Duke Forecastle - Part 19

Duke Forecastle - Part 19

Carrack did not, in fact, have a deck of cards handy. But he produced three bone-colored dice from a suede coin purse in the pocket of his frock coat.

Forecastle took the dice from his first mate’s hand and dropped down to his knees on the bare wooden deck. “Your coins, too,” he said, seeing that Carrack was putting his purse away. The captain slapped the planks with an open palm. “Come on. Get down here, we’re playing bunco.” He put it in the form of an order, to avoid an argument.

Carrack made a quick, skeptical glance in the direction of the Anchorbar man-o’-war, now looming into beam range. “Aye, sir,” he said.

He knelt beside Forecastle at the corner of the command post platform, emptied the purse into his hand, and showed his silver and bronze coins. “I’ve got sixty.”

Forecastle shook his head. “I don’t have any,” he said.

Coins, a fabricated nonmagical currency, were collected and spent as a mark of status among enlisted units. They were not generally an item that warlords used, but most of Her Majesty’s officers carried a pouch of them to disburse to underlings as rewards for exceptional performance or behavior. (Not every side controlled their coinage this way; some rulers didn’t even allow coins at all.) Forecastle had carried a pouch with him when he’d boarded Unsinkable II, but they’d gone to the bottom of the ocean still secured in his desk drawer.

“Here,” said Carrack, offering his fistful of coins to Forecastle.

The captain shook his head, and waved the hand away. “On second thought, it should be real stakes, I think. Something we care about.”

Carrack stared at him blankly.

“I mean...all right, if you lose, then you have to feed and groom my eagle for ten turns.” He pointed upward. “And be kind to it.”

The first mate glanced up at the bird on the cross-jack yard, and made a sour face. “Aye, n’ what if I win?”

“Then, um...”

Forecastle was at a loss. He looked around for something he could offer as compensation. A lot of the crew were standing around and staring at the two of them on their knees. He didn’t care to think about the picture they must be painting.

What could he bet...? It was utterly stupid to let such a trivial detail stop this experiment—which was itself fairly stupid and desperate—but he really could not think of a thing to offer.

At that point, though, Carrack got a sudden, mean glint in his eye. “If you lose, Cap’n...” he said, leaning forward, “if you lose, then you have to climb the main mast and sing, ‘Titans Save the Queen!’ Standin’ up, on the topgallant yard! With no hands!”

Forecastle’s eyes went wide and he blanched, as he tried (but failed) not to picture it. “Fine. It’s a bet,” he said, before he could change his mind.

He shot a glance up at the eagle and silently ordered it to curse his luck. Curse my luck. Make me lose, he silently ordered. Then he bent forward and rolled the dice.

They tumbled on the command platform, and came up 3-4-2.

“Nothing,” said Forecastle. He passed the dice.

Carrack cautiously picked them up and rolled them in front of him. 1-1-1 was the result.

“Ha! Bunco!” he laughed nervously.

The captain nodded. “Right. Twenty-one to nothing.”

He picked up the dice and rolled: 4-1-3. “Nm-nm.” Shaking his head, he passed the dice to the first officer.

Carrack rolled a 2-2-2. “Bunco,” he said again. But this time he didn’t laugh.

“Forty-two to zero,” said Forecastle, as he swept up the dice. He threw: 1-2-4.

Carrack now looked him in the eye with an expression of vague dread, as he took up the dice and shook them in his hand for an extra moment, before rolling a 3-3-3. “Bunco,” he said, without a trace of joy in it.

Captain Forecastle retrieved the dice again, and glanced back at the bird. Its points said:

Special: Luckamancy Reserve - capacity: 4/30

It had gained no new Luckamancy, despite clear evidence that the curse on his luck was in effect.

He shook the dice in his hand, still looking at the unit. He had a guess as to what was going on.

“Bird,” he said to it, “I said curse me; don’t bless him. Take all my good rolls for yourself. Don’t spend them on bettering his luck, okay?”

One of the double eagle’s heads put its beak in the air haughtily, while the other one squawked at him with a tilt-headed expression that he would have taken for condescension in any human unit.

“Fours,” said Forecastle to Carrack. He rolled, and got: 1-3-1.

Carrack, having watched the exchange, looked at the Captain quizzically as he picked up the dice and took his turn. This time, he did not roll a bunco. His roll was: 6-4-2.

“Four points,” said the captain. “So, what...forty-two...sixty-three, plus four. It’s sixty-seven to nothing.” Forecastle took up the dice and checked the eagle’s points again. Stubbornly, it said:

Special: Luckamancy Reserve - capacity: 4/30

He shook his head. “Maybe we have to finish the game, or it doesn’t count,” he wondered aloud.

“Nay, Cap’n. Even if you bunco out, you can’t win,” said Carrack. “The game’s over.” Forecastle could see the whites of his eyes; he looked almost terror-struck. This kind of playing around with luck must have been quite disturbing for a superstitious seafarer to watch, he supposed.

“That’s true,” the captain said, thinking it over. “You’ve already won. So why didn’t it—”

Someone up above may have yelled out a warning, a sliver of a second before the blast, but it was no matter. HMS Double Eagle all but blew apart.

Recent posts... (See full thread)
Knight13 wrote:
Okay, so apparently you can't exploit a double eagle's Luckamancy by making it steal luck from trivial stuff. Or maybe you can, but the luck gained from such trivial rolls was too little to count as another point of reserve yet?


For whatever reason, the gambit he was trying shouldn't have worked.

He was trying to game the system - but for him, being lucky wasn't going to be winning or losing at cards or dice. It was getting the Luckamancy reserve filled.

At best, he'd be spending a point to gain a point, being lucky that he got a result at all.

A desperate measure, worth trying but doomed to fail.

Of course, telling the bird to curse his luck and getting the boat blown to pieces around him in the process might have different results. That wasn't him gaming the system...that was either the other side getting a good offensive roll, or his getting a bad defensive one.
barawn wrote:
darkness visible wrote:
Make your soldiers that goblin. Give the enemies their crits, but give them where they don't matter.


That would be easy to do: create massive amounts of cheap, weak units, and send them in first in waves. They get critical hits against them out the wazoo, but who cares. Then once the bird is full, send in the actual units you care about.

This isn't terribly overpowered, since the counter tactic is the exact opposite - create cheap units to try to absorb critical hits when the eagle supports. Since the eagle's bonus is directable, this isn't a perfect counter, but it still puts it in the "about as overpowered as any powerful creature" category.


Or just kill the Eagle. We already know it has to be close to use it's luckamancy. Sure it could avoid the first 30 shots at the cost of 30 weak ineffective troops, but that's only 30 arrows it can dodge. And every arrow it dodges weakens it's ability to influence the fight further.
Lilwik wrote:
I think that people were right in the previous episode thread when they pointed out that in a game like this you can't really curse one player without blessing the other. It seems like the fact that both players were on the eagle's side means that the eagle's luck reserve has a net change of zero. It's just shifting luck from one player to another instead of taking luck for itself. Forecastle clearly doesn't understand this, but the eagle understands and that would explain the condescending attitude.

I suspect that if the dice were being played by a Seaworld unit against an Anchorbar unit, then the eagle could gain luck by cursing the Seaworld unit.


I'm not disagreeing, however that would not explain the earlier issues they had with really bizarre levels of bad luck in previous games they were playing when the DE first joined.

It's possible they just were being superstitious and any bad hands or rolls were blamed on the bird, but I'm thinking that the DE was (passively?) making the rolls unlucky.

That could be part of the equation; demanding bad luck is not as feasible as getting blessed with good luck? Most magic casters involve little control over generating power (mana, spells, et al) and most control over releasing it.
So if I'm understanding correctly, the Double Eagle doesn't cause bad luck, it only feeds off of it. It couldn't make Forecastle lose, except by making Carrack win - which of course led to an equilibrium in the luck being exchanged. Am I following that right?
ScottishMongol wrote:
So if I'm understanding correctly, the Double Eagle doesn't cause bad luck, it only feeds off of it. It couldn't make Forecastle lose, except by making Carrack win - which of course led to an equilibrium in the luck being exchanged. Am I following that right?


It could be an aura that's not actively triggered, or is always "on" and generates negative Luck constantly -- nobody else notices the negative Luck when the positive Luck is "fired" because it's much more dramatic and targeted, and/or overshadows the negative Luck at the time of firing. The aura is constant, but is not 100% -- like sunlight feeding a plant, it takes time to actually bloom.
Lilwik wrote:
I think that people were right in the previous episode thread when they pointed out that in a game like this you can't really curse one player without blessing the other. It seems like the fact that both players were on the eagle's side means that the eagle's luck reserve has a net change of zero. It's just shifting luck from one player to another instead of taking luck for itself. Forecastle clearly doesn't understand this, but the eagle understands and that would explain the condescending attitude.

I suspect that if the dice were being played by a Seaworld unit against an Anchorbar unit, then the eagle could gain luck by cursing the Seaworld unit.


I think this is spot on. The bird doesn't usually have an issue with "same-team" dynamics because it is a factionless monster. It probably has two settings- 1. low-grade rigging and 2. Outright luck retention.


Setting 1- The little things that will eventually increase luckamancy reserves but are probably mainly used to establish that Setting 2 is a possibility. Since the bird was able to almost fill up on luckomancy before the big fight (and nobody died) then we have some semblance of proof that you can increase luck reserves without needing an enemy to be in the hex. Was this "1 point luck for the rope breaking, another point for accidentally stumbling into the enemy, another point for it being during a storm, etc..." or was this "Tim fell asleep while on watch three nights in a row (but no enemy attacking during that time, Sam lost all his coins after rolling poorly for ten games in a row, Sally threw her back out after an unusually large sneeze but was healed, as normal, at daybreak, etc...". Whatever the case, the eagle probably doesn't have much control over the specifics.

Setting 2- Direct manipulation. The eagle can make a person roll either a positive critical or a negative critical. This either increases it's luckamancy reserve by providing a +1 luck to a non-allied unit or decreases it by providing a +1 luck to an ally.

The first setting probably nets (RANDOM GUESS COMING) 1 or 2 luck per turn for it spending the whole day manipulating irrelevant events. The second setting probably nets as many luck points as the eagle is interested in collecting or distributing.

Forecaster is doing something that WILL work and WILL collect luck, he just needs to ask Anchorbar to chill for, oh, a few weeks worth of gambling and singing.

OR, he can start commanding the eagle to provide enough luck to his captive to escape and then send down his lowest level troops, sans armor and weapons, to brawl with the captive. Give the eagle orders to keep giving the captive some lucky (incapacitating) hay-makers until reserves are filled. Send down some armored, high level fighters to recapture. And there you go, a means to game the system by providing positive luck to an opponent.

The first rule of below-decks luck harvesting fight club is...
El Chupacabra wrote:
I'm not disagreeing, however that would not explain the earlier issues they had with really bizarre levels of bad luck in previous games they were playing when the DE first joined.
There is a big difference between the unlucky games that happened before the bird joined the crew and the game that Forecastle plays in this episode. Remember that those games didn't merely have improbable dice and cards; the dice and cards caused fights which would be unlucky for everyone involved rather than being lucky for one person and unlucky for another.
Isn't harming the eagle supposed to bring bad luck? Suppose the Anchormen killed it?
Lipkin wrote:
Isn't harming the eagle supposed to bring bad luck? Suppose the Anchormen killed it?
As the eagle's last act before death it would surely spend as much of its reserve as possible to curse the people who killed it.
Lilwik wrote:
As the eagle's last act before death it would surely spend as much of its reserve as possible to curse the people who killed it.

Actually, this makes me wonder. If that's really the explanation for the curse and not an additional mechanic, then killing an eagle as soon as it landed would cause no curse - since it spent its reserve on the previous ship it visited as a "burst of good fortune".