[RPG Anthology] Skull and Crossbones preview

As you might recall, we funded the inclusion of several new chapters for They Came from the RPG Anthology! in 2023, with one of them being the popularly voted They Came from Under the Skull and Crossbones! Get a sneak peek below at some of the upcoming content, including one of the many new Archetypes and few of several new Cinematics:

The Swashbuckler

War, sailing, and love aren’t so different. All you need to triumph at each is a strong heart and a trusted weapon.

— Isabella Valente

Announced by the sound of dueling swords, Swashbucklers enter the scene dangling on a rope or cutting their path through a ship’s sails. They deliver swift strikes and witty barbs, demonstrating their masterful fighting skills while enjoying every moment of the battle — every heartbeat of thrilling exploits — before stealing a roguish kiss from their loved ones and sailing into another chapter of their personal adventure. Swashbucklers embody the romantic dream of piracy like no other Archetype. They’re heroes ready to rescue innocents from the clutches of buccaneers and lovable pirates whose hearts sing for passion and freedom.

Swashbucklers and their weapons are an extension of each other. Rapiers and cutlasses are classics, with long swords and claymores right behind, but all Swashbucklers know how to defend themselves no matter the circumstances. Their fighting skills merge with splendid athleticism to create talents worthy of a real romance novel’s protagonist.


Every Swashbuckler can count on their appearance to face any challenge. Swashbucklers make no distinction between civil or pirate-leaning fashion: All join the action with dangerously open shirts and hair remaining just that right amount of wet to appear exciting even in the driest calms, alongside gazes and smiles that would make a crab mutiny against the seabed. Hats, when present, feature decorative feathers, while exposed limbs are also common. A glistening sword or two at the side is, no doubt, par for the course.

Origins and Ambitions

Unlike other characters sailing under flags both noble and vile, the lives of Swashbucklers don’t revolve around sea and ships but rather around swords and duels.

Swashbuckler Origins are as varied as the blades swung across the seven seas, each determining their combative attitude and talents. A Swashbuckler with background as a Humble Yet Brave Blacksmith (Aim, Integrity, Science, Technology) and a Rebellious Aristocratic Firstborn (Culture, Humanities, Science, Persuasion) couldn’t be more different aside from their fighting talents. A Pirate Princess (Aim, Athletics, Command, Pilot) and a Lethal First Mate (Aim, Close Combat, Empathy, Integrity) demonstrate how the Archetype can be fiercely independent or unwaveringly loyal to another person’s dream.

Each Swashbuckler has a different dream, even if they all strive to achieve it through personal excellence and sharp cutlasses. Some are destined to fight one another in pursuit of their goal to become the Best Swordsman of the Seas (Athletics, Close Combat, Integrity, Survival), while others aspire to nothing more than being able to Defend My Chosen Home (Culture, Empathy, Enigmas, Science). Some romantic Swashbucklers go to adventure with A Heart Full of Love (Empathy, Enigmas, Integrity, Persuasion), others aspire to Rid the World of Pirates (Aim, Close Combat, Culture, Survival), and a few famous ones hold dear the Ambition to Kill My Father’s Assassin (Close Combat, Empathy, Integrity, Larceny).


Swashbucklers are born for adventuring and making it look easy. Everything they do can rely on the combination of Close Combat, to triumph in any duel, and Athletics, to jump from crow’s nests or swim through the waves while saving this week’s loved one. Medicine helps them treat all the inevitable cuts and stabs, even in the middle of a storm, while Technology offers them the expertise to tend to ships and forge the blades they adore so much.


Dueling Etiquette: Your fighting expertise grants you advantages, but form demands you employ them with class. You always act first in a combat scene and the successive rounds, without needing to roll initiative. If you pass the initiative to an opponent after your turn, you get a +1 Enhancement on all rolls for the remainder of the scene, cumulative up to +5 for each turn you keep doing so with the same antagonist. Don’t mind your friends’ protests: They just don’t get it.

Falling with Style: Once per scene, you need not worry about falling or landing. You always have a knife to slow the descent ready, hit the exact spot where sharp rocks won’t murder you, have another table or chandelier ready to keep going, or somehow find a providential stack of hay ready.

Pleasant Sparring: Once per session, you can provoke a character into joining a friendly duel. The match heals all your Injuries and resolves any ongoing negative Conditions / Status Effects. Additionally, for each round you keep the duel going through harmless attack rolls, you can ask your opponent to reveal a piece of information, and they must answer honestly. If you fail an attack roll at any point, you slip and injure the opponent, causing 1 damage and ending the pleasant confrontation.

Swashbuckling Space: You can’t swing a sword if you don’t have one, but that’s not a problem for you. Once per session, for the remainder of the scene, you can produce a personal weapon as a simple action, no matter how absurd the circumstances. The Trope stops working the moment you retrieve any nonmelee weapon, out of the sheer feeling of betrayal for swashbuckling customs.

Unbound Heart: Your love can bring others back from Davy Jones’ locker. Once per session, you can revive a character back to full Health through a passionate plea. If you use this Trope another time in the same story, though, you undergo a Death Scene right after its effects play out. It’s up to all the players to decide whether that happens because of emotional stress or people violently questioning who exactly you’re faithful to.

Example Character

Isabella Valente

Origin: Pirate Princess

Ambition: Kill My Father’s Assassin

The daughter of the famous corsair Manuel Valente, Isabella spent the first years of her life raised in a house of love, made prosperous by her father’s sanctioned piracy in the name of the crown of Spain. While her mother always pushed Isabella to become a proper lady, Manuel encouraged her passion for swordsmanship. The youthful idyll ended the day one of her father’s former associates invited the family for a celebration, only to spring a trap upon them and betray Manuel, handing him to the British government for execution in exchange for a pardon, a title, and a hefty amount of gold. Isabella escaped, vowing revenge and training all her life to put it into practice.

Isabella embraced the pirate life, finding a new family in the scoundrels of the Caribbean. Exceptional with the sword, Isabella lives each day with enthusiasm but never forgets what was taken from her. Each ship she raids and each duel she wins are but steps leading her to pierce the heart of those who destroyed her family.

Tropes: Dueling Etiquette (vengeance is no excuse for lack of form), Falling with Style (she never uses the stairs to leave a scene), Ram or Be Rammed (never put yourself between Isabella and her target)


Pirate-story protagonists are salty sailors and brave buccaneers. Their actions earn them a mythical status, echoes of a lifetime of adventure, freedom, and plundered treasures. Combined with the nautical folklore featuring the sea itself as a character of its own, any pirate romp has loads of coffers full of story ideas to pick from.

They Came from Under the Skull and Crossbones! takes those precious seafaring beats, smelts them into Cinematics, and shares a cut with Directors and players alike. Just make sure not to spend them all on grog and pleasant company before we sail for the next port, yeh big barnacle.

Broadside Barrage!

Cost: 3 Rewrites

The good thing about having a myriad of ships armed to the teeth handy is that whenever you need destructive firepower, you only need to ask.

This Cinematic unleashes an explosive cannon barrage upon the scene, fired from an unseen Galleon or proud fortress nearby, no matter the distance. The barrage obliterates any physical obstacle you wish destroyed, razing barricades and sinking nameless ships.

If you wish so, at the beginning of each round, you can decide to keep the barrage going, in which case it defeats a minor antagonist each round and, once those are gone, halves the Health of a major antagonist, rounded down. Doing so inflicts a Major Complication on all the protagonists’ rolls, though, resulting in 1 Injury — and badly ringing ears — when not bought off.


Cost: 1 Rewrite

Any good sailor knows better than not to honor the code of the sea — well, at least to treat it as a guideline. One of its most honored traditions involves allowing seafarers to discuss things and find a polite agreement written in grog and gunpowder.

When you use this Cinematic, any ongoing fight stops, giving characters and villains the opportunity to talk over their differences through a Social contest rather than a Physical one. While the difficulty of rolls to persuade antagonists depends on their disposition and attitude, this Cinematic opens up a sincere opportunity unaffected by any Complication and bypasses language barriers. Only sea creatures and monsters prove immune to it, so you’ll need to find other ways to befriend a shark.

Parrot Recorder

Cost: 2 Rewrites

Parrots come in all sorts of colors and feather sizes, but each is a pirate’s most trusted friend.

When purchasing this Cinematic, a friendly parrot comes to your aid. Pick an effect:

•       The parrot flies unseen in a location within Long range and records whatever conversation a target inside is having, relaying it to you via squawky recording later on. With this effect, you can ask the Director to reveal any secret or intention of the chosen target.

•       The parrot imitates the voice of someone relevant, like an officer with authority or governor’s daughter. Characters hearing its voice mistake the parrot for the real deal and follow any order the person would realistically give.

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