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Author Topic: Pirates of the Red River  (Read 1476 times)

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Offline VandalSavageTopic starter

Pirates of the Red River
« on: January 04, 2008, 09:19:47 AM »
Pirates of the Red River

It is 66 BC, and the legendary lands of the East are in the grip of a bitter guerilla war.  Rome has declared an end to the rogue nations of Asia Minor - the land of Amazons, golden apples and giants - and for eight years has done battle with the outlaws and barbarians bought by the coin and power of the Last King of Pontus, Mithradates Eupator.  Now a new strategy to subvert the strength of the bandit hordes to the banner of Rome finds a small band of pirates entrusted with the mission of establishing a slaving outpost on the most crucial artery of the battlefield: The Red River.  The whole of Rome's future, and so of the world, depends on whether they can subjugate the souls in their charge and hold the contested land that, for centuries, heroes have come to seeking glory.

Style:  Pirates of the Red River will be a novelesque narrative focusing on quality writing, character development and sophisticated action.  It will be largely player driven, with setting information and unexpected challenges posed by the Gamemaster, and the main action involving two sets of protagonists - one the pirates and the other the captives who they must enslave in order to ensure the success of their outpost.  Though the writing of the Gamemaster will tend to the lyrical, the prose of the players need be no particular style, so long as it is quality.

Characters: There are two categories of players in this tale, each with distinct backgrounds: The pirates and their captives.  This reflects the dynamic of the conflict in Asia Minor at the time, and so is best examined with a brief glimpse at history. 

Rome had been bogged down in an expensive, seemingly futile conflict in Asia Minor.  It had invaded because a King of that region, Mithradates Eupator of Pontus, had for decades incited neighboring nations to oppose Rome's economic and political will, financing open war and all manner of terrorism.  Rome launched an expedition to conquer all of Asia Minor and dethrone Mithradates in 74 BC, but after initial overwhelming successes it found that the lands it conquered rose up against it with Mithradates' backing.  Every measure of land Rome claimed was frought with tribal conflicts, mercenary opportunists and outlaws - all of whom would switch allegiances whenever one side that Rome chose as its agents became too strong.  This went on for 8 years, with undersupplied Roman legions dragging across the region.

This changed in 66 BC, when the General Pompey the Great was deployed with unprecedented resources and political powers to subjugate the land.  Pompey's troop surge managed to secure more substantial gains, but it also pushed an enormous body of pirates out of the Mediterranean that they had dominated without contest for decades.  But canny Pompey found lords among the bandits and pirates whose allegiances he could depend on.  Soon pirates and outlaws were fighting for Rome's banner in substantial numbers.

Our first group of protagonists, the Pirates, are of this group.  They can be raiders from Asia Minor, refugee pirates from the scattered Mediterranean pirate empire or mercenaries from foreign lands as far away as Scythian Asia or Gaul.  Whatever their origin, they will be hired by the Bandit God, Azuriel, and by a monstrous pirate turned slaving hegemon, an unequalled sadist known only as The Reaver.  Their task will be given to them: To establish an outpost on the shores of the Red River - a waterway running through Asia Minor's heart from Roman lands to the front lines - to stock it with slaves and to defend it at any cost.  They will also be given captives who will provide the labor and stock their brothel rooms.

Those captives come from Amasya, a fortified city behind the front lines that the pirates and Romans are trying to topple.  Amasya is significant in history not only as a crucial strategic center in this conflict but as one of the lands ruled by Amazons.  The Amazons had ruled Amasya for centuries, and it is in the Roman histories of this Mithradaitic War that they appear in our surviving records - most of them fought on the side of Mithradates and against Roman domination. 

Our captives will have been captured in a recent conflict with the mercenary pirates under Roman employ.  They may be non-combatants, but may also be Amazon warriors. 

There are up to three slots for captives and three for Pirates.  Currently, we have one player set to play a captive and another for the Pirates, with yet another character undetermined.  This leaves up to three slots open - up to two for each category.


System:  The system the game will employ for adjudication is Chaosium's 'Stormbringer'.  Literature on this system is limited, but the system itself is simple and much of character creation can be derived from the sheet itself and from Gamemaster direction. 

The 'Stormbringer' sheet is located here: http://www.chaosium.com/forms/SBsheetfront.pdf

There are four main reasons we will be using this rather obscure system.  First is that it's time period equivalent - its skills and statistics correspond well with the environment of the ancient world.  Second, it has realistic combat - low hit points, rules for lasting damage from serious wounds and fighting that depends on ability to parry and dodge to escape wounds rather than incentivizes being hit repeatedly.  Thirdly is system simplicity - Stormbringer's skills are a percentile system, which is easy to comprehend and utilize for those new to the game.  Lastly, its method of magic is appropriate; magic is not rife in the system, it is an obscurity, and is often unreliable and dependent on forces vastly more potent and bizarre than the mortals who seek to exploit it.

Means of creating a 'Stormbringer' system character will be posted on this thread to guide applicants through the process.


References:  Listed below are some references that players and applicants might use to become acquainted with the time period.

On the Cilician Pirates, once lords of the Mediterranean: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cilician_Pirates and http://www.livius.org/cg-cm/cilicia/cilician_pirates.html

On the Amazons: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazons

On the Red River: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kizilirmak

On Mithradates VI, Eupator: http://www.livius.org/mi-mn/mithridates/mithridates.htm

On Pompey the Great: http://classics.mit.edu/Plutarch/pompey.html
« Last Edit: January 04, 2008, 03:36:44 PM by VandalSavage »

Online Bliss

Re: Pirates of the Red River
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2008, 10:18:29 AM »
*raises her hand, smiling*

M. Vandal, I am very much interested.

Offline Archangel

Re: Pirates of the Red River
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2008, 10:27:59 AM »
Excellent background and gaming environement...

I'd love to be a mercenary/bandit on the side of the pirates, if you're still taking names !!!  ;D

Offline Amberghylles

Re: Pirates of the Red River
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2008, 11:18:57 AM »
I would like be interested indeed in this as a displaced Pirate Lord.

Offline VandalSavageTopic starter

Roll Call and Character Creation Guidance
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2008, 11:24:28 AM »
Splendid to see all replies.

Bliss - Your position is assured.

Archangel - I reviewed your work and would enjoy having you add your talents to the story.  As it so happens, I was already a reader of your Twilight 2000 thread, and so a burgeoning fan.  Welcome aboard.

Amberghylles - Your position is also assured.

In both cases, feel free to discuss character ideas and background with me on the boards or in Private Message.

This leaves us with one spot open for the Pirates/Mercenaries, and two for the captives.

Now a note on Character Creation.

*

Character Creation is easily done.  Begin by consulting the 'Stormbringer' sheet I posted a link to.

On the upper left of the sheet, you'll note a column of statistics - "Strength", "Intelligence", "Appearance" and such.  Most should be familiar to those acquainted with the usual spread of fantasy RPG statistics.  "Appearance", the likely exception to this, takes into account not only physical attractiveness but bearing and charisma.  "Size" determines your physical bulk, influencing both ability to deal damage and to sustain it.  To give you a general sense of what the "Size" score means, 6' height would be around a 15 Size, with scores of 20 or 21 meaning that you are in excess of 7' in height.

Roll these statistics using 2D6+6.  Roll as many times as you like, but re-roll the entire group each time.  When you are set on your rolls, you made trade points from one statistic to another, to a maximum total increase or decrease of 3 points per statistic.  In this manner, statistics can be brought to a maximum of 21.

NOTE one exception to the point trading.  "Power" can be increased only on by a ratio of two points traded into "Power" increasing it by one point.  Meaning, if you were to trade one point of Strength, two of Appearance and one of Constitution into your Power, Power would increase by two points.  This is because Power determines your ability to employ magic.  Only those with Power scores of 16 and above can employ "real" - meaning, supernatural - magic.

Once those are determined, the next thing you need to see to are Skills.

Of the Skills listed, only five are unusual enough to merit special attention - Evaluate, Insight, Million Spheres, Unknown Kingdoms and Young Kingdoms.  However, I will note again that, as this is a realistic system, Parrying and Dodging are important scores for combat.  Parrying an opponent's attack is accomplished by matching your appropriate weapon skill against their attack.  Dodging is its own Skill, "Dodge".  For future consideration, know that you can Parry or Dodge any particular attack as a free action.

Evaluate allows you to appraise the worth of an item.

Insight allows you to have insight into the motivations of another person, beast or situation.

Million Spheres is your knowledge of mystical arts.  This cannot be increased beyond 30% in character creation.

Unknown Kingdoms is your knowledge of lands beyond the knowledge of the Roman Empire, such as modern-day China, Sub-Saharan Africa, Scandanavia and northern Russia.  

Young Kingdoms is your knowledge of the history of the known world.

Here is how to create your character's starting Skills:

You have 400 points to distribute among Skills.  Add them to the base percentage chances listed to the right of each Skill.

Note that weapon Skills are not listed.  Simply write in the weapon type you choose to use - e.g. Sword, Dagger, Bow - and add the Skill percentage points to it.  Most weapons have a base percentage chance to them, usually between 10% and 20%; I will inform you of what a weapon type's percentage chance is on request, or after you have added the points.

Skills may exceed 100%.  
« Last Edit: January 04, 2008, 03:39:07 PM by VandalSavage »

Offline Amberghylles

Re: Pirates of the Red River
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2008, 11:47:58 AM »
Seems pretty straightforward.  I have played Runequest (long ago) and an older version of Stormbringer (also long ago) so I have an idea of how it works. 

Do you want us to use the E die roller?

Offline VandalSavageTopic starter

Re: Pirates of the Red River
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2008, 11:52:14 AM »
Do you want us to use the E die roller?

Yes, the E die roller works.  If you would prefer Invisible Castle, that works as well.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2008, 03:38:48 PM by VandalSavage »

Offline Archangel

Re: Pirates of the Red River
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2008, 12:07:50 PM »
I can say I've played many P&P games, but never seen this one. On the other hand it looks pretty simple and like Amber said, straightforward.

I'll have a go at making the character.

Offline Lancis

Re: Pirates of the Red River
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2008, 12:34:06 PM »
arr mateys! if you are still looking for players I would love to hop on board!

Offline Apple of Eris

Re: Pirates of the Red River
« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2008, 01:05:09 PM »
Okay, I can't deny this sounds really interesting.

Vandal, I think I'd like to join as one of the captives, and I have an idea, if you're willing to hold my hand through making a character. :)

Offline Archangel

Re: Pirates of the Red River
« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2008, 01:25:33 PM »
Still working on the character, quick questions:
Is a sword simply a sword, or are there various types that have to be selected separatly? Is there a shield skill?


Edit, another questions: What does the Physik skill represent?
« Last Edit: January 04, 2008, 01:31:46 PM by Archangel »

Offline VandalSavageTopic starter

Re: Pirates of the Red River
« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2008, 01:38:32 PM »
Still working on the character, quick questions:
Is a sword simply a sword, or are there various types that have to be selected separatly? Is there a shield skill?


Edit, another questions: What does the Physik skill represent?

Sometimes a sword is simply a sword.  For the purpose of 'Stormbringer' Skills, this is one of those instances.  You need only take 'Sword'.  Similarly, 'Bow' Skill will allow you to use all manner of bows - longbows and shortbows.  'Knife' will apply to daggers, kukris and so forth.

Yes, there is a Shield Skill.

Physik is the 'Medicine' Skill, allowing you to diagnose and treat ailments.

Offline Elvi

Re: Pirates of the Red River
« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2008, 06:56:13 PM »
Aaaaarrrghhhh.....
I really love this idea Vandal and got all excited then I saw the reference to  'numbers' and them square things with dots all over them....

Hope you manage to get this game off the ground, it really sounds a good one....*keeps fingers crossed*

Offline VandalSavageTopic starter

Re: Pirates of the Red River
« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2008, 09:13:00 PM »
Hope you manage to get this game off the ground, it really sounds a good one....*keeps fingers crossed*

Much appreciated, Elvi. 

Unfortunate that the numbers drove you off.  All the same, I hope you end up following the action.

Offline VandalSavageTopic starter

Re: Pirates of the Red River
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2008, 09:22:21 PM »
Lancis - Thank you for your consideration of the thread, but we are, as you noted, full on captors. 

Offline VandalSavageTopic starter

Pressgang Predictions
« Reply #15 on: January 05, 2008, 12:33:25 AM »
A status update on where we now stand with crew and captives, and how we'll proceed when they arrive.

I have five writers signed on - three captors and two captives.  It would work to have another captive.  Got any recommendations?

Of those signed on, I have three sheets complete, one well on the way and one I've yet to see any numbers from.  As far as backgrounds are concerned, I've heard a lot of partial things, and one is nearly all outlined.  No rush on the back stories; I always like to let those evolve as they may, as would happen with in any good story.

As soon as I get that fifth sheet submitted, I'll get action started.  Before even that, I'll set the scene so that you can get a sense of the environment.  If excitement remains high, sheets are in and people are ready to play this weekend, I'm sure we can manage some posts before when Archangel's due back on Monday without disrupting his role.  To sum, expect a scene set tomorrow, about midday Pacific Time.

Enjoy excavating your characters in the meantime.

Offline Elandra

Re: Pirates of the Red River
« Reply #16 on: January 05, 2008, 12:37:31 AM »
I would be interested in writing the third and final captive, however I do not think I could get a character to you this weekend. If that is a problem, I would suggest finding another, if not I am sure I could get one to you by Monday. *smiles*

Offline Elvi

Re: Pirates of the Red River
« Reply #17 on: January 05, 2008, 09:52:35 AM »
Much appreciated, Elvi. 

Unfortunate that the numbers drove you off.  All the same, I hope you end up following the action.

Just one of those things I'm afraid, it ruins the flow for me personally and even though I have tried statted games, it's never worked....

Will try and pop in and have a look.....*smiles*......you have a nice group there so it should play out well...

 

Online Bliss

Re: Pirates of the Red River
« Reply #18 on: January 05, 2008, 01:24:41 PM »
I'm the guilty party with no numbers yet. I've done my rolls for the main stats and am working on the skills distribution.

Offline VandalSavageTopic starter

Any Port For A Storm
« Reply #19 on: January 05, 2008, 02:29:24 PM »
I have opened a story Thread on NCES - Small Games, entitled 'Pirates of the Red River'.

It establishes the specifics of the setting and an introductory scene.  Once I get a background from you, I will send you a private message of how you come to be in the scene described on the Thread's initial post.

Questions about personages or events in the Thread can be posed via PM.  I will also be opening an OOC discussion Thread for the game, given that there may be topics pertaining to historical details that all players should be made aware of, and because they're handy to announce OOC information like absences.

Once you're comfortable with where your character is in the creation process, you may post in the story Thread to establish your presence in the initial scene.  I will continue with the narrative in the Thread when I see at least half of the characters present.

Offline Amberghylles

Re: Pirates of the Red River
« Reply #20 on: January 05, 2008, 08:41:11 PM »
Just as a heads up, I tend to be fairly scarce on weekends.  I'll try to get some work done on my character tonight, but after a double shift I'm a little fried... and I'll be working all day tomorrow so if I don't get it tonight it will be tomorrow night.

Sorry if I wind up holding things up.

Offline VandalSavageTopic starter

Re: Pirates of the Red River
« Reply #21 on: January 05, 2008, 08:50:45 PM »
Just as a heads up, I tend to be fairly scarce on weekends...
Sorry if I wind up holding things up.

I am in much the same situation on weekends - I'm usually involved with social activities or other writing.

Don't be concerned about holding anything up.  I posted the introductory scene so that people might gradually acclimate, and even state their presence.  In the meantime, everyone else is occupied tinkering with their sheets and composing their backgrounds.

I appreciate the diligent work and courteous notification all the same, and will be at your disposal - all of you - should you require anything of me this weekend.

Offline NikitaFirestar

Re: Pirates of the Red River
« Reply #22 on: January 09, 2008, 08:35:16 PM »
Well darn, this looks like one I could have really gotten into. I guess it's what I get for not checking this board in... Well, a really really long time. Any positions left?

Offline VandalSavageTopic starter

Re: Pirates of the Red River
« Reply #23 on: January 09, 2008, 11:24:36 PM »
We have an open captive position.

Message me any ideas if you might be interest in occupying it.

Offline NikitaFirestar

Re: Pirates of the Red River
« Reply #24 on: January 09, 2008, 11:26:23 PM »
I definitely will!