Yo ho, haul together, hoist the colours high…

As you can probably gather from the title, this entry is somewhat piratical in nature. Its taken from the song Hoist the Colours, written by Hans Zimmer for Pirates of the Carribean: At World’s End. Although it is my least favourite of the movies thus far – I haven’t seen On Stranger Tides yet – I absolutely love that song. So for those of you who may not know it, the full lyrics are below:

The king and his men
stole the queen from her bed
and bound her in her  Bones.
The seas be ours
and by the powers
where we will we’ll roam.

Yo, ho, haul together,
hoist the colors high.
Heave ho, thieves and  beggars,
never shall we die.

Some men have died
and some are  alive
and others sail on the sea
with the keys to the cage…
and the  Devil to pay
we lay to Fiddler’s Green!

The bell has been raised
from it’s watery grave…
Do you hear it’s sepulchral tone?
We are a call to all,
pay head the squall
and turn your sail toward home!

Yo, ho,  haul together,
hoist the colors high.
Heave ho, thieves and beggars,
never shall we die.

Anyway, onto the topic at hand. Anyone who knows me will know that I have a real love for all things pirate. I listen to pirate music (traditional tunes and pirate metal), I run a pirate themed Pathfinder campaign, and I just generally enjoy reading about pirates and watching movies featuring them.  I even bought the first volume of the relaunched Black Terror comic based entirely on the characters costume – I was sadly disappointed to learn that the Black Terror is actually a chemist who discovered an invincibility potion, he just fights with a sword and wears the chemical hazard skull and crossbones. So, since it appears that I’m going to actually get to see one of my favourite bands, Alestorm, performing their signature style of Scottish Pirate Metal this weekend, it seemed like a perfect time bring this to your attention.

As I mentioned above, I currently run a Pathfinder pirate game. The campaign is called Skulls & Shackles, it’s actually one of the official Adventure Paths that Paizo release. It’s a great story, and did a really good job of getting the feel of being captains and adventuring across the seas in search of plunder and glory. However, my one minor issue with it is that, although it’s a sandbox sort of campaign and allows you to pillage and plunder ships and villages, the players are still very much the heroes. Paizo have always shied away from publishing an adventure path where the PCs are just as likely, if not more, to be outright bastards as opposed to traditional heroes. Skulls & Shackles is the closest they’ve ever come, and likely ever will, and once you get to later books even it develops the whole “noble heroes foil a diabolical plot” theme that so many campaigns end up with. I’m not upset at them for this, I understand that they’re running a business and releasing what they think will appeal to the largest audience they can get. When you need something that’s a little more niche, that’s where the third party publishers come in – See Fire Mountain Game’s Way of the Wicked campaign (First book can be found here http://paizo.com/products/btpy8q8e?Way-of-the-Wicked-Book-One-Knot-of-Thorns) for an example of a game that relies on the party being evil. So what I’ve really been wanting is a true sandbox pirate campaign, one that lets the players do and be whatever they want while still leaving scope for epic adventures.

Enter Razor Coast, a mega-campaign with a Carribean/Polynesian pirate flavour, described the the publishers as being crammed full of “corrupt municipal Dragoons, dastardly smuggling rings, weresharks – lots of weresharks – desperate naval battles, oppressed tribes craving heroes, witches, cursed islands, legendary treasure troves, an impending apocalypse or two, demon pirates, retired assassins, undead worms, gator men, failed heroes waiting to be redeemed, dark conspiracies brewing in the oceans depths, vengeful ghosts…oh – and mutating cannibal pygmies”. Before I get stuck into the history of this campaign, I’d like to encourage everyone to go have a look at the KickStarter page for it. As of today it’s achieved the primary funding goal, but they’ve still got five days or so to try and get some stretch goals – the first one kicks in at $80,000 and adds another four bonus adventures to the game. There’s a nice range of pledge levels and rewards to suit everyone, and I’ve got every confidence in a high quality product being released (see below for my reasoning). The KickStarter can be found here:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/froggodgames/razor-coast

Sure, your players can be a heroic party of pirate hunters, but you can also be ruthless, murderous pirates, and what I’ve been craving is the choice. So this product was announced back in 2009 by Nicholas Logue, who at the time was a noted freelancer for Paizo, probably best known for writing the adventure Hook Mountain Massacre, sometimes described as “Deliverance with Ogres”. Nick had started up his own company called Sinister Adventures to release his own original adventures and other products. Everything looked good, there were mini adventures and so on being released, and people were keen. Unfortunately, it appears that while he’s a great writer, Nick isn’t quite so good on the business end of things, and things started going sour. Deadlines slipped, there was a lack of communication with the backers and so on… I’m not going to go into it in any great detail, because that’s not the point, but if you want to get a little bit of insight into it, you can read this article on Geek Related (http://geek-related.com/2011/03/01/sinister-adventures-looks-like-its-finally-dead/). I wasn’t really that aware of the project at the time, so I honestly can’t feel as strongly about the whole situation as some people clearly do, as evidenced by the latter part of that article and some of the unbelievable bile and vitirol I’ve read about it on the Paizo message boards.

So, in 2011, it was assumed that Razor Coast would never see the light of day, despite the Herculean efforts of all of the volunteers who stepped in to try and keep the project on track and get it to see the light of day (Lou Agresta, I’m looking in your direction – check out his blog here: http://rpgaggression.blogspot.com.au/).

Last year I started seeing rumblings about a possible revival of the project on the Paizo messageboards. I wondered what all the fuss was about, had a look into the history behind it all and the concept of the adventure, and I started to get interested. So I was very happy to see an announcement that Frog God Games had agreed to run with this and had set up a KickStarter to finally deliver Razor Coast. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Frog God Games, they’re known for putting out unbelievably high quality books, in terms of both content and the actual book itself. I own two of their products, the Complete Tome of Horrors and The Slumbering Tsar Saga (another mega-campaign). They’ve also proven that they can successfully complete a KickStarter project, having received funding for and delivered upon the Rappan Athuk and Swords & Wizardry projects.

So please, if you’ve got any interest at all in pirate themed role-playing games, pledge to support this project. I think it’s going to turn out to be one hell of a campaign. For more information on Razor Coast, please take a look at the following links –

Frog God Games Official Razor Coast page: http://www.talesofthefroggod.com/?utm_source=Frog+God+Games+List&utm_campaign=9bc2155ce4-The_Rana_Reader_5_October_2012&utm_medium=email

Geek-Related article on the KickStarter project: http://geek-related.com/2013/01/05/razor-coast-kickstarter/

Now if you’ll all excuse me, I need to go dust off my tricorne hat in preparation to go and rock out to some Alestorm. I’ll try to get some photos of the gig if I can stop myself from screaming along for a while.

—————————————————————————————–

Written while listening to Alestorm, as if that surprises anyone. Their three albums, Captain Morgan’s Revenge, Black Sails at Midnight and Back Through Time are fantastic, and apparently they’re filming their first live DVD during the current tour of Australia and New Zealand.

One thought on “Yo ho, haul together, hoist the colours high…

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