So What's The Pirate Ship Like, Anyway? (PFRPG) PDF (based on
Raging Swan Press
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A Pathfinder Roleplaying Game GM’S Resource by Creighton Broadhurst
Your PCs have set out on an ocean voyage in search of loot and glory. As they cruise the waves, they see a distant ship on the horizon and turn toward it. As they draw closer they can make out that the ship is a pirate vessel! At that point, they ask “So what’s the pirate ship like, anyway?”
So What’s The Pirate Ship Like, Anyway? answers this question by presenting tables to enable a busy time-pressured GM to quickly and easily generate the ship’s name, captain’s name, flag and figurehead as well as providing tables to enable the PCs to make Knowledge checks to learn more about the vessel—including the ship itself as well as the captain, crew and their exploits. (You even get three stat blocks of typical pirates to hurl against your PCs!)
If you are running a nautical-based adventure featuring pirates, So What’s The Pirate Ship Like, Anyway? is for you!
This product is a Dual Format PDF. The downloadable ZIP file contains two versions, one optimised for printing and use on a normal computer and one optimised for use on a mobile device such as an iPad.
Download a free sample at ragingswan.com/pirateship
For an explanation of how I use the five star review method, see my entry on So What's the Riddle Like Anyway?HERE.
So What's the Pirate Ship Like Anyway? helps a GM swiftly prepare the details of a pirate ship swiftly and with a lot more detail than just a name. Using random tables, a GM is able to roll together all the information required to make each ship encountered a unique and memorable experience. The tables generate four different aspects of each ship: her name, her captain, information about the vessel, and her flags and figureheads. Creighton Broadhurst states in his foreword that he also wanted to put in the loot that could be found, but that it would've taken up far too much space. I can definitely see that and don't begrudge him this at all, especially considering what we get here.
Before getting into the detail section, we're given the stats for an average pirate crewman and an average veteran pirate/mate as well as normal crew complement ranges. So we need look no further for a stat block than this one page. It should be printed up by any GM running a game with pirates. I would think it will be referenced a great deal.
Next up is the name generator. This is a fairly straight forward affair with an descriptor-and-subject combination with 100 entries each to produce a potential 10,000 names. For example, if I roll a 56 on the subject table and a 24 on the descriptor table I get the Diseased Murderer; that already tells me something about the crew (and nothing good!). Since any single descriptor or subject can be used by itself, you can add an additional 200 names to the possibilities. For even faster use, a table with 50 sample names is provided.
After that come two tables giving us 20 male and 20 female captain names. Useful and quick, but with the captains having a Rogues Gallery type guide such as the NPC Codex or the NPC Gallery from the Game Mastery Guide is a must. These characters should be a little more detailed than the generic pirates provided at the beginning and the supplement wisely allows the GM to deal with this aspect of the ship.
Now comes the best part. Tables are provided so that if the players want to see if they know anything about the oncoming pirate ship, they can make knowledge rolls for information about the ship, its captain, and its exploits. Two tables are provided for each category allowing the GM to quickly assemble information based on how well they roll. Suddenly this random ship encounter becomes a part of the game world with a past all its own. This is very well done with a great deal of variety in the various choices/results. That the information could be just rumours so the role-playing and story elements this adds are priceless.
The next tables give us 50 flags and 47 figureheads to further detail the pirate ship. Three entries on the figurehead table include no figurehead and two combo-figureheads (one double and one triple). Very cool ideas here to finish off the ship description. There is also a final table with 50 pirate epithets ranging from Admiral and Blackbeard to Tiger of the Sea and White Death. This really augments the whole, as many famous pirates in romantic fiction had these sort of nicknames. A really great touch.
Final Thoughts: A pirate ship with real character and history can be assembled almost in seconds with these tables. Given fifteen minutes and an NPC collection, I could have a complete ship and crew, ready to go. That is not just useful; it is outright indispensible to anyone running a nautical campaign involving pirates. This is a brilliant resource that I can't wait to use. Five out of five stars.
This is mainly a random name generator for ships, and a random flag/figurehead generator. It also has some fun details that can be used to generate random histories to assign to ships and crews. I purchased this with Villainous Pirates, which I absolutely loved, thinking this would give me a little more than it did. The names are fun, and I really like having the general sailor/pirate npc stat blocks, but the captain's names (to me anyway) are all superseded by the fact that if I am going to use a pirate ship with material from a raging swan book, it will have one of the villainous pirates at the helm. That said, this is a good companion for that book. I would have liked to see more detail on the ships, like sets of various non-standard stat blocks (not everyone has a standard model 10kgp sailing ship in my game, and I would like to see some higher and lower value/power ships statistics), and maybe cargo manifests to use as player handout loot lists. Overall this is a fun random generator, but I think maybe not quite worth $2. I would say 3-4 stars at this price, 3 as a stand alone product at $2 and 4 stars if it were dropped to $1 and/or bought as a companion to villainous pirates (which is what i did, so im going with four stars) to give names and crews to the VP captain's ships.
This pdf is 15 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside the front cover, 2 pages editorial and 1 page ToC and foreword, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement and 1 page back cover, leaving 7 pages of content.
Seeing that 2012 will be a very piratey year for PFRPG, this pdf provides the beleaguered DM with tables to create pirate ships on the fly: We get 100 ship names, 1oo descriptors for ships, 50 sample ship names, 20 sample names for male captains and 20 names for female captains. We also get 2 tables (DC 10 and 20) on knowledge about the ship with 10 entries each. For a DC 15 or 20-check we get 10 sample pieces of information on crew and captain and even 2 lists on past exploits of the crew. The pdf does not stop there, though and adds 50 pirate epithets, 50 figureheads and 50 sample flags.
In contrast to most "So what's..."-pdfs, we get 3 sample statblocks for pirates - a CR 1/2, a Cr 1 Veteran and a CR 3 master-at-arms. Useful additional content!
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a 3-column standard for the tables and 2-columns for the more wordy sections. The pdf comes with a special version optimized for e-reader usage, but no collated statblocks in a single pdf - seeing that there are 3 and they take up one page, that's not too bad. There is nothing wrong with this pdf and I really enjoyed the statblocks. However, I would have enjoyed more of the knowledge tables and e.g. a "special"-table containing bits of information like "the ship's hull is plastered with sahuagin scales", "fire-proof", "crew-less golem-ship" etc.. That being said, this installment of the series is still a good buy and I'll settle for a final verdict of 4 stars - a good pdf that could have been a bit better.