Friday 26 May 2023

A DARK STAR TO SAIL BY - A Roleplaying Game of Horrific Encounters in the Age of Sail


A Roleplaying Game of Horrific Encounters in the Age of Sail

The late era of the Age of Sail, which lasted from around 1850 to 1870, was a mighty period of maritime history as great vessels carried trade and war across the globe. As nations expanded and countries were opened to the global market – whether the people of those countries wanted it or not – huge fleets of sailing ships dominated the seas and transported goods, people and valuables. As steam ships became the norm the tall ship began to dwindle until they were nothing more than a romanticised memory.

With the sheer number of ships plying their way across the seven seas there was always going to be tragedies; vessels going missing, never to be seen again. Ships running aground, or caught in storms, or failing due to bad seamanship.

With these missing ships came the stories of their fate. Were the companies who owned them to blame? Were rival companies taking drastic measures to run their rivals? Murder? The supernatural?

The mysteries surrounding these missing ship were most likely more entertaining than the probable truth, but they have endured for decades and have given rise to stories of ghost ships, cursed islands and monsters from the deep. Take, for instance, the fate of the Marie Celeste, a cargo ship found adrift with her crew missing; the stories that arose from her abandonment and subsequent recovery by the Canadian brigantine Dei Gratia grew and changed even in the short time after she was found, changing from a simple abandoned ship to include stories of murder and piracy, with tales being told of still-warm meals laid out ready to eat, as if the people on board simply vanished into thin air. The story of an abandoned and then salvaged ship suddenly becomes much more interesting. Add to this wild tales of monsters rising from the depths, creatures from the sky, madness or possession of a crewmember and even the cruel and uncaring machinations of company men thousands of miles from the incident hoping to benefit from the tragedy in some way...

But… what if there was some truth to these insane tales?

Playtest cover only
Art by Ivan Aivazovsky

A DARK STAR TO SAIL BY is a tabletop roleplaying game that enables players to take on the roles of crewmembers of one of these tall ships, making their way across the vast ocean in service of a company or a government, with nothing more than themselves and the ship they are on for safety. At the mercy of the weather and the winds and with a healthy dose of uncertainty, how would they react when something happens that they can’t explain? How will they survive it? With creatures arising from the depths, haunted ships, unexplained phenomena and a terrified crew, what would the players do to find out what is going on, and survive?

All of the above from WIP introduction

(c) Jonathan Hicks / Farsight Games 2023

Product due 2024