Pirates & Plunder

   Don’t mess with Texas – even in tabletop gaming! Yes: I love Yaquinto Publications, and still have a lot of fond memories about Pirates & Plunder, which I ran from 1996 to ’99, and it was the only “fantasy” game I ran with absolutely no magic in the entire campaign – very refreshing. Everything else I ever ran had magic in it, except for one or two short sci-fi or James Bond campaigns. But not having to bother with magic is truly like a DM’s paid vacation...

    One player tackled the role of young Captain Joshua Tew, a (fictional) brother of the infamous Thomas Tew of the Amity. Josh Tew’s own ship was the Marmaduke, with a crew of 38 ruthless sailors, mostly Englishmen from the Bahamas, with some French outlaws thrown into the mix... Captain Tew was a good leader, bold, charismatic, just sneaky enough, and not as insane as most (if not all) of the other PCs.

   Second player was a crazy Quaker priest obsessed with converting Indians and Pirates alike to the True Religion – his own. He wasn’t a coward, though, and took an active part in every battle, slashing around with his sabre, and jumping like a madman right in the midst of Spanish soldiers whenever he had the chance. Sometimes he even went bananas and drew his blade during non-fight scenes, like at a dinner party in Tobago with some rich tobacco farmers and their families...

   Third player was a young chap who never seemed to own enough gunpowder and weapons and muskets and pistols and sabres and rapiers and knives. He was a fifteen-year-old walking arsenal, and never wasted a single round recharging any gun. He just lined them up along the railing prior to a fight, twenty or twenty-five loaded guns, and nobody else would dare touch ‘em, and he was all set then – because, honestly, what RPG fight scene ever lasted twenty-five rounds?

   Fourth player was an old hand: an experienced French sailor who never wore any armor. His Constitution / Toughness score was so damn high that his (hairy) bare chest was less likely to suffer a wound than the Captain’s with his leather brigandine and silk shirt. Old Jacquot owned two weapons – a regular sword, and a seventy-year-old musket with a slightly bent barrel. A cask of rum once fell onto the gun, and Old Jacquot kept it and patiently trained himself to aim with that bent barrel. After a few years, he’d mastered “the bend” and could fire his musket with a normal hit probability – but anybody else suffered a -30 penalty if they ever tried to shoot with this particular gun, and Jacquot himself had a -25 penalty when aiming with any firearm other than his own.

   They played long adventures on the Mosquito Coast, in the Bahamas, in Jamaica, Tobago, Maracaibo, and on more than a few tiny islands and cays. One time, they completely destroyed the small port of Matthew Town in the Bahamas – an operation that required almost three hours of sustained cannon fire, along with thirty powder kegs stashed in advance near city hall, the church, and the jailhouse! And all of that was just because one guy they needed to kill was hiding somewhere in town, and they couldn’t find him...

   I’ve heard quite a few Dungeon Masters talk about running the “best game of their life”. They think about it, they plan on it, talk about it... but is it going to happen? Or maybe the question should be: has it already happened?

   If you took up DMing at age fifteen, by the time you hit thirty you already have way more experience than EGG himself when he was running that legendary Greyhawk campaign in the early seventies. Here’s a little equation to measure that. You take the year you first started DMing, add fifteen to it, and that’s your “DMing Peak”. Now, what were you running right around that time? Look it up.


No comments:

Post a Comment