GM'd Poison'd for the first time with two good friends in my regular play group last night. Most fun I have had role-playing in a long time. Excellent game, all around.
Zachary is a Negro slave stolen from a plantation and impressed into Brimstone Jack's crew as carpenter's mate. He's a big, scary guy covered with strange tattoos. He has an Ambition to be Captain.
Charles is the ship's boy, impressed when Jack attacked the ship he was on a while back. He was from a fairly well to do family, literate. Jack abused and used him hard. Charles ALSO has an Ambition to be Captain.
Here the system rocked. I explained quickly that each player gets one vote for captain, so a tie was guaranteed unless they got busy striking a bargain. One of you is about to lose a point of Ambition too, so be sure you get a good deal. Then I backed off and in no time flat we had a Captain and a bargain. (Make me your First Mate and you and I will handle division of plunder just so ...)
So brutal, scary Zachary backed 13-year-old Charles for Captain. I had a hard time believing that a pirate ship in such straights would make the ship's boy their Captain, so I told the players there was a lot of debate among the crew. Eventually the crew decided they would make Charles Captain because he was "weak" and "easily replaced". One or more of the crew want to make a play for Captain, but for now they know they can't win. Hence, Charles.
At character gen I had given Charles a bargain to "Deliver The Dagger to Captain Rutherford". So now it gets interesting.
The rest of the night covered their first prize hunt, fighting and capturing a merchant sloop (HMS Rose) and her escort (HMS Hind, a brig). As they closed on the prize, Charles took Zachary and a few key crew into his small cabin and explained his plan. He asked them to swear to back his plan and keep the crew in line, to which they agreed.
It seems last time they were in Kingston, Charles was captured by Cpt Rutherford and swore to deliver the Dagger to him. Charles admits this to the key members of his crew, and that he has a plan to save all their hides from the Resolute. If they can take the prize ships without doing too much damage, he wants to use the HMS Hind for their future pirating and send the Dagger back to Rutherford. Best case, they swap a ship with wear and breakage for a ship in good order, take some plunder AND get the Resolute off their backs.
And that's basically how it went down. The prize ships fought in convoy, we had a round of pursuit which led to cannons at range, then broadsides, then boarding, with some interesting success rolls between the fights.
The round of broadsides escalated to lv2 and the pirates won. Because the Rose gave her +3 Profile to the broadside fight, I read that to mean she's in the fight and suffers the consequences, so all 3 ships took wear & breakage and neither prize ship is allowed to break away.
The crew of the Hind fought hard and lost the boarding action at lv3, so the pirates captured the Hind. The Rose can't escape, and Captain Charles throws up a flag of parley. He has the Captain of the Rose over a barrel, and offers what must seem like generous terms to the merchants: we let you and your crew live and you sail the Dagger toward Kingston until you find the Resolute. Deliver her to Rutherford with this letter (TBD) and with the corpse of Brimstone Jack just as he is now, strapped to the foremast.
They dumped most of the Dagger's cannons into the sea and sent her on her way. They sent a prize crew to the Rose and sailed her and the Hind to a Spanish port to sell the plunder and refit.
Tons of fun, but now a few rules questions:
1. Assuming the Dagger reaches Rutherford and that gives him a very strong reason to turn around and go back to Kingston with his prize, should the GM remove the original Urgency (Resolute) from play? It has not resolved by the end of the first session, 3 numbers filled.
2. If you send a prize crew and get a captured ship back to port, can you sell her? (Assuming you find a buyer who will deal with pirates.) How much plunder would you get? Practically speaking, can pirates do anything with a captured ship other than sink it?
3. Wear & Breakage is a consequence for ship combat. What happens if it's already in play? Can it be in play more than once for a certain ship? (So you'd have -2 profile and would need 6 plunder to fully repair the ship.) Does it affect NPC ships, and do they get -1 Profile?
4. If you tow a disabled ship to a shipyard, can you repair her? How much plunder would that cost?
5. Can you only spend plunder on PCs? If you send NPC pirates at leisure, is it the same cost? (Seems really steep! You have 80 men who want some liberty and prize:4 lets you send 3-4 pirates on leisure?) If you want to make good with the crew and improve morale, can you spend some plunder for a more general boon like double rations of rum?
6. If the fiction changes, does Profile go up and down freely? If you have a large crew (110) and send 30 men to sail a prize, do you lose 1 Profile for no longer being a large crew? If you got +1 Profile for grenades and someone took all of them from you, Profile drops by 1? If so, is there a maximum Profile? (for pirates, mobs, ships etc)