This is a 5e D&D game of swashbuckling adventure, horror, and mystery to be played by post on these forums.
We are in flux, with 5 players at the moment, and I am recruiting 1-2 players to join in the piratical awesomeness. Cheers! Game-related links below:
Spell & Crossbones: Roleplaying Thread
Rogues' Gallery (PCs)
New Archetypes: Swashbuckler & Ship Mage
Encounter Tables for Spell & Crossbones
The Buccaneer's Bestiary: Monster Conversions
March 1712. It is the Golden Age of Piracy. The beginning of the likes of Blackbeard, Anne Bonny, Mary Reade, Calico Jack, Charles Vane, and Black Bart Roberts. An age when anyone could make a fortune, see the world, and live free... if you weren't drowned, shot, stabbed, hexed, burned alive, or caught and hung first.
La Gloriosa del Mar, a Spanish treasure ship fleeing the French raid on Cartagena fifteen years ago, lies sunken somewhere off the Colombian coast, and with it a vast sum of wealth and countless secrets. Rumors abound about La Gloriosa's cargo and why her captain fled early in the fighting. Rumors and precious little fact. The last sighting of La Gloriosa was by French buccaneers who lost the burning ship heading east toward Cabo de las Velas (Cape of the Sails). Did La Gloriosa go down at Cabo de las Velas? Did the crew keep her afloat till the Bay of Maracaibo? Did she make it all the way to Aruba, only to sink off the island's shore? Or was she blown off course and lost beneath some strange tide?
In past years, many treasure hunters sought out La Gloriosa del Mar from Caribbean privateers to Spanish admirals, but the shifting waters and the lack of any accurate records left every diver surfacing empty handed. Dozens of leads, from scurvy sea dogs to Spanish guardsmen who remember the raid, have led to dead ends; often literally, as informants from fishermen to prisoners of war turned up dead. While most of the treasure hunters return to port broke, a couple didn't return at all, causing the legend around La Gloriosa to grow. Whatever became of La Gloriosa, her name has become synonymous with an impossible venture fraught with perils and conspiracy. To "seek La Gloriosa" is to embark on a fool's errand and to court death.
The death of the childless Charles II, last of the Spanish Hapsburgs, left the Spanish throne contested by the English, French, and Dutch. The half-elven Queen Anne, sovereign of England, Scotland, and Ireland, has waged war against the Spanish for the last decade, a war which made Caribbean waters run red with blood. A lull in the fighting and rumors of diplomacy in Europe have signaled an impending end to the war, and privateering and piracy are again on the rise in the Caribbean as former naval seamen seek work. Against this backdrop, a new expedition to seek out La Gloriosa gains momentum in the pirate town of Nassau in the Bahamas, a collection of desperate souls and damned sailors, each with their own reasons for seeking out the sunken treasure ship. A French investor named Claude du Tourbillon has quietly offered to bankroll the expedition, meeting you at Blackreef's Tavern under guard, where he reveals a heretofore unexplored lead about La Gloriosa. It was the chance of a lifetime!
Your first step is to acquire a ship, crew, supplies, and appoint a captain. Your leads in Nassau indicate that the Coral Curse, a former "hospital ship", is currently without a captain, most of the crew dead to yellow fever, and the ship is badly in need of repair after being attacked by French Navy Captain Jacques Cassard. The title holder? None other than Blackbeard.
"Old Zef" Jozef Van Der Nagel [MENTION=2820]Fenris[/MENTION]
N Dwarf (Dutch) Guild Artisan+Sailor Wizard (conjurer) 4
Ship Duty: Boatswain / Carpenter / Artillerist
Bond: Sacred Relic (Zeeland Bellows)
Fortunes: (+/-) Old Salt (peg leg), (+) At Sea, (+) Trading Company, (-) Obligation, (-) Wanted (Viceroyalty of New Spain)
Katarina del Corazon [MENTION=8058]Queenie[/MENTION]
CN Human (Spanish) Sailor Rogue (thief) 3/Fighter 1
Ship Duty: Captain
Bond: Curse and the Child
Fortunes: (+/-) Notoriety, (+) Devil's Own Luck, (+) Magic Trinkets (Andalusian Corsé de Gracia, Blackheart's Scope), (+) Monkey Magnet, (-) Accursed (if she touches those she loves they die), (-) Enemy (Governor Juan de Ribera of San Juan), (-) Wanted (Viceroyalty of New Spain)
Nia Steeleyes [MENTION=4936]Shayuri[/MENTION]
NG Human (Mixed African) Sailor Ranger 1/Druid (circle of land) 3
Ship Duty: Sailing Master
Bond: Hunting the "White Whale"
Fortunes: (+/-) Quicksilver Eyes, (+) Magic Trinkets (Agwè's Brass Nave, Mama Caille's Recipe Book), (+) Voodoo Rituals, (-) Haunted, (-) Wastrel
Etienne Rougeau [MENTION=6787234]peterka99[/MENTION]
LN Human (French American) Soldier Bard (swashbuckler) 4
Ship Duty: ?
Bond: Journalist Thrill-Seeker
Fortunes: (+) Contacts (North American native tribes), (+/-) Journalist (wears beaver fur hat marking him as associate of French fur-trading Compagnie des poste du Roi), (-) Weird Tales Scoop (he looks for best story without safety consideration in order to be famous and published)
Blaise Arceneau [MENTION=20005]Matthan[/MENTION]
CG Human (French) Abolitionist Paladin (vengeance) 4
Ship Duty: Gunner
Bond: Sacred Relic
Fortunes: (+) Cause (abolition), (+) Loa Patron (Libète), (+) Magic Trinkets (Libète's Votive Buckler, ?), (-) Enemy (Knights of Malta – Anton Fontaine), (-) Wanted (English), (-) Obligation (Forced Marriage-fled)
[SBLOCK=Retired Characters (6)]
Flynn "the Firebrand" James O'Rourke [MENTION=48394]pathfinderq1[/MENTION]
CG Human (Irish) Sailor (pirate)/Sage (physician) Bard (swashbuckler 3)/Pirate 1
Ship Duty: Surgeon
Bond: Obligation (owes life debt to Blackheart)
Fortunes: (+) Immortal, (+) Armed to the teeth, (-) Enemy (Sir D'Arcy), (-) Wanted (English), (+/-) Old Salt (Festering wound, see notes in Discussion), (+/-) Whiskey Johnny
CG Kenku (French?) Urchin Cleric (death) 4
Ship Duty: Lookout / Navigator
Bond: Arcane Rivalry
Fortunes: Cause (abolition of slavery in the Caribbean), Magic Trinkets (Coat of Deeppockets, Drowned Slaves Bottle), Secrets of the Deep (map on the back of a scarred sailor), Ship Mage, Enemy (Baron Bernard Desjean de Pointis), Enemy (the real Sir D’Arcy), Fighting Words, Outlaw Slave
Current Fate: The strange vodounista known as The Tengu King seemed to have flown away after the scuffle at the house on the hill, and what his disappearance presages only Nia Steeleyes can guess...
"Gentleman Jim" James Barrington [MENTION=23484]Kobold Stew[/MENTION]
LG Human (English/French) Charlatan Fighter (battlemaster) 4
Ship Duty: Quartermaster / Gunner
Bond: Secret Agent
Fortunes: Enlightened, At Sea (Benjamin Hornigold's Queen Anne), Wanted (Academie Royale des Sciences)
Current Fate: Strong-willed gentleman James Barrington secured guns for Captain Katerina's crew from the smuggler Komodo Roy, but irreconcilable differences between him and the captain led to Barrington dropping from the venture. Now, all Fenris needs to do is pick up the demi-culverins from the smuggler's hideout...
CN Human (Creole) Ship Rat Rogue (swashbuckler) 4
Ship Duty: Crew (Rigger)
Bond: Curse of Aztec Gold
Fortunes: Kid, Strange Luck, Treasure Map, Obsessed with Treasure
Current Fate: Kid, for his part, was nowhere to be found. Though this was nothing unusual for Kid, as he was likely to be found drunk in a pickle barrel come morning...
Hugo Van Haan [MENTION=6777934]Maldavos[/MENTION]
CG Dwarf (Dutch) Noble Bard (lore) 4
Ship Duty: Cook
Bond: Gold, Glory, and Adventure
Fortunes: Contacts, Enemy (Clemet & Marissa Van Schiedem)
Current Fate: There was the inimitable dwarven cook Hugo Van Haan, who several old salts reported had been press-ganged by an English naval captain who developed a taste for appleflappen...
Doctor Hawken Varlok [MENTION=51930]fireinthedust[/MENTION]
CG Mer (English) Hermit Warlock (great old one) 4
Ship Duty: Ship's Surgeon
Bond: Life Debt
Fortunes: Selkie's Kiss, Black Spot (mermaid tattoo), Loa Patron
Current Fate: And the insidious Dr. Hawken Varlok too, who'd been recruited by none other Captain Read Wallace of the Winchelsea, the privateer organizing a rival mission for La Gloriosa...
[SBLOCK=The Basics]Characters begin at 4th level, fully formed adventurers already tested by Queen Anne's War. You can make characters using the Player's Handbook or the D&D Basic rules ( Basic Rules for Dungeons & Dragons | Dungeons & Dragons ). No evil characters, please. Also, your characters should be created toward handling at least one of the duties aboard a ship, and depending on group size some may double up; I've listed ship duties below.
Bonds: I recommend using one of my bonds below or making up a unique bond connecting your PC to the adventure.
Race: I've described how various races fit into the setting below.
Class: Any. I've listed more specific thoughts below.
Fortunes (optional): Fortunes are a unique part of the setting, adapted from Skull and Bones (Green Ronin) and described below. As a rule, a character shouldn't have more Mixed and/or Good Fortunes than 2 + 1/2 their level (rounded down). For example, a 4th level character should have at most 4 Mixed and/or Good Fortunes. For each Good Fortune you take, however, you must also select an Ill Fortune. There is theoretically no limit to the number of Ill Fortunes you can get. Also, as you adventure your Fortunes might change, losing some and gaining others.
Hit Points: Use average HP values (rounded up) after 1st level. Do not roll.
Multi-classing: Before you multi-class, make sure your character has their main archetype/tradition/whatever first so I can work those into the game. For example, if you're mainly playing a rogue, then I'd require you to have 3 levels as rogue (so you can select Assassin or Thief) before multiclassing.
Yes Feats: We'll use feats, so the alternate human is legit.
Ability scores: Ability scores can be point buy, array, or 4d6 drop lowest six times (honor system ).
Equipment: You can either follow the equipment guidelines for class and background, or purchase equipment using an average value from the Starting Wealth by Class table (e.g. Fighters get 5d4x10 gp, or 125 gp). Your Fortunes may also provide additional equipment.
Home-brewing/House-ruling: I am open to tweaking things so you can get the sort of characters you want. Maybe you want to play an ambiguously undead zombie pirate? Maybe you have a convincing argument for allowing your PC to break my multiclassing rule? Perhaps you want your beastmaster ranger to have a crawling claw "animal companion" and cast from the warlock spell list? Have an idea for a customized fortune? Or a different interpretation of elves in the setting? Just let me know, and we'll work it out.[/SBLOCK]
1. Land Grant & Liberty: A land grant to a plantation in the Spanish Colonies was written to your family, but was aboard La Gloriosa when she sunk. Currently that plantation is illegally governed by a cruel lord, and seeking out La Gloriosa is your only chance of claiming your family's due and liberating the subjugated slaves.
2. Curse of Aztec Gold: You have a cursed Aztec gold piece taken from one of the French bucaneers who raided Cartagena; a mambo told you the only way to rid yourself of the curse is to return the coin to the chest it was taken from - sunken with La Gloriosa.
3. Vengeance or Justice: As a denizen of Cartagena, you seek vengeance (justice?) on those bucaneers who returned after Baron Bernard Desjean de Pointis' raid to massacre, pillage, and rape. A traitor aboard La Gloriosa had a secret ledger with names of the bucaneers in French employ, a ledger now lost under the sea along with La Gloriosa.
4. Sacred Relic: A sacred relic of your people was aboard La Gloriosa when she went down. This might be a holy relic of the Church, a magic anvil of the dwarves, seeds for an elven tree of life, or plans for a gnomish chronometer.
5. Loved One: A close family member or beloved was aboard La Gloriosa, and nightmares have warned you they've been cursed to the Abyss. You seek out the sunken shipwreck to find a way to free your loved one.
6. Secret Agent: Secret documents were lost when La Gloriosa went down, documents proving the Spanish planned to betray one of their allies in the impending War of Spanish Succession. As a Kingsman/Queensman for a monarch, you seek out these documents to weaken the Spanish war effort and prevent a terrible betrayal.
7. Life Debt: Years ago Captain Javier Hernandez of La Gloriosa saved your life. Having found a water-damaged message in a bottle written in Spanish from a J.H. you are convinced Captain Hernandez is alive somewhere, so you seek out La Gloriosa to fulfill your life debt.
8. Price of Freedom: A bucaneer or French privateer taken captive by the Spaniards during the raid on Cartagena, your life was spared as you protected a governor's daughter from the depredations of unruly bucaneers. You were recently offered liberty in exchange for finding out what became of La Gloriosa.
9. Arcane Rivalry: You are a longtime magical rival of Baron Bernard Desjean de Pointis who led the French raid on Cartagena. Unbeknownst to many the Baron is a student of the arcane arts and you are confident a grimoire of great magic was secreted on La Gloriosa to keep it from the Baron's hands. Acquiring this grimoire would certainly help in taking the now fabulously wealthy and famous Baron down a notch.
10. Gold, Glory, and Adventure: You're a consummate treasure hunter - the more impossible the score, the greater the attraction. La Gloriosa represents ultimate glory and wealth to you, and even more than that the ultimate challenge. Win the prize, and your name will go down in history.
Humans include English, French, Spanish, American colonists, African slaves, and natives like the Caribs and Arawaks. English colonies include Antigua, the Bahamas, Barbadoes, Barbuda, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Montserrat, Nevis, St. Christopher (disputed with the French), St. Lucia (disputed with Caribs and French), and they contest Tabago like many nations. French colonies include Granada, Guadalupe, St. Domingue (French Hispaniola), Martinique, St. Christopher (disputed with English), St. Lucia (disputed with Caribs and English), St. Martin (split with the Dutch), and they likewise contest Tabago. Spanish colonies include the Spanish Main (coastal Colombia, Brazil), Cuba, St. Domingo (Spanish Hispaniola), Margarita, Porto Rico, Trinidad, and they also contest Tabago.
Dwarves stand in for the Dutch, and are masters of marine technology and consummate traders of vast enterprise; they govern the islands of Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, and St. Martin (disputed with the French). Dwarves of the Spanish Main are natives of inland South America with masterful stone working skills. Dwarves of the British Isles stand in for the Scottish, those who aren't pirates living marginalized rolen in the English colonies.
Elves of the British Isles occupy the role of the Irish and Welsh, and half-elves are uncommon but not unheard of; those who aren't pirates live marginalized roles in the English colonies. Elves of the Americas stand in for Mayans who rule Cozumel, a popular pirate destination as Spanish ships pass by on their treasure routes; a few elves and half-elven children by pirates even turn to preying on these ships. Dark elves are all that remain of a former sea elven nation that fell under the sway of dark powers of the Abyss, having been banished to the surface for defying their Abyssal masters; those not living as pirates have been enslaved to work in mines and as pearl divers.
Halflings, sometimes called "cay-folk", dwell on cays (flat islands of shell and reef), in floating towns on the backs of zaratans (giant sea turtles), or in ramshackle ship-towns. They have a large presence on the Cayman Islands.
Gnomes occupy the role of the Prussians who're allied with the tiefling Austrians. The sole Prussian colony in the New World is St. Peter in the Virgin Islands, though they also contest Tabago like many nations. That describes rock gnomes. Wood gnomes are generally synonymous with "pygmies" and rarely take to a life at sea.
Dragonborn don't fit this setting (because they're monstrous in appearance & because thematically dragons probably won't come up). If you really want to play a monstrous PC, we could come up with a player version of the Sahuagin or figure something out.
Half-Orcs are descended from orcs and those raised among humankind are outcasts or slaves, and often turn to piracy. Orcs are a cannibalistic scourge on a few small islands like mythical Pelegosto, degenerate tribes of island Caribs who descend like locusts in their longboats to lay waste to nearby towns. They worship the djab (dark spirit) Carisona the Hunter, the first tropical cannibal spirit and "wendigo" of the Caribbean.
Tieflings stand in for Austrians. While there are no Austrian colonies in the Caribbean, agents of the Austrian Hapsburgs may be dispatched to the region to represent their interests in the brewing War of Spanish Succession.
Barbarian: Whether Berserkers or Totem Warriors, barbarians tend to be Natives, islanders, or escaped slaves from faraway lands who've somehow fallen in with a crew and made a new life for themselves.
Bard: Shantyman of the seas, collecting new songs and tales of treasure at every port, bards have been touched by song magic whether thru a siren's song, a whispering voice on the sea, or keeping an enchanted family song telling of buried treasure. College of Lore & College of Valor is a moot distinction.
Cleric: Church clerics are "preacher men / ladies" whose God embodies the domain of Light; they are rare, having gained their powers thru contact with a holy relic like Christopher's Staff, Clement's Anvil, the Dove, the Fish, or the Splinter of the True Cross. Voodoo priests are "houngans (m) / mambos (f)", revering Loas who embody the domains of Death, Knowledge, Life, Nature, Tempest, Trickery, and War. You can find a listing of different Loas here: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loa#Nanchons_of_Loa
Druid: Moon Druids might descend from lycanthropic sea-wolves. Land Druids should choose the Coast as their land of initiation, and usually are only found among elves, though they could also be a unique type of Voodoo practitioner.
Fighter: Corsairs, buccaneers, naval officers, and marines. Champions are impressive physical specimens, the Errol Flynn and Sinbad type heroes. Battle Masters are diligent students of various fencing schools collectively known as Scrimia. Eldritch Knights are rare and would probably have a unique story explaining their magical abilities.
Monk: Monks of Open Hand might be stereotypical strangers on strange tides, hailing from distant lands. Monks of Shadow are probably renegades from a thieves' guild like organization. Monks of Four Elements hail from island societies favoring tattoo art imbued with magic.
Paladin: Paladins of Devotion are holy crusaders (almost always of the Church) on a specific mission such as finding the Fountain of Youth or slaying an Undying Pirate Lord. Paladins of Vengeance are feared bringers of justice on the high seas, and their ties to the Church are tenuous at best. Paladins of the Ancients are favored servants of the Loa charged with defending Carib and African communities.
Ranger: Naval scouts, Native trackers, bounty hunters, and cannon specialists. For Natural Explorer, you'll want to select Coast first. For Favored Enemy, the following are suggested: Aberrations, Beasts, Elementals, Fey, Fiends, Giants, Monstrosities, Undead. If you play a Beastmaster, some suitable creatures might include Baboon (representing a variety of monkeys), Giant Crab, Hawk, Octopus, Raven (representing itself or a parrot), or Seahorse.
Rogue: About what you'd expect. Rapscallions, merchants, smugglers, spies, cutthroats, sea dogs, and all sorts. The distinction between Thief and Assassin is self-evident. Arcane Tricksters are rare and would probably have a unique story explaining their magical abilities.
Sorcerer: Wild mages have some tie to the watery Abyss, such as a close encounter with the Maelstrom (gateway to the Abyss), and will probably use an alternate wild surge table. Dragon sorcerers don't fit the setting, and I'd need to hear your ideas before including one.
Warlock: Warlocks are called "bokors." Great Old One pacts with creatures of the Abyss like Dagon, Zargon, Cthulu, the Kraken, or Davey Jones (yes, the squid guy from Pirates of the Caribbean) are most common in the setting. Pact of the Chain warlocks might take variant familiars such as a crawling claw, kuo-toa, reef shark, shadow, or zombie.
Wizard: "Sea mages" are defined by spell selection, "bokors" are necromancers in Voodoo tradition, and others may be "hermetic mages" or practitioners of lesser known traditions.
Mixed Fortunes provide both a story benefit and drawback.
1. Brethren of the Coast: You are a member of a loose coalition of pirates and privateers based in Tortuga called the Brethren of the Coast. The Brethren sometimes join in raids together, share leads on potential treasure, and don't attack one another's ships. They have their origins in Protestant privateers who raided Catholic French and Spanish shipping and territories. As a member of the Brethren, you are required to hold to certain standards of conduct (as defined in the ship's Articles) including legislative decision-making, a defined hierarchy of command, establishing disability insurance, and equitable division on resources. Spain, in particular, ruthlessly hunts down the Brethren.
2. Casanova: You are a Lothario, Don Juan, Bluebeard, femme fatale, or temptress. You have paramours in most every port you visit who may provide you with favors, or who you may choose to entertain so as to take advantage of them later while they're sound asleep. However, your proclivities tend to embroil you in dramas ranging from scandalous affairs with married men or women, to condemnation by clerics secretly jealous of your affections.
3. Code of Honor: You have strong convictions and a code of honor which bring you into conflict with common conceptions of the world. No charm magic can make you act contrary to your code of honor. However, if you violate your code, you lose this benefit and suffer -3 Fame until atoning.
4. Drownin' Look: You have a faintly fishy look as if Neptune's mark were already upon you, and soon the sea gods will claim you for your own; this may represent destiny, or perhaps you escaped Davey Jones who hunts for your soul. Your checks to avoid drowning are disadvantaged, and you never apply your proficiency bonus to checks to swim. However, if ever tried in a court of law, your sentence is always reduced to one you will survive; the sea gods wait to claim you as their own. Cannot take Hangin' Look.
5. Enlightened: A true product of the Enlightenment, you believe science and mathematics can explain any phenomena. Your Wisdom saves against spells and fear are advantaged. On the downside, to benefit from a helpful spell you must fail a saving throw (usually Wisdom, not counting the advantage above) as if you were hostile to the caster. Cannot take Superstitious.
6. Ex-Zombie: You were once a mindless undead servant to a bokor, yet thru some miracle you regained your humanity. Still, you remained touched by death, your eyes sunken, your skin ashen, and you have the gaunt look of a cadaver. You barely need to eat or drink anything (a third of normal consumption), and instead of sleep you enter a Trance like an elf during which you remain conscious of your surroundings. However, you are considered undead for the purposes of magic and followers of Voodoo recognize you for what you were.
7. Fish Tales: You are prone to exaggerated accounts of your and your companions' adventures. When you tell a riveting tale of exaggerated truth to a new audience, you may make a Perfomance check (DC 25 - the Fame of the main PC involved). If you succeed, the main PC involved in your story gains +1 Fame as people buy the tale hook, line, and sinker. If you fail by 5 or more, there is an unintended repercussion to your sharing of the tale, but no change in Fame. If you fail by 10 or more, you and the main PC involved in your story both lose -1 Fame as everyone decries your fish tale.
8. Hangin' Look: You have a suspicious look and are clearly destined for the gallows. When tried before a judge, regardless of the offense they will sentence you to hang. On the upside, you will not drown since your fate is at the gallows; you never die from drowning, though you can be lost at sea, captured by merrow, found and press-ganged by pirates, etc. Cannot take Drownin' Look.
9. Kid: You are 13 years old (or the equivalent for your race). You suffer a -3 Strength penalty, which diminishes by 1 for each year until your 16th birthday. Until then you cannot die from a failed save or ability check; the worst that will happen is you are grievously injured, taken captive, or knocked out. Cannot take Old Salt.
10. Notoriety: You are believed to be responsible for some infamous act, and you have a very distinctive appearance to boot (such as miscolored eyes or albinism). Increase your Fame by +3. However, others are likely to recognize you when you least desire attention, imposition disadvantage on your checks to disguise yourself or go unnoticed (or advantage on their checks to identify you).
11. Old Salt: Your starting age is 40+2d6 years (or the equivalent for your race). Gain an extra Background. However, reduce your starting lives by -1 and you must pick a starting Affliction from Ill Fortunes (like a peg leg, hook hand, or missing eye). Cannot take Kid.
12. Pirate Hobby: Doldrums? Long days at port? Marooned on a tropical island? Waiting at the tavern for hung over companions to awake? What's a pirate to do in his or her spare time? You've picked up an odd hobby and gotten very, very good at it. Some examples include insult arm wresting, spitting contests, jig dance-offs, coconut tree climbing contests, card throwing, stone skipping, sealion call imitating, sea shanty competitions, and other silliness. Gain +1 Fame, and when engaging in your specific hobby you add double your proficiency bonus on the check. However, a string of competitors will always rise to challenge you for the title of "Best ________ in the Caribbean", and they will be very persistent and annoying.
13. Quicksilver Eyes: You must have lost a Life (or take a -1 Life penalty) to take this fortune. You had a close brush with death that opened your eyes to the other side. With an action you can enter a state of profound concentration allowing you to see invisible and ethereal creatures within 30 feet for up to 1 minute (concentration), though for each time you attempt this beyond once per day you take a level of Exhaustion. However, your strange supernatural looking eyes seriously unsettle superstitious people.
14. Rogue-a-Plotting: You are the proverbial Long John Silver, constantly undermining the authority of those around you, and would see yourself in the Captain's seat. When you're captain gain +2 Sway checks. When you're challenging a captain for leadership, gain +4 Sway checks. However, authority figures and ship captains tend to suspect you of treachery regardless of your guilt or innocence, and you have an Enemy (see the ill fortune) whose authority you undermined in the past.
15. Selkie's Kiss: You are enamored of a creature of the sea like a merfolk, siren, or selkie. While they may intervene to protect you when knocked overboard or lead you to a hidden coastal cave, they are also likely to abduct you to their underwater realm for a time. Other sailors who learn of your connection to this creature are likely to view you suspiciously or try to kill or capture your paramour.
16. Strange Luck: You are surrounded by extraordinary circumstances. Whenever you roll a natural 1 or 20 something bizarre happens. On a natural 1 you critically fail at whatever you were attempting, thru no fault of your own; a lock pick breaks, you slip on a patch of oil, a guard recognizes you, etc. On a natural 20 you gain an extraordinary success thru some happy circumstance; you happen to have picked up the exact key to this lock earlier, your fall is broken by your jacket catching on the flagpole, the guard happens to be your cousin, etc.
17. Superstitious: Your awe of magic and fear of the supernatural makes you more susceptible to spells, but also more on your guard against potential threats. You do not apply your proficiency bonus to Wisdom saves against spells and fear effects (and if you would not normally apply your proficiency bonus, instead your Wisdom saves are disadvantaged). On the upside, you can use detect magic at-will without any components, though you cannot identify the school of magic when doing so. Cannot take Enlightened.
18. Weather Pains: Pains in your joints and bad headaches warn you when a storm is coming, giving you at least a few hours to prepare or change heading. However, you suffer a level of exhaustion each time this occurs.
19. Worm: You are a sniveling toady beneath contempt. This means you are easily overlooked and enemies will rarely single you out to kill you and will never attempt coup de grace against you. However, it also means you are a terrible leader and your Sway takes a -2 penalty.
20. Whiskey Johnny: Your prodigious skill at drinking leaves you standing in drinking competitions where lesser fools fall. You gain advantage on Constitution saves to avoid becoming intoxicated, and you can fight while intoxicated without suffering disadvantage on your attack rolls. However at the start of any given day, when you had acces to rum the night before, there is a 50% chance you wake up hung over and are useless on the ship until noon. Taking the Vice (alcohol) ill fortune would be apropos, but not required.
Good Fortunes provide a story benefit. For each Good Fortune you select, you must also select an Ill Fortune.
1. Ally: You have an NPC ally who will go to great lengths to assist you. Choose whether your ally is primarily helpful because of their influence, information, or services rendered.
2. Armed to the Teeth: You are armed to the teeth, and short of being strip-searched or magically searched you always manage to conceal at least one small weapon on your person. Gain any two weapon of your choice, and if either are firearms 12 shot and powder for each. In addition gain one of the following masterwork weapon options.
3. Booty: Begin with a valuable piece of treasure or equipment like breastplate armor, an extra spellbook, small keelboat, horse and cart, several barrels of trade goods, etc. This might be a family heirloom, a gift from a former captain, or something looted at sea.Long Musket: As per a musket, except the range is 50/150, and it cannot be fired at adjacent targets.
Double Barrel Musket: As per a musket, except it holds 2 shot which it fires separately before needing to reload.
Holdout Pistol: As per a pistol, except the range is 20/60, it weighs 1 lb, and can be concealed in a corset or worked into cane or wooden leg.
Double Barrel Pistol: As per a pistol, except it holds 2 shot which it fires separately before needing to reload.
3 Bombs: As an action, you can light a bomb and throw it up to 60 feet. Each creature within 5 feet of that point (a 10-ft diameter blast) must make a DC 12 Dexterity saving throw or takes 3d6 fire damage. Flammables are lit on fire by the explosion.
12 Silver Bullets
4. Cause: You have a fervent belief in a great cause of some kind, such as the overthrow of the English Queen, establishment of a pirate nation, dismantling the Holy Inquisition, or abolition of slavery. So long as you pursue your cause you have +1 Fame, and if you ever achieve your cause you gain +4 Fame.
5. Contacts: You have contacts amongst those of a certain profession or walk of life who will occasionally provide small favors, information, trade, and/or work. Your Background can be a good guideline for the sort of contacts you know.
6. Devil's Own Luck: You have an uncanny knack for cheating death. Begin with 1d6+3 Lives (instead of 1d4+2). In addition, other players can spend their Inspiration on your behalf to allow you to "Roll the Bones." Only one PC may take this fortune.
7. Fencing School: You must be proficient with martial weapons to take this fortune. You have undertaken diligent study lasting at least six months in one of the era's three predominant schools of fencing, learning under a master and possibly at an official fighting academy. Choose one of the schools below: La Destreza (Spanish), Scrimia (Italian/French), or Fence (English). Gain that school's special technique and if you wish you may follow its suggested feats, fighting styles, and battlemaster manuevers (also available to PCs taking the Martial Adept feat). You are conversant in the theory of multiple fencing styles, automatically identify a fencing style you witness, and can read fighting manuals regardless of their language of origin (and learn new fencing techniques as proficiencies using downtime).
8. Immortality:You will never die of old age, and thus are immune to effects that age you. Perhaps you are attuned to magical Lazarus pools somewhere that allow you to be rejuvenated in their waters? Perhaps you drank from the Fountain of Youth? Perhaps you cut a deal with the Devil?
9. Letter of Marque: You possess an official permit from the government of one country to prey upon the ships of another country or countries. Usually only ship captains have a letter of marque, distinguishing them as privateers rather than pirates, though you might have a letter of marque in the hopes of attaining your own ship.
10. Loa Patron: One of the Loa (powerful Voodoo spirits) has decided you make an excellent servant. In exchange for 2 or 3 services you perform each year, the Loa provides subtle assistance according to its nature.
11. Lucky Ship's Cat: You have a polydactyl cat (cat with extra toes), a black cat, or a cat (or other animal mascot) otherwise believed to be lucky by sailors. Your cat is an excellent hunter and keeps the rodent population down, allowing you to re-roll any random encounters pertaining to rats or rat-borne disease. Moreover, so long as your cat is well fed and well treated, the crew gain +1 morale. Only one player may take this fortune
12. Magic Trinkets: You have sundry lucky charms, talismans, protective tattoos, and fetishes (roll five times for Trinkets if you wish). Most of these are not magical. However, either one of your choice is actually magical and you know it, or two of the DM's choice are magical but you don't know which. These should be common or uncommon magic items.
13. Military Rank: Military rank signifies an officer's rank in one of the world's navies. While you are expected to follow the orders of your superiors when on active duty, you also can give commands to lower ranking soldiers, requisition military equipment and weapons, and gain access to military forts and prisons. You are also familiar with military hierarchy and etiquette.
14. Parrot Perch/Monkey Magnet: You have a pet parrot (use raven stats) or monkey (use baboon stats).
15. Secrets of the Deep: This fortune is best suited for warlocks with a Pact of the Great Old One or other characters who've had close contact with the watery Abyss. Gain one of the following secrets of the deep when you take this fortune.
16. Ship Mage:You must be able to cast spells to take this fortune. You served aboard at least one vessel as Ship Mage and picked up minor magical tricks of the sea along the way. Gain a bonus cantrip from one of the ship mage cantrips below (booming captain's voice, buoyancy, drowned likeness, false flag, ghost rigging, mariner's boon, unfasten, wave). In addition, when you gain a cantrip you may choose from these ship mage cantrips.
- You intuitively understand how to operate gateways/planar passages to the Abyss, and can understand Quallith (the alien Braille writing of the Illithid).
- You automatically differentiate different kinds of merfolk (Jenny Hannivers, Onijegi, Sea Monks, Merfolk, Merrow, or Sirens) and knows considerable lore about them.
- Merfolk (Jenny Hannivers, Onijegi, Sea Monks, Merfolk, Merrow, or Sirens) will never harm you.
- Your tattoo, or other remark upon you, writhes and changes slightly when any Sea Beastie is drawing near, granting you advance warning, but causing you crippling albeit fleeting pain.
- You had a vision during your "awakening" by the Great Old One(s), a vision of how to read a map on the back of a scarred sailor; this map would lead you to what you most desire, but it would come at a price. The map would also grant advantage on some island encounter rolls and provide other secret benefits.
- You realized there is a conspiracy of others like you out there when you "awakened", only they are willing servants of the Great Old One(s). They call themselves The Cabal. Sometimes their dreams bleed together and you gain secret knowledge of their plans.
- You constantly fight a subtle madness from your "awakening", however you can automatically recognize signs of madness in others and can "eavesdrop" on nearby telepathic conversations.
- (Warlock Pact of the Blade) Your pact blade is a Cthonic artifact slowly materializing into the world, becoming more real with each use of your pact blade. This means it gains power as a rare magic item following the story, but also gains malign intelligence and heralds some coming disaster.
17. Shore Leave/At Sea: During a relaxing time of repaste, you learned either a bonus tool proficiency or language. Pick a particular port where you enjoyed your shore leave and gain an acquaintance there. Alternately, if you select proficiency in water vehicles or navigation tools, choose a ship you served on and are familiar with her captain and crew.
18. Trading Company: You are a partial owner in a trading company. When tending to business and brokering trades you can maintain a Wealthy lifestyle free of charge, stay abreast of current trade conditions, and have the perfect legitimate cover for being in a variety of ports.
19. Treasure Map: You possess a map to a secret treasure, whether a buried treasure chest, a shipwreck which could be restored, or a buried stockpile of munitions.
20. Voodoo Rituals: You must be a spellcaster to take this fortune. You can perform Voodoo rituals which allow you to petition Loa to teach you new spells (even those outside your class list), greatly modify the scope of existing spells (e.g. Cast hex on an entire port? You can try!), summon a djab (dark spirit) whose name you know (though they're free to act as they please), and in general do stuff that breaks the D&D spellcasting rules. However, Voodoo has its own rules. Every Voodoo ritual involves a sacrifice and a skill check (based on the nature of the required ritual) to determine its success; failure often means being saddled with a "burden" by a displeased Loa. Temporary possession is also possible, on a roll of 1 or 20.
Ill Fortunes provide a story drawback, and one must be taken for each Good Fortune. Of course, if you wish to take an extra Ill Fortune for story reasons, feel free to do so.
1. Accursed: You suffer from a mighty curse. This might by a burden placed upon you by one of the Loa, the "price" a bokor pays for their magic, or a terrible enchantment uttered by a sea hag. Example curses include: Being unaffected by healing magic, having temporary bouts of madness which interfere with downtime actions, suffering a hideous appearance, forgetting the details of your life, etc.
2. Affliction: You've suffered some physical affliction in the course of your duties, such as a disfiguring scar (-2 Charisma), maimed throat (can only speak in whisper), missing eye (-2 initiative and Perception), missing hand, or a peg leg (-10 ft speed, and some Athletics checks may be disadvantaged).
3. Beastie Bait: There is some beastie, usually a sea beastie, that is after you with a vengeance. Maybe it got a taste of your leg and wants more? Maybe you killed its offspring or stole its treasure? Whatever the case, settle on a suitable beastie with the DM. Whenever your party would roll on the beastie table suiting that beastie's natural environment (port, sea, island, abyss), roll twice; if the beastie comes up on either die take that result, otherwise take the result of your first roll. Naturally, should you encounter the beastie it preferentially seeks you out.
4. Between the Devil and the Deep Sea: There is a war for your soul, matey, but not between heaven and hell. No, the Devil wants your soul as does the Abyss. Both send fiendish agents to corrupt you and lure you to disaster. These agents will be disguised as NPCs whose vying for your soul will land you in "between a rock and a hard place" situations.
5. Black Spot: You bear the dreaded Black Spot, a painful inky black stain on you hand or arm which marks you as chosen by one of the powers of the Abyss. Perhaps you sold your soul, perhaps you are touched from being trapped in the Abyss, or perhaps you were marked mysteriously. The Abyss and creatures of the Abyss fill you with terror, and sailors who see your Black Spot avoid you like the plague.
6. Disgraced: You've fallen far from a position of power and privilege. Among those who you formerly called peers, you are unwelcome and suffer disadvantage on all Charisma checks. Additionally, anyone who knows of the nature of your disgrace gains advantage on checks to poke fun at or taunt you.
7. Enemy: A powerful and resourceful enemy (like a rival pirate, naval officer, or plantation owner) wants you dead or brought to justice. Should they be defeated, another enemy will rise to take their place.
8. Fighting Words: You have a habit for getting into scrapes, are well known for your prolific insults, and your cussing puts sailors to shame. You can be counted on to spit in the face of a gift horse. Captains concerned about mutiny or authority figures worries about insurrection tend to suspect you first. Also, each week of sea travel (or portion thereof) you get into a fight with some of the crew, requiring disciplinary action or leading to unrest.
9. Grog-headed: Grog was a mixture of rum and water used to ration out rum and keep up morale. A "grog-head" is one who could get drunk off of grog, thus someone who couldn't handle their liquor. After one glass of any real alcohol you are intoxicated. Other sailors and pirates enjoy giving you a hard time about this and challenging you to drinking matches.
10. Haunted: Something haunts your dreams and plagues your nights; it may simply be a traumatic memory or may actually be a restless spirit. When it haunts you (25% chance), you gain benefit from a long rest as if it were only a short rest.
11. Jonah: You are widely regarded as cursed, and regardless of whether or not it's true, crew tend to blame you for strokes of ill fortune that befall them, particularly in regard to weather and sea monsters. Reduce the crew's quality (morale) by one step while you're aboard. Often being a "Jonah" is accompanied by some minor form of madness in your psychological makeup.
12. Loose Lips: You have trouble keeping your mouth shut. Whenever you know a secret and are in the presence of those from whom you ought to keep it, you must make a DC 12 Wisdom save to avoid letting something slip.
13. Madness: You suffer form some form of madness. Delusions and Phobia being the most playable varieties. If you have Delusions, you are convinced you have the power to do something you cannot actually do. A classic example would be delusions that you possess magic you do not actually have. Another might be thinking you are the greatest bluffer in the world when, in fact, you are not. If you have a Phobia, you suffer an irrational fear of something, which you will go to extreme lengths to avoid and probably react to hysterically or simply freeze up. Some interesting phobias include astraphobia (fear of storms), blennophobia (fear of slime), claustrophobia (fear of tight spaces), demonophobia (fear of djab and fiends), entomophobia (fear of insects), icthyphobia (fear of fish/sharks), necrophobia (fear of corpses/undead), ophidiophobia (fear of snakes), pyrophobia (fear of fire), spectrophobia (fear of ghosts), or tomophobia (fear of surgery).
14. Marooned: You were recently marooned on an island, sandbar, or cay with little to nothing in the way of food, left to survive by your own wits. During this time any wealth you had which wasn't on your person was taken by others (often those who marooned you), and any social status you had was lost or significantly diminished. You probably have strong feelings about the place you were marooned, and you should choose a suitable name for it (e.g. Skull Island, Albatross Rock, White Sands Cay).
15. Obligation: Someone has a hold over you, whether thru blackmail, charm magic, a monetary debt, a forced marriage, or a life debt.
16. Obsessed with Treasure: You have an unhealthy fascination with treasure; all things bright and glittery draw you in like a moth to a flame. When confronted with a treasure you can't help but handle several pieces of it right away or, if unable to handle it, stare transfixed for a round. You always try to take more than your fair share of a prize when doing so won't raise the hackles of your companions...usually because they won't find out.
17. Outlaw Slave: Most of the slaves in the Caribbean are from the African nations of Ashanti, Dahomey, and Oyo, though some Carib and Arawaks are enslaved, and a rare few white indentured servants still exist (or Europeans who escaped Barbary slavers). Regardless of your origin, you escaped your cruel enslavement, though not unmarked. You might bear a brand marking you as property, or perhaps an ear or buttock was cut off for a previous failed attempt at escape. African escaped slaves are known as Maroons (England, France, and the Netherlands) or Cimarrones (Spain). Slave hunters called "ranchers" have been sent by your former master to hunt you down, and are within their legal rights to do so according to the laws of the colonial powers.
18. Vice: You overindulge in a certain vice, such as gambling, whoring, drinking (a Whiskey Johnny), snuff, or some exotic sexual deviancy. You suffer -4 Sway on all checks involving your vice, and when the object of your vice is available you must make a Wisdom save (DC 10 + the number of days since you last indulged) or else descend into indulgence, ignoring all dangers and goals in pursuit of your vice.
19. Wanted: You are wanted as a pirate by the authorities of at least one nation. Soldiers who recognize you will try to arrest you, and the authorities may have sent out agents to hunt you down. You may or may not bear the "P" brand for "pirate" on your forearm.
20. Wastrel: You love the finer things in life and believe money is for the spending. Each week in a settlement you must make a Wisdom save (DC 10 village, DC 12 average port, DC 15 large town or city) or spend at least the Aristocratic lifestyle expense (10 gp/day) for that week, potentially going into debt if you run out of coin.
The Spanish fencing school La Verdadera Destreza is a mathematical approach to fencing based on moving outside the enemy's arc of attack and seeking opportunities to deliver en passant attacks. A Diestro(a) trains inside an imaginary circle with in a variety of weapons. Dutch rapier fencing schools in the style of Thibault's Academie de l'Espée follow similar principles as La Destreza.
Special Technique - Compases Curvos: When you hit a creature with an opportunity attack or a readied attack, you may move 5 feet within the creature's reach or switch places with the creature (your choice).
Suggested Feat: Mobile
Suggested Fighting Style: Duelist or Two-Weapon Fighting
Suggested Battlemaster Manuevers: Evasive Footwork, Riposte, Sweeping Attack
"Scrimia" includes the Italian school of Scrimia, the French school of Escrime, and the German school of Schermize which bear great resemblance to one another, all focusing on linear economy of motion, timing, and tempo. Additionally, the followers of Scrimia make great defensive use of their off hand in which they might hold a buckler shield, another blade, gauntlet, cloak, or scabbard.
Special Technique - Bonetti's Defense: Whenever you take the Dodge action or successfully use a reaction to turn an attack against you into a miss, you may Disengage for free.
Suggested Feat: Defensive Duelist
Suggested Fighting Style: Defense (re-skinned so the +1 AC bonus applies when wielding anything in the off-hand)
Suggested Battlemaster Manuevers: Feinting Attack, Lunging Attack, Parry
The English fencing school is largely based on the teachings of Di Grassi, and compared to Scrimia or Destreza prefers a natural stance and places a greater emphasis on tempo. Followers of this school incorporate unarmed techniques from boxing or wrestling, and favor flashy moves inspired by dueling and prize fights.
Special Technique - Enclose & Command: When you successfuly grapple an opponent you can to choose to either deal unarmed damage each time you win the grapple, or impose disadvantage on the opponent's attacks as long as they are grappled.
Suggested Feat: Tavern Brawler
Suggested Fighting Style: Two-Weapon Fighting (changed to allow you to perform Two Weapon Fighting with any weapon in your main hand - not just light weapons - and unarmed attacks with the other, and allowing you to apply your ability modifier to damage of your unarmed attack)
Suggested Battlemaster Manuevers: Feinting Attack, Pushing Attack, Tripping Attack
[SBLOCK=Ship Mage Cantrips]
Booming Captain's Voice
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 120 ft
Components: V, S
Duration: Up to 1 minute
You shout to get the crew's attention. For the next minute, the Captain of the ship you are aboard (or whoever you consider Captain if there's a dispute or mutiny) gains +1 Sway checks and their voice is magically amplified voice to carry above even storm winds.
Casting Time: 1 action
Components: V, S, M (a piece of pumice)
Duration: Up to 1 hour
A creature or object (weighing no more than 250 pounds) you touch resists sinking on its own, and if currently submerged will rise to the surface. If an affected creature tries to dive under, they must make a DC 20 Athletics check to stay submerged, There are practical limits, like the creature or object not floating to the surface if restrained or something blocking its route up. This spell lasts for up to 1 hour or until you cast it again on a different creature or object.
Casting Time: 1 action
Components: V, S, M (a mirror with water poured over it)
Duration: Up to 1 minute, concentration
One creature you touch either gains the likeness of a drowned creature or, if they are already drowned, they assume their likeness as if they were freshly dead (and the corpse identifiable). This seeming lasts only as long as you maintain touch and concentration, for up to one minute.
Casting Time: 1 action
Components: V, S, M (a small canvas version of the flag you wish to imitate)
Duration: Up to 1 hour, concentration
You cause the flag of the ship you currently are aboard to blur and adopt the likeness of another flag you have seen. This illusion only fools those who are over 200 feet away; any closer and a blurred view of the ship's actual flag becomes visible. You must concentrate to maintain the illusion which can last for up to 1 hour.
Casting Time: 1 action, or 1 reaction taken when you or a creature within 30 of you falls
Range: 30 feet
Components: V, S, M (ship's rigging or an equivalent large amount of rope or line)
You conjure a long length of rope to lash out at your command toward a creature in range. If the target is unwilling, make a melee spell attack. If the attack hits, and the target is Large or smaller, slide the target 15 feet in any direction. If you hoist them upward, they are now in the ship's rigging.
In addition, you may cast this spell as a reaction when a Large or smaller creature within 30 feet of you falls. If they are unwilling, roll attack as above. If the attack hits or they are willing, the creature takes no falling damage and is instead left hanging from the rope wrapped about a limb. A creature left hanging from rope is grappled and must cut itself free (falling 10 feet), make a check to escape a grapple as if you were holding them, or be freed by another.
Casting Time: 1 action
Components: V, S
This spell was developed by ship mages to assist in common shipboard tasks. You perform one of the following tasks:
- You gaze upon a magical compass invisible to all but you which points north before vanishing.
- You raise your hand off the rail of the ship and get a sense for the current water depth.
- You turn your face to the wind, sensing the next change to wind coming before sunrise or sunset (whichever comes first).
- You gaze toward the horizon, viewing far away objects at double size.
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 30 ft
Components: V, S
You cause between one and six knots that you can see within range to come undone. This spell can, for example, quickly unloose the top sails or quickly disconnect a ship's boat (rowboat) from a vessel. When attempting to undo a particularly complex knot like a noose, restraints tied by someone proficient in knot-tying or a similar tool, or a mass of tangled line the DM might require you to make a spell attack against a set DC to determine whether or not you succeed.
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 100 ft
Components: V, S
You cause a wave of 3 to 5 feet height to form within range and move toward shore (or, in open ocean, for several dozen feet before dissipating). Mostly ship mages use this to entertain children or get a look at shallow reef. However, it can also be used to wash things to shore, double the speed of a ship's boat (rowboat or keelboat) moving toward shore, or threaten to capsize a small ship's boat (the pilot must make a Dexterity (water vehicles) against your spell save DC to avoid being capsized).
[SBLOCK=Duties Aboard a Ship]
[h2]Duties aboard a ship[/h2]
1. Captain: While the captain of a naval vessel is appointed by the Admiralty, the captian of a pirate ship is democratically elected by majority vote which can, in principal, be held at anytime. However, the exception to this is in times of battle when the captain has unlimited authority. The captain should have proficiency in navigator's tools, proficiency in water vehicles, a good Charisma, and proficiency in some Charisma-based skills. The Captain often keeps a journal, which the player may wish to emulate.
2. Sailing Master: Sometimes a role subsumed by the Captain, the Sailing Master is in charge of navigation and the sailing of the ship, directing the course and looking after the maps and instruments necessary for navigation. Proficiency in navigator's tools and water vehicles is a must. Certain divination spells can be of great help too, especially considering how charts of the era are often inaccurate (or nonexistent). Also, the player should pay attention to maps.
3. Boatswain: The Boatswain (prounounced "bossun") is responsible for handling all repairs to the ship and ensuring its hull, sails, and rigging are in tiptop shape. Also, the Boatswain is responsible for weighing anchor and handling of the sails. Proficiency in Investigation and/or Perception is a must. Typically the Boatswain oversees the Carpenter, though some Boatswains take on the role of Carpenter themselves.
4. Gunner: The Gunner (formally called Master Gunner) is responsible for the Ship's guns, cannons, and ammunition. This includes sifting powder to keep it dry and prevent it from separating, insuring cannons and ordnance are rust free, and that all weapons are kept in good repair. Proficiency in martial ranged weapons (including pistols, muskets, and cannons) is a must, and profiency in metal-working tools could come in handy.
5. Quartermaster: Representing the interests of the the crew, the Quartermaster resolves quarrels, distributes food and booty, and keeps the account books of the ship. As the Quartermaster is usually elected by the crew, he or she is empowered to punish minor offenses (though major crimes are tried before the crew) and to determine what plunder to take from a captured ship. A high Wisdom or Insight proficiency can come in handy, as can Charisma or Persuasion proficiency. The player should keep track of treasure found.
6. First Mate: A large ship might have several Mates serving aboard it, hence the designation "First Mate." A Mate acts as apprentice to the Sailing Master and Boatswain. Their responsibilities include the fitting out of the vessel, examining whether it is sufficiently provided with ropes, pulleys, sails, and all the other rigging necessary for the voyage, hoisting the anchor, and at port seeing to the care of the sails, yards, mooring, anchor, and cables of the ship. Proficiency in water vehicles is recommended.
7. Carpenter: The Carpenter (one of the ship's Warrant Officers) is responsible for the maintenance and repair of the wooden hull, masts and yards, and works under the direction of the Boatswain. Among the Carpenter's duties are placing oakum between the seems of the planks and wooden plugs on leaks to keep the vessel tight. Proficiency in shipwright's tools is a must, a high Constitution is helpful when forced to perform repairs underwater, and the mending Cantrip can prove invaluable.
8. Surgeon: The Surgeon (one of the ship's Warrant Officers) not only should be proficient in Medicine, but often is the most educated person aboard, making the Sage background or proficiency in various Intelligence-based skills useful. Proficiency with surgeon's tools is recommended, and healing magic is especially valued. Ships without a proper Surgeon often appoint the task to the Carpenter, who make do with carpentry tools.
9. Cook: Technically the cook is another member of the crew, but their skills make them stand apart. Proficiency with an herbalism kit may be handy, though there are no in-game representations of a Cook's skill. Instead, it is left to the player to roleplay.
10. Crew: While crew are usually NPCs, any PC with the Sailor background can fill in for the responsibilities of crew. Crew include Able Bodied Sailors, Riggers (who value training in Athletics and Acrobatics), Cabin Boys (typically small boys or Halflings), Powder Monkeys (who run gunpowder from below decks), and Swabs (who mop the decks).
A silver standard is in use during the Golden Age of Piracy, with Dutch, English, French, and Spanish coins as the main currency used in the Caribbean. For simplicity's sake, let's ignore currency conversion rates and tweak coin values to match up with the normal gold, electrum, silver, and copper coins of D&D. Platinum is unknown in the setting, and would be used to represent particularly ancient coins with higher gold content and thus value. Bank notes have only recently begun to be used and are typically rare and reserved for large transactions between nobility and trading companies.
Gold: ducat (Dutch), pound (English), louis d'or (French), doubloon (Spanish)
Electrum: daalder (Dutch), crown (English), livres tournois (French), pieces of eight (Spanish)
Silver: florin (Dutch), shilling (English), écu (French), real (Spanish)
Copper: stuvier (Dutch), pence (English), denier (French), sol (French), maravedi (Spanish)
The DMG preview revealed rules for Renaissance firearms, which we'll use with lower prices. Most PCs have proficiency with pistols, provided it makes sense for the character's background (e.g. a Druid or Monk most likely would not). However, only PCs with martial ranged weapon proficiency are proficient with muskets and cannons.
Bullets (12) (5 sp, 2 lbs) includes powder, shot, and wadding
Gunpowder horn (35 gp, 2 lbs) water-resistant
Keg of gunpowder (250 gp, 20 lbs) If lit afire, a keg of gunpowder explodes, dealing 7d6 fire damage to all within 10 feet, DC 12 Dexterity saving throw for half damage.
MARTIAL RANGED WEAPONS
Pistol (10 gp, 3 lbs) 1d10 piercing damage / ammunition - single shot (range 30/90), loading, light
Musket (20 gp, 10 lbs) 1d12 piercing damage / ammunition - single shot (range 40/120), loading, two-handed
Blunderbuss (15 gp, 8 lbs) 2d6 piercing damage / ammunition - single shot (range 20/60), loading, two-handed, misfire (1)
Blunderbuss: Misfire (1) means that on a roll of 1 you take 2d6 fire damage from the powder blowing up in your face and the gun requires a short rest to be cleaned before it will work. However, blunderbusses also have an advantage in that they can be loaded with almost anything, not just bullets...pebbles, pitons, dinner forks...could come in handy in some scenarios!
SHIPBOARD MARTIAL RANGED WEAPONS
Swivel Gun (1 pounder) (50 gp) 4d6 piercing damage / ammunition - single shot (range 100/300), loading, ship
Demi-Culverin (9 pounder) (100 gp) 1d4x10 piercing damage / ammunition - single shot (range 200/600), loading, ship
Culverin (18 pounder) (150 gp) 2d4x10 piercing damage / ammunition - single shot (range 250/750), loading, ship
Demi-Cannon (24 pounder) (200 gp) 3d4x10 piercing damage / ammunition - single shot (range 300/900), loading, ship
Cannon (45 pounder) (400 gp) 4d4x10 piercing damage / ammunition - single shot (range 350/1050), loading, ship
[h3]Re-skinning Armor & Weapons[/h3]
Buckler Shield (5 gp, 2 lbs) +1 AC, allows you to use your free hand (occasionally with disadvantage) or another item to be held in your shield hand but not fought with (e.g. holding a torch or spare weapon).
Padded armor is commonly known as a buff coat - a thick padded leather coat with gloves.
Leather armor is known as a fencing jacket or pitch jacket - a leather jacket stiffened by pitch with gloves.
Half plate is known as munition armor designed for infantry.
Battleaxes are usually called boarding axes.
Clubs include belaying pins, saps, and shovels used as improvised weapons.
Daggers include buccaneer knives, dirks, hand hooks, and marlinespikes (a shipboard tool for splitting ropes).
Handaxes includes hatchets and tomahawks.
Javelins are usually called harpoons.
Longswords include a variety of sabers.
Pikes are usually called boarding pikes.
Scimitars include cutlasses and other curved swords.
Sickles include awl hooks.
Spears include bayonets (musket-mounted).
[h3]Tools & Personal Effects[/h3]
Bottle of Claret (1 gp, 2 lbs)
Bottle of Rum (5 sp, 2 lbs)
Logbook (2 gp, 2 lbs)
Pipe and 8 oz. tobacco (5 sp)
Pocket-watch (5 gp)
Speaking Trumpet (1 sp, 1 lb) doubles the ranges of your voice.
Spyglass (45 gp, 1 lb) magnifies objects to twice their size.
Sail-mending Tools (2 gp, 2 lbs) include a sailor's palm, several needles, scissors, a thimble, and a lots of waxed thread.
Shipwright's Tools (15 gp, 8 lbs) include an adze, caulking mallet, caulking iron, ramming iron, Jerry iron, pitch ladle, short saw, a bag of oakum, and wooden plugs.
Surgeon's Tools (30 gp, 5 lbs) include several saws for amputations, a scalpel, various other sharp objects, and a horn spoon for digging out bullets.
You can roll 1d20 on either table below instead of the one in the PHB for determining your character's starting trinket.
1. Torn half of a treasure map to "Isla de Muerte."
2. Stock certificate in a little known trading company called L.J.S.
3. Water damaged logbook of one Captain Henry "Long Ben" Every filled with cryptic navigation charts and unknown islands.
4. Gentleman's wig of exceptional quality suitable for a baron or judge.
5. Silver flask with a golden peryton coat-of-arms worked on the side.
6. Surgeon's text detailing dissections of non-human corpses including a lacedon ghoul, a mermaid, and a sea wolf.
7. Mysterious symbol covered puzzle box that, at times, moves of its own accord.
8. Fashionable leather hat which always seems to find its way back to you with the tide and wind.
9. Ornate compass in a scrimshaw (engraved whalebone) case.
10. Pristine copy of Relation de l'expédition de Carthègene faite par les François en 1697 by Bernard Desjean, Baron du Pointis.
11. Busk (wooden panel slipping into a lady's bodice) engraved with an encoded message.
12. Weathered copy of the King James Bible with letters curiously underlined throughout as if a cypher.
13. Entymologist's collection of preserved Caribbean insects in a small lacquered wooden box.
14. Necklace with a silver cross which unscrews to reveal a hidden vial which can hold 1 oz. of fluid.
15. Italian fencing manual written by an anonymous Master of Scrimia.
16. Unopened square bottle of high-quality Dutch gin with the label: O'de Flander-Oost-Vlaamse graanjenever.
17. Detailed map of French (western) Hispaniola, with notes on assassination targets written in Spanish.
18. Spring-loaded device that wraps around the wrist, designed to launch a dagger into hand.
19. Pocket watch with hands at 10 o'clock counting backwards one hour per month, resisting all attempts to reset or repair it.
20. Ship in a bottle that seems to come to life at night, wracked by thunder and stormy seas.
1. Shrunken head. Dear old mum perhaps? Or a respected enemy you slew?
2. Blood-stained Aztec gold piece.
3. Mayan headress with colorful feathers and symbol of Ixchel, jaguar goddess of moon, rain, and fertility.
4. Necklace made of sahuagin teeth and starfish.
5. Fine grey waterproof whaling jacket made of selkie skin.
6. Obsidian Aztec dagger with glossy grey bird feathers hanging from the hilt.
7. Recipe book for favorite pirate libations and meals, Rumfaustian and buccaneered pig in particular.
8. Carved crystal skull engraved with the initials K.H. on the back.
9. Shield made of hollowed out giant crab shell that is buoyant enought to keep a medium-sized creature afloat.
10. Set of tattooing instruments and ink.
11. Small Arawak clay statue of a nude crescent headed man whose expression mirrors your emotional state.
12. Dead man's silver hoop earring (in pirate lore, this is bad mojo and obligates you to give said dead man a proper burial).
13. Set of dice carved from human bone with an occult eye symbol on the 1's face.
14. Laquered turtle shell seeming to swirl like a maelstrom of metallic colors if you stare at it too long.
15. Perfectly smooth skipping stone that never skips less than nine times, yet somehow finds its way back to you with the tide.
16. Clamshell that glows faintly from within under the moonlight and resists being opened even by extreme means.
17. Hammock woven by the Taino Carib people.
18. Jar of earth sealed with wax and a gruesome Voodoo totem suspended inside.
19. Piece of a broken ship's wheel carved with veve symbol of Agwé, the Master of the Sea and Loa of Tides.
20. Conc shell which echoes with haunting sounds of ocean when held to the ear, and is as loud as a trumpet when blown.
Owing to the multi-lingual environment of the Caribbean, all characters know a bonus language.
Arawak - mutually intelligible dialects spoken by South American Dwarven natives of Columbia and some tribes of southern Caribbean islands, Wood Gnomes (Pygmies) in particular
Catalan - spoken by Elves of northern Spain and southern France
Creole - mix of French, Portuguese, Spanish, Arawak, and West African languages spoken in Haiti, and adopted by Goblins
Dutch - spoken by Dwarves of the Netherlands and colonies
French - spoken by Humans of France and colonies
Irish - spoken by Elves of Ireland
Island Carib - mutually intelligible dialects spoken by natives of Caribbean islands like the Taino as well as Orcs and Halflings
Jamaican Patois - mix of English and West African languages spoken in Jamaica, and adopted by Goblins
Mayan - mutually intelligible dialects spoken by Elves of Central America
Papamiento - mix of African, Portuguese, and native Carib languages spoken in Aruba, Curaçao, and Bonaire, and adopted by Goblins
Portuguese - spoken by Humans of Portugal and Brazil
Prussian - spoken by Gnomes of Prussia
Scottish - spoken by Dwarves of Scotland
Spanish - spoken by Humans of Spain and colonies
West African - mutually intelligible dialects spoken by African slaves
Abyssal - spoken by creatures of the Abyss like demons, aberrations, corrupted sea elves (drow), and merrow
Aquan - mutually inteligble dialects spoken by sea creatures like merfolk, reef giants, selkies, sirens, sahuagin, water spirits, and the last sea elves (also called tritons)
Infernal - spoken by devils
Latin - reserved for Church liturgy and scientific manuals
Semaphore - complex non-verbal ship-to-ship language involving lights or drums
Thieves' Cant - Thieves' Can't is a sort of pirate pidgin which includes a lot of double entendres and names with hidden meaning that only a pirate would grasp. So it's overlaid over the main language being spoken, and can be used without being obvious or can be laid on thick and be quite obvious, depending on the speaker's intention. A good example is in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End when Elizabeth Swan is singing a song as she rows a canoe, passing under several guards who don't pay her any mind, but the pirates recognize the song as a secret message.
[h3]Heavy Armor & Armor in Water[/h3]
Because heavy armor is incongruous in a swashbuckling setting, all characters proficient in heavy armor gain a +1 AC bonus when not wearing heavy armor, reflecting specialized defensive training.
Armor that imposes disadvantage to Stealth checks also applies to Athletics checks to swim. Also when you wear heavy armor while trying to swim, if you don't have sufficient Strength (chainmail 13, splint / plate 15) then you automatically sink.
Fame is a measure of your character's growing story, his or her esteem as a pirate/privateer in the eyes of others. Starting Fame is determined by the DM getting a base value from your character's backound, and modified by certain Fortunes. Fame does a couple things:
1. Roll the Bones: When you spend Inspiration to Roll the Bones, and your result would give you advantage on a check you may instead add your Fame to the check.
2. Sway: Your base Sway checks (particularly important for a Captain) = Charisma modifier + 1/2 Fame score (round down). Sway checks are used to get the crew to do things, not do other things, keep them from breaking morale, and when your leadership is challenged.
3. Story Effects & Crew Quality: Fame broadly serves as a measure of how well known your character is, increasing with great deeds or decreasing with obscurity. Also, a Captain with high Fame may increase his or her crew's quality.
At Fame (5) tales of your character are circulated in ports, though details vary wildly. Increase crew quality one rank if you are Captain.
At Fame (10) your character's name is well known, stories about him or her are (mostly) accurate, and if loyal to a certain country he or she is well-regarded in such ports. Enemies may circulate picures of your character.
At Fame (15) your character is known throughout the Caribbean, stories of him or her take on the tenor of legend and his/her name is whispered in fear or awe, and if loyal to one nation regarded as a national hero. However, rival nations will no longer honor the character's Letter of Marque if he or she is captured, and he or she will be tried as a pirate. Increase crew quality by another rank (for a total of 2 ranks) if you are Captain.
At Fame (20) your character has made a "great noise in the world", making his or her name recognized in the colonies and Europe if not beyond, stories transform into myth and endure long after your character is gone, and if loyal to one nation he or she is given great accolades (e.g. gold to retire or an offer as a high-ranking officer). Without a disguise, your character is recognized on sight and enemies go to extreme lengths to destroy him or her.
Raise dead and similar spells do not exist in this setting. To accomodate the sorts of swashbuckling adventures the characters embark on, they instead gain the benefit of "Lives." This is a mechanic to represent the sorts of providence that keeps protagonists alive in pirate stories. Every PC begins with 1d4+2 Lives (unless they have the Old Salt or Devil's Own Luck fortunes), which is rolled and recorded in secret by the DM. Anytime a PC would die or suffer a fatal event (like falling into the ocean with an anchor chain wrapped around their neck or being swallowed by a kraken), instead they "Roll the Bones." Old pirates who tempt death too often can eventually run out of luck.
[h3]Rolling the Bones (Inspiration)[/h3]
You "Roll the Bones" in one of two situation:
- When your character would be killed or when they face a fatal event (like being in a room filled with barrels of exploding gunpowder).
- Spending Inspiration during a conflict. This replaces using Inspiration to gain advantage.
Rolling the Bones involves rolling 2d6 where higher is better and snake eyes is bad; cross reference your result with the Roll the Bones chart below to determine the outcome.
2. Snake Eyes!
Death/Fatal Event or Inspiration: Regardless of the situation, lose a Life and you are removed from the current scene. If in combat, you are left unconscious and bleeding out by your enemies or otherwise incapacitated.
3. Insult to Injury
Death/Fatal Event: Lose a Life and take an Ill Fortune reflecting how you survived.
Inspiration: Suffer disadvantage on your next check, attack, or save. In addition, something unlucky happens, like your weapon breaks, your pistols explodes, you fall into the rigging, etc.
4. Cruel Fate
Death/Fatal Event: Lose a Life and suffer a temporary complication/setback.
Inspiration: Either suffer disadvantage on your next check, attack, or save; OR something unlucky happens, like your weapon breaks, your pistols explodes, you fall into the rigging, etc.
5. Unkind Fate
Death/Fatal Event: Lose a Life.
Inspiration: No effect. If you wish, you may take on an Ill Fortune to gain advantage (or add your Fame) on your check, attack, or save. This should make sense narratively.
6-7. Fickle Fate
Death/Fatal Event: You may take on an Ill Fortune or lose a Life (your choice).
Inspiration: Gain advantage (or add your Fame) on your check, attack, or save, at the cost of introducing some complication as well.
8-9. Kind Fate
Death/Fatal Event: Do not lose a Life, but you suffer a temporary complication/setback.
Inspiration: Gain advantage (or add your Fame) on your check, attack, or save.
10. Fate Smiles
Death/Fatal Event: Do not lose a Life.
Inspiration: Gain advantage (or add your Fame) on your check, attack, or save. In addition, something fortunate happens, like a flying fish leaps from the sea and knocks your foe aside or you slip only to avoid a cannonball striking where you just were standing.
11. Fortune Favors the Bold
Death/Fatal Event: Do not lose a Life. Instead, something fortunate happens.
Inspiration: Gain advantage (or add your Fame) your check, attack, or save. If this causes a successful hit, you automatically score a critical. In addition, something fortunate happens, like a flying fish leaps from the sea and knocks your foe aside or you slip only to avoid a cannonball striking where you just were standing.
12. Lucky Sixes!
Death/Fatal Event or Inspiration: Do not lose a Life. An impossible result becomes possible; a fireball doesn't singe you at all, you ride an explosion across the bay, you proficiently wield a weapon you have no idea how to use, you quickly get a ship ready to sail by yourself, etc. Gain advantage (or add your Fame) on your check, attack, or save. If this causes a successful hit, you kill your foe or knock them unconscious with this blow. After resolving this, you immediately gain Inspiration again!
Jack London's Seawolf
Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island
Patrick O'Brien's Master and Commander series
Pirates of the Carribean
The Secret of Monkey Island
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Skull and Bones (Green Ronin)
Rob Ossian's Pirate Cove
[h2]Of Ships & Sea[/h2]
[SBLOCK=The Coral Curse: Ship Stats]
The Coral Curse (Schooner)
Hit Points: 60 out of 180 (4d8x10)
Draft: 1.5 fathoms (9 ft)
Speed: 120 ft / 12 knots
Turn Rate: 3 rounds
Weapons Fore: 2 Demi-Culverin (1d4x10 piercing damage; range 200/600) missing
Weapons Aft: 2 Demi-Culverins (1d4x10 piercing damage; range 200/600) missing
Weapons Broadside: 10 Culverins (2d4x10 piercing damage; range 250/750)
Cargo: 100 tons
Schooners like The Coral Curse are a common site in the Caribbean, their shallow draft and speed making them ideal for navigating reef and coves where larger ships flounder. They are favored by smugglers, pirates, and blockade runners. The Coral Curse was once under the command of Captain Piet Van Djik, became a hospital ship when the crew were afflicted with yellow fever, and was severely damaged in a battle with French Naval Captain Jacques Cassard. She is beached in the port of Nassau, and none dare touch her for she is both haunted by a djab (dark spirit) and owned by Edward "Blackbeard" Teach. Her figurehead depicts a mermaid with eyes and mouth sewn shut.
HP refers to hit points, but they're handled a bit differently for ships. Basically all damage dealt to a ship is rounded down to the nearest 10's value, though common melee or ranged weapons are totally ineffective. For example, a fireball that deals 28 damage would only inflict 20 damage against a ship (though the fire would be a major issue!), whereas a fire bolt that deals 9 damage would inflict 0 damage and barely singe the hull. Shipboard weapons (as well as some massive monsters) deal damage in multiples of 10, thus circumventing this rule.
Size is not the same as creature size. For example, a medium ship is the equivalent of a Gargantuan creature in d20 terms. Ship size determines # Hit Dice and AC/Manueverability/Ramming modifiers.
Type describes which of the four main classes of ship it is: Auxilary, Coastal, Merchantman, or Warship. Each type determines the type of Hit Die rolled and some modify Manueverability and AC.
Draft is the minimum depth the ship can operate in without running aground (1 fathom = 6 feet).
Manueverability acts a modifier to the ship's initiative, which is based on the helmsman's initiative. It also serves as a modifier to piloting checks the helmsman might make; such checks are usually called for only when performing difficult maneuvers like threading narrow sea cliffs, performing or defending against a boarding action, and so forth.
Speed is how far the ship moves per round (1 knot = 1.69 feet per second) under ideal conditions with at least a light wind blowing about 33-66 degrees off the aft (the stern, or rear, of the ship). The nautical term for this is "quartering." Crew quality modifies speed.
Turn Rate is how often (in rounds) a ship can make an 11.5-degree turn. For example, a turn rate of 3 round means the ship can turn 11.5-degrees once every three rounds, so the ship might turn the first round, then the fourth, again on the seventh, again on the tenth, and so on.
Crew is how many crew members are needed to effectively man the rigging, sails, and guns. Less than this, and you start to take penalties.
Passengers is how many passengers can be accommodated with modest comforts and their own bunk to sleep on.
Cargo is a measure of how much tonnage the ship can transport safely.
The Coral Curse Crew Roster
Quality (Number) Brief description
Quality: A crew's quality - rabble, poor, average, seasoned, or expert - is of utmost importance, influencing many factors such as morale, how fast they can push a vessel, how quickly they reload cannons and change the sails, and their seamanship proficiency.
Rabble are mostly Cannon Fodder.
Poor crew are a mix of Sailors and Cannon Fodder, with a few Old Salts.
Average crew are mostly Sailors with some Old Salts, and a few Buccaneers, Midshipmen, and/or Pirates.
Seasoned crew are an equal mix of Sailors, Old Salts, Buccaneers, Midshipmen, and/or Pirates.
Expert crew are mostly Buccaneers, Midshipmen, and/or Pirates.
|Quality||Morale||Speed||Seamanship||Cannon Reload||Sail Change|
|Rabble||-2||-3 knots||+0||30 rounds||20 rounds|
|Poor||-1||-2 knots||+1||24 rounds||15 rounds|
|Average||No modifier||No modifier||+2||20 rounds||10 rounds|
|Seasoned||+1||+2 knots||+3||16 rounds||6 rounds|
|Expert||+2||+3 knots||+4||12 rounds||3 rounds|
Certain factors can also influence a crew's quality as shown below.
CREW QUALITY ADJUSTMENTS
- Captian has 15 Fame - increase quality by two ranks (replacing Fame 5).
- Captain has 5 Fame - increase quality one rank.
- Firm discipline - increase quality by one rank.
- Lax or brutal discipline - decrease quality by one rank.
- A Jonah is aboard - decrease quality by one rank.
Number: The number of hands making a full crew complement.
Morale: Morale is an all-around saving throw bonus, regardless of the save called for.
AC: Armor Class.
Hit Points: A summation of the hit points of all crew members. Act as hit points as normal, except they don't completely heal back during a long rest; instead they return at the rate of 1 per day (or more with an able ship's surgeon). However, there are four threshold values at 75% HP, 50% HP, 25% HP and 0 HP which a crew cannot heal beyond without recruiting new members (as some have been killed in action).
Melee Attack: The melee attack for most crew members.
Ranged Attack: The ranged attack for most crew members.
Speed Modifier: Adjust the ship's current speed by this amount.
Seamanship: The proficiency check crew members use when performing ship-related tasks.
Passive Perception: When crew members mans the lookout, use their passive perception for determining sighting distance and identification of ships.
Cannon Reload: How many rounds it takes the crew to reload a cannon.
Sail Change: How many rounds it takes the crew to adjust, add, or subtract canvas to change the sail state. There are six sail states: No Sail, Minimum Sail, Fighting Sail, Plain Sail, Full Sail, and Extra Sail.
Special: If the crew has any special traits, they go here.
When peacefully under way, crews fall into a regular rhythm of handling various tasks according to morning (4:00-12:00), afternoon (12:00-20:00), and night (20:00-4:00) shifts. While Navies often divide these further into 4-hour blocks, these divisions work for our purposes because they correspond to three different checks made to see if there are random encounters at sea. Able Seaman generally catch sleep when they can - usually two 3 or 4-hour naps on different shifts in the rotation. Idlers (including carpenters, surgeons, chaplains, pursers, sailmakers, clerks, cooks, schoolmasters, and passengers) and magic-users requiring a long rest to regain their spells are allowed to sleep thru the entire night shift, though even they must respond to a command "to quarters."
For convenience, you should come up with a general 3-shift rotation for each of your PCs, using the guidelines below; think of this as akin to establishing marching order in a traditional D&D game combined with more robust downtime rules. Bear in mind that just because your official position might be, say, Captain, that doesn't mean your post in the rotation need always be Captain; you might spend time Researching or as Helmsman, for example.
Sample Rotation (Dr. Stephen Maturin, Surgeon/Intelligence Officer on HMS Surprise)
4:00-8:00 Consults medical texts, nautical texts, and espionage reports as needed. (Researching)
8:00-12:00 Learns how to man rigging and sails with crew. He is often rescued from various falls in and off the ship. (Training/Crew)
Tends to patients. (Surgeon)
Plays cello with Captain Aubrey and drinks khat tea before retiring to sleep. (long rest)
Boatswain: The boatswain directly oversees crew on deck, makes decisions about how best to apply the crew's numbers toward the captain's orders, and directly reports on the state of the ship (physically and morale-wise) to the captain. The boatswain player handles all non-combat rolls involving the crew, such as ability checks, morale checks, and saves.
Carpenter: The carpenter plugs leaks and handles repairs to the hull, masts, yards, and hatches. Field repairs require a supply of lumber (either cargo, taken from another ship, or harvested from an island), and occur at the rate of 50 hit points per day with 80% of the crew pitching in (50 hit points per 2 days with 60%, per 3 days with 40%, or per 4 days with 25%); make a Craft check (DC = damage ship sustained / 10), the amount by which you succeed is the number of hours the time is reduced.
Captain: While peacefully underway, the captain may devote time to actively managing the crew. This includes raising spirits, calling for votes on a situation, administering justice, investigating potential mutinies, and so forth. When needed, the captain player makes Sway checks (a special type of Charisma check = Charisma modifier + 1/2 Fame rounded down) to determine the crew's behavior.
Cook: The cook makes meals, pure and simple. The player might use this opportunity to get to know the crew, drug someone's food, or try out a new culinary idea. When trying out a new culinary idea, Roll the Bones and interpret to creatively determine how the food affects the crew.
*Crafting: You must be proficient in the associated tools to craft, and in some cases you may need special materials. For every day you spend crafting, you can craft one or more items with a market value of 5 gp (you can work multiple days for higher value items). You must expend raw materials worth half the total market value. Aboard a ship, coopers (barrel-makers), sail-makers , weavers, and cobblers are highly value; coopers for making barrels to keep gunpowder dry, food free of pests, and water/spirits from leaking into the bilge, sail-makers for maintaining the sail canvases, flags, hammocks, and bunks; weavers/cobblers for fixing the crew's clothes.
Crew: Crew are usually NPCs, though a PC who wishes may join them in tending to mundane affairs of the ship. Crew perform menial labor like hoisting and hauling the sails, swabbing the decks, splicing and joining rope, coiling up rigging, slushing the mainmast, manning the headsails, filling the scuttlebutt and fire buckets, handling the anchor, and so forth. Small or agile characters may work at the tops reeling, furling, and loosing the sails. The player might use this opportunity to get to know the crew, covertly track down a killer or spy among them, cess out plans for mutiny, or plant the seeds of mutiny.
Helmsman: The helmsman takes the ship's wheel and steers to maintain heading. If the DM indicates a piloting check is needed (e.g. to avoid a hazard), the helmsman player rolls. Likewise, if the DM indicates there is a random encounter at sea, either the helmsman player rolls (and reports the results in their post) or the next player to post after the DM does so (whoever gets to it first).
Lookout: The lookout takes to the crow's nest when winds are favorable (or stays on deck with a spyglass in high winds), to keep an eye on the horizon for incoming ships. The lookout makes a Perception check (DC depending on conditions) to determine the ship's size and type, with higher results (5+) identifying country of origin and style of manufacture, and exceptional results (10+) identifying the flag and individuals aboard. Likewise, in rare situations where naval surprise might be possible (fog, moonless night, labyrinthine coves), the lookout uses their passive Perception to avoid surprise.
Master Gunner: The master gunner maintains the ship's weapons in good repair, and on some ships determines when to release guns to the crew. The master gunner player keeps track of all cannons, cannon shot, and gunpowder for the entire ship.
Musician: The musician provides rousing jigs for entertainment, soothing dinner music, and leads the crew in shanties for work tempo. Simply having a skilled musician play increases the crew's quality (morale) by one step so long as the musician plays and no fight (or similar emergency) is imminent. The musician player might wish to learn some sea shanties or invent some of their own!
Quartermaster: The quartermaster keeps the accounting books of the ship, distributes supplies and booty to the crew, determines when to jettison or use cargo for other reasons than trade, when to ration supplies, and resolves minor disputes or minor issues of discipline. The quartermaster player keeps track of treasure and oversees trading.
*Recuperating: While not normally part of a rotation, sometimes recuperation is necessary. For every three days recuperating, you can make a DC 15 Constitution save, and if successful choose one of these results: (1) End one effect on you preventing you from gaining hit points. (2) For next 24 hours gain advantage on saves against one disease or poison currently affecting you.
*Researching: Performing research on a ship typically involves pouring over reports, charts, maps, and texts acquired from other ships or while at port. The DM determines whether you have sufficient documents to perform your desired research and how many days/shifts are required to find the information you seek.
Sailing Master: The sailing master (a Lieutenant on naval ships) is in charge of navigation, identifying safe harbors and potential hazards on maps, and managing the sails (deciding how much sail to let out, how to orient the sails to the wind, and when to take down the sails). The player determines the ship's speed, makes any checks relating to the sails, calculates travel time, and should be passingly familiar with common sailing concepts (like how bearing and amount of sial exposed to wind influence speed). Check out SEA-DISTANCES.ORG - Distances for a great tool for estimating travel times by sail.
Striker: The striker fishes for large fish and traps sea turtles, lobsters, manatees, and other marine animals for food. The striker player makes a Survival check to forage (DC 5 abundant waters, DC 10 average waters, DC 15 poorly stocked waters, DC 20 overfished waters). The degree of success is how many crew members you feed with your catch that day. A result of 20 is a whale hunt which feeds the entire crew for days and provides numerous byproducts for supplies and trade, while a 1 is a Sea Beastie trapped in the nets or harpooned.
Surgeon: The surgeon tends to patients, and must be proficient with and have access surgeon's tools (or have curative magic). Crew damage doesn't heal overnight like PC damage, instead it is restored at the rate of 1 HP per day (2 if they are allowed long rests). If the crew are damaged, the surgeon player makes a Medicine check once per 8-hour shift (DC = damage crew sustained / 10), the amount by which you succeed is the number of HP they regain. Alternately, curative magic might be used.
*Training: With an instructor you endeavor to learn a new tool proficiency or language. Training requires a total of 250 days, and there may be costs associated with the instruction depending on your teacher and nature of the training (1 gp/day is a guideline).
[SBLOCK=All Hands to Quarters!]
[h3]All Hands to Quarters![/h3]
"All hands to quarters" (or "beat to quarters, ye crack-handed deck apes!") is the command given when entering combat (or navigating a storm, in a chase, running a blockade, or other high tension situation); it advises all crew to take up their combat stations and be ready for a fight. The various "quarters" on a ship include:
Artillery: During combat, magic-users often fill the roll of artillery, applying spells to great effect against enemy crews and ships. Alternately, a character might man unconventional weapons like ballistae or Greek fire throwers.
Boatswain: During combat, the boatswain oversees the rescue of any men overboard and determines when to leave a man behind or to send an injured man to the surgeon. The boatswain player rolls the crew's saves, morale checks, and ability checks as normal, and also devises strategies and rolls (the precise check varies) to rescue men overboard.
Carpenter: The carpenter handles repairs in the heat of battle. The carpenter player rolls Craft (carpentry) or Dexterity (shipwright's tools), using the result as the amount of HP repaired (tables in Skull & Bones determine how long this takes). If the ship has taken than half its total HP in damage, then the carpenter can only patch it (restoring up to 25% of damage done) and further repairs must be done in field or port.
Captain: During combat, the captain is the ultimate authority, and his or her decisions about strategy and tactics are final. The player also handles crew melee attack and damage during boarding scenarios.
Crew: During combat, some of the crew stay on the sails while the rest either form powder crews to man the cannons or take to the deck to fire volleys of pistol and musket shot and prepare for boarding. A player character among the crew may take over crew ranged attack and damage rolls (for pistol/muskets) from the Master Gunner, and/or crew melee attack and damage rolls from the Captain.
Crow's Nest: During combat, a skilled sniper may be sent up into the crow's nest with several muskets and lots of shot (or a bevy of spells, scrolls, or wand) to wreck havoc during close naval combat and boarding scenarios.
Gunner: A gunner oversees the firing of some number of cannons by the crew and can personally fire one cannon. Typically a gunner will be responsible for all cannons on one side of the ship (i.e. fore gunner, aft gunner, port broadside gunner, starboard broadside gunner). The player rolls attack and damage for canonfire from the side of the ship under their command.
Helmsman: During combat, the helmsman's initiative (modified by ship Manueverability) determines the ship's initiative, the helmsman player rolls opposed Intelligence (watercraft) or Wisdom (watercraft) checks to resist/attempt boarding, and rolls attack when ramming.
Master Gunner: During combat, the master gunner takes on the role of a gunner for one side of the ship, and also determines overall rate of fire (timing being the great secret of cannon fighting), reloading protocols, and the use of any special shot (e.g. grape shot, chain shot, heated irons). The player handles all cannon fire not handled by a gunner PC, and also rolls crew ranged attack and damage (pistol and musket fire).
Quartermaster: During combat, the quartermaster handles the application of any non-traditional weapons created from cargo, such as sea mines and makeshift grenades.
Sailing Master: During combat, the sailing master player determines the ship's speed and makes any checks relating to the sails as normal. They also make opposed Intelligence (watercraft) or Wisdom (watercraft) checks when attempting to outmaneuver an enemy ship, or steal the wind from a ship's sails (or resist such an attempt).
Support: During combat, musicians and chaplains often take on a supporting role in order to rally the crew's morale (allowing them to make Sway checks with the captain's go ahead), orchestrate careful timing of a plan via drums/horns, attempt to demoralize the enemy with Intimidate checks, special abilities, or spells (or counter such attempts with Perform checks).
Surgeon: If not himself engaged in combat, the surgeon makes Medicine checks to stabilize the dying, performs emergency surgeries, and casts curative spells if they have access to magic.
[SBLOCK=Ship Combat Rules]Ship combat rules will go here...[/SBLOCK]