What would you give a pirate class?

the Jester

Sooo what are the essential features a pirate class should have? Think of it as being a 3-level prestige class or an abbreviated paragon path or something- condense down to the essence of what you think makes a pirate, a pirate.

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Pirates are sort of hard to describe in D&D terms... let's go with the romanticized version:

Daredevil acrobat (swinging from ropes and rigging, fighting on boat railings, using sails to break falls)

Charming scoundrel (some sort of special social ability where people see you for what you are, know that you are lying through your teeth, and STILL go along with your plans)

Treasure hunter (you have a knack for finding hidden treasure, a sort of a "treasure compass" if you will - something akin to an innate locate object ability)


First Post
The intimidate skill, proficiency with military weapons(and a perfect BAB progression, for 3.X) and the rest is just frosting on the cake.

The defining trait of successful piracy is speed, although deception and use of cover is sometimes necessary to get close enough to pounce. Surprise is his most potent weapon. Additionally, fleeing the scene and staying ahead of the large gun-laden government sponsored patrol ships is a priority.

A proper pirate (as opposed to some guy on a pirate ship who helps proper pirates rob boats) first and foremost must know the difference between a topgallant and a jib, or which way is "starboard". He can climb rigging and fight one handed from it. He knows how to sail a ship and make it move very quickly. He can read weather conditions to know when it will favor his ship over his prey. Eventually he may learn to navigate by the stars.

Moreover, speed means he must move with an economy of mass. He can judge very quickly whether an item is valuable enough to weigh him down further. He doesn't like to wear armor and has developed other means to defend himself, but mostly relies on speed (i.e. running away from tough guys, and catching up to the weak). Traveling light also occasionally means survivalist improvisation: knowing which nasty tasting blue crabs will kill you and which will kill your hunger, and which coastal sands to dig in looking for them.

Over his career as a pirate, he is likely to at some point notice a secluded bay or cove where passing traffic would not take notice if a small camp were set up occasionally. This is his Pirate Cove, his secret stash and hide out spot. A good pirate has many of these and his knowledge of them comes to define his status as a savy pirate.

the Jester

I'd make it a theme rather than a class. In fact, we did!

Nicely done, too! But this isn't actually for 4e, it's for my homebrewed system, which rolls a lot of the design space for advancement into narrowly focused, 3-level prestige classes. So I'm trying to figure out what the most "piratey" pirate stuff is. :)

Special rules on intoxication: where they get bonus to brawling and fighting, they just have to decide which one or both. Brawling = tavern/street fighting and fighting = ship board combat. Maybe even adding a damage reduction.

Weapon of choice: Cutlass


Steeliest of the dragons
Pretty much everything in here thus far works (...'cept maybe the clap...but that's for another post ;).

As mentioned, speed and balance..."sea legs". High Dexterity is a must. Followed, I would say by high Constitution (to withstand those times when food or water might be scarce, not to mention the beating sun and constantly dehydrating salt air).

Maybe even a "Pirate Acrobatics" or "Pirate Tumbling" skill with defensive as well as offensive applications.

Allow for weapon speciality with: cutlass, rapier, knife-fighting, belaying pins (treat as sap and/or club), grapple hooks, whips, and "special unarmed combat" (fists, brass knuckles, use of a peg leg or hooked hand in combat)...and if the campaign/world allows for it, I suppose throw pistols in there too.

Allow duel-wielding. Any pirate worth his salt can fight with two weapons... or fight with one and be able to do something else with his other hand.

Rope-use, swimming, boating/shipcraft, navigation/astronomy as automatic "skills" of "proficiencies" whatever your homebrew uses.

"Pirate Lore" skill or proficiency. I'm thinking in terms of the old skewl Bardic Lore ability. Pirates go LOTS of places and pick up tidbits of LOTS of knowledge, legend, gossip, etc. Ancient treasures, lost cities, secret coves/waterways, forgotten civilizations and a general knowledge of various seafaring deities, supernatural creatures and superstitions of far off lands are all in the purview of the pirate.

...Think that's all I have on this.
Have fun and happy pirating.
--Steel Dragons

Achan hiArusa

You should really be on top of your classroom, pistol, and rapier management, have a Bosun with a whip as a coteacher or teacher's aide, and a Principal more than willing to make them walk the plank.

Sorry, can't help it. Too much professional development this summer. Xp


First Post
A boat... Special connection to said boat and speaking of the boat -

Leadership (unless you're talking about pirate deckhands, they've got to have a crew...but who makes a prestige class for the deckhands?) Not important whether it is fairness or intimidation.

A "schtick"...no literally, it could be a stick. Pegleg, red beard, eye patch, etc. Not saying this just to be silly, but they need something that is recognizable and that can become their signature to drive fear into the hearts of law abiding sailors everywhere.

Connections in the underworld - someone has to buy those goods.

A sworn enemy - whether it is another pirate, a merchant, naval officer, etc.

Cunning above all other traits (sure, you can have dexy swashbucklers, but also brutish maulers, but they all have to have sharp wits).

I'd agree with a nose for treasure but a nose for trouble is much more important (and fun).

the Jester

Yes, this is more for deckhands.

A little detail on the system- the game assumes that you'll use mutliclassing extensively to customize your character. You want to be great with a sword? Take swordsman. You want to specialize in the orb as an implement? There's a prc for that. You want to have a pet? Take tamer of beasts. Etc.

So I wouldn't be at all surprised to see, for instance, a rogue 1/fighter 1/pirate 2/daggermaster 2 or something long before I see an actual rogue 6.


Dioltach wrote:
Dress sense, accounting, basic French, and uncomfortable but incredibly stylish shoes.

Thumbs up for The Pyrates reference! I'd XP you but seems I need to spread it around a bit. (but what, no love for Firebeard or Akbar the Damned?)

At the OP:
A tall ship and a star to sail her by. ie: sailing and navigation skills.
The Seahawks: a crew.
A Clark Gable-ish moustache: Charisma and Leadership.

plus a lot of what other folks have said about acrobatics, speed, Pirate Lore (like this one!!!), connections.

Relique du Madde

Climb and Balance (if not merged with acrobatics), Intimidation, Bluff, Diplomacy and sense motive as class skills.

They should probably have some kind of bonus to using improvised weaponry.

Weaponry: lots of guns since 1700s tech pretty much made guns useless in combat after one shot during ship raids.

Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition Starter Box

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