28 March 2021

Zorro: The Roleplaying Game via Esoteric Podcast

Until I have time to read and run a session of Zorro: The Roleplaying Game (and I'll probably post something pre- and post-game), I have been listening to episodes of The Esoteric Order of Roleplayers podcast on the subject. The links below take you on an introductory tour of the game by a GM and two players who are experiencing the game for the first time.

[This article is cross-posted in Decidedly Six-Sided.]

21 February 2021

Coming Cross-Post Attractions

After much deliberation and second-guessing owing to the scarcity of reviews on the subject, I ordered Zorro: The Roleplaying Game yesterday. Published by Gallant Knight Games, it uses the D6 System (of West End Games fame) with some new innovations that look promising, so I will be cross-posting anything I write about it on Decidedly Six-Sided. Stay tuned.

07 February 2021

The Son of Captain Blood (1962) Unreviewed

Today, I learned of the existence of a 1962 film entitled The Son of Captain Blood starring Sean Flynn, the son of Errol Flynn, who starred in the 1935 film Captain Blood. This is something I would be very interested in watching and reviewing, but alas it is currently unavailable in any format. The most I can share are these movie posters. If I am ever able to watch it, I will be sure to share the experience here.

31 January 2021

Swashbuckling Thought of the Day 2021-01-31

Of the many sources of swashbuckling inspiration, are any quite as neglected as the animated shorts that appeared on The Banana Splits Adventure Hour? I am speaking, of course, of The Three Musketeers and Arabian Knights. These were amongst my earliest exposure to swashbuckling adventure, and I would like to revisit them to see if they hold up at all to my fond memories of them. I hope they get released in a format I can access whilst I'm still in the mortal realm. It would be a good subject for Theoretical Swashbuckling.

31 December 2020

A Modest Resolution

I think it's not too ambitious to resolve to transfer the rest of my old swashbuckling reviews to Theoretical Swashbuckling (with addenda), add a few new reviews, and perhaps add a few more installments of How to Create a Swashbuckler. If I could actually play a swashbuckling game in 2021, that would be splendid.

30 November 2020

Swashbuckling Thought of the Day 2020-11-30

At a time of reduced socializing, I find myself wishing I had more swashbuckling games that lend themselves to solitaire play. I'm not sure I own any, but this would be a good time to to search for them or, if none of quality can be found, make my own. Hm...

31 October 2020

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween from Theoretical Swashbuckling and, theoretically, Blackbeard's Ghost (starring Peter Ustinov as the titular apparition).

26 September 2020

How to Create a Swashbuckler in Pirates & Plunder

Pirates & Plunder, published by Yaquinto Publications in 1982, is "a role playing game of the golden age of piracy." As it says on the box,
PIRATES & PLUNDER offers you the unique opportunity to be a staunch and loyal pirate for the Queen, a swashbuckling buccaneer seeking personal glory and fame, or a degenerate scoundrel out for a good time. But more than anything, you are in it for the booty — mountainous, glittering heaps of it.
And this is my first character for Pirates & Plunder:

Name: Hilda Grogden

Height: 5'8"
Weight: 185 lbs
Hand Preferred: Right
Lucky Break/Adrenaline: 6
Strength: 18*
Encumbrance: 180 EP
Agility: 12*
Movement: 6
Stealth: 14 (-2)
Vision: 15*
Hearing: 12*
Senses: 14
Constitution: 15*
Stamina: 8*
Wounds: 8*
Musket Training: 12
Pistol Training: 16*
Swordsmanship Training: 13
Fist/Dagger Training: 9*
'To Hit' Musket: 14
'To Hit' Pistol: 16
'To Hit' Sword: 13
'To Hit' Fist/Dagger: 11
'To Hit' Throw: 14
Reload #: 10
Swimming: 12*
Drink: 20*
Nationality: Scottish
Intelligence: 5* (-2)
Languages: English
Reading & Writing: Illiterate
Religion: Protestant
Fervor: 17
Greed: 4 (-7 Money Is God)
Compassion/Cruelty: 10 (0 Cruel)
Emotional Stability: 10 (-1 Unstable)
Moral Character: 13 (+2 Normal)
Courage: 22* (+4 Brave)
Physical Appearance: Appalling

Character creation in Pirates & Plunder is by no means a straightforward affair as the relevant rules are spread haphazardly thoughout two books, Book I: The Basic Game and Book II: The Advanced Game. There is no clear distinction between what other games would designate as attributes or skills, but most abilities are generated by rolling 2d10. Players generally control a Major Character, a Supporting Character, and one or more Extras. Of these, Major Characters add +3 and Supporting Characters add +1 when generating the abilities marked with an asterisk above. Derived abilities (e.g. Stealth, Senses, 'To Hit' abilities, etc.) are usually generated by calculating the average of several other abilities. Everything is generated randomly except the character's name — height, weight, nationality, religion, emotional stability, morality, even the general effect of one's physical appearance. Personality traits for Major Characters can be modified by +5 or -5 before the dice are rolled if the player wishes to tilt them in a particular direction.

Generating a character is made somewhat laborious by the scattering of the rules through two books interspersed with introductory adventures and rules of play, and it isn't helped by the confusing character sheet (although I do appreciate the partial ability generation summary on the reverse).

Although I wanted this game as a lad, I'm sure I would have been as disappointed by it then as I am now. It seems like too much work to run for too little reward.

Determining Abilities

Height: 2d10 on Height Table
Weight: 2d10 on Weight Table
Hand Preferred: 2d10 on Hand Preferred Table
Lucky Break/Adrenaline: 2d10 on the Luck/Adren. Table
Strength: 2d10* + Weight modifier
Encumbrance: Strength × 10
Agility: 2d10*
Movement: Consult Agility/Movement Table
Stealth: (Agility × 3 + Strength) ÷ 4 (note modifier)
Vision: 2d10*
Hearing: 2d10*
Senses: (Vision + Hearing) ÷ 2
Training: Musket, Pistol, Sword, Fist/Dagger: two at 2d10 and two at 2d10*
'To Hit' Musket: (Vision + Musket Training) ÷ 2
'To Hit' Pistol: (Vision + Pistol Training) ÷ 2
'To Hit' Sword: (Sword Training × 3 + Agility) ÷ 4
'To Hit' Fist/Dagger: (Fist/Dagger Training × 3 + Strength + Agility) ÷ 5
Throw: (Agility × 2 + Strength) ÷ 3
Reload #: (Musket Training + Pistol Training + Agility) ÷ 4
Stamina: 2d10* + Weight modifier
Wounds: 2d10*
Constitution: 2d10*
Swim: 2d10*
Drink: 2d10* + Weight modifier
Nationality: 2d10 on Nationality Table
Intelligence: 2d10* (note modifier)
Languages: 2d10 + Intelligence modifier
Reading & Writing: 2d10 + Intelligence modifier
Religion: 1d10 on Religion Table
Fervor: 2d10
Greed: 2d10** on Greed Table (note modifier)
Compassion/Cruelty: 2d10** on Greed/Compassion Table (note modifier)
Emotional Stability: 2d10** on Emotional Stability Table (note modifier)
Moral Character: 2d10** on Moral Character Table (note modifier)
Courage: 2d10* or 2d10** on Courage Table (note modifier)
Physical Appearance: 2d10 on Physical Appearance Table

* Major Characters add +3; Supporting Characters add +1.
** Player may add or subtract up to 5 before rolling.

[For more articles in this series, visit How to Create a Swashbuckler.]

31 August 2020

Regarding Special Moves in Swashbuckling RPGs

Not every move, maneuver, or attack made by a swashbuckler needs to be an extravagant stunt. Sometimes the smart thing to do is dispatch an enemy efficiently and move on. If a player character is compelled to make every combat action an elaborate orchestration, it becomes wearisome for the player and makes the fight as dull as a conventional battle in which combatants just stand there and take turns exchanging blows. There needs to be a balance of elements to keep it interesting.

31 July 2020

Swashbuckling Thought of the Day 2020-07-31

One of these days, I'll do an extensive search for interesting swashbuckling blogs and include them in the blog roll I call "Dispatches." These needn't be gaming-oriented, although swashbuckling games are a particular interest of mine. I confess I am surprised and nonplussed by the scarcity of such.