Hi everyone – this Monday will be my first of my “how it went in my head vs. how it went on game night” session write ups! The setting is Pirates x Mythology, because everything’s better with pirates.
Here is the party in that campaign. If you follow this blog at all, you know I think trademarkiness is the best starting point for character creation – then you can use the rules to build the character you want… instead of playing a character who’s basically a construct of the rules. This is one of the best parties I have ever been a part of (I used to play Balboa the first time we visited this setting) – it leans heavily toward headstrong characters, but in a pirate world, that actually feels kind of balanced.
So hopefully this post will give you some background for the campaign posts, AND model some intriguing character concepts/party dynamics in general.
Captain Eleazar Balboa (Human)
Description: Big, jovial, with a warm handshake for everyone, a fierce sense of honor, and a gullible ear for tall tales.
Party role: The captain – but his rash courage and eagerness to believe any story that seems interesting (or to plunge into anything that seems like it will be a good story later) often forces others to step in and rescue the situation. More consistently useful as a diplomat.
Trademarks: Rallying Bellow. Wild Pistol Blast (can fire multiple pistols in one round, but only lays down suppressing fire instead of actually aiming them). Brawlin.’ Tough Liver (immune to the effects of alcohol and most poisons). Likeable. Guileless (usually goofs up any ruse by overacting it).
Description: Dashing young swashbuckler. Lithe and athletic. Charming but oddly parsifalistic.* Insatiably curious, seeks to do everything in the most spectacular way possible, optimistically hurls himself into danger, operates on the assumption that he’s invincible.
Party role: The first mate – Balboa likes him, but their combined recklessness frequently gets the party in trouble.
Trademarks: Swordplay. Storytelling. Honor. Accents. A strong belief in fate.
Description: fastidious, spineless wizard.
Party role: The scholar/common sense. Everyone downplays the value of his spells and “book-larnin’” no matter how many times it saves their lives. The perpetual butt of the crew’s jokes since they know he’d never have the guts to actually leave for another crew. The PCs liked to ignore Sylvienne’s common sense warnings, but the group often found themselves hoping he could make a convincing enough argument to stop Balboa and Savio from doing whatever they had in mind.
Trademarks: Wards, seals, and Enchantments. Scholar Knowledge.
Ryo Bo (Simian)
Description: Swashbuckler with a prehensile tail. Drunkard, womanizer, pyromaniac. Always trying to turn the situation to personal profit
Party role: The one who wants to make something happen – will take action while everyone else is still talking, usually with disastrous (or awesome) consequences. No concept of planning ahead. Possibly no conscience.
Trademark abilities: Fleetfooted. Fireballs. Can surround himself with an aura of elementalist fire, except it burns his clothes off every time. High-Altitude Acrobatics. Resistant to Falling Damage.
Habakkuk (Halfling? Human? )
Description: Blind old grumpy smelly ship’s cook and apothecary.
Party role: Mendacious drunk with bad hygeiene; think Mole from Atlantis. Habakkuk doubles as the party potion-maker and scrounger – able to cook anything (potions, etc.) in the ship’s gear, and to pull anything else (gear, gadgets, equipment) out of his bag, using his signature ability “A Cook Always Has Something.” Depending on the rarity of the desired item, a tougher roll is required. (this ability was a skill in a homemade system we once did; it’s a fudgey aspect in Fate)
In conversations, Habakkuk’s the comic relief. In encounters, he’s the one who steps in and strategically remedies the situation after everyone else has gotten themselves into big trouble.
Trademarks: Can cook anything – including potions. Strong Sense of Smell. “A Cook Always Has Something” (Habakkuk can roll – vs. the uncommonness of the item desired – to rummage in his sack and find something that would do the trick). Blind Fighting.
Pip (Gremlin) – Deceased
Description: A small imp who travels in Balboa’s pockets, gets into trouble, and uses a blunderbuss that’s somewhat bigger than he is. Balboa claims to have raised him from an egg.
Party role: The troublemaker. If there’s a loose rock in the dike, he’ll pull on it. Whereas Sylvienne is often vilified for having common sense, Pip gets patted on the head for being foolish and dangerous. (This is one way to solve the problem of That One Player Who’s Always Trying To Get A Laugh. When he’s playing a character who legitimately does ridiculous things, it lets his tomfoolery just annoy the PCs instead of annoying the players… sometimes.)
Trademarks: Kleptomania. Flight. Getting into small places. Acute Vision. Occasionally Pip’s “getting into trouble” leads him to make important discoveries.
Bonus Characters (joining in the resurrection campaign)
The Fair Lady (Human)
Description: Sassy expert duelist out to prove herself in a man’s world. Flowing red hair with small trinkets woven in from those she’s bested with the sword. Very fair skin – has to keep covered to avoid sunburn.
Party role: as Balboa’s fiance, she’s golden sequel material – the rest of the crew never had any hint of this side of Balboa’s life. She assumes command in Balboa’s absence. Her command is always tenuous – Savio is goodnatured enough/respects Balboa enough to let a woman command, while Bo is always teasing/hitting on her – so the player gets plenty of time, even in party, to play out the core concept of a woman trying to prove herself.
Trademarks: “My lover and my husband,” her saber and dirk. Excellent markswoman with long-barrel pistols. Contacts. Reputation.
Description: The samurai who never has a katana (this is part of the character concept – whenever the action begins, there’s always a reason he’s separated from his signature weapon.
Party role: Had his life saved by Savio since the last campaign, now follows him everywhere. In contrast to the Fair Lady, this player plays a support role, mostly staying in the background. Fills more of the Monk role than an assault role, mentally communicating with the group when it’s separated, psychically sensing enemies, etc. Makes proverb-sounding quips at crucial points in the story, and volunteers for the harder/less glorious aspects of any plan (not to say that they end up being less eventful!)
Trademarks: Sense of honor. Qi focus. Telepathy.
* I was going to link to a definition because I’m a words geek, but apparently parsifalism isn’t defined anywhere on the internet? Well, it basically means: ‘doesn’t know what to do with women.’ It’s derived from the name of Sir Perceval of Arthruian legend, who was basically in love with the idea of women, and of honoring them through his chivalrous deeds, but was totally confused and awkward when it came down to relationships with real, actual women – plenty of whom were attracted to him. Perceval feels romance only for his life of adventure. Superman, Sherlock Holmes, Peter Pan, and the Doctor are all more or less examples of parsifalism.