So this new year has started off with a bang.
I’m running the occassional duet with my neighbour of a strange lost being (World of Dungeons by way of Godbound), I’ve potentially been asked to run a OSE game at a local library (we’ll see how that goes), and I’ve started my first discord game – hesitantly called “Sunday Sessions”.
Its 5 players and I running my favorite “Freebooters on the Frontier 2e“. It started as a convo on a discord server (not sure I remember which one actually) with one guy asking if anyone was out there willing to run a PbtA/DW type game on discord. Then, as these things do, it snowballed.
The plan is to make a kind of open table / west marches type situation. The basic setup is that the players are “down on their luck”-types willing to do dangerous jobs for some quick cash… on the outskirts of their civilised realm and beyond most of their laws. Lets see what happens!
Andrew (fighter) – Big hairy guy
Burr Burrowfoot (thief) – gregarious halfling
Cyrus Ravenholme (fighter) – noble from disgraced family
Richard Tanner (fighter) – past his prime soldier looking for a windfall
Veris Strakeas (magic user) – on the run eastern scholar
It started in the officer of Maria “Ma” Martel. She is the granddaughter of the great trading combine’s founder, and is currently in this far-flung trading post as she is rumoured to have killed a couple of nobles in duels in the Capitol. The PCs were signing their “registration articles” for the Martel Combine. They officially called themselves the “Ravenholme mercenary company” captained by Cyrus. Introduced to the Westport quartermaster “Tenpiece” (A former dWARF – de Werker AnAristocratische Revolutie Fraternitische) a heavily tattooed giant of a man, they discussed the working of Westport (aka. Martel money making venture) and their rights (access to Clearinghouse for sales, Quartermaster for purchases, Ma’s Cauldron for food & grog. Don’t make trouble that threatens profits)
Cyrus was eager to make the new Freecompany an “earner”, and proposed working for Ma. She mentioned that a sometime employee “Captan Ryan” had just refitted his ship at great expense, and she couldn’t figure out how he’d gotten hold of so much money! Ma asked if they could discover the secret of his windfall and would offer 500 silver crowns for actionable proof. Cyrus (and the rest) jumped at the opportunity.
Pooling their meagre coin, the Ravens headed to Ma’s Cauldron to pick up the local gossip. Immediately they noticed some big spenders – a few other Freecompanies recently arrived. They had been serving on the “Siren’s Edge” (Cpt Ryan’s ship) and were bragging of recent plunder. Andrew tried to get friendly by buying drinks for one group, and after much rowdy drinking and bragging, learnt of Ryan’s trips to the Swordfish Isles (considered dangerous and unapproachable) and the plunder of the local inhabitants and ruins. They also heard the rumours that Cpt Ryan had fought in the dWARF wars and captured the Siren’s Edge from the Vampire Lords in the Southlands.
Cyrus and Veris made their way to the docks and singled out Cpt Ryan and his quartermaster overseeing the resupply of the Siren’s Edge. They asked about rumours of hiring, and when the Captain seemed impressed with the stories of the Ravenholme mercenaries (and Veris’ scholarly background) offered them a spot on his next expedition. Leaving on the turn of the tide (early morning).
When they returned to the Cauldron, they found Andrew had managed to escalate to gambling 1000c against “Barlow’s Hawks” (led by Ellis, a friendly but scary looking bald man) on who would be able to pull the most loot on an expedition. The news that Cyrus has signed them up with the Siren’s Edge was met with cheers as they were added to the Expedition Roster (where various companies were listed with odds on survival.. Ravenholm at 20-1)
The crew gathered their gear while Cyrus gave them the details. A 3 day trip to the island, drop off, then a pickup a few days later. Cpt Ryan would take a 40% cut of all loot – but warned that there was only 30% likelihood of survival.
On the trip Cyrus tried to get close to Captain Ryan, but found after the initial sharing of stories the Captain was getting more and more bothered by having someone following him around the ship. Andrew (who had served time on other merchant ships) noticed that the ship’s navigator was requesting a LOT of updates on speed and direction, and on the third day the captain got involved with some detailed course changes. Veris tried to inconspicuously copy down the directions, but missed some of the beginning (which could render the directions useless). The crew decided that they would need to steal the ship’s rutters on the return trip to give incontrovertible proof to Ma.
On the third morning out from Westport, the Siren’s Edge dropped anchor near a jungle covered volcanic island. Through the trees on shore they could catch glimpses of a terraced ruin, their destination. A pair of longboats were launched to deposit two free companies (Ravenholme and Barlow’s) Clambering ashore through the rough waves they found themselves in a shattered port. The longboat crews were nervously waiting to pickup another free company (who were apparently late?) While Barlow’s crew were setting up a tent, Richard was trying to dry out his waterlogged gear. Noticing his tinderbox was ruined, he (and Cyrus & Veris) crept into the ruins looking for replacement tinder.
Sometime later Richard noticed movement on the terrace below them – Four large “Croc-men” with prisoners moving towards the longboats intent on an ambush. It was quickly decided to carry out their own ambush. The plan was to creep up and take out the pair of bowmen, but Veris’ initial spell went awry and destroyed a nearby building. In the chaos of the aftermath the two bow-wielding Crocs were ambushed, one falling to a crossbow bolt while Richard wrestled desperately with the other until Cyrus managed to join in and finish it. Andrew and Burr noticed a commotion in the jungle and went to investigate… turning the corner of some ruined buildings they encountered (with mutual surprise) the other pair of croc-men. Burr tried to drop and scamper away, kicking dust and sand in the eyes of his pursuer, while Andrew immediately leapt forward to try and wrest control of a vicious looking obsidian sword-club. While the pair rolled on the ground wrestling for control, Burr took advantage of his temporary freedom to drive a short sword into the ribs of the wrestling croc – drawing a scream of pain as it lodged in the croc’s ribs. The still standing croc managed to mostly clear his eyes and was about to plunge his spear into Burr when a crossbow bolt from Cyrus sewered it.
Andrew was slowly being overpowered by the stronger croc sitting on top of him, when a whirlwind of metal shards descended – pulling the croc up into the air and turning it into a fine mince. Andrew slowly sat up, covered in gore to see Cyrus, Richard and Veris returning triumphant.
=====End Session 1=====
Honestly I was quite excited about this game. Running over discord presented its own problems – but nothing that was insurmountable. Not everyone had played a PbtA game before, while others had run games of Dungeon World… no pressure 🙂 There was some hiccups trying to get a shared picture of what was going on – but a nice shared scribble board made mapping (of a primitive sort) possible and got everyone closer to being on the same page.
The setting ended up feeling something like “Pirates of the Carribean” to me. Perhaps a little stranger.
There were a few rules-issues discussed on the discord on the following days – but one of the players pointed out a wonderful “feature” of PbtA games: these mechanical issues get solved when you go back to the fiction. So our first houserule is that any “move” can be downgraded to a simple take a risk move of 10+ get what you want, 7-9, get what you want with some complications, and 6- mark stat and trouble ensues.