Sunday, July 5, 2020

Enthusiastic Pirate Bois

Where to get it: The creator's blog

The title of this one made me smile. I liked that it was also a mission statement. I'm unsure of how much enthusiasm actually made it to the page, but I felt fairly well pumped, so it must have done something right.

The system for Enthusiastic Pirate Bois is fairly minimalist. Most of the game's 26 pages is taken up by class descriptions and various tables (for random encounters, mutations, etc). The bulk of the rules are done by page 7. It's not a design philosophy that I personally favor, but that's just a matter of preference. The rules do what they need to do and if there are no esoteric subsystems, there's also very little cruft.

The most innovative part of the system is probably the inventory rules. Consumable items like rations are assigned a die value (from d4 to d20) based on how much you have on hand. If you roll a 1-3 on the die, you use up a significant part of your stores and the die value shrinks (a d4 that shrinks indicates that supplies are completely exhausted). It cuts down on bookkeeping significantly, though at the cost of uncertainty.

Deliberate uncertainty crops up in a couple other places as well. Your character has a certain amount of hit points, but they only really act as a buffer. It is not until you run out that you are forced to roll on the injury table. In theory, you could be at a significant negative hit point total before you take any wounds at all. Likewise, experience points are random. You get into town and you roll a die to determine how much cash you waste carousing. The higher the roll, the more xp you earn, but if you spend more than you have, you pay for those extra xp by getting in deep with shady loan sharks.

This embrace of chaos works well with the pirate genre. Many of your adventures in Enthusiastic Pirate Bois are going to revolve around navigating through an unfortunate roll on a table, and often the GM is going to be as surprised as the players which is either something you're on board with or you're not.

Overall, I'd say I liked this game. I'm not generally in the market for boutique mini-systems, but if someone were to suggest Enthusiastic Pirate Bois at game night, I'd be more than happy to roll up a PC.

Ukss Contribution: In keeping with the game's spirit of discovery, it is possible to roll randomly for your class and species. The relevant tables are the main source of the game's implied setting and they can get pretty wild. My favorite tidbit was the mole-man entry. Rather than going in to detail about all the various underground abilities you might expect a mole-man to have, it rather succinctly summarizes them thus - "Dark-vision. Knowledge of formal protocol."

It's a very efficient bit of world-building. There's a mole-person civilization and they're really polite. I can picture it easily.

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