Designer Blog – Active vs Passive Abilities

Designer Blog – #IntoTheBlack

Active vs Passive Abilities!

Every crew member of your Pirate Ship has their own special talents. Some are more effective than others, for sure, but each has crew mate has his or her place on your crew for a reason!

As we have adjusted the special abilities of many of the crew members to be more balanced and in-line with updates that have been made we came to realize that SOME of those special abilities are triggered without the player even needing to make a choice. Thus was born the PASSIVE ABILITIES vs SPECIAL/ACTIVE abilities.

Each player’s character board will have a Passive Ability listed. These passive abilities trigger whenever a certain condition applies throughout the game. Some of these are a one shot deal, while others will be ongoing throughout the game. Be sure to know your character’s passive ability so that you don’t miss out on bonuses!

Let’s look at a few of these passive abilities in conjunction with their specials;

The Captain is Feared, and respected. As such, every time the Captain rolls a critical hit during an attack action, he or she earns one additional reputation, even if this exceeds the regular maximum of 5 (up to a maximum of 6, and only once per game round). This allows the Captain to maintain a high reputation, as any good Captain should have! Additionally, the Captain has specials allowing her (once per round) to re-roll any die roll (including another players) OR once per turn change any hit to a critical hit (and this stacks with the passive ability – super reputation earner).

Mr. Pitt, the Quartermaster, is incredibly disorganized (not the best trait for a quartermaster generally) and an epic Hoarder. He may always take a second piece of loot in every search action! As the Quartermaster, he may also choose to trade any number of items between himself and any other player in the same location without action cost or discard useless junk from his hand without any decrease in morale (The Quartermaster knows best, right? That stuff must have been worthless).

The simple Ships’ Mate, a generally humble position is overly Eager. As such, he takes on ALL SPECIAL abilities of ALL other crew members located on the same tile! If he’s alone, however, he does tend to take more time searching for goodies (add an extra die to any search roll).

Any time one of the conditions is met in game for a passive ability, that player takes the benefit of the ability. These abilities are not optional, unlike the Special abilities that the player may choose to take.


As always, any comments and suggestions are welcome!

James J Campbell is the Lead Game Designer at I Will Never Grow Up Gaming and the creator of
several projects such as TechMage Sci-Fantasy RPG, Into the Black: A Game of Space Piracy and Conflict & Chaos: Vietnam 19