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Podcast / Campaign: Sky Jacks

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Tidings, my comrades, we've done it again
The dawn she is breaking, our pints at their end
By morning's cruel light must our sails ascend
To fly far from our families, lovers and friends...
There are no kings. Take flight, heroes.

Long ago, mariners sailed the seas of the world of Speir — but since the stars fell, the seas turned deadly and the seasons went feral, those days are long gone. Now, instead, the skies are braved by Sky Jacks, crossing the world in airships with featherweave sails. Among these ships is the Uhuru, captained by the notorious and charismatic pirate Orimar Vale — but Vale has a secret, which only a few of his crew are aware of...

Campaign: Sky Jacks is the second story from the Campaign Podcast, a spin-off of the One Shot Podcast. Unlike its predecessor, Sky Jacks takes place in an original Sky Pirate setting inspired by the music of The Decemberists and the card game Illimat, elements of which are incorporated into the Genesys roleplaying system the players use.

The cast consists of game master James D'Amato; John Patrick Coan as Dref Wormwood, a nervous, creepy ship's doctor and necromancer; Johnny O'Mara as Travis Matagot, a cynical con-man with unusual abilities; Liz Anderson as Gable, an uncannily-proportioned non-binary warrior; and Tyler Davis as Jonnit Kessler, a hotheaded teenage deckhand and magical prodigy. The podcast is edited by Casey Toney, and original music is provided by Arne Parrott.

The first episode of the podcast contains a major First-Episode Twist that is key to the main plot. All spoilers for this are unmarked. You Have Been Warned!

Campaign: Sky Jacks provides examples of:

  • After the End: The seas turning deadly essentially resulted in the collapse of nations and civilisation as a whole.
  • All for Nothing: As Gable happily points out, Tiberius' attempts to strengthen his family and it's legacy just lead to its downfall, along with all of his plans going up in flames around him. And then he died. And then his dead soul died.
  • Ambiguous Gender:
    • Gable tends to go with whatever gender people choose to refer to them as. After all, as a fallen angel, they likely predate the entire concept of gender.
    • The Broker seems to be male and typically uses male pronouns, but neither James D'Amato nor the Broker themself really has a firm grasp of their gender.
  • Arc Villain: For the Wolfstooth arc, Franz Fishhook. For the Burza Nyth arc, Tiberius Youngblood. For the Nordia arc, the Mariner himself.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Tiberius Youngblood is seemingly affable, friendly, and is happy to joke and gamble with the Uhuru crew — but he's fully aware that the crew are pirates, and when Travis tries to steal his watch, he privately threatens to cut his hand off and notes that he's taken in seventeen corsair ships.
  • Bizarre Seasons: Ever since the end of the age of sail, the seasons of Speir change from day to day and in random order.
  • BFS: Gable's broadsword is huge, described by the other players as a "Final Fantasy sword".
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Travis is good at what he does, but is generally disinterested in anything that requires more effort than a game of Illimat.
  • Broke the Rating Scale: When drawing a card to determine whether the Civility's guns will function or not, rather than getting an odd or even number, the players pull the Fool — a card that can be either depending on circumstance. As a result, half the guns fire, and the resulting unbalancing tears the ship's sails and causes the entire vessel to capsize into the sea below.
  • Character Death: Dref is killed by his brother Tiberius Youngblood in Episode 26.
  • Contrasting Sequel Main Character: The PCs generally contrast the characters their players used in Campaign: Star Wars and Evil Campaign:
    • Tryst Valentine, JPC's Star Wars character, was a possibly-illiterate Book Dumb Handsome Lech and Chivalrous Pervert who had no special powers beyond charisma and skill as a pilot, and considered himself The Leader of the Mynock crew. Dref is a creepy, highly-strung morally ambiguous doctor and illicit necromancer who lacks any social skills or leadership ability.
    • Leenik Geelo, Johnny's Star Wars character, was a spacy cloudcuckoolander and romantic whose silly antics covered up emotional instability and a sinister, murderous bloodthirst. Travis is a laid-back, cynical con-man who tends to react with snark rather than non-sequiturs and seems to have no particular passion for fighting.
    • Agent Zero, Tyler's Evil Campaign character, was a cool-headed and experienced mercenary with no supernatural powers who was happy to coast along as the subordinate to Agent Blue. Jonnit is a Hot-Blooded teenager with magical talent who has aspirations of being the captain of his own Sky Jack ship. Coincidentally, however, they both wear concealing clothing on their heads for fear of stigma.
  • The Casanova: Orimar Vale is known for taking on many lovers, though his cavalier attitude towards relationships is not appreciated by his old girlfriend Sonja.
  • Cursed with Awesome:
    • When Dref's attempt at healing Wendell Barge's hand gives him an entire necromantically-animated arm, everyone is very afraid of the consequences thanks to stigma against necromancy. Fortunately, Wendell notes his increased strength and complete lack of pain and cheerfully accepts it without asking questions.
    • The live Gencon episode clarifies that Travis's immortality and shapeshifting is a curse put upon him by the Forest Queen, whose thrall he is under.
  • The Dandy: Travis's character art shows him to be exceptionally well dressed for a pirate. Dref is also described as a "fop of a dandy" on more than one occasion.
  • Deader than Dead: For drawing their complete and total hatred, Gable burns up even Tiberius Youngblood's soul.
  • Dirty Old Man: Spit. (It's sexual.)
  • The Dreaded: Orimar Vale, notorious sky pirate. To an even greater extent, Franz Fishhook, captain of the Civility.
  • Eye Scream: Travis' primary attack in raven form is to gouge out his enemy's eye. He gets both of Tiberius's.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Trapped with an unknown, earthly specter Dref Wormwood's last act is to unmask his attacker, choosing to go to the grave with just a bit more knowledge.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Tiberius Youngblood affects a friendly demeanor, but in truth he is a vicious, murderous bully who wants nothing more than to increase his own status. Even his sister Olivia sheds no tears over his death.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: James notes that Dref, as the ship's surgeon, is someone the crew are happy to have but rarely happy to see.
  • Future Badass: While Jonnit may still be learning the ropes now, he saw a vision of himself one day leading a crew across the skies and seas.
  • Game Within a Game: The card game Illimat, which you can also play in real life, is key to the lifestyle of a Sky Jack. (Illimat: a game within a game!)
  • Given Name Reveal:
    • In episode 26 we get the real name of Dref Wormwood: Alistair Youngblood.
    • Episode 46 reveals the real names of Travis (William) and Gable (Uriel).
  • Hero Worship: Surprisingly enough, Orimar actively defied this for his crew. While you can't join if you're not willing to die for your crew, you also can't join if you say you're willing to die in Orimar's name. He wants a crew, not a cult.
  • Ironic Name: The Civility is one of the most powerful and feared sky ships, with a captain who will go out of his way to kill the entire crew of anyone who attacks him.
  • Loose Canon: The employee interviews at the end of most episodes. While most of them are just jokes that are never mentioned again, some of the characters or facts do make their way into the main story.
  • Mad Doctor: Dref is very into the idea of "enhancing" people with medicine and/or necromancy.
  • Mark of the Supernatural: Some unlucky ariners who spend too much time on or near the water or otherwise draw the Mariner's interest manifest his mark. Though at first it can only be seen by those who can peer into the magical veil, such as Gable or Jonnit, it eventually manifests visibly as an inky black spot on the afflicted's hand.
  • Meaningful Name: Travis's real name, William, is shared with the Changeling from The Hazards of Love.
  • Mega-Corp: The Red Feather Syndicate is a trading syndicate so powerful that it has essentially taken the role of the fallen nations.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Sonja, Orimar's old flame, initially assumes that Travis is his newest lover. Because Dref screws up controlling Orimar, note  a gesture meant to indicate irritated dismissal ends up having the captain place his hand on Travis's leg. Later, when Travis hurries to get upstairs upon realising that his transformation is about to take place, everyone assumes it's because the captain is waiting for him.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • In episode 4, when the cast are tasked with coming up with significant crew members, Johnny's first suggestion is "Leenik Geelo".
    • In episode 16, everyone makes fun of Johnny when he suggests that Travis give his real name to Tiberius Youngblood; a major Running Gag/character trait of Leenik was compulsively giving his real name rather than fake ones. JPC subsequently suggests that Youngblood cut Travis's hand off, as the same thing happened to Leenik.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Dref, in a particularly creepy moment, clarifies to Gable that he doesn't fear death: he loves it.
  • Non-Human Non-Binary: Gable is a 7-foot-tall otherworldly, genderfluid being who uses they/them pronouns. This is because they're an angel who predates the concept of gender entirely.
  • Ocean Madness: This can manifest physically in the form of the Mariner's Mark.
  • Ocean Punk: A key part of the setting — though the sailors moved to the skies, the legacy of the sea still hangs over them like a dark cloud.
  • Of Corpse He's Alive: The First-Episode Twist and central conceit: Our four heroes are the only ones who know that Orimar Vale died on the island, and are covering it up to preserve their relatively privileged place on the crew of the Uhuru.
  • Older Than They Look: Travis and Gable, being a Changeling and an angel respectively.
  • Our Angels Are Different: Angels are servants of the Sovereign: incorporeal, many-eyed beings that punish the wicked. Gable is a fallen one, who lost their wings — and gained corporeal form — on the day the stars fell.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Travis is a Changeling (inspired by the Illimat card of the same name, based on William from The Hazards of Love); this means that he transforms into an animal whenever the sun goes down, with the form depending on the season.note 
  • Professional Gambler: Travis.
  • Promoted to Playable: Orimar Vale, as of episode 114, has regained enough of his autonomy to act without aid. As such, he's now upgraded from NPC to PC and is played by new cast member Nathan Blades.
  • Rags to Royalty: Orimar was a corsair with dreams of one day being a king. His zombie self still reacts to the idea.
  • Red Right Hand: Thanks to Dref, Wendell ends up with a necrotic hand that grants him super-strength.
    • Tiberius Youngblood has his eye replaced with a griffin eye after Travis pecks it out.
  • Religion of Evil: The Church of the Slain God. Their central theology amounts to "God Is Dead, and it's your fault".
  • Rule of Funny: Part and parcel for an improve show, but the number of crew on the Uhuru is intentionally left vague so they can add more more wacky characters whenever they want.
  • Scary Black Man: Orimar Vale is known and feared throughout the skies. Following his resurrection as a zombie, he is absolutely terrifying in battle.
  • Sky Pirate: The titular Sky Jacks, of course.
  • Temporal Paradox: Of the Object Loop variety. While battling the Mariner at Nordia, Jonnit summons the kusarigama used by his future self in his visions to his hand and keeps it through the rest of the Nordia arc and into the next, leaving the true origins of the weapon unclear.
  • The Sleepless: No-Doze. Hence the name.
  • Superstitious Sailors: Due to the fear of the Mariner.
  • Third Eye: Jonnit's miraculous winning dart throw is described as resulting from his "third eye" opening. It's more literal than it sounds at first — he actually has a third eye on his forehead, the result of contact with an angel feather, and he wears his bandanna to cover it up.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Zombie Orimar doesn't have a lot of his old finesse, but his incredible strength and inability to feel pain makes him a terrifying Implacable Man. His current controller can suffer strain to give him back his skills.
  • Verbal Tic: Travis drops an indignant "hmmm?" whenever anyone insults him accurately.
  • Villain Takes an Interest: Jonnit dramatically rebuffing the Mariner has led his enemy to vow to one day have Jonnit on his crew.
  • Wham Line: Jonnit's confrontation with the Mariner changes his future vision in a way that has far reaching implications.
    James: Suddenly the sky is full of ships at your command, and you can see off in the distance something that was unclear and indistinct before. You can see a fleet of ships sailing on water beneath you.

Health to the strangers who've ever been kind
And once for our friends ne'er to rise
Twice to the dearest we're leaving behind
Who know we can never deny
The call of the sky...