- Aye, lad. Just ye an' Me. Me knows 'ts seems like a bad place, but trust Me - Ol' Turtle Eye Jim's been tru' 's 'fore. Wass yer name again laddo?
- Jack the landlubber, Sir-rey!
- Aye, Jack... Ye been a great cabin boy, but now me needs ye a real scallywag. Take this musket an' wai' 're, while ol' Turtle-eye goes an' grabs some ammo
- Aye-aye, captain!
... right before the Spanish cannons started to roar Jack heard a sudden splash behind him. Like someone jumping into the water.
Aye! Here be the shipguide for the freeform role playing game of the greatest pirate adventure. Ever. In the adventure you and your friends (''tha' be players later on) take roles of legendary privateers, shrewd buccaneers and all other kinds of bloodthirsty scallywags. All who are tied together by the code and honour amongst pirates.
Both of which will be utterly betrayed multiple times as the players plot and mischief for and against each other.
One adventure takes about one or two hours, including all preparations and planning like shuffling the cards, creating characters or making up the premise. The game is playable with just the cards, but you might find the game easier to follow with some paper and pens for notes and counting the crosses in the Davy Jones Counter.
The game is all about having fun. Push your characters to complicated and fun situations. Curse like a scallywag. Cheat fate, Act like a legend, and if the inevitable cold grave calls you - go with a bang.
Each player has a character he or she plays. These player characters are the main characters of the game, and thus they have some more meat to the bones than regular side cast used during the game.
A character must have(*:
Good pirate names consist of a name and descriptive part. Like Gunpowder-Pete, The Scarlett Barnacles or Janett the Crook.
Crew position of a character is decided using the cards in players starting hand. Just see your highest card and consult the? following table.
|Task on a ship||Highest card||Position|
|Captain||King or queen||Boss of the ship|
|First mate||Jack||Captain's deputy|
|Boatswain||Deuce||Sails and rigs|
|Carpenter||Nine||Maintenance of ship's hull|
|Gun master||Seven||Cannons and cannoneers|
|Cook||Six||Food and rum|
|Cabin boy||Five or lower||Serving and helping|
If two players share the same position, check both players second highest card – higher keeps the position while lower takes next position in the chart. If all three cards of two or more players match, its rare enough to have 2 or three captains for the ship.
After you have decided names and positions for each character, you should add some descriptive features to the character. Features do not really affect game-play, but they give more credibility and feeling to the character.
Some Examples of excellent features could be:
Features simply can not be too stereotypical. Parrots, Wooden legs etc. work just fine. Of course you might want to be more personal at times, so just go ahead.
As Hounds of the Sea is not prepared beforehand – you need to figure out some details about the adventure in hand. Good starting point, a draft synopsis and one or two hints of possible endings will do the trick.
After creating the characters, an adventure is brainstormed together. Basic ideas of this sessions adventure may come from one player – or from all players. It does not matter, as long as everyone agrees on adventure’s basic points.
Before starting the adventure, write down a short synopsis, what the quest is about. And remember: do not fear the stereotypes – game will turn to its own piece, no matter how stereotypical you make the synopsis.
Ending clues are as important as the premise. If all players know how to drive the game towards an ending – it is radially easier to drive the game towards an eventful ending.
Sometimes figuring out an adventure out of thin air is pretty hard. On those situations you may use the cards and the aventur-o-matic to create the grand challenge of an adventure.
The game begins with a scene where all characters are present. From that moment on, events fold out as players describe how their characters act and react to the scene, situation and actions of other players.
The beginning scene is narrated by the first player left from the Captain (or preferably by the most experienced pirate in the table). The player draws a card form the deck, and frames a scene based on the text, suit and value of the card. After the scene ends, next player (to the left again) narrates the next scene or plot twist within the scene, and so on.
All the scenes start from a plot twist. The twists might be positive, helpful, funny or they might come in the shape of a challenge.
As the card drawn above was higher than 5 – the plot twist must contain a challenge for the characters
Players respond to challenges by using cards from their hand. A player may play as many cards of same suit he likes, but sum of card values must be at least equal to the challenge cards value to beat the challenge. Players should draw cards from the deck to replace played cards immediately, after their response is resolved.
When the initial challenge is resolved, the game can continue on its own weight – or the next player may simply draw the next plot twist from the deck. Its perfectly ok, if the plot just keeps twisting. In fact, the game is probably much more fun – if you keep drawing twists one after another.
The scene in the examples above, could continue with the following twist:
In addition to the card text – each card has suit, and value. The nature of the twist is decided by the card suit and the difficulty of the challenge by card value.
Hearts : Hearts stand for social, political or romantic twists. Maybe an old friend returns to haunt our heroes. Perhaps the person our scallywags are hunting turns out to be a childhood lover of the captain.
Spades: Spades stand for (bad) luck, (ill) fate and (cursed) destiny. Rum All Out? Or maybe wind just fades away. Or the characters find mysterious map, leading to a forgotten treasure…
Clubs: Clubs stand for action, danger and struggle! Spanish marines surprise the heroes. A French man-o-war enters the lagoon. Whatever happens, clubs bring the smell of danger and gunpowder to a scene.
Diamonds: Diamonds stand for cunning plots, tricks and cheating. The map turns out to be a trap. The man hiring the ship turns out to be a woman.
Each challenge can be resolved with any colour. Threat of violence can be resolved with a sheer strike of luck… and so forth
(NB if the character is unable to resolve a challenge with the cards in hand – the situation might call for a betrayal)
Hearts: Charisma and Daring. The character resolves the challenge with his dashing charisma, inspiring words or bold actions.
Spades: Luck. Sheer luck.
Clubs: Action! Character resolves the challenge with force, action or gunpowder.
Diamonds: Cunning. Perhaps the challenge was part of the plan all along. Or maybe the character manages to escape the challenge by using his wits.
If a card value is higher than 5, the twist contains a challenge. The narrating player may choose freely which characters must pass the challenge. The challenge can be against a character, against any character or against all characters. If the challenge is against more than one character, all the characters in question must pass the challenge or fail. However a character may resolve a challenge on behalf of all the characters if his response exceeds the challenge rating by double or more.
Failing to resolve a challenge can, and will not kill the character outright. The failing character just gets two markings to his Davy Jones locker. And most probably ends up in a really tight situation.
When character fails to resolve a challenge, the player may discard all cards and draw three new ones.
If two or more characters are opposing each other, any of the players may turn the situation to a challenge by playing cards from his hand, like in a challenge. In such a situation, the character action becomes the challenge, and the played cards mark the challenge rating.
The challenge from another characters action, can kill a character, if the challenge winning player calls for it. The challenges between characters do not need to be deadly: A character might try to seduce another or steal his hat.
Pirates never betray each other, or the pirate code.
Well... at least if its not a matter of life and death ... Or if its not about Love ... Or if there is no gold in it ... Or… well you get the picture.
In Hounds of the Sea, betrayal becomes handy, when you want your character to resolve a challenge – but you just do not have the cards to make it through.
In game terms, betrayal is actually pretty straightforward:
In actual game-play – the situation has one little extra detail. The character has to actually do something, that can be considered a betrayal of the pirate code or the friendship between him and his friends.
Sometimes a challenge calls for more than one betrayal. In such a challenge any players whose characters have already betrayed the group do not place any cards to the table
...Oh. And before you start betraying anyone, you might want to check the rules about the locker.
And then there is the locker.
Even if the characters can not die directly from the challenges - there is a price for failure and betrayal. Sooner or later the cold arms of the grave will welcome all pirates of the sea.
There should be 12 empty slots in each character sheet. These slots are used to keep note of the characters failures and betrayals.
Each time the character fails a challenge, he gets two markings to the locker.
Each time the character betrays the others, he gets a marking to the locker.
And each time the character gets one or more markings - a card is drawn. If the card drawn is equal, or less than the total sum of markings on character sheet, the characters days are numbered and he is doomed.
If a character already has 12 markings on the sheet - he is immediately doomed, when he gets the 13th mark.
A doomed character might look pale or even ghostly. Hi might see omens of his death and he knows that the day is his last.
A doomed character will die in any of the next three scenes. Players should not feel too attached to a doomed character.
Each character deserves a magnificent ending. If a character becomes doomed, have him go with a bang!