20 interesting cargo ship for pirates to take. [FaSB]


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I am using FaSB in my Skull and Shackles game. I am going to want ships for the PCs to pirate. The AP provides a few but many of them are traps or otherwise not a merchant and guards.

House rules:
If maneuverability drops below clumsy, reduce speed by 1 instead.
Rigging only weighs 1000 pounds, this makes light loads bigger with a small impact at the higher end.
Plunder, loot and swag cost 1000 GP and sell like plunder but weigh 5 tons, 1 ton and 500 pounds respectively. Most common gear can be turned into a pile of swag.

Most long distance ships be at least 6 six with a broad hull and made of reinforced oak. 6 is the smallest a ship can be while both broad and reinforced and still move while heavily loaded. Most ship carry a medium load at speed of 4 while carrying 10 plunder.

What I need to to is work out list of everybody who might sail through or past the Shackles and some interesting defenses for the boats. I want each boat to be CR 5-15 with most being in the 5-8 range. Some may be convoys with frigates to guard them while others may be a huge cargo ship and escorts.

Cargo carries:
Aspis Consortium
Pathfinders
Cheliax
Andorian
Rahadoum
Absalom
Taldor (Minor)
Thuvia (Minor)
Osirion (Minor)
Tian XA (Minor)
Everybody else (Rare)


I figure even a pair of 9 pound cannons on the rear of a cargo ship will be able to to fire off many shots in the time it take the PCs to close on the ship. If they take a -18 penalty they can shoot out 110 squares.

Give the mate who fires the cannons exotic weapon prof cannon and far shot and naval gunner. His penalty will only by a -11. This can go to +9 before with true strike. On top of the +9 he gets his BAB and dex.


An archer with far shot and vital strike as well magic items to help with range could pick of crew for a long time.

6th level sorc could lunch several very painful fireballs.

A bank of 1st level warriors with crossbows could do a number of the crew from fair distance.

Many merchants may heave to and let trained marines deal with boarders but this would rely on builds that can put down many boarders at once.

Large polearm fighter with combat reflexes.

Sleep spell

color spray

Sovereign Court Contributor

Woohoo - can't wait to see these ships!


Still a work in process but I figure if i can come up with a table that has
3 each CR 5-8
2 each CR 9-11
1 each CR 12-15

that will be enough to get to the end of skull ans shackles when combined with monsters, derelict ships, hazards and small local shipping.


Sorry, got sick and was not able to work on these but for my first CR 5 ship I think I am going to stat up a 6th level 5 sorc with fireball, flaming sphere, and magic missile as spells known.

Magic missile may not hurt the ship but it can put a long range sting on some of the PC or crew. The other two spells will start fires and damage a ship a fair. bit. I would rule that a rigging takes full fire damage while hull sections take the normal half.

Sovereign Court Contributor

How're they coming?


I have been thinking about this for quite some time. In general I think that having the crews fight each other will simply get in the way. That mechanic is already in the background. I will reserve the crew taking to arms for military ships and for those who think the pirates will kill them anyway. A bunch of low level experts and warriors may be a threat to 4th and 5th level PCs but even by then they do not add much beyond a cluttered battlefield.

Instead ship defenders will will fight off the pirates (witch may use crew) with the expectation that those who did not fight will be ransomed instead of killed. I think this will simplify combats somewhat.

None of these ideas are fully developed but I have come up with several different types. Some have been mentioned above already.

I am also going to assume that all ships will have a 1st level cleric on board. They will carry a wand of dispel magic and attempt to counterspell AoE spells. It is a houserule but I will allow the attempt if they are in range of the spellcaster or target area. Otherwise the range on fireball would be to long.

Rear cannon:
The ship mounts 1-4 9 pounders. These will open up at maximum range in an attempt to drive of the pirates. For now I would put a 6th level human fighter in charger of the cannon as he can pass on all of his feats to the crew.

1. Point blank shot, far shot, exotic weapon proficiency (cannon)
2. Navel gunnery
3. Weapon focus Cannon
4. Weapon spec cannon
5. Improved naval gunnery
6. Deadly aim
Weapon group siege engines.

BAB +6 + Dex +5 (start with a 17) + WF +1 + WT + 1 = +13 to hit. This only drops to +4 at max range. Deadly aim will give a -2 for +4 damage.

Damage = 5d10+7 with a ball or 5d4+7 with grapeshot.

Magic weapon, bless, cat's grace, and prayer would be the best spell support. True strike can help but +2 is often enough to hit better the 60 percent of the time. The other spells can add as much as +5. Even a max range many ship will be hit on a 3+.

Max range is 2200 feet. Many a cargo ship will have a speed of 80. That means that flying PC will only gain 120 a round on the ship. It will take 19 rounds to cover that distance. In that time the cannon can get off 9 shots each. Remember that they can target the running PC who will not get his dex to AC.

My guess it this encounter would be difficult unless the PCs have their own long range guns or board the the ship by stealth. If they stay out of cannon range it will take several min to gain on the ship. Running takes con checks to maintain so even flying over can be difficult.

Invisibility + haste + fly might be the best way to get on board

Cannons cost 1500 GP each and each shot is 65 GP. A 6th level fighter will also charge a ton for his services. I could see as 50 GP a day. He may also be a co owner of the ship. At those prices they may scale back the fighter and limit his shots. They do not want to give up to much cargo space and they will not want to fire more then the ship/cargo is worth. A size 6 ship is worth 34000 GP, the crew can be ransomed for around 3300 GP and the cargo is around 10k. Total ransom is around 27k. I always figured plunder worth far more in the inner sea region. They will not want to spend more then this on defense. 4 cannon with 20 shots each costs 11200.

More soon I hope.


Slaves bound for the markets in a country where such abominable acts as slavery still exist.


Cheliax does that with halflings all the time.


air power:
My first thought is on the manticore that is mentioned in book 2 of SnS. Instead on landing on the PCs ship it should use its spikes followed up be flyby attacks. In this same vain is any flying creature with fly by attack. Reach is even better to avoid counter attacks. A Wyvern, or giant eagle work well but I did not find any with reach. Many other flyers are out there but with out flyby attack they will be little better then any other boarders.

A step up in difficult is anything with a breath weapon. A chimera or dracolisk offer low int options for this. Drakes have an average int and probably want to be paid if you can get them at all but they will be great attacking ships. Flame, mist, and sea Drakes have nice melee as well. The shadow drake has high speed and great stealth with flyby attack. The breath weapon in not much threat to the PCs but the crew would suffer. Last but not least would be a wyrmling, very young and maybe young dragons. They are only average int at that point and might like plunder a temporary hoard just for its size.

A harpy or 3 will very much mess up a ship as the crew all runs over board.

A giant vulture with a heavy lift belt and mule back chords (slotted for shoulders) costs 4750 GP. It can carry 2400 pounds and still be at a light load. If a rider and gear is 400 pounds that leaves 1 ton for a pay load. A dire bat cost 220 GP and can carry a light load of 173 pounds. With a halfling rider it can have a pay load of 100 pounds.

I figure that a 50 pound rock counts as size small, that does 4d6 damage form more then 150 feet. Oddly a 2000 pound stone will likely be size large and only do 8d6.

50 pounds of alchemist fire will most likely just destroy 1 hull section and costs 1000GP. Two of those and the ship starts sinking.

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