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Rapscallion wants to be One Piece and Our Flag Means Death fans’ favourite tabletop RPG

A “strange pirate” RPG five years in the making.

Key art for Rapscallion RPG from Magpie Games' Backerkit campaign
Image credit: Magpie Games

Rapscallion has finally charted a course towards publishing a physical edition of its “strange pirate” tabletop RPG after spending five years in development and playtesting. One of Magpie Games’ longest running projects (I see you, Cartel) is crowdfunding now on Backerkit.

Created by tabletop designer Whistler and published by the studio behind Avatar Legends and the Root RPG, Rapscallion offers players a very simple but enticing pitch: don’t you want to be rowdy pirates exploring a sea full of mystery? More than a Pirates of the Caribbean roleplay simulator, this 250-page book employs a heady mix of pulp adventure, weird fantasy and a nonchalant attitude towards laws.

Players will create a crew of pirates on The Great Sea, a strange expanse of water that contains ghost ships, magical practitioners, gods and deities, demons, djinns, curses and every other tall tale swapped in the belly of a ship. A crew can be any hodge podge of roguish weirdos, and the Powered by the Apocalypse-style engine keeps the narrative focused on danger, adventure and reliance on your crew above all else.

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Classes in this game, called playbooks, range from the imperious captain and daring swashbuckler to the deal-brokering Mountebank, wicked Chirurgeon and humble Shiprat. The group will then map out their version of The Great Sea, dotting it with bustling island nations, sprawling archipelagos and foreboding No Man’s Land begging to be explored. Rapscallion’s setting can be as fantastical and alien or close to ours as a group wishes - the zany themed islands of One Piece’s Grand Line or privateer-governed waters of the Caribbean are both possible.

One thing the pitch makes clear is that the Law and its cronies are the crew’s biggest, and most dogged enemies. Pirates will need to rely on each other, leaning on a system of bonds, interplayer connections, and personal secrets, vices and ambitions to tie everyone together - whether that feels like family or the only folks who can match your lust for freedom.

Crews will construct their beloved ship from a host of options in Rapscallion's core rulebook, collaboratively deciding on the look, features and capabilities of their sea-worthy home. Like the crew type in Blades in the Dark, a crew’s ship will determine their style of pirating - a heavily armoured galleon can stand toe-to-toe with Navy vessels, but it will struggle to slip past blockades and explore dangerous channels compared to a lightweight schooner outrigged for adventure.

Key art for Rapscallion RPG from Magpie Games' Backerkit campaign
Image credit: Magpie Games

Even the character stats are crusted with salty pirate flavour. Blood helps you react to trouble and sudden action, while Vinegar powers your cutlass-sharp plans and whip-smart wit. Polish lets you hobnob with kings and beggars alike, while Spitfire represents that feral need to be unshackled from society - your luck is never better than when surrounded by waves instead of fences.

Rapscallion’s Backerkit campaign will run through April 18th and is funding a physical core rulebook, along with a digital PDF version. Magpie Games currently estimates the project should make its way into the hands of backers by March 2025.

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Rapscallion

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Chase Carter

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Chase is a freelance journalist and media critic. He enjoys the company of his two cats and always wants to hear more about that thing you love. Follow him on Twitter for photos of said cats and retweeted opinions from smarter folks.
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