Tall Tales

Tall Tales

You may not believe it, but I swear it’s true as day is long! The Captain took a sword to the gut and laughed it off – and then he lopped the bastard’s head right off!

Strange things happen at sea, and sailors swear by the most impossible things. As heroes of the high seas, Fortune smiles on you – but her blessings are unpredictable. Tall Tales are a mechanic to represent the strange luck of your characters, giving you – the player – some control over her fortunes. This system rewards high-risk high-reward play, befitting epic adventures on the high seas!

At the beginning of each session, each player draws 1 ordinary playing card. This is your Tall Tale for the session, and can be played to influence your fate. The card can be played on yourself, or on another character if you so fancy. What the Tall Tale concerns depends on the card’s suit:

HEARTS: Cheating Death! When an attack, spell, or other effect would reduce you to 0 HP or below, play Hearts to instead be set to 1/10 your maximum HP (round down). By a twist of fate, you survive what should be deadly. If you have any Hearts cards left as the session ends, each heals (half your level) d8 Hit Points as consolidation for never getting to use it.

DIAMONDS: Incredible Success! When you play Diamonds, do one of the following:
*Set one skill check or ability check result to 20, instead of rolling.
*Automatically confirm a critical hit, instead of rolling.
*Increase the DC to resist one of your spells or special abilities by 5 for one instant.
As luck would have it, you succeed with incredible grace.

SPADES: Second Chance! When you play Spades, re-roll any d20 roll you made with a +4 bonus, or force an enemy to re-roll any one d20 roll they just made against you but with a -4 penalty. What seems to be a failure is turned, in the nick of time, into success. Keep the new result only if it is better than the old one.

CLUBS: Lucky Streak! When you play Clubs, gain a +4 luck bonus to any one Ability Score, or a +2 luck bonus to any two Ability Scores. This luck bonus lasts for 1 in-game hour or until the end of the session, whichever comes first.

Although it is possible to gain more Tall Tales during the session, each session you begin play with only 1 card, drawn randomly.

When your character undertakes a particularly brave and/or insane feat, betting big on succeeding with something dangerous, difficult, or just downright stupid, Fortune smiles upon you. Draw 1 Tall Tale card if and only if the action fails. If the action succeeded, you were lucky already! The GM is final arbiter of what counts as a sufficiently crazy stunt, but failure must have some real consequence for your character.

You may also acquire Tall Tales by tempting fate. Tempting Fate is possible at any point during the game session, but it invites danger. Whenever you are about to undertake an action involving a significant element of risk, you may declare that you’re Tempting Fate and draw a card from the deck. If the action succeeds, nothing further happens. If the action fails, however, it fails spectacularly, resulting in a botch which cannot be mitigated in any way. Sailor’s tales also involve freak accidents and dangerous mistakes, after all.
Whether the action succeeds or fails, you keep the card. However, the more players tempt fate, the more dangerous the botches become. The first time Tempt Fate is used in a session, a botch might result in a fizzled spell, the character falling prone, a wasted action, et cetera. The second time it might result in automatically striking a friend, casting a spell on the wrong target, or becoming entangled in one’s equipment. Once Tempt Fate has been used five or more times, it enters truly deadly territory – a botch might result in an automatic critical hit on an ally, the destruction of a piece of valuable equipment, a spell going completely rogue, or other wild and dangerous effects.

The GM may always veto the use of Tempt Fate, especially if the risk of failure is very low, or there is no even remotely plausible way the action could go horribly wrong.

Tall Tales can also be spent as Glory Points, adding +1d10 before the roll or +1d6 after the roll, irrespective of the suit.

Each character grows their own legend over time. Character specific tall tales unlock the ability for your character to do something truly unique under certain circumstances…

Tall Tales

Avast! Riklurt Riklurt