This is based on the information that Steve Jackson sends to conventions which are interested in hosting the Pirate Game. If you ignore all the parts that are specific to Steve Jackson it’s a good general guide to running the game. All mentions of “I” throughout this page refer to Steve Jackson.
Allow a couple of hours just for setup, and 6-8 minimum for play. Plus an hour or more for breakdown. It takes time to assemble ships and islands, and more time to put them up again.
People can come in and out at any time. But it’s not worth setting it up for less than 6 hours of play! (Theoretically, it could run 24 hours a day at a big con with lots of referees.) If it’s only 6 or so hours, I just run the combat part… if it is longer, we get into the roleplaying.
A room at least 20 x 30, and bigger is better. I have never been offered a space that is TOO big . . .
It is best if the space is NOT shared with other games (that is, please try NOT to just stick this in one end of a larger gaming room). Please give me walls between this game and others. If I have to shout to make myself heard, I may not make it through the day. (And if all the pirates yell “Arrrrrrrr!” — which they do — it’s distracting to others in the same room.)
If the rug is blue for ocean, that’s neat. If not, well, we just pretend.
This space MUST be securely lockable, unless we are going to set up once, play, and break down, or else pick everything up and move it in between sessions.
Since the game is very visual, it is fantastic to have it in an open atrium, protected by velvet ropes, so everybody can see it as they pass. Good bait for news cameras… big Lego ships, cute Lego islands, people in costume. This just means that everything has to be picked up and hauled to a secure space when the game is not being played. But it’s worth it for the extra visibility.
Or, if the weather is fine, we can play outside on the lawn!
FURNITURE AND FIXTURES
We will need at least three 8-foot tables around the edges to hold ships and stuff, and one more table with chairs for the GM and the Sutler(s), leaving lots of floor space to push the ships around.
I will need an electrical outlet for my computer!
I have something over 40 assorted ships from small to huge, more than 800 minifigs, and enough stuff to build a wide variety of islands. But if you are setting up your own game, you can have a lot of fun without collecting nearly this much junk! You can have a nice little fleet action with just three or four ships on a side, and I’ve seen some very exciting dogfights between just two ships.
When I actually get everything onto this site, I’ll add a checklist of the various charts, forms, cheatsheets and rules required to play.
If I bring all my ships, we can have about 20 players at a time in a roleplaying scenario, or twice that many if we just put all the ships on the floor and run a big naval battle! The more, the merrier . . . but a full-scale game of either type will require at least 3 helpers. See below.
Setup takes a minimum of two hours, and breakdown an hour or more. I will always appreciate help from people who like playing with Lego . . . ships need to be assembled, islands need to be built . . .
I’ll need at least three assistant referees at all times. Some can be trained from on-site volunteers; I can often arrange for local MIBs to come help, if the con gives them memberships. If the convention offers a companion plane ticket to its guests (note: this is highly desirable), I can use mine for someone who has helped me run the game before, either a staff member or a MIB. The longer the con wants this game to run, the more help is needed.
If it’s in an open space or a big room, I like having a responsible person from Con Security present full-time. Not necessary, but desirable.
If the con assigns me a full-time liaison person, make it somebody who has a sense of humor and is willing to wear a bandanna or something while they’re around the game, and I’ll work them in!
MONEY AND PRIZES
I currently ask $250 to bring the Lego and run the game. This covers shipping, replacing small lost/broken/walked-away stuff, insurance against a BIG disaster, some small prizes, and consumables (record sheets and so on). Some cons want to cover this by charging an entry fee . . . which is ok with me; do what you want.
If you want to charge an entry fee, you may want to offer bigger prizes to attract people (like a whole Lego ship, maybe a new one still in the box). If you want to offer prizes, tell me how much more you want to blow on it 🙂 I’ve got some extra ships, and if I don’t have what you want, I’ll tell you where to look. Some of the pirate ships are back in production now, and we Lego geeks have our sources for the older ones, too . . . (Hint: rec.toys.lego.) (One suggestion, never yet tried . . . charge an entry fee which includes a bandanna and eye patch for each player. I like that idea.)
A secure facility to receive footlockers and boxes a few days in advance (so we can ship early and make SURE everything arrives), and CAREFUL people to bring them to the con.
Remember to do publicity, or it’s not worth your investment or my time. (Games will also be publicized on both the Pirate Game web page and the SJ Games convention pages.) At the main Pirate Game page at www.io.com/~sj/PirateGame.html, you can download photos of ships and of people playing. You can publish that URL, if you like, so players can read the rules in advance.
Encourage people to dress up for the game; I give extra setup points for a good costume.
AND REMEMBER . . .
If Steve Jackson is doing this at the con, he won’t be running any other BIG events. Still, it’s something that people can’t see anywhere BUT a convention, and not often at conventions, so Steve likes doing it. We just have to be careful to schedule my other events, like playtests/demos of new games and the general “What’s New at SJ Games” talk, to avoid conflicts.
Where to now?
- Continue to the Building Cutters and Brigs
- Return to the Evil Stevie’s Pirate Game page
- Discuss the game in the LEGO Pirates Forum
- Official Website Steve Jackson’s Home Page
These rules are not licensed or approved by The LEGO Group.
Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2010, 2011 and used with Steve Jackson’s permission.