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Max_Writer

Call of Cthulhu Pirate One-Shot

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Max_Writer

There are NO Call of Cthulhu 18th century pirate scenarios! None that I can find anywhere in my extensive collection of CoC books or online. At some point I found a character sheet for pirates (marked 1710s - no idea where I got it) and I want to try out this era.

 

So, I'm coming here for help. In late June, I plan to run a pirate one-shot. Any ideas are appreciated.

 

Here's what I'm leaning towards:

 

Port Royal, Jamaica, 1667. The investigators/pirates hear of a Spanish treasure ship leaving Porto Bello and so go in search of it. They find it after a few days of strange things happening at sea. The ship is nearly wrecked and has obviously been in a fight. They can finish it off or parley with the captain and crew - who desperately need food, water, and navigational equipment.

 

Turns out the ship was attacked by Harry Cromwell and his pirates of the Stars Are Right (an East Indiaman) who took the goods, treasure, a huge and horrific golden statue, and many of the ships remaining cannons. The Spanish captain was happy to see the statue go, however, as strange things beset the ship as soon as it set sail, including the nighttime helmsmen ending up dead and the ship constantly off course, heading for an area near the Bahamas. The helmsmen were seen manning the helm, but often proved dead for hours once found. One survived, now insane, and the Spanish Captain is more than willing to hand him over to the pirates - he can show them the way to go.

 

He can lead them to an uncharted isle northeast of the Bahamas where they must contend with the Stars Are Right (which outguns them - but is short on crew), and the quartermaster, in charge of the ship, who is willing to tell them Captain Cromwell, the Spanish slaves, and the rest of the crew took the statue inland, to a strange temple where the captain, his voodoo woman, and the rest of the crew have been worshipping at. All the quatermaster wants is a boat, food, water, and a sail because something is coming and he wants to get away.

 

Into the jungle, the crew can easily find the wide trail left by about 200 men and slaves. It leads to an old Atlantean temple dedicated to Cthulhu, where the statue was stolen from the Arawak locals long after Atlantis' sinking by the Mayans who, at some point, made war with them and the deep ones (or perhaps the Carib). Cromwell hopes to raise up this god to either do his bidding for for him to serve.

 

However, there is a problem. The quartermaster is actually a serpent man in disguise who might have sabotaged the written spells to summon Great Cthulhu or perhaps the voodoo woman has gotten the spells wrong (or is trying something of her own). In any case, the spell goes wrong (perhaps - I've not completely fleshed this out yet) and something else is summoned (a dhole or cthonian maybe). Everybody has to flee the temple as it crumbles (perhaps - again, haven't completely fleshed this out) and get back to the ship.

 

The summoning WAS good enough to bring down a star spawn of Cthulhu, however, and it (and deep ones servitors) attack the ship or ships remaining before they can flee.

 

I know it's a little railroady, but I want a one-shot I can run in one or two sessions.

 

I've already purchased both the hard copy and pdf of Blood Tide and it has some great information I can use for weaponry and setting. I've also consulted several other game books about the era and setting and am in the midst of writing up the scenario for myself.

 

Thoughts? Suggestions?

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noahghola

Don't forget about structures like the Bimini Road, and that there may be other evidence of such lost civilizations throughout the Caribbean (the Atlantean temple, I suppose--but you could telegraph it with some other ancient structures that have been found, netted, etc.) For instance, here's a man who caught a 4,000 year old pagan god in his fishing net, courtesy of the Delta Green FB page. Maybe locals have begun fishing out strange artifacts from a certain point off one of the islands, that only they know of.

 

One question would be: how will the investigators continue if they decide to massacre the Spanish ship when they find it, as pirates are wont to do? In other words, how else will they get the information they need to continue? I suppose taking prisoners is the wise course of action, but wisdom and pirates (hell, even wisdom and investigators) don't always mix. 

 

If you're planning this as a Pulp Cthulhu scenario it's probably not a big deal, but otherwise I would think that having the quartermaster be a serpent man is pretty heavy-handed. Why would he be bartering for a ship if what he really wants is to make sure the ritual goes through? And again, what if the players decide to just kill him outright? 

 

I do really like having the helmsmen's corpses still standing at their posts--very eerie and fitting. 

 

Also, in case you missed it, there's another thread up right now dealing with nautical-themed miscellany, which you might find inspiring.

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Max_Writer

I've done a lot of research and pirates didn't merely kill everyone they met. Typically, the Jolly Roger indicated "surrender and you'll be spared" back in the day. Fighting back often meant to the death, however. The Spanish are on their last legs when the pirate ship meets up with them (after dealing with the Stars Are Right). In any case, I will also include a ship's log, hidden away in the Spanish captain's cabin, and the sailor locked away in the hold (the madman) will claim he can lead them to the gold.

 

I agree with you about the serpent man. Perhaps the quartermaster just having second thoughts and wanting to get away is enough. I'll have to rethink that point, I think. I might still use the serpent man, but he definitely doesn't want to see the spell go through, in the long run, as he cannot personally profit from it in some way. He's also not sure what will actually be summoned.

 

I'm not planning on using Pulp Cthulhu. I'm more a traditionalist and like how deadly the original game is, myself. I can't even find it for sale yet anyway. In the long run, if the players decide to be murderous with the remaining crew of the Stars Are Right, they will have less information to go on and it will be much more dangerous for them.

 

Thanks for the advice and feedback! :D

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wombat1

I like the idea originally presented.  I think it would make a great scenario, and I think it has potential to work its way into a campaign if you wanted to work towards that, perhaps as a series of loosely connected one-shots.  I even like the disguised serpent man.  I used a disguised serpent-man in my Invictus campaign, as a priest in the Temple of the Divine Claudius who had a variety of tasks--he was originally sent along by his folk to keep an eye on the rising power of Rome, and wound up with a position as a low-grade functionary in the temple.  Once he started that, he discovered that it was, from his point of view, an ideal gig--Claudius had an interest in religious matters, and I posited that his extensive library ended up in the temple, as it wasn't quite Nero's thing.  Also, it was right next door to the Colosseum, perfect source for the occasional snack.  So, he wound up being the laziest villain in recorded Mythos history--he wouldn't brook any player character interference with his own rather modest situation or the needs of the folks back home, but at the same time he was more than happy to help the player characters foil any other Mythos problems raised by others, which might interfere with his ideal situation.  So the player characters were happy to hear from him from time to time and to go to him for advice.

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Lammomedes

Sounds like a cool idea.

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dce

There are NO Call of Cthulhu 18th century pirate scenarios! None that I can find anywhere in my extensive collection of CoC books or online. At some point I found a character sheet for pirates (marked 1710s - no idea where I got it) and I want to try out this era.

 

So, I'm coming here for help. In late June, I plan to run a pirate one-shot. Any ideas are appreciated.

 

BTW ... while it's true that there isn't yet a published pirates & Cthulhu setting in English, such a beast *does* exist in German. The awesome guys at Cthulhus Ruf published one a while back (and even made it a free download). Of course that's probably only of use to you if you speak German :)

 

I did also hear whispers that some talented CoC writer had written a Pirates themed sourcebook, and that it's sitting in the "future projects" list of one of the CoC licensees ... so maybe in the future this void will be filled. I agree it would be a fantastic setting to have.

 

 

Dean (from Adelaide)

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Max_Writer

Thanks everyone. Neat idea for a "villain" wombat1.

 

Dean I downloaded the German pirate CoC - but I don't speak German ...

 

Breakfast Clubber, I look forward to reading the next issue of Arkham Gazette. I backed the kickstarter some time ago and got a load of pdfs for it. I very much enjoyed "The Vintage from Atlantis." Delightfully creepy. I'll keep it in mind.

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yronimoswhateley

Seems like some swashbuckling Pirates and Cthulhu action might be a natural "Pulp Cthulhu" setting.

 

I would think that some of William Hope Hodgson's nautical adventures might contain some fuel for seafaring weird fiction adventures (and, of course, Edgar Allan Poe's weird, beautiful, and haunting "MS. Found in a Bottle" should provide some other great material, as should Samuel Taylor Coleridge's eerie "Rime of the Ancient Mariner"!)

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deuce

There are NO Call of Cthulhu 18th century pirate scenarios! None that I can find anywhere in my extensive collection of CoC books or online. At some point I found a character sheet for pirates (marked 1710s - no idea where I got it) and I want to try out this era.

 

So, I'm coming here for help. In late June, I plan to run a pirate one-shot. Any ideas are appreciated.

 

Here's what I'm leaning towards:

 

Port Royal, Jamaica, 1667. The investigators/pirates hear of a Spanish treasure ship leaving Porto Bello and so go in search of it. They find it after a few days of strange things happening at sea. The ship is nearly wrecked and has obviously been in a fight. They can finish it off or parley with the captain and crew - who desperately need food, water, and navigational equipment.

 

I'm surprised our esteemed Jeff Erwin hasn't shown up to comment.

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Max_Writer

I read Message in a Bottle when I read through Beyond the Mountains of Madness. Excellent stuff. I'm not really interested in the Pulp Cthulhu stuff, though I'll buy it when it comes out. I still prefer my CoC deadly and realistic. I need to look into William Hope Hodgeson. I thought I owned some of his books but I might be mistaken.

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JeffErwin

I'm surprised our esteemed Jeff Erwin hasn't shown up to comment.

 

 

Well, here I am. I've been a little busy. I... have been identifying the leader of the criminal underworld in 1590s London, which has finally seen some evidence come to light. (Incidentally, the "Cursed Crew" of the 1580s-1600s, a gang of ex-soldiers, pirates, and disaffected gentlemen, had some ideas very clearly parallel if not ancestral to the Pirate Code.)

 

I actually had a sketch for a campaign set in 1691-2 in Port Royal that culminated in the first act in the earthquake and destruction of the town, followed by a voyage to Madagascar. There's a fair bit in the old d20 supplement (and pdf expansions) called Skull and Bones that would be very handy for someone interested in the subject. I should note that Secrets of New Orleans not only has a NPC (a century later by date) with a connection to piracy but also notes on Wanga and Voudoun and the mythos.

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Max_Writer

I originally set the game in 1690 with plans to do a Port Royal/Carcosa/Hastur scenario next year set in 1692 that would result either in part of the city being sucked into Carcosa or the earthquake, but decided to move it earlier to 1667, when it was more of a pirate haven.

 

I've got Skull and Bones and plan to look through it and pick what I can use.

 

I didn't know about Secrets of New Orleans, but have a copy of that book. I didn't realize it had the rest. I'll check it out. Thanks!

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Max_Writer

Okay - the role playing journal of the game session is up here if anyone is interested:

 

http://www.yog-sothoth.com/blog/172/entry-3057-forbidden-cargo-part-1-treasure-ship/

http://www.yog-sothoth.com/blog/172/entry-3056-forbidden-cargo-part-2-island-of-terror/

 

Additionally, I video record our game sessions. The nine videos are in a playlist here:

 

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLonZ7fuFAFDqnZBJZb08b0ZlmtaUtt-63

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Lammomedes

Thanks for the update. Those were interesting reads and I think the game sessions would have been fun to play in.

 

One question though: the pirate ship crew was 175? That is a pretty big number (though admittedly not unheard of with at least two examples of heavier gunned ships have crews in the 150 range).

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Max_Writer

I used the stats for the British Frigate in Blood Tide, which gave a minimum crew of 55 and a maximum of 260. I figured the original crew was about 200 men but a few had not participated in the mutiny or perhaps left afterwards, some months before. The 175 was also a large enough crew compliment to allow all of the guns on board to be manned. Looking back, I probably should have done some more research on crew compliments of pirate ships.

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Lammomedes

I used the stats for the British Frigate in Blood Tide, which gave a minimum crew of 55 and a maximum of 260. I figured the original crew was about 200 men but a few had not participated in the mutiny or perhaps left afterwards, some months before. The 175 was also a large enough crew compliment to allow all of the guns on board to be manned. Looking back, I probably should have done some more research on crew compliments of pirate ships.

 

It's not impossible. Admittedly I thought the number was huge, but then did a quick scan through some books I had on hand, and realized that the Whydah had a crew of about 150, and Avery ran with a crew about the same size. Blackbeard had about 200 men. However, a frigate is a pretty big ship. Pirates tended to go for smaller, faster vessels; though I am pretty sure any pirate captain who could have captured a mostly intact British navy frigate and had enough crew, would have sailed with it. Ships like sloops and barques tended to be the typical vessel, and their crews were often 1/3rd to 1/2 of the size of your ship's crew (quick search of known vessels in the age of piracy put most crews between 50-90 men).

 

Nothing wrong with what you did though. I just wouldn't have wanted to be the officers of such a large crew if things went wrong, or plunder proved to be a little more scarce than expected.

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wombat1

You might look for a copy of the old rpg Privateers and Gentlemen (which has been reprinted in one book) for the ship aspects.  It is for the late 18th and early 19th centuries, but could be extrapolated back.  And the sail handling rules can be used directly:

 

http://www.nobleknight.com/ProductDetailSearch.asp_Q_ProductID_E_2147389181_A_InventoryID_E_2148334931

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Max_Writer

I actually kind of wanted to try with a large number of NPCs to see how it played out. It turned out to be fortuitous for the pirates as the crew of the Stars Are Right was larger (nearly 300 on board an East Indiaman), meaning they felt a little less outgunned and outmanned. In retrospect, I probably should have gone for a smaller crew and smaller ships (though I love the idea of heavy broadsides and wanted to try that out as well).

 

I own the boxed set of Privateers and Gentlemen! I actually got the game years ago (and even reviewed it for Knights of the Dinner Table Magazine). I loved that game. I thought about using some of the information from it but then decided against dragging it out as I was not completely sure where it was and thought I'd found enough background information without it. I need to just bite the bullet and order myself the PDF as well so I'll have it more conveniently.

 

When I ran the playtest of the game, starting with The King Over the Water, I had a blast. My players were not terribly happy though. They were used to D&D and the combat system in Privateers and Gentlemen is as vicious (if not more so) than Call of Cthulhu - very realistic. One player lost two characters - the first was shot in the head and, though not killed, never fully recovered, going blind and deaf. The other was caught in an explosion on the deck of a ship and his legs badly injured. He died under the knife when the ship's surgeon decided one of the legs had to come off. Such an awesome game.

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DaveAce

Hello there

 

First time forum poster and long time player - so please be gentle.

 

I have also been musing about doing a Cthulhu Pirate adventure, so would be kind of curious to see if the whispers of the future project pirate sourcebook have solidified into anything I might be able to get my hands on in the next few months, or if perhaps the opposite is the case and it has been shelved indefinitely?

 

I did also hear whispers that some talented CoC writer had written a Pirates themed sourcebook, and that it's sitting in the "future projects" list of one of the CoC licensees ... so maybe in the future this void will be filled. I agree it would be a fantastic setting to have.

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dce
First time forum poster and long time player - so please be gentle.

 

I have also been musing about doing a Cthulhu Pirate adventure, so would be kind of curious to see if the whispers of the future project pirate sourcebook have solidified into anything I might be able to get my hands on in the next few months, or if perhaps the opposite is the case and it has been shelved indefinitely?

 

Hey DaveAce, welcome to the YSDC forums -- don't worry, we're generally a pretty friendly and inclusive kind of community. Most of us don't bite (Star Spawn notwithstanding) :)

 

Regarding the Pirates stuff ... while I don't have any concrete info I've been involved in enough of the small-press publishing that occurs for Call of Cthulhu to give you the "most likely" correct answer to your question. Which is ... I really don't think it's likely that the Pirates sourcebook will be released in the next few months; but equally I don't think it's been shelved indefinitely. Often projects with small publishers like CoC licensees can take years to make it all the way to print -- it's just a consequence of the fact that these publishing "companies" are usually little more than 1 or 2 dedicated fans who are trying to somehow juggle a whole raft of ongoing projects.

 

Anyway ... I'd love it if my "best guess" is wrong and the Pirates book turns up tomorrow as a cool Kickstarter project or something, but I don't think you should be holding your breath.

 

Hope this is helpful,

 

 

Dean (from Adelaide)

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nclarke

There's the BRP supplement Blood tide which, as it's BRP will slot in to Call of Cthulhu very easily. It's the closest thing to a CoC Pirate sourcebook I think we're going to get.

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DaveAce

Great stuff, thanks.

 

I guess I'll stop holding my breath for a pure CoC supplement anytime soon and check out that Blood Tide book and similar (from earlier posts) and crib something together from that lot.

 

Many thanks for the super prompt reply.

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JeffErwin

I just found a bunch on notes on a Cthulhu pirates project I was working on in 2012. It's still mostly an outline, but if you are interested in thoughts on the legend of Antillia, the Templars, Cervantes' Necronomicon and the Barbary Coast, Port Royal, and Tortuga, let me know.

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DaveAce

I just found a bunch on notes on a Cthulhu pirates project I was working on in 2012. It's still mostly an outline, but if you are interested in thoughts on the legend of Antillia, the Templars, Cervantes' Necronomicon and the Barbary Coast, Port Royal, and Tortuga, let me know.

 

Hi Jeff

 

Well yes, I certainly don't mind anyone throwing me free research, notes, etc, that they have already done and are perfectly happy for me to play around with and use as and when.

 

When I first started off the idea in my head, it was just an idea and I thought that it would be hard to find material, now after a bit of probing its not material that is hard to find, its figuring out how to fit it all together and make a cohesive sense of it - but some crib notes from someone that has already done some of the legwork might be the ideal starting point to go from.

 

Thanks in advance for any and all assistance given :)

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