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[Savage Worlds/50 Fathoms] Actual Play


Three Times Lucky!
Validated User
Avast there and take a drop of grog with an old sailor, will ya, while I tells of me days on the savage seas of Caribdus... Ahem. Sorry. Couldn't help dropping a little bit of piratese in there.

This is the Actual Play of my just-starting Savage Worlds 50 Fathoms campaign. We currently have three hearty adventurers willing to brave the rising oceans to make their names, and, who knows, perhaps even save the world. As usual with our group, they represent an even mix of outcasts, oddballs and psychotics.

Jean-Marc de Rochelle is a Frenchman and proud of it. After one game it's pretty clear his particular grudge is with the English but Belgians, Spaniards and Masaquani fare little better. As the game starts he was mate of the soon-to-be-wrecked-as-a-plot-device ship the PCs all served upon. He still wears the blue frock coat her came to Caribdus in

Etuk, a cold, black-eyed, Doreen, was loner even as the game started. Branded with a crossed bones across his cheek to show his past as a pirate, he kept to the bow to avoid the chattering and stares of the other crewmen. Only his usefulness aboard a ship, able to repair below water and loosen trapped anchors, ensured the captain took him on.

Urias is a Masaquani. He's a ship's mage and would-be trader; tall, green-skinned and aloof. With the killer combination of greed and cowardice, he'd not exactly made himself popular with the crew, but his wind magic was useful enough.

And me, I've not run a written adventure, even one as loose as 50 Fathoms, since I broke my ADnD habit 7 or 8 years ago. However, family demands mean I just don't have the prep time I used to so I'm looking forward to seeing how I (and the players) take to this one.

Session One: Shipwrecked!

The game started with a storm approaching. The English captain argued with his matefor a while before deciding to skirt it to the south. Inevitably this lead to the ship being run aground on a reef along Torath-Ka's northern edge.

All the PCs were first to the boat, de Rochelle steering them past a cruel-looking reef and even managing to return to rescue several sailors before the ship was broken apart by the storm despite me having overlooked a rather important element of the rules: that dice explode. Oops.

On shore, they had little chance to rest. Even as the storm drew away, they heard something moving in the jungle. A thump that might have been heavy feet, the screech-crash of a tree falling or being knocked over. Urias immediately took action - turning the rowing boat over and hiding beneath it in what would become a typical act of heroism.

Moments later a pair of eyes appeared, large as saucers, red, with split pupils, followed shortly by their owner, a great, yellow lizard. It rushed towards Urias who had rather embarassingly been uncovered when Rochelle ordered several men to move the rowing boat to safety. It brushed Rochelle aside when he tried to jump before the mage but missed its own attack as Urias fell backwards desperately trying to draw his sodden pistols. He fired one but it also missed and then it was the sailors' turn. Armed only with random debree (some blanks of wood, rocks an, in one case, a rather beautiful conch shell) they were surprisingly effective. Conch guy stunned the lizard while another sailor, who's plank (we later decided) must have had a nail through it, rolled a 19 on a d4.

Here's where I made another mistake, allowing an additional d6 damage for every raise on the sailor's attack. It didn't matter so much here, but later on it proved unfortunate for Leiutenant de Rochelle.

De Rochelle claimed the kill, of course, in the name of France, and the survivors set to exploring the area. While four crewmen took the boat up to the treeline, the rest of the group noticed there was a mast 's tip poking out from some distant rocks. Deciding it was probably pirates, the group once more showed the heroic potential by sending the cabin boy, Jip, to investigate.

It wasn't pirates, of course, but a wrecked skiff, as Etuk discovered when he took pity on the boy and went with him to check it out. Of course, now Jip considers the Doreen to have saved his life and wants to be just like him when he grows up. Just what Caribdus needs, more psychotic loners.

The rest of the game ran quickly. The sailors who had taken the boat away didn't return, nor did two others sent to look for them, and when the PCs themselves investigated they found the boat smashed and blood spattering the ground. The PCs tracked the missing sailors into the jungle, despite Etuk claiming they were sure to be dead and Urias not seeing why they should risk their own lives saving them from their own stupidity, and were soon overlooking the ugak village where a shamen was about to sacrifice the men to a great monkey idol. Using his d8 intimidation skill, 'persuaded' two sailors (including the one Englishman) to act as a distraction, drawing off half the ugak's watching the ceremony while the rest of the group attacked from the rear.

I introduced bennies in this fight which was good as it nearly ended in disaster. Although the PCs attacked well, the ugaks' high Vigour meant they would recover on their next action while the PCs themselves had a harder time recovering themselves. Still, it made for a tense fight which was eventually won despite de Rochelle dying (again after I failed to realise that you only ever get one additional d6 for raises on your attack).

With only a brief pause for Urias to loot the shamen, the idol and de Rochelle's corpse, they group ran into the jungle to help the sailors who had fled, five ugaks hot on their heels. They found both sailors alive but hard-pressed by three remaining ugaks, even managing to kill the ugaks with one sailor still alive, an Englishman who thanked Etuk for saving his life (I see a theme here) with a firm handshake. Just then de Rochelle sauntered into the clearing and simultaniously demanded his gold back and criticised the group for letting the masaquani sailor die instead of the Englishman.

The wrecked ship was soon loaded up with food, water and a holdful of coconuts to trade, as well as nine survivors crammed into a ship designed for eight.

The game ended with the rescue of Equias, a scurrilian, who had been wrecked in the same storm that sunk the PCs ship. His large body made their little skiff even more cramped (something that was particularly uncomfortable for the solitary doreen) but the fact he knew which direction to sail to get to Kiera meant they could hardly refuse him. He also told the PCs that the world would be completely underwater within three years although whether that's three years for them to enjoy a life of piracy of to save it, I'm not yet sure...

Overall, I liked the system although there's a lot of different elements to keep in mind and I haven't even introduced tricks and the various combat manouvres yet. I'm sure once I have the hang of it all, however, it'll run even faster than it did. Which is great. Having spent the last year and a half playing various complex nWod games, I want to keep this campaign fast, loose and light.
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Draconic red plush
Validated User
Little nitpick : you recover fom shaken status witha Spirits roll, not toughness.


Three Times Lucky!
Validated User
Sargrak said:
Little nitpick : you recover fom shaken status witha Spirits roll, not toughness.
Oops. Everyone has decent Spirits, too, and it was nly d6 for the ugaks. Damn.

Actually, part of the problem was that I wasn't planning to start the game this week. I just brought the books along so people could flick through them and get ideas for their characters.

It's a credit to the game that I managed to launch straight into running it without even rereading the adventure or the rules.


Jason Anderson

Polgarus Games
Validated User
50 Fathoms is my favourite plot point campaign for Savage Worlds, so I really look forward to seeing how your group handles it. Keep us posted! :)



Registered User
Validated User
Sounds like you're of to a great start! I'll be starting my own 50 Fathoms campaign next month, so I'll follow this thread closely and try to learn from your mistakes ... ;)


Three Times Lucky!
Validated User
Session 2: Pirates!

Session Two: A Tale of Two Captains

Two more players joined the group for this game. One, a regular member, introduced Balkan Black, a Masaquani ruffian who had quietly been part of the crew all along. The other was just joining us for this session and the introduction of his character pretty much set the tone for the rest of the session... but more on that in a moment.

Before we started I introduced some more rules, giving a brief runthrough the various combat manouvres, and everyone seemed pretty pleased that there was more to the system than simply rolling to hit. I also corrected the perfectly understandable mistakes I'd made with the rules the previous week. Ahem.

The game started with a bit of confusion. We'd left the previous session with nine men and the scurillian, Equias, crammed into a skiff designed for eight at most.

At the start of this game the skiff was even more cramped, now holding ten men and a scurillian.

As the passengers all shuffled around the outside of the boat to allow Captain de Rochelle to tack, an unfamiliar figure jumped up, and, assuming a suitably Errol Flynn-like pose, declared himself to be none other than Sir Henry Grey, scourge of the French and oh my God, what the hell is that crab thing and urgh, you're green and, urgh, even worse, you, Sir, are French!

It seems this newly arrived visitor had been clinging to a piece of driftwood for days before the skiff Adventure swept past whereupon he'd pulled himself aboard unnoticed.

Sir Henry took no time in proclaiming that, actually, he was rightful captain of this vessel, much to de Rochelle's disgust. Unfortunately for de Rochelle, the crew were either too bemused by this sudden turn of events or too loyal to their fellow countrymen (in the case of the young English crewman, John Smith) to follow his order that the imposter be thrown overboard directly.

Ironically, the exchange was only defused when another crewman was actually thrown overboard. Taking advantage of the distraction, Miguel Figueroa, the Spaniard, had approached the Doreen, Etuk, to quietly assure him that his piracy brand was not, for him, a problem, for he, too, had once been a pirate. Unfortunately, he hadn't accounted for the Doreen's intimacy issues and rather than a comradely friendship developing, he was swiftly pushed into the sea. Then pushed under the sea. Then held there. So much for honour amongst thieves.

Only as each crewman noticed Jip, the cabin boy, straining to see something on the horizon ahead did the various arguing and accusations that so often seem to characterise our PCs interactions die away.

Approaching from the north east was a ship. Black hulled, black sailed, it's black flag's insignia indistinguishable from that distance, the sleek, powerful ship was not only heavily armed but thronging with black uniformed marines. Fortunately, as it drew near, it became clear that it was not pirates as they feared but a Kieran patrol ship.

From the foc's'le of the ship, an immaculately-dressed, black-uniformed masaquani in a spike-topped helmet ordered the captain to declare his ship and destination. Of course both De Rochelle and Sir Henry responded so he ordered them both to come across to his ship.

There followed an amusing comedy situation as both de Rochelle and Sir Henry answered his questions while claiming the other to be an imposter, made even funnier by the fact that Sir Henry basically knew nothing of their destination, their cargo, the crew or how they came to own their ship.

At some point during this exchange, the Kierans solidified in my mind as a cross between 19th century Prussians, Star Wars Imperials and corrupt Ottoman overlords. As a result the group was forced to listen to my terrible German accent in various forms for much of the remaining gametime. Hm. Perhaps that explains something of what came next, come to think of it.

Convincing the Kieran captain they were not smugglers with the cunning excuse of having 'misplaced' their super tattoo (and the payment of a Discretionary $200 Lost Super Tattoo Sea Captains Benevolent Fund Contribution), the group found themselves escorted into port, where, once they had promised to buy a super tattoo for Urias and paid the harbourmaster's Discretionary $200 Super Tattoo Application Fast Tracking Fee plus an additional Discretionary $50 Super Tattoo Application Fast Tracking Fee Late Fee, they were allowed to go sell their coconuts.

Considering all the fines and fees they'd racked up without yet paying, it was fortunate indeed that nowhere in Caribdus pays more for coconuts than Kiera so Urias (the trader of the group) was able to pay off the harbourmaster within hours and was promised a tattoo would be provided first thing in the morning.

The only inn on the dockside was the Lamprey, a huge, two-story place, heaving with drunken sailors, gambling sailors, brawling sailors, drunken, gambling sailors... you get the idea.

Pushing their way in past two fighting visitors, the crew had hardly walked ten paces before the Doreen, Etuk, began to be goaded a red and yellow patterned kehana. But, despite the best insults the kehana could muster ("Your momma... she's so ugly I didn't even eat her after I tortured her slowly to death... your sister on the other hand...", etc.), Etuk held his nerve and walked calmly past and up to the bar as the kehana and his crewmates continued to insult him.

Not that the doreen planned to take the incident entirely sitting down. A few discreet enquiries told him the kehana's name (Red Stripe) and which ship was his (The Santa Aria, an ex-Spanish galleon). A few words with his companions allowed him to borrow a flask of lamp oil and a flint and steel. And a few good stealth and repair rolls had him having cut through a gun port, sneaked onto the Santa Aria's gun deck and up to the magazine's door... Nothing like a proportionate response, huh?

Meanwhile de Rochelle and Grey had decided there wasn't room on the skiff for the both of them... so, obviously, they needed to steal a larger ship. And Grey had seen just the one in the harbour outside, a Brigandine named The Silver Fawn. Seeing as the Fawn's captain was also in the Lamprey, they decided there was no time like the present and, ignoring the fact Urias had just spent all their $1500 on buying the super tattoo he was to applied next morning, began to formulate a cunning plan.

After much discussion, the cunning plan took the following shape: buying the Fawn's captain a girl from 'an old friend' and, bluffing their way past the Grael bouncer on the door, rushing into his room and setting about him with swords, boathooks and, in the case of de Rochelle, a small carpentry hammer (he'd lost sword in Torath-Ka).

The plan was slightly complicated when the captain, in grovelling for his life, mentioned that he didn't actually own the Fawn, the harbourmaster did. The same vastly rich harbourmaster who knew their faces, had close contacts with the whole Kieran navy and would make a powerful enemy.

This, of course, made the attackers pause... for at least, ooh, three or four seconds, before they decided it was a risk they were willing to take and they began besetting the captain once more. In the end, the only thing that saved the man was his promise to provide them with a map to l'Ollonaise's treasure he had won gambling a few weeks before.

Hustling the captain outside, the attackers met up with Urial, who had been gathering the rest of the crew, and who had also managed to sell passage to the Coaker Mountains and back on their ship to five shifty-looking masaquani who wanted a small, discreet craft. Of course, at the time, Urias had been under the impression they were planning to leave port on the Adventure not a stolen Brigantine.

With exquisite timing, it was just at this moment that the Santa Aria exploded, sending the dockside into chaos. The crew piled into (read: stole) several dinghies (pausing only to purchase a Discretionary $60 Crowd Control Bypass Permit from a patrol that happened to notice them) and began rowing out to their lovely new ship, which, with the application of a little wind magic from Urias, began to slide out of port.

It was here they made a few elementary mistakes. It began with an argument over who was to be the new captain of Fawn - in front of the existing crew - despite the fact their captain had introduced the 18 new arrivals as 'inspectors'. It proceeded with a discussion -still in front of the crew - what they should do now they were now pirates, and concluded - yup, right in front of the crew - with Balkan Black shooting a sailor who tried to slip over the side to get help.

More precisely, it concluded with a massive battle between the existing crew and the new arrivals, while the five shifty passengers looted the hold, Urias tried to fight while continuing to blow wind into the sails, and a Kieran Blackship gave chase.

Even more precisely it ended with some of the existing crew cutting down the sails, the Blackship caching up, the deck being raked with chainshot and the crewman Urais was managing to intimidate into steering despite still blowing magically into the sails, finally getting the nerve to spin the whips wheel so they crashed into the sunken ruins...

Perhaps even more precisely than that, it ended with both captains dead, de Rochelle shot in the face when a crewman finally managed to load his musket, Grey mangled by musket fire as he tried to row away (his last words to the crewmen rowing his dinghy: "Call me captain... one... last... time..."), the five shifty passengers slipping away in the other of the two dighies, jangling sacks over their shoulders, three quarters of the Fawn's crew slaughtered, Etuk captured and hung as a pirate, and the remaining PCs sent to the Coaker Mountains for a twenty year stint in the mines.

Still, someone still has a certain treasure map and, more importantly, we now get to play a classic escape from slavery game next week.
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Jason Anderson

Polgarus Games
Validated User
Well, that was certainly an... interesting... twist in just the second session! :) Nice to see that you're rolling with things. I'm assuming you weren't originally planning for them to be arrested of course.



Three Times Lucky!
Validated User
Jason Anderson said:
Well, that was certainly an... interesting... twist in just the second session! :)
That's one way of putting it. :D

I can ony assume the chaotic, conflicting individualism and total lack of long-term planing was either a response to the characters being forced into quite a railroady first session or to the long stint of serious, character-driven nWod campaigning*. Either way it was a fun game although I did feel a little bad about having the doreen summarily hung. Still, if you take a major flaw that states you'll be executed if you turn to piracy... and then turn to piracy within two sessions, what more can you really expect.

*Or possily a desperate desite to shift the camapign to somewhere where the NPCs didn't all have terribly German accents.


Three Times Lucky!
Validated User
Session Three: Escape From Slavery

Session Three: Escape From Slavery

Half the crew dead, the rest thrown into slavery, things weren't looking good for the PCs at the start of this last game. In fact, only two of the original crew remained. Shackled together, wrist-to-wrist, Balkan and Urias were thrown into the hold of a slave transport for the slow, lightless, stinking journey to the Coaker Mountains and a twenty year stint in the iron mines.

Things didn't really improve when they arrived. Urias's smart comments and the Big Mouth hindrance of the new PC, a Grael named Ak who was chained up beside them, combined to see Urias and Balkan picked out by the ship's captain for a demonstration beating of the kind slaves could expect if they... well, if they did pretty much anything.Each beating, of course, accompanied by an increase in their prison term.

I had the players make a Smarts roll for the first month, each success and raise reducing the amount of extra time they accrued down by a week from a month, and, with everyone except Urias failing, it was pretty soon clear that no one was leaving the Coakers except as a runaway.

Interacting with classic prison archetypes broke up the monotony of digging ore all day (except Sunday - their day of rest - when they sorted ore all day before loading it onto carts to be taken down the mountain to the docks). The corrupt guard offered to provide food, messages home or tobacco if they informed on their fellow slaves. The sneaky prisoner, Silas Simplas, mysteriously stopped having to meet his ore quota after a few weeks, was allowed to remain unshackled to another slave and tried to pry information out of the PCs whenever they met. The guard captain remained aloof, authoritarian and administered beatings at random.

During the course of the month, Ak, who was chained to John Smith, the Englishman who had once been the PCs crewman, worked extra hard to allow the other slaves some rest during the day while learning Queensbury Rules boxing at night, while Urias weedled some interesting news from the guards: there were three mineshafts in the complex but two months ago all the slaves from mineshaft two had been moved to mineshaft three, then, last month, all the slaves from their mineshaft (mineshaft one) had also been moved to mineshaft three. However, no slaves ever left it, not even for rest days. Also, he learnt, a pirate ship had been spotted spying out the village around the dock.

Some time in their second month, the routine was interrupted when the governer, an overweight, soft spoken masaquani named Tomias Torias, came to inspect the mine. The PCs and the other ten slaves were brought out for inspection and all three managed to, despite brief beatings for their audacity, speak to Tomias and persuade him, in various ways, that they were too useful to be worked to death, Urias dropping hints about his knowledge of trade while the others claimed they would make wonderful gladiators.

Balkan also managed to overhear something of the governers conversation with the guard captain and learned that there were diamonds in mineshaft three that had been kept secret from the government and not only were they working the slaves to death there but the current batch of slaves were almost useless and would be replaced by the PCs within a month.

Accompanying the governer were his small harem of silk-smocked and veiled slave girls, all of whom wacthed proceedings from their master's carriage. Ignoring Ak's leers, one of these waited until their master's back as turned then drew aside her veil and mouthed something to Urias. Thankfully he chose to reroll his initial fumble and understood the slave girl's words: "Don't worry. I am here to rescue you." A surprising turn of events. But not as surprising as realising who the girl actually was... that she wasn't actually a girl at all but Jip, their cabin boy, in cunning disguise.

Unfortunately, whatever Jip's plan may have been, the PCs decided there wasn't time to wait for it. They had noticed a seam of softer clay part way down the passage to the mine workings and, while Ak and John Smith worked twice as hard to meet their quote, Urias and Balkan digged a tunnel of their own.

The only problem they met was Silas taking an interest in their diggings, a problem Balkan solved by bashing his head in with a rock before taking the body to the guards and explaining how there'd been a tragic rockfall. Fortunately, Ak, with his Big Mouth hindrance, was nowhere near at the time.

It took several weeks but eventually they broke through to a natural shaft. Exploring downards they found a water blocked one end and was too deep to swim through so they explored upwards instead, where they came across a natural cavern containing the rotted possessions of refugees from the flood who had hidden here to escape the rains only to be cut off. Of course, they only found that out after defeating the zombie corpses of the refugees in a close battle in which John Smith had his tongue and jaw horribly clawed, leaving him speaking pained whispers. They also found three barrels (one each of gunpowder, rum and stale water), a journal mentioning that one of their number had tried to swim out, Prince Amemnus himself, promising to return with help, and a magical ring that protects from magic. It's been a long time since I rolled on a treasure table and I have to say I enjoyed it in a guilty-pleasure kinda way.

The rum was given to the guards (who were persuaded by an astonishing roll by new PC, the overly polite, Englishman George Jameson, who's player had only been able to join in later on, that it was perfectly natural to find such things in a mine) and the gunpowder was used, once the predictable singing had turned to arguments and then fighting outside the mine entrance, to blow up first the doorway to their mineshaft and then the surprised guards outside.

Outnumbered, surprised and drunk as they were, the remaining guards tried to flee the complex, only to be brought down by the PCs and the other slaves. Then, pausing only to enter mineshaft three and rescue the slaves there, too (who turned out to be all women) they marched through the night to the dockside. There, in the harbour, they spied out a ship, a cromster named the Rusty Needle, which they were just working out how to steal despite the village beginning to come to life as the sun broke above the horizon when events overtook them (read: it was getting late).

First the governer passed them by on the way to the mine, Jip the cabin boy still among his entourage, but his guard looked too formidable to risk attacking and, besides, only Urias had any kind of attachment ot Jip and he's (by his own admission) a cold, greedy, coward.

Then, out of nowehere, a mysterious black ship named the Black Dog slipped close to the village and began to bombard the dock until the village around it was an abandoned ruin. That, at least, solved the problem of the people who might have stopped their theft of the Rusty Needle although it did leave the ship rather less eaworthy than when they had arrived.

Once the bombardment ceased, the PCs showed themselves and were confronted by the same shifty men who they had originally been planning to take to the Coakers! After initial surprise on both sides, the men apologised for loooting the brigantine then running away with one of only two dinghies, leaving the PCs to be captured as slaves, and asked for news of their brother, who they were here to rescue, one Silas Simplas.

An awkward silence followed, eventually broken by Urias, who imparted the knowledge of Silas' tragic accidental death in a rockfall, and George Jameson, who changed th subject to ask if he and the other slaves could join their crew. They refused, probably wisely, on the grounds that Urias, Balkan and various tohers would probably slit their throats during ht enight in revenge, which was probably true, but did kindly offer PCs the cromster they were already in the process of stealing.

And so the game ended. Once more the PCs are seabound, they have a ship (renamed to the George by Jameson - after King George not himself. Apparently.), they have a crew, they have slave girls and they are headed for Arfk, both as the fastest way to escape Kieran pursuit, to make their fortune whaling and to visit Ak's mum.

Sytemwise, we're all gettin gpretty slick with Savage Worlds now. Combat included called shots (allowing Urias to become the Zombie Slayer despite his d4 strength) and running 10 slaves in the breakout didn't slow things down at all. My only mistake was to forget to give any bennies out for roleplaying, achievements or in-game jokes during the entire game. Oops.
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