Ocean Privateer (2015)

Ocean Privateer (2015)

– Naval combat game
– Build your own ship from various materials and pieces
— Build basic floorplan, number of “squares” available depends on class of ship
— Add items like sails, oars, ladders, barrels, swivel guns, cannons, etc.
— Also add “rooms” or “stations”, which are preset and provide a function, ie: Doctor’s Table to heal, etc.
– Get a crew
– Fight others on the ocean
– Set during the 17th and 18th century (Age of Discovery and Age of Sails)
– Optional expansion for Fantasy (“Age of Magic”) and Age of Steam
– Focus is on privateers and pirates, not so much on “ship of the line”
– Generally meant for 2-4 people with 1 ship each, so higher level of detail is okay

– Wind is a factor, affects you depending on your sails
– Some kind of momentum so ships turn a bit slower
– Crew can man different stations on the ship
– Crew can man guns, or fire their own weapons, or grappling hook / boarding plank across to enemy ships and fight
– Captain is very important
– Morale matters, can end in a mutiny / surrender with low enough crew morale. “Broken” crew members don’t do their duty
– Some kind of order system? Bonus command dice from Captain?
– D6 based
– Dice pool based?
– Set target numbers?
– Have XD6 > Y TN, number of successes to kill must be >= target Toughness/Grit/Sand value
– Instead of the usual X+ to hit, maybe need the EXACT number? Makes exploding 6s kind of pointless
— Could have the defender set a D6 in secret, that they want the TN to be, then the attacker chooses their own TN
— After attack reveal the defender dice, if it’s the same the defender blocks all the attacks or something?
—- Sort of introduces the bluff mechanic desired from Liar’s Dice
– Part of the problem with combat is cannons, ranged pistols, and melee need to be somewhat similar, but they’re so different
— Shooting a ship is so different from shooting a person, let alone fighting in combat
– Pistols could just shoot as part of melee, like as part of a charge in?
– One range band for each weapon
– Simultaneous close combat, both roll attack dice and compare? Winner dies? Except shooting is different then
– Perhaps resolve melee/ranged attacks all at once, since turns generally represent a longer chunk of time (since ships move slowly)
— For example shooting means the enemy can shoot back, both sides continue to do so until one decides to dive for cover?
– Need to have a fun way to attack on the ship itself, with various pieces of cover and stuff
– Maybe try to use Liar’s Dice or Pirate’s Dice for attack
– Melee could have a parry involved
– Do cannons damage blocks directly that they target, or the ship as a whole, or just stations, etc.?
– Maybe a competing D6 dice pool system, with Attack rolled vs Defense
– Exploding 6s?
– Use D&D Next style “Advantage” vs “Disadvantage” system to provide blanket modifiers, instead of specifics for cover, range, elevation, etc.
— Could also have “Advantage” to Defense, which would be cover, as compared to Disadvantage to attacker?
– Campaign system? Map based? Sail around the world? Specific goals? Sort of like the Sid Meier’s Pirates! game?
– Should have lots of crew or specialized, individual crew?
— Would also affect the detail level of the stats, and their life points
— Maybe “Quality” like Song of Blades and Heroes as compared to a full statline like Dinosaur Cowboys?
— Then other stats are decided from Quality, like Movement is set X + Quality
— Or maybe some named heroes and then a bunch of disposable mooks/henchmen?
– Maybe have some kind of traits / talent system to give to “heroes” (like the Captain) different abilities?
– Each “block” or square of floor provides hull points?
— Maybe have a split, where you CAN target floor tiles directly, or just general damage to the ship as a whole?
— Or is damage to ships done via station damage?
— Take out enemy Helm to win?
– Could draw damage directly on floor tiles with an erasable ink pen (if laminated) or pencil and eraser
– Weapons have a stat vs person/crew AND vs ship
— Maybe just number of dice, or a target number
– Fire could play a part, as could lighting sources
– Maybe onboard combat is environment based? Swinging from ropes and stuff?
– No below deck mapping, for simplicity. Maybe just have a set number of stations that can be added below deck
— Then when you walk to a staircase you can choose what station to go to
– Abstract ship design like Silent Fury is tempting, but square by square allows for more interesting combat
– Numerous environmental hazards like sharks and whales
– Weather system is important: rain, sleet, etc.
– Old sailing paintings for interior art
– Sort of some crew management like Faster Than Light, but having crew moving around and not just manning stations is important
— So maybe have more crew than stations?
– Have some kind of experience system (maybe by rank?) that provides bonus to certain jobs or to stats?
— Such as +1 Doctor meaning +1 dice or +1 to dice (depending on system used) or something, +2 Sailing, +1 Rowing, etc.
– Need different water terrain types? Whirlpools, etc.
– Maybe move ships (for all players) THEN do crew actions?
bts-coos-and-crater-0045— Could almost use X-Wing style movement system for boats?
– Hidden order system? Reveal at the same time?
— Wouldn’t really work with tons of crew though
– Maybe get a set number of orders per turn, can allocate however, including multiple to the same guy, so no need to mark activated
— Maybe orders = crew size / 2? Or 5 base orders when Captain is alive + 1 per 5 crew?
— Then just have alternating turns
– Have parrots that provide a bonus to pirate Captains
– Maybe have multiple factions, each with different Captain/hero ability trees
— Privateer, Pirate, Royal Navy, Native?
– Maybe have a high quality, low order group compared to low quality, many orders?
— Almost just Song of Blade and Heroes activation system at that point?
– Maybe “Fame” instead of experience / levels?
– Fight on a blue board with squares? Or a free form board then squares on the ship? Could be confusing switching from squares to free form (such as island terrain)
— Maybe ships are designed and then squares are removed or something? Like you design with squares or lines but free form move across them?
– Or maybe can only move between stations and not individual squares?
— Kind of kills the boarding though
– Almost need a way to use chits/counters for crew instead of minis
— So stats have to fit on a chit
— Consider what to do with weapons in this case. Maybe Heroes have stats on a sheet, or weapon cards, or something?
– Can make tiles out of different materials, and also layer/armor them
— For example Nova Scotia Timber armored with Copper
– Armor is just flat damage reduction? Or bonus to Defense?
– Have some required stations/pieces, like Helm and Bowsprit
– Free form boat movement is point-to-point via Bowsprit
– Need rules for ramming and collisions
– Cannons are guess range weapons?
– Ships have two movement values, first/second, and ships alternate moving these. So Player 1 First, P2 First, P1 second, P2 second. This is to split up a giant 15″ movement and give the opponent a chance to react
— Or maybe have Phased Movement, with fast ships moving in 4 phases, bigger ships in less phases, etc.
— Phased Movement dependant on motive, such as sail vs rowing
– 4’x3′ or 4’x4′ table. Base ship movement 10″? Generally want big movements with lots of outflanking and circling options
— Armor based on facing to give a bonus when attacking from certain angles
– Could have a reaction system, where players can spend 2 order tokens to interrupt and do their own thing after the enemy has acted
— Need a way to change the “active player” though, maybe just when they are out of orders or choose to pass (maybe save some orders to react)
– Maybe have different “Ages” in the same game, to control when/what equipment is available
— For example you can play Age of Steam, and use everything up to that point, or Age of Discovery, and have less tech
— Basically like Battletech pre/post Clan
– Maybe have the Captain and Ship on the roster sheet, with little tokens for henchmen
— Maybe mark each ability on the ship based on station?
– Other option is hex map ocean, then ship has a larger hex around it, and is put off table
— Mainly to help with firing arcs
– Maybe number of orders are based on morale
— Might start a death spiral though
— Maybe just bonus orders at high morale? Much better idea to prevent death spiral
– Gold pieces or gold crowns as the currency? Doubloons?
– Have a “Fear” or “Mutiny” scale, where higher is worse. Then you have to roll above Fear (when required) to stay in line and perform a task
— Basically only really disciplined or high Quality sailors can succeed over 12

– Weapons set number of dice to use to attack, Quality adds directly to this (just like Movement + Quality)
— Would need to do a bit of math off hand if Quality is added to multiple dice attack, since 3+ to hit with a +1 mod is actually 2+ to hit
— Maybe Quality just adds number of dice, but that is a bit inconsistent compared to movement
– Rolling a 1 fumbles, removes a success? Does it need an extra downside besides just being bad?
— Maybe can only Explode 6s if no 1s are present? Helps curb exploding dice
– Captain can only fight on his own ship, or board, doesn’t physically man guns, is just giving orders otherwise
— Would be tough to say what a captain can and can’t do, like can he go to Doctor? What station can/can’t he use?
– Maybe Attack (based on weapon bought), Defense, Quality
— Provide some base troop types, but allow weapons bought too
– Captain dictates number of orders, based on his Leadership. Buy weapons and gear with Fame?
— Can basically hire more troops as the Leadership goes up

– Attacker has XD6, Defender has a set amount, but less than attack, maybe 2-3
— Defender rolls first to set target number, can choose highest dice (enemy gets full attacks) or other dice result and reduce number of attacker dice by 6-TN
— For example Attacker has 7 dice. Defender has 3D6 and rolls 6, 4, 2. Could choose 6, but attacker would get 7 dice looking for 6s. Could instead choose 2 as TN, which would be 6-2=4 dice reduction to attacker, so goes from 7D6 to 3D6.
—- Need to figure out odds for this as well

– Defender secretly chooses a number 1-6 on a D6 in front of them (with their hand over it or whatever)
— This represents their sword defense, ie: Riposte, Parry
– Attacker publicly declares a target number 1-6, rolls XD6 attack dice
— Similarly this represents attack style, ie: Thrust, Overhead
– Attacker looks for exact matches to their target number, any match = 1 success. 1 success = Wound, 2 success = Kill
– After successes after figured the Defender reveals their number, if it matches what the attacker was rolling against the attack is countered and no damage is done
– The idea is to introduce a bit of bluffing
– Maybe Defender has to declare if they are “low” (1-3) or “high” (4-6) to narrow down chance of block?
— Represents attacker gauging muscle movement on defender
— Or maybe Defender can CHOOSE to declare low/high, which is riskier, but allows a counter attack?
— Doesn’t really make sense for defender to do so since if they say counter Low the attacker would go 4-6 and avoid defense
– Order would be Defender sets number, says “Counter Low or Counter High or Full Defense”, attacker chooses number and rolls, figure successes, reveal defense, counter if chosen
– ACTUALLY attacker should be the one to choose secret number, to represent their attack
— So attacker decides how to attack, rolls dice. Defender then declares defense style target number, attacker reveals, if they match nothing happens, otherwise count success as damage
— Maybe weapons have a “Risky/Safe” dice rating. On risky you declare your attack as Low/High, but get MORE dice to do so, safe you don’t say but get less, like 6D6 vs 4D6
—- Attacker secretly chooses 4, says Risky “Attack High” rolls 6D6, defender chooses 5, isn’t the same, so add up hits
– How would ranged work then? Just XD6 looking for 6s? Kinda bland
— Need to remember boarding might not even happen, unless rules push players to do so
– I mean are we just making a fencing game and tacking it onto a naval game?

The idea of this game is a battle between old navy wooden tall ships. Each ship is built on 1″ grid paper, in any configuration the player wants (almost like the ill fated Robocraft and it’s clones).

Not sure if movement would be on a map or just “side by side” between the ships. But the idea is as the ship takes damage “blocks” of the build are removed. Boarding would be an important part too.

I eventually started focusing more on the fencing/melee aspect, so the game morphed a bit and I sort of ended up just dropping the whole mess. But I think a more narrowly focused game (maybe even returning to a ground vehicle approach, to remove boarding) would play pretty well and be fun with the building aspect.

I think the original focus mainly stemmed from this naval based Dinosaur Cowboys report with hand drawn boats that moved and could be boarded. Plus I like the “station” idea from the FTL Faster Than Light computer game.

Lessons Learned
If I start to feel like I’m adding mechanics from another game idea, or jamming in rules just because they are neat for the sake of being neat, I need to take a step back from the project and review. I’ve definitely done that in 2016 with a few concepts where I just flat out split them into a separate game.