Conceptual Questions And Answers
Q) Why are Buccaneers a worldwide Class, when in fact they were exclusive to the Caribbean, historically speaking?
A) First, while most gamers will acquire the Caribbean Sourcebook, it shouldn't be required to play, and most people would question the absence of a 'buccaneer' in a game about pirates. Moreover, there is no title or nickname more closely associated with the 'generic pirate' than that of 'buccaneer', and so that simply had to be used for this game's equivalent of the 'fighter' Class. That it comes first alphabetically helps as well. We considered making unique Character Classes for each Sourcebook, and Buccaneer would have thus fit into the Caribbean perfectly, but it would have hindered the core rules, and they come first. Also, history is not the be-all-end-all of this game. This is a fantasy game, a movie-style game, not one that is overly concerned with historical accuracy, which isn't too accurate anyway. After all, buccaneers could have easily sailed outside of the Caribbean . . .
Q) I have just purchased your book, 'Pirates, ye old core rules', and have run into a question that I and my Players need a little help with. Several times in the books magic in various forms is mentioned, yet no rules are supplied to simulate magic in the game world. Needless to say one of my Players has a hankering to play a Character with some magical appitude! Is there some simple way, in fitting with the game, to add that element of magic or do you have suppliment that adds this element in more detail?
A) There is a magic system in the Caribbean book and a 'faith' system in the Mediterranean book. However, 'magic' is also used as a catch-all word for the mysterious, archaic and supernatural elements of the game. As much of the Pirates world is to be discovered throughout its adventures, additional material also appears in Adventure products. This maintains the mystique of the genre while at the same time allowing one to play either a straight, historically accurate game, or a more cinematic one without the rules encroaching on either style. The Caribbean book provides rules for voodoo and some ancient magic (generic spells that Aztecs, Mayans and the like might have), while the Mediterranean book provides miracles (or magic) for those strong with classic (Christian or Muslim) faiths. These choices are meant to reflect and enhance their respective settings (the Caribbean remains dark and mysterious while the Mediterranean engages in holy war). If you wish to make up your own magic system as well, it's rather easy, for as everything involves a D12 it's immediately apparent how much weight should be given to whatever dice roll modifiers you wish to apply. However, we strongly recommend not making a magic system too powerful or influential (and thus we did not do so in the various books), for an overdose of magic tends to detract from the classic 'pirate' feeling and upsets game balance very quickly. Besides, in the various Adventures, there are plenty of supernatural elements to enhance your characters (becoming undead, for example, like in the movies). We are always up for recommending Adventures if you have any specifics or preferences as to the type of magic or supernatural element you wish for Characters to have (or not have).
Q) How come the first few Adventures in the Caribbean series have no supernatural element to them, when the Caribbean is the most magic-filled realm for pirates, and the more historical 'Open Seas' has magical Adventures right off?
A) There are several reasons for this, and it was a tricky design decision, made years ago. To start, the Caribbean is the definitive pirate setting, and we wanted our products to reflect that. Being the most popular pirate world, we knew there would have to be far more Adventures set there, so we wanted to discourage the idea that every Adventure would have supernatural plot elements. The magical world is best when used sparingly, so if the fantastic element comes gradually, it maintains its dramatic emphasis and fear factor. Ghosts should not be mundane. Thus, assuming that Players buy or play the Adventures in their numerical order (which is certainly not necessary), the supernatural becomes more and more a part of the Caribbean as time goes on, justifying the anxious build=up to just how real these ghostly things are. In addition, since most Players are likely to 'cut their teeth' or learn the game in the Caribbean, we wanted the most likely Adventures to be used as such (i.e. this setting's first numerical ones) to be raw rules and 'how to pirate', to not complicate the 'introductory adventures' with the most bizarre and difficult stories. Another reason is simply that pirate adventures do not need the supernatural to be fun, and we didn't want the vast appeal of the Caribbean overshadowed or even limited by a seeming necessity for the fantastic. One need only look at a classic book (and film) like Captain Blood to see just how much fun and excitement there is in the Caribbean dealing with perfectly historical stuff. And finally, in reference to the Mediterranean and Open Seas alike, given that these are settings none too well known or popular, we had to go all out with their first few Adventures in order to raise interest in these seas, with more mundane Adventures to follow once gamers have accepted that there is probably a good deal more to piracy here than one might at first assume. But overall, there will still always be far more supernatural Adventures set in the Caribbean than there will be anywhere else in the world put together.
Q) As a playtester for the 'Open Seas' Sourcebook, I have to ask, why is there no Krakken in the creature listings when there is a picture of it on the back of the book?
A) The Krakken, or any varieties of it, may exist, and so they are hinted at through the pictures, but at most they should be very rare and the greatest physical danger in any Adventure, much like an ancient dragon in a medieval fantasy game, and thus to list their statistics along with other 'garden variety' creatures would diminish them. If an Adventure calls for a Krakken, its statistics will be amongst that product's information, therefore leaving it mysterious and ominous to the Players whose Characters may ultimately have to do battle with it.
Q) Why make a game about brutal thieves, murderers and villains?
A) Why make a game about World War II? Or the Crusades? Or any war for that matter? Each side believed themselves to be right, after all. Pirates can just as easily be seen as desperate outlaws or freedom fighters as they can vile cutthroats and robbers on the high seas. Even without taking creative license or fictional freedom, we can see in our times how governments wrongfully imprison people and steal money from us. One could easily argue as to why to make a game about knights in shining armor, when knights only had that armor at the expense of the peasants. It all boils down to preference. Pirates are a wonderfully colorful genre that serve as the perfect template for any times of change, whether we are rebelling against corrupt government, church, software companies or brand names. We live vicariously through pirates, whose entire image is to say "I've had enough and I'm going to take what is mine and then take some more because I'm pissed!"
Q) Are Player Characters encouraged to work together or against each other?
A) In the rules there are a few notes that seem to say that PCs backstabbing each other is okay. Such words are not intended to encourage such behavior, only to provide backup for a Game Captain caught in a debate, in that Player Characters CAN betray or even kill each other. But such play is not at all encouraged, because it is still a game, everybody's trying to have fun, and dead men roll no dice . . .