Expanded Wormwood Crew Backgrounds and Interactions - GM ONLY

Skull & Shackles

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First off, if you're on Kendra Black's crew, don't be peeking at this thread! Spoilers off the forward bow!

So most of the crew only has 1 or 2 sentences about them and the whole first module relies heavily on charisma to "make friends" however I find that just rolling dice and doing a bit of RP is a bit boring and I'd much rather have clearer ideas about the personalities and motivations behind each crew member, and personalized ways that the PCs can influence and accrue bonuses without relying on just charisma checks.

Below are my notes for expanding the backgrounds of the crew, adding vignettes and scenarios to help engage the players and hopefully provide deeper characters for the players to interact with.

Rosie Cusswell - Rosie is pretty well detailed in the book and getting her fiddle back makers her an instant friend. Some vignettes to use is the fact that this tiny halfling is one of the strongest members of the ship so some humerous scenes where Fipps and Aretta are trying to bully her around and she sucker punches them both or (somehow) slams Fipps can be interesting. She'll be a natural rival for Fipps who before her arrival was the strongest member of the crew (besides Owlbear, completely optional if you want to actually adjust his stats or not but I put Fipps at STR 16 using a standard nonheroic NPC spread).

Conchobar Shortstone - Shortstone plays an interesting role in the game as the difference between annoying versus evil. He is annoying and should be played as such. He has these grandiose ideas of what a pirate "should be" but doesn't want to actually do the day-to-day drudgery work. He will also shamelessly hit on every (decently) attractive female on board which typically means Sandara, Rosie, Slippery Sly, Barefoot, and Aretta. This is intended to be played up in a humorous way as he gets shot down in a variety of ways. If a PC is a woman then by all means, hit away. On the flipside he struggles horribly at his role. He does not have Profession: Sailor and as per RAW you can inflict him with seasickness. I'm planning on him being nauseated every prime numbered day (1,2,3,5,7,11 etc.). On those days hint to the PCs that they see him just puking his guts out over the sea. By the second and third days again comedy moments when he tries to hit on someone and ends up just throwing up everywhere. For the first two days he will be lashed almost to death and on the third day he will be stuck in the sweatbox and unless the PCs intervene the sweatbox will kill him. Killing the annoying but somewhat lovable comedy sidekick will really set the tone but it should be heavily hinted as he is being stuffed in that he doesn't look like he can make it a couple hours let alone half a day. The PCs can do any number of things to save him from his death (a cleric or Sandara can burst heal, they can pour water down the holes, they can try and rig the sails to shield him from the sun etc.). If the PCs keep him alive then he's a permanent ally but a tricky one to keep alive. As the game goes on he gets a bit better as the prime numbers space out but whippings should be tracked for damage after the third day. Any PC can take a new work action during the days that he is sick to help cover for him. They'll receive a -4 to both profession checks (but allies can help them out, non-rigger allies can provide a +1 while riggers can provide a +2 (max +4). As long as they keep covering for him when he's sick he should only get 3 or 6 non-lethal lashes at a time and should survive the trip.

Crimson Cog - Crimson Cog is a rather narrow-minded man that at night he gets drunk and causes fights. His viscious temper will cause him to fight just about anyone but prime targets are: Badger Medlar over gambling, Fipps Chumlett over masculine posturing, Jaundice Jape becuase he's mute and won't apologize, Conchobhar for being annoying, Jack Scrimshaw for "eyeballin' him", Narwal for trying to get him to join his gang. I plan on offsetting his anger by making him a bit of a gallant by making it a point for him not to fight ladies (unless they fight him first). He'll be frequently tied to the mast for lashings for fighting but it'll only be three lashes so he won't really mind. However if he ends up beating up Fipps or Narwal (or getting provoked into fighting Scourge or Plugg) it'll be far worse, the cat for fighting with Plugg's crew and the sweatbox for fighting Scourge or Plugg. The PCs can get the bonuses described in the book but also if they back him up in a fight (i.e. he picks a fight with Fipps Chumlett and Fipps brings the gang around to curbstomp Cog but the PCs step in to fight on Cog's side) and/or if the PCs provide Cog an alibi to avoid or downgrade his punishments they'll receive bonuses to interact with him. On the flipside if the PCs step up against him and end up in a fist fight he'll automatically move away one step.

Barefoot Samms - Barefoot is one of the few decent people on board but she's too busy and overworked to really care about others. Rum Rations are hitting her hard, she misses the family she'll never see again and she's strugglnig as a rigger. (In my game I'll be rolling a d10 and 1-5 she'll be tied to the post for lashings for a poor job.). The rigger PC will especially note that she is not well suited for her job and investigations around the ship say that either Plugg or Scourge (or both) made passes at her and she rejected them harshly and as a result she's been put up into the rigging despite not being a skilled climber. Plugg's cronies will often jeer at her for her fear of heights and making bets about how long before she splats against the ground. A PC can take a daily action to aid her (basically moving their +4 for diligent work to her so that she automatically passes her check). Each time they do that they get a +4 to their interaction rolls with her for 24 hours. In addition she is a skilled fisher and if the PCs can convince Scourge or Plugg (or more likely use Kroop to convince Scourge or Plugg) so that when the "fisher" job pops up for the Cook's Mate they'll swap roles with Samms so she gets to fish (she'll automatically pass) and they do the rigging then she'll become permanently helpful.

Ratline Rattsberger - Ratline is the smallest and weakest member of the crew and mostly stays to himself. He is very skilled rigger and can scramble and swing through the ropes like he was born to do it (I made him a Rogue 2 (pirate) with Sure Grasp feat and Adaptable Luck. This combined with his +9 climb means he pretty much auto passes, even during the storm.) Anyway the backstory is that besides Kroop, Ratline is one of the few "original" crew members. He doesn't know anything behind Harrigan's betrayal but instead can provide information about the other new recruits, giving hints about how the crew can interact with them. He's a very experienced sailor however he is not very assertive and although he had the skills to be promoted to boatswain his lack of charisma means he's still just a lowly crewman. At one time, however he was Mr. Plugg and then Master Scourge's chief rivals for their positions and he played a very careful game to evade notice to avoid being "Mysteriously poisoned" or "knocked overboard". He, combined with Kroop and Sandara, is the primary sources of pirating information. To win him over involves standing up to Plugg and Scourge. Whenever the PCs do something that makes Plugg or Scourge "look bad" (i.e. practical joke played at their expense, defeating Owlbear, Scourge/Plugg failing a whip attack when delivering the lash) the PCs will get a bonus to their interactions. In addition if they recognize his skills and offer sincere promises of better position under their command they can get additional bonuses to interactions.

Badger Medlar - Badger is a tough old salt (in my game I made her a Warrior 5 but gave her old age penalties) with a gambling addiction. She's decent at card and dice etc. but somehow luck always seems to turn against her and this makes her bitter towards the world, always cursing her rotten luck etc. She won't really gravitate towards anyone until a few gambling sessions (which she will always be partkaking in). If the PCs take what little money she has time and again she'll become hostile towards her and ripe for Plugg's recruitment. However if the PCs help her win money (for example, PC party convinces her to bet on the PC during the fistfight with Owlbear and she wins her bet) OR if the PCs intentionally lose some gold to her they'll get bonuses to interacting with them.

Giffer Tibs - Giffer is very bitter with the world when the PCs first meet her but deep down she's one of the few decent people on the ship. Prior to the adventure start Giffer is an amateur gunsmith and spent most of her pay in acquiring and building a grappling hook launcher (treat as the Grapple Launcher innovation from Experimental Gunsmith archetype). However, just prior to the adventure someone stole her toy. Nobody else on the ship knows what it does but it's weird and unique so it's a prime target for all the thieves on board the ship. The thieves are: Crimson Cog, Aretta Bansion, Slippery Sly, and Ratline Rattsberger. Crimson Cog was the first to steal but after that, every 1d4+1 days another thief steals it (roll randomly of the remaning thieves). PCs might get lucky and pick the right locker at the right time but more likely they'll have to make several dedicated gather information checks and confront several different crewmembers before finally finding it's final resting spot. If they can return her toy to Giffer then she'll become a permanent ally (and may even be willing to lend her toy to the PCs when they explore Bonewrack Island).

Tilly Brackett - Tilly is a jovial sort looking for a good time. One of the few friendlier faces she'll reach out to the PCs if they're not doing a great job reaching out to the others. Winning her over is a simple matter of keeping her entertained (Perform checks), playing practical jokes on the other crew (especially Plugg's gang), or providing her with alochol. She's one of the few members on board to actually enjoy her rum rations and will buy them off the PCs on the sly (but a DC 10 Stealth Check is still required). However if the PCs do this too often her work will start to suffer along with her health. On the day following her additional rum rations she'll be drunk on the job and receive lashing at the Bloody Hour. She is an addict though and will continue to purchase them even if she is caught or dying. Overall she should be pretty easy to win over but difficult to keep alive. Her being drunk on the job can be a reoccuring theme (similar to Kroop but with deadlier consequences as she is an expendable swabbie).

Jack Scrimshaw - Jack is a quite young lad (I plan on playing him as 14 and applying the Young age penalties to him). He won't really open up much until made Friendly and most of the scenes will just be him watching the PCs do other things as he quietly uses his knife to carve scrimshaw. He'll be resistant to most forms of interactions (either use RAW or even make a penalty like -2 or -4 to interaction checks to drive home the point that he just isn't interested in anything the PCs have to say.) However after a day or so emphasize that he's starting to struggle with the scrimshaw and a Perception DC 10 check will point out that his knife is getting dull. When asked about that he'll open up (remove the penalty) and mention that this is the third knife he's gone through with all his carvings. If the PCs can acquire a Masterwork dagger (or better yet a magical one) and give it to him he'll become instantly helpful. However, masterwork daggers are expensive to buy in the store and if the PCs steal one for him things get complicated. Every day they should see him showing his flashy new knife to the rest of the crew and after a day or two of warning signs he'll either show it to Kroop or Cut-Throat who will recognize his new knife as theirs (or insert whichever NPC the PCs stole the knife from...). Jack will be brought up for six lashes with the cat unless the PCs step forward and it's up to the DM to either track the damage (which will probably kill the poor boy) or allow him to survive but he'll be permanently hostile thinking the PCs set him up. If the PCs give him a stolen knife they need to convince him to keep it quiet. A Bluff check to lie to him will keep him helpful while if they admit the knife is stolen Jack will secretly return the blade and go back to carving with his dull knife. This will "reset" him back to Indifferent but with the penalties to interactions removed they can convince him to join their side as per normal. In addition Jack is mostly resigned to fish bones for his scrimshaw but if the PCs recover something unusual (reefclaw...claw, shark jawbone etc.) they'll receive a +2 to interactions for 24 hours and he'll give them a carved figurine worth 2d20gp.

Maheem - Maheem is actually a very honorable man who unfortuantely takes things VERY literal. ("Metaphors go over his head." "Nothing goes over my head! My reflexes are too fast and I will catch them.") Early on Scourge said that he was doing him a favor by not flaying his hide and Maheem believed him. He's not stupid, in fact I'm thinking of him as one of the wiser crew members but he's naturally very literal and overall very naive. He believes serving Scourge is the right thing to do and the others take huge advantage of that. If the PCs can explain to him that Scourge was not really doing him a favor, and give him a crash course on lying then they will receive bonuses to interactions with him. In addition if they can point out how Scourge and Plugg are abusing their positions (playing favorites are wrongful punishments) they will receive additional bonuses in their interactions.

Sivikah - Sivikah is an ex-slaver and because she isn't evil (she's TN) she regrets her actions. Overall she's been at sea far too long and wants to go back home but being an ex-slaver things are complicated for her. She's hoping to gain enough money to buy a new life for herself so greed is her primary motivation. She's one of the better gamblers on the ship (+5 to her Profession Gambler roll) and is a good foil for traditional gambling PCs (or NPCs like Badger Medlar). If the PCs promise her better money they're receive a +2 bonus on interactions with them. If they actually get her some money she'll move one full step per 100 gp. The flipside is that if they cost her money either by beating her at gambling or taking an opportunity from her (i.e. Day 11 where if the PCs succeed they get additional treasure from the captain, if the PCs don't invite her she is resentful that they "cost" her money) then they can either take penalties to interacting with her or she might even move a full step against them.

Narwal Tate - Scourge's longtime friend and the non-officer ringleader of Plugg's crew. He is the the mini-boss the PCs have to deal with on a daily basis. He'll especially be harrassing the other PC rigger and if the PC is having an easy enough time on the job he'll start sabotaging the player (rigging lines to be loose or untying rigs to make the player look bad). His interference will cause a -4 penalty to the Rigger's daily job check (but it won't happen all the time, again play it by ear or to spice up a dull day). HOWEVER when he does this sabotage he hurts himself. Secretly roll a d20 and on a 1-9 he gets punished for slacking on the job as well. No matter the rolls he should be punished at least once for the sabotage. As a friend of Scourge he'll be expecting a "light" treatment and perhaps the first lash doesn't even crack the whip but Plugg will have none of that and will demand Scourge do it properly. Scourge will follow suit and the seeds for PC's to posion Narwhal against Scourge will be sown. Every time Narwal gets punished properly the PCs will get a bonus on interactions with him as he'll see that his loyalty is not buying the status he had hoped. Narwal should be a very tough sell and require both punishment from above as well as promises of gold and perhaps even officer status under the PC command. As difficult as it is, Narwal makes a strong ally because he keeps up appearances of being with Plugg's group and will count towards one of Plugg's "loyal" crew for the final battle. As soon as it is advantageous he'll switch sides and turn on his former friends.

Fipps Chumlett - Fipps is a bully and the prime enforcer for Plugg's gang (in my game I switched him to a Ftr 2 (Brawler) to give their group a bit more power against the PCs.) Fipps was used to being one of the strongest fighters on board and was secure in that knowledge. Now in the past couple of days he suddenly has a bunch of rivals for that throne (Rosie, Crimson Cog, Breaker Bones (see below) are all comprable strength). NOw he's worried that Plugg will replace him if he no longer is useful so he is far more horrendous and odious then previously and will constantly be overcompensating for it. If PC's "humiliate him" (i.e. beat him in a fight, overpower him in arm wrestling etc.) he may even go so far as to attack them or even try and kill them. On the flipside the PCs can poison his relationship with Scourge & Plugg by getting him lashings. If brought up on punishment he'll try to leverage his connectionns ("Come on, Scourge? We're mates! You don't have to do this...) but of course Scourge & Plugg care little about him. If Fipps is punished and the PCs reach out to him afterwards (or better yet try and defend him) then they'll receive a bonus to interacting with him. If too many friendly NPCs are dying, killing Fipps will be a big blow to the Plugg crew as he is their strongest fighter besides Scourge and Plugg.

Aretta Bansion - Aretta Bansion once tried to seduce Mr. Plugg. She recognized him as a man rising through the ranks and wanted to attach herself to his group. She was rejected in a rather humiliating way and is very resentful for it (and some of the other crew still rub it in by using Plugg's words "Not if you were the last whore on the sea".) Since then she did eventually join his group but she is spiteful and angry all the time and views Slippery Sly (the woman Plugg ended up shacking up with for awhile) as her archrival. Her and Slippery Sly are very passive-aggressive towards each other (and often aggressive-aggresive as well). Aretta wants nothing more then to see Sly be publically humiliated like she was. She has no real interest in Mr. Plugg anymore (she achieved a place on the ship despite that humiliating introduction) but still wants Sly to pay. If the PCs can play a public practical joke on Slippery Sly (i.e. fishguts bucket on the head) or otherwise poison Sly's relationship with Plugg (frame her for a crime and get her lashed) PC's will receive a bonus in their interactions with Aretta.

Slippery Sly Lonegan - Slippery Sly is Plugg's eyes and ears among the crew (and warm body at night). She is a psychopath and should be played up as creepy and psycotic as possible (licking blood off her blade, bragging about how she'll murder everyone in their sleep etc.) In my game I'm making her a Ninja 2 and she'll stealthily stalk the players at night. Basically most of the time if the players fail a stealth roll and are "detected" it will be Slippery Sly who spots them. The whole crew knows she is a rat but because she is crazy murderous and has the bed of the First Mate nobody can stand up to her. She should hold that positon over everyone, even Narwal and Fipps (who are only friends with Scourge, not Plugg). Even Scourge should be afraid of giving her a proper lashing. On that note clear favoritism will help propel other NPCs towards the PCs. If they're having a hard time winning over friends either standing up to Slippery Sly or pointing out how she doesn't get punished for her actions should give a +2 bonus on interactions with everyone not part of Plugg's clique. As for winning her over, she has no loyalty to Plugg, he is useful for getting her what she wants and what she wants is fear and blood. She has fear but not even Plugg can keep her from being keelhauled if she kills someone. However if the PCs can arrange for her to murder someone and get away with it by providing an alibi she'll move 2 steps in their direction per body. She is perfectly willing to kill anyone and clever (and evil) PCs can have her murder Narwal or Jaundice Jape to kill two birds with one crazy b@*+#.

Jaundice Jape* - Prior to the adventure, Jaundice Jape could talk. He was still a vile, greedy, unpleasant SOB but having a voice did improve his mood a bit. One day in [INSERT PORT HERE] he and some fellows visited a curio shop run by an old coot. They decided to rob the place and tried to murder the old lady when she turned her back. Unfortunately she was also a witch and easily defeated the two-bit thugs but Jaundice Jape escaped after grabbing a talisman from the counter and fleeing. The witch cast a hex upon her talisman that the owner would wither away in silence. Jaundice Jape is secretly very sick, only his fearsome Half-Orc constitution is keeping him standing and on the job (I treat him as permanently sickened). When he first arrived on the ship he was a prime target of Fipps & Narwal bullying because he couldn't talk. Eventually he joined up with them just to stop the beatings (but don't feel too bad, he is still a vile man). Now he mostly stands lookout while the others do their thing. Anyone making a Heal DC 15 check will notice that the yellowish color of his skin is not normal. In addition both he and the talisman radiate strong hex magic and if detected it's clear they are cursed. The PCs (probably) won't have a way to undo the curse but if they can get Jaundice to willingly throw away the talisman it will at least improve his health (but not restore his voice). If they improve his health he'll move a full step towards the PCs. If they convince him they will help him break his curse (either with Bluff or being earnest) then it improves another step. Beyond that it requires typical rolls. NOTE: He keeps the talisman in his locker and so far the thieves on board have avoided it for good reason. If the PCs loot the talisman without breaking the curse on it then the thief will also become Sickened. The other NPCs on board won't touch the thing either because they know it's Japes (and don't want to be brought up for thievery) or because they secretly suspect it's cursed, especially those who've been around Jaundice and seen him get worse and worse.

As I felt that the end results would have too many player allies compared to those loyal to Plugg I've added a few more characters to the crew:

"Artful" Roger - NE human male Ftr 2 (Free Hand) (initial reaction: hostile, job: swab). Considered the best swordsman among the crew, Roger is a bully in a different way to complement Fipps and to keep the players from going too violent too early. He loves demonstrating his superiority and when the PCs are doing combat training they can see him disarming and humiliating some of the other crew. He is completely arrogant and narcissistic, everything is always about him and his fancy blade. Speaking of which he has a masterwork cutlass which is pretty slick but not as slick as Plugg's magical cutlass and this is the wedge that PCs could drive in. Roger wants that sword and if the PCs can make promises to deliver they can get bonuses to interaction. In addition if one of the characters seems adept with a sword Roger will challenge them to a sparring match on one of the "dull" nights. Other charactes will place gambles and both characters are expected to fight non-lethal combat (i.e. -4 to combat rolls giving Roger a net +2, AC 14 and 15 HP. Note he also has Combat Expertise and Improved Disarm for a +7 to disarm). If the PCs win, Roger will automatically move one step away (if possible). If the PC loses too quickly, no reaction. If the PC however can go four rounds without being horribly overmatched or disarmed then he'll win a bit of respect and he will have a +4 bonus to future interactions as Roger takes the "promising fighter" under his wing. As long as the PCs can put up with his insufferable boasting they can continue to get the bonus (at least until they upstage him in combat...)

Bonnie Blades - CN human female Swashbuckler 2 (Flying Blades) (initial reaction: indifferent, job: rigger)- An expert knife thrower, Bonnie spends her evenings gambling and often entertaining the rest of the crew with her knife throwing ability. A common tactic she pulls when new crew come on board is to pretend to be pretty bad at knife throwing, have a martial PC "show her some pointers" and then offer to put it to the test. She'll lose the first match but then offer to double or nothing. Then she'll throw to her full ability (+5 +1 for Point-Blank Shot) and probably win. PCs can detect the scam by matching their sense motive versus her +7 Bluff. After that they find her jovial and friendly enough at least compared to the rest. Her goal seems to be entirely focused on her throwing and she lives for trick shots and fantastic throws and if anyone crits with a thrown weapon and she witnesses it she will be sure to mention it, possibly several times. She will also be a way to help diffuse situations if the PCs get in over their heads (i.e. if they start picking a fight with Narwal and group maybe Bonnie throws a knife in between the groups and tells them to knock it off...) She is always on the lookout for more ammunition and she is a way for PCs to deal with the giant number of knives on board. If she is given a knife, the PCs get a +1 (max) on their next interaction. If she gets a masterwork knife she'll move one full step in the PCs direction and if given the magical blade in the storeroom she'll be permanently helpful. Unlike Jack, she can recognize stolen gear and knows well enough to keep quiet and accepts the risks of being caught. If the PCs are making too many friends though she is a good way to show Scourge/Plugg "fighting back". She might storm up and say she heard [INSERT PC] brag that they were better at knives or something like that and immediately challenge them to a showdown. If this happens during the day the PCs will either risk failing their job or ignoring her. If they ignore her she moves two steps away, if they accept the challenge and lose they move one step away, if they accept the challenge and win, she moves one step towards as she is impressed with their skill. If the PC does challenge her the PC takes a -4 on their job rolls.

Breaker Bones - CG Barbarian 2 (Wild Rager). (initial reaction: hostile, job: swab) A giant Mwangi picked up at the same time as the PCs, he makes a good example character as his barbarian hit dice allow him to take a beating, even a keel hauling and potentially live. An angry man, he will initially blame the PCs (and everyone else) for his situation even though they aren't the reason he was dragged on the boat. Like Conchobar, he is not a used to boats (no ranks in swim or sailor) and is sickened for the first couple of days (but due to his +5 fort auto-passes his checks and becomes "cured" by the third day until the storms hit). He is initially defiant and likely to lashed quite often for dereliction of duty or talking back to the superiors. Depending on the group he can make for a good warning about being too confrontational to the officer by being routinely beaten nearly to death, sweatboxed and/or keelhauled. On the flipside if you want some drama for an otherwise boring day maybe he flies into a barbarian rage while being lashed, breaks out of his bonds and has to be subdued. Plugg & his cronies will be inflicting lethal damage but if the PCs can keep Breaker alive they'll get a +2 bonus in their future interactions with him. In addition when he comes into conflict with other crew members (Crimson Cog and any of Plugg's crew make good targets) then he risks flying into a rage (and being sweatboxed for damage and fighting the next day) but if the PCs can talk him down (DC 20 Bluff/Diplomacy/Intimidate check) then he'll thank them for it later and they'll have +2 to interactions for the next 24 hours (stacks with other modifiers).

Hopefully the above will help keep the boat from getting too repetitive. Trying to keep Conchobar/Crimson Cog/Breaker Bones alive will occupy their attention and unraveling the various stories and bonuses can help make the NPCs more memorable.

As for how to deal with the "mini-quests" associated to the characters, I was thinking if the party is struggling with the CHA skill checks then perhaps some of the bonuses can be translated into full steps towards the character's side. On the flipside if they are getting too many friends too fast then Plugg, Scourge, and what's left of their cronies can work to sabotage some of the friendly NPCs and slow the players down. Sabotaging their work rolls so they get heavy lashings or forcing more rum rations on them so the NPC gets horribly sick are some ideas. Then while they're trying to save their friends Plugg and Scourge can win over some "on the fence" NPCs.

My goal is to give PCs a fighting chance with any of the NPCs they desire but also to make things difficult enough that Plugg will reliably have his 8 loyal crew and not have to rely on generic sailors to fill in the ranks.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? All are welcome...

Those are excellent. I like how you give the victory condition for winning over each NPC so it's still a sandbox and player's choice which NPCs they decide to favour. I would have shamelessly borrowed this from you if you had posted it before our game started.

The way it played out for us, Plugg/Scourge did not need any more allies but I like the three you added. I can always use surviving sailors from other ships so I expect Artful Roger, Bonnie Blades and Breaker Bones to crew other ships in the near future.

Thanks for sharing!

Borrow away!

Oh almost forgot. They call him Artful Roger because he has ranks in Craft: Painting. I flavor him as doing coal drawings in his free time (and drawing offensive images of the PCs is a fun way to prod them. Having a semi-skilled artist capturing all their failures would surely piss off my players :P)


Definitely going to use this in my upcoming campaign!

I am totally using this as my “jumping off point” for my campaign! Thank you for your awesome work! I’m curious if you have any similar background info for the other officers: Peppery Longfarthing, Riaris Krine, and Caulky Tarroon specifically. Also just curious to know how it went and if you have any tips for a GM just about to begin this campaign. Thanks again!

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Eh I may as well toss a character or two in. I'll actually provide new ones though I do want to talk about a switch or two. Most my changes were to allow for more than skill checks to effect the players or to spice up the boat when it comes to races. Also a spoiler or two here but if this is GM only then should be safe. Players leave.

Ratline Rattsberger - Switched to Dwarf and given Druid level 3. He's still a Rigger making good use of Certain Grip and Monkey Fish to do his job. As a Druid however, he also excels as a rat catcher. But he instead uses his Druid abilities to keep some of the rats as pets, and a few spells to keep them fed. Before the PCs show up, he's been on the ship for a good while now and has even gotten close to some of the other crew, partically Magpie.

Interactions: On day 1, Ratline will help tie up Magpie to be keelhauled. As this happens, he'll attempt to save her by casting Air Bubble and Bear's Endurance to keep her breathing and extra HP. PCs can attempt a Perception check to notice the spells, while the rest of the crew is up to the GM but Ratline notices that the PCs saw him. If called on the spells, Mr. Plugg will punish Ratline with the whip today and the box tomorrow, while Keelhauling Magpie twice to make sure. This makes Ratline Hostile to the PCs and possibly Mr. Plugg, scheming to kill both.

If the PCs don't call this out, Magpie lives but is bedridden for a few days to recover. Ratline thanks the PCs for not bringing it up, giving them a +2 for dealing with him for a few days. Helping to care/cover for Magpie prolongs this bonus. In additon, helping to cover for him and his pets or supply food adds +2 bonus. Finally, if Magpie recovers and is informed of Ratline's effort to save her(And with proding by the PCs maybe), the two go on to have a relationship, making Ratline Helpful on a permanent basis. Stealing his girl however, will likely put him at Hostile unless talked down.

Every 5th day he switches to Ratcatching swapping roles wtih someone. If Friendly to a Swab PC he switches with, he casts supporting spells to help them do Rigger work. He can also serve as extra info for the ship, crew, and the captian but not as much as Kroop.

Caulky Tarroon - swapped to Tiefling, Indifferent. Caulky is a prisoner that serves as an extra pair of eyes to watch Harrigan and report back to Zarskia(book 3). Granted she doesn't know she does, she was only tasked to draw up a report and pass it along anytime she's in a port. However she wishes for her own freedom and dreams of sailing the sea on her own. She can't simply flee though, as Harrigan prizes her as a trophy(even though he has his suspicions about her real purpose) and is still bound to Cheliax's service. In the PCs, she might find a way out.

Interactions: Caulky can be used to help push the idea of Cheliax interference in the Shackles should she become friendly and brought along with the crew in book 3. The rest of the crew(Or at least Plugg's group) view her as both a prize not to touch and someone to bully for her posistion. As such while they won't harm her, some of the crew are not above playing pranks or interfering with her job of running messages. A PC can aid her in her daily work taking a -2(-4 maybe?) in their own work while gaining a +2 to influence her. The Cook's Mate may spend a free action to try and influence her when she comes to pick up Dinner for the officers.

'Fiddle' Antone - Skald/Bard, Hostile. A servant to Mr Scourge and Mr Plugg. For when punishment is needed or someone needs to be humiliated, Antone is the one to be called on. A trickster, he enjoys pranking others along with his status as part of Mr Plugg's circle. Past this extior however beats the hart of a poet, and it is his dream to compose a ballad that will be sung in taverns across the shackles and shame even sirens themselves.

Interactions: Antone is here to cause problems for PCs, not join them for the most part. Tricks up his sleeve include Animate Rope, Shadow Trap, and Touch of Gracelessness allowing GMs to create problems that are bigger than just a penalty. Given the magical nature, it's harder to catch and pin to him, letting him skate past punishment, though if he is whipped that can lead to souring the relationship.

He does appreciate a good prank so being part of one gives a +2 bonus. Likewise, any Performance is a way to win him over slowly. Clever PCs might use Rosie to help convince him or maybe even pass her fiddle to him though that comes with it's own dangers of Antone and Rosie coming to blows. However his prized flute has gone missing and he'll become Indifferent should it be returned.

Lizardmen - Hostile. What's this? Well Harrigan was always one to look for unconventional allies and ways to increase his own power. Even before he sold out to Cheliax, he had some monstrous allies in the form of a Lizardman clan from the Shodden lands. They supply some fighters, he supplies them with tips on how to fight in the Shackles. It was this deal that lead him to offer a similar deal to Cheliax. However having to manage both is leading to no end of annoyance and stress on the captain. Perhaps one of these agreements should end, but until then he'll use them for what they are worth.

Interaction - They really aren't here for the PCs to influence. They serve as an extra threat to the crew if they get out of line, a shadowy glimpse during a keelhaul and nightwatch in the waters. This also serves to show that Harrigan is willing to do unconventional acts for power. As such keep them just out of sight of the PCs as even NPC crewmen might object to the alliance(only Officers know about this deal).

Should they be interacted with they aren't dumb sacks of bricks but also miss out on the mannerisms of Common. They know enough to take orders but metaphors and jokes are lost to them unless visual aids are supplied. Food is the best way to interact with them and win them over though supplying any proof of Harrigan's eventual betrayal may tip the balance.

The Wormwood has a special compartment for smuggling and the Lizardmen use this to rest during the day. 4 are on board when the PCs arrive and Harrigan orders 2 to follow Mr Plugg on the Man's Promise.

Oh thought of another thing.

So my Badger is still the poor luck gambler that wants coin. But why?

Answer - Chickcharney. This little beast can curse a target up to 4 times giving a -1 for each curse to... well most things. Badger's been cursed up to 2 times at least and is looking for a way to earn coin to remove the curse. Mind you due to the heavy debuff, most crews don't keep her around and gambling is also pretty hard. However, her knowledge and experience has helped her stay on the Wormwood, for now.

PCs that can figure out this from her and help to give her gold or even break the curse will find a good sailor and another expert pirate to help give advice and hints.

I love the idea of the lizardmen, but how are you having them stay secret? There aren't exactly a lot of hidden rooms around the wormwood.

Laurgelon wrote:
I love the idea of the lizardmen, but how are you having them stay secret? There aren't exactly a lot of hidden rooms around the wormwood.

How'd the hell I missed this?

COUGH okay so this is a good while late. I ruled that the Wormwood had an extra compartment or two(Possibly to smuggle cargo). These extra small rooms are around the water line or have an opening that can easily get you out there.

The lizardmen are excellent swimmers(Or even boosted by a Shaman/Witch?) and thus can help patrol around the ship at night and sleep during the day. This... isn't a very comfy set up for them, which could lead to more interactions.

I haven't really sat down and looked at the worm wood and gone "THIS is where I would put the compartment" so your mileage may vary.

I went with Lizardmen cause there a good number of them in the Shodden Lands and that's where Harrigan was from. You can swap them out to Saughian or something.

Grand Lodge

I think Caulky Tarroon turns up in a later book in a bar in port perril where the PC can spot her and get a warning, that wormwood is in the habor.
I’m not sure if she is important or just could be swabed out for another of the wormwood crew if she got killed earlier.

I did a similar thing in preparation for my first session on Tuesday, here's my version.

I've added Ranzak, the promo goblin character for the Adventure Card game to my crew. I expanded his background story a bit. I gave him the Pegleg campaign trait even though NPCs aren't supposed to get them. How could I not? I tried to keep as close the the cardgame version of him as possible. So I made him a cutpurse rogue as I felt it fits his boon acquiring ability best.

Ranzak Squidbreath (Swab):

Ranzak Squidbreath (Swab)
Ranzak is a goblin pirate, but he wasn't always so, nor did he always go by the name Ranzak. Born "Squidbreath," Ranzak was a diver among the Longlung goblins of the Shackles. When his fellow Longlungs were eaten by a sea monster—one the tribe called "Swirly Doom"—Squidbreath escaped, albeit minus a leg. Tribeless and alone, Squidbreath eventually joined a goblin pirate vessel.
After years of plundering the Fever Sea, Squidbreath decided he needed a "magic bird" (a parrot) to eat crackers and "tell true secrets." He, along with his fellow goblins, snuck into a cave occupied by a "longshanks chief" with the intention of stealing his parrot while the captain slept. When the goblin attempted to steal the parrot, it began squeaking "Ranzak! Ranzak! Ranzak! Ranzak! Ranzak!" Believing the magic bird to "squawk true," Squidbreath took the parrot's cries of alarm to be his true name, adopting it from that point forward.

He's named the bird Squakbox. Seeing how it is magical, Ranzak realizes that he's destined to greatness and plans to be a powerful goblin pirate captain in the future. All the best stories tell that the best captains ever had a hook hand. Knowing his magical bird would protect him, he had his tribe mates cut off his hand so that he could get a hook as well. He passed out, and his tribemates left him for dead. Ranzak wasn't dead though. When he woke up his tribemates were gone and the bleeding had stopped. Squawkbox was there calling out Ranzak, Ranzak, Ranzak. He knew that the bird was truly magical after this.
He build a crude raft and sailed it to Port Peril. Having been kicked around on the docks when volunteering for duty on a ship, Ranzak stowed away on board the Wormwood when most of the pirates left to go get more longshanks. Ranzak makes himself known when the PCs are woken up at sea on the first morning.

Ranzak likes to play his harmonica and sing his song for those who will listen. He can't carry a tune and but plays the harmonica passably, but that doesn't stop him from doing either.
Ranzak's Song
"Goblins fight and goblins bleed,
Ranzak takes what Ranzak needs.
Follow orders! Don't give guff!
Fight for Ranzak! He needs stuff!

Ranzak wrote this clever verse.
Ranzak's smart, so you go first!
Come o, pirates! Do your duty!
Ranzak's ready for some booty!"

XP 400
Goblin Rogue (cutpurse) 2
CN Small Humanoid
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft., Perception +4
AC 15, touch 13, flat-footed 13; (+2 Dex, +2 Armor, +1 Size)
hp 16 (2d8+6)
Fort +4, Ref +5, Will -0
SD Evasion
Speed 30 ft.
Melee masterwork rapier +5 (1d4/18-20x2) or masterwork hook hand +5 (1d3/x2) or masterwork rapier +3 (ad4/18-20x2) and masterwork hook hand +2 (1d3/x2)
Ranged dagger +4 (1d3/19-20x2)
Special Attacks Sneak Attack +1d6, Goblin Foolhardiness (+1 to hit in melee when no allies adjacent to him), Pegleg (+1 trait bonus dmg vs sharks and aquatic creatures), Finesse Rogue
Str 10, Dex 15, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 12
Base Atk +1; CMB +0; CMD 12
Feats Two-Weapon Fighting
Skills Acrobatics +7, Bluff +5, Craft (rope) +4, Disable Device +6, Escape Artist +6, Handle Animal +2, Perception +4, Perform (Wind Instruments) +5, Profession (Sailor) +4, Sleight of Hand +7, Stealth +14, Survival +1, Swim +4
Languages Common, goblin
Manuever the Mark
Goblin Overconfidence +1 to attack roles when fighting an enemy in melee and has no allies adjact to himself.
Combat Gear dagger x2, masterwork rapier, masterwork hook hand, leather armor
Other Gear red bandana, red sash, torn dirty and sleeveless tunic, dirty and worn white and blue striped trousers, peg-leg, harmonica, caltrops x2, macaw (squawkbox), large jar of pickles (one pickle counts a potion of Cure Light Wounds), silver ear rings x3, bone necklace, 10 GP.
Due to his magical bird protecting him, Ranzak is bold in combat. He usualy fights with his rapier and hook hand in melee. He tries to get into flanking positions to improve his chances of hitting opponents and using his Sneak Attack ability.
Ranzak has complete faith in Squawkbox's ability to use his magic to heal him. Therefor Ranzak fights to the death, not realizing that his magical bird won't save him.

Love all the thinking here

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