Archive for February, 2018

Counter-colonial Heistcrawl: state of play

February 14, 2018 1 comment

The PCs have hit a critical point: they’ve got boats, have rescued some people who need nursing back to health but could serve as crew, and have rescued/acquired a navigator who has some idea of where they are.

Here’s their fleet:

1 prahu (Malay tramp trader or fishing boat) with sails like this:

but with outriggers like this:
outrigger sampan manila model

1 junk (half of this matched pair, the other half is still in the hands of Chinese pirates:
chinese junks in japan_woodblock2

1 korakora (Philippine viking ship). Those usually look like
but this one’s a 2-hull model that looks more like a Polynesian voyaging canoe
big catamaran

also a straightforward 12-man dugout canoe (you can imagine that, right?) and a totally pimp 6-man dragon boat that looks like it got lifted from some royal parade, kinda like a mini version of this:
Screen Shot 2018-02-14 at 10.21.29 AM
It’s clearly valuable but not very practical, being twice as long as it needs to be for 6 people.

This is their current situation, stalking the remaining Chinese junk, also hoping to trade with villagers on the bigger island for food. Except they’ve just now seen some towering white canvas sails approaching from the NW, which they spied while shinning up some species of “breadfruit” tree.


More generally, they’re east of Borneo, south of Sulawesi. According to their Makasarese navigator, Sulawesi’s outlying islands are about a week away to the north. There are islands closer to the south (maybe only a couple of days, since the wind’s with you) but he doesn’t know the people there. Past those islands the currents get crazy, the water gets deeper and colder, therefore good for whaling, and then after that there’s the Great Spiritland, where he’s heard things get kinda out of control. Trees that bear women as fruit, walking mountains, stuff like that. And out to the east, maybe a week to 10 days away, are the island of nutmeg and cardomom and cloves.

Tendencies are often overlooked as roleplaying villains

February 9, 2018 Leave a comment

Tendencies are often overlooked as roleplaying villains in favour of proper institutions, conspiracies and cabals. It’s easy to see why: enemies with heads can be decapitated, victory conditions clearly established.
But the beauty of a tendency is that the PCs can form part of it themselves, use it, hide in it, demolish its leadership and subvert its meaning. It’s a long campaign, but nothing beats it for inducing paranoia.
…thinking particularly of Paolo Greco’s Gangs and Bullshit.

The Many Ming Heresy

February 1, 2018 Leave a comment

If I ever run my Flash Gordon game again, you should all know that there are 2 great heresies on Mongo among Ming loyalists, who are trying to account for the fact that HIM The Emperor has always been able to bounce back from seemingly certain death:

the Many Ming Hypothesis posits some source of clone Mings, maybe even a Ming factory or vault: new Mings are deployed as needed. Proponents of this hypothesis point out that there is often a short delay after an apparent Ming death when the Klytan guards restrict citizens’ movements. Extremists say that multiple Mings are always active, which is how he can get around the empire so fast;

the Doctrine of the Necessary Ming assumes that there must always be a Ming, so that whenever the position/continuation of one becomes untenable, another is spontaneously generated elsewhere in Mongo. Imperial propagandists flirted with the Doctrine until it was pointed out (by Ming himself!) that enthusiasts might be tempted to try to assassinate HIM in order to prompt a state visit to “their miserable, scabrous little reptile holes.”

[HIM: His Implacable Mercilessness]