent a collection of supernatural or arcane
abilities. These Magical Traits are marked with a u, and can be
used to perform feats or actions that are bizarre or unnatural. If
a Magical action fails, replace your Effort with red dice, instead
of black. These work normally for mundane Traits, but cannot
be used with other Magical actions. When red Effort dice are
used in future failed actions and returned to your pool, they can
be black again.

Earning Experience
While deciding your character's actions, you can declare that
one of your Tags is a liability in a particular situation, instead
of collecting a Story die, and suggest to the GM ways that
it causes events to escalate or become more complicated. For
example, a character's greed may get the better of him, and he
takes a bribe to look the other way as a crime is committed.
Or maybe an annoying child makes it difficult for some of his
companions to gain audience with a politician. As a reward for
adding tension or suspense to the story, the GM can give you
either one Experience token or one Effort die. You may also
decide that the Tag could be the cause of impending danger or an
immediate threat, causing a Challenge or possibly imposing a
Condition on someone. In this case, the GM would give you two
Experience tokens or two Effort dice (or one of each). A Tag
can only be used as a liability once per Session, so mark it off
afterwards to remind yourself which were used already.
When a character goes against a Tag that either represents a
major aspect of his personality or something important to him,
the GM may give you five Experience tokens. A coward could
show a moment of valor or bravery, or a wealthy heir could give
up their inheritance to help someone. In exchange, the character
loses that Tag permanently.

Conditions are effects and constraints that may be imposed on
a character as a consequence of his actions and failures. Exactly
how they affect the game will depend on the situation: they may
act as limitations against certain Traits or Tags; they can restrict
certain options for how the story progresses; they could be treated
like Challenges for the characters to overcome; or they may
simply be narrative cues on how the characters should act, or how
the world reacts to them. There are thirteen Conditions common
to Castle Blackbird, and the GM and players alike may feel free
to create new Conditions that better suit their own story.
Afflicted: The characters fitness or reasoning are diminished
by disease, poison, or possibly a curse. What might help him
Controlled: Whether through seduction, deception, possession
or hypnosis, the character's action are not his own.
Deceased: The character is presumed dead. Perhaps he is
missing or comatose, or perhaps he may rise from the grave.
Death need not be the end.
Deranged: Fear, insanity, or blind fury has made the
characters actions erratic, and his emotions uncontrollable.
Entrapped: You may be entangled by ropes, pinned in a
wrestling match, jailed, buried under rubble, or blackmailed
into inaction.
Exploited: The character is acting under false information, or
has been led astray through propaganda or illusions.
Exposed: Whatever secrecy or covert plans the character had
intended is now laid bare, with consequences to follow.
Fatigued: After prolonged combat, nightmarish dreams, or
exhaustive magics, the character's strength is spent, and he
must rest.
Indebted: Perhaps you owe a favor, have a stack of unpaid
bills, or swore a blood oath. Debts must eventually be paid.
Injured: The character has suffered a serious wound, and must
fight against the pain as well as his adversaries.
Isolated: You have been separated from your allies, or you
all find yourselves in uncharted territory. You could also be a
social pariah for your deeds.
Pursued: Perhaps you are a wanted man, or sought by those
you have wronged. You may also be a celebrity who cannot
escape the press.
Tainted: Something terrible has begun to warp the characters
mind, body, or soul, changing it from what it once was.

Between scenes of action or intrigue, characters can take a
break by acting out an Interlude with one or more of their
companions. This is a time for comparing notes, making plans,
developing relationships, finding out more about your friends and
their motivations, and tying up loose ends. During this time, the
characters involved can replenish their Effort pool to the default
of seven dice and replace all red Effort dice with black again, or
they can remove one Condition from either themselves or an
ally. Interludes can be treated as research or invention montages,
as flashbacks, or as a story retold by one of the characters.

Secrets, Misdirection and Terrible Truths

Running the Game

Observe, Listen, and Inquire
Dont plan too far ahead when running Castle Blackbird. Instead
of laying out the entire adventure, let the players do the thinking
for you. Pay attention to what they do and how they interact with
each other and the NPCs, and take copious notes. If they have
a good idea or bring up an intriguing point, jot the information
down and use it as inspiration for how the adventure unfolds.
Make sure to ask them lots of questions, particularly ones that dig
for information or make the players consider new possibilities.
Find out how they feel about the events taking place, or how they
think things will react to their actions. Ask questions like:
Does anything overheat when you tamper with the engine?
The dinosaur skeletons are probably pretty fragile, aren't they?
This seems like a dangerous borough. Do you know anything
about the gangs around here?
She seems to be taking an interest in your Master. Are you
okay with that?
Are there any side effects to the medicine you're working on?
They look like a tribe of Bushmen. Have you encountered them
After the dance, do you say anything to her?
Were you going to make inquiries after the fire?

Dont Impede the Action

The characters are the heroes of the story, and should be able to
handle most tasks covered by their Traits. Even though this is a
game of horror, it shouldn't be necessary to ask for rolls every
time they try to do something, particularly if there's no obstacle
or risk. Allow the characters to do what they want, and play it by
ear based on their strengths and past accomplishments. Instead
of opposing them, look for your chance to reveal threats and
introduce problems that result from their actions and decisions.
Besides, it makes it that much more tragic and suspenseful when
the highly capable heroes are the unwitting cause of terrible

The game is a story, so revealing information is part of the

Game Master's duty. The characters will be trying to root out
secrets and solve mysteries, and the GM will need to be able to
give them answers, and confirm or deny their suspicions when
appropriate. But you don't need to reveal everything all at once,
and should dole out clues and evidence carefully. Think of it
like a paranormal investigation reality show bits and pieces of
information are collected over time, and it is the whole picture
that exposes the true nature of the situation. Sometimes, those
little clues and experiences can also be significant in their own
right. Also remember that you never, ever have to tell the players
the whole truth, and there are no rules against coloring it with
misinformation. You may even provide clues to something
completely unrelated, though use red herrings sparingly. In
addition, the truth can sometimes be hard to bear. If the players
invest time and energy to discover something that they later
regret, all the better.

Creating Challenges
When the time comes for characters to be confronted by a
Challenge, it could be anything: common thugs, inclement
weather, villains, disasters, monsters, fear, or even the character's
own morality. Challenge ratings can either be set before-hand, as
part of the GMs preparation for the adventure or just improvised
on the fly, based on what the GM feels is right. You should
never feel that Challenge ratings are set in stone. Clever thinking,
creative actions, foolish decisions, and devious interference may
all play a role in adjusting the Challenge before a player needs to
gather any dice.
A good middle ground is putting together Challenges with a few
short descriptions, phrases, and key details that the GM can use
to assess the relative difficulty depending on the situation. For
example, if the characters were trying to scale a rocky precipice
that is described as a steep, slippery cliff face, it could be a
Troubling Challenge (4). If there was a rope secured at the top, it
might be treated as only Tricky (3). This can apply to adversaries
as well. A miscreant described as a friendly conman, murderous
intentions, keeps a hidden dagger, could be an Easy (1)
Challenge when dealing with him as a fellow scoundrel, Tricky
(3) if you're trying to get a fair deal out of him, and possibly
Troubling (4) if you got into a fight with him and he were to
bring his dagger to bear. It's all open to the GMs interpretation,
but it is a fair bit easier than either writing out every possible
situation, or simply winging it all of the time.

Challenge Benchmarks
Easy 1 | Average 2 | Tricky 3 | Troubling 4 | Difficult 5 | Extreme 6 | Overwhelming 7 | Foreboding 8

Challenge Descriptions
Minor 1-2 phrases | Moderate 2-3 phrases | Major 3-5 phrases | Prominent 5-7 phrases | Pivotal 7-10 phrases

Sample Challenges
Baron Niemand (Pivotal): Excellent military tactics, Fueled by
rage, Full suit of armor, Horror behind the mask, Longs for true
love, Master of swordsmanship, Monstrous strength, No sense of
humor, Spells of shadow, Vertigo-inducing gaze
Baron's Knights (Moderate): Heavily armed, Loyal to the
death, Negotiate with violence
Constabulary (Minor): Not willing to compromise, Weary
officers of the law
Captain of the Guards (Major): Authority of fear, Heavily
armed, Loyal to the death, Never backs down from a fight,
Pursues his target tirelessly
Dark Hound (Moderate): Made of shadow, Savage beast, Very
keen senses
Local Thugs (Minor): Trying to make an easy penny, A cudgel
is a great motivator
Other Captives (Minor): Tired and angry, Will do anything for
a reward
Servant of the Baron (Major): Extremely athletic, Eyes and
ears of the Baron, Manipulates shadows with ease, Pulls
daggers from the air

The Dramatis Personae

There are six premade characters for the default Castle Blackbird
adventure. Even though the scenario introduces each of the
characters, the only one essential to the story is Konstanze. As
long as one player takes her role, the others are up for grabs.
Once you've chosen a character and have your starting dice, you
are ready to play.

Making Your Own Characters

It's fairly easy to make your own original characters for Castle
Blackbird, perhaps if one of the originals dies or if you are using
your own scenario. New characters start with 25 picks, each
allowing you to select a Trait or Tag.
There are only a few limitations when making your own
character. Any Tags you select must belong to one of the
character's Traits. Also, starting characters cannot begin with
more than one Magical Trait. Other than that, there are no
restrictions, whatsoever. You can even choose Traits and Tags
which seem contradictory or strange together, as long as you have
an interesting explanation or backstory for the choice.
Following the Dramatis Personae, there is a monstrous list of
120 Traits devised for the Castle Blackbird setting. This is by no
means exhaustive, and we are sure that players and GMs alike
will have their own ideas for new Traits and Tags. By all means,
they are encouraged to make their own, as long as everyone
agrees that the abilities they choose make sense.

Threatened Citizens (Minor): Tired and scared, Wants to avoid

the Baron's wrath
Visiting Emissary (Prominent): Appears without warning,
Friends in high places, Knows everyone's name, Makes deals
for a price, Serves an unknown master, Skilled fencer, Too
many secrets

Castle Wall (Minor): Long fall down, Old loose stonework
Dungeon Cell (Moderate): Dark and uncomfortable, Heavy iron
bars, Scrawls on the stonework
Swamp at Night (Moderate): Poisonous denizens, Something
lurking in the shadows, Surprisingly deep mud

Collapse! (Major): Heavy stones and crossbeams, No room to
move, Smell of leaking gas, Trapped bystanders
Infiltrate the Castle (Major): Guards on the walls, Magical
wards, Heavy locked doors, Far too many shadows
Riot in the Streets (Major): Crowds of panicked people, Law
shows no mercy, Rabble-rousers causing trouble, Tempers
boiling over
Sneaking Through Town (Moderate): Spotters on the rooftops,
The locals are restless, Town guard on patrol

Advantages and Advancement

As your character collects Experience tokens, they can be spent
throughout the game on various advantages.
One Experience token will allow the character to ignore a
Condition he is about to suffer. Note, this cannot be used to
remove a Condition after the fact you will need to act out an
Interlude to do that. Make sure to describe how he manages to
escape this fate!
One Experience token can make an item found or acquired
during the game to be used as a temporary Tag for the rest of
the Scene. It is considered a generic Tag, so it can be applied
to any Trait, as long as the usage makes sense.
Two Experience tokens will allow you to use any of your
character's applicable Tags on a single roll, no matter which
Trait is actually used. Magical Tags are still limited by the
character's Effort or Power.
Five Experience tokens can purchase a new Trait or Tag.
This can also make a temporary item Tag into a permanent one
(in which case you only have to spend four Experience tokens).
Once you do this, the new item Tag needs to be connected to
one of the character's Traits.

1 Konstanze Amalie von Amselburg 1

An adventurous heiress in hiding

Awareness / Decipher / Lore / Myths / Nimble / Ruins

Education / Inheritance / Lineage / Presence / Title

Brash / Daring / Insubordinate / Tough

Observant / Quiet / Tight-Lipped

Disarm / Rapier

g Ruprecht Hertwig Ehrhard g

Lovelorn personal bodyguard of the Lady of Castle Blackbird

Brave / Breastplate / Charge / Equestrian / Fencing / Longsword / Manners /

Calm / Conceal / Defend / Derringer / Reaction / Search / Suspicion / To The
Death / Watchful

Honest / Iron Will / Loyal / Patient / Unyielding


x Horatio Metcalfe x
Gadabout with the notion of becoming a monster hunter

Borrow / Carouse / Fashion / Haughty / Repartee / Winning Smile

Advice / Gossip / Listen / Tinker

Crossbow / Holy Water / Know the Signs / Patience / Silver / Wooden Stake

Alert / Been There Done That / Cultures / Improvise / Languages


O Brijesh Sukhjinder O
Outcast Rakshasa and loyal companion to Horatio

Backstab / Conceal / Deadly / Garrote / Poison / Shadow / Stealth / Stiletto /

Dead Man's Face / Imitate / Quick Change / Replace / Steal Form / Steal

Iron Will / Reliable / Vow

Exotic / Strange Mannerisms / Unreadable

Louza Piemontesi L
Cunning Gypsy delinquent and troublemaker

Bestow / Binding / Fates / Locate / Lost Lore / Sigil / True Name / Whispers

Allies / Clan / Pick Pockets / Riddles / Secrets / Tricks

Bluff / Distract / Escape

Bargain / Feel of the Streets / Know Someone Who Knows Someone /

K Gruthmundr Lkken K
Craven Nordic criminal seeking fame and fortune

Drink / Old Pistol / Ruffian / Shooting / Sneer

Boast / Oblivious / Talk for Hours / Tall Tales

Desperate / Fight Dirty / Improvise / Iron Stomach

Bluff / Duck and Cover / Excuses

Backtalk / Conman / Dishonest / Promises

Accusation, Anarchist, Communist, Conspiracy, Contacts,
Criminal, Determined, Factions, Honest, Inspire, Leaflets,
Organize, Propaganda, Rabble, Radical, Speech, Yell

Accounting, Banking, Bureaucracy, Carbon Paper, Credit, Details,
Double Check, Finance, Irritable, Loopholes, Organization,
Politics, Research, Stingy, Stocks, Taxes

Bleeding, Brewing, Curatives, Folklore, Formulas, Hallucinogens,
Healing, Herbs, Humours, Leech Jar, Legends, Natural, Old Ways,
Poisoning, Potions, Research, Strange

Analyze, Behavior, Crackpot, Delusions, Ground-breaking, Inured,
Mesmerise, Methodical, Motivations, Observe, Pocket Watch,
Soothing Voice, Therapy, Torture, Trauma, Unorthodox
Comprehend, Conjuration, Dispel, Seek, Eldritch Relic, Extension,
Forbidden Knowledge, Message, Obscure, Occult Tome,
Protection, Reverse, Secure, Trace, True Sight, Warding

Appreciation, Avant Garde, Backing, Classic, Creative, Grand
Scale, In Demand, Literature, Loans, Painting, Proficient, Realism,
Refined, Sculpture, Style, Unique

Acrobatics, Alert, Anecdotes, Animal Stance, Austere, Balance,
Brave, Defend, Disarm, Endure, Fast, Fitness, Humble, Iron Fist,
Martial Arts, Meditate, Reaction, Wisdom

Ambush, Backstab, Cold Stare, Conceal, Contracts, Crossbow,
Deadly, Feared, Garrote, Guild, Poison, Quick, Ruthless, Shadow,
Sniper, Stealth, Stiletto, Trailing, Unemotional

Black Market, Blood Money, Dagger, Dark Cloak, Drink, Hardy,
Kidnap, Odious, Old Pistol, Racketeer, Rotten Breath, Ruffian,
Scattergun, Shooting, Slash, Sneer, Treacherous

Bounty Hunter
Demand, Disarm, Follow, Intimidate, Jobsworth, Knock 'Em
Down, Manacles, No Mercy, No Nonsense, No Use to Me Dead,
Heavy Pistol, Tireless, Tracking, Traps, Tricks of the Trade

Boast, Confidence, Ego, Haughty, Oblivious, Pushy, Reckless, Sly
Smile, Talk for Hours, Tall Tales

Alarms, Appraise, Avoid, Bash Em, Break and Enter, Case the
Joint, Climbing, Crowbar, Dexterous, Fence Goods, Lockpicks,
Locks, Quiet, Sprint, Stealth, Tough
Anonymity, Bestow, Binding, Blood Curse, Combine, Curative,
Fates, Geas, Locate, Lost Lore, Pact of Loyalty, Sigil, Sooth,
Transform, True Name, Whispers

Animal Trainer, Balance, Bizarre, Clown, Contortion, Distract,
Escape, Geek, Juggling, Midget, Misfit, Misshapen, One of Us,
Pick Pocket, Prance, Stunt, Trained Monkey, Trick, Tumbling,

Affluence, Brave, Breastplate, Charge, Equestrian, Etiquette,
Fealty, Fencing, Haughty, Longsword, Heraldry, Loyal, Manners,
Pistol, Polished, Rank, Shooting, Tactics, Warhorse
Amorphous, Blending, Convincing, Dead Man's Face, Diversion,
Feign Ability, Grow, Imitate, Indistinguishable, Quick Change,
Repeat, Replace, Shrink, Steal Form, Steal Memories
Astral Form, Commune, Crystal Ball, Dreaming, Ectoplasm,
Empathic, Empowerment, Exorcise, Fearless, Ouija Board, Past
Lives, Possession, Share Memories, Speak in Tongues, Spirit
Sight, Telekinesis, Telepathy

Alibi, Attention, Blackmail, Bribery, Charisma, Counterfeit
Banknotes, Cunning Plan, Deception, Disguise, Forged
Documents, Excuses, Forgery, Misdirection, Smooth Talker

Accent, Combative, Determined, Forefathers, Gruff, Hardy,
Impatient, Improvise, Independent, Land Deed, Scrounge,

Arouse, Charm, Eavesdrop, Facade, Infection, Innuendo, Intimate
Details, Manners, Pander, Pick Pockets, Pocket Money, Pretend,
Regulars, Scandalous, Seduction, Take Abuse, Weave Tales

Argue, Denial, Grouchy, Headstrong, Intolerant, Life Savings,
Rally, Religious, Serious, Suspicious, Tradition

Apprehend, Brawl, Careful, Disarm, Gruff, Hardy, Informants,
Interrogate, Law, Manacles, Nightstick, Pride, Protect, Revolver,
Solidarity, Warrant, Watchful, What's All This Then?
Angry, Boost, Crush, Hardened, Immense, Innocence, Iron Grip,
Leap, Lonely, Misunderstood, Power Source, Rage, Smash, Stone
Skin, Strong, Unnatural

Bitter, Cold Stare, Desperate, Fight Dirty, Finish You But Good!,
Fugitive, Hardened, Hatred, Improvise, Iron Stomach, Old
Cellmates, Out For Blood, Reformed, Scarred, Tough

Betray, Cunning, Fraud, Greedy, Illicit, Impatient, Infamous,
Power-Hungry, Schemes, Secrets, Two-Faced

Aloof, Connections, Culture, Education, Etiquette, Gossip, OpenMinded, Spunky, Style, Tolerant, Well-Off

Affluent, Charisma, Concealed Dagger, Deception, Etiquette,
Exquisite Derringer, Favors, Flattery, Friends in High Places,
Pillow Talk, Privilege, Resentment, Secrets, Seduction, Toadying,

Awareness, Beg for Mercy, Bluff, Cry for Help, Duck and Cover,
Escape, Excuses, Hide, Sprint, Wary

Armors, Carpentry, Detail, Dirty, Gruff, Hammer, Inspect, Large
Hands, Masonry, Metals, Pride, Quality, Repair, Smelting,
Smithing, Solidarity, Strong, Tradition, Weapons

Bitter, Exploit, Insult, Offensive, Ruthless, Sadistic, Salt in the
Wound, Tough, Turn the Screws, Unfeeling

Charge In, Courage, Headstrong, Intimidate, Intolerant, Lofty
Goal, Loyal, No Mercy, Overpower, Rally

Blood Pact, Ceremonial Dagger, Chants, Conspiracy, Fearless,
For the Dark One!, Gibbering, Influence, Occult Lore, Rituals,
Ruthless, Sinister, Stamina, Strange Artifact, Unhinged

Artful Dodger, Conceal, Cunning, Distract, Duck for Cover, Hide,
Inconspicuous, Keep Your Wits About You, Pick Pockets, Pocket
Knife, Quick, Quiet, Size Them Up, Teamwork, Trip

Criticize, Distaste, Honest, Ignore, Irritable, Notice Flaws,
Observe, Prepare for the Worst, Sarcasm

Adrenalin, Against All Odds, Athletic, Brave, Daring, Face Death,
Fearless, Leap In, Quick, Reckless, Strong, Tough

Antiquities, Banknotes, Black Market, Bookie, Conceal,
Contraband, Cover Up, Counterfeit, Deception, Forgery, Haggle,
Hide, Jewelry, Lending, Narcotics, Sneaky, Trafficking

Backtalk, Conman, Convoluted, Disguise, Dishonest, Hiding, Lies,
Misdirection, Opportunity, Promises, Scoundrel

Clear Thinker, Confidence, Fast, Friendly, Hit the Ground
Running, Iron Will, Keen, Reliable, Resolve, Vow

Calm, Exhausted, Patient, Persevere, Pessimist, Reserved,
Resigned, Tough, Vengeful, Yielding

Case Files, Deduction, Determined, Elementary!, Fisticuffs, Game
is Afoot!, Informants, Insight, Investigate, Law, Magnifying Glass,
Perceptive, Pistol, Questioning, Research, Search, Warrant

Bleeding, Blight, Burning, Corruption, Dark Pact, Drain Life,
Entreat, Fear, Gateway, Grasp, Impish Servant, Infliction,
Shadows, Summoning, The Mark, Warp

Attitude, Borrow, Carouse, Connected, Cultured, Elitist,
Entitlement, Excuses, Fashion, Favors, Haughty, Loans, Privilege,
Repartee, Seduction, Wealth, Winning Smile
Astral Sight, Astrological Charts, Comprehension, Crystalmancy,
Destinies, Doomsayer, Dowsing, Dreaming, Extend Senses,
Harbinger, Omens, Past Lives, Postcognition, Precognition,
Prophesy, Scrying

Anecdotes, Can't Feel a Thing, Demanding, Grouchy, Hard of
Hearing, I Knew Yer Pa!, Knobby Cane, Pushy, Respect, Senile,
Tall Tales, Thick Spectacles, Wise
Aura, Calming, Charm, Command, Confuse, Despair, Fear, Forget,
Gaze, Hatred, Love, Madness, Memory, Sleep, Suggest, Truth,

Architecture, Black Powder, Clockwork, Crackpot, Devices,
Dynamite, Eureka!, Improvise, Inventor, Modification, Patents,
Repair, Sabotage, Salvage, Spare Parts, Steam Engines, Talented,
Tool Kit, Wrench

Acrobatics, Antics, Contortion, Distraction, Escape, Hidden
Knives, Humor, Juggling, Keen Aim, Keep 'Em Occupied, Mask,
Sleight of Hand, Theatrics, Throwing Knives, Trickery, Tumbling

Alert, Blood Bond, Calm, Conceal, Defend, Derringer, Disguise,
Etiquette, Fencing, Loyal, Rapier, Reaction, Search, Serious,
Stipend, Suspicion, Tend Wounds, To the Death, Watchful
Affinity, Aloof, Ancient, Attractive, Aura, Elitist, Lonely,
Longevity, Resist Cold, Resist Disease, Stoic, Swift, Trackless,

Ancient, Appraise, Awareness, Cartography, Curious, Decipher,
Excavate, Funds, Hardy, History, Lore, Museum, Myths, Nimble,
Old Maps, Ruins, Traps, Treasures, Whatever You Can Find...

Determined, Honest, Ignorant, Iron Will, Loyal, Patient, Religious,
Spirited, Stubborn, Unyielding, Uplifting

Angry, Bomb, Branded, Combative, Convert, Fervent, Flagellant,
Intolerant, Molotov Cocktail, Religious, Scarred, Wild Hair



Attention, Colorful, Exuberant, Fine Clothes, Flashy, High Spirits,

High Tension, Interrupt, Outgoing, Prance, Style

Betray, Bloody, Cold-Blooded, Dark, Dishonest, Icy Stare,

Infamous, Obsessed, Perverted, Psychopath, Scandalous

Annoy, Barge In, Cajole, Curious, Determined, Ignore Them, Ill
Mannered, Insult, Jump to Conclusions, Stubborn, Whine

Allure, Exotic, Fresh Perspective, Incomprehensible, Pidgin,
Strange Mannerisms, Surprising, Unique Habits, Unknown,

Architecture, Argue, Bribes, Carpentry, Direction, Double Check,
Handy, Intercede, Management, Negotiate, Read Plans, Temper,
Tough, Well-Off

Allies, Brawling, Camping, Gold Shares, Gritty, Hunting Rifle,
Interpret, Natives, No Nonsense, Orienteering, Perceptive,
Rancher, Riding, Rough, Rugged Pistol, Scouting, Shooting

Betting, Bookie, Distract, Fast-Talk, Infamous, Know the Odds,
Loaded Dice, Lucky Streak, Marked Cards, Now You See It,
Palming, Place the Blame, Poker Face, Shell Game, Up the Sleeve

Awareness, Cudgel, Defend, Disarm, In the Line of Duty, Leather
Coat, Nobodys Fool, Notice, Pistol, Polearm, Restrain, Serious,
Take the Hit, Threaten, Unflinching

Allies, By the Stars, Cackle, Clan, Dark Tales, Eerie Stare, Evil
Eye, Legends, Lore, Myths, Palmistry, Pick Pockets, Riddles,
Secrets, Tarot Cards, The Old Ways, Tricks, Unsettling

Bash, Blackjack, Bottle of Spirits, Brawling, Break, Crass,
Criminal, Cruel, Destroy, Dirty Tricks, Kick It In, Menace,
Miscreant, Mugging, Pushy, Revolver, Strong, Tough, Ugly,


Carouse, Carpentry, Distrust, Endure, Farming, Fireman, Follow
Directions, Friends, Gardener, Handy, Lumber, Mining, Pickaxe,
Plain-Speaking, Pummel, Solidarity, Strong, Teamster


Animal Mimicry, Camouflage, Dagger, Endure, Keen, Lures,

Navigate, Observation, Predator, Running, Scrounge, Shooting,
Shotgun, Silent, Snares, Tough, Tracking

Berate, Chastise, Convince, Cross Examine, Debate, Integrity,

Interrupt, Investigate, Law, Legal Briefs, Objection!, Oratory,
Prosperous, Secrets, Trusted

Appear, Blending, Change, Delusion, Desires, Dreaming,
Duplicate, Fools Gold, Glamour, Hypnotize, Levitate, Mimicry,
Mirage, Nightmare, Shadows, Silver Tongue, Spook, Vanish

Animal Form, Bestial Hide, Call Animals, Claws, Deadly, Fierce,
Full Moon, Hideous, Howl, Instinct, Keen Sense, Lost Humanity,
Nightvision, Predator, Ravenous, Shred



Cool-Headed, Inconceivable!, Informed, Logical, Surmise, Think

It Through, Unemotional, Unyielding

Ancient Lore, Awareness, Brotherhood, Conspiracy, History,
Initiation Rites, Influence, Mysteries, Rituals, Secret Handshake,
Solidarity, The Oath

Bluff, Charisma, Clever, Distraction, Endless Ribbons, Faster Than

the Eye, Fireworks, Mirrors, Prediction, Sleight of Hand, Smoke
Bomb, Top Hat, Trick Cane, Ventriloquist, You're Getting Sleepy

Advice, Curious, Gossip, Inquire, Listen, Nonchalant, Observe,
Peek, Tinker, What Does This Do?

Acid Blood, Bite, Burning Spittle, Claws, Darkvision, Flight,
Homunculus, Hunger, Infernal, Resist Heat, Resist Poison, Stone
Meld, Stone-Skinned, Tempt, The Contract




Badger, Camera, Chutzpah, Contacts, Deception, Disliked, Ear for

News, Eavesdrop, Fast-Talk, Gossip, Headlines, Inquiry, Integrity,
Photography, Scandal, Stop the Presses!

Accounting, Appraise, Arrange, Bargain, Budget, Buying,

Conceal, Connections, Deals, Evaluate, Fast-Talk, Procure, Profit,
Prosperous, Selling, Stocks, Supply, Trading
Bluff, Distract, Escape, Humorous, Impulsive, Keen, Quick, Sharp,
Tricks, Unpredictable, Wide Grin
Abominable, Bat Wings, Bizarre, Claws, Disembody, Fangs,
Fierce, Hideous, Hunger, Infection, Mutation, Regrow, Scales,
Sting, Strangle, Strong, Tentacles, Terrible, Venom, Wall Crawl

Animate, Banish, Bleeding, Blight, Blinding, Bone Wand,
Consume, Control, Disease, Draining, Fear, Ghost, Paralyze,
Raising, Skull Goblet, Stench, Vampire, Wither, Zombie




Coat of Arms, Culture, Education, Etiquette, Favors, Heirloom,

History, Inbreeding, Inheritance, Lineage, Majesty, Paragon,
Presence, Privilege, Royalty, Title, Tradition, Wealthy

Cudgel, Fishing, Gunnery, Iron Stomach, Navigate, Pistol, Rank,

Rowboat, Sailboat, Scrimshaw, Sea Legs, Sea Shanties, Signals,
Stamina, Steamer, Warship, Whaling, Woman In Every Port



Bureaucracy, Chain of Command, Confidence, Etiquette, Fencing,

Groomed, Heavy Pistol, History, Intel, Leadership, Medals,
Military, Orders, Rank, Respect, Saber, Shooting, Stand Tall,
Tactics, Wages

Alertness, Berserker, Bow, Brother Wolf, Calm, Fasting, Fierce,

Hatchet, Hunting, Legends, Quick, Scrounge, Silent, Sister Falcon,
Snares, Survival, Talisman, Tracking, Wilderness


Ancient, Argument, Colleagues, Cultures, Curator, Debate,

Dissertation, History, Instruction, Languages, Library, Literature,
Oddities, Old School Song, Philosophy, Politics, Research,
Studious, Stiff, Tenure

Calm, Compliment, Confidence, Energetic, Honest, Inspire, Polite,

Positive, Tenacious, Unrealistic

Alcoholic, Branded, Contacts, Convict, Creepy Stare, Infamous,
Loner, Misanthrope, Outlaw, Scrounge

Advice, Authority, Calm, Ceremony, Comfort, Community,
Confession, Educated, Flock, Holy Book, Holy Symbol, Inspire,
Level-Headed, Respected, Sacrament, Stipend, Temptation,

Critical, Details, Effort, Expertise, Frustration, Hard Work,
Irritable, Stress, Studious, Tireless

Acting, Charming, Composition, Dancing, Direct, Disguise,
Famous, Influence, Luxury, Memorable, Musician, Opera,
Opinions, Poetic, Seduction, Singing, Sway

Abolition, Argue, Crackpot, Educated, Ethics, Heretical, Morality,
Ponder, Reasoning, Religion, Revolutionary, Spurious Logic,
Stubborn, Temperance, Thoughtful

Anatomy, Bedside Manner, Dentistry, Diagnose, Diseases,
Dissection, Educated, Examine, Healing, Medical Bag, Pharmacy,
Prosperous, Remedies, Sedatives, Surgery, Unnerving

Above Reproach, Argue, Authority, Connected, Contributions,
Convince, Elected, Exaggerate, Hogwash, Hyperbole, Law, Lobby,
Pillar of the Community, Rants, The Game, Trusted, Wealthy

Bad Temper, Bone-Breaking, Brass Knuckles, Brutal, Crush, Dirty
Trick, Fancy Footwork, Fast, Hard, Menacing, Queensberry Rules,
Reputation, Stomp, Strong, Suckerpunch, Sure Bet, Thick-Skinned

Antisocial, Argue, Brash, Bring It!, Daring, Headstrong, Impatient,
Insubordinate, Take Advantage, Tough

Antisocial, Emotional Wounds, Extreme, Hateful, Hide, Leave Me
Alone!, Misunderstood, Quiet, Shy

Aware, Backwoods, Curious, Family, Hardy, In Your Blood,

Intolerant, Lay of the Land, Nimble, Plain, Temper, The Way It's
Always Done, Traps


Acids, Analyze, Backing, Biology, Calculating, Crackpot,
Detached from Reality, Devices, Discovery, Explosives,
Investigate, Mathematics, Physics, Stipend, Tenure, Theory,

Arcane, Blackmail, In the Shadows, Observant, Paranoid, Quiet,
Stubborn, Suspicious, Tight-Lipped, Unknown

Anecdotes, Big Picture, Calm, Clarity, Consider, Cool-Headed,
Humility, Supportive, Unflappable
Ancestors, Blending, Brave Wolf, Commune, Cunning Fox,
Deadly Snake, Dream Travel, Hoodoo Bag, Long Stride, Mighty
Bear, Spirits, Swift Eagle, Talisman, Wild Form, Wild Path, Wise

Cold-Hearted, Crossbow, Defy Evil, Demonology, Hatred, Holy
Symbol, Holy Water, Hunting, Iron Will, Know the Signs, Know
Thy Enemy, Monsters, Patience, Silver, Sniper, Tracking, Tooth
and Nail, Wooden Stake

Approachable, Carouse, Connections, Friendly, Inspire,
Nonchalant, Positive, Talkative, Well-Mannered

All For One, Army Revolver, Bitter, Fierce, Flashbacks, Grim,
Grisly Tales, Gritty, March, Pistoleer, Rifle, Scarred, Shooting, Spit
and Polish, Tactics, Tough, Uniform Jacket, Veteran, War Stories

Calm, Crystal Ball, Deception, Distraction, Hauntings, Improvise,
Knocking, Lore, Misleading, Observation, Palmistry, Parlor Tricks,
Rituals, Secrets, Tragedy

Archery, Champion, Fair Play, Famous, Fencing, Fitness, Golf,
Jumping, Longbow, Olympics, Rapier, Rules, Running, Strength,
Swimming, Tennis, Throwing, Training, Unbeaten, Vigorous,



Camouflaged Pistol, Collapsible Dagger, Conceal, Cunning,

Cyanide Pill, Disguise, Gain Trust, Infiltrate, International, Iron
Will, Lies, Military, Observe, Politics, Propaganda, Secrets,
Stealth, Subversion, Surreptitious

Cool-Headed, Cuirass, Dagger, Dangerous, Daring, Disarm,

Duelist, Feint, Flanking, Keep Fighting, Longsword, Parry, Rapier,
Shortsword, Steady Gaze, Surprise, Two-Handed, Unpredictable


Adventurous, Alert, Been There Done That, Cultures, Curious,

Hardy, Improvise, Languages, Open-Minded, Shrewd

At the Master's Side, Blackmail, Convincing, Eavesdrop, Efficient,

Endure, Etiquette, Inform, Intrigue, Loyal, Patience, Secrets,
Servant, Tradition

Contraband, Drinking Games, History, Literature, Lollygag, Old
School Song, Pranks, Research, Scholarship, School Colors,
Science, Studious, Take Notes, Teachers Pet, Truancy

Careful, Details, Folklore, Good Luck Charm, Legends, Lucky
Number, Myths, Nervous, Observant, Reaction, Suspicious
Atonement, Blessing, Consecrate, Convert, Divinity, Exorcise,
Fire and Brimstone, Healing, Holy Fury, Holy Light, Holy Spirit,
Miracles, Purification, Rebuke, Retribution, Righteous, Word of

Alarms, Appraise, Balance, Bluff, Conceal, Etiquette, Eye for
Detail, Intrude, Lockpicks, Locks, Prosperous, Sleight of Hand,
Stealth, Trailing, Traps, Unassuming, Winning Smile

Barman, Brewing, Coachman, Conductor, Cooking, Efficient,
Grooming, Hard Work, Husbandry, Organized, Patient,
Professional, Reliable, Service, Spit and Polish, Tailor, Undertaker
Bite, Break Through, Claw, Dead Gaze, Feel No Pain, Fierce,
Horrific, Hunger, Lunge, Memento, Memories of Life,
Nightmares, Pass Through, Relentless, Rot, Shriveled, Smell Their
Life, Tireless

Bargain, Contacts, Directions, Favors, Feel of the Streets, Gossip,
Know Someone Who Knows Someone, Rivalry, Streetwise

Alms, Begging, Bitter, Feign Injury, Hoboknife, Hungry,
Iron Stomach, Pathetic, Poor, Scrounge, Stamina, Unnoticed,

Calm, Charge In, Courage, Ethical, Feel Their Pain, Heroic,
Inspire, Mercy, Protect, Righting Wrongs

Anger, Determined, Gritty, Headstrong, Ignore the Pain, Menacing,
No Mercy, Righting Wrongs, Tough

Ambitious, Creative, Curious, Dreamer, Hopeful, Ideals,
Inspiration, Progressive, Unrealistic

Excitement, Masochist, Obsession, Perverted, Scandalous,
Sensual, Temptation, Tickle, Unflappable

Annoy, Curious, Exuberant, Innocent, Pester, Slingshot, Small,
Tantrum, Whine, Wriggle

This game is a hack that was two months in the devising about a month longer than I had intended. Ever since I first read
John Harper's Lady Blackbird rules, I was inspired to use them to create and run short, setting-specific adventures that
allows the players to help tell a story as much as the Game Master.
The Ravenloft setting from 2nd Edition AD&D had always been one of my favorites, particularly the Masque of the Red
Death module, and it seemed like it would be a perfect match for the Lady Blackbird rules. What followed was a lot
of unnecessary concept sketches, backstories, notes, research, and revisions. By the time my self-proclaimed deadline
of Halloween rolled around, I had a pile of notes and drawings, but absolutely nothing that could be presented as a
Blackbird-esque game. After much culling, it has been slimmed down into the form you see before you.
As simplified as Castle Blackbird is, it is still quite a bit more complex than originally intended, and some of its new
rules are untested, in particular the Challenge descriptions. It also has a lot of Traits. A LOT of Traits. However, I think
this provides more than enough detail and options for players with a similar affection for Gothic horror to be able to port
the actual Ravenloft setting, or perhaps even Call of Cthulhu adventures, to the Blackbird rules with little work at all.
I hope that the rules work as intended, and the game is as fun as I imagined it will be. Perhaps, later on, I'll take some of
my copious notes and start writing up details of the others of the Seven Lords and their minions. Also, I hope that people
who have an opportunity to play Castle Blackbird will provide feedback to make this a better game...particularly better
names for the different magical abilities, as well as additional Traits and Tags that should be included.

-Gremlin Legions







he Door To Gnter's Brauhaus Was Kicked In...

and the patrons were forced into the Amselburg streets, pushed into a larger group of people who
had been removed from other local establishments by the constabulary. As other enforcers broke into
surrounding homes and buildings, barking out commands to their residents, those held captive were
closely watched over by Baron Niemands own soldiers, clad in black and bearing helms akin to the
metal mask worn by their master. The din of upset voices and the cries of children could be heard
echoing through the streets, and one could not help but imagine that these events were being repeated
all over this ward of the city.
Konstanze and her friends felt the last warmth of their drinks quickly evaporate into the chill
of the evening air, as the gathering grew larger and the atmosphere bleaker. She looked to her
loyal Ruprecht, whose furrowed brow betrayed the worry that he felt, despite his otherwise stoic
countenance. Around her, the others were also tense. Horatio, in his typically British fashion, seemed
more inconvenienced than upset, and looked as if he might slap the helm of one of their guards with
a white kidglove, had he the chance. His companion Brijesh was as calm as ever, though no one ever
knew whether that was from enlightenment or well-constrained bloodlust. And as for their defacto
leader Gruthmundr, the supposedly fearless bandit descended from mighty Vikings, his eyes were
darting back and forth nervously while his shaking hand migrated ever-closer to his concealed pistol.
As the last tavern on the block was evacuated, Louza appeared like a dark-skinned ghost, to report
what she had learned from the whispers of the guards, and it was worse than they could imagine. The
Baron had discovered that his ward and heiress of the Castle Blackbird, the Lady von Amselburg,
was missing, feared abducted by villains unknown, and her handmaiden was executed on suspicion
of collusion. Alarms had been raised and the roads out of the city had been closed by the guard,
with orders to rescue her at all costs before midnight, and to kill her captors on sight. This news
chilled Konstanze to the core, for she and Ruprecht shouldered a secret unbeknownst to the rest...
that she was actually the Lady of Castle Blackbird! For several months, she had been living outside
the mountaintop castle to escape the romantic advances of the Baron and to explore and gallivant as
she pleased, leaving her personal handmaiden behind in her place, using veils and the ornate dresses
of nobility to maintain the masquerade. Her escapades now had tragic consequences, and with the
charade crumbling, were she to be recognized by any of the guards, her friends would surely also be
dragged to the gallows!

How will they escape from the notice of the constabulary and the Barons knights?
Where can they find safety from the Barons spies and hidden servants?
And what possible reason is there for Konstanze to be returned by midnight?