Actual Play – Pirates in a Wicked PTA (10/25/2014)

In A Wicked PTAPlayers: Justin Evans, Sean Nittner, Dennis Jordan, Kristin Hayworth, Eric Fattig, Eric Bohr, and Bill Miller
System: In a Wicked PTA

I tried to describe this game (system) to Avery McDaldno and it started like this. “Oh, it uses In a Wicked Age Oracles, but with Prime Time Adventures characters and resolution mechanics…but we flip cards one at a time and each card flip includes some of the narration, and we used best interests in from IaWA instead of Issues, and each scene you frame can’t include your character so you act as a director like in Durance, and we use the Element Ownership rules from Archipelago, epilogues from Fiasco, and everybody creates a character to contribute to the group pool , and, and… oh, I guess this is just some hacked together game that Justin made. It works really well!”

We decided on using the Pirates Oracle and from it we drew four oracles that started us with this situation.

  • A drunk shipwright who betrayed his captain lost at sea with only a half full barrel of run to keep him afloat.
  • An aboriginal slave owner who sold out out to the parliamentary government providing cotton and tobacco from the sweat and labor of his slaves.
  • A young girl orphaned in a seaside port, overlooked by all. Enough so that she had obtained an enchanted necklace from the Sea Witch, left behind by someone carelessly.
  • A ship captain, betrayed by his carpenter to the parliament and now carrying slaves for them through waters only he knows how to traverse. Either the slaves make it safely to the plantation or his wife and children will be jailed.
  • A sea witch, supposedly enraged that her necklace was stolen, but in reality had cursed the seas in a rage from a lover that had besmirched her.
  • Said lover, a noble and foppish swashbuckler without a care who brought ruin to those around him.
  • A slave who was the leader of her people in captivity. They had been led by her sister who fought of the parliamentary government and were punished for it. When her sister was murdered the other captives turned to her for leadership. Locked up in a ship hull she plotted for her revenge and all of her people’s freedom.
  • A local officer trying to keep the peace in a harbor full of pirates.

After making the characters and giving each of them an edge, we each selected a character to play (which I made the rule could not be the one we thought of) and then added additional edges or connections. We then settled on a few domains that needed an authority. We decided on the sea, the supernatural, the government, and the indigenous slaves.

We each picked a best interest that was a direct attack against someone else. Some of those were vicious. Someone was going to die, be deposed, or otherwise have their life take a serious downturn before the game was done!

The Play Is the Thing

As we had so many players (seven people is A LOT of players for me these days) we just did one round of scenes (still seven scenes) and then capped it off with an epilogue.

The Captain got free of the governments grip on him. The carpenter failed to take the ship and now a worthless drunk. The slaves smuggled weapons into their holding cell and when they were delivered to the island attacked the few guards their and claimed island of their own. The slave owner was killed. The necklace was returned to the sea witch but as the thing she really wanted was companionship, that’s not all she kept.

Good times. For some at least.

Thoughts on the game

Neither Bill nor Eric Bohr normally play RPGs. I think they’ve each played one game before and didn’t remember much of it. I loved that in this game they thrived. Part of was the rules mechanics being very simple. Describe your actions until you reach a point of conflict and then flip a few cards to see who wins. I also think it helps that at a table where only two or three characters are active in a scene we had four or five people contributing as various authorities, helping the players articulate their stakes in a conflict, or otherwise adding content (even if it was just a bit of description) to the scene.

Justin’s system has everything but the kitchen sink thrown in. It’s got narrative and mechanical systems that are cobbled together from a bunch of games, and it works great. Specifically using the oracles, doing collaborative character creation, and having each player open a scene that doesn’t include their character, directs the players to be invested in each other and in characters in the story besides themselves. I super dig it.

Getting a bunch of people to play an RPG during a bachelor party is awesome! Also we did it for Extra life as part of their 24 hour game-a-thon that just so happened to be on the same weekend as my party woot. Shameless plug I forgot to do during the twitters: If you want to support us (retroactively) here’s the site to do it:


3 thoughts on “Actual Play – Pirates in a Wicked PTA (10/25/2014)”

    1. Thanks. I didn’t find the stack but I sat at my dinner table and looked around me remembering where everyone sat and then what character they were playing (as best I could). I’m still missing a bunch of details but I think I got the gist of it.

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