Airship Pirates RPG preview

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The first preview of Cakebread & Walton's steampunk RPG based on the music of Abney Park.

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Airship Pirates RPG preview

  1. 1. Airship Pirates “Am I the hero in my own daydream? Am I the villain, are things as they seem? Am I the villain in my own daydream? Am I the hero, are things as they seem?” – Abney Park, My Life24
  2. 2. Airship Pirates character creationCharacter Concept to free the Neovictorian cities from the Emperor’sBefore you can start playing a character in Airship oppression if the players want to spend their timePirates, you need to create one. There are some ready raiding Neobedouin caravans for the loot.made characters at the end of this chapter to choose The crew also need some sort of Schtick (see p.XX).from, but it’s more fun (especially if you’re planning to The crew of the airship Ophelia are not just airshipplay a long campaign) to come up with a character of pirates, they’re also the band Abney Park! Whatyour own, so that you can watch him or her grow and do your crew do when they’re not pirating? Arechange through a life of adventure. they musicians? Circus performers? Merchants?There is one main choice you need to make, from Mercenaries? Mime artists? If you’re entering a portwhich everything else flows. Which culture do you where piracy is frowned upon, it’s best to have acome from? Are you from one of the Free Peoples trade, even if its only a cover story!– the nomadic Neobedouin or the aerial-living folk Also, how did the crew get together in the firstof the Skyloft cities? Or have you escaped from the place? How do they know each other? Who’s thedecadence and squalor of one of the Neovictorian captain? (This may change through democracy,Change Cage cities? And if so, are you human, incompetence, death or mutiny, but someone needsautomaton or misbegotten mutant? This first decision to be in charge to start with!). How did they get holdwill affect what professions were open to you in that of their ship?life, which in turn affects what skills and talents youhave, the friends and enemies you have made, in factyour entire back-story before you became a pirate. Putting It All Together Once everyone’s got at least a vague idea of theirHave a look through the different cultures and see character and the group as a whole has some idea ofwhat the options are; if a culture takes your fancy, the crew, its time to start adding the game mechanics.you might want to read more about it in Chapter XX, Players should work through this chapter, (probablybefore settling on the sort of person you want to play. with the help of the GM), putting numbers to theYou may like to play a person who’s very similar to ideas. There are bound to be cool things that youyourself in outlook, or someone completely different. come up with as you create your character thatIt’s up to you. weren’t in your original concept, but don’t worry, go with it. Once everyone’s got their character stattedCrew Concept and ready to play, the group can revisit their conceptOnce each player has come up with some idea of what for the game and tweak accordingly. By the timesort of character he or she wants to play, the group you’ve done, you should have a pirate crew who willneeds to get together and decide what sort of pirates stick together through thick and thin. There will bethey’re going to be. Are they freedom-loving rogues rivalries, friendly or otherwise, betrayals, deaths –who fight against injustice, or ruthless cutthroats but the crew should have a reason to stay aboardwho rob from everyone and keep all the cash? Will ship. Think of your PCs as the characters in a long-they take a principled stand if necessary, or run away running TV series – they might argue and fight, haveand let others take the fall? The GM may have some differences of opinion about what they should doideas about what sort of adventures he or she would next, fall out, make up, refuse to speak to each otherlike to run, but it’s best to get this settled now – its no or whatever – but they’ll still be together for the nextgood the GM planning a campaign around fighting episode... 25
  3. 3. Airship Pirates character creationNeobedouin“Nomadic tribes of the last of manPull their caravans across the sand.Gypsy wives hold their children tightAs the new superpower howls through the night.Gods watch from above and wonder what went wrong;The entropy of what once was strong.The survivors of man stay up late to pray,That the world will again be theirs one day!” – Abney Park, The End of DaysThe Neobedouin are a nomadic tribal people. Theylive in huge brightly decorated caravans, often twoor three stories tall, pulled by giant diesel semi-cabs, steam-trucks, and massive beasts such asmammoths and indrikki. They also ride home-madeoff-road vehicles, horses and camelops. They are afreedom-loving people, determined to stay out of theclaustrophobic Imperial cities and prepared to facethe dangers of the wilderness to do so. Each tribehas a “range” which they consider home, coveringthousands of square miles. Groups will often splitoff from this range and travel across country into theterritories of other tribes, for trade, and to keep thesocial links between the different tribes from dying.Though each tribe has its own customs, they havecertain things in common; a love of fire, music, danceand story-telling; strong family bonds; a martial artknown as Beast Dancing; and an intense dislike of theEmperor Victor III and his repressive regime. They aremasters of wilderness lore and consummate hunters,in tune with the land through which they wander.Many have contacts with the sky cities, trading witheach other for things they each need – often food andnatural resources from the Neobedouin are tradedwith finished technological goods and medicines fromthe Skyloft. A few Neobedouin risk remaining in oneplace in hidden settlements – these may be involved inlogging, farming, drilling for oil, or engaged in othertrades that are useful to their people but not possible 27
  4. 4. Airship Pirates character creation where survival for a human being can be measured in days at best due to the ferocious man-eating beasts which prowl outside. There are three major Neovictorian cities in North America – Old Borealis in the cold north of the continent, Desolation in the south-western deserts, and Everglade in the sub- tropical south-eastern swamps (see pp.XX-XX for more details on these cities). In Neovictorian society, conformity is everything. Any new idea disapproved of by the government, or any person showing signs of rebelling against the status quo, is thrown into the Change Cage, a massive towering edifice at the center of the city, from which escape is said to be impossible. The lower classes are expected to return to their home “block” at night, and the streets are patrolled by the automaton “Peelers”, ruthless mechanical policemen on the lookout for anyone breaking the curfew. How a person lives in such a city will very much depend on their class. Class There are three classes in Neovictorian society – the lower class, the servant class and the upper class. Lower ClassNeovictorian If you are unfortunate enough to be born into the“I fear what they’d do if they find I’ve escaped. lower class (and the vast majority are), your lot willI fear what they’d say if they find I play, I get scraped. be to live in the squalid, overcrowded slums, toilThey want you to think it’s possible to live a life long hours in a bleak factory, and maybe spend yourwithout their chains, meager earnings on gin to lighten your thankless,But if you, if you go too far, you’ll find they’re pulling futile life.on your reins.” – Abney Park, Fight or Flight MotivationNeovictorians live in the squalid, overcrowded Why would a lower class Neovictorian become anChange Cage cities ruled by the Emperor Victor III. airship pirate? Why wouldn’t you? There’s really notThis oppressive environment is all they have ever much joy to be had in the slums. How you would getknown, and they are taught from birth that beyond out is a different matter – but the ultimate punishmentthe city walls lies an implacably hostile wilderness, for many deeds (not including “change crimes”) is to 29
  5. 5. Airship Pirates character creation In the sky above North America, and built around remote mountaintops, are the cities collectively known as the Skyloft. Most are suspended beneath great clusters of helium gasbags, some floating freely, others tethered to mountain peaks but able to cut themselves loose in an emergency; others have extended down from their sky-living ways to colonize the tops of mountains, high above the dangerous beasts of the lowlands. The Skyfolk are as varied as the cities in which they live, for no two cities have the same form of government, the same ideals, the same beliefs. Some sky cities are capitalist, some communist, some socialist; there are matriarchies, slave cities and cities of escaped slaves; democracies, autocracies and technocracies; cities that worship God, Allah, or the Sky Mother; atheist cities that burn believers at the stake. Yet whatever their religious and political beliefs, they share a common interest in technological progress – many Skyfolk are knowledgeable on scientific subjects, and children are encouraged to tinker, build,Skyfolk and innovate from an early age. Strange“This world is filled with islands, little specks of sand, gadgets and unlikely-looking flying machines are aMountain peaks in a cloudy sky feature of the sky cities. The various sky cities alsoEach one’s a different world, and so my sails unfurled, have an alliance against the Emperor Victor III, whoAnd I will raise my sails high. would destroy them if he could. The Skyfolk grow upWhen I am feeling stagnant, my lungs are full of mud, in the high air, immune to vertigo, at home in airshipsI dream of Beijing and Molokai. and flying machines from an early age. Whatever theirWhen I am feeling down, get myself off the ground, beliefs, and no matter how much they disapproveAnd throw my head back to the sky, of the beliefs of other sky cities, they tend to respect their differences and save their enmity for the Empire,And fly! which would have all live in Neovictorian squalor. TheAnd fly!” sky cities trade with each other and with their ground- – Abney Park, Wanderlust bound allies, the Neobedouin.36
  6. 6. Airship Pirates character creationthere. Perhaps you revel in the freedom of the air, are aboard a pirate ship. Maybe you were demotedor perhaps you were cast out of your tribe for some or cast out of the service for some infraction, maybemisdemeanor and long to return to Mother Earth. you hated the orders you were given and rebelled.Skills: Dodge, Firearms, Hide & Sneak, Perception, Now your previous background could be an asset orRiding, Archery, Survival, Tracking a liability – it’s up to you. Skills: Etiquette, Firearms, Fisticuffs, Intimidation,Inventor Leadership, Swordplay, Tactics“Test-tubes and Tesla coils,Clockwork brain ‘n’ glowing oils...” – Abney Park, The Secret Life of Doctor CalgoriNeovictorian (any), SkyfolkYou have always enjoyed designing new gadgets,whether it be as small as a clockwork cigar-trimmer, oras large as an intelligent automaton air-frigate. If yougrew up in the Skyloft, your talents would have beenencouraged, but as a Neovictorian, you would havehad to be secretive, or you would end up in the ChangeCage. As as pirate, your inventions are useful to yourfellow crewmates, but why are you not living a life offame and adulation with workshops and techniciansat your command? Maybe your rivals put you out ofbusiness, one of your devices went wrong and causeda major accident – or perhaps your inventions are notas good as you think they are.Skills: Ad Hoc Repair, Craft (any two), Engineer (anytwo), ResearchMarine CommanderNeovictorian (Upper Class males only), SkyfolkYou were once in charge of a regiment of air marinesand perhaps had hundreds of men under yourcommand. You were shown respect and lived a life ofrelative luxury when in your home port. If you were Mercenaryan officer in the Imperial Air Marines, you were a Skyfolkmember of the upper class. Though the marines are Whether you fight in the Skyloft’s intermittentnot as glamorous as the Navy, you have the respect of skirmishes with each other and the Imperial Airyour peers, and your men respected your fist. Now you Navy, guard merchant vessels, or work as city militia, 45

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