Author Topic: [SCUP Playtest] Pirates of Cape Veyal  (Read 2691 times)

Erik Weissengruber

  • Member
  • Posts: 82
[SCUP Playtest] Pirates of Cape Veyal
« on: April 06, 2015, 11:12:30 AM »
Enjoying SCUP.

I have no single document summing up my group's experience so far.

I think the game system will reveal its potentials when the Faction rules come into play.

We have set up a lot of dominoes and we will see how they smash into each other:

Introduction to the page:

Re: Candle:   Roll + Wily to see relationship status
Re: Veyal’s stead:   Check the status of the overcrowding, any reprisals, isolated, savage militia, hunger
Check: We Silence’s relationships
Check: Murcia’s stats, the benefit provided by The Corpus, it’s bizzare magical object
Review faction points,
think of faction demands

Erik Weissengruber

  • Member
  • Posts: 82
Re: [SCUP Playtest] Pirates of Cape Veyal
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2015, 11:39:59 AM »
The color demands were these on my part:

* no snow
* no winter
* no chainmail
* 3 seasons: Spring, Dry, Monsoon
* China/Japan/Korea/Taiwan
* tuna, not beef
* kneeling, standing, crossed legs, lacquered stools, no massive tables and looming thrones
* sunshine, sea air, fir trees
* volcanoes
* rice, not bread
* pirates of the inland sea
* wind-twisted long-needled pines
* no real-world religions or myths (no Buddhism, Shinto, etc.)
* no "samurai" "ninja" or "monks" but there are particular naval/warrior/administratior/worker/ritual/outcaste castes
* family trade/resource networks distributed across ecosystems and spaces, a la Incas
* close navigation to coasts, not the epic journeys of the Polynesians
* but a huge Tang-style treasure fleet would be good
* secret societies -- an economy of secrets and taboo or proprietary social functions -- like Bene Gesserit, Face Dancers, The Steersmen, from Dune. Or the Assassins and Roshaniya. Or the Yellow Scarves/Turbans of China
* the Murakami naval clan of Japan [I love this book]

Erik Weissengruber

  • Member
  • Posts: 82
Re: [SCUP Playtest] Pirates of Cape Veyal
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2015, 04:15:53 PM »
I might as well lay out the characters and the factions they have created. The Obsidian Portal wiki is useful for our group but doesn't offer much for the person dipping into the game or looking for a quick glance at what kind of fiction is created in setting up a SCUP game.

Name: Murcia

Stats:    Steady +0    Fierce +0    Wily +1    Sly +0    Arcane +2

Look: Ambiguous, Bony face, Serene, Tired eyes, Slender body

Faction: The Corpus

* With Candle (The Voice): You have seen me do great and terrible things wth my power
* With We Silence (The Beloved): You want to be like me, maybe more than you realize

Moves: Basic, Harness the Unsepakable Power, Arcane Malice, Dreams of Unknown Kadath

Name: We Silence

Stats: Steady +1    Fierce -2    Wily +1    Sly +1    Arcane +2

Faction: The House of Silence (theopolitical family of rulers on the mainland)

Look: Man, tribal wear, polite smile, evil eyes, thin body

Relationships: ???

Moves: Basic, Harness the Unspeakable Power, It Knows You, It Demands Blood

Name: Felicitous Veyal

Stats: Steady +1    Fierce +2    Wily +1    Sly +1    Arcane -2

Look: Concealded, Military uniform, Terrifying cape, Horribe iron mask, Sturdy/Powerful body

Faction: House of Veyal

- We Silence (The Beloved): "You think me a great and wise ruler"
- Morcia (The Adept):    "You see me as an opportunity for a better life."

Heavy is the Head, Of Omlets and Eggs

Domain = Cape Veyal [town], Granite Tower
"The Scepter of Dragons" is the symbol of power. Stead is large, with 300 souls, does work of raiding, Militia of 40 trained violent people and trained, Castle provided +2 Armour on defence, Surplus +3 Barter, Want: overcrowded, reprisals, isolated, savage militia, hungry populace

Name: Candle

Steady: Steady +1    Fierce +0    Wily +2    Sly +1    Arcane -1

Look: Woman, unsettling eyes, unassuming clothes, thin body

Faction: Order of the Torch

Desire: Revenge, sweet, dirt, lovely, bloody, sexy, delightful revenge

Patron: Fellicitus Veyal
- Disobedience [ ] [ ]

- Morcia (The Adept): You and I have a little partnership going. I've seen great and terrible power from Morcia
- We Silence (The Beloved): I've heard rumors about you that you wouldn't want out. There is proof of lineage ties to The Unspeakable Power, the House of Veyal has this, rumor has it Fellicitus has it here.

Basic, Whisper Darkness, An Ear at Each Door and an Eye at Each Hallway

The House of Silence
Kind: Noble House
Status: Honored
- power
- beauty

- vastly more established than house of Veyal

The House of Veyal
Kind: Noble House, entry by ritual "Blooded by the House of Veyal"
Staus: Honored
- Wealth
- Power

Order of the Torch
Kind: Network of Spies
Status: Honored
- Knowledge
- Gossip

The Corpus
Kind: Order
Status: Outcasts
2 Benefits:
- Magic
- Dirty Work
Connection to other factions: Torch = indifferent, House of Silence = unaware, House of Veyl = open conflict (except on this one island)


Turnbull, Stephen. Pirate of the Far East: 811-1639. Oxford, UK: Osprey, 2007.
LeGuin, Usula. The Earthsea Trilogy. New York: Bantam, 1972.
No winter
No furs
No chainmail


- Last big blow of the Monsoon Season
- unbattening the hatches
- Morcia staring into the sea, We Silence looking for him, Felicitus Veil contemplating the 1st raid, Candle preparing banquet
- Cisterns filled with fresh rainwatter
- A medium shaped ship, crashed, no survivors found, no corpses washed on shore,
- from a Norther Mainlaind clan The Blue Star Clan, in open rebellion against the Emperor, there was a beaded necklace, Moricia has returned it to We Silence
- a stranger from the ship, a member of The Corpus is hiding (how did s/he survive)

[thank you for the setup]


Cape Veyal

[     main land       ]        [island with The Granite Tower castle]    [Cape Veyal, small town]
- the cape, Point Pele        - castle                                 - 300 souls, a little overcrowded

 Erik Weissengruber

Ron Edwards

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1422
  • The cold never bothered me anyway
    • Adept Press
Re: [SCUP Playtest] Pirates of Cape Veyal
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2015, 12:02:00 AM »
This may sound weird, but I'm interested to see whether anyone steps into the gap made by excluding Buddhism and Shinto.

Erik Weissengruber

  • Member
  • Posts: 82
Re: [SCUP Playtest] Pirates of Cape Veyal
« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2015, 04:25:46 PM »
By creating a faction, players have implied a whole bunch of setting. From that sketchy background they seem to be pulling in elements to fill-in gaps.

(oh bricolage, I love you)

Frex: The Beloved speaks very little to the other characters. Interaction with others is done through gesture as much as possible. The village fisher kids are unhappy about the presence of the Adept on their island. The Beloved is assuaging their anxiety by teaching them rituals to honor the Beautiful One or The Unspeakable Power. And the ritual that The Beloved must perform -- periodic blood sacrifice -- is very colorful. The reactions of the other characters to this ritual will provide me with raw material to extrapolate other ritual communities that are distinguished by different practices.

The origin myths imply some sort of cosmology: the powers of Sun and Moon, the Beautiful One and her contesting children Sea and Land. But the rituals of Blooding that bind members of the House of Veyal or the rebellious Open Hand conspiracy, and the Gnostic wisdom of The Corpus have their own dynamics that as of yet don't seem tied to any "monomyth."

I assume that the fishers will continue their sacrifices to the powers of The Sea (who are one of the Threats the players will face: they have already made their appearance as luminous mer-folk). But I want to establish ritual practices rather than expecting logical, deductive elaborations of particular mythologies out of some monomyth. There is a creation story and some myths that are commonly known, but no shared theology from which particular cults work variations.

The Corpus seem to pass on their wisdom through initiations like some sublimated shamanism. But they depend on books and spiritual/physical exercises to develop internal resources.

The ideas of "houses" and "orders" seem very different from the localized religious traditions that are (to a Wikipedist/tourist's perception) characteristic of Shinto. Stepping into one of our societies means a break from your local community and adherence to the codes of some intra-island organization: you can't just take up priestly duties during particular holy times and then return to farming or trade at others.

Erik Weissengruber

  • Member
  • Posts: 82
Re: [SCUP Playtest] Pirates of Cape Veyal
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2015, 11:51:39 AM »
Rob’s Comments 22/04/2015

Rob Deobald
Discussion – 00:49

So, we are in our 3rd session of SCUP; and by and large, very fun so far! I’m sure I will come back with some more helpful, detailed and productive thoughts in a later post.

Fresh from our latest game though, I feel the need to vent a little bit.

Highlighting Stats.

This form of advancement has always left a bad taste in my mouth in other PbtA games, and so far my SCUP experiences are matching what has come before. I seem to always have my combat stats highlighted for the sessions with a lot of talking and intrigue, and my talky intrigue stats highlighted for the sessions filled with blood and gore.

Are highlighted stats a deliberate choice for SCUP adding something to the experience that I’m not seeing yet? So far in practice they have left me feeling frustrated, and I would enjoy hearing an outside perspective.

Erik Weissengruber

  • Member
  • Posts: 82
Re: [SCUP Playtest] Pirates of Cape Veyal
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2015, 11:18:27 AM »
Latest Session

* We Silence was … interesting. I think he was interested in the Water forces that we showing up.
Candle was training the new agent
* Murcia was concerned about the oncoming threat of witch hunters (The House of Veyal invited one in)
* Lord Veyal invited dangerous witch-hunters to his island to hunt down the wretched sorcery us scum who dared being pirates to his shores.
* Candle discovered the witch-hunter’s plot to move against Veyal
* The fearsome king shared a tender moment (warrior love, Theban style!) with the Commander who came with the Witch-hunter in order to secure an alliance for the good of the House.
* There was something going on with Lord Veil and Candle trying to get a hold of the troops that arrived with the scholar.
* Murcia had failed to save the child.
* We Silence sacrificed the innocent child to the "Beautiful One."
* Both Murcia and We Silence summoned the arkane and mystical power of each respective faction.
* We Silence invoked the power of The House of Silence, Murcia tried but failed to invoke the power of The Corpus. * The stakes got really high. The House of Silence had a very powerful divine effect.
* The fortuitously empowered witch hunter had a lightning bolt point to the place where the other member of the Corpus was hiding.
* There were some side effects from We Silence achieving such aim, which Murcia would like to inspect.
* Once the excitement settles down Lord Veyal may meet and interrogate his pirate prisoner who he has locked in the highest tower of the castle.
* Perhaps there could be a way to win this pirates loyalty as a significant boon to the functionality of Veyal's new and improved navy.
* Primarily though, the horrible sorcerer must be punished.
* If Veyal's pet project to work with the Corpus living in a cave in his shores gets caught in the crossfire, so be it.
* If he must comply with beautiful religious practices so be it.
* For now those annoyances are acceptable if it means the treacherous wizard is caught and punished.

Erik Weissengruber

  • Member
  • Posts: 82
Re: [SCUP Playtest] Pirates of Cape Veyal
« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2015, 11:26:36 AM »
In which I come out swinging:

Like Apocalypse World, SCUP has Threats.

These are persistent sources of trouble for the protagonists.

They grow out of the 1st session prep and emergent situations occurring in the subsequent session.

I like coherent flow and well-defined decision trees. So if the procedures for going from Mythos Creation > Setting & Faction Creation > Threats were more unified, I would find it more satisfying.

One player commented that he would have liked to have know the trigger conditions for setting of one of these threats before they were sprung (although none were triggered on his PC). I was a little heavy-handed in getting them into the action: 3 of 4 were sprung in one session. But their presence had been hinted at before. I suppose that I internalized the procedures from Burning Empires: no new tech can be burned mechanically until it has been introduced in a Colour scene. From my P.O.V. there had been plenty of color around these threats.

My big mistake was treating them as random event generators. No, no, no. The rules example says that the 2d6 rolls in the event of triggering must include a modifier from a relevant stat (say, +2 or -1). I just made them a flat 2d6 roll vs. difficulty. Doing this short-circuts the reward system for using highlighted stats. It would also be nice to know if the help or hinder rules can or should apply.

I guess that my tastes in rules were set by reading the Burning books and Dogs in the Vineyard.
Minds-on preview of the rules, flowing text w. a few side diagrams and illos (Feynman/Tuffte style), and Procedural recap. Like a text book.

But I am dull.

Threat One: The Monstrous Sorcerer
- triggered when someone searches the jungle island for Austrin by physical, mundane means
- the agent of The Corpus has sublimated himself and is dwelling in the shadows of the island that once sheltered his secret cave
- roll 2d6 + Arcane
10+ none of these happen
7-9 one of them happens
- someone disappears for an extended period
- someone is paralyzed

Threat Two: Fanatical Cabal"The Open Hand"[I don't really have "factions" like those of the players]
- triggered when someone who has attempted to frustrate The Open Hand's aims enters the fisher's district or the wharves
- roll 2d6 + Steady
10+ none of these happen
7-9 one of them happens
- someone gets hit with a dart buy an unseen assailant
- someone cries out an incitement to rebellion

Threat Three: A Power The Stone of Sacrifice
10+ none of these happen
7-9 one of them happens
- Still secret to the players
- Not detailed yet
- Not hinted at

Threat Four: The Realm of The Sea
10+ none of these happen
7-9 one of these happens
- roll 2d6 + sly
* triggered when a ship departs or approaches Cape Veyal
- an unnatural fierce wind blows the the ship off course or delays it
- white, tentacluar seaweed gathers around the ship, degrading its hull and gumming up navigation

The next step is to set off countdown clocks for what happens when the moves associated with these threats are triggered.

The AW standard was 4, but I will reduce them to 3 to speed things up. And because of rule of three.

Erik Weissengruber

  • Member
  • Posts: 82
Re: [SCUP Playtest] Pirates of Cape Veyal
« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2015, 09:15:41 AM »
Some Recent Events

- bite this George R.R. Martin

The Witchfinder General was ambushed by Candle and We Silence. The Beloved got a painful handlock on the man, snipped his hair, and transformed himself into a double of Golden Eye. The Witchfinder fled, and ran face first into Candle's right hand assassin, Wick, who aikido flipped him, waited for the nod, and then dispatched him. Anyone fleeing from Candle might be an enemy of the House of the Torch and must be neutralized. All hail the sword and sorcery security state! What will be made of his mole in the House of Veyal, time will tell. Highlight Moment The Bloodletter was trying to "improve" Grand Marshal Seleucis. He has been freed from his paralysis. He does have funky holes in his head. Like this:

Oh yeah, a weird cloud of floating black goo emerged from his head and The Bloodletter kept it in a ceramic container.

Character Actions

Made a very strong entrance, coming from the ocean through a storm, seeing the violence of The Open Hand on the docks, and experimenting with the Grand Marshal. She has old connections with Lord Veyal and passing acquaintance with Candle. She is carrying medicine for Candle's daughter. Which she has one of. Voice Making sure the Barque from The House of Veyal isn't tampered with. She was looking out to see. We Silence came and did some weird dancing, hinting that they have to work out some relationship between the characters.

The Crown
After the sacrifice of the Pure One on Fish Day, Lord Veyal leads a bold search for the now exposed sorcerer. During that trip, his dear comrade Grand Marshal Seleucis is paralyzed. And the ambitious and manipulative Witchfinder General is kidnapped by the sublimated Hidden Master. Lord Veyal has found a way to neutralize the Witchfinder.

The Beloved
Dealing with the wake of the sacrifice. Went for a swim. Danced strangely with Candle, and finally came to some agreement to stay out of each other's way. And then that wild move of taking the place of the Witchfinder.

The Adept
Murcia was a shadowy figure. He has worked a teleportation channel through the island from his hidden cave to the castle. A bit of a schematic:

[Murcia's cave (Hidden room {teleport gate})] <----->  [Castle (Guest Quarter & Grand Marshal <Closet {teleport gate}>)]

Murcia is lurking there.


A Monster: The Hidden Master
-The agent of The Corpus has turned himself into a spirit that haunts the shadows of the jungles.
-Golden Eye, a Witchfinder General for The House of Veyal went looking for the exposed sorcerer of The Corpus. On that quest, Grand Marshal Selecusis was paralyzed suddenly, and Golden Eye disappeared, later to be discovered incoherent in the demolished lair of the sorcerer. Lord Veyal is keeping the forces under Golden Eye's command busy looking for The Hidden Master.
- What will happen when the sublimated master stops hiding
- human contact: The Adept
  • [ ] [ ]

A Realm: The Sea
- Our newest character, the Bloodletter was confronted by an unseasonal wind, and strange seaweed slurping away at the hull. The seaweed is unusually animate when in the water and attacking the ship, but vegetative when out of the water. It tastes weird but edible. Local sailors don't recognize it. Why is the sea seemingly encircling and choking off the pirate lord of Cape Veyal? What does it want?
-The sea is a mythological power, not a natural resource
-Travel to and from the island is imperilled, for everyone
- so, ambiguous, what does it want?
- human contact: The Beloved/Candle
- countdown
  • [ ] [ ]

A Cabal: The Open Hand
- No real interaction with the peasants. But while walking by the the fishers' shanties, Candle caught a dart in the neck. What will be their next outrage?
- radical fisher-folk, peasant sailor secret society
- paradoxically, they hate those who profit from secrets (death to The Order of The Torch!)
- human contact: Lord Veyal
- countdown
  • [ ] [ ]

A Power: ________
- It has been at work. You just don't know how.
- It hasn't made itself apparent.
- it was We Silence, but we never went far into it
- countdown [ ] [ ] [ ]

Erik Weissengruber

  • Member
  • Posts: 82
Re: [SCUP Playtest] Pirates of Cape Veyal
« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2015, 11:08:58 AM »
Man o man, do failed rolls allow me to go bananas.

Two simultaneous failures by characters in the same locale allowed me to double down on consequences.

The Voice and the Bloodletter were trying to read each other. Both failed, dreadfully.

So they were

- surrounded by enemies
- cut off
- warned about a bad future
- made to look foolish

It turns out that the rebel peasants faction had been let into the castle, they had sealed off the exits from the chamber where the Bloodletter had been experimenting on corpses.

It was great: the two wary characters spending a lot of time sussing each other out before making a move. Then mutual enemies catch them unawares. The wages of over-planning is (possibly) massive trust.

There is no real way to turtle up and stay secure in the game.

Now, some players have tried. There is a certain kind of disfunctional "I do this, I do that, and before the session I had this plan in place": I feel apprehensive because all that "playing before playing" does not guarantee results." The player takes it really badly when the scheming does not quite pay off. My feeling is that in a conspiratorial game like this, you are better off getting closer to your goal and failing rather than trying to make sure you do moves with no unpredictable consequences. The player seems to be running headfirst against the system and missing the other kinds of Rewards available.

If you don't find doing a whole bunch of cool shit but then being baffled by the forces of fate, you will be disappointed by the game. It's not about making the perfect plan come together. The game will not allow you to do that. Luck might (although do the math: if you are hoping to roll 10+ results on 2d6, .17 x .17 x .17 x.17 isn't going to add up to a 50/50 chance of the master scheme coming together as you envision because ... there is no ADDING going on). But this isn't a lethal combo of Pokemon cards backing up your Mega EX Silverfoil Super Rare creature.

So I have 3 players watching a 1st go through these contortions and doing all this random "look at me, I'm sneaky" planning and not interacting with them.