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Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies

Imagine a world of air, sea far below and floating islands both great and small. Ever want adventure in a world with sailing vessels made of floating wood? Check out Chad Underkoffler's amazing Swashbuckers of the 7 Skies, as a fast-paced, light and fun system (referred to as PDQ#) and setting.

Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies (S7S) is a swashbuckling RPG set in a fantasy world of islands floating in the sky, which offers players the chance to heroically adventure across the heavens. Swashbucklers was an homage to the pulp swashbuckling genre, with a full chapter spent on the tropes of the genre. Swashbucklers is a setting of sky pirates in flying ships battling across a world where islands float in the sky. The game uses the PDQ system (The Zorcerer of Zo), which shares some characteristics with Fate – such as its use of Fortes (or qualities), which could be freeform occupations, motivations, histories or organizations. Swashbucklers uses a new variant of the system called PDQ#, a revamped update that gives characters foibles and techniques and changed conflict into a more tactical system.

The best resource for this game is S7S Wikidot page which also has my content submitted by the aged adventurer...

Base Gifts (included in the S7S Book)

One of my favorite elements of the setting is how magic works.  All magic is thematically organized by mythic creature. Those who are "gifted" can possess one of the Gifts. Kolduns are essentially wizards/sorcerors and can possess multiple Gifts, potentially including the Hidden Gifts.

The Gifts presented in the S&S book are:

  • Standard Gifts: Basilisk (mind), Dragon (fire), Griffin (body), Merhorse (sight), Pegasus (movement), Thunderbird (weather & luck) and Unicorn (heal & harm). Chad added Kappa (water) and Siren (song) to his S7S Wikidot page (linked above).
  • Hidden Gifts (Koldun only): Chimaera (shapeshifting), Manticore (mind), Qilin (agility and teleportation)
Gifts Hinted at in S7S

While running an S7S game, Suentis Po (who was playing the only Koldun PC) and I started coming up with ideas for how to make some of the "potentially existing" Gifts. There are a number of mentions of Gifts that are not detailed in the book, as "what ifs" and mysteries the characters could try to chase down or that could just turn out to be tall tales.

  • Standard Gifts: Baku (dreams), Cyclopes (metal), Faun (emotion), Kitsune (luck), Kobold (stone and earth), Minotaur (mystery), Stirge (blood), Tengu (plants).
  • Hidden Gifts (Koldun only): Barghest (death), Faerie (illusion)
Gifts We Created Wholly

Some of the Gifts presented here we just got an idea for, or possibly considered a mirror, opposite or otherwise connected to another Gift.

  • Standard Gifts: Shade (shadow), Sphynx (social perception).

Duro Xaa, The Word Dancer

Duro Xaa is an explorer from Sha-Ka-Ruq that is always seeking the next big mystery. He may be getting on in years, but if he notices it, he doesn't let it show. He has come across a great many mystic Gifts linked to equally strange and mystical animals:


Baku (dreams)

"People with the Gift of the Baku tend to be otherworldly, seeming to live their life in a daze, daydreaming or seeing things no one else does. More common long ago, their numbers have dwindled as the belief in shamanistic dreams fades. Nowadays, the blue-men in the Jungle Sky are the only ones rumored to still commonly practice the gift.


"The Gifted can sense another person's dreams, both the phantasms of the night and daydreams. If a person is not currently dreaming, the user will see flashes of their strongest dream of the night before. With work, a Gifted can see what the target wishes strongly to do or become; a read of an ambitious Barathi noble might show the her being elevated over the ruined house of her rivals, but only if this is driving goal rather than a passing fancy (unless she is currently fantasizing).

"A powerful Baku can influence dreams. Any of the previous tricks can be reversed to implant a dream, although implantation is harder than simply viewing.

"If the Baku is there when a person is sleeping (or has crafted an item to do such), he can prevent regular nightmares or other gifted (including Baku, Basilisks and Manticores) from influencing the sleeper's dreams. If the gifted prepares before going to bed, his own slumber also can be shielded.

"This gift is also related to sleep. A Baku can go for weeks without sleep or fall asleep for a predetermined amount of time. A Baku can also sleep deeply or lightly, allowing each hour of sleep to count as two or normal perception (excepting sight) to function while asleep (respectively). With effort, a person can be forced to slumber or allowed to go without sleep for a night.

"It is rumored that koldun with this gift could walk through dreams to a specific person or steal dreams (or even the ability to dream). A legend among the Sha Ku says that a powerful koldun pulled items and even people from dreams, though they faded back into nothing after a day and a night."

- from the Travel Log of Duro Xaa, The Word Dancer, as provided to Captain Froederik Wiki

Cyclopes (metal)

"A skill much sought after in the 7 Skies (at least amongst those who know or speculate upon its existence), the Gift of the Cyclopes allows sensing, shaping, hardening, softening and maintaining metal.

"Enterprising blacksmiths and finesmiths have used this gift unannounced to improve their wares and amaze their customers. Some of the best smiths in the world are that good because of the assistance of this gift.

"For others, the ability to adjust the flexibility and sharpness of a blade or shield temporarily have made them better warriors.

"Subtlety takes time and effort, but is generally worth it. To a cyclopes, being able to remove rust and tarnish, or encourage them rapidly, can mean the difference between a clean getaway and the local guardsmen catching him after he bent his cell bars and rescued his brother from jail.

"Those with excellent concentration can even make these alterations without touching them, extending their ability to metal objects not within reach, such as an enemies weapon or the chain of a hanging chandelier. Some go so far as to wield a sword with the Gift alone, while using their hands for another task, making others think they were using the Gift of the Pegasus instead."

- from the Travel Log of Duro Xaa, The Word Dancer, as provided to Captain Froederik Wiki

Faun (emotion)

"The Gift of the Faun is frequently mistaken for Chimera or Manticore, which has resulted in some disastrous incidents. Faun allows one power over animals and primal instinct. They have control over their own primal emotions, those of animals and, for those of greatest skill the emotions of other people. Suppressing or enhancing rage, lust, hunger, fear and territoriality are all within the reach of a Faun. A Faun intuitively understand animals (some may argue better than other people) and can communicate with animals in their immediate vicinity, convince them to follow simple orders, and sense their presence.

"With effort, more than one animal or person may be affected, or the senses of animals can be used as if they were the gifted’s own senses. Using the Gift of the Faun to affect a crowd or heard demonstrates mastery of the gift.

"Those who possess the Gift of the Faun tend to be earthy individuals whose passions can be contagious. If they loose control, their anger, adrenaline rush, lust or fear can spill over to others."


- from the Travel Log of Duro Xaa, The Word Dancer, as provided to Captain Froederik Wiki

Kitsune (luck)

"Kitsune are lucky people. Fortune generally favors them and they show up at some of the most unusual and opportune times. Many who have the Gift of the Kitsune see themselves as agents of Vaoz or a similar karmic role. Many are only ever known as lucky or blessed and are never known to be Gifted. As a result this gift is not as widely known as maybe it should be. Kitsune can changes in fate and luck (such as those made by other kitsune and thunderbirds) and are able to identify others with these gifts.

"Those who possess the Gift of the Kitsune are frequently daredevils by nature simply because when things get dicey, the kitsune get lucky.

"Kitsune willing to make an effort can bless or curse others, gifting them with a moment of good or bad luck that may change the course of events. Some have even been able to sense when others attempt to cheat or sway luck to their side (cheating at games of chance, etc.). It is rumored that the most powerful kitsune are amongst heroes and villains, helping them toward their lucky arrival, chance moment that saves the day or unlucky martyrdom.

Blessings and Curses are equivalent to "Good Form" in that they provide a "Style Die" to another person. In the case of both, it applies to the next roll that character (the target) makes. Curses have the opposite effect of a Style Die, causing the Curse Die to be used if it is lower than the standard dice (superseding Style Dice).

- from the Travel Log of Duro Xaa, The Word Dancer, as provided to Captain Froederik Wiki

Kobold (earth & rock)

"There are rumors of people possessing the ability to commune with earth. They are known to be incredibly strong and durable, and can make the very grounds underneath them quake. Instead of making the ground shake, a good listener can also hear through the ground to sense nearby movement of animals and people.

"Those proficient with the Gift of the Kobold are able to manipulate dirt and stone, shaping and moving it as one might soft clay. It would seem that with more practice, kobolds lose the need to even touch the material. Instead they simply move material out of their way or in the way of an adversary with a wave of the hand.

"However, the next time you are on a skyship and you see someone who looks nervous, lost and alone, you may be looking at a Gifted that possesses the Gift of the Kobold and is missing his best friend … the ground."

- from the Travel Log of Duro Xaa, The Word Dancer, as provided to Captain Froederik Wiki

Minotaur (mystery)

"Minotaurs exist in a state of mystery and have an easier time understanding and concealing mysteries. The Gift of the Minotaur makes one who possesses it more difficult to "read" by others. Their emotions are not carried on their sleeve and their thoughts are their own. Minotaurs do not get lost easily. They are nearly always able to find their way back to someplace they have been before.

"A minotaur is able to make people, objects and places more or less noticeable. They do not become visible or invisible, just more or less important than something else. The difficulty is directly proportional to how noticeable or well known the person, object or place is, and may be complicated by people already looking for it.

"As mysteries can be puzzling, so too can they be frightening. The unknown is the most powerful source of fear and a skilled minotaur knows how to wield it like a weapon. They become skilled at creating fear of an unknown or little-known concept, place, person or thing and that fear causes people to avoid, run screaming from or even attack the source of their newfound fear.

"For a minotaur that cannot control his emotions, his darker emotions cause him to become confused and potentially disoriented, while his lighter emotions cause him to become incredibly curious about any unknown that immediately presents itself."

- from the Travel Log of Duro Xaa, The Word Dancer, as provided to Captain Froederik Wiki

Shade (shadow)

"The Gift of the Shade is one that often causes an unreasonable amount of fear in the general population, considering its uses. Shades have mastery of darkness and shadow, which gives them a bad reputation far beyond what they deserve. To a shade, darkness is like daylight as far as vision is concerned. If anything, it is more comforting than daylight to them as their opponents cannot see nearly as well.

"Many scholars have postulated that Dragon, Kappa, Kobold and Thunderbird are linked as "elemental" gifts. Some have added Tengu and Cyclopes, and still others add the Gift of the Shade to the list. Similar to the elemental gifts, shade gives the ability to create and shape darkness. A very powerful shade can spread darkness across an entire house and beyond, but most shades just cloak a room in shadow or cause man-sized shadows to move and twist, distracting and disturbing opponents.

"More powerful people gifted with the shade's powers can make themselves nearly invisible while in shadows, blending in to the darkness. This also muffles their footsteps and distorts their origin. Fighting a shade in darkness is not an easy task. A very powerful shade can even dissipate into one area of a shadow and reappear in another.

"Man has long feared the darkness, wary of its ability to hide the unknown. A shade can focus on this, increasing the fear until it is an overwhelming urge. A victim of this will seek any form of illumination, to hold back the dark. Trapped in the dark, it is possible for such a victim to go mad."

- from the Travel Log of Duro Xaa, The Word Dancer, as provided to Captain Froederik Wiki

Sphynx (social perception)

"Sphynx are the consumate experts. They tend toward scholarly and mystery seeking personalities whether they become a koldun or not. Those with the Gift of the Sphynx have an uncanny ability to see interpersonal connections between people. With greater skill they are able to see the nature of those connections, noticing how people relate to and view each other. While some use these connections to organize and motivate people to greater heights, other sow discord, anger and chaos between people. Barathi who have this gift are like a kid in a candy store.

"When they want to, they exhude an aura of command and knowledge. Many are those who unwittingly accede to their wishes, assume they are in charge and take their answers at face value, when it is all far from the truth.

"The gift that impresses the populace the most, though, is knowledge. A sphynx can find a bit of knowledge, no matter how hidden as long as someone living knows it. Naturally, if no one knows the knowledge, the sphynx gets nothing. This does not allow knowledge of the future, only the past and present. The danger of this ability is how the sphynx gets this information. A sphynx searches the web of relations until the information is found. Such a search pulls on the web and tangles it slightly, making further searches harder and harder. An even larger danger is the possibility that another person's emotions may attach to the bit of information, the gifted may end up unable to tell which are her feelings and which are the alien ones."

NOTE: Optionally, the tangling of the web rule can also apply to the perception of social connections (especially if reducing that aspect of the gift in power is preferred.

"Sphynx does not get along with manticore. No koldun has been known to learn both."

- from the Travel Log of Duro Xaa, The Word Dancer, as provided to Captain Froederik Wiki

Stirge (blood)

"Stirge are a secretive sort, and with good reason. Their abilities center around blood and at best this engenders little trust, while at worst it ends in violence. For this reason, those with the Gift of the Stirge use it in such a way as to seem to have another Gift, such as Unicorn, or hide them as being very proficient at mundane skills (expert trackers, doctors, etc.).

"Among the abilities that can be attributed to a stirge are the ability to know blood belongs to someone if they have previously met them, tell relatives by the connection their blood shares, follow the path of a person who's blood they have "scented", and know if blood is poisoned or diseased.

"There have been stories of stirges that were able to transfer the wounds of one person to another, though the resulting wounds are a mere shadow of the original (and some use this as a form of healing to deal with severe wounds or to pass their own wounds to an enemy). Those stirges with and those without honor tend to almost possess different gifts due to the differing ways in which they use the gift.

- from the Travel Log of Duro Xaa, The Word Dancer, as provided to Captain Froederik Wiki

Tengu (plants)

"To one with the Gift of the Tengu, plants are their friend. Plants do not impede their way when they walk and they intuitively know where plants are in their immediate vicinity. Tengu have no difficulty with balance when walking on a wooden or plant covered surface, even if it is only a ships railing. Use of this gift allows the movement of branches, vines and leaves to aid the tengu, cover passage or waylay pursuers.

"Encouraging plants to grow faster or slower, flower or go dormant are all within the easy grasp of them. With more effort, more permanent and complicated shapings can be managed. Instantaneous growth (e.g. seed to grown plant while you watch) takes a strong mystical effort.

"Sha Ku with Gift of the Tengu are prized for their ability to more intricately shape tym and bluewood. This gift has proved to be less common elsewhere and as such is not well known, but tengu are going to be well liked if they have any skill in shaping wood for use in skyship parts.

"A tengu who cannot control their emotions can cause uncontrolled growth in plants with positive emotions, wilting and browning in plants as a response to negative emotions."

- from the Travel Log of Duro Xaa, The Word Dancer, as provided to Captain Froederik Wiki

Hidden Gifts

There are Three Hidden Gifts that no one in the World has ever (yet!) been born with; they only appear as mystical techniques learned through arcane koldun methods.
Barghest (death)
(only Koldun may learn this Gift)

"The Gift of the Barghest allows a person power over the dead and undead. Some of the abilities it gives make the practitioner an accepted, if not welcomed, member of most communities. Exorcism of ghosts from places or people (including animated dead), serving as a conduit for a ghost to communicate with the living, and summoning recently dead ghosts are all possible. Most barghests are melancholy spirit mediums and exorcists. The Barghest, known as an omen of death, literally has power over those that are dead and those that straddle the threshold between life and death.

"What a barghest can do is more about what they are willing to do. His morals and social/religious beliefs are going to determine what he is capable of doing.

"A more powerful barghest with fewer moral restrictions is able to reanimate the bodies of the dead and attempt to give them commands, though this never lasts past the next sunrise. Summoning long dead ghosts and repairing once alive bodies is also possible to those with skill. Some barghests are scholars, using their gifts to speak with people long dead; others are blackmailers, calling spirits more recently deceased and forcing them to yield their secrets. In areas where people with this gift are feared, bodies are buried in secret or burned to prevent desecration.

"There are rumors of koldun that have been able to step out of their bodies for a time as though they were dead, reincarnate, and gift or curse a ghost with a body forever … but those must certainly be stories."

- from the Travel Log of Duro Xaa, The Word Dancer, as provided to Captain Froederik Wiki

Faerie (illusion)
(only Koldun may learn this Gift)

"The Gift of Faerie is named for the legendary deceptive lords of illusion. Koldun with this gift are often tricky and in fact the gift enhances their ability to lie and otherwise deceive.

"Use of this gift allows the koldun to fool the senses, including magical ones. While the most famous ability is illusions that fool all senses, more commonly, the koldun using this gift uses a narrower scope. Invisibility can be performed easily, although adding senses past sight becomes harder. Stories state an invisible koldun casts a thin shadow; this is not entirely true, but the illusion is never perfect and some disturbance may be noticed by a sharp-eyed viewer. A subset of this trick is shield an area from magical scrying. This is much more reliable than trying to make a person invisible, but does not alert the koldun to such attempts.

"The legendary illusions of the Faerie Lords are not practiced by Koldun, but they can attempt something similar. A static illusion targeting one sense (sight usually) is easy, movement is harder and coherent illusions fooling multiple senses can be quite difficult.

"Despite legends and tales to the contrary, cold iron does not break illusions, nor does drawing blood, turning one's clothes inside out, etc. On the other hand, an illusion making someone believe that they are wounded cannot kill, at most it can stagger someone temporarily as they deal with the pain."

- from the Travel Log of Duro Xaa, The Word Dancer, as provided to Captain Froederik Wiki