[Conspiracy of Shadows] Doomed Pirates Battling Lovecraftian Evil -season 2-

Paka

Or call me Judd
Validated User
The cell of entrepid pirates is entering into its second season of its battle with the Conspiracy of the Deeps. The first season is talked about a bit here. We were using the original Conspiracy of Shadows game but now we're using the lovely revision.

The game is set in the pseudo-europe of pseudo-theah but with a Nuevo Terra to spice things up and give us a pseudo-Carribean called the Horned Archipeligo.

The Kicker:

The game begins in New Vendelmark, a merchant city on the east coast of Nuevo Terra, run by the Vendel Traders League. The pirates have set up a meeting with several powerful families who have grown disenchanted with the Conspiracy of the Deeps and want out.

Trust and Doom:

Trust
An important aspect of any unit that works together is trust. The members have to trust each other in order to succeed and find strength; however, if they do not trust each other, their attempt at meeting a common goal is hampered. This mechanic is designed to give this very real relationship a mechanical meaning in the game.

As a group, the Cell begins with a Trust Pool. This is a number of dice equal to the number of members within the Cell. At any time during play, any Player can draw from this pool to gain a free bonus die for any of his Conflict rolls.

While the pool never refreshes, it does expand and contract based upon the actions of the characters as well as the time they have spent working together. At the start of each new episode, the pool increases by one new die. It also increases by one die anytime one of the characters sacrifices himself in some manner for the other members of the group. This can be a physical sacrifice, such as taking a blow meant for another, or something less concrete, like sacrificing a character’s career. Finally, if at any time a character gives up his life for the good of the Cell, the current total Trust Pool is increased by half to represent the ultimate sacrifice.

The pool contracts when the exact opposite happens. If a character at anytime chooses not to sacrifice himself when the opportunity arrives or puts his personal goals before that of the group, the pool decreases by one die. Also, if one member should fall in some manner, such as dying or betraying the group, the entire Trust Pool is cut in half.
Doom is the rule I'm most excited about from Conspiracy of Shadow's revision. From the game's text:

Doom
In conspiracy fiction the hero often suffers a tragic end. He may uncover the truth about the conspiracy only to be thwarted by his own father who is the secret leader. A character’s Doom is a way of bringing that essential element into the game.

First each character must select, in broad terms, a Descriptor of his Doom. It should be general in nature so that it can be filled out organically through play. Once decided upon, the Descriptor is given a starting rank of one.

Throughout the game a Player may call upon his character’s Doom to automatically end a Conflict in his favor; however, he must narrate how this particular conflict or situation ties into his Doom and it cannot be used to eliminate any named characters.

Each time this is done, the character’s Doom Rank increases by one. When the Rank reachs six, the character’s Doom is at hand. This means that the Game Master is allowed to bring about the end game for that particular character at anytime, and during that encounter the character’s Doom Rank acts as a negative modifier for his conflict rolls.
Players have already begun to brainstorm ideas for their doom. We'll see what dooms are born to their character sheets on game day. So far we've had e-mails and ideas like:

I will go down with the ship. *My favorite*

I will die getting my revenge
.

I will die defending my captain.

The beauty of it is the players choose their doom and choose to make it occur.

I thought I was burned out on this game and we took a break for the summer, due to my starting grad. school and moving all at once. But now I'm anxious to get back on the high seas.

We play this coming weekend and I will post how it goes.
 

TonyLB

Wanna-be Super
"I will die defending my captain."

Boy, that example just begs for a rule for how the Captain can increase/decrease the Doom rank of the player holding that Doom. Cool, cool stuff.
 

Paka

Or call me Judd
Validated User
TonyLB said:
"I will die defending my captain."

Boy, that example just begs for a rule for how the Captain can increase/decrease the Doom rank of the player holding that Doom. Cool, cool stuff.
Maybe instead the character with that Doom can use it to give the captain successes if the captain's player is cool with that.
 

Keith Senkowski

Retired User
Paka said:
Maybe instead the character with that Doom can use it to give the captain successes if the captain's player is cool with that.
The probelm I see with the Captain controlling the Doom is that it limits the Player whose Doom it is. I mean dying to defend the Captain doesn't mean the Captain even has to be around for the character to be defending him.

Keith
 

MetalBard

Meddlesome
I like the setup A LOT. That trust dice mechanic is sweet. I can think of times when that would have been cool to try out in my group's recent Burning Wheel game. It looks like the ideas for people's doom is kinda ties into this, or am I reading too much into it? The "Captain" doom seems like it, at least.
 

TonyLB

Wanna-be Super
Keith, I don't know that Judd is talking about the Captain controlling the Lieutenant's Doom, so much as he is talking about the idea that the Captain can (by the Lieutenant-Players choice) benefit directly from the advancement of the Lieutenant's Doom.

Which, yeah, would be cool. As Captain, do you rely on the person who will always try to help you, but will do so at the cost of themselves? Or do you stick up for them (against their will) by not counting on them?
 

Paka

Or call me Judd
Validated User
Bob Goat said:
The probelm I see with the Captain controlling the Doom is that it limits the Player whose Doom it is. I mean dying to defend the Captain doesn't mean the Captain even has to be around for the character to be defending him.

Keith
Tony's got the gist of what I mean. The captain doesn't control the Doom, that'd take the Doom out of the player's hands, going against the whole point. I was just thinking that the player who wants to die for the captain can use their Doom to give the captain auto-successes. Thus, the player is choosing to edge his character closer and closer to doom for another character.
 

Keith Senkowski

Retired User
Okay. Makes more sense and would create an interesting dynamic between the two characters. To make it even crazier would be if the character with that Doom hates the fucking Captain, but because of who he is, is Doomed to die defending him. That would be fucked up.

Keith
 

TonyLB

Wanna-be Super
What's really fucked up is if the lieutenant wants to judge the captain as a worthless waste of flesh (and die dutifully for him, to show him what a real man acts like) but if the captain occasionaally does things that resonate strongly with the lieutenant's beliefs and which would (in any other man) win the lieutenant's respect.
 

Paka

Or call me Judd
Validated User
Trust and Doom were thrown around the table like confetti.

The Kicker involved the players meeting up with members of the conspiracy who were disgruntled in the city on the east coast of Nuovo Terra, New Vendelmark.

The players were shocked that they weren't leaving the conspiracy because it was right or because it dealt with monsters or fed slaves to a beast that lived in the bottom of the ocean. These patriarchs wanted out because the Screaming Saint's pirating had bitten into everyone's bottom line and the conspiracy wasn't pulling in the money it once had.

What they got out of them were letters of mark, letters of commandeership for any of their trading company's ships and info on a Slave Fortress in the Southern Keys and several other prominent Conspiracy-folk.

Highlight moments:

* Two P.C.'s break into a prominent member of the conspiracy's port-wife's (read: WHORE) house, steal the bastard child and one of the playlers (my girlfriend) knifes her. Thus gaining a Taint point. The whore had a tentacle for an arm, much like the Admiral now does. The baby has traits like the Innsmouth-inspired fish-people.

Another player wanted to go with him but was forbidden by the captain, lost hem with a roll to follow along without being seen so he spent a DOOM, which is that a woman will be his undoing. We decided this meant he fell in love with her.

When he got to the house after his two comrades left he found her bleeding from the throat and held her until she expired.

Rough.

* Some snuck aboard the HMS Imperious, stole its charts and maps while two other players pretended to be Avalonion naval officers to get one P.C's innocent brother off of the boat. Good stuff, lots of tense moments. Trust was thrown about when one P.C. fell off of the boat and was being grabbed by the underfolk.

* The got back to port to find that two slaves had been indicted for the killing of the woman. The group argued about what to do and I didn't feel confident enough with CoS's argument rules to do a Duel of Wits style resolution.

Janaki's P.C. evaded another P.C.'s attempt to stop him and turned himself in. The captain of the ship, adroitly played by Robert, held a pistol to the city's governor (with the aid of a well placed Destiny point) and had him released with good sneaking from Julie's new P.C.

So these are pirates, what was their booty?

They got their letters of marque and commandeership.

They got the charts from the Imperious.

They got a mewling half-deep one baby who eats raw fish, is both their arch-villain's bastard son and a P.C.'s cousin.

And they got fuel for their next kicker, which explores the only pirate genre dingus that we haven't explored yet.

Next Kicker: The Treasure Map.

They have found a treasure map that Admiral Arthur had stashed among his things.

Next month they follow the treasure map and see what is buried where X marks the spot.

Thoughts:

- It is interesting that Janaki really isn't that jazzed about her tainted and psychotic character. She's two DOOM in and I could easily see him just falling prey to his DOOM. I'd like to see her run a character she really digs. I think we'll have a better idea of what that is for next game.

- The group is a great gaggle of folks and despite the horrific content, we're often laughing and joking at the table. This isn't to the detriment to the game but in a good, fun way. We like hanging out and I'm digging playing with 'em.

- Julie started a new character and I can tell she is enjoying her doomed, vengeful smuggler who lost his ship far more than her former character.

- I really didn't use the manuevers in the book much. Extended conflicts just didn't happen in a way that would utilize those manuevers. There are mentions in the book of using the melee rules as verbal combat rules but I just didn't feel it was structured enough to be of use. I'm going to give them a hard read over and see how I feel about them again. I love social combat and would love to have it at my disposal. It would have been handy with this group too.

- Trust and Doom are amazing mechanics. I can't stress what a cool element they added to the game. Doom's knocking my socks off. It really changed the game and gave it the inevitable destruction vibe that its begging for.

Next game:

X

I've got several maps I photocopied of 17th century maps. Should be keen.
 
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