Mythological Figures: Anne Bonny (5E)

Mythological Figures takes to the high seas once again, this time in pursuit of the pirate that may be Ireland’s fiercest, most notorious buccaneer: the one and only Anne Bonny!




Born as the illegitimate child of William McCormac and one of his servant girls (Mary Brennan) sometime around 1700, Anne mostly grew up in London while disguised as a boy. Eventually her father’s charade failed, he lost his allowance from his wife, and then they moved (along with Mary) to the Province of Carolina. Of note from this time: Anne’s mother passed away when she was 12, the next year she used a knife to stab another girl, she met and married James Bonny, and her father disowned her because he disapproved of her husband. Sometime before 1718 the pair moved to Nassau, the Republic of Pirates, where James became an informant for the royally appointed governor.

Anne was not a fan of her husband’s snitching and soon fell in with John Rackham a.k.a. Calico Jack, becoming both his lover and (disguised as a man) a member of his crew. Together they had a child (for the pregnancy and birth she stayed in Cuba) and went about pirating for a couple of years aboard a ship they stole called William—until Jonathan Barnet captured Calico Jack’s (at the time very drunk) crew. Everyone else got the rope but Anne and Mary Read “pleaded their bellies”, using pregnancy to get a stay of execution until their babies were out.

Nobody is certain what happened to Anne Bonny after that. Signs point to her not dying in prison, however where she ended up is a mystery. Did she head back to the colonies to remarry and raise a family? Take up a new identity for some piracy on the high seas? Spend decades incarcerated and perishing in Jamaica as an old woman? We might never know!

Design Notes: Anne here was a pretty easy build to approach—a solid combatant and a crafty rogue. She’s a reliable pirate and sailor, and she can hold her own in a fight. In the months to come if you’re planning on doing some adventuring on the water and need a ship full of formidable pirates, her build should be simple enough to make crewmembers challenging for higher level PCs but not overly complicated. :D

Anne Bonny
Medium humanoid (human), chaotic neutral rogue (thief) 4/fighter (archer) 5
Armor Class 16 (studded leather)
Hit Points 60 (5d8+5d10+10)
Speed 30 ft.

STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
12 (+1)18 (+4)12 (+1)13 (+1)12 (+1)14 (+2)

Saving Throws Dex +8, Int +5
Skills Athletics +5, Deception +9, Insight +5, Perception +5, Persuasion +9, Stealth +8
Tools artisan’s tools (pick one) +4, navigator’s tools +4, thieves’ tools +4, vehicles (water) +4
Senses passive Perception 15
Languages English, Gaelic, Thieves’ Cant
Challenge 6 (2,300 XP)

Background: Nautical. Anne is able to acquire passage on a sailing ship for her and her allies free of charge. She has no control over the ship’s route, departure, or return, and although no coin is required she and her companions do have to help crew the vessel.

Action Surge (1/Short Rest). On her turn, Anne can take an additional action on top of her regular action and a possible bonus action.

Cunning Action (1/Turn). Anne can take a bonus action to take the Dash, Disengage, Hide, Use Object action, to make a Dexterity (Sleight of Hand) check, or to use thieves’ tools to disarm a trap or open a lock.

Excellent Aim (3/Short Rest). Anne can spend a bonus action to aim a wielded ranged weapon at a target within its range. Until the end of her turn, ranged attacks that Anne makes against the target deal an extra 4 damage.

Feat: Mobile. Anne can Dash through difficult terrain without requiring additional movement. Whenever she makes an attack against a creature, she doesn’t provoke opportunity attacks from that creature until the end of her turn.

Second-Story Work. Climbing does not cost Anne extra movement. When she makes a running jump, the distance she covers increases by 4 feet.

Second Wind (1/Short Rest). On her turn, Anne can use a bonus action to regain 1d10+5 hit points.

Sneak Attack (1/Turn). Anne deals an extra 10 (3d6) damage when she hits a target with a weapon attack and has advantage on the attack roll, or when the target is within 5 feet of an ally of Anne’s that isn’t incapacitated and Anne doesn’t have disadvantage on the attack roll.


ACTIONS
Extra Attack. Anne attacks twice.

Cutlass. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d6+4) slashing damage.

Pistol (4). Ranged Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, range 30/90 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (1d10+4) piercing damage.


REACTIONS
Uncanny Dodge. When an attacker Anne can see hits her with an attack, Anne can use her reaction to halve the attack’s damage against her.

 
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Mike Myler

Comments

jayoungr

Adventurer
I like the stat block--nice work! But I have to quibble with your flavor text. The title of ...

the pirate that may be Ireland’s fiercest, most notorious buccaneer
can only belong to Grace O'Malley. I'd love to see a statblock for her.
 

Mike Myler

Adventurer
I like the stat block--nice work! But I have to quibble with your flavor text. The title of ...


can only belong to Grace O'Malley. I'd love to see a statblock for her.
I'm not qualified for that fight I don't think, but I'll point out:
pursuit of the pirate that may be Ireland’s fiercest, most notorious buccaneer
I checked to make sure but she's on the list too so I'll get to Grace eventually. :D
 

Imaculata

Adventurer
You left out the best part:

Most of Rackham's pirates put up little resistance as many of them were too drunk to fight. However, Read and Bonny fought fiercely and managed to hold off Barnet's troops for a short time. Rackham and his crew were taken to Jamaica, where they were convicted and sentenced by Governor Lawes to be hanged. According to Johnson, Bonny's last words to the imprisoned Rackham were: "Had you fought like a man, you need not have been hang'd like a dog."

Also, Bonny and Read were suspected of being lovers. It is widely disputed whether the two of them were actually 'disguised as men'. More likely they simply wore men's clothing and were accepted among the crew. It would be near impossible to hide your real gender in a culture so dominated by men. Also there are accounts that their breasts were quite pronounced, as to make it painfully obvious they were women:

"A victim of the pirates, Dorothy Thomas, left a description of Read and Bonny: They "wore men's jackets, and long trousers, and handkerchiefs tied about their heads: and ... each of them had a machete and pistol in their hands and they cursed and swore at the men to murder her [Dorothy Thomas]." Thomas also recorded that she knew that they were women, "from the largeness of their breasts."

Another cool fact: Mary Read acquired an inn named "De drie hoefijzers" ("The Three Horseshoes") near Breda Castle in The Netherlands, which is the city where I happen to live.
 
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BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
It is widely disputed whether the two of them were actually 'disguised as men'. More likely they simply wore men's clothing and were accepted among the crew. It would be near impossible to hide your real gender in a culture so dominated by men. Also there are accounts that their breasts were quite pronounced, as to make it painfully obvious they were women:.
It's also quite possible that traditionally male clothing was far more practical in day-to-day piratical work than fluffy skirts and corsets.

I'll conduct an experiment on the subject and report my findings.
 

Derren

Adventurer
What exactly is the reasoning behind her levels?
I admit, I have not dug far, but I don't really see why she would be better than most no name pirates of that age.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
What exactly is the reasoning behind her levels?
I admit, I have not dug far, but I don't really see why she would be better than most no name pirates of that age.
Pss. You make a name for yourself, you get a free level or two.
 

Derren

Adventurer
Pss. You make a name for yourself, you get a free level or two.
But why did she made a name? Because of her fighting skills? She was described as competent, but thats about it. The same could be said about Rackham.
Why the rogue level at all? She didn't really do any thievery or sneaking as far as I am aware. So straight fighter levels would likely be better, although I don't see why it should be the archery variant, unless there are more detailed accounts of her describing her more of a shooter in combat.
Imo fighter 4 or 5 would be enough for her.

Frankly, as far as pirates go she is pretty unremarkable to be considered a mythological figure. Ching Shih would be far more deserving of an entry.
 
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Mike Myler

Adventurer
More prominent pirates have more levels. I'm having a bit of a busy day (Monday is my day for staying on top of these threads) but in short:
- She regularly fooled, deceived, and otherwise tricked people. Constantly. 24-7. In a ship full of dudes. Screams EXPERTISE IN DECEPTION.
- I think every picture I could find of her has her wielding a gun.
- NPC rogues without that 5th level (or you might say 'NPC rogues without Uncanny Dodge') are really squishy. It's a survival mechanism in terms of design.
- Further touching on design: it's important to me that these are not just washed out copies of one another. I don't know for a fact that she was a good shot, but it stands to reason that she wasn't bad (why constantly depicted with a gun if she was bad with it?) and it differentiates her from other pirates in this column (both those already posted and yet-to-be).
- You are 100% totally welcome and encouraged to post your own version of a 4th or 5th level fighter Anne Bonny here in the EN World forums, or for that matter any other character in the Mythological Figures and Epic Monsters columns. :)
 
You basically confirmed that it's a typo. The listing at the top says she's a 4th level rogue, when it seems pretty clear that she's intended to be 5th.
 

Mike Myler

Adventurer
You basically confirmed that it's a typo. The listing at the top says she's a 4th level rogue, when it seems pretty clear that she's intended to be 5th.
Aye I must've changed my mind at some point designing her (hit dice, sneak attack, features and the rest had her at 5th). Fixed! Thanks for pointing that out!
 

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