Of the Seas, the Stars and the Weird

Category: TTRPG

The Lightless Beacon

This review is part of my list of Maritime TTRPG scenarios. This overview is meant to help players to select the adventures they want to play. It’s spoiler-free up the section for gamemasters. Please keep the comments spoiler-free as well!

April 12th, 1926, 8:15pm. The Beacon Island lighthouse off the shore of Folly Point, Massachusetts, ceased to cast its light over the region’s dangerous rocky waters about 15 minutes ago. As a result, the SS Essex County, a mixed passenger and cargo vessel on which you are all traveling to Rockport, has foundered on the rocks and incurred considerable damage to its hull.
The ship is sinking, and the crew hurries you toward one of the many small rowboats acting as the ship’s lifeboats. As they load you in, they tell you your best bet is to aim for Beacon Island—they doubt you’ll make the mainland as a storm is brewing. You should have just enough time to reach the island before it hits.
Then, without another word, they shove you off into the dark, churning waters. All you have to guide you is the small light shining at the base of the lighthouse’s towering silhouette.

The LightLess Beacon, page 9

Quick Stats

  • System/Ruleset: Call of Cthulhu, 7th Edition
  • Dependencies: Basic Rules only (several options)
  • Authors: Leigh Carr with Lynne Hardy
  • Setting: 1920s, New England, USA
  • Theme: Lighthouse, Smuggling, Mythos
  • Pregens: four, gender-neutral & nameless
  • Players: 2-4 (5+ optional), best with 4
  • Time (as written/as tested): 60/300 mins
  • Source: The Lightless Beacon (Free PDF)
  • Weird Admiral’s Rating: 7/7
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More Krakens, less Dragons!

Ahoy, landlubbers! Two weeks ago I had an interesting discussion about apex monsters in tabletop role-playing games, and especially about Dragons, which still seem to be the epitome of end-game adversaries in most fantasy settings. Actually, they are not even limited to higher levels or later acts in ttrpgs anymore, but are literally everywhere you look, as soon as you enter most classic fantasy worlds – and I am not only speaking of Dungeons & Dragons, where these beasts are a prominent part of the brand name since 1974, or of Game of Thrones, where the winged fire-breathers are a central part of the world’s history and the story-arc of Daenerys Targaryen and her family in particular. I am speaking of the fact that there is a List of dragons in popular culture on Wikipedia, that is just an overview/landing page for even more lists concerning the appearance of Dragons in literature, film, television, video games – and even sports! And while I can somehow understand the audience being fascinated by those close-to-all-powerful creatures (who’s not attracted to symbols of absolute power?) – those scaly dinosaurs bore me to Death, whenever I encounter them.

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The Forbidden Seas

Ahoy, laddies! This weekend I had a great idea for a TTRPG campaign that basically explores the question: “What if the high seas of your fictional fantasy world were (suddenly) off limits for everyone?” What if the use of the seas were forbidden? No gathering of natural resources, no travel and no trade allowed?

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Not all Swashbucklers!

Shiver me timbers, what is it with the monoculture of Piratey stereotypes in this popular culture’s fiction today, especially in tabletop role-playing games (which I have spoken of before)? I have to wonder: Do you all really have only such a limited imagination? I speak, of course, of the idea, that “Swashbuckler” seems to be a synonym for “good” Piratey types somehow.

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Ships as Dungeons?

7 things to think about

Ahoy, laddies! I hear some of you like to play these kinds of games where you send people you imagine into castles, caves and other kinds of areas that are full of deadly monsters, traps and treasures – table-top roleplaying games they are called, I think, or sometimes just pen-and-paper. Well, that’s all fine and all. Only when I see ships used in these kinds of scenarios, I am a bit worried, because I am not convinced most of the players actually realize the limitations and possibilities of ships – and especially those from the Age of Sail and earlier.

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