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[50 Fathoms] Hints and Suggestions

 
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The Dead Ranger
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 02, 2013 6:27 pm    Post subject: [50 Fathoms] Hints and Suggestions Reply with quote

It's been decided that I'll be running 50 Fathoms next year, and I want to start planning for the campaign. So, for those who've run this before, do you have any hints or suggestions?

Is there anything I need to be aware of from the start?

Did you make any changes or additions to the setting/campaign?

Any other advice?
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ValhallaGH
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 02, 2013 6:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Know the general setting really well.
More than most plot point campaigns, 50 Fathoms is a "sandbox". It's a big playground for your players to run around in, choosing what they're going to do. They're free to "go that-away" and leave you scrambling to keep ahead; the only advantage you can get is to actually read all the locations and setting information.
The first plot point (Maiden Voyage) throws them into a desperate and potentially deadly situation, in probably the most dangerous land-wilderness in the setting (the frozen north might be more dangerous, maybe).
After that, they've got a ship and the freedom to go wherever they want.

For travel encounters, draw those out between sessions. Figure out the how long the journey should take if they have basic success, and see how often they get trouble over that interval. Try to keep the trouble interesting.
My crew got Pirates and Merchants on their first encounter, so I had them come across a merchant frigate as the pirates finally boarded - the players jumped in and acquired a new ship for themselves (and lots of cool role playing as they handled all of the captive pirates, some of whom were pressed into crewing their prize).
They, later, ran across a pirate Galleon - a big mother that they could not defeat in battle. So, they tried to break contact, and we used the "contact" rules - and they escaped in just two rolls.
They even met Admiral Duckworth, for the first time, when they encountered him at sea and he inspected their ship to determine if they were pirates. They eventually got on his good side and he was impressed by their accomplishments.
Now I've got to figure out how the fancy ball one character is going to will play out (until the players do stuff), while determining what I'll do to keep my other players engaged during that time.
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amerigoV
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 03, 2013 7:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm running it right now and its a blast! On top of what ValhallaGH said, here are my thoughts:


  • It never hurts to say "over the course of this campaign, you need to decide if you are pirates, privateers, merchants, whalers. But also keep in mind you do not have to stay in one of these buckets, even on the same trip. But you should know if you change from one to another and its ramifications"
  • That said, the first bullet just gives them an identity. Just like the show Firefly, its really just a trapping so explain why the PCs are where they are. In Firefly, hauling stuff is just the excuse for them to be somewhere when the crap rolls downhill. The reason this is important to keep in mind is that the good Loot and the Stories are all in the Plot Point/Savage Tales.
  • The Savage Tales/Plot Points are scale wonderfully. Some of the PP take a minimum of a couple of sessions, but the ST can be one session up to mini-campaign depending on what catches you or your group's imagination.
  • If you have ever played a Bethesada game (Elder Scrolls/Fallout) - think of it like that. Let the players run around and discover the setting before worrying about the main Plot Point
  • Its a fantasy campaign at its heart - if your group is like mine and has played fantasy forever, then you probably have a library of material you can loot to add some detail here and there. For example, I used the Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh for the Lost Farmers of Lanos scenario.
  • Look for places to weave in the Savage Tales. Sometimes you can bring the PCs to the tale. For example, I had the group come upon another ship that had gotten a Mermaid in an attempt to cash in on the $10,000 job in Keira. Now the PCs know that they could try to do this themselves (the fight with more mermaids broke down into a negotiation so it did not result in them taking a mermaid to get the reward at that point).
  • Remind the players that this is their ship. I have a bit of a dark thread in mine (one of the players is exploring a darker route than she has in the past). I reminded them that (1) the crew will react to it and (2) its up to you to run the ship.
  • I have not had many ship to ship fights, but others have said in the past be sure to have an idea of what players can do. For example, Perhaps there is a crew member that is a good gunner that becomes a WC for just that purpose that a player can take over if their PC is not as good in a ship to ship fight.



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arkcaver
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 03, 2013 7:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We ran this for 4 years on a every-other-week schedule, and didn't even come close to playing all the Savage Tales or the Golden Triangle campaign (it was with the Companion when we played it, but is in the Explorer's Edition now). Like it was mentioned above, there is so much to do in the setting that I just let my players do whatever they wanted and go wherever they wanted for much of the campaign.

For instance they had several jobs during the campaign. They were: hands on a ship smuggling weapons into the Kieran Empire, Whalers, Blue Bear Hunters, Seal Hunters, Pirate Hunters, Diamond Miners, Smugglers, and Fighters with the Kieran Resistance. They spent time doing each job, and each led to either situational encounters or Savage Tales.

My advice is to be prepared to let the players take off in any direction they want to. If they want to be good, let them. If they want to be pirates, let them. Don't try to force them into how you envision them, instead let them run free. The Plot Point Campaign is set up so they can still complete it whether they are the noblest of Caribdus' citizens, or the most vile Scallywags that ever sailed the seas.
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paladintodd
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 03, 2013 8:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Does 50 Fathoms have much in the way of maps or is the GM supposed to come up with his own?

Having come over from Pathfinder, our group is used to fairly tight stories. Does 50F have a campaign with a story or is it mostly sandbox?
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arkcaver
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 03, 2013 10:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

paladintodd wrote:
Does 50 Fathoms have much in the way of maps or is the GM supposed to come up with his own?


It has some. There is the large map of Caribdus and some smaller, adventure specific maps. There are no maps of the cities in Caribdus; you can come up with your own if needed, but we never needed them.

paladintodd wrote:
Having come over from Pathfinder, our group is used to fairly tight stories. Does 50F have a campaign with a story or is it mostly sandbox?


There are two campaigns included in the Explorer's Edition: the main plot point campaign and a shorter mini campaign. There are also about 70 shorter Savage Tales that come with it as well.
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ValhallaGH
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 03, 2013 10:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

High resolution handout map.
A couple of variations can also be found on the official 50 Fathoms page, in the sidebar.
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The Dead Ranger
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 03, 2013 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good info, thanks folks!

Do/did you run things just straight from the setting and core book or did you import stuff from other books? I'm strongly considering importing Pirates of the Spanish Main stuff that's not in 50F, such as swordsman schools.

And speaking of maps, one of my players wants to play a Kraken who has a map. I'm sure I can figure something out for what the map leads to, but does anyone have some Carribdus specific suggestions?
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amerigoV
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 03, 2013 7:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Dead Ranger wrote:
And speaking of maps, one of my players wants to play a Kraken who has a map. I'm sure I can figure something out for what the map leads to, but does anyone have some Carribdus specific suggestions?


One of the golden triangle plots is just that! A good way to get that plot point introduced.
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The Dead Ranger
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 03, 2013 8:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

amerigoV wrote:
The Dead Ranger wrote:
And speaking of maps, one of my players wants to play a Kraken who has a map. I'm sure I can figure something out for what the map leads to, but does anyone have some Carribdus specific suggestions?


One of the golden triangle plots is just that! A good way to get that plot point introduced.


Cool! I'll keep an eye out for that when I start reading the book in detail.
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arkcaver
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 03, 2013 9:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Dead Ranger wrote:
Good info, thanks folks!

Do/did you run things just straight from the setting and core book or did you import stuff from other books? I'm strongly considering importing Pirates of the Spanish Main stuff that's not in 50F, such as swordsman schools.


We didn't, but PotSM came out several years after we had started our 50F campaign. No reason why you couldn't import stuff from it, though.

Seems like I did use some creatures from the core book, but I don't remember which ones. I think they were standard earth creatures or similar, like alligators, snakes, giant spiders (similar to earth creatures, only larger. This has a precedence in the setting).
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MPT
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 04, 2013 8:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

After 40 sessions of a 50F campaign, here are my thoughts:

Make certain you have a list of ship names and NPC names (especially captains) handy. The player's are bound to ask about other ships that they meet when they enter port so these are a must.

If trading is going to be a strong element then decide where the gunpowder, and possibly some other goods, comes from. The trading table, as written, allows gunpowder to be bought anywhere but in 'real life' only a few of the locations would be exporters, the remainder would be importers.

Plan some undersea locations. Again, this depends on the PCs, but if any of them are Grael or other underwater races then they will want to go beneath the sea and this is not defined (aside from the cross). ... On the other hand if only a few of the PCs are going underwater don't make a big thing of this as whilst a PC is underwater those on the ship have little to do.

Decide on how important the Hags are. If the PCs intend to take on the Hags then you need to read the relevant plot point campaign carefully.

Be prepared to modify where and when some of the plots take place. A lot of the plots can move from one location to another with very little change. This is something you may have to do depending on how much of the map the players travel to.
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ValhallaGH
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 04, 2013 8:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Dead Ranger wrote:
Do/did you run things just straight from the setting and core book or did you import stuff from other books? I'm strongly considering importing Pirates of the Spanish Main stuff that's not in 50F, such as swordsman schools.

Mostly straight. There are already two fencing schools in New Madrid; they work differently from their PotSM counterparts, but I'm okay with that.

Besides, with all the relic weapons your crew will probably find, they don't need the power increase from fencing academies.
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mgtzx
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 04, 2013 10:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don't overlook the Carousing rules. Our game hasn't touched much on the 'cabin fever' aspect of it, but our crew made a lot of contacts in some of the major ports by spending time in port carousing.

It was a fun excuse for part of the crew to spend some of their shares while the rest of the crew was training at the New Madrid academies, and provided them with potential contacts for later on.
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