Swords of Saribangsa
In Saribangsa, the sea is the source of life and prosperity: Fishermen cast their nets into the blue deep before dawn each day, while merchant ships knit together the eight thousand islands in a tapestry of commerce. Along fertile bays and river deltas, settlements hum with newfound prosperity. Pottery from Lusung and Jawi pearls are bartered for Kiwan spices and Shenese silk. Fishmongers, slaves, sailors, and aristocrats cram in markets and taverns, searching, selling, and sharing news. In the cosmopolitan cities of Tundos and Sugbayen, the colorful, crab claw sails of native boats flutter alongside junks from Shenzhou and the odd brigantine from Miranilad.
But where fortunes grow, they can also vanish – food, trade, but also peril come from the sea. Saribangsa is infamous for its monsoon season when typhoons batter the coast, and tumultuous waves swallow ships whole. Each year, marauding pirates scour the archipelago for slaves and plunder. Some of these so-called magalos refuse to answer to no man. Yet others offer their swords for coin and contract. The life of a corsair can be lucrative, but also fleeting. For every corsair who retires wealthy, dozens more find themselves locked away or next in line for the hangman's noose.
Sea raids are the great pastime of the Saribangon lords. In what has become occurrence, a datu and his warriors ride outrigger canoes called paraws right up to the shoreline, ransack a village before quickly escaping to open waters once more. Larger conflicts can see warships known as karakowas or lanongs join the fray. Armed vessels bore lantakas – light to heavy bronze, brass, or iron cannonry. Grapeshot was used with deadly effect against enemy crews, while chainshot was employed to shatter masts.
On paper, Castillian ships are often larger and better equipped than their native counterparts. In practice though, the speed, ferocity, and cunning of the Saribangon tribes have defeated their betters many times over. Worse for Castille, other Théan powers hungrily covet the profits of the galleon trade. Vesten captains prowl the sea lanes, while Montaigne and Avalon venturists ally with local datus who resent Castille's swordpoint diplomacy.
Roles on a ship
A nakoda performs captain duties, and when part of a squadron, answers to a naval commander called a panglima. The Tundusay, Sugbayon, and Irasulay courts maintain a high admiral or laksamana who oversees all seaborne operations. The julmuri serves as first mate overseeing the rest of the crew, and also handles the rudder. A julbato is stationed at the prow, and is charged with watching for reefs and other dangers. Julsandata load and fire the ship's artillery.
The practice of employing slaves (alipin or oripun) as rowers is common practice, though Irasul nakodas are said to be the cruelest overseers. Slaves from across Khitai, the Crescent Empire, and the occasionaly Théa man the galleys of many Saribangon warships. Castille gangpresses native Miranillos when needed.
Types of Vessels
Balangay were the first watercraft the Castillians sighted upon reaching Saribangsa. These outrigger boats have been used for transporting goods and people for hundreds of years. Families adrift balangay founded the first coastal settlements of Lusung, and these villages still called balangay or barangay today. Armed balangay are uncommon but not unheard of, sometimes one to three swivel guns.
The garay – 'wanderer' in Basa Jawi – is a mainstay of Jawili pirates and the Irasulay royal navy. During raiding season, squadrons of garay plague Biswaya and the Jeweled Sea preying on merchant vessels. A modest one can carry up to sixty men, and come with at least a single lela. Garay do not possess outriggers.
The sight of a crescent-shaped karakowa, bristling with guns and iron plates, has struck fear throughout the islands. The largest of these vessels – nearly a hundred feet long – can boast two hundred rowers and dozens of warriors. Despite its size, the karakowa has a shallow hull that allows it to sail right up to the shoreline. This has made it the ideal raiding ship for Tundusay and Sugbayen chieftains.
The Sultanate of Irasul fields a powerful navy to guard its realm, and project strength beyond its borders. None of its vessels are as awe-inspiring however as the lanong. Decorated in colorful okir and war banners, the massive lanong signals the presence of a powerful noble or even the sultan himself. With a crew of over two hundred, these juggernauts are designed for naval combat. Lanong have two shear masts which can be used as boarding ladders.
Mangayaw means 'raider' in seversl of the dialects of Raginda. Smaller than the garay, they are equipped with one or two swivel guns. Mangayaw prowl the coasts of western Raginda and the Jawi Archipelago for easy targets laden with cargo. They were usually accompanied by salipsipan canoes which serves as their scouts.
The paraw is a common sight; essentially a canoe fastened to two outriggers called katig. This addition allows it to skim across water, outpace slower craft, and preventing it from capsizing. Simple paraw are manned by one or two people, but larger ones can house up to twenty. When needed, paraw can be outfitted with a swivel gun.
Accompanying garay and lanong are small but fast canoes called salisipan. These serve as forward scouts of the slower fleets of Irasul, and can even travel rivers. Salisipan do not have sails, relying instead on teams of paddlers similar to Shenese dragonboats. In fact, the serpentine features on some salipsipan bows might be ancient influences from Shenzhou immigrants.
A Ship has an Origin. This is the Nation, region or area of the world where your Ship hailed from during its maiden voyage. Different people have different ideas of the best way to construct a Ship. Some Origins grant Bonus Dice under certain circumstances. These circumstances are left purposefully vague and up for debate—the GM makes the final call on whether or not a Ship’s Origin or Background applies in a given case, but we urge her to be generous. When such a bonus does apply, however, it can only be used by a single Hero at a time.
The Sarimanok Throne boasts the largest fleet in Saribangsa, dwarfing even the Castillian navy. The royal navy consists of a multitude of Jawili vassals, many of whom would turn their cannons on Irasul were it not for the handsome salary of a privateer. A typical Irasulay boat is beautifully adorned with ornate woodwork known as okir featuring mythical beasts. Irasulay ships are usually garay or lanong. When making a Social Risk such as negotiating with other ships, you gain 2 Bonus Dice.
The Jawi have no need for a proper navy, but that is only because everyone knows how to swim, sail, and seize a ship. For centuries the Jawi have wandered the Jeweled Sea and other parts of Khitai, selling pearls, sea cucumbers locally known as trepang, and quite often, their services as mercenaries. Jawili sailors and navigators are sought by other nations. When called to action, Jawili boat-families can converge to become an ad hoc squadron before scattering once again. Ships from Jawi are usually salipsipan or mangayaw. Gain 2 Bonus Dice when making Risks involving speed and maneuverability.
Miranilad continues the proud tradition of the Castillian armada with its slow, bulky, and heavily armed ships. Its brigantines and men-of-war bristle with multiple decks of cannons, while the massive galleon may as well be a floating fortress. The downside is the immense resources it takes to build and maintain such vessels. Miranilad's ships are often a galleon or man-o-war. Your ship can take an additional Hit before taking a Critical Hit.
No one enjoys a good raid like the kadatuan of of Sugbayen. The small and scattered islands of the Biswaya are constantly rife with raiding fleets crossing the pristine waters. The region is also the favorite hunting ground of slavers, forcing the raja to employ unorthodox methods like deploying fire ships. What a Sugbayon squadron lacks in firepower, it more than makes up for with the ferocity of its crew. Ships from the rajahnate are either paraw or karakowa. Your ship has 5 additional crew, and can divide into 3 squads instead of 2.
Because much of the interior of Lusung is jungle, the people of Tundos rely on river travel or sailing along the coast. The kingdom is built on a lagoon, and the lakan fields a considerable fleet armed with the famed Tundusay lantakas - single or double-barreled cannons. Many Tundusay sailors are drawn to the ports of Shenzhou and Nagajas as mercenaries where they gather valuable knowledge of the otuside world. Tundusay ships are either balangay or karakowa. Gain 2 Bonus Dice when firing your ship's cannons as a Risk.
The mountain-dwelling Kafugway have no need for sailing beyond the occasional canoe to traverse rapids, or conduct trade downriver. Hanuni inflicted with wanderlust might find themselves on a ship as a stowaway or worse, as a galley slave. This never lasts long as many captains consider Hanuni bad luck at sea.
Backgrounds grant Advantages to your Ship, but, more importantly, they inform you about your Ship’s epic and unique tale. These are the events in the Ship’s past that build a reputation, that contribute to the Crew’s pride, that turn your vessel from “just a boat” to “a Ship.” A Ship may only have a specific Background once.
For example, you can have Captured by Pirates, Prominent Battle and Round the Horn. But you can’t have Captured by Pirates twice. Each Hero who purchases the Married to the Sea Advantage contributes one Background to the Ship’s History.
Beyond the Horizon
Your Ship has sailed to the far reaches of the world, and docked in the colorful and distant ports of the New World, Ifri or Cathay. You can spend a Raise or a Hero Point when speaking about the cultures, customs and people of far-away lands. Whoever you are speaking to, they believe you.
Broke the Mirror
Your Ship sailed the frozen waters of the Mirror, something that only the bravest and most heroic Vesten have managed before, and so has earned the honorable title of isabrot, “Icebreaker.” You can spend a Raise or a Hero Point when encountering an NPC from Vesten. They respect you, your Ship and her Crew.
Captured by Pirates
Your Ship was captured by pirates and probably sold to another pirate at one of the Brotherhood’s friendly ports. Your ship is equipped with smuggling compartments used to hide valuable Cargo (or Crew). When you hide something in your smuggling compartments
during a Scene, it cannot be found during that Scene unless the person looking knows exactly where to look (such as if they are a former crewmember, for example—word of mouth is not enough). You can hide a single Cargo in this way. This doesn’t give you the ability to transport additional Cargo, only to protect what you have.
Friend of Iskandar
Your Ship has visited the docks of Iskandar, and is a respected and trusted friend of the city, earning the title of “Sadiq Iskandar.” You can spend a Raise or a Hero Point when encountering an NPC from the Crescent Empire. They are friendly, until you give them a reason not to be.
One of your Ship’s Captains had a stellar reputation all across Théah. That reputation passes on to your Crew. You can spend a Raise or a Hero Point when you encounter an NPC sailor, old sea dog, retired naval Captain or similar individual. That NPC had a favorable run-in with your Ship’s Captain, and they look favorably upon your Ship and her Crew.
Your Ship was once used to hunt pirates. When your Crew rolls dice against pirates, their 10’s Explode.
Your Ship survived a horrible battle and has gained a reputation for being able to survive. Your Ship can take 5 Critical Hits before becoming Crippled, instead of 4.
Round the Horn
Your Ship has a small and strange mascot from the Land of Ifri. It could be a small monkey, parrot, runic totem, a custom wheel carved from a special wood or another kind of lucky charm.
The Ship has Good Fortune
Once per game, one Hero on the Ship can spend a Hero Point to use the Ship’s Good Fortune
to re-roll any number of dice in a Risk they just made, so long as they are aboard the Ship.
Swallowed by the Triangle
Your Ship has explored the far waters of the Triangle and shores of the strange land of Kammerra. For a time, your Ship may have been thought lost. You can spend a Raise when you encounter a strange magic, artifact or creature (such as a sea monster, a giant bird or a Kammerran shaman). You can ask the GM a yes or no question about the magic, artifact or creature, and he must answer you honestly.
Adventures grant the Heroes bonuses and abilities the first time they do something specific with their Ship during play. An Adventure is not always a positive experience (getting robbed by pirates or running aground on a remote island is rarely pleasant), but the Ship and her Crew learn and grow from the experience.
A Short and Merry Life
Convince a hostile ship’s Crew to join you, through negotiation, coercion or intimidation. Your Crew gains 5 Strength.
Accomplish 5 Adventures. Each Hero gains one of the following Advantages of their choice: Able Drinker, Cast-Iron Stomach or Sea Legs.
Drag Them to Their Doom!
Perform a successful boarding action. The first time each round any of your Crew Squads inflict Wounds on an enemy while at sea, that enemy takes one additional Wound.
Feed the Sea with Ghosts
Defeat 5 Ships in naval combat. The first time each round your Ship fires her cannons at an enemy, that enemy Ship takes an additional Hit.
Gold Drives a Man to Dream
Earn 10 Wealth from selling Cargo in one Voyage. You may carry one additional Cargo on your Ship.
Escape a city with the authorities on your heels. Your Ship’s Crew learns how to leave port in a hurry. Your Ship can return to full complement after only 12 hours in port, rather than 24.
“How Long Can You Hold Your Breath?”
Dive a shipwreck, a reef or an underwater cave and retrieve something valuable. Gain 1 Bonus Die for any Risks involving swimming, navigating underwater or holding your breath.
Off the Map
Make port in a city outside of Théah. Gain one Bonus Die in any social Risk against an NPC whose native language is one from outside of Théah.
Saved from the Deep
Rescue a marooned NPC (either lost at sea, on a deserted island, etc.). Add one Strength to your Ship’s total Crew.
Lead your Crew in the singing of a sea shanty during shore leave at a seedy port tavern. Any Hero can spend a Hero Point to return one of your Crew Squads back to full Strength. Only one Hero can activate this benefit per game session.
Transport an NPC Fate Witch from one port to another. At the beginning of each game session, each Hero rolls one die. Whichever Hero rolls the highest begins play with an additional Hero Point. Fate favors him. If the highest roll is a tie between two Heroes, no Hero gains an additional Hero Point. Fate can be cruel.
Thanks for the Backup
Save the crew of a sinking ship, when things look their bleakest (fierce storm, sea monster attack, etc). The Captain and Crew of that Ship are now allies and can be relied upon for friendly assistance when needed, earning all Heroes the Connection Advantage with that ship and her Crew.
The Only Good Pirate…
You rendered a Pirate ship Crippled. Pirates have learned to fear your Ship’s Crew the hard way. The first time each round you spend a Raise to reduce the Strength of a Pirate Brute Squad, you reduce their Strength by 1 more than you would have normally.
Well Excuse Me, Princess
Transport a member of Théan royalty from one port to another. Due to your success, any NPC with noble blood treats you a little better. Gain one Bonus Die for any social Risks involving noble characters.
X Marks the Spot
Find a buried treasure. Add 10 additional Wealth to your Ship’s Treasury.
Your Gold or Your Life!
Your ship was Crippled, you surrendered or you were successfully robbed by pirates. The first time any Hero rolls a Risk versus a Pirate in a game session, all Heroes gain a Hero Point.