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Thorvald

Heroes of the High Seas open project

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Do we have a consensus on the system, then? Should we use the Adventure/Fantasy version of the D6 ruleset?

 

Now, Sir Francis Drake is living in America/Caribbean, trying to figure a way to return to Europe, but also trying not to be spotted by the spanish who would kill him on sight. A VIP NPC for the core book.

 

I like it! He could be a plot hook for several adventures.

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So, in an effort to kick things up again, I've come up with the following:

 

The House of Habsburg was one of the most important royal houses in Europe, as the family ascended to power in most of the major European kingdoms. The dynasty achieved its pinnacle with Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (King Charles I of Spain), who ruled over the Holy Roman Empire (which encompassed, in modern-day terms, Germany, the Netherlands, most of Poland, and parts of France and Italy) and the Spanish Empire (Spain and its colonies in Central and South America, northern Africa and the Far East). His son, Phillip II of Spain, would inherit the Spanish Empire and add Portugal, England and Ireland to his list of crowns, leading him to call his empire "the empire on which the Sun never sets".

 

Of course, that's in OUR world.

 

In the world of "Heroes of the High Seas", Radbot, Count of Klettgau, never built Habsburg Castle (from which his grandson, Otto II, took the family's name), for Radbot never became Count of Klettgau; he was murdered by his brother, Ahren (who in our world never even became known to History), who ascended as Count of Klettgau and built Ravensburg Castle.

 

From there on, History in both worlds is remarkably similar. There are two main differences, though:

 

1) In our world, Charles V abdicated the throne of the Holy Roman Empire to his brother, Ferdinand, and his son, Phillip II, only inherited the Spanish Empire; in the world of "Heroes of the High Seas", however, Ferdinand died of disease and Phillip inherited all of the Ravensburg crowns. Truly, his empire is one on which the Sun never sets.

 

2) Ahren of Klettgau was a sorcerer. A very powerful sorcerer, in fact; a prodigy the likes of which had never been seen until then, and would never be seen again even to this day. He made a deal with the Devil for great magical and temporal power, in exchange for his soul. But he never wanted to fulfill his end of the bargain: whenever he feels it's time, he always transfers his soul into the body of his successor, leaving his son to die while he goes on living. Thus it has always been, and Phillip Ravensburg the First, Emperor of Spain and the Holy Roman Empire, King of Portugal (by rights of descendancy and conquest), England and Ireland (by virtue of his marriage to Queen Mary I), also known as the World Emperor, is actually Ahren Ravensburg.

 

The Devil knows of Ahren's "cheating", but he doesn't mind; a man as wicked as Ahren is bound to only bring more evil and suffering into the world, which delights him. Besides, he knows Ahren can't truly live forever: his soul takes over the body of his children, who are all the result of consanguineous marriages, which (coupled with the effects on the mind and soul of living for centuries) is driving him into madness and frailty. Soon, there will come a time when Ahren's mind and body will be too weak for him to transfer his soul again. Ahren realizes this, and is desperately searching for something - anything - which can stave off his final demise. Maybe something in the New World...

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I have been AWOL from this forum for quite some time and I really would like to help, if only by proofreading or play testing when the time comes. I apologize in advance if the following seems critical, that is not my intent.

 

I agree that D6 really needs a setting that grabs the attention of the gaming community. While Prime Directive would have been great, especially with the new movie, I know that is off the table for a few years if not permanently. This is also a great idea, I think the key will be balancing the fantasy elements. What you don't want to do is offer a choice between a historical world with fantasy under the surface and a full fledged fantasy world. Giving both options will make the game appear as a toolbox and not a distinctive setting.

 

The problem with fantasy under the surface is that if players buy into a real world with a little fantasy and the expansions all showcase steam punk or fantasy elements you run the risk of chasing those players away. I think it is important to be honest in the initial marketing of setting. It is OK to start in a real world and have the characters slowly discover the true fantastical nature of the world as long as the players know that is what will happen from the start. All that is a long winded way of saying be careful not to do an unintentional bait and switch with this setting.

 

Much of what I mentioned is a long way off. I understand this is still in the very early think tank stage but I believe the final goal needs to be considered as the mythology of the world is discussed. Do you want something like Atlas Game's Northern Crown or are you going for the Colonial Gothic approach? Two very different ways to approach the same subject. I think either approach can be successful but you have to pick one and stick to it.

 

Anyway I love the brainstorming so far and look forward to seeing what comes next!

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My preference would be for alt-hist with a slight amount of fantasy. Something along the lines of Pirates of the Caribbean or so.

 

That's my preference as well, although with a bit more pulp in it.

 

Unrelated, but for my next post, I think I'll go into a bit more detail on what I meant by "discover and explore mysterious islands populated by bloodthirsty savages and terrifying sorcerers, and hunt for treasure in the ruins of ancient inhuman civilizations located in eldritch jungles".

 

Oh, and a trivial question: what do you guys think would make for a better name for the ruling dynasty, "Ravensburg" or "Ravsburg"? I think I prefer "Ravsburg"; it's closer to "Habsburg", and "Ravensburg" feels a bit too "medieval fantasy".

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Oh, and a trivial question: what do you guys think would make for a better name for the ruling dynasty, "Ravensburg" or "Ravsburg"? I think I prefer "Ravsburg"; it's closer to "Habsburg", and "Ravensburg" feels a bit too "medieval fantasy".

 

Ravsburg is fine with me. I like the backstory of the family so far, specifically Ahren's arc.

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Ravsburg is fine with me. I like the backstory of the family so far, specifically Ahren's arc.

 

Great! :-)

 

So, "discover and explore mysterious islands populated by bloodthirsty savages and terrifying sorcerers, and hunt for treasure in the ruins of ancient inhuman civilizations located in eldritch jungles". Now, this might sound a bit pulpish, and it is, but I think it would provide for a greater variety of adventures and plot hooks; plus, it's really fun! :-)

 

Unfortunately, there's an underlying element of imperialism and racism to pulp elements which makes me uncomfortable; so I'd like to avoid the notion that any native culture is composed solely of "bloodthirsty savages and terrifying sorcerers". Rather, I think we should shoot for something more morally ambiguous: isolated remnants of the Aztec, Mayan and Incan civilizations with a killing grudge against outsiders; ruins of those same cultures (and others as well) still haunted by supernatural beings (based on actual native folklore and mythology) who, now that there have been no caretakers (or jailers) for quite some time, would love to "play" with any unwitting explorer / treasure-seeker; things like that.

 

Now, as for "ancient inhuman civilizations located in eldritch jungles", my original idea was to have exactly that - an ancient non-human civilization. But now I think that's a bit too much on the fantastical side and I think it would be better if we didn't use that. But what if instead of an ancient non-human civilization we had an ancient human civilization? What if, based on all sorts of discredited theories, Atlantis had been real, and survivors from its cataclism had taken refuge in the far-off corners of the Earth, where they would enslave the locals and rebuild their culture as best as they could? Thus, we could have isolated Atlantean city-states (where the population would be divided into descendants of native people, who would be mostly slaves and serfs; people with mixed native-Atlantean heritage, the middle-class; and a ruling class consisting of people of mostly pure Atlantean stock, afflicted with all sorts of physical and mental maladies due to inbreeding and sorcery gone bad) spread out over the Americas (and possibly Africa and the Far East as well, but I think we should focus the setting on the Americas and, at most, Europe).

 

Or maybe it would be better to focus on an alternate take of real-life cultures and leave out the Atlantis angle. I confess I'm a bit undecided.

 

So, what do you guys think?

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perhaps the atlanteans and merfolk that i mentioned earlier are actually the same. the don't want to kidnap sailors to sacrifice to their god, but to work as slaves and rebuild their civilization.

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perhaps the atlanteans and merfolk that i mentioned earlier are actually the same. the don't want to kidnap sailors to sacrifice to their god, but to work as slaves and rebuild their civilization.

 

I think I'd rather keep them separate, if we do use the Atlanteans. I think it would make the world seem bigger and more mysterious to have several smaller, unrelated threats instead of one or two big threats, if you know what I mean?

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I think I'd rather keep them separate, if we do use the Atlanteans. I think it would make the world seem bigger and more mysterious to have several smaller, unrelated threats instead of one or two big threats, if you know what I mean?

 

I agree with this, there should be numerous unrelated threats to the characters. In real life there isn't one big conspiracy and there shouldn't be one here either.

 

On the idea of the Atlanteans vs real world cultures I like the idea of the Atlanteans. Even when they are re-skinned it is pretty obvious what real world culture something is based on. It is too easy to marginalize or accidently offend someone if we use real cultures. I'm far from PC, in fact in my personal games we have tried to be realistic and have had some pretty harsh portrayals of real cultures but this isn't my house ruled home game.

 

This should appeal to a wide audience and I think the fictional Atlanteans are the perfect bad guys. For example they would be the ones that introduced human sacrifice originally and maybe they really gain power from eating their victims which leads some tribes into cannibalism. The native peoples can be shown as rebelling against these oppressors which is a reason they put up a huge resistance to this world's conquistadors, the memory of being enslaved is too recent!

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Honestly, if you had a solid set of seamanship rules that would port well across settings, I'd buy it just for that. It sounds like you could very well have wind/oar powered ships in this setting. If you could just have a few of those statted out, how player skills interact with them, and how to make sea-based adventures part of the campaign, the material would well be worth it.

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If you could just have a few of those statted out, how player skills interact with them, and how to make sea-based adventures part of the campaign, the material would well be worth it.

 

Indeed! This brings up an interesting question, though: what rules are needed, exactly? Off the top of my head, I can think of the following situations which would be interesting for the rules to cover:

 

- Tracing courses and sailing; basically, how to get from point A to point B while on the sea. Would a simple Navigation skill be enough for the PCs? What kind of challenges could there be that would be inherent to such a thing? Which would also necessitate rules for weather changes, come to think of it.

- Ship-to-ship combat, including boarding other ships. A must for a pirate game!

- Supplies: how to get them, how to store them, that sort of thing. We should probably make this very rules-light (if it has any rules at all) and leave most of it in the hands of the players and the GM. So, more of an advices and suggestions section than a proper rules section.

 

What do you guys think?

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- Tracing courses and sailing; basically, how to get from point A to point B while on the sea. Would a simple Navigation skill be enough for the PCs? What kind of challenges could there be that would be inherent to such a thing? Which would also necessitate rules for weather changes, come to think of it.

 

I think this would be as uninteresting as navigation rolls for interstellar navigation tends to be. Maybe as some optional rules to be used only rarely when it increases drama, but in pirate movies getting lost because you don't have a good navigator rarely is an issue. As far as hazards that I can think of, you have hurricanes (and or storms), lack of wind, shallows, reefs, perhaps a tidal wave once in a while, inaccurate maps. Can't think of any more off the top of my head

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Maybe as some optional rules to be used only rarely when it increases drama, but in pirate movies getting lost because you don't have a good navigator rarely is an issue.

 

Quite true. So maybe we should go for a different angle: instead of measuring whether you get lost or not, the system would measure how long it would take you to get there. I'm thinking this could be used to evade a pursuing ship, or maybe for a chase against a rival captain to Treasure Island.

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found this: http://www.obsidianserpent.com/index.html

 

Thinking about navigation. I really like the idea that the roll determines how long it takes you to get there. The reason for the delay can vary. For instance, thinking back to pirate movies I've seen, in Captain Blood there's a scene where Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone both set off from the same place headed for the same destination with the intent of catching any prizes they can along the way and joining up to split the spoils at the destination. Errol Flynn shows up late because he ended up on the far side of the island. This could be used dramatically as well, for instance consider the situation where the pirates want to sneak into town and approach from land. With a failed navigation roll, instead of approaching the island from the far side of where the port is, they end up right at it and now they have to figure out what to do now that the port knows they are in the area. Similarly, perhaps instead of coming right at the port, the failed navigation roll represents a ship that saw them in the area and warned the port about them, but they don't know that so they come in from the land side to find a completely armed and alerted town.

 

Basically, a failed navigation roll introduces some kind of complication into the PCs plan, and it may not even have anything to do with navigation itself. What the exact complication is going to be contextual to the plan.

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I could be aboard with that

 

Pun intended, I assume? :-)

 

Basically, a failed navigation roll introduces some kind of complication into the PCs plan, and it may not even have anything to do with navigation itself. What the exact complication is going to be contextual to the plan.

 

I like it! We'll take care to maintain that in mind when we reach the rules part.

Incidentally, did we reach a consensus on what version of D6 to use?

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Pun intended, I assume? :-)

 

Of course.

 

I like it! We'll take care to maintain that in mind when we reach the rules part.

Incidentally, did we reach a consensus on what version of D6 to use?

 

I kind of like the three core book set, and think Adventure is probably the best fit for this, but any version of D6 could work, I imagine.

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Indeed! This brings up an interesting question, though: what rules are needed, exactly? Off the top of my head, I can think of the following situations which would be interesting for the rules to cover:

 

- Tracing courses and sailing; basically, how to get from point A to point B while on the sea. Would a simple Navigation skill be enough for the PCs? What kind of challenges could there be that would be inherent to such a thing? Which would also necessitate rules for weather changes, come to think of it.

- Ship-to-ship combat, including boarding other ships. A must for a pirate game!

- Supplies: how to get them, how to store them, that sort of thing. We should probably make this very rules-light (if it has any rules at all) and leave most of it in the hands of the players and the GM. So, more of an advices and suggestions section than a proper rules section.

 

What do you guys think?

 

Great question. Here are my initial thoughts. Suppose my PCs are on board a basic 17th Century frigate, and they're trying to come to bear on a Dutch Galleon. Who rolls to determine whether they are in position to fire? How do they get into position. Who rolls on the Galleon to see if they can outmaneuver or outrun the frigate. And what degree of success or failure determines whether you get all of your guns to bear on the Galleon, or whether you only get 1/4 of your guns to do so. Further, if you're on a frigate like The Constitution you have different diameter guns capable of different ranges and damage. And if you really want to get accurate, you have different kinds of rounds designed to either be anti-personel, set fire to the enemy sail, or take out their mast.

 

I've seen some basics on naval tactics, but not enough to know how one would outrun or outmaneuver the other ship. So, really some basics as to how the ship stats help interact with your strategy.

 

Also, if (heaven forbid) I had a Roman or Phonetician galley ship, how would that make an impact (no pun intended)? There are many types of ships possible, and they are not on par with one another on the sea. What sort of stats would I see on those ships? What character rolls interact with those stats? Certainly the navigator would interact with the speed of the ship. The helmsman interacts with the maneuverability, but whose roll determines whether 10 cannons hit? Or maybe only 3 cannons hit? Maybe there are no cannons and I have to determine if one ship successfully rams another. Maybe I'm not trying to ram, but just get a gangplank on to the other ship and board. Whose rolls make that happen?

 

I know just enough about marine combat to know that I don't know enough about marine combat to stat any of these things out either in terms of accurately representing the ships OR in terms of which party members have an influence over those statistics.

 

Does that make sense?

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(snip)

 

I know just enough about marine combat to know that I don't know enough about marine combat to stat any of these things out either in terms of accurately representing the ships OR in terms of which party members have an influence over those statistics.

 

Personally, I think that's overthinking it a bit. If I wanted to play a realistic naval warship game, it would not be as part of an RPG. I think instead, we should consider the best way to emulate what you see in movies and read in books. Now, I haven't read too many books in the genre, but I've seen a few movies, and for the most part, they don't bother with what kind of ammunition or size of the guns. It's just fire and you miss, or fire and you hit. Also, firing on the other ship is only something to force a boarding situation so you can bring out the swords, boarding pikes and belaying pins, swing dramatically from one ship to the other (and there are always ropes available to swing from one end of one of the ships to the other end of the other ship even if it doesn't make a lick of sense that such a thing should exist, and the rope is always the perfect length so that you are only a few feet above the deck at your destination), and fence along the yards. Forcing the boarding may come when your ship has taken so much damage from canon fire that it is "sinking", but it never sinks until you've boarded the other ship.

 

Edit: I have seen movies where one ship is out of range of the other, so range could be a factor.

 

What we really need is some kind of system for boarding stunts.

 

For instance in Against All Flags, Errol Flynn slid down a sail using his sword, cutting it in two. This had the simultaneous effect of slowing the ship and getting him closer to where he needed to be to fight the main bad guy (plus it looked really cool). I don't think we want to get too specific on the stunts because it limits player creativity (like the way the d20 system has a list of possible moves, I've never seen anyone try to do anything not on the list because it's not available). What we need is guidelines on how to set the difficulty of a stunt.

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It may also be that my primary experience is with Star Wars, and ship battles are occasionally part of the adventure. We know that one person is usually piloting, there are a few gunners, and we know how on board batteries interact with enemy range and hull. Basic maneuvers were included in the starship battle section of the books, as were the stats for a number of different ships.

 

Though removing the real-world tactical elements from the high-seas adventure books it should still be reasonable to look at a few basic ship designs and have some statistical representation. For example, the high castle caravels are harder to board from a schooner than would be one carrack to another. Hee hee... it'd be a heck of a thing watching Errol Flynn smack into the side of the forecastle while on the rope. :)

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