[PotSM][50F] Noob DM getting ready for a Campaign

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[PotSM][50F] Noob DM getting ready for a Campaign

#1 Postby radgnome » Mon Jul 30, 2012 11:41 am

Call me a refugee from the D&D Edition Wars.... our group has (finally) taken an interest in exploring some new game systems, and I've been dying to play around with the Pirates of the Spanish Main setting.

I have noticed, however, that PotSM isn't getting a lot of attention here in the forums. It really looks like 50 Fathoms has taken it's place in the library. But I'm not really interested in the 50F world, so I've been planning to stick with PotSM.

My actual campaign plan is going to be loosely Firefly inspired, PotSM-run Horror. The PCs will be aspiring privateers dealing with French, Spanish, and Pirate enemies, many of whom are backed up by some fairly dark powers.

A couple of questions:
1. What rules updates from PotSM to the current deluxe edition should I be paying close attention to?
2. Should I be buying the 50F books anyway, and using it as the system, even if I'm playing in the PotSM world?



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#2 Postby samuraicrab » Mon Jul 30, 2012 1:12 pm

Do not allow a 50F/PoTSM cross over or you will be invaded by crab men. Seriously those guys get into everything.

Also drop the GUTS skill and use spirit rolls instead. Unless you are running a horror game. PotSM is about exploring, kicking butt, and swashbuckling. That doesn't really do horror well.

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#3 Postby radgnome » Mon Jul 30, 2012 1:24 pm

Actually, my intent is to drop in Horror, so I was going to use the Guts skill after all -- and Sanity and ritual magic and a few other things from the Horror companion (which is pretty damn cool).

My big, overaching plan is for the primary enemies of the PCs to be A coven of Witches that have struck a bargain with some French Privateers and pirates. The Witches help them catch ships and in exchange they run some errands for the Witches. I'm also lifting some ideas/content from Solomon Kane resources, which fit pretty well.

Is there a better version of the ship combat rules in 50F than what's in PotSM?

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#4 Postby ogbendog » Mon Jul 30, 2012 1:42 pm

The reason 50F get's more talking is that it (re)released more recently.

the two games have different flavors.

50F (to me at least) is kind of of like "Fantasy gaming, with ships!)

you have non human races, magic exists openly (just like a typical fantasy), but you have ships, cannon, pirates, etc.

PotSM, I've never layed, but I hear it's more like, on earth, humans, if magic exists, it's darn rare, "rational" people don't believe in it, etc.

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#5 Postby ValhallaGH » Mon Jul 30, 2012 2:03 pm

PotSM has all the rules you need to play the game. All of them. You don't even need to by the Core Rules - the then-current versions were printed in the PotSM book, and modified to fit the setting.

If you're looking to use Deluxe then there are a few things that changed. Incapacitation got meaner. Fear altered (but you said you want the older rules). More Chase options. A few additional Edges (give these some thought - they could be unbalanced when added to the edges in PotSM; or they could just make the game less pirate-y). Tweaked Mass Combat (an opposed roll instead of simultaneous normal rolls). Some more rules structures for task resolution (Social Conflicts, Dramatic Tasks, Interludes, etc). That's pretty much it.

Vehicle combat is about the same. It's either the table-top version or chases. Or using the PotSM collectible card- war- game, which becomes a real option in that setting. Which version fits best is something you decide while playing, and can change as best fits the tempo and pacing of a session.

50F strikes me as Pirates of the Caribbean set in a (dying) fantasy world. Lots of magic, monsters, and piracy as everyone (from Torquemada to Blackbeard) tries to be king of the heap.
Pirates of the Spanish Main is role-playing in the golden age of piracy. Exploration, sailing, fighting, and possibly international intrigue in a slightly-fictionalized period of world history.

Best of luck!
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#6 Postby Jordan Peacock » Mon Jul 30, 2012 6:58 pm

I am currently running a Pirates RPG campaign at a local game store.

* I've employed Morale/Sanity, borrowed pretty much from Weird War II, but with the idea that any time you go Carousing (i.e., taking an expensive break from adventuring and getting in touch with the real world again), as long as you haven't reached 0 Sanity, you get a free Spirit roll to try to recover lost Morale/Sanity. On a success, you recover 1; on a raise, a maximum of 2. Also, instead of taking Fatigue levels from prolonged sea voyages, heroes would lose a point of Morale/Sanity instead. (The lessened immediate impact is offset by the fact that it's a bit harder to recover.)

* It's important to figure out how much nitty-gritty you want the players to have to worry about in terms of running the ship. Making Navigation rolls for every square you move on the map, plotting how much you need in the way of Provisions, trying to recruit enough crew and then making sure you still have enough room on board for a new player to join in and fit within the Passenger space, dividing up the loot ... it all can get to be quite a headache. Exactly what sort of adventure YOU want to run is up to you and your players, but one thing worth considering is how much of the rules you'd be better off just *ignoring* so you can get on to the stories you want to tell. Your mileage may vary.

* Things run smoother if your crew has an NPC quartermaster responsible for dividing up the loot, and you just tell each player how much he or she gets as a share -- and then you can leave it to the players to squabble over who gets the special "relic" in the loot. In multiple campaigns, I have had considerable trouble when I would report the total amount of gold and then leave it to the players to sort out how much ends up on each player's sheet (or even to decide when it was time to divvy up the loot).

* Be generous with Bennies, especially to reward "swashbuckling" behavior. However, you should also IGNORE the rule in Pirates RPG that says players can convert leftover Bennies into XP. That rule leads to major PC disparities in short order, and caused major problems for my first Pirates RPG campaign.

* If you have a ship-to-ship battle, make sure every player has something to do. Not every player should be required to buy up Boating and Shooting to man the cannons, etc. Someone might be a lookout or a swashbuckling specialist, or the ship's carpenter, but, boy, it can be boring to play that character in a prolonged naval battle.

As an alternative, you can give that player a "regular crew member" to play, who is temporarily promoted to Wild Card status. Say, he's one of the cannoneers, and let the player come up with a nickname for him (Deadeye Dave, etc.). In naval battles, the player gets to roll for this guy and participate in the fights.

* It can be very hard to become a decent cannoneer, especially with all the modifiers that apply in naval combat (relative speeds, etc.). I made a house rule that if anyone takes the Cannoneer Edge, in addition to the effects listed, he gets to use his Shooting skill for cannon attacks, *regardless* of what his Boating skill is. (So, if he only has Boating d4, and buys his Shooting up to d10, that's perfectly fine: He paid his dues by picking up the Cannoneer Edge.)

* If you pick up the Savage Worlds Deluxe rules, I recommend against using the SWD Chase rules in place of the Chase rules in Pirates RPG. The Pirates RPG chase rules or those in the Savage Worlds Explorer's Edition are better-suited to the sorts of high-seas chases depicted in Pirates RPG.

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#7 Postby radgnome » Tue Jul 31, 2012 2:56 pm

Wow, good stuff.

I'm going to have to take a long look at the chase mechanics, and the differences in the different systems. My plan in the first session actually involves using the chase mechanics heavily, but for a foot chase (actually three subsequent chases -- it's a little weird, I know).


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#8 Postby Crimson_red » Sat Aug 11, 2012 12:22 am

Since I'm looking at assembling a PotSM game, I'll throw a big Thanks! out to those who have contributed to this thread; there is some handy stuff.

If anyone can come up with any other tips for running PotSM game, that would be appreciated too!

I've already done a preliminary look over of the Pirates! book and SWD, and have a beginning idea of what I want to pull from the newer rule set, but any other suggestions are welcome. Guts is gone, I'll be making a list of edges from SWD that I might want to add if I find any new ones. I was going to rely mostly on SWD rules for my game, but after some thought, I might stick to Pirates! just to keep things in one place. Plus the kinder incapacitation rules might better suit the tone I'm looking for...

it will take awhile before I sort it all out...

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#9 Postby Hellfire6A » Sun Aug 19, 2012 6:05 pm

If you have the time I'd recommend reading "On Stranger Tides" by Tim Powers. Sounds a lot like what you are thinking about and should give you some great ideas. Plus it is a great read.

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