Arrrrrrr, walk the plank, scallywag and all that. This be pirates and so do ye be.
Yes, Sir!: For the next hour, the PCs’ crew completes any mundane tasks they’re assigned in half the expected time. This typically relates to Craft and Profession (sailor) checks made to prepare, maintain, or repair the ship, and cannot be applied to combat or more complex deeds like crafting magic items. Costs 2 Disrepute.
Captain’s Orders!: As a standard action, a PC on board her ship can cast fog cloud, heroism, make whole, quench, or whispering wind with a caster level equal to her character level. Costs 5 Disrepute.
Walk the Plank!: The PCs may sacrifice one crew member or prisoner to grant themselves and their crew one of two bonuses: either a +2 bonus on all skill checks or a +2 bonus on attack rolls. These bonuses only apply while on board the PCs’ ship and last until either the next day or when the captain leaves the ship. If a sacrificed character is returned to life, the PCs and their crew members take a –2 penalty on both skill checks and attack rolls for 1 day. Costs 5 Disrepute.
Get Up, You Dogs!: Every PC and allied character on the deck of the PCs’ ship is affected as per the spell cure light wounds, as if cast by a cleric of the PCs’ average party level. This imposition can only be used once per week. Costs 10 Disrepute.
5: Lashings!: Your ship's speed doubles for 1 day.
5: Shiver Me Timbers!: While on board their ship, the PCs and their entire crew can reroll initiative or roll initiative in what would otherwise be a surprise round. The benefit of this imposition can be used immediately, but only once per week.
10: Besmara’s Blessings!: As a standard action, a PC on board her ship can cast animate rope, control water, remove curse, remove disease, or water breathing with a caster level equal to her character level.
10: Dead Men Tell No Tales!: While on board their ship, the PCs can use this imposition to automatically confirm a threatened critical hit.
The following terms feature prominently in the plunder and Infamy subsystems, and are called out for ease of reference.
Disrepute: The amount of Infamy the PCs have accrued through successful Infamy checks, which can be spent on impositions. Costs measured in Disrepute are marked with a price.
Infamy Check: A Bluff, Intimidate, or Perform check made to gain Infamy and Disrepute. The DC of this check equals 15 + twice the group’s average character level. Spending plunder grants bonuses on this check.
Impositions: Incredible deeds and outrageous acts that grant the PCs a variety of benefits or impose crippling consequences on their victims. Higher tier impositions become available as PCs reach higher Infamy thresholds.
Infamy Threshold: Ranges measured in Infamy. Upon achieving new Infamy thresholds, additional impositions become available for purchase.
Plunder: An approximation of valuable but non-useful cargo. One point of plunder is worth about 1,000 gp, and takes up 10 tons of cargo capacity, unless otherwise noted.
Infamy: The highest total number of points of Disrepute achieved by making successful Infamy checks, representing the PCs’ total reputation. This number cannot exceed the PCs’ average party level × 4 but rarely, if ever, decreases.
There’s a difference between plunder and the gold pieces in a pirate’s pocket. While gold doubloons and fabulous jewelry can be plunder, pirates are rarely lucky enough to encounter a ship with a hold full of such treasures.
Typically, there are trade goods, foodstuffs, spices, and valuables of a more mundane sort. Such takes can fetch significant prices, but for scallywags more interested in looting than the specifics of what they loot, this system provides a way for parties to track their plunder without getting bogged down by lists of commonplace cargo and their values down to the copper piece.
Aside from streamlining the collection of riches, this system also allows characters to increase their infamy, paying off crew members and spreading their wealth with more appealing dispensations of loot than what was aboard the last merchant ship they robbed.
Winning Plunder (Shorthand version): You gain plunder whenever you capture an enemy ship, raid a stronghold, or find a significant treasure. Plunder is a measure of everything that ship has on it that's saleable, without bogging you down in minutiae like "You obtain: 3 barrels of pickles, 2 tons of high quality lumber, 3 reams of sailcloth, etc. etc. ad nauseam".
Value of Plunder (Shorthand Version): Plunder is valuable for two reasons: It can be sold for gold pieces, and it helps you increase your Infamy (Infamy is further detailed below). In general, 1 point of plunder is worth approximately 1,000 gp, no matter what the cargo is, be it foodstuffs or weaponry (though high amounts of more valuable cargo will obviously translate to more Plunder).
Just because cargo is worth an amount on paper, does not mean you can necessarily sell it for that amount. Selling Plunder takes 1 day per point of Plunder, no matter how much Plunder you may have, and requires an applicable skill check.
The PC trading also must be the same PC to make the skill check to inf luence the trade. The larger the port and the higher the skill check, the better price the PCs can get for their plunder. At smaller ports there’s little chance of getting more than half value for plunder, unless a PC can employ a skill to make a better deal.
At larger ports, the chances of finding a buyer willing to pay a reasonable price for cargo increases, and PCs can still employ skill checks to make even more lucrative bargains. PCs seeking to win a higher price for their plunder can make one of the following skill checks and apply the results to the table below: Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, or any applicable Profession skill, like Profession (merchant).
A poor result on a skill check can reduce the value of plunder. If the PCs are not satisfied with the price they are offered for their plunder, they need not take it, but a day’s worth of effort is still expended. They can try for a better result the next day.
There's a table, but copying that would be a pain, so here's the gist of it: The smallest town will only buy your s&!& for 10% of its value by default, but you can increase it to 20% with a successful skill check (Starting at DC 10, going up by 5 for every 5% after the normal value, for all but the largest towns which go up by 10 for every 10%, but can be pushed to give you MORE than the base value). Every step up in town size will buy 10% more of your stuff by default and can be pushed up another 10% for smaller towns, 20% for medium sized towns, or even 40% for large cities. The largest city size (Metropolis) will buy 100% of your Plunder by default, and can be pushed to 140% with a check.
Infamy and Disrepute:
Some pirates only do what they do for the promise of wealth, being little more than brigands of the waves. Others do it for the reputation, fearsomeness, and power that comes with numbering among the most notorious scallywags on the seas. That’s where Infamy comes in. Numerous times over the course of their careers, the PCs—as members of a single pirate crew—will have the opportunity to recount their victories, boast of the treasures they’ve won, and spread tales of their outrages. All of this has the potential to win the PCs Infamy, but that alone isn’t the goal.
At the most basic level, infamous pirates have the potential to press- gang unfortunates into their crews, get repairs to their ships in nearly any port, and win discounts from merchants they’d prefer not to rob. As a crew becomes more and more infamous, however, its legend stretches across the seas, allowing it to garner support from other pirate lords, win more favorable vessels, and even rally whole pirate armadas under its flag. This system allows characters to track how their legend is growing over the course of the campaign, along with providing them tangible rewards for building appropriately piratical reputations.
Infamy and Disrepute Scores: In a method similar to the tracking system for Fame and Prestige Points detailed in Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Pathfinder Society Field Guide, a party has two related scores, Infamy and Disrepute. Infamy tracks how many points of Infamy the crew has gained over its career—think of this as the sum of all the outlandish stories and rumors about the PCs being told throughout the Shackles. Infamy rarely, if ever, decreases, and reaching certain Infamy thresholds provides useful benefits and allows others to be purchased using points of Disrepute. Infamy is limited by actual skill, however, and a group’s Infamy score can never be more than 4 × the PCs’ average party level.
Disrepute is a spendable resource—a group’s actual ability to cash in on its reputation. This currency is used to purchase impositions, deeds others might not want to do for the group, but that they perform either to curry the group’s favor or to avoid its disfavor.
This score will likely fluctuate over the course of a pirate crew’s career and can go as high as the group’s Infamy (but never higher), and at times might even drop to zero. This isn’t something to worry about, though, as a low Disrepute score has no bearing on a crew’s overall reputation—on the contrary, it merely means they’re making use of the benefits their status has won them. However, it does represent that even the PCs’ legend can only take them so far, and if a group’s Disrepute drops lower than the Disrepute price of a benefit, the crew must spend time building its Disrepute back up before it can purchase that benefit.
Winning Infamy and Disrepute: A few things are required to gain Infamy: an audience, a deed to tell about, and a flair for storytelling. Proof of the group’s deed in the form of plunder doesn’t hurt either.
To gain Infamy, the PCs must moor their ship at a port for 1 full day, and the PC determined by the group to be its main storyteller must spend this time on shore carousing and boasting of infamous deeds. This PC must make either a Bluff, Intimidate, or Perform check to gauge the effectiveness of her recounting or embellishing. The DC of this check is equal to 15 + twice the group’s average party level (APL), and the check is referred to as an Infamy check. If the character succeeds at this check, the group’s Infamy and Disrepute both increase by +1 (so long as neither score is already at its maximum amount). If the result exceeds the DC by +5, the group’s Infamy and Disrepute increase by +2; if the result exceeds the DC by +10, both scores increase by +3. The most a party’s Infamy and Disrepute scores can ever increase as a result of a single Infamy check is by 3 points. If the PC fails the Infamy check, there is no change in her group’s Infamy score and the day has been wasted.
Occasionally, deeds of exceptional daring or depravity might win a party increases to its Disrepute. This sort of discretionary bonus to Disrepute is noted in the context of an adventure or determined by the GM.
Infamy and Disrepute per Port: No matter how impressionable (or drunk) the crowd, no one wants to hear the same tales and boasts over and over again. Thus, a group can only gain a maximum of 5 points of Infamy and Disrepute from any particular port. However, this amount esets every time a group reaches a new Infamy threshold. Thus, once a group gains 5 points of Infamy and Disrepute in Quent, it can gain no further points of Infamy from that port until it reaches the next Infamy threshold, though the crew can travel to another port and gain more Infamy by boasting to a new audience.
Plunder and Infamy: Plunder can modify a PC’s attempt to gain Infamy in two ways. Before making an Infamy check for the day, the party can choose to spend plunder to inf luence the result—any tale is more believable when it comes from someone throwing around her wealth and buying drinks for the listeners. Every point of plunder expended adds a +2 bonus to the character’s skill check to earn Infamy. The party can choose to spend as much plunder as it wants to inf luence this check—even the most leaden-tongued pirate might win fabulous renown by spending enough booty.
Additionally, if a PC fails an Infamy check, the party can choose to spend 3 points of plunder to immediately reroll the check. The party may only make one reroll attempt per day, and spend the plunder even if the second attempt fails—some people just aren’t impressed no matter how much loot you throw at them.
Spending Disrepute: A group’s Disrepute can be spent to buy beneficial effects called impositions, though some impositions might only be available in certain places— such as at port—or might have additional costs—like forcing a prisoner to walk the plank. Spending Disrepute to purchase an imposition requires 1 full day unless otherwise noted. When Disrepute is spent, the group’s Disrepute score decreases by the price of the imposition, but its Infamy (and, thus, the group’s Infamy threshold) remains the same. The prices of impositions and the Infamy threshold required to make those impositions available are detailed below.
Hiring Crews and Sharing Plunder:
At some point, the PCs will no doubt be interested in acquiring more sailors for their crew. They may do so at any port or settlement, or upon the successful capture of another ship, by making a DC 20 Bluff (to trick sailors on board), Diplomacy (to convince people to join the crew), or Intimidate (to press-gang new crew) check. Each such check takes 1 full day, and a successful check results in 1d4+2 new crew members for the PCs’ ship. You can use the statistics for the shipmate on page 294 of the
GameMastery Guide to represent these sailors.
Unlike many other NPC hirelings, pirate crews do not have a daily wage. Instead, they are paid shares of the ship’s plunder taken in acts of piracy, when that plunder is sold. Rather than try to recreate the complexity of share amounts for historical pirate crews, the PCs should simply deduct 1 point of plunder from their total each time they attempt to sell plunder. This represents the shares of the plunder paid out to the crew, regardless of the actual amount of gold received for its sale. See Pathfinder Adventure Path #55 for a
detailed description of the plunder rules.
This Adventure Path assumes that the PCs follow these
guidelines to keep their crew happy and well paid. It is left to the GM to decide how a crew reacts if the PCs do not pay them plunder on a regular basis.
Peg Legs and Eye Patches:
This optional rules system gives GMs a way to assign scars and major wounds to their PCs. Before implementing this system, consider these rules carefully. Major wounds can have major effects upon play, and some groups may not appreciate such debilitations, preferring the threat of death and an unscarred resurrection over a thematic crippling.
These rules are a variation on the optional massive damage rule found on page 189 of the Core Rulebook.
Whenever a character takes damage equivalent to massive damage, he must make a successful DC 15 Fortitude save or be reduced to –1 hit points and gain a permanent debilitating scar or handicap. These effects are randomly determined by rolling 1d20 on the table below. Effects are permanent and cumulative, though the GM should reroll results that seem too crippling or don’t make sense—such as a character losing a hand two or three times. The regenerate spell heals scars and restores lost limbs, removing both positive and negative effects.
Rules for eye patches, peg legs, and prostheses to cover injuries and replace lost limbs may be found in Pirates of the Inner Sea.