Magic item: A rare book.

Magic item: A rare book.

Magic item: A rare book.

Book:  The real life adventures of Captain Horatio Bartleby.

When you try to make a mermaid fall in love with you order to survive a mermaid attack you will need

-Soap. Mermaids won’t be impressed by dirty swabs.

-Jellyfish gel for your hair.

-A fancy hat. Mermaids love fancy feathered hats.

-A musical instrument, and a fair ability to play it.

-A good voice.

-Kraken Ink Cologne.

-A dashing demeanor.

-A plate of sushi.

-A tall tale to tell.


If you have at least four of these, take +1

Describe how you impress her and roll+Cha

On 10+, the mermaid falls in love with you and persuades her sisters to let your crew live. 

On 7-9, As above, but she follows you around and becomes jealous. When she thinks that you are cheating on her, she will take her revenge. 

10 thoughts on “Magic item: A rare book.”

  1. I’m not sold. It’s a little too Monkey Island for me. What’s wrong with just a custom move associated with (apparently easily impressed and lovesick) mermaids:

    When you impress a mermaid, roll+Cha

    On 10+, the mermaid falls in love with you and persuades her sisters to not let you and your crew come to harm

    On 7-9, the mermaid becomes infatuated and possessive of you – she will persuade her sisters not to let you come to harm (and, you know, maybe your crew too, although if they’re really hungry, you know, whatever), but only so she can have you, steal you, own you

    If you want to prompt the players that impressing / seducing is an option to get away from the mermaids, you could have them Discern Realities when consulting a book of merfolk lore or whatnot.

  2. The idea is that it is described in the book. So yes, if you don’t read the book you would not even know that it is possible. Remember its a rare book, not many people have read it. 

    Yea it is very monkey islandish 🙂 and therefore not everyone’s cup of tea. Some people like dark an grim fantasy, others high fantasy. Some like a lighter approach. Some like all types at different times according to mood. As for your last sentence, this IS the book on mermaid lore!

    But I I think you are right that the “easily impressed” is a real problem with this move. I’ll rewrite it so that it is more difficult to impress them.

    Thanks for  the input!

  3. My point, Wynand Louw, is that “impressing a mermaid” ought to flow from the fiction, not be reduced to possessing x out of y suitably impressive items (unless, of course, this reductio ad absurdum is exactly what you’re going for to make a point about shallow and ultra-specific mermaid culture). Increasing the rarity or number of items required to impress to make them seem harder to impress still creates a video-game feel rather than an organic choices-and-consequences feel. I don’t mind the lighthearted tone, it’s the quantitativeness of the approach I’m not a fan of.

    How did Captain Horatio Bartleby come upon this information? Did he run a double-blind trial where a representative number of mermaids would tell him what they found impressive and what they didn’t? Surely he couldn’t have developed this list by trial and error.

    But Bartleby could easily have left behind a tome of vagaries and theories he’s learned of mermaid culture from his time as their captive, or from the specific tastes he learned from his mermaid wife. By presenting mermaids as lovesick and manipulable, you’re planting the seed with the players that seducing one would be a potential approach. Then, when push comes to shove, if they’ve made suitable preparations to impress (according to the DM’s subjective but generous assessment depending on all kinds of narrative truths, not just a shortlist of tokens), they get to roll – otherwise not. On any hit, the advice Bartleby gave was correct, for this particular mermaid at least – on a miss, maybe everything he wrote was nonsense. Maybe there was never a Bartleby at all and this book was written on commission by some jerk Bard as a mockography for a particularly picky Prince’s bedtime stories.

    That’s my gameplay taste talking, I realize, but I’ve never had any success with quantitative video game approaches like these (and I did try for many years, due to adventure game and JRPG brain damage). Take it for what it’s worth.

  4. Mikael Andersson

    You are right.

    My thought  process went something like this: The mermaids use magical means to seduce the sailors. They jump over board, scuttle their own ships etc to be with the mermaids. When they drown the mermaids feed off their life force. No sailor in his right mind would jump overboard to be drowned by a mermaid, but they are magically seduced. 

    So what if? (The standard question for fiction writers) What if the sailors could turn the tables on the mermaids and make THEM fall in love in stead? 

    So that was the premise of the move. As you pointed out so adequately, the weakness of the move is that no mermaid in her right mind would fall for a sailor. The idea was that the move would be magical – a sort of ritual,  that would magically compel the mermaid to fall in love. But that’s not very clear as the move is written.

    So I think the solution is to make it very clear that this is a magical effect. The problem  that no mermaid in her right mind would fall for a human is then resolved.  

    So here is the update:

    Magic Item: Kraken Ink Cologne

    When you apply Kraken Ink Cologne to magically  make a mermaid fall in love with you so you can survive a mermaid attack, the following items may help you…. Etc.

    Thanks for clearing my thoughts.

  5. Ah! Yes, that makes perfect sense to me now. Sorry for not catching on to that meaning sooner – I was wondering why it was a “magic item” and not just a book, but if the item(s) collected are spell components and the book is the captain’s spell book, it makes a whole lot of sense! Or, as you’ve rewritten it, with the cologne (which, yes, is the solution I’d prefer as a player).

  6. I think you should need to get four of the pre-requisites to even roll for the move. To ascertain what the pre-requisites are (or have some player input into what they might be), as Tim and Mik have suggested, Spout Lore or Discern are invaluable.

Comments are closed.