Fifteen men on a dead man's chest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum
Drink and the devil had done for the rest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum...
A ship full of pirates have after much searching and danger dug up a treasure, as full of gold as one could dream. All that is left is to bring it back to port and divide the loot. But the road home is long and dangerous and what kind of self-respecting pirate would share a treasure like that?
Introduction & Premise
- This is a pirate RP about a crew of pirates that are all trying to kill each other in effort to get a bigger share of the loot. Scheming, intrigue, and backstabbing is the order of the day, as well as terrible, terrible violence.
- It’s a fairly gamey RP, a bit in the same way as Mafia. It has a some mechanical rules and can be won, but still includes lots of roleplaying and intrigue.
- Players make multiple characters and play a new one whenever theirs get killed. Turn-over rate is high, so don’t get too attached.
- The setting is basically any “real” pirate setting: The Caribbean Sea, some time in the 17th or 18th century. Though the style is more like Treasure Island and such older pirate stories than, say Pirates of the Caribbean. The pirates here are nasty, scurvy-teethed men, who would shiv their mother for a cup of rum, not zany, reluctant heroes that look like Johnny Depp. No undeads or ancient curses either, though plenty of superstition.
- That’s not to say that the game is supposed to be super realistic and accurate or a hundred percent serious. The goal is for the in-game to be dark and bloody, but may well be humorous looking from an OOC perspective.
- Pirate talk, “avast me hearties”, and so on, is cool, as well as the various other accents that the characters might have.
- As GM, I’ll be mostly be in charge of setting the scene, moving the game along when needed and rules moderation. There won’t be much in the way of NPCs as the only characters considered relevant are the pirates the players are currently playing.
Before the beginning of the game, every player will be PMed a set of names. These are that players “winning” pirates. If one of these is the last man standing when the game is over, or have reconciled with the few remaining pirates to share the loot, that player wins the game. Kill more of the other pirates, and your chance of winning increases, but you also have to keep your own out of trouble. You’re no more likely to get your own characters as winning characters as your own, so you might not be obligated to keep the one you’re playing alive.
Before you can kill someone, you first have to place Marks on them. They come in three variants, Black (as death), Red (as blood), White (as bone). Black are offensive, red defensive and white are jokers and are special. You have a limited pool of Marks, that you are also given at the beginning of the game. Players will be given an equal amount of marks, but not the same distribution of them and they are secret. Here’s how to use them:
When your character does something to another, directly or indirectly, against another character that can be construed as trying to harm or kill them, you may give that character a Black Mark. That could be talking behind their backs and plotting their downfall with the other pirates, threatening them, giving them some (non-lethal) knuckle-sandwiches, poisoning their food, and in general maneuvering them into various traps and scheming against them.
If you do something to aid another character, such as standing up for them in a (verbal or otherwise) fight, making alliances, and helping them out, you may give that character a Red Mark.
Note that actions should have some weight to qualify. Slinging a couple of insults isn’t enough to qualify for a Black Mark. We’re talking about pirates here. The actions don’t necessarily have to put them in immediate danger, but should be serious attempts at undermining or aiding the other character.
In spoiler tags at the end of the post wherein you commit the harmful or helpful actions, you designate what Marks and whom you give them (if they’re should be any doubt). Per post, you can place at most three Marks, which can be split over just as many characters. Two Black Marks on one character and one red on another, for instance. You can’t put Marks on a character that hasn’t had a chance to react to the last time you did so, if you’re dealing with them directly, i.e. if the other player has not yet posted anything to answer whatever you did last time.
White Marks can be used both as Red or Black Marks and you don’t have to reveal which one it is. If your character does something that is ambiguous and can be construed as both being threatening and protecting of the other character, you only have to write how many White Marks you’re using in the spoiler tag, and PM me, whether you want it to count as black or red. So if your character says something cryptic that could be interpreted as a threat or an offer of alliance, or you help heal someone, but it might be to cripple them down the line, you can use White Marks to hide your intention. If you can’t come up with anything ambiguous (don’t strain yourself, it doesn’t matter if the other players can see through it), you can still use the White Mark simply as a joker, counting for either red or black at your choice.
Example of how a post could be structured:
”Oh, that wound looks absolutely horrid, sir.” the ship’s doctor answered Santiago in his usual calm, and overly mannered way. “You really should be more careful around those natives and their spears. I will begin suturing the wound immediately. Care for a bit of rum for the pain first?”
Bonnet could not help but be a bit of pleasure in the sailors yelps of pains and lengthy curses as he got to work. His hands worked sloppily, yet deliberately. Crude sutures, barely closing the wound on the pirates back, leaving ample opportunity for infection. With a little luck, it would be enough for a slow death and at the very least leave him weakened enough for one of the other brutes to finish off. Bonnet had lived with the pirates long enough to know that they are like sharks, preying on whoever is weak and bleeding. Santiago, the oaf, would never know. The pirates seemed to trust the doctor, even though he was still, and had always been, their prisoner. Perhaps they thought because he had saved their lives before, he was somehow an ally. But Bonnet was a patient man, and he did not mind having to tend his grudge in secret for the past years. However, now was the ideal time to collect upon it. He had no doubt that it was no accident four pirates never came back from the island and now all he had to do was stoke the flames without getting too close to the fire and he’d soon be both a free and a rich man.
Two Black Marks, Santiago.
Once a character has at least 5 marks on them, of any kind, they can be Attacked. This should be accompanied with a description of bringing the other character into lethal harm, whether it’s through violence, poison, exposure to the elements or a long drop. The attacker also risks his own life when doing so. The attacker can add up to two Black Mark the other character when attacking. The Marks on the attacked character is then tallied (I’ll keep track of them), and the Black and Red Marks then represent the probability of the defender and attacker dying, respectively. If the defender has 6 Black Marks, and 3 Red Marks on them, he or she has a 6/9 chance of dying and a 3/9 chance of surviving and the opponent dying. I roll the dice and give the result, and the one who survives, gets to narrate what happens. This killing narration is important and should be given some flair. Horrid violence, irony, or fitting karma is cool stuff. As a further rule, no two killings can be done the same way. Only one pirate can be killed by being gunned down, but being pummeled to death with a gun would probably count as something else.
A Word on Pacing
A big part of the point of this RP is that it will end. When and how depends a bit on how things goes, but there will only be so many characters in the game and once only one or a couple of them are alive, and we’ve had a little epilog, the RP is over. This isn’t supposed to take that long, either. Think of it as a short novel, about the abrupt end to these pirates lives, rather than an epic tale, thick as a doorstopper.
As such, keeping up the pace is very important. Killing should be done at a somewhat brisk pace, and you don’t have to wait around for a certain amount of time before springing into action. This will also accelerate over the course of the game. On average, I’d expect at least a kill per page, with perhaps the exception of the first one. That isn’t to say you have to do the intrigue dance or place spots in every post. You’re free to make posts for the sake of characterization, letting us know the character a bit before they die, but if there’s no particular point to your post, get on with the scheming and the killing and placing them Marks.
You have to make at least two characters to begin with. If you’re feeling the inspiration, you can make more, but it’s not guaranteed you’re gonna be able to play them, depending on the amount of players the game gets. I’m aiming for somewhere between 10 and 25 characters in the game, representing the entire pirate crew. You can also make more for the sole purpose of me picking out my favourites, of course .
You only play one character at a time and play them in the order you put them, so put the one you’re the most passionate about first. If you *really* want to, you can have scenes with your other characters, but only one is in active play at a time, can be attacked, can place marks, and is really important for what is happening in the game. Focus on the ones in play.
Most importantly, do not get too attached to your character. The whole point of the RP is the vast majority of them is gonna die, and it’s gonna be awesome. Treat them like a stolen car. So don’t play defensively, and don’t invest too much into them. The character sheet for each character shouldn’t be much longer than a page and can easily be less. Two pages is probably too long and three is right out, you’ll have to cut down. Make evocative, simple characters that are interesting without you needing to write a book of backstory to explain why.
Name: (English, Dutch, French, Spanish names and those of whoever else were mucking about the caribbean in that period. Titles, nicknames and other such is totally cool, even instead of real ones, that might even be the point.)
Gender: (Default is male. These pirates are at best not gonna be less egalitarian than the historic ones, so women is not gonna be a common thing, and it’s gonna be a big deal and an needs to be thought into the concept. Only play a female if you’re willing to deal with the implications.)
Job: (Their function on the ship. Most will simply be sailor, of varying veterancy, rigging the sails, washing the deck, that kinda thing. Then there’s jobs like cannoneer, cook, doktor, navigator, first and second mate, the captains right hand man, and so on. Ideally, all positions should be filled, but we can also assume vacancies are due to earlier death. Captain is unavailable.)
Quote: (Something they would say, that gives a good glimpse at their character. Feel free to pirate it up)
Personality: (A little cliché is not a bad thing. Mannerisms, way of speaking, way they act and such. Incorporate something that implies how they go about the intrigue: Straightforward and violent, sneaky and scheming, diplomatic and gets others to get the job done? Either way, while the character might have a redeeming feature or two, they generally should be deplorable in nature.)
Appearance: (In broad strokes. Size, build and distinguishing features)
Background: (Really brief. Not their life story, just what’s relevant to their current situation. Former marine, slave, captive, born on tortuga? Their history with the crew and their reputation is also important, but can also be put in the personality section if appropriate)
Motivation: (Briefer still. Why do they want the gold? If for simple greed (which may well be the case), at least an example of what they want to spend it on. Again, these are simple minded pirates, doesn’t have to be anything fancy.)
Name: White Duncan
Quote: “Rig the damn sail you landlubbers! Ain’t no rum for anyone without their sealegs! Or you can get the whip if that gets ya rigging faster!”
Personality: Duncan is a hands-on kinda man, not afraid to get his own hands dirty and do another sailors job for them if need be. However, should he have to, and the reason is not that the sailor is, the punishment is harsh. He is a mean-spirited bastard, commanding through shout and whip and is not particularly well liked among the crew. However, he is still pretty good at his job of keeping the crew of the ship together, rewards excellence and shares the loot fairly. Not to mention quelled a mutiny or two with ample keelhauling to follow.
Appearance: A big and somewhat burly man, white streaks in his ponytailed hair and plenty of hairs on his chest. Two scars on his face, one down the chin and one above the eye, both the work of traitors. Not a very pretty man, although rugged in a defining manner, with a wide, square jaw. He has a gold ring in each ear, but never dresses fancy, always in the practical outfit of a sailor. His facial expression seem to almost range between disgust and contempt, with the occasional devilish smile.
Background: Duncan used to be a high ranking officer in the british navy, before being betrayed and left for dead. He metered out a meager existence as a begger for a while, before managing to steal a ship and gather a pirate crew. Pretty much none of the original crew is left, but Duncan keeps sailing and pillaging.
Motivation: Disillusioned and tired of it all, Duncan wants to return to England, buy a tavern and a lead a quiet life.
This game is a modified version of the game Fifteen Men, a convention scenario, made by Simon Steen Hansen, Niels Jensen, Anders Troelsen and Johanne Sorgenfri Ottosen. The premise is the same, while the rules are modified a good deal to suit forum play, keeping the original intention, but working a good deal differently. I made this because the original is totally awesome and I thought it would suit this forum well.