Sounding the Deeps: Shanty Hunters


They call me Hanging Johnny;

They say I hangs for money.

They say I hangs for money,

But hanging is so funny!

In Shanty Hunters by Tristan Zimmerman, players take on the roles of sailors, eccentrics, and adventure-seekers devoted to documenting sea shanties (the work songs used on sailing vessels to assist in tasks and labors). The sun is setting on the era of large, wind-powered vessels. Steam is on the rise, and they don’t sing shanties on those modern conveyances.

So preserving sea shanties is important work, but it’s also dangerous. These are magical songs tied to powerful, supernatural entities. When you try to write them down, the songs recapitulate and manifest themselves on your ship, creating all sorts of havoc and perils. You and your crewmates will need to overcome those challenges to preserve history. . . or at least to save your own necks.

Shanty Hunters uses an streamlined version of the Gumshoe game system. Character creation involves choosing a Profession and a Drive, allotting Skill Points, and devising a Background. The players will also have a hand in creating the Villain, the supernatural being who masterminds the recapitulations of the sea shanties.

Content warnings:

The game designer notes, “Sailors in 1880 are agents of colonialism, whether they want to be or not. They are also terribly exploited and abused by the same systems they help prop up.”

We will be aiming for a PG-13 or mild-R rating, and our game world can take some liberties with history to keep the experience safe and fun for everyone. Nonetheless, we will be encountering dangers aboard sailing vessels populated by all sorts of people, some of whom are bad actors. The shanties that power the game are authentic, and they are filled with references to drowning, colonialism, exploitation, and physical violence. The premise of the game is that these lyrics come to life aboard the vessel. We will be using lines, veils, and the x-card.

This event is scheduled to run for 3 hours. It will be recorded assuming all parties agree.

There will be 5 sessions in total. Being able to attend each session is ideal but not required. You must RSVP to each session you wish to attend.

Session 1: 2022-08-03T23:00:00Z2022-08-04T02:00:00Z
Session 2: 2022-08-10T23:00:00Z2022-08-11T02:00:00Z
Session 3: 2022-08-17T23:00:00Z2022-08-18T02:00:00Z
Session 4: 2022-08-24T23:00:00Z2022-08-25T02:00:00Z
Session 5: 2022-08-31T23:00:00Z2022-09-01T02:00:00Z