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Subject: Ghost ship variant - Feedback and testing needed. rss

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Jay Caracappa
United States
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I found the Century edition of this game for almost 50% off and like many others, I was sucked in by the beauty of the game not knowing the gameplay that lurked within.

I have a great love of Pirate lore and decided to work on a variant for the game that centers around some of that lore. Mostly my own ideas, with a little of some that I read here tossed in. I have not playtested it yet, and was hoping some of the faithful here may stumble upon this and test it out and help me work out the kinks.

I must warn you, though. This version has not been playtested for game balance. I am looking for feedback on this. Any feedback on the imbalancing of the strategy of the game, the power of the artifacts, or the treasure(s) worth in the endgame would be greatly appreciated as I don't have the resources to actively playtest this variant at this time.

I hope this appeals to someone here and helps bring me closer to a polished version of this fun variant.

Any questions, comments, feedback, hatemail, please drop me a line @

If I can get this polished and working well as a variant, I will upload a more print friendly version of the final rules.



The Curse of the Red Lady
Pirate Captain Auriel Rae was the scourge of the seas. She was known as Captain Reds. She sailed the seas in her ship “The Red Lady” in search of the most valuable artifacts and treasures she could find. In her travels she acquired much treasure most of which was spent by her and her crew when they made port, but the most rare and most valuable, she kept closely guarded.

A clouded sapphire that allowed her ship to vanish into the mists.
A glittering emerald that gave her sight over the horizons.
A shimmering diamond that gave her power over the winds.
A glowing red ruby, matching her hair, which she wore as a pendant.
And the Twin Black Opal eyes from the Statue of Xtapolapocetl.

With such power at her fingertips, her crew became afraid of her ambitions and feared for their lives. One night while she slept in her cabin, her crew mutinied and demanded she cast the powerful jewels overboard never to be found again. She refused to give up key to the chest holding her treasures. Her crew took her pendant and tied a cannon to her legs. Just as they were about to toss her overboard, she cursed them to sail the seas forever, never again to make port.

Captain Reds was never seen again and the bloody rampage came to an end. No one has seen the Red Lady in port since then, but stories abound of a ship sailing over the horizons eerily shrouded in mists.

Perhaps she still carries the curse, but more importantly, she may also still carry her cache of treasure…

-The Ghost Ship appears on a roll of doubles by any player.
-Upon rolling doubles, the wind die is rolled to determine where the Ghost ship appears: (This roll does not change the current wind direction)
N – North quadrant of the map – Dread pirate logo
S – South quadrant of the map – The Kelp Morass
E – East quadrant of the map – Skull and Crossbones
W – West quadrant of the map – Compass icon
Dread pirate or Compass – Quadrant closest to doubles roller

-Has full cannon upgrade (See cannon upgrade variant) -Standard skirmish rules apply with the following differences
-If Player wins skirmish, pick a treasure from the unique treasure bag, and the Ghost ship disappears.
-If player loses, GS remains, and player’s ship is transported back to their home port.

-GS remains for 1 full turn. Disappears at the start of the original roller’s next turn after appearance. If doubles are rolled while GS is in play, do not treat as new appearance. GS remains and will disappear at beginning of original doubles roller’s turn.

-At the start of each turn the GS is in play, roll wind die and 1d6 and move the GS the direction indicated on the wind die. If dread pirate or compass is rolled on the wind die, move the GS based on the current wind direction. (This roll is only for determining GS movement. Current wind direction is not changed). GS will stop if land is encountered and will use the unlimited horizons rule if the map edge is encountered. If the GS encounters another ship while moving or if it stops in a position where it is able, it will conduct a skirmish with this ship.

Ghost ship Treasure: A player who defeats the GS will select a jewel from the unique treasure bag.

Jewel of the Mists (Opaque blue stone) – Unique jewel allows the ship’s owner to immediately move from any of the 4 map quadrants to another (See picture above). The ship needs only to enter the corresponding GS emergence point on a normal dice roll. The ship may not relocate to a quadrant where the GS is currently located. Upon ending movement in one of these locations, the ship may be immediately relocated to any of the other quadrants. No further movement this turn after relocation. In addition to this ability, the owner of this jewel may roll 1d6 to attempt to escape into the mists when attacked by another pirate. The owner of this jewel may choose not to attempt this roll.
When attacked roll 1d6
1-4 – Nothing happens. Battle occurs as normal
5-6 – Ship fades into the mist and reappears at the nearest GS quadrant. No skirmish occurs.

The Eye of the Mariner (Opaque green stone) – Unique jewel allows the owner to roll three movement dice after making his regular movement roll and add the highest die to his movement. This additional movement may be made into the wind, ignoring normal penalties. In addition to this ability, the owner of this jewel may use the “Unlimited Horizons” rule. (i.e. He may sail off the sides, top or bottom of the map and reappear on the opposite side on the same row/column and continue his move)

Whisperwind (Marbled clear/white stone) – Unique jewel allows the owner to select the wind direction prior to rolling for movement and affect all other ships for a cost. Prior to making a movement roll, the owner may toss one (1) jewel or one (1) gold doubloon overboard (Treasure is paid back to Dread Island) and select the wind direction. Each other player must roll 1d6 if a jewel was spent; 2d6-2 if a doubloon was spent and move that many spaces in the direction chosen by the owner of Whisperwind. Movement is halted by map edges and land. He then takes his turn as normal following standard movement rules with the wind direction he has chosen. At the conclusion of his movement, the player may leave the wind as he has chosen, or have it revert to the state it was in at the beginning of his turn.

Auriel’s Sorrow (Opaque red stone) – This jewel is cursed. At the start of each turn this jewel is in a pirates treasure stash, the owner must roll 1d6 to attempt to remove the curse. Use the following table for roll results
1-4 – The curse remains and the owner must pay 1 treasure to Dread Island. If the player runs out of jewels, then he must pay 1 doubloon, instead.
5-6 – The curse is lifted. The gem remains in the treasure stash, and will count as fifteen (15) treasures at the end of the game.
This jewel, if cursed, cannot be freely given away or used as payment for upgrades, though it can be plundered from losing a skirmish. If an attacking pirate plunders this gem, the curse begins anew, and the new owner must begin making rolls to remove the curse at the beginning of his next turn. This occurs every time the gem changes owners. If the gem remains cursed at the end of the game, it is counted as zero (0) treasures for its owner.

Black Opal Eye of Xtapolapocetl (Opaque black stone) – This jewel is worth twelve (12) treasures in the final treasure count.

Unique treasures are subject to being plundered from losing a skirmish. Due to this, a player may have more than one unique treasure in his stash.

The ghost ship will no longer appear if all six treasures have been acquired, unless one of the treasures is placed back in the stash as payment for an upgrade.

Treasure value change:
Jewels worth one (1) treasure
Doubloons worth two (2) treasures
Unique Jewels worth five (5) treasures (Exception: Auriel’s Sorrow) – Can be plundered from skirmish wins.
Rare Black Opal worth twelve (12) treasures – Can be plundered from skirmish wins

A player rolls 1d6+2 for treasure from Dread Island.

Port Trading change

Trading at a foreign port is subject to the following difference:
-The owner of the port still rolls 1d6 for the amount of jewels given in trade. The trading player rolls 1d6 for coins given according to the following table. All doubloons are paid to Dread Island.
1-3 – Player pays one (1) doubloon
4-6 – Player pays two (2) doubloons

Cannon upgrades

A player may purchase upgrades to a max of three cannons to add additional dice to all skirmish (attack and defense) rolls.

For each cannon on a ship, a player will roll 1d6 and select the best roll to use as his result. This is the only die used for treasure determination should the player win the skirmish

Example: Jay has 2 cannons on his ship and attacks Laurie who only has one. Jay rolls a 5 and a 1; Laurie rolls a 3. Jay uses the 5 to win the skirmish and pulls 5 treasures from Laurie’s stash.

Upgrade can only be purchased at a player’s home port. Each upgrade costs three (3) treasures. Any combination of jewels, doubloons may be used. All treasure is paid to Dread Island.

First upgrade cannot be purchased until player is in a skirmish, or a successful foreign port raid.

Second upgrade cannot be purchased until a second skirmish or second successful foreign port raid.

Safe Harbors rule:
No skirmishes may be fought within the harbors as outlined by the boundaries below:

(Email me for the map with the boundaries drawn)

This rule is to alleviate the back and forth fighting that will occur when multiple ships are awaiting the port to open so they may raid or trade.

Additional pieces needed:
-One (1) piece to represent the Ghost Ship. A ship marker from another game would be ideal
-Six (6) additional stones that match the original jewels in size and shape as closely as possible:
-Four (4) unique colors (Unique treasures) – different from the jewels in the game
Prior to the game, determine which color represents which unique jewel.
-Two (2) matching colors, ideally black (Opals) – Also different from the in-game jewels.
-Additional pouch for holding the unique treasures for blind pulls.
-Markers to keep track of cannon upgrades purchased by each player
-It is suggested to use a spare jewel on the compass on the map to indicate the current wind direction as the Wind die gets much use for the movement of the Ghost Ship.
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Chris Heffernan
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We will also give this a go next time we play, and will provide feedback.
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Jay Caracappa
United States
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I updated original post with editted rules after a couple of playtests.

-change to to trading rules.
-Removed port upgrade rules.
-Changed cannon upgrade cost and usability. (only used in skirmishes)
-Changed die roll for treasure from Dread island.
-Added safe harbor rules.
-Ghost ship uses Unlimited horizon rule from rulebook, and will skirmish a ship that it encounters when moving. Also amended GS appearance.
-Changed outcome when losing skirmish to GS.
-Updated Jewel of the Mists rule. Owner can chose not to make escape roll.
-All treasures are paid to Dread Island, not back to home port.
-Added suggestion for using a spare jewel to mark wind direction instead of wind die as the die is used repeatedly to place and move the Ghost ship.

Additionally, we ignore the surrender and mutiny rules, and the Desperation gambit rule. We are trying to rework the loss of all treasure by a ship. Instead of losing the game entirely, we are trying to come up with a fair way of reinstating the ship into the game without stealing treasure unfairly and allowing them a chance to get back into the game.

As always, please email with any comments.
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