Smoke and Oakum is the first supplement for the Corsairs RPG; and delves into the world of Sky Ships and sailing the skies of the Molten Seas.
In it you will be able to find rules and guidelines covering:
The effects of fair weather or challenging winds.
Rules for encounters with storms, shoals, and more of the dangers that can foul a sky ship.
Guidelines for running a crew or factions within a crew on board a ship.
6 new Conditions that can have a serious impact on a ship and it’s crew.
Rules for chases which expand on the recommendations in the core rules, and include bonuses and setbacks for starting a chase at a lower or higher level than the target ship.
A ship may gain a Reputation, or be upgraded, and there are a range of upgrade options from a Figurehead to larger cannons all of which can make a ship better, more fearsome, or more dangerous.
Two collections of stat blocks for enemies a Corsair Sky Ship might face off against, one titled ‘Sails Ho’, and the other ‘Here There Be Dragons’…
Sitting at 32 pages from front cover to back cover Smoke and Oakum is almost as big as the core rules.
Of course, Smoke and Oakum also includes more of Felicity Haworth’s wonderful art, and I hope you love how she has brought the world to life as much as I do!
Also included is a new and updated Ship Sheet, including room for marking a ship’s Point of Sail, details on the Crew, and other sections to accommodate the added rules in Smoke and Oakum. There is a page of Condition Cards, which may be printed and cut out to help track the conditions player characters or a ship might be suffering from at any given time. As well as a faction sheet, for play groups who want to delve into the murky waters of a conflicted crew.
Smoke and Oakum is a supplement that adds new material geared toward making your play experience as Corsairs sailing their infamous sky ships a more interesting, dramatic, and exciting experience!
I started developing Corsairs as an idea back in the middle of 2019. I wanted to make a game that mingled the ideas of pirates and freedom fighters; rebellious sorts who wanted to strike a blow for freedom against the machinations of heartless Empires. Tropes common enough in modern takes on pirates in film and TV. So the setting was born, and the game systems evolved from that. I might take some time in another post to talk about the evolution of the mechanics, but today I want to talk about the game itself, as a thing, and about ZineQuest in general.
In 2019 I started a Patreon, with the idea that I would make a series of micro-games and people would flock to my Patreon, and… no. Not really. I started a Patreon, and released a few smaller games through that, and subsequently on DriveThruRPG and Itch.io. You can find them on the ‘Our Games‘ page if you’re curious. Corsairs was originally intended to be a part of that, one small game in among many. But… As I designed these smaller games they grew… Freedom or Toaster was the first, and each game subsequently grew a little… Part of that was the idea that I would have ‘exclusive content’ in the Patreon version, while the base game would be on DTRPG and Itch. As I was writing the beginnings of what would become Corsairs it was already becoming a ‘larger thing’.
Then Kickstarter announced it would be doing ZineQuest again. ZineQuest was a thing I wanted to do. A thing I wanted to challenge myself to do. I had a choice. I could develop a new game specifically for the ZineQuest, or I could continue to develop, test, and make Corsiars into that game. I was honestly torn. Corsairs had already had a bit of work, and if I had pushed I could have quite easily released that and done something else for ZineQuest. It’s not like I’m lacking in ideas.
I decided not to do two things almost at once. Running a Kickstarter for the first time, actually writing, getting art, laying out, printing, and shipping a game would be enough work. I’m glad I chose to focus on Corsairs, because it gave me time. I had time to finish the game rules in September and November of 2019. And that gave me time to do a ton of research into all the things I didn’t know I needed to know for producing a game. Writing one I could handle, producing one, that was new. I’m glad I gave myself time, because there was a lot to learn.
So I decided to do ZineQuest, and that changed things. It changed a lot of things. What was going to be a coloured A4 PDF needed to be a two tone A5 booklet. What would that even look like? What is imposition? What size envelope would it need? How much would that cost? I made some early prototypes, just to get a feel of what size it would be and how much it might weigh. Would it be under 50g? That would make shipping very affordable! More than 50g and the price nearly quadruples. Australia, woo!
What would I do for art? How much art? How much is art? What rights and rules are there around using art? All of these were things to consider. I drew the first cover, it was the image that I used for the Kickstarter. I knew I wanted to get a professional artist to work their magic, but that was only something I could afford to organise if the Kickstarter was a success, it was only something that could happen if I met the funding goal, and then the stretch goal for professional art. Thankfully it did.
With the rules already written and tested, I could spend the latter part of December and January preparing for the Kickstarter, researching, working on costs, and trying to nut out a plan of how I was going to actually run the Kickstarter itself. This involved a lot of emails to artists, to people who had previously run Kickstarters, and looking back at the games that were released in the last ZineQuest. I knew the ‘rules’ of ZineQuest stipulated two tone, saddle-stitched booklet or loose pages, and a few other conditions, but I also knew that plenty of the games that had been in the 2019 ZineQuest had broken those rules with impunity. There was colour galore and a few hardbacks in there too. Still, I wanted to do the thing, and I wanted to stick by the guidelines, for 2020 at least. I could, maybe even should have had a colour cover as a stretch goal, but I love what it looks like now, so I’m happy.
How things change… Corsairs grew from what was to be a small micro-rpg released on Patreon to a 36 page saddle-stitched booklet with professional art funded through the Kickstarter promotion of ZineQuest.
INSERT OBLIGATORY PLUG: If you don’t have a copy of Corsairs you can fix that by heading to DriveThruRPG or Itch.io. If you missed the Kickstarter and are interested in a physical copy of the zine, there are still some physical copies left, contact me at email@example.com for details. END OBLIGATORY PLUG.
Running the Kickstarter for ZineQuest was a great learning curve and a wonderful experience. I won’t pretend it wasn’t a lot of work. It was. I won’t pretend I didn’t spend a lot of hours writing updates, comments, getting the word out there, pushing, pushing, pushing. I did. But it was worth it. Not terribly worth it from a financial point of view – that might be the subject of a later post. But worth the experience. It was a learning curve, and I did a lot of things I had never done before. I commissioned art and got to work with a wonderful artist, Felicity Haworth. I got to buy a large quantity of envelopes after working out which ones were the right size. I got to lay a document out, and decorate it with ink spatters and mess. I got to price shipping for the UK, the US, Iran, and China. I got to work out costings, incoming and outgoing, and then hope like crazy I hadn’t made some egregious mistake in there somewhere. I got to communicate and interact with a huge number of zine fans and indie TTRPG folx. All of it was a great experience, and yes I would do it again. Yes, I am planning on doing it again.
If you are at all interested in running a Kickstarter, or participating in the ZineQuest, I have tried to keep a record of many of the helpful sites, links, and online posts on the ZineQuest page here. These helped me greatly. There are also links to the articles I have written on this blog, charting my thoughts, plans and experiences. Articles I plan to continue with, and will continue to link there.
So final thoughts? If you’ve ever considered writing and making an RPG ZineQuest is well worth trying out. Check out the ZineQuest page on this site, and do your research. It is a lot of fun, and well worth doing.
Smoke and Oakum is the first supplement for the Corsairs RPG, and delves into the subject of Sky Ships and sailing the skies of the Molten Seas.
Sitting at 32 pages from front cover to back cover it is almost as big as the core rules, and covers a lot of ground. In it you will be able to find rules and suggestions covering a slew of topics, from the effects of fair weather or challenging winds, to rules for encounters with storms, shoals, and more of the dangers that can foul a sky ship. There are guidelines for running a crew or factions within a crew on board a ship. 6 new Conditions that can have a serious impact on a ship and it’s crew. There are rules for chases which expand on the recommendations in the core rules, and include bonuses and setbacks for starting a chase at a lower or higher level than the target ship. A ship may gain a Reputation, or be upgraded, and there are a range of upgrade options from a Figurehead to larger cannons all of which can make a ship better, more fearsome, or more dangerous. Of course, Smoke and Oakum also includes more of Felicity Haworth’s wonderful art, and I hope you love how she has brought the world to life as much as I do!
Also included are two sets of stat blocks for enemies a Corsair Sky Ship might face off against, one titled ‘Sails Ho’, and the other ‘Here There Be Dragons’, and I’ll leave it to you to imagine what might be covered in the second!
At the back of the book is a new and updated Ship Sheet, including room for marking a ship’s Point of Sail, details on the Crew, and other sections to accommodate the added rules in the book. Lastly there is a page of Condition Cards, which may be printed and cut out to help track the conditions player characters or a ship might be suffering from at any given time. In short, Smoke and Oakum is a supplement that adds a lot of new material, all of it geared toward making your play experience as Corsairs sailing their infamous sky ships a more interesting, and nuanced experience. I am really thrilled with how Smoke and Oakum has come together, and I hope anyone who snags a copy of Smoke and Oakum will get a lot from the book!
I expect Smoke and Oakum to be available from DriveThruRPG and Itch.io within the next ten days, and I’m really excited to read what people think!
Speaking of which… if you have a copy of Corsairs consider heading to DriveThruRPG or Itch.io and giving it a rating or review, these things really help, and are very much appreciated! If you missed the Kicksarter and are interested in a physical copy of the zine, there are still some copies left from the print run, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for details. I am looking at a bunch of options to allow me to sell physical and digital products online at the moment, but I haven’t made any decisions on that front just yet.
Phew… So what’s next? Well, I am currently working away at Speed, Strength, and Wits, which will take a look at characters in the same way Smoke and Oakum took a look at Sky Ships and sailing. Beyond that… who knows. I am working on an adventure at the moment that I may just write up and put up for sale, and I have a half a dozen things I would have liked to include in Smoke and Oakum but just wasn’t able to fit in. If there is interest, I am keen to keep developing the Corsairs world!
Beyond Corsairs I am working on a new RPG setting and system that I was hoping to launch later this year, but which I may just hold on to in anticipation of next year’s ZineQuest (presuming Kickstarter run it again). I am really digging the theme and world I am currently developing, so we’ll see how it progresses!
Corsairs has been shipped. After receiving everything, my wife and I spent a couple of days packaging the games up, printing labels, and preparing, and today I took them to the post office and off they went…
It was a surreal and uplifting feeling, handing them over in their stacks – this stack to Aussie addresses, this stack to the UK and Europe, this to the US… but it is done! I do not doubt there will be delays, given the pandemic sweeping the globe everything has slowed down and mail is one of those things that has been impacted, but the journey has begun!
Shipping, all added together, was the most expensive part of making Corsairs. Over a quarter of the money made from the Kickstarter went toward paying for shipping costs. I would have loved to have been able to charge less, but shipping from (and to) Australia is expensive. It was one of the reasons I had both a PDF and physical option on the Kickstarter, and I was honestly surprised that far more people wanted a physical copy, than backed for the PDF only. I have to admit that I really like having a physical copy of my games and books myself, so I shouldn’t be that surprised! I really hope that when Corsairs arrives you enjoy it. That you enjoy reading it, enjoy the feel and look of it, and enjoy playing it.
If you get the chance, please consider heading over to DriveThruRPG or Itch.io and give the game a rating; ratings and reviews help immensely!
In any case, with that out of the way I am now focused fully on Smoke and Oakum. The final draft is mostly written, so things are getting close! I am hoping to have Smoke and Oakum out by the end of August, but we shall see how we go! The art is in, and it’s looking amazing. I can’t wait for you to see it!
I’ll be writing a bit more about Smoke and Oakum in the next update, until then I wish you a fair wind!
Delayed by plague and slow winds, the ship has taken a little longer to deliver it’s cargo to port than anticipated, but I am thrilled to announce that everything for Corsairs has now landed! From books and envelopes, to everything else required. We will take a little time to assemble the cargo for distribution among the new inhabitants of the isle of Teboa, but it will be done quickly, and shipping will begin next week!
I anticipate that the time it will take for packages to leave the customs house here and wend their way to your doors will take a little extra time given the current state of events, but hopefully it won’t be too long delayed!
Printed by Mixam, Corsairs has a lovely feel to it, with a laminate cover and silk finish paper for the interior. I am thrilled with how everything has come together, including the wonderful art by Felicity Haworth. This game has been a lot of fun to write, and I hope those of you who get a chance to play it, enjoy it as much as I have.
So what is next? Well, the next week or so will involve me finally shipping out the physical copies of Corsairs to backers. I am hard at work on the follow up supplements: Smoke and Oakum, and Speed, Strength, and Wits. I am really loving some of the stuff that is in those supplements, and I hope they manage to add a bunch of flavour to your games. I’ll be able to show off a little more on the supplements very soon!
If you’re interested in Corsairs, you can get a digital copy on DriveThruRPG and Itch.io, the downloads include the core book, a character sheet, ship sheet, and rules summary sheets for the characters rules and the ship rules.
There are still some physical copies of Corsairs available, so if you have the digital version, and would like a physical copy, you can still get them, I’m in the process of setting up a store here at Caradoc Games, but until then you can email me here!
It’s been a little while since I wrote about anything other than my latest game: Corsairs, but other things have been happening as well!
In the last few months three new source books have been released as a part of the Infinity: The Role Playing Game line. Going back over my spread sheets, across the three latest source books I wrote 7 chapters, totaling a little more than 53,000 words. It’s nice to finally see them released!
I have to say the cover art for these books is fantastic, and I am immensely proud to have contributed to all three of these source books. With the number of books left to produce from the Kickstarter dwindling, I wonder how long I’ll be working on Infinity. I can’t say at this stage, but I have enjoyed my time exploring and helping to expand this universe!
Soldiers of fortune, bodyguards, pirates, cut-throats, and heroes. The worst villains and the greatest heroes of the G5 can all be found in this great melting pot of freelancing warriors. From the flickering bulbs of Novyy Bangkok’s fighting pits to the luxuriant skyscrapers of San Pietro, there is always someone willing to pay for their problems to be met with belt-fed subtlety and under-barrel discretion. Lone wolves, invisible techno-pirates, and even squads of murdering reavers, the mercenaries of the Human Sphere follow age-old traditions and work for the highest bidder, adapting and using all the latest technologies. Strangers to the ideals of patriotic love or loyalty, hard cash—or even better, solid quantronic credit accounts!—is the way to their hearts, and even more cash is the key to their loyalty.
From the construction of the first orbital elevator to the ongoing conflict in Paradiso, many factions have turned to mercenaries for cost-effective violence and intimidation. Whether escorting doctors and refugees out of Ghezirah, providing close protection for paranoid executives across Neoterra, or brutally resolving a miner’s strike in Human’s Edge, the mercenaries of the Human Sphere will take your money and get the job done. Never have mercenaries been in higher demand thanks to the political situation in the various theatres of the Sphere, and both Hypercorps and G5 governments employ the services of these soldiers for hire. Sometimes in the open, sometimes undercover, it seems these lords of war are a necessity in the power games of the future.
But the life of a merc isn’t all bullets, venture onto the War Market where the cold and pragmatic business of war has never been so civilized. Meet Free Company Captains and review their units according to their performance both in the battle and in Maya. Your preferred company may be cost effective, but are they giving their extra with the WarCors and livestreams? Because in the Human Sphere, everything is about how good you look to the public!
The 114-page full colour Mercenaries PDF Sourcebook includes:
Information on six of the major mercenary companies in the Human Sphere plus independent units such as the glamorous Foreign Company, the despicable Ikari, the discreet Spiral Corps, and the formidable Dahshat Company.
Rules and guidelines to develop your own career in the War Market, plus Lifepaths for Warmongers, Wardrivers, Recruiters, Arms Dealers, and others.
Weapons, equipment, and vehicles to kit your up-and-coming mercenary troops in order to fulfil their latest contract including antitank weapons, supplies, enhancement drugs, and pulpibeer!
Detailed rules on how to create your own Free Company and play a campaign focused on mercenaries.
We have fun, games and the bloodiest war in the Human Sphere! One of the most fertile planets known, living in this angry planet is a test for the hardiest settlers and warriors. Keep your wits about you or the jungle, its inhabitants or something worse will swallow you whole in an instant.
Hiding a tragic and terrible past, Paradiso is home to dark secrets and intrigue. Even before the NeoColonial Wars, the jungle planet has been the theatre of brutal conflict, destined to loom through the histories of numerous civilisations, human and alien alike. Never have the stakes been so high for Paradiso is the grandest trophy in the Sphere. Not only for the vast wealth offered by the system itself but with wormholes connecting to two alien powers, Paradiso is a Rubicon that if lost would lead to the Downfall of the Human Sphere.
Fame, glory and fortune wait for those brave or foolhardy enough to risk the dangers of Paradiso, so gear up and don’t miss the next Orbital Elevator planet side! Join the Human Sphere’s mightiest warriors and try to stop the Evolved Intelligence’s onslaught or lose yourself in populous cities under siege while you try to figure out who the infiltrated spy is feeding information to your enemies. Make sure you bring all your best equipment and don’t forget your bathing suit, for things are about to get hot in the Meat Grinder also known as Paradiso.
The Paradiso Sourcebook includes:
Information on Paradiso system, from the binary stars Nakula and Sahadeva to Orgoglio and Purgatorio asteroid fields, intriguing planets like Virgil, Dante, Ugolino, Beatrice and more!
Details on the current situation in the Paradiso theatre, the race for the last known Cosmolite in the planet and the truth behind the Penny Arcade.
Rules and guidelines to play your own Paradiso based campaigns including jungle warfare, terrain and the background of all three Combined Army Offensives in the system!
Weapons, equipment and vehicles to prepare for your jungle escapades: caltrops, machetes, flamethrowers, jammers and missiles! Lots of missiles!
Detailed rules on how to organize encounters in the dark jungles of Paradiso, wicked bandar-logs, cauchemar cats, nematodes, yorogumo. Brutal vegetation and deadly fauna are just some few of the dangers the paradise planets holds for you!
From the darkest reaches of the galaxy, an implacable tyrant looms slowly and inexorably, searching for intelligent races, studying them, contacting them, and ultimately absorbing them. Behold the Evolved Intelligence, an alien virtual entity bent on achieving the godlike state known as Transcendence. To reach its objective, the EI will use every tactic and strategy necessary to increase its almost infinite knowledge of the universe. This includes shrewd political alliances, peaceful unification, and where necessary, all-out war.
The Combined Army sourcebook gives players the opportunity to approach the Paradiso conflict from the other side and GMs a vast array of information to better understand the implacable enemy of the Human sphere.
This 112 page PDF features:
History of the Combined Army, the different races composing it, their strategies, armed divisions, and the terrible secrets of this ever growing empire. • Details on the true nature and origins of the Combined Army’s omnipresent leader—the feared and worshipped Evolved Intelligence. Learn about its drives, ambitions, and trepidations! • Rules and guidelines to play several of the Combined Army’s warrior races! From the violent Morat, to the cruel Shasvastii, vengeful Sygmaa, and traitorous humans! • Weapons, equipment, Voodoo Tech, and more! Enough gear to wage war on those who would dare turn their backs to the EI and the Transcendence project!
A little later today the files for Corsairs will be heading off to the printer. At this point, everything is set in stone. I am nervous, and excited. Once printing is finished we will begin the process of fulfilling the physical copies of Corsairs!
In other news, progress on the follow up zines has been slow, but ongoing. There are some fun new things for Ships and Sailing in the upcoming release Smoke and Oakum, and expanded options for characters and development that I think add some nice features in Speed, Strength, and Wits. Felicity has completed the art for Smoke and Oakum, and it is looking fantastic! I am really impressed with the work she has done to help bring life and energy to Corsairs, I’m sure you will agree.
It’s been a chaotic time, from a bush fires to a pandemic, to social upheaval. Given these very real and very important events I have felt that trying to push and market Corsairs in this time is insensitive to those issues. So Corsairs sits, at the moment, slowly ticking away. I have been pleased to see Corsairs gather a few more sales on DriveThru and Itch, and hopefully this continues with the release of Smoke and Oakum. I am considering developing and writing a mini-campaign for Corsairs to supplement the line, but that will depend on how the follow up zines progress. Beyond that, there are a few more games in development that will either see light later this year, or be more fully realised for 2021, perhaps as a part of the ZineQuest then, if it runs again.
I know I have been quiet of late, but things have been ticking along. I hope to shift back to posting more regularly soon…
Corsairs hit DriveThruRPG and Itch.io on June 2nd, and has since been downloaded 348 times across both platforms. There have been a few extra sales, which has been nice, but almost all of them have been downloaded by Kickstarter Backers.
If you are a backer, and have not received your email, please reach out and let me know!
So what’s with the seven bells? Bells were a way of keeping time on a ship at sea, bell times were used not just to signal the passage of time, but eight bells would signal the end of a four hour watch…
So seven bells?
I left Corsairs ‘open’ for a period of time after the digital rewards were fulfilled. The object was to gather any feedback or corrections, and to generally ensure Corsairs was as tight as it could be before sending it off to the printers. That time is fast approaching. There are but a few days remaining before I ‘close’ Corsairs, and send the files off to the printers.
This is exciting, daunting, and generally thrilling moment, as I take a step I have never taken before – to send something off to be printed, and prepare for the fulfillment of the physical rewards.
This means of course, that the window to get in any feedback is fast closing. If you have had a chance to look at Corsairs, and have noticed any embarrassing slip ups or mistakes, please let me know at email@example.com using the subject line: Corsairs Errata. I have had some feedback already, and it has been much appreciated!
So with the seven bells rung out, we wait the approach of eight bells and the changing of the watch… Corsairs will be sent to the printers, and the next stage of our little Kickstarter will begin in earnest!
#BlackLivesMatter, and protesters are doing the work of heros and champions. But because people on the other side of riot shields and barricades don’t get that, sometimes people get arrested, and that sucks. So this is A Charitable Aid Bundle, the proceeds from which will go to bail funds and other causes related to the BLM movement and the protests for real change on streets all around the world.
All of these amazing indie TTRPG creators have kindly donated their work to the cause. Please buy these games, spread the word, and give back to the community!
All proceeds go to Bail Funds for Protesters, which is splitting all donations between bail funds in cities across the United States.
Earlier this week I wrote some of my own thoughts on the current situation in a Kickstarter update, which I am adding below:
2020 has seen us gripped by fires, a pandemic, and now I watch what is unfolding in the US… The Black Lives Matter movement that has risen so loudly, defiantly, and powerfully in the US is a storm of energy pent up over generations of abuse and a power differential unfairly weighted against black people. As a white man, I have no context for what this feels like, what this means, and the weight with which it is felt every day. As an Australian I know that Indigenous Australians have suffered too, and continue to suffer a loss of culture, land, language, and self that can never be repaid. I hope this movement in the US brings about positive social change, and I hope it will have ripple effects around the world, not least in my country.
Over the coming weekend there are going to be protests across my country in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, and with a voice that echoes that of the black American community in calling for awareness and change in how Indigenous Australians are treated here in Australia. These protests are going ahead in many states despite some state Governments asking for them not to proceed, threatening fines, and declaring them illegal. I do not know how they will proceed, or what the result will be, but I hope the end result is change.
We are a stronger society together than divided.
Indie Games for Bail Funds has currently raised over $1000 USD, and while that may not be a huge amount, it is something. In that bundle are a host of games, up to 37 items all told, including some wonderful, lavish, and expensive games, reduced and available on sale, with all proceeds going to a fantastic cause. I thoroughly recommend checking it out, and once again, you can find the link here.
Corsairs has set sail! After the Kickstarter launch as a part of the ZineQuest in February, backers have finally been sent their digital copies of the Corsairs RPG! Before hitting send I was a mix of nervous and excited, immediately afterwards elated and relieved! Corsairs has been released!
Corsairs is a role playing game zine containing the full rules for character creation, and character actions, as well as for ships and sailing the skies of the Molten Seas. Scattered throughout is background information on the floating islands, and the setting of Corsairs, as well as wonderful art from Felicity Haworth. When you buy Corsairs you will also get separate files for the character sheet, the ship sheet, and two rules reference sheets.
If you get a copy, please consider leaving a rating or review!
For the next two weeks I’ll be gathering feedback and questions on Corsairs, before I send the files off to be printed. I’m excited, and I hope anyone who gets a copy enjoys reading and playing the game half as much as I did writing and developing it!