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Collect sea shanties in this sailor themed tabletop roleplaying game

Hey-oh! And off they roleplay.

Sail the oceans to gather sea shanties in this tabletop roleplaying game about 19th century sailors.

Shanty Hunters is a tabletop RPG inspired by the golden era of nautical history and the traditional methods of sailing. Taking place towards the end of the 1800s, Shanty Hunters sees players becoming sailors and scholars who are passionate about commercial sailing and want to keep the traditions alive through the art of the sea shanty.

Sea shanties are traditional folk songs that sailing crews would sing whilst working on the deck and were passed between sailors as part of their oral history. The genre has recently come back into popularity thanks to Tik Tok users collaborating on videos in which they sing the different parts for each song. Well-known sea shanties include ‘What Shall we do with The Drunken Sailor?’ and ‘Molly Malone’.

An image of artwork from Shanty Hunters depicting the rescue of people lost at sea.

As members of a sailing crew, players in Shanty Hunters are travelling across the oceans in order to document various shanties sung by the sailors of the world. With steamboats becoming more and more prevalent, the practices and cultures of traditional sailing are dying out and must be preserved by the players. However, the players will not only have to face the rising tide of modernity, but also a wicked spirit that doesn’t want shanties to be discovered by people living on the land.

Throughout their travels, players will encounter the spirit’s wrath by it manifesting the images and events from the shanties they discover, with the group needing to keep themselves alive and the ship afloat. The rules-light roleplaying game features 17 shanties to find, with 20 ports to dock at and six pre-generated characters to choose from – or can otherwise create their own sailors and scholars.

Players and the game master will be using the Gumshoe gameplay system to play, which is also used in the horror tabletop RPG Trail of Cthulhu – that has players becoming investigators attempting to stop the Old Ones from awakening and invading Earth – and The Yellow King Roleplaying Game.

Johnny highlights the best TRPGs that aren't Dungeons & Dragons.

Shanty Hunters was created by Tristen Zimmerman, the author behind several TRPG books such as Archive: Historical People, Places and Events for RPGs and Making History: Three One-Session RPGs, a collection of playable storylines themed around different historical time periods.

After a successfully crowdfunding Kickstarter campaign in December 2021, the digital PDF version of Shanty Hunters is available to download from DriveThruRPG for $20 (£15).

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About the Author
Alex Meehan avatar

Alex Meehan

Senior Staff Writer

After writing for Kotaku UK, Waypoint and Official Xbox Magazine, Alex became a member of the Dicebreaker editorial family. Having been producing news, features, previews and opinion pieces for Dicebreaker for the past three years, Alex has had plenty of opportunity to indulge in her love of meaty strategy board games and gothic RPGS. Besides writing, Alex appears in Dicebreaker’s D&D actual play series Storybreakers and haunts the occasional stream on the Dicebreaker YouTube channel.

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