Play experience with Pirate World ship combat?

Play experience with Pirate World ship combat?

Play experience with Pirate World ship combat?

I’m curious if anyone has closely examined and/or played with the ship combat rules in Iain Chantler’s disputed Pirate World supplement?

I’m referring mostly to the following sections:

– Basic Ship Moves, Create a Ship: 177–180, 182–183

– Mob Rules, Ship Battle!: 188–190

I’m particularly interested in knowing how well the additional structure and custom moves worked out in play.

What parts of the rules shined? How did it affect the flow of play? What were the highlights? What was confusing or fiddly? What did you discard? Would you use the system again? Was there anything that didn’t come into play that you would like to see in action?

It’s possible that ship battle might come up soon in my ongoing campaign, maybe even the very next session. I’m starting to pore over the Pirate World rules now, and I’d like to hear from anyone who has put them to the test.

It looks like there are a bunch of cool ideas, but also some more bookkeeping and moves to juggle. I was curious if you found it worth the extra work?

16 thoughts on “Play experience with Pirate World ship combat?”

  1. I wish I had access to a copy of whatever version of PW that got released before the creator dropped the project; I’d try it out on Sunday and tell you.

  2. In looking it all over, I think it’s too much to get my brain around before tomorrow’s session. Instead, I’ve written up the ships as monsters with some steading elements—and even that level of detail might be unnecessary.

    My hunch is that focused GM moves will be more valuable than the new accounting mechanisms for the action I anticipate. In that vein, Pirate World has a lot of inspiration to offer. And it also has a bunch of ideas and careful thinking that will be useful for framing the fiction—even though I don’t have time to master the additional structure.

  3. Do you have Johnstone’s Adventures on Dungeon Planet? I seem to recall he handled spaceships basically the same way you describe: stated up like monsters with a few ship-specific tags and GM-moves.

    I haven’t played with the Pirate World ship moves, but a quick read-through gives me similar thoughts… a lot of extra moves and stats, and I’m not sure how smoothly it’d all come together in play.

  4. Jeremy Strandberg, I couldn’t resist, and bought it from RPGNow tonight. Love it!

    The ship creation rules are even simpler than what I had in mind. I was hoping to see ship creation rules akin to the DW Q&A monster algorithm, but recognizing that there are really only a handful of archetypal ships helps shorten the process. That’s good in my book!

    I also like the idea that ships-interact-with-ships—it lets you use reasonable numbers without worrying about scaling it in proportion to the tiny little delvers and monster. Using the monster rules, my destroyer had double the hit points.

    Besides re-skinning some of the options for fantasy-seafaring, I might add the notion of an “area” tag for ship weapons: When a ship weapon hits regular-size named characters with hit points, you still use the ship’s damage die, but everyone in the area takes damage instead of just one person.

  5. One thing I like in Pirate World that I would have liked to see in Dungeon Planet was Pirate World’s “Ship Beastiary”. When I’m better rested, I imagine it would be a simple exercise to do the same using the Dungeon Planet rules.

    I understand that A Sundered World by David Guyll and Melissa Fisher also has ship-creation/navigation/combat rules, but I don’t have that. I wonder how it compares in terms of simplicity, imagination, and playability?

  6. Tonight’s session with the naval battle was the most intense in recent memory—maybe ever. It was the first time in nearly a year of bi-weekly sessions that I used almost Every Single Grim Portent on the adventure front. The last time I used so many grim portents in one session was back in September, but that session was unusual because there were a lot fewer players, which meant more pauses and spotlight on the GM, which quickens the pace in my experience.

    I also saw more gripping emotional investment from the players than ever before, especially with the Barbarian—thanks in no small part to the Outsider move.

    I’m still reeling from the chaos of the session, but I’m very grateful for the advice and discussion on this forum for lifting my game. Cheers!

  7. I think Pirate World is currently only available to backers, and only in PDF. I’m not sure if the author still intends to bring the project to completion.

    I’m not sure what can be done about it except to follow Michelangelo’s maxim “criticize by creating”. Gratefully, we have access to a very creative community here.

    Sorry that’s not very useful to you. 🙁

  8. Speaking of: The ship rules in Dungeon Planet and A Sundered World are both far simpler than what Pirate World presents, and they both follow a similar principle: ships are monsters, but players use their own moves when at the helm.

    The differences are minor, as far as I can tell: Dungeon Planet defines tags and fictional color that’s more appropriate to Flash Gordon-style science fantasy, while A Sundered World’s building blocks are set forth in terms comparable to Spelljammer (but their take is an original reimagining). Dungeon Planet ships have speed as a tag, while A Sundered World seems to determine Speed as an additional attribute akin to the Loyalty of hirelings.

    A Sundered World also assigns ships a Load attribute, to govern how much stuff they can carry. Dungeon Planet offers cargo bays and quarters and whatnot as expansions you can add on by paying money.

    The other significant difference that jumps out is that A Sundered World ships are clearly defined on the same scale as the characters and monsters they face, and it offers a Q&A method for creating ships similar to (but shorter than) the monster algorithm in Dungeon World core. That gives ships a range of Hit Points from 3 to 56! Whereas Dungeon Planet’s ships are explicitly defined on their own scale, so that the biggest ships Hit Points max out at 15.

    By comparison, Pirate World takes a very different approach. In addition to having a ship character sheet with its own Ability Scores and other ratings, ships have damage boxes instead of Hit Points, and their weapons deal “damage box” damage—which converts to d12 damage per damage box if they are turned on lowly characters.

  9. I wanted to add: Ship creation in both Dungeon Planet and A Sundered World appear to be pretty-well compatible with DW’s core monster questionnaire. Suppose you wanted to have a +divine ship, you could give it +2 HP. Or anything like that. So even though they are both geared toward interpretations of Dungeon World outside the genre of “dungeon fantasy”, you can easily adapt their ships to dungeon fantasy worlds by mixing in or replacing tags with those from the monster-creation chapter.

  10. Hey, everybody! Last night I posted a link to my play report in the Actual Play section, and today it was gone. Not sure what happened, but here’s the write-up: – The Flameghoul Reloaded. Dungeon World, Planets Collide, Session 16

    I was planning to make another post soon talking about how the mechanics, prep, and player choices interacted to make this happen. If this post raises any questions about what I was thinking or how we arrived at certain outcomes, please let me know!

    Thanks again!

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