Saturday, February 17, 2018

Revenge: A Pirate RPG

The Golden Age of Piracy is one of my all time favorite historical eras. A couple of friends suggested I start running a pirate tabletop campaign for fun and my mind accidentally went haywire with ideas and this happened:

Hexmap of the Spanish Main. Islands are spaced further apart for more wild encounters. 

In my game it is 1716, one year after the Wreck of the Spanish Treasure Fleet. Sailors from Cape Cod to London have heard of the tales of the immense amount of gold scattered on the sands of the Florida Keys, itching to be took. The bravest among them have abandoned being abused at sea by Spanish, French, or English captains for little to no pay in search of their own fortunes. More on this and how the supernatural effects this world a little later.

The character sheet

Like I said in a previous post, some of the mechanics are based on The Driftwood Verses, including Afflictions (like Sorrow and Doom) and Skills (like Seafaring and Reload). I took out the deathray style saves because I like using Abilities for that.

With Skills, I use Last Gasp's style of learning skills through usage, but only on the 2nd, 4th, and other even number levels they can roll to see if they gain another dot in that Skill. Players can also interact with NPCs that may know a thing or two about the Skill to gain tallies.

The ship sheet

Ships are almost characters themselves. There are three ship types: Sloop, Frigate, and Galleon, each with pros and cons in Cargo storage, Cannons firepower, and Speed. Combat works the same as Driftwood Verses with contesting Seafaring rolls to execute maneuvers. The Move maneuver uses Speed of the ship, which is based on Pirates of the Spanish Main's usage of measuring via Longways (L) or Shortways (S) of a playing card. I found this the easiest to translate since I use their minis for combat anyway.

Resources play a huge role in dictating what the players can/need to do. Using the Plunder System helps with randomizing loot for pillaged ships, but its always a risk because it may not carry what the players need. Each hex requires Provisions to travel to, Munitions to fight enemy ships or creatures, and Wood to recover from said battles. They can also find Treasures to trade in at outposts for gold/XP gain. This aspect of resource management really drives home that the PCs are scrappy survivalists and not just unstoppable forces at sea.

I will be posting some Session Notes from this in the near future as well as some tables I've made for pirate era Items, Wavecrawl Encounters, and Crew Morale. In the meantime if you are looking for similar inspiration checkout Zak's Wavecrawl post and Weird On the Waves which also have been a huge help. Cheers!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Plunder System

After a ship is seized and raided, draw a hand of playing cards. Numbers are quantity of items found, the suit is the type. Usually, 1 "barrel" of plunder allows the crew to take the associated action. (ie 1 barrel of Gunpowder allows the ship to enter combat on that hex, 1 barrel of Provisions must be consumed each day for upkeep to the Crew Morale, etc)

Spades are Gunpowder and Cannonballs (for combat)
Clubs are Wood (for making ship repairs)
Hearts are Food and Provisions (to improve or maintain crew Morale)
Diamonds are Valuables (traded for gold)

Standard poker hands decipher what is earned. Always round down if the number is odd.

  • High card gets the half of the number of provisions of the highest card.
  • Two pair gets you half of the provisions of both cards in the pair.
  • Three of a kind gets you half of the provisions of all three cards.
  • Straight gets you half of the provisions of each card in the straight.
  • Flush gets you half of the provisions of each card in the flush.
  • Full House gets you half of the provisions of all of the cards.
  • Four of a Kind gets gets you the provisions of all four cards.
  • Straight Flush gets you the provisions of all the cards.
  • Royal Flush gets you the provisions of all the cards plus a powerful and unique magic item.

Obviously its not a perfect system, but its a fun way to randomize the loot and give the feel of taking ships being a gamble as it was back in the day. I usually reskin what they get each time too, like barrels of rum for Provisions or tobacco for Valuables, giving infinite combinations of what they can find and loot.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Back From The Dead

Hello! I'll be returning from my long hiatus from blogging with a few posts to keep my thoughts in order with some games I'm running. It's been a few years (like 3...whoops!) so here's what I am running:

-Revenge: A Pirate RPG: A hack of D&D Frankenstein'd together with elements of other systems. There's a decent draw from the upcoming Driftwood Verses and Weird on the Waves but set in 1716, the Golden Age of Piracy. It is low magic, with Witches being extremely rare and shunned from society. Skeletons, Dire Whales, and other supernatural creatures can be found however. I run this one weekly to bi-weekly.

-Raiders! Thrilling Tales of Fortune and Glory: A very light Story Game-esque system based on Apocalypse World and The Stolen Century from TAZ. Set in the 1930s, players take rolls as artifact hunters seeking to protect the world from evil. Almost like League of Extraordinary Gentleman meets Indiana Jones. I run this monthly with a rotating group. Each adventure is a one-shot.

There you have it. I'll probably post a bunch this week from the two games to mind dump everything I have been working on.  Stay tuned!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Map Of The Ol West

The year is 1903. The American Southwest is in decline. Civil War, economic hardship, and the constant struggle for survival drives its people into lives of ruthless desperation.

This is the county of Blair, a place crawling with bandits, charlatans, and cow rustlers. All cowards looking to become kings. But there are places the rotten men haven't touched. Unexplored crevasses and barren lands seeping tales of an old world beyond this one. A world that promises deadly secrets and safeguards them well. Just a taste of those strange powers could mean the difference between life or death in these desert wastes.

Do you have the iron to seek them out?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Random Encounters of The Weird West

A table I've been working on for my upcoming Weird West campaign.

This setting is much less undead gunslingers and steampunk scientists, and more fucked up Lovecraftian creatures with the locals trying to explain them with their own lore. (I'll explain some of The Weird later.) In a perfect world it would have art by Ben Templesmith and be narrated by Tom Waits.

Both positive and negative events are found here. I'll update the list as time goes on as well.

William Anderson "Devil Anse" Hatfield

Weird West Encounters (Roll 1d10)

1.     Ambush! (Roll 1d4)

1. 1d6 bandits attack your posse

2. 1d4 criminals holding up/attacking another caravan

3. Grand theft stallion/stagecoach

4. Trap! Dynamite explodes/a line of gunpowder ignites in front of you. Horses buck you off, rocks tumble, gunfire in every direction.

2.     Flannel Mouths and Friendly Faces (Roll 1d4)

1.   Farmer’s cart broke a wheel. They’ll offer you some food if you help fix it in time for them to make it to the next town.

2.   Gun merchant offers their wares.

3.   Salesman driving a carriage full of “Miracle Elixir.” Roll on the Elixirs chart (or any ol’ Random Potion chart) for the kind. 50% chance its snake oil.

4.   Banished benevolent witch offers to sell or trade their trinkets and ritual components to travelers.

3.     Docile Animals (Roll 1d4)

       1. 1d6 whitetail deer

2. An armadillo

3. 1d4 rabbits

4. A raccoon

4.     Unfriendly Animals (Roll 1d6)

1.   1d6 bighorn sheep

2.   1d4 hawks

3.   1d12 buffalo

4.   1d12 elk

5.   1d4 vultures

6.   1d4 foxes

5.     Violent Animals (Roll 1d8)

1.   Bear

2.   Bobcat

3.   Cougar

4.   1d8 coyotes

5.   1d4 wild boar

6.   1d6 rattlesnakes

7.   1d6 wolves

8.   1d12 scorpions

6.     Frontiersmen (Roll 1d4)

1.   Hunter offers a bet to kill 1d6 animals. (5-6 Docile, 4-3 Unfriendly, 2-1 Violent) Roll on the respective table for the result.

2.   Trapper offers a bet to capture 1d4 Docile Animals. They also sell traps at a modest price.

3.   Herbalist is looking for certain specimens in the wild. They offer payment if the posse can return with them.

4.   Explorers returning with artifacts from caves not far off. They won’t sell their finds for cheap, but they might be willing to part with the map for less.

7.       Escort Mission (Roll 1d4)

1.   Help a sheriff escort an unruly criminal to the nearest town for part of the reward money.

2.   Bring stranded travelers to the nearest town. They can reward mundane items or a monetary complement.

3.   Supply cart upturned, they need to make the delivery to the next town before sundown. They promise either some of their goods or part of the payment for the job. Roll 1d6 for kind of supplies.

1.  Food (meat, vegetables, etc)

2.  Medicine

3.  Ore (coal, silver, copper, etc)

4.  Dynamite

5.  Sugar/Spices

6.  Alcohol

                  4. Traveler claims to be attacked by…things. Get them to town in 1 hour before they turn or things could get ugly.

8.       Duel. Depending on the PC’s Fame/Infamy someone will challenge one of them to a duel. The enemy has the same Dex bonus as the PC’s Fame/Infamy.

9.       Camp.  (Roll 1d4) 50% chance of being attacked in the night by bandits/Violent Animals/The Weird. Roll 1d6 to see how your hosts fare against them. Rolling under and they vanquish the foes, above means you awaken to their screams as the last of them is killed.

1.     Moonshiners drunk on their product have plenty to share, but good luck having their help in a fight. 1 in 6 defense.

2.     Surveyors packing up their measuring rods and maps offer comfort and stories of their explorations under the stars. They pack little weaponry but offer a fine meal of roast mutton to travelers. 2 in 6 defense.

3.     A traveling vaudeville circus offers entertainment and jokes to make the night in the desert a little easier. The food is questionable, but there’s plenty of whiskey to go around. 40% chance they’ll try to steal from the players, either through pickpocketing them while they’re drunk or waiting until they’re all asleep. 3 in 6 defense.

4.     Prospectors’ camp. Weary from a hard day of mining/sifting the river, they’ll offer you mild protection from the night and some lukewarm gruel. 20% chance they struck it rich and will offer more appealing venison stew to eat, but they’ll be paranoid and wary about their new visitors and are prone to kick them out just for looking at them funny. 4 in 6 defense.

5.     US Soldiers set up camp for the night. They’re armed with high-powered repeating rifles, but the any infamous party members aren’t welcome here. 5 in 6 defense.

6.     Hunters of The Weird prepare for war. Their camp affixed with all sorts of wards and luck talismans dangling from tents. Grizzled clergymen offer no solace but their blades and rifles as they snuff out the light and ready to fight the terrors. Players wishing to stay here must swear an oath to their god and perform an initiation ritual. 6 in 6 defense.

10.      The Weird (Roll 1d6)

1.     1d4 devotees of Ithaqua. 1 in 6 chance each could be fully turned Wendigo.   
Wild folk who believe in “Donner’s Promise,” knowingly or unknowingly give devotion to the Old One Ithaqua, and participate in cannibalism in order to obtain protection through the winter months and power over others. Practitioners take on monstrous features and after a year of practice they are unrecognizable from the humans they once were. The Navajo call the fully turned Wendigos. When a Wendigo is slain, it bursts into a swarm of mosquitos before perishing completely.

2.     Skinwalker. Roll again on encounters. One of the people/creatures in the encounter is a skinwalker and will attack when given the chance. At less than half health, the skinwalker sheds their false hide and their true form spills out.

Some magic practitioners have learned how to take the form of any person or animal by ritually killing them and wearing their skin. In this form, they act as the creature until mortally wounded and they are forced to emerge from the hide. Skinwalkers often use scarification and mark their own flesh with wicked hexes that immobilize their victims.

3.     Chupacabra

Utterly furless, muscular wolf-like creatures with slits for eyes and grey spines upon their backs seek nothing more than to drink the blood of its victims.

4.     Black Goat Initiate

Those who believe that reality is but a veil and that true pleasure lies beyond worship The Black Goat and find solace in the northern woods. Some use hallucinogenics to pierce the veil; others study the brains of their lobotomized victims. The magic they use is potent and dangerous, and without any empathy for other beings or themselves they are prone to use catastrophic spells or even dynamite to get closer to understanding the other side.

5.     Mound Beast. (based on the creatures from H.P. Lovecraft’s The Mound.)

Massive, grotesque humanoid creatures described by people who spot them as “ogres.” They tend to dwell near native burial mounds and are highly territorial. The Mound Beasts are capable of ripping victims in half and devouring their intestines. Others have spotted them eating fistfuls of rattlesnakes. Some believe they are semi-sentient and live beneath the burial sites in some sort of civilization that settled here before any humans did.

6.     1d6 Sand Mites. On a crit, Save versus Poison or the mite decapitates you and empties their fresh eggs into your body. In 1d4 turns the eggs hatch, spilling out 1d12 baby mites.

Vicious deer ticks the size of dogs that burrow in the sand and are capable of decapitating unfortunate travelers with their mandibles and laying eggs in their carcasses. The eggs hatch quickly in moist environments, which make wet sand or the flesh of victims the perfect nest.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Salutations from the Sure Shootin' Princess

Stagecoach Mary

A little while ago, David Rollins discussed running Death Frost Doom and other LotFP adventures in a Wild Western setting. He also talked about a few rules regarding money and guns.

I've always wanted a solid Western RPG with some twisted magical elements. So I whipped up a few house rules for LotFP. I've yet to put them all to the test, so feel free to use them in your own Weird West game and let me know how they work!

Before starting, it is important to note that the United States in the late 1800's was a place of racism, genocide, and sexism, and Hollywood's depiction of the era glorifies these. Do not perpetuate racist or sexist behavior. Do not encourage or tolerate players perpetuating racist or sexist behavior. If you think you or your players can't handle this then either don't play during this time period or don't play at all. Educate yourself with the film Reel Injun before playing. Read up on the genre and the history behind it.

Character Creation

Calamity Jane

Obviously there were no documented Dwarves, Elves, and Halflings running around in the American Southwest, so I suggest removing them.

Fighters, Specialists, Magic-Users, and Clerics are all fair game.

Ability Scores:

Much like Deadlands, Ability Scores can be determined with playing cards for that extra flavor. The player draws eight cards from the deck of 52. Out of the eight cards, the player chooses six of them to assign to their abilities. All 2's must be chosen.

Here's a handy chart to determine what you got:

Playing Card
Ability Score

 Suits help determine the Ability Score themselves.


In some situations, clubs determine the lowest number, diamonds and hearts are the middle, and spades are the highest. For example, a 6 of Hearts yields a modifier of -1 and an ability score of 7. This will happen when you draw 5-7 and J-Q

For 3-4 and K, clubs and diamonds are low, hearts and spades are high. For example a King of Diamonds is a +2 with a score of 16.


Bushcraft, Climbing, Languages, Search, Sleight of Hand, Sneak Attack, Stealth, and Tinkering all work well in the Ol' West.

I suggest getting rid of Open Doors and Architecture, and adding Traps (detecting and setting more complicated ones), Stories (or Lore) and Medicine.
Arizona Scout, 1880s

Other Optional Rules

-Following Logan's House of Rules:
  • Flesh/Grit as Health à la Corpathiüm keeps combat nice and dangerous.
  • d8 weapons, muskets, and bows are Hard AB, smaller weapons and pistols are Fast.
  • Take away PARRY from the Combat Maneuvers and add QUICK DRAW: Before combat, add +2 to initiative, but -4 to attack. This only works for the first attack or when drawing a new weapon.
  • Dying, Encumbrance, and learning new skills all work pretty swell.
-Use poker chips as Experience Points. (10 chips to for level 1, 20 for level 2, etc.) Reward them to players when they secure their loot ($200 worth = 1 chip) and role-play well. Players can also have the option to cash in 3 chips to re-roll a single dice roll. The second roll must be taken.
-Include the Jokers in determining the ability scores. Jokers count as redraws and must be chosen. This ability is special to your character's back story in some way.