RPG a Day 2020, Part Twenty-Nine – Ships and Carts, When Your Ride is Your Home

I like a headquarters for groups. I’ve given folks taverns to restore and use as their home. I’ve often had players help make their hometowns and in Hunter: The Reckoning my players spent more time maintaining their lovely suburban house than killing monsters.

A lot of games take the adventure on the road pretty much constantly and that ends up with players simply renting out rooms, living in tents, getting the hobo side of the murderhobo lifestyle. Giving them a home gives them something to invest in, some roots, which helps lessen the kind of transient murderer vibe.

I’ve dealt with this by giving them a home which travels with them. AD&D was my first experience of this, as I only owned a handful of adventures in different campaign settings and my solution was to make them all different geographic entities in the same world. This meant needing a boat to get about from Forgotten Realms, Red Steel, Ravenloft, Al Qadim and some lands of my own making. The group loved their boat, adding a second, smaller boat on top of it hanging between the masts as storage for their underlings. They hired a dozen deckhands who they didn’t name at first. Time went on and the survivors started to get names. When some adventures I had required the group to be inland I decided to have them find an enchantment to allow the ship the power of flight.

This was the copy of the PHB I had. There’s an incredible book smell it has which hits a special nostalgic place in my heart.

A flying ship was pretty cool, even allowing me to use some new monsters who preferred the air. At one point I had a cockatrice attack the group, even turning some of the deckhands to stone. The group had difficulty using ranged attacks (which only one of them was any good with) against a flying enemy. One of the group, Albert, lassoed the cockatrice, tied the other end to a stone deckhand and booted it off the boat. It was a great way of finishing the beast, an unfortunate end to the deckhand and a random encounter they found years later in the campaign when they were wandering through the land.

A vastly fancier airship than the one the In-Fighters had.

Airships aren’t the only kind of moving home, of course. There was the Dobbin 5000, a covered wagon with legs instead of wheels. It didn’t need any horses pulling it, as it was magically half-horse. My brother made a great illustration sadly now lost to time, showing the suspension on the cart to make for more comfortable travel. This was in D&D Third Edition when the group were playing the next generation of their AD&D characters (although the characters didn’t know that). The first story arc was all set in their hometown, but the second onwards had them on the road. The cart was technically the possession of the group’s rogue and monk who had reached a great accord about each others’ philosophies. There were hidden boxes throughout the Dobbin 5000, and even boxes on the sides where they grew flowers and herbs. The rest of the group rode alongside them, but they all stayed inside overnight. Instead of posting watch around a campfire they would be able to keep riding with a lantern hanging by the driver’s seat. It was a very cosy home for them.

Just one of the types of ship you could have in Fellowship.

These days, there are games like Fellowship which manage to mechanise your ship with its own playbook. And by ‘ship’, the playbook could be anything like a zeppelin or a train. It’s great, you give folks different roles and can use advancements to add rooms or crew. Scum & Villainy takes the crew playbook from Blades in the Dark and shifts it from a gang to a spaceship. The crew types even shift to different types of ships with their own compartments and types of jobs. Now your home can be mobile and can have cool mechanics behind them. Personally that’s had me thinking about how better to mechanise the mobile homes in other games, as well.

The Stardancer from Scum & Villainy.
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1 Response to RPG a Day 2020, Part Twenty-Nine – Ships and Carts, When Your Ride is Your Home

  1. Pingback: 29 #RPGaDay2020 Ride – Batjutsu

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