Thursday, June 20, 2013

Fate Pirates: Raise The Black Flag!

Themes I think are interesting in Pirate stories
"Heaven, you fool? Did you ever year of any pirates going thither? Give me hell, it's a merrier place: I'll give Roberts a salute of 13 guns at entrance." -Thomas Sutton

"My Lord, it is a very hard sentence. For my part, I am the innocentest person of them all, only I have been sworn against by perjured persons." -William Kidd
"Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats." -H. L. Mencken
Pirates. At heart, they are despicable men, doing horrible things, for petty reasons. And yet there is something about the idea of pirates that we love. From Treasure Island to the Pirates of the Caribbean, pirate stories continue on in our culture. Buried treasure, sword fighting, the freedom of the high seas, the romance of it all, we just eat it up. I am one of those who loves pirates...well, I love the romanticized stories told about Pirates. I was looking around and I realized there are no pirate Fate Games anywhere. And so I will begin on creating a proper Pirate Game for Fate Core. Here goes. I have compiled a list of things that i think every pirate game needs.

Ship Combat is incredibly important to a proper Pirate Game. It needs to feel authentic. I would like a Ship to ship battle to feel like those seen in Horatio Hornblower, Master and Commander, and of course Pirates of the Caribbean. I also would like to add a bit of Historical accuracy to the ships used. Maybe a brief discussion of ships and the like. I enjoy history and adding information of a historical nature will give a better feel for the world, I think. So there must be some ships that give advantage over others, overall and situational.


Characters must be meaningful in Ship Combat if they so desire. This may mean that there are a couple of stages to ship conflict, or the layers will have more than one character. this will add more complexity, of course, but I will try and minimize that as much as possible.

Buried treasure, there must be a reason to bury treasure. In real life pirates spent all their booty(heh, booty). You don't steal things unless you intend to profit from them. Yet, buried treasure is a staple of pirate lore. Blame Robert Louis Stevenson. Because of this, there needs to be a solid, in setting, reason for pirates to bury treasure. Perhaps a weird statute of limitations, angry island gods, curses, ghosts, or something else I have not thought of. This is an area that is rife for Role Playing goodness, so I will have to work extra hard on making this aspect really sing.

Native religion has magic Vs Old World Orthodoxy having philosophies and technologies Vs Pirates have old world religion mixed with new world superstition. One thing I absolutely loved about the Pirates of the Caribbean movies was the magic in it. It was evocative and big, while still  being wild and unknowable. Also in history sailors would have strange rituals and lucky superstitions, as well as dealing with omens and fate. I think that in this setting the pirates will be a very motley religious group, with bits of old magic combined with European style Catholicism. Pirates are largely illiterate and treat the Church like a mystical protector(saints and the like). The Natives deal directly with the spirits of sky and ocean, but it is subtle and indirect. Technology and numbers beat native magic most of the time.

There must be a reason to loot ships. In the real pirate age there was a lot of gold being hauled out of the new world, as well as other resources. There was also a couple of small and large wars and cold wars happening. This led to a lot of battle ready sailors sitting around and watching all this gold going back to Europe. When their jobs were ended, these men just kept fighting. They kept the gold. I think something like that will work well here. Also it will be easy enough to add a question to the Phase Trio about the last conflict and what you did during it. I could then provide a brief timeline of conflicts as I see them happening.

Old world needs new world's goods. Strife is abundant. This almost goes without saying. But their must be a Europe or a Europe analog that needs the goods offered by the New World, or New World analog. Piracy thrives on conflict and multiple powers vying for the same locations and resources.

Legends and myth are a part of the world, though not often met. Also the legends of sailors are different than the stories of lubbers. When the legends happen, this is the big time. Mostly pirates just rob and plunder, but when they step into legend? That is when you get the pirate stories you want. If I set this in historical pirate times, I will need to research actual sailor myths and legends of the time. If I make up my own, then I need to research and come up with my own versions of them. Lost worlds, ancient secrets, and curses are all a big part of this, especially curses.

Matchlock Guns, Cutlasses and sabres, Cannon and grappling hooks. There were a great many pirate eras, from ancient Greeks, to Vikings, to the Barbary coast. However, when I say, "Pirate," you think the Caribbian. You think the Spanish Main. You think, "Avast! Yo Ho! Me Hearties!" The technology must be right, or at least it must feel right.

There are different kinds of Pirates, ad they should play a bit differently. I am uncertain if I want this. However there were a lot of different kinds of pirates and a lot of different ways of Piracy. If I put them all in, though, then I fear I will be diluting the game. I will think on this some more.

Anyway, there are my first thoughts on doing a Fate Core Pirate game. Let me know what you think, or what you think I am missing.