The crew of the Monkeysquid’s Musket worked their ship through a particularly dense part of the Jungle Sky, clumps of trees making for a narrow passage. But their contact Otter was right – there was a Barathi treasure ship in the jungle – they could make out its stern from, the rest of the ship embedded in the trees. Not one of the giant treasure galleons, but a worthy prize nonetheless. Foppe navigated the junk as close as he could – a little too close as it turned out, as the Musket skimmed against a dense patch of trees.

The crew boarded the treasure ship but, sure enough, it turned out to be a trap – a group of savage blue men were waiting for them. However Guy of the Ska Ku, who had descended from the Blue Men, was able to convince them to depart with only a small insult to his honor.

Securing the modest treasure, the Musket made its way to Barathi. Foppe cloaked himself in a cunning disguise, fearful he might be recognized. Penth and her shield maiden Briea had to endure the attention of being the only women on the ship, though the fact that Penth could probably cripple any other cewmember deflected most of the attention to the more approachable Briea. After docking, they made their way to Otter’s warehouse. He made the mistake of trying to stiff our heroes, but a sword from Foppe and spear from Penth, both at his throat, convinced him that would be a bad idea.

Rich in coin, our heroes spent some of it at a tavern, the Sign of the Red Hourglass. It was there that Ser Knight made contact with a woman looking for passage – Rebbecca Ilvis and her guardian, the elderly though fit retainer Oraraes. She was fleeing from a royal wedding with the heir apparent to the Barathi throne, being quite out of the ordinary in not wanting to enter a marriage in which she did not love any of the participants. She was looking for passage to the small island of Kirrathi, a colony of Barathi fighting for independence. How could any respecting band of heroes, especially one with a former Royal Musketeer, turn down a maiden looking for aid?

En route to the island the saw they were being followed – and they learned that there was a little more to the story. It was not much of a surprise that Lady Ilvis was involved with the rebellion on Kirrathi. Shortly after docking, in the shadow of a dark tower looming over the Kirrathi harbor, the port was officially closed, the tower having a clear shot at any ship trying to depart. Meeting with her resistance contacts, it so happened they knew of a hidden underground entrance to the tower, and where the powder room might be found…

Name: Penthesilea

Foible: Can’t allow herself to be shown up by men.
Motivation: To find and recruit female Koldun for the Oripata [+2]
Nationality: Pontus Native [+2]
Past: Aristocrat [+2]
Swashbuckling Forte: Myrine [+2]

Sidekick [+2]
Fencing [+2]


Gungnir (Fencing)
Idium: Fierce (1)
Weapon: Spear (1)
Weapon: Shield (1)
Weapon Dual Weapons (1)
Versus: Men (1)

Maneuver: Intimidation (1- Myrine)
Situation: At Court (1- Rogue)

Sidekick- Briea Shieldmaiden (Good [+2] Sidekick)

Always falling for/getting captured by the bad guys

Page [+2]
Rogue [+2]
Acrobatics [+0]
2 chained Techniques:
Prepare her lady for battle (1- Page)
Find whatever her lady desires (1- Page)

The Cloud Island of Pontus:

The cloud Islands of Pontus, have steep, rocky coasts with rivers that cascade through the gorges of the coastal ranges. A few larger rivers, those cutting back through the Pontic Mountains, have tributaries that flow in broad, elevated basins. Access inland from the coast is limited to a few narrow valleys because mountain ridges, with elevations of 1,525 to 1,800 m in the west and 3,000 to 4,000 m in the east. The Kackar Mountains form an almost unbroken wall separating the coast from the interior. The higher slopes facing southwest tend to be densely wet.

Pontus is a mountainous country—wild and barren in the east, where the great chains approach the Euxine; but in the west watered by the great rivers Halys and Iris, and their tributaries, the valleys of which, as well as the land along the coast, are extremely fertile. The eastern part was rich in minerals, and contained the celebrated iron mines and the women smiths of Chalybes are renowned for their quality work, both military and civilian.

Cherries were supposed to have been brought from Pontus to the rest of the cloud islands shortly after it was settled.

The Oripata live and rule Pontus. They were originally a group of women prisoners, the worst offenders, exiled from Barati about a thousand years ago. There they formed an independent kingdom under the government of a queen named Hippolyta. The Oripata were have founded several towns on the island. The largest being Smyrna, Ephesus, the inland capital Sinope and the only coastal city of Paphos.

No men are permitted to have sexual encounters or reside in Oripata country, or go beyond the walled city of Paphos. In order to prevent their race from dying out, the Oripata are obligated to visit the village of Gargareans, a small, remote, heavily guarded village of men, located in the mountains, to produce at least one female child (some females opt to stay and have more children, acting as guards as well). The male children who were the result of these visits are either kept with their fathers or placed on a small bluewood raft and sent into the seven skies.

The female children are kept and brought up by their mothers, and trained in agricultural pursuits, hunting, and the art of war. Oripata pirates that raid other ships are usually not lookinig for loot, but rather male booty. When they take a ship, they would not kill all the men. Some they would take as slaves, (usually the young and strong) to bring back to the village of Gargareans. They are fearful of magic and will not allow any with gifts live. They also will not hesitate to kill anyone who steps out of line, as they can always find more men on the 7 skies.

The Oripata are typically good at hunting, acrobatics, the bow, spear, axe, and a distinctive half shield, nearly in the shape of a crescent.

The Myrine are a group of elite warrior women who are tasked by the Hippolyta to venture forth from the sky island to find and return with various things to help increase the Oripata’s position in the 7 skies. The excel in a special shield and spear fencing style called Gungnir.

Gungnir: Only taught to women, and favored by the elite warrior women of Pontus. Idiom: Fierce; Weapon: Spear; Weapon: Shield; Weapon: Dual Weapons; Versus: Men (5 points)

Ser Knight (Corwin Duskblade)

Foible: Proud (stupidly so, in all things)

Motivation: Good [+2] Power

Nationality: Good [+2] Colronan Kingdom

Past: Good [+2] Different Nationality (Ilwuz)

Swashbuckling Forte: Good [+2] Koldun

Additional Fortes: Good [+2] Gift: Griffin, Good [+2] Colronan Musketeer, Good [+2] Aristocracy (Knight)

Techniques: Idiom: Precise (unchained), Koldun: Qilin, Koldun: Merhorse

Style Dice: 1

Training Points: 0

Miscellany: Born on Ilwuz, Corwin was raised in the standard traditions of the Ilwuz – meaning he learned to use a blade, sail skyships, and start drinking early on. On one of his first cruises as a cabin boy aboard a pirate ship while only 8 years old, the ship was captured by Colronan Kingdom forces. Taken prisoner, he was dumped into the household of the captain, who was a baron in the Colronan Kingdom. Educated as an experiement to determine if he could be “cured” of his Ilwuz barbarism, he excelled at lessons, being accepted into the Colronan Musketeers and earning his knighthood (and some extremely modest – in that nobody lives there – estates). While going through Musketeer training, Corwin realized that his gift and talents were emerging – in an environment that had little tolerance for either. Knowing full well that he would need to be fettered (or worse!) if he stayed, Corwin instead set out into the world “to win his fortune”. His adoptive parents were quite proud – a failing that he learned at their knees. If only they had known his first stop would be Ilwuz… and from there a quest to master his Koldun talents. Calling himself only “Ser Knight”, he is setting out to learn all he can of the Koldun arts and has a vague plan to return to the Colronan Kingdom to “show them”.


Foible: Wrong place at wrong time.

Motivation: Good [+2] Restore reputation.

Nationality: Good [+2] Barathi.

Past: Good [+2] Disgraced noble.

Swashbuckling Forte: Good [+2] Fencing.

Additional Fortes: Good [+2] Gift (Thunderbird); Good [+2] Reputation; Good [+2] Skysailor


  • At a disadvantage (unchained)
  • vs. Nobility (fencing)
  • Weapon: Rapier (fencing)

Style Dice: 1

Training Points: 0

Miscellany: A noble hailing from Barathi, Foppe has become the master at being in the wrong place at the wrong time. When he is near, people have reason to be nervous – in his presence odd accidents have a tendency to happen. Nobles fall from balconies, bridges collapse, etc. After the firstborn son and heir apparent of the Empress Vanadi died in a bizarre accident Foppe decided it was time to ramble on. He has taken on a series of odd jobs since and is currently the sailing master of the Monkeysquid’s Musket, a pirate and smuggling skyjunk.

Foppe’s strange luck is a combination of his Thunderbird Gift (which he is unaware of and functions unconsciously) and his foible. As a result, odd coincidences tend to happen to him and around him. Sometimes this is to his advantage, sometimes it causes him trouble – but his life has never been boring.

That Guy Who Did That Thing
Foible: Obnoxiously arrogant.

Motivation: Good [+2] Show How Awesome I Am.

Nationality: Good [+2] Sha-Ku.

Past: Good [+2] Sha-Ku rider.

Swashbuckling Forte: Good [+2] Pirate.

Additional Fortes: Good [+2] Acrobatic; Good [+2] Sidekick (Ruq); Good [+2] Repartee


  • Master Swordsman (Pirate)
  • Sarcastic (Repartee)
  • Mounted Archery (Ruq Rider)

Style Dice: 1

Training Points: 0

Miscellany: Guy’s real name is unknown – non-natives of Sha Ku have never been able to pronounce it. He began answering to Guy after constantly being referred to as “That Guy Who Did That Thing”. Guy left Sha Ku in an effort to gain enough esteem all over the world to increase his prestige in his homeland. He quickly became a pirate – a very showy pirate – and is captain of the Monkeysquid’s Musket. He probably isn’t the most talented sailor or pirate aboard that small vessel, but he does boast the most.

Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies

Blog posting for me has been beyond lethargic of late. What with the normal life of being a parent of two young kids added to some scary moments with my eldest daughter (corneal abrasion – nothing major as it turned out, but scary as hell with several days of her eye hurting too much to open) and my father-in-law having a stroke. Work has picked up a bit.

Beyond blog posting going way down, I began having trouble with my Wild Talents game. I like Wild Talents a lot and had been having fun. But it is a fairly crunchy game and the prep work was causing me problems – while not requiring as much work as D&D 3.x, it still has a decent level of crunch. And one thing I learned is it requires a decent amount of prep work to consider the right NPCs to challenge your heroes. With some regret I had to put the game on hiatus.

What was clear was I needed something with a lot less crunch. Something I could prep super-quickly – or even, heavens forbid, run on the fly. After some investigation, I narrowed it down to two options – Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies (a game of swashbuckling adventure in a world of floating cloud islands and flying skyships) and Spirit of the Century (a pulp game). After some discussion with my group – and the discovery that one player was totally on board with the idea of sky pirates – we went with Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies.

Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies uses a game engine called PDQ# – Prose Descriptive Qualities Sharp. The idea is your character is centered around fortes. A forte is basically anything you can use to solve problems. They can be careers, possessions, allies, desires, etc. It is a fairly rules-lite game, but unlike others I have experienced, it seems to have just enough structure so you are not making everything up. The game is also designed for characters, to frankly, kick ass. Your characters are supposed to be good at things. And they are heroes! Even if they are pirates… After all, the Dread Pirate Roberts of The Princess Bride turned out to be a pretty ok guy…

We had one session of making characters. To set the mood properly, we needed snacks with a pirate theme…

Arrr... Pirate Cupcakes

Daughter who Frosted Cupcakes for Daddy's Playgroup

So fortified, character generation went pretty well, with the crew of the Monkey Squid’s Musket ready for action. Last night was our first game. I had a rough idea for the game in the days leading up to it, but it wasn’t until the night before that I statted things. Or at least I intended to – I fell sound asleep after a busy day with the kiddies. So stats were made during lunch at work…

The game went well – it was a lot of fun – at least for me it was – and it seemed like the players enjoyed themselves…  Certainly some tweaking to work on and I was far from worried about every rule. One nice thing about the rules was it allows social activities to be rolled just like combat ones. I first encountered that in the Dying Earth RPG. As a result, the opening encounter, which I had assumed was going to be a slugfest with the savage Blue Men of the Jungle Sky, wound up involving a PC who played a character descended from these savages, a player who excels at making things go boom in most games, successfully convinced them to go away.

I’ve seen the setting slightly criticized – I seem to recall conversations mentioning that while the setting is quite neat, more detail would be nice. As it turned out, the level of detail worked perfectly, especially in a game where players are encouraged to help shape it. One player ran a character who was extremely lucky – but as a side effect important people have a habit of dying in his presence – from incredibly odd accidents. The player has control over this, but the character does not! This character hailed from one of the major islands, Barathi, but was exiled/ran away (little unclear as to which…) when an important noble met an unfortunate accident. The adventure took them to Barathi, where they encountered a noble woman breaking from tradition and trying to escape an arranged marriage to the heir to the throne of Barathi (it also later turned out she was a sympathizer to rebels on a minor island ruled by the Barathi). When she mentioned the heir, Markiz Donaldo Vanadi, that player chimed in “well he’s actually the second heir – I was at a party with his older brother and he unfortunately fell from the balcony to his death…. But it wasn’t my fault!” The broad brushes of the setting fit perfectly for our group – prior to this game I never knew Donaldo had had an older brother (nor did I know the Blue Men would negotiate with their more civilized cousins…)

There’s a few things I’d work on in future sessions – certain players had a bit more to do than others – and I’ll want to study everyone’s character sheets a bit more to help facilitate this. But it is something I’ll definitely want to play some more.


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Brief Overview

February 25, 1865, R.M.S. Caliban, under the command of Captain Gerald Macduff, three days from reaching Brazilian port of Belém

Our heroes had taken passage on the Caliban in search of the temple near the Amazon river that Confederate explorers had found – one that seemed to have a mystical altar missing a single gemstone – one our heroes had retrieved.

However, some three days away from Belém in some foggy weather, our heroes heard a loud bump. Something had struck the ship. Looking down they saw it was the emaciated body of an African, recently dead. Several more could be seen in the water. Fairly close was a transport ship. Mbizi immediately realized immediately what was transpiring – a slave ship. He shouted for the captain to immediately overtake her. Luthor, with his Royal Navy background backed up the order. MacDuff was hesitant but there was some profit in apprehending slavers and he agreed.

Realizing they were about to be overtaken, the slavers began dumping Africans overboard, healthy or not. Mbizi summoned his ancestor spirits to man the Caliban’s boats to rescue the slaves while Larry went to fetch the recuperating John Henry below decks. Grappling the slave ship our heroes boarded her. After a tough battle – no quarter was asked or given, our heroes were victorious, though John Henry had a nasty headshot wound which had nearly finished him. The slaver captain had been trying to complete some sort of ritual and had been dumping a nasty mix of human entrails overboard. What that portended was unknown.

Session Notes

There was really only one main encounter this evening – still a little goofy I guess. That said prior to the combat encounter, there was some decent roleplaying and giving out of willpower points like candy with some debate over whether or not to get involved in chasing the slavers.

That said, with real life intruding we’ll be making some changes to the structure of the game, trying to go for more self-contained adventures as opposed to the current run of one adventure leading directly to the next – that sort of structure makes it difficult to absorb player absences and we’re all married folks with careers and many of us with kids, making getting a full house very difficult. I won’t be dropping all continuity, rather I’ll be attempting to make the adventures self-contained though also fitting together, much like early seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or the linkages found in recent seasons of Doctor Who.

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