Zine Scene – Crawl 11 – The Seafaring Issue
Mike and I attended GaryCon VII (2015) together, and had an incredible time. While I bought up just about everything I didn’t already own that Goodman Games has released, Mike had the forethought to take one look at the rack of zines available, and pick up one of each. Since then, he got in on the Zine Vault kickstarter and recently lent me his collection to become more familiar with the medium.
I have paged through several, but Crawl #11 caught my eye and I read it cover to cover. Included are rules for naval warfare and nautical mighty deeds by Bob Brinkman, Fantastic Forms of Sea Ship Propulsion by the DCC editor (and Crawl! creator) Rev. Dak J. Ultimak, The Deep Elders by Daniel J. Bishop, and Life Aboard by Sean Ellis.
The last big pirate RPG I had played was the Pathfinder adventure path Skulls and Shackles. This (like most of my Pathfinder experiences) started really well, but got a little ludicrous as the story progressed. In contrast, Bob’s rules about ships, cannons, and alternative weapons like chain shot and greek fire provide a canvas on which a flavorful, action-packed adventure could be painted! These rules hit all the right notes without getting too bogged down in mechanics. Tables for both crits or fumbles with cannons and fire-throwers ensure the need for the last table: brutal injuries! Also included are brief descriptions of special maneuvers such as boarding, crossing the T (coming across the bow and firing), as well as ramming. The naval mighty deeds are the icing on the cake, and include tables for boarding, cannon shots, and general piracy.
Fantastic Forms of Ship Propulsion detail eight alternative forms of naval locomotion. These range from the sun and stars, to creatures acting as the motor such as turtles and eels. My favorite is the skeleton crew, which is literally a necromancer’s ship with skeletons at the oars. Each include possible complications of the alternative power sources. These could work well on the Purple Planet, or any sea adventure that needs an interesting twist.
If you are looking to add some elder god flavor to your next oceanic excursion, The Deep Elders describe starfish like servants of Dagon that glow with blue, green or yellow light and possess sailors. Those enthralled become puppets of the deep elders and may only be banished with very strong magic. There are interesting rules about starting over as a 0-level and choosing an alternate, or gaining levels of your demi-human class once possessed.
Sean Ellis writes Life Aboard, which is a great set of tables to simulate days or weeks at sea. The Ship Morale table affects the subsequent Wind Speed and On-board Events tables, as the crew is either motivated (or not) to get the most out of the ship and the winds that day. The events are well thought out, but include the use of a d18, which is not part of the standard DCC chain. I love weird dice more than most, but even I draw the line somewhere. Since both 1 and 18 are non-events, you could substitute a d16 for a lively journey, or a d20 to include more non-event days.
Overall, this is an outstanding value in either print or PDF form. Since this issue is focused around this one theme, if you are looking to run a nautical adventure using DCC, Crawl! 11 is an outstanding resource. Even if you hadn’t considered it before, I bet you are now. Great work!