So, this first weekend in December, we played another round of Beat to Quarters, the roleplaying game where you live out all your Horatio Hornblower fantasies (yes, including those fantasies – there’s a seduction skill).
Since this is the first mention (although not new to us), I’ll give the overview of Beat to Quarters: you’re in the English Navy between 1776 and 1820. All the players take a role on the ship, and abstractly, the ship lives through the players; unless needed to keep the ship from sinking, you use player stats for all sailing, gunnery, etc. tests. Tests are achieved by drawing from a deck of cards to determine success; it’s “diceless,” but not free of chance.
For the past several sessions, players have been sailors (mostly officers, really) on the HMS Tartar, a real ship which actually had some interesting adventures (although it missed Trafalgar, which I’m sure most Beat to Quarters players want to do). We started in mid-1803, and this adventure probably finished off the year with a diplomatic mission to newly-independent Haiti.
We’re old hands at Beat to Quarters now, so I thought I’d try a slightly sandbox-y adventure instead of having a more formulaic series of missions as the game asks for (read: did not prepare for adventure this week). This didn’t turn out as well as planned, as without the mission dividers, there’s no way for characters to advance unless they design their own mini-missions, which my players are always loath to do. So it was a lot of wandering around and drawing cards, but no real payoff at the end (other than that maybe one of the midshipmen players will try to advance to lieutenant next adventure).
Still, fun was had by all, despite numerous failures at various skills. Also, unlike our previous adventures, the sailors were not spending a large portion of the time trying to seduce people. Not to say they didn’t think about it. I blame the rum.