A Pirate's Life in a Sundered World: Episode 101

  • Amy "Albatross" Bolkey (1st-level female human pirate)
  • Tibbs (male human first mate)
  • Celeste (female human helmsman)
  • Crucible (kytheran engineer)
  • Gol (kobold deckhand)
  • Kolod (dwarf cook)

By and large Amy considered tieflings to be a...strange lot, and the contents of the ship they raided a few days ago had only served to reinforce her opinion of them. They carried a considerable amount of coin, and though she found the tormented faces they were embossed with a bit distasteful, gold was gold, and what did you expect from people with horns, tails and devils at their beck and call?

Still, it was nowhere near as bizarre as the rest of the haul: a black, rectangular box that seemed to be assembled from numerous iron and gold plates, but had no obvious way of being opened, and a pair of large glass tanks filled with a tumultuous cloud of wailing souls.

The Black Devil docked in Driftwood, and the crew unloaded the soulcages, eager to be rid of them. Amy was surprised when a deva offered to purchase them, and pleasantly so when he paid with a small sack of platinum coins and a ring made of some kind of shimmering gold. The Black Devil's crew celebrated their fortune, and a few mugs in Amy was approached by an enigmatic and gruesome individual.

He was dressed in black robes bound with red and gold sashes, and his face was half-concealed with a bronze mask, revealing only his mouth. The flesh was missing, revealing a bloody, morbid grin of jagged fangs; Amy was not sure if she should consider herself unfortunate that she could still see that much, or fortunate in that he at least covered the rest of himself up.

With inexplicable enunciation he told her that he was aware of the ship she had raided, and that if she was looking to rake in an even greater haul that he could give her a time and place. After several wise inquiries Amy learned that he was unable to take the ship himself, it was taking what was believed to be a safe route due to the nature of the cargo, he only wanted a non-descript box as a "finder's fee", similar to the one she had found, and that it contained a valuable soul contract. Before she could ask about the box, he warned against attempting to open them, motioning towards the lower half of his face, and she nodded in understanding.

Amy agreed to the deal. Yeah, the soul contract was obviously worth far more than whatever else she would find on the ship, but she was not sure how she would go about fencing such a thing. A third arm extended from within his robe, they shook on it, and parted ways.

Behind the Scenes
We did not get a chance to play much, as it took Melissa awhile to come up with her ship, crew, and a steading. There was a ship battle when they left Driftwood, but I omitted it—and will be retconning it out—as it played out pretty clunky due to trying to invent rules on the fly.

See, in 4th Edition there are rules for piloting and damaging vehicles and NPCs: hit points and a binary "you are perfectly okay or dead" state. In Dungeon World? Vehicles have a name, cost, and carrying capacity, and hirelings essentially grant bonuses on specific things, but what happens when either is shot or stabbed? That is largely up to the GM to determine, and that is something I wanted to get some outsider opinions on.

Originally I wanted to go the route of Dungeon Planet, which largely treats them like monsters in that they have tags, weapons, hit points, and armor. Then I wanted to push things a bit further by having the ship's size and material modify hit points and armor, and have the various engines act as tags since the elemental collider is "fictionally" supposed to be more unstable than, say, an anima reactor.

I asked the Sundered World community (which you can join!), and one of the suggestions is to just provide tags and leave it up to the GM, which sounds basically how default Dungeon World handles transports.

What do you think? Should I...

Go With The Absolute Minimum...
This is how it is handled in Dungeon World: you get the name, cost, and load.

Elemental Dromon 30,000 coins, load 100

The GM handles the fictional workload, though I would still put in some information about ship materials and engines, so that they know that elemental colliders can be unstable, and anima reactors are the stuff of nightmares.

...Make it Like Monsters...
How Dungeon Planet does things: with the exception of instincts and moves they are identical to monsters. Tags like Fast, Slow, and Unstable Engine could be used to convey some of the fiction.

Elemental Dromon Fast, Unstable Engines, Load 100
Elemental Bombard (d8 damage) 10 HP 2 Armor

I would make it clear that vehicles cannot normally be damaged with conventional weapons, though I could also add in a tag (Fortified or Vehicle?) to make this clearer at a glance. I could also make a weapon tag called Siege (or something like that) to indicate whether the weapon can deal damage to objects with the aforementioned Fortified/Vehicle tags.

This leads me to a third option.

...Or a Little Extra?
Here I start with Dungeon Planet, but add a bit more granularity.

Elemental Dromon Speed +2, Unstable Engines, Load 100
Elemental Bombard (d8 damage) 10 HP 2 Armor
Near, Siege, Ammo 3

The speed tag would be used as a modifier for defying danger by trying to get out of the way, as well as for the trailblazer job for undertaking a perilous journey. The siege tag means that when you volley with the weapon you use INT instead of DEX (gotta calculate trajectories and lead the target), and ammo is ammo.

Which option, if any, appeals to you the most? Do you have any tweaks or suggestions?


  1. I've thought a lot about handling ships in a multi-PC sense (where everyone's contributing). That's always kind of a mess, but I think for a one-PC ship, you can afford to abstract a lot more.

    I'd tend towards the "monster" level of complexity. It feels closest to Dungeon World to me. Then, if I wanted to track ammo, track it as cargo.

    I feel like the other way to handle it would be to actually treat the ship as a full character. So when you're captaining, you just switch from your PC-character sheet to your ship-character sheet.


  2. The monster complexity seems to be working really well for us, with the added advantage of following Dungeon World's existing mechanic for handing damage and whatnot. :-D

    Related: if you (or anyone, really) wants to get in on this whole Sundered World thing, you can join the community on G+ here: https://plus.google.com/communities/104949862250224587046

    1. Good to hear monster complexity is working out for you :)

      Thanks for the invite! I'm not on Google+, but I'll drop by if I ever get around to joining.



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