Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Corsairs: Session 1

S ession 1 had some character finalization, and I don't think everyone managed to pick a special item. We also did not do the relationship graph. I think had we been face to face, we may have been able to do that to add a bit of background to the characters. Some things are just easier in a face to face thing versus just over an audio only call.

The characters all knew Henrich, my universe-spanning NPC. That is how they were all, with the exception of our wandering nomad Sleve. They were given a task to stop the mining off in the mountains to the west when the girl in the library pointed out the running figure and the small skyship that had just landed on top of the chicken coops. 

Ordo took his musket and shot, and plinked the running man, who grabbed his leg but kept on going, with a second man climbing down the ship to help him. Harmony-Rose took a shot that went wild, and Ordo's second shot took out the picaroon (they do not have many hit points). The other, a pirate from the look of him, was climbing back up the rope ladder as the sky ship was launching when Harmony-Rose's second shot took him out and he fell to the ground, dead. The ship took off as fast as the lift lugs would take it, catching the wind. A quick inspection of the bodies revealed one was in the livery of the estate, and Sir Dayton Griffiths recognized him as one of his staff. The other was a pirate through and through. Ordo inspected the body and found 12 silvers there. During the inspection, Captain Eugene of the Fools Errand (the now named ship), caught a young stowaway, Sleve McDicheal and his lute. A hurried introduction as Harmony-Rose was to be the new quartermaster, Ordo the new master gunner, and Ylervan  Runehammer the new sailing master. Lacking a crew member, Sleve joins the group as they board the ship. Captain Eugene offers his arm to Miss Baudelaire and the ship takes off, Ylervan shouting the orders to Billy, the coxswain and they take off in pursuit.

It takes more than a little time as the pirate captain is almost as good as our stalwart crew. Yet the do get within firing range, and the first round they miss. The next round a canon ball heavily damages the port lift lug, and the next removes the rudder. With the pirate ship listing, and an excellent sailing roll, they board the craft, crew fighting crew while Harmony-Rose and Ordo head to the captain's office and Sleve and Ylervan tend to the lift lug to see if it is salvagable as the joined ships slowly plummet towards the island below. 

In the captain's cabin, there is a tense stand-off but Captain Petey shoots first, not even grazing Harmony-Rose, who returns fire, plinkng the pirate captain. While the first two are reloading, Ordo fires off and gravely wounds the pirate, the stack of papers in his hand fluttering about. Demanding answers, they find that one Edmund Altes had paid good coin for them to get to the estate. Before getting any additional info, the decks lurch even more, though it seems the plummeting is slowing.

The joined ships start to slow their flight downward as Ylervan shouts orders to Billy as they attempt to safely land both ships. They do manage with some hull crumpling to the pirate ship and its rudder and control mechanisms crushed beyond repair. Captain Petey smashes against a wall, and dies between that and his earlier wounds.

In the battle before they hit the dirt, the Fools Errand had managed to kill all but a handful of pirates, and suffered no loss themselves. While the decks were awash in blood and bodies, our valiant characters made successful acrobatics rolls and avoided getting hurt. The pirate ships had a stash, or a reasonable take. As the ship took no damage, Miss Baudelaire distributed out the silver to the crew, leaving 30 solvers apiece for the players. 

And that is where we lest the game. 

A few notes: I messed up on the ship to ship combat: there was one more roll to see if they actually hit. Ordo had a draft of 3, which meant that Harmony-Rose (I was spreading out the rolls) should have rolled three dice against the to-hit chart instead of the directly on the location chart. While it worked out, there could have been more or fewer hits. But it was a fun mechanism and worked pretty well. They wanted to do an aimed shot, and while there is nothing specific in there, I used a 2d6 opposing roll to see if that would have succeeded. What I may do is allow them to adjust the hit location up or down based on the draft. So if they get a 2 draft and roll a 2 for the location, then can pick from 1 to 4 for the location. 

Personal combat went well. The opposing rolls are interesting, and at least well documented for each skill. I like that the players get to roll all the dice - the only dice I rolled was for how many silvers the dead pirate had. We did not do the initiative process. First, we're playing over Skype, so despite me having a lot of card decks, it was not really feasible. We ended up just using a d6 when we needed to worry about initiative.

 There are some potentially good backgrounds that may end up in play: Harmony-Rose was a quartermaster for the Alderil Empire. Like Han Solo, she is wearing parts of the uniform, and it is well recognized by those in Teboa, As that came up during our early character discussions, the ramifications did not sink in. But there could be a certain amount of tension between her and the island residents. Even between her and Ylervan, though the Alderil Empire has never directly attached the Anvil Aerie. Ordo could care less as his islands were buffered from all the empires by rough skies and distance. Sleve, being the nomad, would not care in all likelihood but that's just a guess on my part. I will have to remember that should they visit any of the towns on their journey. Ylervan has family back home, as does Ordo. Sleve is literally the wildcard in this game, and has both helped and hindered via signing and playing a ludicrously large lute (perhaps not, but we did find some fun images of a really large lute). 

What I need to do, as always, is get better organized and print out more to have it all ready in a binder or something. Bouncing between screens is not working for real-time playing. Works fine for my solo game, not so much here.  I also need to figure out what was on those papers (and there shall be some lore and/or skullduggary rolls involved) and what happens next. The papers should yield some clues as to where they may want to go next as the mountain range is fairly large, and finding the mines may be more difficult than expected. 

Overall, I think it went pretty well. The game itself is fairly abstract but rich in role playing. I do like that the players roll all the dice for the most part. The Pirate Petey I rolled for, and they never got their guns to bear on the Fools Errand. And we always love exploding success rolls, so this game would be even more fun at a table and watching the handfuls of dice rolling.

One of the dozen or so floating islands of the Anvil Aerie:


Sunday, July 05, 2020

Corsair Critters

The rule book has 2 animals specifically described, along with their own character sheets to show how to do animals. These are the fire imps, which have a habit of actually bursting into flame when enraged, and dragonets, a smaller cousin of the larger dragon species. We've also introduced 3 other beasts that are unique to this setting but not part of the core book. Well, the core book being all of 36 pages I don't see having a bestiary is going to fit as well as not being the main point of this game. Corsairs is all about the sky ships and booty! Although the group that is gathering seems less about the booty and more about exploring the world of Teboa.

But as I just got the excellent Welsh Monsters and Mythical Beasts Kickstarter book by CCJ Ellis, there was a postcard with what can be a dragonet. So here is the dragonet as drawn by CCCJ Ellis
Welsh, getting it translated looks like it says thank you! Though this was a year or so late, there have been a lot of things happening and well worth the wait.

Anyway, on to the various creatures and their habitats. 

As noted, there are two detailed in the book, the fire imp and the dragonet. Both have similar character blocks to how the player characters work, which gives us the info we need for opposing rolls and hits points. We can see that they fire imp only has 4 hit points, has a 3d roll for acrobatics (so if you were trying to shoot it and it was dodging, there would be 3 opposing rolls to your hits. Cool thing in this game is that the player rolls all the dice - hope you bring your six sided dice! and several of different colors to have the opposing rolls as well). The fire imp is a bit of a fighter as well, with 4 dice for its attacks (Might - 3d6 + 1d6 for its skill). So it can cause some significant damage! Finally you can see it is not overly observant with its wits at 1d6 + 1d6 for observation. So if you are trying to sneak up on one to use, say, as a fireball should you be able to throw across to the next ship, you may well be able to do so, I would not advise juggling them, despite one player's constant desire for a juggling character of ill-repute. 

So using that as a base, we can extrapolate our larger sky-faring beasts.

Sky whales

Hunted for the same reasons they were hunted here: blubber, oils, meat, bones are all useful. Additionally, their air bladders are often used as wind socks are used here: a long line with a sky whale air bladder aids sky ships in docking, knowing which way and how hard the wind blows. They would have a significant number of hit points, depending on the specific species and size. The smaller ones probably at least 12-15 plinked, 6-8 injured and 2-4 maimed. The larger ones may well double those amounts. 

Farther to the north, the Ironbound have actually trained the Sky Diver whales as both steeds and battlemounts. Fortunately for the Alderin Empire and those farther south, the great Sky Divers do not tolerate the warmer southern airs. Canons have been mounted on these great animals, though usually the range is limited and the canons smaller as they have found that the larger canons can flip the whales, and once flipped they almost always die as they plunge into the Molten Sea far below, unable to right themselves.

There are several species of sky whales throughout the world of Teboa. Beyond humans, their major foes are the dragons, who eat the whales. Most whales themselves seem to absorb the repellium gases that burst up from the Molten Sea, as well as air mites. They are grazers. 

Cresters

Cresters may be related to the sky whales and jus tbe a very different species. They are actually carnivorous and eat flying fish and birds. There are two major breeds, the Red Cresters and the Great White Cresters which are a larger breed. They too are hunted for the same reasons as the sky whales, with the additional bonus of their teeth. Cresters teeth are used as weapons for ship harpoons, as well as scrimshawed into ornate dioramas. Their hit points are similar to the sky whales, but they are significantly faster and more difficult to hunt. 

Note: These come from the Windward game that I am anticipating. I like to cross-pollinate my worlds.

Dragons

Dragons are also here on the world of Corsairs. Going with the Drifting Dragons anime, there are more dragon species than you can throw a stick at apparently. They range in size from smaller than the sky whales to beasts that dwarf the largest of sky ships. They too are hunted but with a lot less success. As a result, dragon meat costs significantly more on the market. And tastes a lot better.

Unlike most of the other flying species of Teboa that use air bags for buoyancy, dragon bones are embedded with repellium. When caught, dragon bones are often used to replace the repellium in ship lift lugs. While not as effective as mined repellium, and much more difficult to come by, sailors also swear it is more reactive than mined repellium and allows for faster transitions. 

Some dragons have significant defense mechanisms. The charred pit that was Peford On The Keyles is proof that some dragons just should not be hunted. 

Smaller animals

Teboa has the normal run of other animals: birds, cows, sheep and fish. A kind of steer is raised in the vast Cahill Grasslands, herded by land-based nomads who traverse the plains in their carts. The grasslands allow for sledges to be a fairly effective and easier to maintain mode of transportation than wheeled carts, though not as fast. But as with many nomads, speed is not the point, the journey is the point and life is, as Sleve puts it (and now with feeling everyone! You know the words):
*Liiiiiiiiiiiife is a journey. Don’t let it get you down. Liiiiiiiiiiiife is a journey. Don’t miss it for the crowd. All you need to do is feeeeeeeel the loooooooooove in your heart.* You can never truly get lost brother, because the love is always in your heart.


Saturday, July 04, 2020

Corsairs - Another Character, and even more world expansion

Another interesting character has popped into my email:

Slevel McDicheal

Raised by nomads, learned to read at a young age but only to learn how to play music. Expert at foraging, fishing and exceptionally lucky. Poor to no fighting skills. 

And now we've added nomads to the world! I never even thought of that. I think the nomads will have a variety of ships for all sorts of things, but perhaps fly together as small armadas and family groups. They will have a variety of skills, much like migrant workers today roam from job to job. Training is varied and wide across all the needs: fishing, fish squeezing, herding, farming, carpentry, building, perhaps thievery, perhaps noble sacrifice in unjust battles. All the sky ships will be old and patched together, more ramshackle perhaps but well cared for (as we need to remember the knowledge to make new ships has been lost for centuries. Though apparently there are still plenty of them about).

Some nomads are more prone to the traditional Corsair life, robbing and pillaging. Others live a more carefree life and go where the winds take them. I've a feeling Slevel comes from the carefree nomads.

Some nomads have been known to try repellium gliding. Wearing a repellium belt and wings, they can manage flights untethered from ships. Of course, they do tend to be bite sized snacks for the occasional dragon.

Mentioned in the rule book are two additional characteristics characters can have, charmed ort cursed. This is usually by exceptionally good or bad equipment, injuries or something else happening in game.

Charmed sets the success to 3+ on a d6. Cursed lets the 1s explode. In the dice rolls, a 6 is exploded as long as you keep rolling a 6. So the potential for a really high draft is there. Cursed lets the 1's explode, so you could become very unlucky indeed! There are always rumors of those people who seem charmed or cursed, but no one has ever met a naturally charmed or cursed person. Just the rumors whispered after a few ales.

And finally, I think I've found the hero ship (still to be named). Apparently there is a Patreon account that does sky ships! I back 4 patreon accounts so really can't do more at the moment (I blame the pandemic) else I would pitch in a couple of bucks a month for a bit as we may end up using his art.

So any good names for the ship? Although not as pretty as some, it is basically a battle map anyway. Not that we're playing face to face with minis.


Corsair - Player Characters and some world expansion

I've heard back from a couple of the players, with some fun backgrounds, so I'll share here what is public about them, and my updated map now that we have the Anvil Aerie range of islands, and somewhere nearby a floating island with fishing and a large mountain (the scale of the map won't show a lot of that level of detail, and I'll try & refrain from mapping a floating island with the Keloth Mountain range and fishing lake. I may not succeed).

Ylervan Runehammer


Ylervan Runehammer. I am an Ironbound, a Dwarf of the Sky Realm of Anvil Aerie. 
I dress in the royal blues and browns of my clan, Clan Runehammer. I have a distinctive blue swirling tattoo that begins on the right side of my face and extends down my left arm, covering it to the knuckles on my hand. I wear leather work gloves of Dwarf make (as if there were others worth having) and a wide belt with my hammers and spanners on it. I helmet is tied there as well, just in case work gets to messy (oil or blood).
 
We've established there are Dwarves in Corsairs and now placed them to the north in a small realm of their own, the Anvil Aerie. At a guess there are several factions, one being the Ironbound. Or is Ironbound the local name they use for themselves?  I've a feeling that is their own name for themselves, so will roll with that. We also know that are clans within the factions and they have specific colors and even tattoos. People from the north would probably recognize most Dwarves with a Lore roll. Farther south there may be an additional difficulty die or more. As I placed the Aerie just east of the Alderil Empire but outside it, there may be no love lost between the much smaller realm and the Empire. Could be on-going feuds, mining rights or anything. Or nothing - perhaps the Anvil Aerie is too small to bother with.

We have another character, a more rough character from another island to the north. At least a name I can pronounce (I have a hard time with a lot of the names, barely able to even speak English sometimes it seems!)

Ordo

I am Ordo.
I come from small fish village on one of the northern islands near tall Keloth Mountains.
Born to family of "fish squeezers" in the small town of Korba.
Korba is small, but I am big there...
There was a bit more that looks to be a lot of fun to play with. He has siblings that, while not playing a role in the introductory game, could be plot points later. And I do like "fish squeezing" though pretty sure it has nothing to do with:
He hales from an island with a thriving fishing industry in the north. I've established a few more islands next to the Aerie so any of those will do. His family and clan have dealt with the Dwarves before, and perhaps he and Ylervan have even crewed together previously. There were several old Russian images included, giving the feel for a somewhat poor upbringing but full of family and village friendships.  He has also indicated he wants to be the master gunner. Meaning we need to define a few things from the game, as they will be getting a ship (which I still need to name - I am wide open to suggestions. Though I am thinking it will be from Heimlich who is also a northern Dwarf, who is from another clan). 

Ship roles and the players attached. To be updated as we are a friendly bunch of players and open to changing things around. As long as we have fun!

Captain

The Captain is responsible for breaking any tied decisions when it comes to setting a course or what action to take and may also give Rousing Speeches during boarding actions (see Boarding, below).

Quartermaster

The Quartermaster is a powerful position on a ship. The Quartermaster may give Rousing Speeches during a boarding action and is usually the one to decide how Booty is spent (see below).

Sailing Master

The Sailing Master is responsible for charting and setting a course, and is usually the one to roll Sailing during the Chase stage of Sailing the Skies. The Sailing Master may be the one to roll Sailing during Ship to Ship Combat.

Master Gunner - Ordo

The Master Gunner is responsible for making any Crackshot tests required during Ship to Ship Combat.



So that is half of the players (and I'll admit I may have missed an email and will check later). We now have established where they are from, and we can get an inkling of why they may want to help with the vaguely planned adventure.

I actually have a notebook where I am writing down the character info so I have it readily available, and I will also do character sheets for the NPCs that they will be interacting with.  What is cool about the character sheets is the health status is there at the bottom. Player characters and the high-end NPC have basically the same hit points. The chart gives you that info, the game effect, and the healing (which is pseudo-magical but I am okay with that). NPCs have fewer blocks so get killed with fewer "draft" hits. I think combat will be fun once we do it a couple of times and get used to those mechanics. 


I will do another Solo Traveller post soon, as well as a beasts of Corsairs. The rules only outline 2 beasts, and I've already added sky whales, large dragons that eat the sky whales, and cresters from the Windward game that will show up at some point (and that game will be great if we get to play face to face again, cause it has flying ship minis!)