Saturday, 1 December 2012

Jolly Pirates We!

So, back to ‘YOUR Adventure Ends Here’, my project to play each of the Fighting Fantasy books in order, by the rules and rolls, no fingers in pages, no backsies, nothing. Seas of Blood is in dock.

Seas of Blood was one of my favourites, back in the day. And it still is, kind of. Unlike some ‘quest’ orientated gamebooks, in which a map actually merely an illustration of the route upon which your character was taken by the writer/GM, in Seas of Blood there is the illusion (at least) that the map is a sandbox of choices. There YOU are, in the pirate port of Tak, dicing away the evening with rival Abdul the Butcher, when some drunk idiot comes up with the idea of fifty days of robbery to prove which of you is the greatest pirate of the Inland Sea.

The opening paragraph tells you some bare details about Lagash, the seas around Enraki, and the caravans of the Scythera Desert, and then asks; where do YOU want to go?

I choose to send my ship, the Banshee, to ‘the Scythera Desert to plunder the rich western caravans’. After camping out for several days in the burning sun, my crew are eventually able to ambush a caravan of LIZARD MEN. The cost in blood was not really worth the treasure; 60 gold pieces and one Lizard Man slave. Nevertheless, the idea that the ‘rich western caravans’ might include (traditionally) evil humanoids is, to my mind, one of the great things about Titan as a fantasy gaming world.

And then the Banshee is sunk. Sailing south, I fail as a captain and neglect several opportunities to flee! from a KISHIAN WARSHIP. We had her outmanned, I swear; a whole point of Crew Strike and three points of Crew Strength. The battle, and her booty, was mine, I gambled. But the dice fell against the odds, my crew fell, and I slipped beneath the waves. Glug. Glug.

Not much of an adventure, but enough to remind me of the illusion of an open world that I have always liked about Seas of Blood. Okay, so it is not as open as Fabled Lands, but in the context of the early(ish) Fighting Fantasy books, Seas of Blood suggested the freedom (as well as the adventure and aesthetics) of fantasy roleplaying games.

BONUS: Free RPG with a potential for piracy: Worlds Apart, a Traveller ‘powered’ fantasy seafaring game.

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