Miscellaneous Questions And Answers
Q) Hello there. I'd like to point out an error in the Pirates rulebook, Page 18. "The Dice" (10 sided) you wrote earlier that the game only uses 12 sided dice so it should be (12-sided).
A) That is a typo. Our bad. It should be 12-sided.
Q) I'm Italian so it might be a linguistic gap but I really don't understand the Ability Checks: It's Ability score + dice roll +/- bonus' over 13 (base chance) or it's a dice roll that must be inferior to the Ability Score in use (impossible because you write that it's always good to roll high, so...). Please if you can send me an example. Thanks!
A) Your Ability Score is your chance in 12 of success. '13' was thrown in there to account for the 'zero' factor. Meaning, a lot of people make a mistake by one number. For example, if you have an '8' Score, hence an 8-in-12 chance of success, in keeping with rolling 'higher is better', a lot of Players see this as "Okay, you need a 4 or better to succeed". Not true. You'd need a '5' or better to succeed (5-12 is 8 numbers, while 1-4 is the error range). The number '13' was thrown in there as a way of reminding people of the 'zero factor'. Unfortunately, this is a limitation of the English language and human psychology in general. To always roll "Higher is better" while at the same time having higher Ability Scores being better, it's tough to find a system that doesn't have one confusing point. In Pirates, it's that 'zero factor'.
Q) I recently downloaded (by DriveThru, thanks!) the new "Captain Blood" Adventure. Being a fan of the book, I have to ask why Captain Blood as an NPC does not have Skills in languages like Spanish and French? It's one of his key weapons in the book(s).
A) Captain Blood's multi-lingual fluency was deliberately left out of our gaming adaption in order to give the Player Characters more opportunities to act on his behalf. Whereas to be true to the book, Peter Blood would end up doing every deed ashore, every act of intrigue and derring-do, the subtle change of omitting his Language Skills almost ensures his placement aboard ship and thus in the background, giving the PCs a chance to go ashore and carry out the adventures Blood himself did in the book(s), as an Adventure should do. Allowing one NPC to hog the limelight carries with it two severe problems. The first is boredom to the Players, which is problem enough. The second is the far greater likelihood of Blood's untimely death, thus sabotaging the rest of the Adventure(s). So, some change in Blood's character had to be made to logically change his actions, and this was the best choice.
Q) Where can I get good Character Sheets for my game?
A) All three forms of Record Sheets (Ship, Character and Game Captain) are provided in the Rulebook and are free to be photocopied, scanned, or reproduced in any way for use in your own game. However, if you can't quite get the book to lay straight or flat, the Sheets are available in PDF format: Ship, Character and Game Captain respectively, and also in JPEG format: Ship, Character and Game Captain respectively. These and other downloads are available here.
Q) Did the titles of some Gazetteers change?
A) Yes. For artistic reasons, the titles of "G5 Rum and Wenches' and 'G6 Safe Seaports' have been changed to 'G5 The Bloodiest Yarns' and 'G6 Endless Enemies', respectively. SImilarly, G7 and G8 have switched places, so they are now 'G7 Untold Tales' and 'G8 Legendary Wars'. There are many petty, piddy little reasons for this. Sorry for any confusion. Ahh, the perils of self-publishing. For those interested, 'Rum and Wenches' just didn't properly express its content, that of a book of stories, and 'Safe Seaports', a gazetteer of Royal Navy harbors which paralleled G4's hellish havens, was simply not very useful to pirate PCs in their gaming, nor even to Game Captains for that matter,, so a much more useful supplement was designed in its place.
Q) Did the little code in the upper right corner of the Adventures change?
A) Yes. Formerly, all Pirates Adventures were labeled with a 'P', but they have been changed to 'C', "M', and 'O' to designate their respective seas and Sourcebooks; the 'Caribbean', the 'Mediterranean', and the 'Open Seas'. Though this duplicates code-letters used for Fantasia and Starquest, we figure everyone is intelligent enough to tell the difference between Adventures for different games.
Q) Will there ever be any game products showing cross-sections of ships or maps of their decks?
A) Cross-sections maybe, but deck grids no. Even for pirates, not everything in a role-playing game should be considered a battleboard, which is all that grid-maps really are. Too many games simply turn every physical location into a battlemap, which reduces their game to little more than the RPG equivalent to Nintendo "platform" games (like the old Mario ones). We see different locations as stages for dramatic action, and dissecting it into a battle-grid would discourage a lot of possibilities for adventure besides mere fighting. Ship decks, the same below deck areas, the same as taverns, town streets and other common locations do not need battle-maps, and are open equally to all possibilities for excitement without them. Less is more in this case. If (or rather when) a fight breaks out in these areas, it's usually so close-quarters than movement, distance and placement is really irrelevant as its a scene of mass chaos anyway.
Q) Is Port Royal (Jamaica) friendly or hostile to pirates? It seems to be treated both ways.
A) Port Royal goes through many changes in a very short period of time, so it depends on when pirates are there as to whether it is a haven or a Hell for them. It is actually the Spanish city of Santiago Vega until 1655, and then it is captured by the English and renamed Port Royal. To secure their foothold in the Caribbean, the English widely use privateering while also turning a blind-eye to piracy to harass the Spanish, so Port Royal is a haven for a few decades. That is until 1670, when the great pirate captain Henry Morgan has an underwhelming victory in Panama. He cuts loose his large crew of disappointed men before a mutiny occurs (they were unhappy with the plunder that was supposed to be much more from the legendary but also well alerted city who had time to hide most of it). Fleeing to Port Royal, he becomes a gentlemen and, as the English are now strong enough not to need pirates so badly, they enlist Morgan's help to hunt down pirates, and that is when Port Royal becomes hostile towards them. Morgan becomes Lieutenant Governor, and always priding himself on being a patriot rather than a pirate (he only fought against the Spanish), he thus fully justifies his turning against seafaring robbers who attack anybody. If you want even more information on Port Royal, it gets six pages all to itself in this game product.
Q) Why does the Caribbean book say that octupi are so monstrous, which is totally unrealistic? The way the text is written, it even implies that they have teeth! Did you do any research at all on these poor aquatic creatures?
A) I guess we should have made more of an effort to get these creatures accurate, along with those poor undead, sirens, mermaids, and pirates using rapiers in shipboard battle. Jeez. Yes, we researched everything, but also made conscious choices about what needed to be 'fantasy' in order to fit the perceptions of pirates in that day and age. Seamen always saw the octupi as monsters, and so that is what we made them. It makes for a more exciting game, that's all.
Q) My game group has been getting a lot of good ideas, and a lot of arguments, based on what we've seen (and enjoyed) in the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' movie (Curse of the Black Pearl), but one that we cannot agree on is when Jack Sparrow escaped his cell in the brig during the broadside battle. How would this be resolved in a game situation?
A) 'Pirates' will indeed give a great visual and mood-setting standard for role-playing games, just as 'Lord of the Rings' has done for Fantasia, and indeed gives both Players and GMs alike new tactics to try and new interpretations of rules to work with. Captain Jack Sparrow's escape from his cell during the broadside battle with the 'Interceptor' actually addresses a larger issue, so I will answer thus. The fact is, role-playing games can never make rules expansive enough nor detailed enough to answer all of the questions that will arise in the heat of battle, so-to-speak, indeed the heat of play. To quote the film, "They're more like guidelines than actual rules." So, most situations, in fact really any situation where there isn't a cut-&-dry, black-&-white ruling becomes a minor court debate or trial between Player and Game Captain. That's why our Pirates game was designed with simpler, more abstract rules, for it makes such judgment calls easier. Well, there is a lot of long words in all that, isn't there? And since we're naught but simple gamers, I'll tell ya what ya want; if Sparrow was a PC in this game, he got the good idea in the heat of the moment that the cannon salvos could have damaged the door on his cell, and the Game Captain's response was for him make a Luck Check to see if it was so (he probably tried this in Port Royal as well, but missed what he needed by '1' on the dice, and so could only poke his head out).
Q) Just how far is a 'league' in this game?
A) The use of the 'league' throughout history varies greatly (in the dictionary it is anywhere from 3.9 to 7.4 kilometers), and thus I had to choose my own standard unit of measurement, and in keeping with the game's basis of the 12-sided dice, I set my leagues at 6, kilometers that is, and as a kilometer is roughly 0.6 miles, that factor of 6 remains consistent; a league in this game equals either 6 kilometers or 3.6 miles.
Q) How about making sourcebooks for more alternate pirate eras like Vikings or Chinese raiders?
A) This has been suggested many times, but we probably will not do it, as this game's rules were designed for the eras of the Renaissance through to the Age of Reason. Pirating eras further back in history would require such revisions to the rules that they would be better being an independent game to begin with.
Q) An ongoing debate I have with my Game Captain is what he calls "Dividing plunder in reverse", in order to gain Notoriety and thus crew members. I needed more crew, so I protested that I could raise my Notoriety Level by dividing plunder before the crew signed on. To settle our debate, is this legal?
A) Well, in a Pirates game, loopholes and even cheating are sometimes condoned. However, in this case, I would say you are just being clever. To lay the statistical smackdown, you can indeed raise your Notoriety and thus get more crew to sign on by 'dividing plunder in advance', by way of paying potential crewmen with an equal amount. For example, a captain with 18 Notoriety wants more than one roll on a single dice to gain crew, so he needs at least 20 Notoriety to become 2nd Notoriety Level and thus garner another roll. As one receives 1 Notoriety Point for every 100 gold from a divied plunder, he instead offers all new crewmen an upfront fee of 300 gold. This gets him a total of 2 Notoriety Points (as 1 Point must be deducted normally due to his already being 1st Level). So, with his additional roll, 8 men offer to sign, thus costing him a flat fee of 2400 gold to get them. This gold disappears into secret caches, their family's pockets, the local brothels, etc. However, the captain has additional men to help him get even more gold . . .
Q) Why are most Pirate products released in May?
A) Matt deMille feels most inspired to write them to coincide with summertime, when he feels it would be best for anyone to be playing Pirate games, the hot weather encouraging a Caribbean feeling (depending on where in the world you live, of course).