Matakishi's Tea House

A simple little site...

Pirates Role Playing

I'm preparing to run a Pirates role playing game using the Savage Worlds system and the Pirates of the Spanish Main source book.

I'll be using miniatures and scenery for the battles so there'll be some painting and building to do and I'm writing my own adventures which I'll publish here once the players have completed them. All maps and documents I create will also appear here in case you fancy running the adventures yourself.

The tone of the campaign will be historically based fiction, I'm not planning on a Pirates of the Caribbean style romp, but there will be the occasional curse and supernatural event since many people of the time believed in these things.

Miniatures and scenery

Because this is a role playing game and not a skirmish game I am keeping the miniatures and scenery to a minimum (well, sort of a minimum). It's very easy to buy miniatures for every eventuality or encounter and end up only using them once so I've tried to place some restrictions on myself.

To begin with I decided to buy my pirates from Black Scorpion Miniatures because they don't mix very well with other ranges. I hoped this would dissuade me from buying loads of miniatures from all over the place. As it happens the Black Scorpion miniatures mix quite well with a lot of other manufacturers' figures but, even so, they have a distinctive look and are very lovely miniatures so I don't feel like watering down the set with too many lesser offerings. On the whole going with Black Scorpion was a success.

I spent some time deciding on a small set of 39 figures that covered most of my immediate needs. The whole lot came to £92.00 and the kind folk at Black Scorpion added in a freebie. The freebie was the cabin boy which, coincidentally, I really wanted but came with a pack of other miniatures I didn't want so I reluctantly left it off my initial order. They must be psychic!

II ordered a mix of male and female pirates (my daughter will be playing) to be important NPCs and Player Characters, a Naval officer and a pack of Marines to defend the Governor and his daughter and a selection of lesser types to be towns folk, crew etc. as the need arises. I also added a pack of undead pirates because they looked so good.

For scenery I have the Spanish buildings from my Napoleonic skirmish set and my jungle. I have some palm trees that I'm going to base up that have been waiting in a box for a long time an, of course, plenty of rocks, scrub and other scatter terrain.

The main thing that will be new for this project will be the boats and ships. I have a couple of small boats but I bought some more anyway. I got these two jolly boats from Games of War. They're only £5.00 each including postage and they're lovely little models. No benches so you can place miniatures.

For the larger ships I plan to make some 'deck line' models, essentially 3D floorplans of the deck of a ship but with steps, raised areas and guns etc fully modelled.. This will allow me to make them oversize so there's plenty of gaming room and let me ignore the bulk of the ship's hull and the rigging. Versatile, simple but still visually appealing (hopefully).

I have lots of ship building stuff left over from a pirate project I did in about 1996 and I bought some more bits and pieces including some real brass cannon.

Finally, for this introduction, what pirate game would be complete without a mysterious monkey shrine?

Building the world

Some of the first, and most recurring characters, the players will meet are the local Carib Indians. Now real Carib Indians are quite boring to look at. They're mostly naked chaps with bowl cuts. I decided I wanted my natives to be more interesting so I chose some Congo cannibal miniatures from Northstar who were wearing exciting masks. Much better.

I can now differentiate my tribes by having them wear different masks in the game, they're all going to be represented by the same five miniatures though. The joy of role playing, imagination rules!

For my native village (every native village in the game) I went with my existing Zulu stockade with some Hovels Sudanese huts. Again, the Sudanese huts bear no resemblance to actual native dwellings, but I've always wanted an excuse to paint some so...

Most of the natives will be cannibals (profiling) so I built a cooking pit with an old plaster crater, a Black Cat Bases cauldron and some match sticks.

Finally, a pair of Frontline Wargaming dugout canoes completed the set.

Click the photo above for a larger version.