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A Fistful of Doubloons

Run out the Guns! Scenario

Copyright Nicholas HM Caldwell 1999-2000

Edited by R.C. Kirkland for The Guild Companion

Artwork Copyright by Clyde Caldwell

Introduction

A Fistful of Doubloons was initially designed as a short scenario for the British Role-Playing Society's 1999 Baroquon convention to demonstrate Run out the Guns! (RotG). It could be adapted with minimal effort for use in an ongoing RotG campaign.

Prerequisites

A Fistful of Doubloons requires that the gamemaster has access to the main RotG boxed set. It does not require access to Written in Blood or All Hands on Deck.

Background

A Fistful of Doubloons can be set in any year during the mid to late seventeenth century. The action takes place in the Western Caribbean and the scenario opens on the 16th July.

Adventure Overview

The Bonaventure, a pirate ship, has spent the past several weeks west of Jamaica cruising in vain for suitable prey. The crew has become restive at the lack of action but the captain and officers are unwilling to return to Port Royale empty-handed. A fishing vessel is sighted and forced to heave to. The fishermen have news of a large Spanish vessel at the Isle de San Benedict. The Bonaventure sails immediately to investigate. En route, a storm occurs during the night in which the captain and some others will be swept overboard to their deaths leaving the player-characters in command. The Bonaventure should reach the Isle de San Benedict by afternoon and the player-characters must then decide how to engage the Spanish galleon.

The Tale

The San Cristobel was en route to Cuba with a cargo of gold and silver specie from the Spanish Main. The ship began taking on water at an alarming rate. The captain ordered the crew to anchor in the natural harbour at Isle de San Benedict to effect emergency repairs. They remained there to weather the storm and complete their repairs.

On a headland above the bay is a small tower fort with some cannons and a furnace for heating shot. A party of soldiers from the San Cristobel now mans the fort. From this vantage, the Spanish cannons' field of fire covers the bay and the nearby seaward waters, yet no ship-based cannon will be able to fire upwards at the fort.

As a further precaution, a spring has been placed on the San Cristobel's cable allowing the ship to be turned from bows facing the sea to presenting a broadside to ships outside the bay in an emergency.

The Spanish will be ready to set sail in the afternoon of the 18th July.

A Large Map of the Isle de San Benedict (drawn by Joel Lovell)

The Ships

Bonaventure

The Bonaventure is a 140-ton Barque (see page 14 of Ships Booklet) equipped as follows:

Armaments:

Cannons:

On the gun-deck: seven 6-pounders on each side
Swivel guns: 1 mounted at bow, 1 at midships, 1 at stern (3 per side)
Bow chaser: one 6-pounder
20 sponges and rammers
25 long powder ladles
25 priming powder horns
50 lintstocks
60 handspikes
30 vent auger and priming wires

Small Arms:

20 flintlock muskets 5 matchlock muskets
30 pouches for smallshot
30 small priming powder horns
30 bandoliers having twelve wooden cartridges each
30 bolts of linen for wadding
50 flints suitable for replacements

Side arms:

2 rapiers for colourguard
100 cutlasses
20 boarding pikes
10 boarding axes
5 grappling irons

Shot Locker:

200 6-pound shot
30 bags of grapeshot for 6-pounders
600 musket shot
100 pounds of lead for the making of musket shot

Powder Magazine:

12 casks of coarse powder
1 cask of priming powder
4 quarter-casks of coarse powder
2 quarter-casks of priming powder for muskets
200 slow-matches for cannon
100 slow-matches for muskets

Ship’s Anchors

One 10-man standard bower anchor secured at bow (+10)
Two 4-man stream/kedge anchors for light anchoring (+0)

Bosun’s Stores

300 pounds of fresh laid cordage
200 pounds of twice laid cordage
300 pounds of uncut canvas
two mainsails
200 pounds of replacement blocks, tackles and chainplates

Carpenter’s Stores:

1 cask of tar
spare lumber (500 pounds)
unworked iron (400 pounds)
nails and spikes for repairs (100 pounds)
tallow for hull repair (100 pounds)

Provisions:

30 casks of water (2 weeks)
6 casks of rum
1 quarter-cask of French wine
20 bales of ship’s biscuit
6 casks salted pork
3 casks of salted beef
4 casks of salt
3 casks of pickled cabbage
bale of fresh fruit
bale of fresh vegetables

Ship’s Boat:

16-man (8-oar) skiff, lateen rigged, rowing speed of 6 knots. Towed aft

San Cristobel

The San Cristobel is a 800-ton Galleon (see page 16 of Ships Booklet) equipped as follows:

Armaments:

Cannons:

On the gun-deck: twelve 18-pounders on each side
Swivel guns: 1 mounted at bow, 2 at midships, 1 at stern (4 per side)
Bow chaser: two 6-pounders
Stern chasers: four 6-pounders
40 sponges and rammers
50 long powder ladles
50 priming powder horns
120 lintstocks
120 handspikes
70 vent auger and priming wires

Small Arms:

100 flintlock muskets
20 matchlock muskets
125 pouches for smallshot
125 small priming powder horns
150 bandoliers having twelve wooden cartridges each
80 bolts of linen for wadding
200 flints suitable for replacements

Side arms:

6 rapiers for colourguard
300 cutlasses
50 boarding pikes
50 boarding axes
20 grappling irons

Shot Locker:

300 18-pound shot
200 6-pound shot
40 bags of grapeshot for 18-pounders
20 bags of grapeshot for 6-pounders
1200 musket shot
300 pounds of lead for the making of musket shot

Powder Magazine:

50 casks of coarse powder
5 casks of priming powder
20 quarter-casks of coarse powder
8 quarter-casks of priming powder for muskets
600 slow-matches for cannon
300 slow-matches for muskets

Ship’s Anchors

One 80-man emergency sheet anchor stored below-decks (+80)
Two 40-man standard bower anchors secured at bow (+40)
Two 20-man stream/kedge anchors for light anchoring (+20)

Bosun’s Stores

600 pounds of fresh laid cordage
400 pounds of twice laid cordage
600 pounds of uncut canvas
three mainsails
300 pounds of replacement blocks, tackles and chainplates

Carpenter’s Stores:

3 casks of tar
spare lumber (1000 pounds)
unworked iron (1000 pounds)
nails and spikes for repairs (300 pounds)
tallow for hull repair (300 pounds)

Provisions:

90 casks of water (2 weeks)
15 casks of rum
2 quarter-casks of Spanish wine
50 bales of ship’s biscuit
15 casks of salted pork
2 casks of salt
5 casks of pickled cabbage
3 1/2 bales of fresh fruit
3 1/2 bale of fresh vegetables

Ship’s Boats:

32-man longboat (lateen rigged, rowing speed 6 knots) towed aft
24-man launch (lateen rigged, rowing speed 6 knots)
6-man jollyboat (not rigged, rowing speed 4 knots)

Joining the Story

If A Fistful of Doubloons is being run as a one-off scenario, the players should simply be given their characters and informed that the Bonaventure has been cruising unsuccessfully for the past three weeks and that the strain of inaction has begun to tell on officers and crew alike.

If A Fistful of Doubloons is being run as part of a continuing campaign, the player-characters will already be established and the scenario should be inserted within the story arcs of the campaign at the discretion of the gamemaster.

The Adventure

Event #1 - The Fishermen

The lookout shouts "Sail on the starboard bow" and reports that it cannot be much larger than a lugger. The Captain will order chase to be given and the ship to beat to quarters. The Bonaventure will easily run the lugger down and the gunner will be ordered to fire a bow chaser to force the lugger to heave to. The gunner should ensure that he does not sink the lugger.

A boarding party will be dispatched to bring the fishermen aboard and secure the lugger. The terrified fishermen will beg for their lives and their craft. The Captain will be impassive allowing the player-characters to question them. In the course of this questioning, the fisherman will reveal the presence of an anchored Spanish ship at the Isle de San Benedict. Unless persuaded otherwise, the Captain will release the fishermen and return them to their vessel.

He will announce that it is time to chase bigger prey and give orders to set sail for Isle de San Benedict and that he will hold a council of war upon the morrow with his officers to plan the attack.

Event #2 - The Storm

The weather will turn stormy as dusk falls and all hands will soon be hard pressed reefing sails and keeping the Bonaventure bows on to the high waves whilst trying not to be swept overboard

If A Fistful of Doubloons is being run as a one-off, a huge wave will sweep across the ship and send the Captain and perhaps others to a watery grave. The player-characters will find themselves in charge. Fortunately for them a morning inspection will reveal no serious damage to the ship.

Event #3 - The Island

The navigator may have a chart or failing that local knowledge that there is a fort on the headland of the western anchorage at Isle de San Benedict. An approach from the eastern end would not be noticed, allowing a party landed from a boat at the eastern end a good chance of approaching and capturing the fort unnoticed. Naturally the chances will be improved if the pirates use cold steel rather than musketry and attack at night. It would take perhaps four hours for the pirates to cross the island on foot. (They are not used to walking any great distance on land!)

If the pirates have an alert lookout, then they will see the masts of the San Cristobel in sufficient time to sail to the eastward side of the isle before the Spanish lookouts spot them. If not, the Spanish will be alert for trouble.

Event #4 - The Battle

The best plan is to land a party of pirates on the far side of the island and capture the fort during the night. Then the Bonaventure could sail around the island arriving outside the bay at dawn. A sensible captain would immediately anchor and deliver broadside after broadside raking the San Cristobel from bows to stern. The pirates at the fort could use the small cannon there to devastating effect upon the galleon's sails and attack any groupings of officers or men upon the deck. If a gunner is with the fort party then heated shot can be used.

The Spanish will try to use the spring on their cable to turn the San Cristobel and return broadsides. The pirates must thwart this by firing at the capstan area. The Spanish will also launch boats crammed with men from the stern to recapture the fort. The pirates should fire into the boats from above to prevent the boats reaching the shore (and hence out of the field of fire).

If the pirates don't take the fort, then they must rely on successful raking broadsides and on preventing the galleon from turning broadside on. Meanwhile the fort cannon will be firing heated shot at their sails and decks (and into any boats sent to take men to the beach to dash up the cliff and neutralise the fort). There is a very real risk that the Bonaventure will be set on fire and the player-characters will have to prevent this by having fire-crews quench any fires.

If the San Cristobel does turn, the Spanish will first aim for rigging, masts and the deck to disable the Bonaventure and reduce her crew. Only if the fight is prolonged will they aim for the hull. The pirates' only chance will be to guess (correctly) that the galleon is damaged below the waterline and aim their broadsides as low as possible to sink the San Cristobel or to weigh anchor and run for it whilst they still can.

Event #5 - The Aftermath

The scenario can end in a number of ways:

  1. The Bonaventure captures the San Cristobel (relatively) intact. The ship is carrying one chest of gold specie (500 doubloons), four chests of silver specie (1,000 Pieces of Eight in each) and twenty large crates (100 pounds of silver bars per crate, each 100 pounds of silver is worth 2,000 Pieces of Eight). They may still have enough men for a prize crew to sail her back to Port Royale. Alternatively they may have to recover the cargo and scuttle the galleon. Prisoners must either be killed, marooned or taken back to Jamaica. If the last, there is always the risk of the Spanish retaking the galleon and/or capturing the Bonaventure.
  2. The San Cristobel is destroyed in the battle. The pirates will have to dream about might-have-beens.
  3. The Bonaventure is forced to flee. The San Cristobel may decide to give chase. A stern chase is a long chase, yet if the Bonaventure is sufficiently damaged, a further ship battle is probable.
  4. The Bonaventure is captured or destroyed. The surviving pirates (if any) may be able to evade capture by hiding on the island, otherwise imprisonment on the galleon is likely. They will have to save themselves from a lingering death in a Spanish gaol.

Game Statistics

Bonaventure Crew Statistics

Petty Officers

1-Handed Edged

66

Defensive Bonus

15

1-Handed Firearms

59

Awareness

56

2-Handed Firearms

44

Body Development

75

2-Handed

51

Climbing

68

Ambush

48

First Aid

35

Boxing

21

Rowing

44

Brawling

61

Sailing

60

Cannon

39

Sea Legs

71

Disarm Foe

41

Stalk/Hide

48

Polearm

51

Swim

29

Thrown

49

Initiative

5

Sailors

1-Handed Edged

58

Defensive Bonus

15

1-Handed Firearms

44

Awareness

45

2-Handed Firearms

39

Body Development

67

2-Handed

43

Climbing

60

Ambush

36

First Aid

30

Boxing

23

Rowing

39

Brawling

50

Sailing

55

Cannon

39

Sea Legs

70

Disarm Foe

50

Stalk/Hide

41

Polearm

38

Swim

19

Thrown

39

Initiative

5

San Cristobel Crew Statistics

Officers

1-Handed Edged

51

Defensive Bonus

12

1-Handed Firearms

40

Awareness

40

2-Handed Firearms

35

Body Development

73

2-Handed

36

Climbing

50

Ambush

19

First Aid

27

Boxing

16

Rowing

47

Brawling

38

Sailing

52

Cannon

32

Sea Legs

58

Disarm Foe

33

Stalk/Hide

34

Polearm

26

Swim

17

Thrown

30

Initiative

4

Sailors

1-Handed Edged

54

Defensive Bonus

0

1-Handed Firearms

38

Awareness

33

2-Handed Firearms

38

Body Development

53

2-Handed

39

Climbing

55

Ambush

27

First Aid

20

Boxing

14

Rowing

40

Brawling

42

Sailing

35

Cannon

27

Sea Legs

48

Disarm Foe

29

Stalk/Hide

27

Polearm

34

Swim

5

Thrown

33

Initiative

0

Soldiers

1-Handed Edged

63

Defensive Bonus

3

1-Handed Firearms

48

Awareness

40

2-Handed Firearms

63

Body Development

60

2-Handed

38

Climbing

32

Ambush

30

First Aid

25

Boxing

18

Rowing

-30

Brawling

51

Sailing

-30

Cannon

40

Sea Legs

19

Disarm Foe

31

Stalk/Hide

35

Polearm

43

Swim

5

Thrown

50

Initiative

1

Editor's Note

Please post your comments on this scenario in the RMSS Discussion Board.

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