" By the way, putting a seashell border around your side notes does not say to me: 'This is a game about bloodthirsty murderers', it says, 'Ooh, that flag color will never go with our uniforms!' "
Title: Black Flags: Piracy in the Caribbean from Avalanche Press
Format: D20 adventure setting
Reviewing Monkey: Chimpan-A
The Hype: Yo ho! Yo ho! A pirate's life for me! Who didn't want to be a pirate at some point? Well now that we've grown and are far more used to playing elves in a pixie land of magic… Well anyway Avalanche decided to give us some Piracy on the high seas to keep up our hopes of scoring some booty. Take that any way you want and read the scurvy review…
What This Monkey Thought...
Story and Drama: This game is quite historically accurate. It's so historically accurate I got scurvy just from reading it. A great deal of the beginning of the book actually goes just to explain the historical significance and worldviews on piracy. The setting takes place in the 1700's. Tensions are high between the English and the Spaniards. The New World is growing into a fine place to get rich, one way or another. This book covers a vast majority of pirate lore, separating myth from fact in a lot of cases. They try to downplay the Flynn style antics of the time, and present a more realistic setting. It's well put together, and fertile ground for anyone with a mind for it. 4 out of 5
Layout and Presentation: Well, if you fell asleep in history class, skip the first half of this book. The subject matter is interesting enough and they try to present it in an interesting fashion, but they don't quite pull it off. From the 25-page opening (in a 60 page book), we move on to modified character classes, and rule modifications. The book is well organized, and you should have little problem finding what you're looking for. The visuals are pretty boring, with nary an interesting picture in the thing. By the way, putting a seashell border around your side notes does not say to me: "This is a game about bloodthirsty murderers", it says, "Ooh, that flag color will never go with our uniforms!" 4 out of 5
Playability: Ah thank heaven for the D20 system. Anyway, the game itself plays fine. Although convincing some of your more hard core players that being a "Sorcerer" is not nearly as fun as being a "Sailor" may take some doing. As the world is very real, the book presents its own class lists. No magic here and no fighters as we think of them. The main problem with this is that the classes they present are just not as exciting as most of the options we're used to seeing. Full credit for coming up with real world facsimiles of old classes, but they don't carry over well for most traditionalists. That seems to happen a lot in this book. Where I can see what they're going for, but it just doesn't quite go over. Like with the "Panache Level". See, in order to discourage reckless movie abandon, but at the same time encourage creative actions (like you would see in the movies…) They give characters a rating that grants bonuses to attempts to "add flair" to an action. I can see what they were trying to do, but in practice it just comes off silly. 3.5 out of 5
Desired Content: I can honestly say I know more about the history of Piracy in the 1700s than before I got this supplement. Unfortunately I wasn't exactly looking for that. If, however, you are looking for a real world game-taking place on the high seas, this book has everything to get you going. 4 out of 5
|The game is well put together, and I can see what they were going for. It just doesn't play well to the majority of your traditional D20 players. Sure real life isn't like the movies, but that's why you don't see a bunch of people running around playing "Accountant: For Hire!" Add in a little more spice to the game, and you may very well have something here.|
The Good: Very historically accurate game about Piracy in the 18th century
The Bad: Relatively boring game about pirates. And if you can make pirates boring… well I pity you.
The Overall Ugly: This book contains a description of common Pirate tortures. I now know precisely what keelhauling and woolding are. That's ugly enough for me, thanks.
What it's Worth: $10.00