The stars have fallen, the world is broken and danger lurks around every corner. This is the world of Spéir. The world of Campaign: Skyjacks. A long-form podcast created by the One Shot Network. It is an actual play Tabletop Role-Playing Game (TTRPG) set in a custom world with a custom rule-set. With a strong focus on narrative and characters, this podcast is a delight to listen to.
Spéir is a world based on Folk Tales i.e Folk Tale Punk. Meaning that the stories people tell have power. Magical power that can be used by humans and by god-like beings called Luminaries. The players travel the post-apocalyptic skies of Spéir on a ship called the Uhuru1. They navigate problems brought onto them by the Red Feather Corporation, other pirates or themselves.
What I like about the setting is that it differs from others. The basics2 are simple and easy to follow. They are fleshed out constants that always lurk in the background. As a listener you know the importance of the Featherweave which allows any ship to fly. Combine this with the monopoly that the Red Feather Corporation has on the material makes it exciting when the players steal a big bundle of said Featherweave from a Red Feather ship. You know it has long-lasting consequences and implications for the continued story. A simple narrative thread that drives the main story forward while the focus of the players is constantly drawn to their personal problems.
Characters are very important in a TTRPG. Not just because you want a connection with your character while you maneuver through hours of content. A fully fleshed out character adds to the story if the GM chooses to incorporate it in the main narrative. I have played some one-shots where incorporation isn’t possible, and I found that I wasn’t as invested as I expected to be in the game during the short playtime.
Skyjacks is long-form storytelling and has player stories woven through the main narrative in an intricate way. All player characters have very different backgrounds and they all contribute to the story of the campaign and the world. This is done in multiple ways but the easiest example to give is that they are the core group or captain’s council on the Uhuru. Which means that they (conveniently) make decisions for the rest of the ship. This results in a fun cause and effect in the main plot and a compelling series of events surrounding the characters. Because the voice cast are experienced in acting, improv and/or TTRPGs it is a delight to listen to. The quality editing and custom soundtrack only adds to it.
The heart of Skyjacks
I love the Skyjacks OST. I would argue that together with the voice cast it is the heart of this show. The tracks amplify the emotion of each scene. Whether it be fun, dark or emotional; Skyjacks has it. I’m trying hard to not spoil the story but to emphasize my point I need to talk about the bird competition Aur Piora3. First off there is the setting of Burza Nyth (pronounced “bou-ja neeth”). A wonderful city near the hostile sea. It is a place where privateers, corsairs and Red Feather ships can dock and trade. The city is run by a person called the Broker. Their most notable feature is their funny voice and behaviour4.
In this arc the players are selling stolen goods. As part of the deal with the Broker they participate in Aur Piora. Which leads to a lot of comedic moments , an exciting competition with custom rules, a character death and a profound life lessen:
I’m a big fan of engaging personal stories. As you can see on my inspiration page I even collect some that I find inspiring to share with you. Skyjacks is a show where engaging personal stories are woven into the narrative to create a compelling podcast. It is not just comedy or a campaign to save the world from destruction. It is multi-layered and the mature themes are greatly appealing to me. The deeply personal interactions of Travis with other characters have caught me off-guard on multiple occasions. With the new arc starting this week I’m hoping you are willing to give it a listen as well.
You can listen to Skyjacks almost anywhere on the internet. Or listen to Courier’s Call; their all ages spin-off. Check the links on their website. Take flight heroes!
1. In Spéir the people have taken to the skies because after a cataclysmic event the sea became death itself.
2. Some of the basics are:
- The Red Feather Mega Corporation;
- constantly changing seasons;
- birds are roughlt 8.3 times as large as normal;
- a mostly unexplored world
- the sea is evil and will kill you.
3. This arc starts from episode 16.
4. For example, at a certain point the Broker dresses up in a raven-like costume and uses exploding birds to communicate with others. Combine this with personnel dressed as spooky butlers and you have quite the eccentric character.