Oct 212009

Swashbucklers of the 7 skies
by Chad Underkoffler
ISBN: 978-0-9771534-5-9


A beautiful book. The rule book is an eclectic collection of quotes neatly wrapped by an unconventional system of rules. The setting is what I want to write about, briefly. The setting is where some players will stare agog and others will cackle and neatly fit themselves in. It is very much a strange place.

The world is a snow globe divided into different zones or “skies”. All extant land  is made up of floating islands which are governed by nations of various styles. These islands slowly travel around a column of fire which acts as a sun. The various zones act as seasons. All travel is by flying ship or giant omnivorous parrot. I’d characterize the setting as flamboyant. A good match for the swashbuckling musketeer motif.

I don’t want to do to much review here as the full scope and setting of this book must be read to be understood. I’d rather let my Actual Play set the tone.

Actual Play: Swashbucklers of the Seven Skies

The book is littered with Star Wars allusions. In keeping with this my player wanted to create a Jedi knight type character. The rule set facilitated this easily.

The ancient order of the Jodai knights sends one of its young acolytes to act as a spy and gather information on anything strange that may indicate the activities of the Dread Lords of the Seething Isles. The acolyte Ikari Mamiil, a Jodai knight of the Zultanate, sets herself up as a trader on Crail. She spends many days establishing herself and strikes up a business relationship with an innkeeper named Rum Bob. Rum Bob points out a group of Crailish sailors. He claims they have a monster story she might like. The sailors are arguing with one of their number about a strange man in red and blue who may or may not have been guiding a giant sky shark. His crewmates  insist he had been hitting the rum too hard. They are interrupted by three Ilwuzii pirates with a beef. Apparently, their ship was destroyed as they were attempting to loot the Crail vessel. Ikari succeeds in getting them seriously drunk on Rum Bob’s “special” rum. There is much bonding and it is quickly discovered that Ikari is quite wealthy and in need of a crew to find this shark. She is quickly elected captain. The two wrecked vessels are quickly looted for parts to create a small fast vessel Ikari dubs the “Shark’s Bane.”

She tells her crew that they will be hunting tree hoppers in the jungle sky for a profit. This area is also nearby where the two ships were attacked. Ikari and another crew member climb into a grove of wheel trees with the intent of flushing some tree hoppers into some quickly handcrafted sticky vine web nets using smoke from a torch and a noisemaker.

Ikari and “Little” Bob are quickly attacked by blue men who seem to be extremely irate. She uses Jodai knight mental powers (Gift of the Basilisk) to create the illusion of a giant shark behind herself. The blue men savages quickly run in terror leaving Little Bob none the wiser. The terror of the blue men flushes many tree hoppers into the nets of the Shark’s Bane.

As they attempt to leave the trees, a wandering explorer named Sir Regivald Movisu hails them from a small cloud ship skiff. He cunningly questions Ikari and Little Bob about what they are doing and where they will be going with their cargo. Ikari wonders how Sir Regivald came to be so deep in the jungle sky without a larger, better-provisioned vessel. Sir Regivald claims that he is only scouting around trying to learn more about the blue men. Ikari wishes him luck and she and Little Bob return to the Shark’s Bane. Once on board they learn of the immense load of snapping tree hoppers they have captured and Ikari orders her crew to set sail for Crail. Almost no time later, the Shark’s Bane comes upon a wreck. The vessel show signs of having been rammed by something big. A team of crew go aboard to find survivors. Ikari believes that this may be Sir Regivald’s ship. Her crew returns with a giant shark tooth and no survivors. Oddly, they also found evidence of cannon damage. Ikari decides to continue on to the Sea of Stones, but as the Shark’s Bane is moving away a massive sky shark bursts from a wheel tree grove and attacks.

The shark is immense and has a blue wood platform bristling with cannons chained to its back. Standing in blue and scarlet near the shark’s head is Sir Regivald the Seething Lord. The shark attacks the Shark’s Bane. Ikari orders her crew to load cannon and turn to fire on the shark. The first volley catches the shark in an unarmored section by a lucky shot. The shark’s return fire damages more crew than ship. Ikari orders her crew to reload and turn for another firing resolution. Ikari sacrifices some of her crew’s advantages to provide a sniper in her crow’s nest a clear shot at Sir Regivald while she concentrates her Gift of the Basilisk on breaking the Seething Lord’s hold over his mount. In an amazing display of random chance, luck favors her and Sir Regivald is shot as she simultaneously disrupted his control of the shark. The shark tears away into the jungle attempting to scrape the blue men gun crew off its back and eat them. Ikari’s search party finds no survivors but they do find Sir Regivald’s journal in a black metal box. He claims to have perfected an alchemical formula for the enlarging of wildlife. He mentions a special project for which he is raising money by using a giant shark for pirate attacks. Ikari vows to cure the shark so that the Seething Lords cannot use it for their evil plans. She warns the Jodai council that she believes that the lords of the Seething Isle are using alchemical formulae to create giant monsters to raise money for some terrible purpose. Her crew remains clueless as to her true identity. Though Little Bob has his suspicions, the rest of the crew has already caught him with more than his fair share of rum and so doesn’t listen to him. Ikari manages to trade her catch for a princely sum. The crew is more than happy to continue in her employ.

Pros: Extremely flexible system, amazing level of setting detail, clear examples of play.

Cons: No index, difficult to run as solo adventure.

Ikari Mamiil, Jodai Knight Spy

Foible: Jodai code of honor

Motivation: Honor (+2) Good

Nationality:  Colronan Zultanate (+2) Good

Past: Water harvester (+2) Good

Swashbuckling Forte: Jodai Knight (+2) Good


Gift of the Basilisk (+2) Good

Gift of the Pegasus (+2) Good

Gift of the Merhorse (+2) Good

Techniques: Idiom: Precision, Maneuver: Parry, Weapon: Saber, Vs:Lords of Seething Isle (Seeth Lords), Situation: Honor Bound

after the adventure she picked up the Ephemera: Skyship Captain (+2) Good

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