Table News, 1 Oct 2018

The Core Group (Fri) has roughly sorted out the GMing queue, and there won’t be an opening for me there for around a year, looks like. Work on the Sea Dogs campaign for the Olympus (Sat) group is ongoing. Nothing to see here, yet. So, I thought I’d discuss some of the mechanical issues I’ve been working on for that campaign.

Random Crew

I started a “recruitment” Skill Challenge test-run on the group’s forum, but it got a bit tangled up in the process of everyone trying to wrap their heads around it. At the time, Sea Dogs was next in the queue. Due to the confusion, I worked out a backup plan for generating new NPC crewmen in a hurry, based on something we did in the Core Group some years back. Barring adjustment, the current Random Crew generator is posted on the wiki. Now that the campaign is pushed back in the queue, we’re going to revisit the Skill Challenge thing, but this generator will allow me to wait until the last minute to do that.


I think the vast majority of RPG systems or meta-systems just use a random-list of “rumors” with some kind of social skill-check to pick up one/some. That’s fine if the PC is actively trying to get information from a person or group, but if the PC is just eavesdropping for whatever is interesting, skill has nothing to do with it. Credit to Ronnke: he mentioned the Scavenging rules from After the End, which I re-wired for this purpose. The Rumors mechanic is posted on the wiki, such as it is.


GURPS Swashbucklers (3e) has some guidelines about sailing distances and times within the Caribbean, but they’re pretty broad, and don’t take into account other destinations than those listed, or the differences between ships and their individual performance characteristics. I wanted to remedy that, not only for this campaign, but for potential future use as well. For now, I’ll be using Google Earth for drawing out the paths and calculating the distances involved. Toward the cause of doing all the math behind the scenes so the players don’t have to on game night, I combined data from Vehicles (3e), Vehicles Expansion I (3e), Swashbucklers (3e), Low-Tech, and others into a spreadsheet designed to manage the navigation process—distance, course, wind, currents, and the sailing properties of the ship/rigging are all accounted for, in as accurate a manner as I could manage.

Travel Logistics

Sea-travel is going to be a focus of this campaign. GURPS has a number of sources dealing with long-distance travel in general, and sea-travel in specific, the best being Dungeon Fantasy 16: Wilderness Adventures. I am combining that with the “mission planning” stuff from Action 2, and adding in my own Preparation Points, Impulse Buys aspected to travel preparations. I’m still sorting out the details on this one.


At least one of the players had specifically requested to not do “trading” in this campaign. Although “travel” is a focus of the campaign, “trade” is not. I would usually prefer to go into detail, for the simulation’s sake, but I opted to go with a greatly-simplified system rather than eliminate it entirely. This will be loosely based on Sid Meier’s Pirates! combined with a little inspiration from “Medieval Sea Trade” in Pyramid 3/87 Low-Tech III. This one is still being worked on as well.

Random Traffic

It’s simple enough to randomly determine what appears on the horizon at any given time at sea, but it’s another matter for that determination to be realistic. This issue has resulted in the largest number of research hours, I think, to determine what an appropriate amount of sea-traffic is for the 18th century Caribbean Sea. My research has not been fruitless, though maybe not as specific as I would like. I have the basics worked out, but I’m still working on it (at a lower priority than the others, since I could easily wing it, and nobody would know).

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