DW Tavern

DW Tavern

DW Tavern,

How would you go about shanghaiing the party to become part of the crew of a ship for a nautical adventure? A move seems like too much room for chance, even if crafted in such a way that the shanghai is inevitable. Alternately, knocking a whole party out with little they can do about it seems a hard sell. In my thoughts if narrating the event, I would isolate members, then knock out, minimizing the hard feelings. As a move, I could offer holds for high rolls, like retaining equipment or something, though ultimately the shanghai would happen. Thoughts and thanks.

11 thoughts on “DW Tavern”

  1. I agree that I could, and might, but I really want to preserve the surprise that a shanghai presents. The surprise also might upset their inherent sense of safety and/or create some nuanced game play to find out what happens.

  2. The traditional way was to get them out drinking and carousing with the existing crew and then they wake up on board with no land in sight. But be prepared for them to immediately fight.

    I like your idea about giving them a move to determine how much equipment etc they keep. Maybe a modified Carousal or Defy Danger to give them the holds you talked about for keeping equipment.

  3. Terry Keller I love the carousing and drinking idea. It removes a ton of doubt, even for a half dwarf party. I could easily have a bar keep get paid by a captain or first mate to slip them mickeys. Alternately, I’ll work on a move an throw it out to the tavern. I can always use the practice creating moves. Thanks for the great feedback.

  4. A love letter that is the equivalent of a record scratch and goes “So: you’ve been shanghai’d. Fuck.” The party rolls it, and is able to pick benefits off a list while you pick penalties off a list.

    Something like:

    “So: you’ve been shanghai’d. Yup, that’s you, there — on that boat. How’d you end up here? That’s a funny story.

    If the last thing you remember is…

    …bar fights and new friends, roll+STR.

    …games and fat lucre, roll+DEX.

    …a truly disgusting amount of beer, roll+CON.

    If you were smart, wise, or good with people you wouldn’t be here, would you?

    On a 10+, you pick one from each list.

    On a 7-9, you pick from the top and GM picks from the bottom.

    On a miss, the GM picks from each list and yup, that’s you — there in the chain gang.

    On The Bright Side:

    • You fought like a devil before they brought you down. Many of the crew are nursing injuries.

    • They failed to search you properly. You’ve smuggled aboard something useful and Load 1 or less.

    • You fought back to back with the other victims and were captured alongside them. You have an ally among the new recruits.

    • You demonstrated a necessary skill before the ambush was sprung. You’ve been placed (supervised) in a position of significance aboard the ship.

    • You, uh, actually came pretty willingly when they mentioned more booze on board. You’ve got all your HP.

    • You weren’t entirely asleep yet when you got dragged off. You’ve overheard where the ship is headed, by what route, and their plans.

    The Bad News Is:

    • You fought back; they fought better. You start with 1HP and it hurts to move.

    • You’re still hungover. Doing anything other than move slowly, talk softly, or avoid sunlight is Defying Danger. Maybe your captors will share some grog.

    • You weren’t alone when they grabbed you. Someone that matters to you is also here and has gotten into trouble.

    • Your gear has caught the captain’s eye. The good stuff is in their cabin or on their person already.

    • You weren’t targeted because you were useful; you were targeted because fuck you. Someone on the crew is a sworn enemy, or an agent of a sworn enemy.

    • You’ve been put to work doing something backbreaking that no one else wants to do. There’s no easily slipping away.

    As the choices are made, weave them together to tell a story of each adventurer’s glorious (or disappointing) capture, and current situation.

    Unless the situation is otherwise, each character begins with half their HP, their weapons and armor are in the ship’s armory or equivalent, their tools and resources have been taken and stored by the quartermaster; they’re put to work as semi-anonymous shiphands able to move around as per their duties, but are watched by armed crewmen who technically have a vested interest in the party keeping their morale up at most times.”

  5. First squeeze them. If the tension is high enough then it can be a complicated situation where it’s escape as much as it is and abduction; “be careful what you wish” for as it were.

  6. Alfred Rudzki Hitchcock said what I was going so say: go with a Love Letter, establish up front that they’ve been shanghai’d, it’s already happened, now let’s see how you deal with it.

    Any adventure that presumes they will be shanghai’d but doesn’t start with them having already been shanghai’d, means that you’re going to have to engineer the situation in play. And I guarantee that the players will fight against it.

    If you then push it, and make sure they get shanghai’d despite their rolls and their clever plans and whatnot, then you’re not playing to find out what happens, you’re playing to force events into an outcome you’ve already decided must happen. That’s a violation of your GM agenda and principles.

    So just skip it. Start with them already on the boat, in chains or at the oar or whatever, and find out what happens (or even what happened) from there.

  7. Alfred Rudzki Hitchcock and Jeremy Strandberg That’s good advice and I appreciate it. I agree with the logic presented in regards to forcing the issue and is what I want to avoid.

    On a separate tangent, where does the term “love letter” come from. I’m not familiar with the term in this context. I would understand the “Dear John Letter” context more as the whammy a wife hits the husband she’s leaving with. In the above case, the PCs are being whammied and learning of it after the fact. Might seem a weird question, but just trying to understand the lingo.

  8. One option would be for them to arrive at a location that then becomes a nautical location. So maybe they arrive at coastal town that isn’t part of any map. As they explore and go about their business, they notice weird things that suggest the place isn’t what it seems. As night falls and they find accommodations located in the center of town, the whole place begins to silently move out to sea. By the time they awake, they will be far from land on the town that is built on the back of a large sea creature (a goliath, a turtle, whatever you like).

    From there, you could fo in a lot of directions. Perhaps the town uses it’s odd geography to waylay travelers and take them out to sea where they can be dealt with. The PCs will have to escape town leading to nautical adventures post escape. Maybe the town is completely innocuous (this is just the way things are), but the PCs really need to get back to land and have figure out how to do that.

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