Your ragtag crew of pirates have just used a magic compass to find an island where the treasure was hidden in a lost ruin. Finding it booby trapped and containing one monkey's paw too many, you made your escape, scuffling with a voodoo witch doctor and his minions. Temporarily escaping the dark medicine man, your crew makes their way back to their ship where they are accosted by a giant octopus that the witch doctor has some control over. Firing back upon the great beast with your ship's cannons, you finally manage to get away, only to be set upon by an opposing treasure hunting crew, beginning ship to ship combat.
This is just one of the exciting adventures you could be having if you were playing Yarr!, a rules light pen and paper roleplaying game from BD Games. Yarr! has two main things going for it that should be all you need to know. First, it's about PIRATES. Second, it calls itself Rules Light, and unlike many others that use that title, it actually is.
Yarr! gives you all the tools to play a campaign in the golden age of piracy that never was. Yarr! isn't about historical accuracy; it's about fun games with fun stories. Yarr! would be better used to run stories like Pirates of Caribbean or the Pirates of Dark Water rather than either something very historically accurate or something outlandish, such as the Pirates of Penzance (though if your Referee were creative and musically inclined enough, I bet you could make the latter work). Yarr! has rules for heroic feats, sort-of-magic abilities, strange beasties, weird antagonists, and of course all the loot needed to put sixteen men on that dead man's chest.
However, it's Rules Light. What does that mean? Well, it means that the rules are basic and there to support fun and story, not bog everything down in minutiae and constraints. The rules are light enough that beginners and kids will have no problem picking up Yarr! and jumping into a journey as their favorite heroic sailors. Yet at the same time, the rules feel complete - anything you'd need rules for is in the manual, and the few things that might come up outside of them are easily improvised by the Referee or by simply altering the title or flavor of an existing rule. The Yarr! rules are simple enough for anyone to pick up. If you were looking to introduce someone to the land of pen and paper games, this isn't a bad one to start a player on.
What you have in the manual are basic archetypes for character classes, skills, hand to hand combat rules, ship to ship combat rules, loot, equipment, a sample bestiary, and more. But even better than all that is even a quick read through the manual will give you ideas for adventures. While much of the loot and monsters hearken back to movies and books we've read, putting them in different ways gives easy ideas for new adventures, new treasure, new piracy! Plus, the ideas are easy enough to shift so that an Atlantean becomes a mystic, your marine becomes a templar, etc and accommodates any idea you have. It's called Yarr! and makes you think of pirates of the new world, but everything is here for you to play the adventures of a pirate like Sinbad with his own Harryhausen style gallery of monsters and wonders.
Whether it's just you and your friends exploring the age of piracy with full on pirate lingo or if it's a game to play with your own young budding gamer children, Yarr! is a worthwhile RPG to pick up.
[5 of 5 Stars!]