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Abney Park Market Airship Pirates RPG downloadable PDF - Someone screwed the timeline up. It's The Earth's recovering from the. Abney Park's Airship Pirates RPG (PDF Version) [RPG Item Version Link]. Publisher's Blurb: Someone screwed the timeline up. It's , and the Earth's starting. In the case of Abney Park's Airship Pirates, I can think of no better way RPG, starts at the top of the character sheet and works its way down.
They continue to mostly lead nomadic existences. Your characters are, of course, airship pirates. If the characters are not Skyfolk then they have, effectively, abandoned their old way of life. On the bright side, this makes it a lot easier to read than some RPGs.
The editing seemed good. The overall layout works pretty well, with flavorful but unobtrusive graphics at the top and the bottom of each page. The writing in Airship Pirates did not stand out. The bits of short fiction were awkward.
The art pieces, individually, were fine, but they were stylistically all over the place, and at least to me did not succeed at presenting a cohesive view of what the game world is like.
The construction of the book seems very sound. In addition to creating your own character, you have to work with the other players to build your ship, make sure you have the necessary skills to actually fly it, and select the non-pirate schtick for the group. They all govern what you might expect them to. Players can choose from Skyfolk, Neobedouins, and several varieties of Neovictorian.
Note that there does not appear to be any effort to balance the different options. There are about 30 to choose from, although any particular culture choice will knock this down to around Most cost 3 points, and there are about 50 to choose from. They are often non-mechanical in nature some of them very non-mechanical — e.
Players are to coordinate with each other to ensure that necessary skills are covered so that group is capable of navigating, fixing the ship, flying the ship, fighting a little, noticing things, etc.
Each schtick has a list of what skills can be chosen. The character creation chapter also spends 18 pages on a sample crew of six character sheet, full-page illustration, sort-of-full-page description. Rolls of 6 grant potentially indefinite additional rolls that can increase the number of successes. One success is all you need, although the number of successes can determine degree of success.
Internal difficulties to the roll such as being injured apply penalties by reducing the number of normal dice rolled by the player.
A player gets a Foul Failure botch if the black dice roll more successes than the normal dice. If the player decides that all of this adds up to too many dice to roll, then three normal dice can be traded in for 1 automatic success. As for the skills themselves, there are about 25 common skills and about 40 specialty skills and many of the specialty skills are skill groups.
Common skills can be used untrained; specialties cannot when using Common skills, a player can also add one each of normal and black dice to the dice pool, to give a chance of success and at a chance of a botch. Melee attacks are always opposed skill rolls higher Init gets a bonus. However, when someone shoots at you, your options are either to give up your action to dodge, or just get shot to pieces — it seems really, really rough to lose initiative a couple of times in a shootout.
Extra successes are added in based on the number of extra successes on the attack roll. There are also an array of complications — armor reduces damage , fighting multiple opponents, mounted combat, dodging, cover, explosives, etc. Characters in the grey dice are at risk of falling unconscious, and characters who go past the grey dice will die if not healed within a few rounds.
The cover is glossy and the dark brown with gold lettering makes it look classic.
The paper is thick and matte, with a tasteful border. While this is not the first Cubicle 7 product I have reviewed, it is the first physical copy I have held in hand and I must say it is an impressive thing to behold.
Opening a book with flavor text is a gambit. When done poorly, there is nothing more likely to make readers lose interest in a game. Done correctly, and Airship Pirates does it correctly, flavor text is the best way to draw a reader into the game world.
The Trials of Admiral Villiers does a capitol job of introducing the world and giving an example of what sort of trouble the players will likely be causing. With one potential bomb diffused, Airship Pirates merrily juggles a second with the Introduction chapter. These sorts of things are, by definition, a bore for anyone who is not playing an RPG for the first time.
I was prepared to give Airship Pirates a pass on having a pedantic Introduction chapter, since the connection to Abney Park could conceivably bring in new readers who are completely new to the concept of RPGs. Then I read it. What Cakebread and Walton, who have the perfect names for mad scientists, have done with the Introduction, is quite an accomplishment.
The sidebar introducing the concept of a role playing game to non-believers is the best I have yet encountered and does a great job spelling out the design philosophy behind the game.
Another sidebar introduces the band, to those who have wandered in from the other direction, and points them in the right direction. A third sidebar answers a couple of questions I had about the compatibility of Airship Pirates with Victoriana and Dark Harvest.
Short answer: they are completely compatible, which adds extra value to all three. Character Creation is where the majority of players will spend their time with a book. Airship Pirates, being a very modern RPG, starts at the top of the character sheet and works its way down.
Instead of starting with die rolls, the players are encouraged to come up with a concept for their character and, in a twist, the concept for the crew as a whole. This is the second time, the first being in the introduction, that the idea of Airship Pirates being run like a weekly TV show is floated. Giving the party a reason to be, well, a party from the very beginning is both a novel and completely obvious idea.
For the sake of honesty, I have to admit that I will be stealing this from now on.
As Matt detailed some of this in his Victoriana review , which was a big help as I tried to get a grasp on the Heresy Engine rules these games share. Character creation is a delight.
Airship Pirates has fewer character races, err Cultures, than Victoriana, though compatibility means you can always move things from one game to the other. The Neobedouins are, as you would imagine, nomads and vagabonds who wander the wilderness.
Neovictorians inhabit the land cities of a mad emperor. Automatons are humanoid robots built by the Neovictorians. The Misbegotten are the unfortunates who are mutated by the spill-off from Neovictorian factories.
The Skyfolk live in massive floating cities that drift across America. Culture in hand, the next step is determining character statistics. The range is -3 to 9, with 0 being average. Characters start with 1 in each, modified by their Culture.
The player gets 3 points to distribute as they will, with the limitation being that they cannot add all 3 to one attribute. As well, up to two points may be subtracted from attributes, either 1 point from 2 attributes or 2 points from 1 attribute, and added to others. This is a pretty elegant way to generate attributes and it makes balancing a party fairly easy. Picking a Background comes next.
Backgrounds are as close as Airship Pirates comes to character classes, though they are much less restrictive. A Background represents what a character did before being a Pirate. These past lives range from decidedly violent and adventurous careers like being a Mercenary to intriguingly non-martial vocations like Musician to the hilariously inept Dilettante. When you say your character was an Automaton Factory Worker or a Misbegotten Prostitute, I am instantly transported to the world of Airship Pirates and I can picture your character vividly.
Beyond adding character to the player characters, Backgrounds provide the Skills for each character. This leads to Character Points. Character Points are the currency of Skill and Talent acquisition. Additional Character Points can be acquired by taking Complications, which are a boon for GMs since Complications make great story hooks.
Since characters are expected to be functional members of an airship crew, being Airship Pirates and all, it is suggested that they take three Airship Skills.
Once again, fun character quirks are easily added from this little suggestion. A character who is useless when aboard the ship makes for great comic relief.
A character who is otherwise a putz but has deadeye aim with the deck guns can become a hero in a boarding attempt. Just as much personality is present in the Shticks. Each pirate crew is encouraged to have a shtick, a cover persona for when they come to port or encounter the authorities. This ties into the Crew Concept and is a pretty fun way to create esprit de corps amongst the crew. A ship full of pirates is one thing, a ship full of pirates who pretend to be traveling mummers is another.
Between Background, Airship, and Shtick Skills, characters should be pretty much fully formed by this point.
The remaining Character Points can be spent on Talents. Skills are like basic football plays and Talents are more like gadget plays. Less useful in general, Talents are valuable in very specific circumstances. The last major element of character creation is selecting Complications, which are largely optional. Complications are one of my favorite parts of character creation, as it makes characters much more interesting.
There is a full crew of pre-generated Airship Pirates, which is fantastic. This kills a couple of birds with one big stone. Pre-created characters provide players with a solid template to work from, and these characters are good enough to inspire new characters. Additionally, they make it easier for the GM to tweak the power levels of early adventures, since this crew is a good example of what a starting party might look like.