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.]

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