Raccoon Sky Pirates is made for all-ages (some reading required)
Raccoon Sky Pirates is great for any age that can handle some chaotic fun scenes and reading on the character sheet (or who can get help with reading).
There’s lots of problems to solve and story to tell, but you don’t have a ton of stats or math to track, so the mechanics aren’t really going to be a barrier for most kids. They’ll need to read the action that they rolled on a character sheet (or get some help with reading) and be able to make judgment calls on when to play compilation cards (so some risk-reward understanding).
In terms of the content, characters are navigating their ship and getting up to mischief raiding suburban homes by night for their treasure troves of amazing trash (which is garbage or also just the stuff in the house). If there is a more aggressive action rolled up (like “throw trash or raccoon” or “wreck something”), it’s described as part of a short narrative with no combat sequences, and the level of description for that narrative is up to you, so it should scale with your players. Prompts are general and open to interpretation.
Raccoon Sky Pirates is set in the Dumpster Fire… and also in a house
Raccoon Sky Pirates takes place on your skyship, Dumpster Fire, and in the suburban homes that your trash bandits decide to raid. There’s five main scenes to the game that take place either on the ship or in a home that you’re looting.
Your ship is a cobbled together amalgamation of a wrecked car, home appliance, and carnival ride that can at least technically fly you beyond the confines of the trash heap and over to where the good stuff is. Once you’ve arrived and docked, you then get to explore the homes and collect some glorious trash before making your escape and counting up your loot!
Your character in Raccoon Sky Pirates
Your character in Raccoon Sky Pirates is a raccoon! Or a possum! Or maybe even a rat, crow, or cockroach! You get to choose from 18 premade characters that each have a unique way of addressing problems and a set of actions that the die will decide they can take.
To set up your character, you’ll pick one of the existing characters, mark their pronouns, look, goal, and relationship, choose what they are personally trying to steal, and…. That’s it! It takes a couple minutes to set your character up, mostly through using check boxes for options, and you’re ready to play!
One part of the characters that I want to mention here (instead of just in the mechanics section) is that I really like how easy it is to define a character by the way they approach a problem instead of by using numbered stats. So, a character might be able to approach a problem as cunning, inventive, or YOLO, and the fact that they can approach using those three options already has set up a personality for that character. To me, they immediately give off some eccentric genius vibes and will probably be trying to nab some interesting tech for a whacky invention that they most likely should not be trusted with.
Mechanics in Raccoon Sky Pirates
There are so many parts of this game that I want to chat about (from ship creation to scene breakdowns), but, since I cannot rewrite the whole book, I am going to focus on talking about the main decision aspects that players will need to make in the midst of storytelling. Just know, there’s a lot more to it than what’s here.
Approach and then action
When you start your turn in Raccoon Sky Pirates, before you take any actions or figure out the problem you’ll hit, you pick how you want to approach things right now. This means that you’ll pick only one of the available approach options for your character… and then hope you roll an action that matches the approach you took.
You’ll then roll 1d12 and see what action you get from the list in your character sheet. If your approach and action align (it will state it in the action description), then it’s helpful and you get to do what you want, but if they don’t match, problems can happen…
Problems and complication cards!
When you have an unhelpful action, you need to mark a problem on one of the two problem tracks to start counting down to DISASTER! This disaster could mean getting caught and needing to flee from the house you’re raiding or it could mean that your ship explodes!
Problems show up quite often, and the stakes are a bit high if they can lead to a ship explosion, so there is a way to at least delay the trouble a bit longer. At the start of each scene, players get 3 cards that they can choose from to negate an unhelpful action… however… that card will introduce a new complication that stays in play for the rest of the game. If a problem happens later, that card then takes effect on the problem meter then.
So, you could very well have a small pile of complication cards sitting in the middle of the table after everyone’s been trying to avoid causing problems, but… those band aid solutions can’t keep the ship together forever. Eventually, you won’t be able to play more cards that round, and you’ll have to face the consequences of everything hitting and ticking the meter up in a cascade!
I LOVE this mechanic for a lot of reasons – it’s chaotic, it adds to the story, it teaches about risk/reward and planning ahead, it involves strategy, and it is very easy to play out with kids who can pretty quickly understand checkboxes in a tracker and can qualitatively see the growing stack of trouble to come. It was a lot of fun, and can quite literally be a blast.
Overall thoughts on Raccoon Sky Pirates
I had such a good time trying out Raccoon Sky Pirates and we loved how exciting the game play was without needing to track too many stats (both of which can be really important when playing with a kid). The mechanic elements involved enough strategy to get us thinking about the game and trying to plan, but they also really pushed for a strong storytelling focus and made the way that we were creative with the narrative the main highlight of the game.
I also enjoyed the art, the humor, the AP example, the bonus raccoon facts, and so much more that were built into Raccoon Sky Pirates, and it’s definitely going on our game night list, both for kiddo and for trying out with our friends.
Find a copy of Raccoon Sky Pirates
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