Making a pirate out of every class, a.k.a. how to add a seafaring flair to your character


Advice


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This is a project I had in mind for quite some time now... so might as well pitch the idea right now.

This is a topic to pitch ideas on how to make seafaring characters, especially pirate characters ;)

I'd like to take the opportunity to take that first post to highlight the basics, before you and I dive deeper into actual class builds and ideas :P

Alignment
- If you plan on being an actual pirate, you're against the law, you live by your own rules and you couldn't care for the rest.
- For other seafaring characters, you can be of any alignment. It includes explorers and marine officers.

Skills
- Swim gets you out of a bind everytime.
- Knowledge (geography) is also useful.
- Survival is quasi-imperative

Equipment/Magic
- If you can afford a ship, good for you.
- Water Breathing, Freedom of Movement and other such spells can save your life.
- Fire spells can be a double-edged sword, because it can't be used in water, and often resisted by aquatic creatures, but it's deadly on other ships.
- Light armors "lighten your load" while swimming.
- A backup piercing weapon is useful if you fight underwater.

P.S. Before you bring it up, yes, you can suggest stuff for the ninja :P
- It's an alternate rogue
- It can work for Tian Xian/oriental settings
- If you want to troll your GM with a ninja in a pirate-heavy campaign, might as well suggest you HOW to proceed XD

I can suggest really quick a few archetype ideas:
Barbarian: Sea Reaver, Mounted Fury (with aquatic mounts)
Bard: Buccaneer, Watersinger
Cleric: Travel and Water domains
Druid: Aquatic Druid, Kraken Caller, Shark Shaman, Storm Druid
Fighter: Corsair, Dirty Fighter, Roughrider (with aquatic mounts), Viking
Monk: Monk of the Four Winds, Sohei (with aquatic mounts)
Paladin: Divine Hunter, Grey Paladin, Holy Gun, Sacred Servant (with appropriate deity)
Ranger: Battle Scout, Wave Warden
Rogue: Bandit, Eldritch Raider, Pirate, River Rat, Smuggler, Swashbuckler
Sorcerer: Aquatic, Elemental, Marid and Stormborn bloodlines
Wizard: Siege Mage
Alchemist: Grenadier, Saboteur
Cavalier: Beast Rider (with aquatic mounts), Daring Champion, Hussar, Wave Rider
Inquisitor: Cloaked Wolf, Heretic
Oracle: Elementalist Oracle, Wave Mystery
Summoner: Naturalist, Synthesist (with an aquatic eidolon)
Witch: Beast-bonded (with aquatic familiars), Sea Witch
Magus: Card Caster, Eldritch Archer, Elemental Knight, Esoteric, Hexcrafter
Gunslinger: Bolt Ace, Buccaneer, Maverick, Musket Master, Pistolero, Siege Gunner
Ninja: -none- (no jokes, no archetype has written yet); Rogue archetypes could work though
Samurai: Sword Saint; Cavalier archetypes could work too
Antipaladin -none- (couldn't find any suitable one)
Arcanist: Elemental Master, Unlettered Arcanist (with aquatic familiars)
Bloodrager: Bloodrider (with aquatic mounts), Bloody-Knuckled Rowdy
Brawler: Steel-Breaker, Wild Child (with aquatic companions)
Hunter: Feral Hunter, Packmaster
Investigator: Conspirator, Hallucinist, Infiltrator, Sleuth, Steel Hound
Shaman: Animist, Witch Doctor
Skald: Belkzen War Drummer, Dragon Skald, Warlord
Slayer: Bounty Hunter, Cutthroat, Sniper
Swashbuckler: Daring Infiltrator, Musketeer, Picaroon, Shackles Corsair
Warpriest: Cult Leader, Mantis Zealot, Sacred Fist
Kineticist: Elemental Annihilator, Elemental Ascetic
Medium: Kami Medium, Relic Channeler
Mesmerist: Toxitician, Vexing Daredevil
Occultist: Battle Host, Reliquarian
Psychic: Mutation Mind
Spiritualist: Haunted, Shadow Caller
Vigilante: pretty much anything, since most archetypes grant a different identity.... which in turn mimics another class:
- Avenger: Fighter
- Stalker: Rogue
- Brute: Barbarian
- Cabalist: Witch
- Gunmaster: Gunslinger
- Magical Child: Summoner
- Mounted Fury: Cavalier
- Warlock: Magus
- Wildsoul: Druid/Hunter
- Zealot: Inquisitor

Shadow Lodge

This is an excellent idea.


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A few notes. Profession (sailor) is apparently very relevant to the rules used in Skulls and Shackles... but not everyone has to be a sailor. Aboard ship you may need a navigator, a ship's carpenter, a leader, someone with a top-notch perception check, etc.

I'd be dubious about selecting archetypes based on whether they have aquatic pets of one sort or another, especially since other pets may be both more appropriate (a pirate's monkey or parrot, for example) and more useful.


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This may help as well, though it hasn't been updated in a while.


I recall reading somewhere that ships were built to be fire resistant in the real world. Also, Are you looking for ideas from the community or just sharing your own personal project?

Scarab Sages

Wizard: Water, Air, and Wood Elementalist. :)

Slayer: The Vanguard seems like good "Dread Captain" material.

Reanimated Medium, Necroccultist, Reanimator, and the Juju Mystery could also potentially fit very well in this genre (provided a certain tone).


Wizard teleportation conjurer is just an awesome pirate. Sure you're not going to melee fight but there's plenty you can do to help out. You can also create ghost crews to steer the ship as needed, use dimensional travel/fly/destroy other ships, eventually you can even turn a ship into a submarine for a while. Wizards have the utility and skills to be a really fun pirate. We have a homebrew game in which we have sea adventures fairly frequently and being able to summon dire sharks and octopi makes you a pretty nifty pirate.


There is a skill you need for this kind of adventures. You would need "Proffersion: Sailor" as that is the only skill that the sailing rules tend to apply to.

For a druid you could have Urban or Aquatic Druid, urban as he tends to be the city-going type so maybe he would be more useful in port?

Scarab Sages

Oh, and what was I (not) thinking before:

Stargazer Oracle - stand aside lads, navigator at the helm!

Nota Bene: Though Heavens is one of the suggested Mysteries, it is not the one to pick, since most of what the Archetype offers are inferior/restricted versions of what the Heavens Mystery has - the other suggested Mysteries (Dark Tapestry, Lore, Nature, and Time, as well as Waves and Wind for a nautical campaign) ARE all good choices, however, giving them a nice overlay of Heavens Mystery powers to combine with their own.


If I were to create a pirate captain, I would go for a green faith marshall/sanctified slayer inquisitor of Besmara. Green faith marshall for the aquatic domain and spells you will need during the course of your infamous pirate career, sanctified slayer for the roguish charm!
Good wisdom means good perception checks, initiative and profession(sailor), in fact I would even go for the alternate human racial trait that gives you 1/2 level to the profession skill of your choice.

Seems to me flavorful and quite potent!


Just for the record ... there's privateers, who do operate under their nation's law. And happen to have a license to prey upon the shipping of certain other nations. Or other pirates. For when the monks and paladins want to play at sea ...

Other than that, Profession (Sailor) is useful, and Swim for those times when things just don't go your way. Perception is nice, Survival is probably useful for something, and Climb might also see some use too.

Scarab Sages

Don't forget Acrobatics, for Goodness's sake!

Dark Archive

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I made a pirate Oracle.

He had the Lame curse and the Peg Leg trait.

I gave him a talking parrot familiar through Arcane Eldritch Heritage as he obviously had the Cha and the Wind Mystery so he could help navigate a ship.

He looks the part, and does not really lose power as Wind Mystery lets him fly so movement speed matters less, +1 Fort is all good and Oracles can happily use the full chain of Arcane Eldritch Heritage. Plus Oracle, which is an excellent class anyway. He was Long John Silver, but with 9th level spells.


Just remember they FAQ'd getting Sorcerer/Wizard spells in your spells known into the dirt. You can still totally know them, but since they aren't on your class list(cleric in the case of oracle) you can't cast them. It's incredibly dumb.


Witch: Sea Witch is kind of a crap archetype. Take a Water Patron Witch instead with a familiar that gives a Boost to Swim, throw in Water Lung and Flight Hexes (Flight has a sweet +4 racial bonus to Swim!) and you've got a witch that's better at swimming than almost anybody else and can sleep underwater if she wants.


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Ok...

Ninja, I will bite. No one says you HAVE to be themed Tian or Oriental to be a Ninja, merely that you have trained yourself to vanish, channel ki, and perhaps trained with monks at some point.

They could be a cult of shadow dancers with the Ninja being the precurser to the actual prestige class.
They could be a particularly trained thieves guild, or portion of the thieves guild who act as enforcers.

They could the the King's Shadows, a CIA/FBI like spook group tasked with finding the plots against the monarchy in an otherwise peaceful kingdom.

Seriously nothing says you have to run them as "Kiyaaa" Ninjas...

;)


read the skull & shackles players guide


Lamontius wrote:
read the skull & shackles players guide

I have yet to check it out, but I'll try to give it a look ;)

Still, with everything that was released lately, it could use an update ^_^

Scarab Sages

elvnsword wrote:

Ok...

Ninja, I will bite. No one says you HAVE to be themed Tian or Oriental to be a Ninja, merely that you have trained yourself to vanish, channel ki, and perhaps trained with monks at some point.

They could be a cult of shadow dancers with the Ninja being the precurser to the actual prestige class.
They could be a particularly trained thieves guild, or portion of the thieves guild who act as enforcers.

They could the the King's Shadows, a CIA/FBI like spook group tasked with finding the plots against the monarchy in an otherwise peaceful kingdom.

Seriously nothing says you have to run them as "Kiyaaa" Ninjas...

Batman? James Bond? Jason Bourne? DARK SUN Bards? H. G. Wells' Invisible Man? The Hidebehind? The Crusading Chameleon?


Cloistered Cleric: A well traveled but untrained channeler of a gods power.

Silver Crusade

Why nobody said...

Sorcerer: Tattooed Sorcerer archetype?


I don't mean to derail this thread by dragging alignment into this, but I completely, utterly, vehemently disagree that a pirate can't be lawful.

Lawful indicates that you have a code of honor, are true to your word, are disciplined, and/or are loyal.

These above traits are *all* applicable to some pirates.

Lawful does not mean that you slavishly follow all laws.

For instance, a paladin can not give a flying fig for the laws of Cheliax and can break them without blinking, and yet House Thrune is the legal, lawful, rightful authority over those held lands.

Likewise, a Lawful pirate's loyalty would lie with his ship and its crew, in the same way that another lawful character's loyalty may be given to a nation.

Many pirates are chaotic. Many pirates are evil. I would argue that many truly villainous pirate captains would *VERY* easily be Lawful Evil.


An aquatic bloodline tatooed sorcerer would be very thematic, not to mention that bloodline is pretty good in a campaign that actually involves the ocean.

Sovereign Court

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A few are easy -

Fighterrrrr

Sorcererrrrr

Wizarrrrd

Barrrrrd

Slayerrr

Anytime you add more Arrrs, you get more pirate-y!


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Have them all wear puffy shirts, a la "Seinfeld"?


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Gulthor wrote:
Lawful indicates that you have a code of honor, are true to your word, are disciplined, and/or are loyal.

the code is more what you call guidelines than actual rules

therefore I am disinclined to acquiesce to your request
(means no)

Scarab Sages

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

A ship is a rigid hierarchy of individuals with defined roles and rank. This would be true for pirates also. To my mind, that is very compatible with Lawful.


By that logic, drow aren't chaotic because of their rigid matriarchy. Yet the reason it's like that is because they are chaotic, so... paradox? :p

Ohh, drow Pirates that attack only at night, when a lot of other seafaring vessels are usually at a disadvantage.

Sovereign Court

Azten wrote:
By that logic, drow aren't chaotic because of their rigid matriarchy. Yet the reason it's like that is because they are chaotic, so... paradox? :p

Even though Lloth was CE, I thought that drow themselves were generally NE. (At least they were in the 3.5 Monster Manual.)


Hmm, it seems you're right. I could've sworn they were chaotic back in 3.5.


Pirates don't stick that strictly to their code, it's a general guideline, but they'll break it fairly willingly, not exactly lawful. Sure there's usually specific roles and such on a ship, but that's no more lawful than assigning tactical roles in combat.

Sovereign Court

If you want to be Lawful, I'd go for being a privateer rather than a pirate. Similar, but without as much bloodthirsty rape & pillage.


Azten wrote:
Hmm, it seems you're right. I could've sworn they were chaotic back in 3.5.

They were Chaotic Evil in 1st Edition.


Gulthor wrote:

I don't mean to derail this thread by dragging alignment into this, but I completely, utterly, vehemently disagree that a pirate can't be lawful.

Lawful indicates that you have a code of honor, are true to your word, are disciplined, and/or are loyal.

These above traits are *all* applicable to some pirates.

Lawful does not mean that you slavishly follow all laws.

For instance, a paladin can not give a flying fig for the laws of Cheliax and can break them without blinking, and yet House Thrune is the legal, lawful, rightful authority over those held lands.

Likewise, a Lawful pirate's loyalty would lie with his ship and its crew, in the same way that another lawful character's loyalty may be given to a nation.

Many pirates are chaotic. Many pirates are evil. I would argue that many truly villainous pirate captains would *VERY* easily be Lawful Evil.

Having a hierarchy among the crew doesn't necessarily mean that they are Lawful. Having a leader doesn't mean being Lawful either.

It's more about morality toward society itself. The crew can be loyal to their captain, but not toward the rest of the world.


Barrrrbarrrrian is probably the most pirate-y class, at least by 'Charon's Little Helper's' logic.


As far as lawful pirates? Those can exist, in a kind'a technicality way. Privateers were a thing, you know. I can imagine a ship of paladins hoisting up the colours of the Dawnflower as they ambush some sort of evil pirate fleet or slave galleon or something like that.

In fact, now I want to create a former pirate paladin. With horrible English pirate accent. Parrot familiar. And so hammy that pizza places mistake me for a meat vendor.


Here's a rogue pirate tengu I was playing around with:

Bitaan the Tengu Pirate

It's a little light on combat, focusing on skills and social. The social is through a weird route, too, using the Orator feat to cover all three skills. Future levels would include agile maneuvers anything else to help out with dirty tricks.


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Rogue Genius Games has "Fight Like a Pirate."


Rub-Eta wrote:
Barrrrbarrrrian is probably the most pirate-y class, at least by 'Charon's Little Helper's' logic.

And not the Sorrrcerrrerrr?

Oh, my ninja merchant is not only a pirate, but a Pirate Lord!

I am in the Skulls & Shackles AP, and the top skills are Perception and Profession(Sailor). The latter is so important at one point in the AP, I dumped a whole level's skill points into bringing it up to par. [Still need to add a few more.]

Charisma is also important, as it handles the Face skills, which are needed for the infamy mechanic of the AP, as well as Gather Information which generates leads on treasure.

/cevah


Cevah wrote:
Oh, my ninja merchant is not only a pirate, but a Pirate Lord!

Here is what I really don't understand about this meme:

- Ninjas are essentially Asian rogues, with a few mystical powers here.
- There were also pirates on the coasts of China and Japan.
- You mean to tell me that ninjas NEVER attacked a docked pirate ship during wars?

So the whole thing about ninjas "never" having fought pirates is kinda bogus when you think about oriental settings instead of European/Central American settings.

Technically speaking, you could have a ninja as a pirate, you just don't CALL it a "ninja" as much as you call it a "Tian Xian mystical rogue" with a sailing ship as a base of operation. However, to better hide your ninjitsu, you craft your katana or wakisashi as a saber/cutlass and your shurikens as dagger-like needles.


Or just daggers. Those don't break after hitting something.


it's like a month i'm trying to build a pirate captain without using the bard, cavalier or swashbuckler.


Azten wrote:
Or just daggers. Those don't break after hitting something.

Ninja tricks only work with shurikens, not other thrown weapons.


Qaianna wrote:

As far as lawful pirates? Those can exist, in a kind'a technicality way. Privateers were a thing, you know. I can imagine a ship of paladins hoisting up the colours of the Dawnflower as they ambush some sort of evil pirate fleet or slave galleon or something like that.

In fact, now I want to create a former pirate paladin. With horrible English pirate accent. Parrot familiar. And so hammy that pizza places mistake me for a meat vendor.

You mean corsairs, they are "pirates" working for one nation, but sometimes they change jolly roger and flags for assaulting the ships they want.


sorry but i want add 2cents for the lawful pirate( sorry for my english).
In middle age and modern era the north africa states are all states/cities who live on piracy, i think in english they are called Barbary states( in italian they are called stati barbareschi). City like Tripoli, Algeri and Tunisi are cities who live thank to piracy, and the european states also have some corsairs who act sometimes like pirates. The SantoStefano Knights are an order founded in tuscany by Cosimo de Medici who fights the piracy in mediterranean sea and they are corsairs, also the rodi and cipro knights( and then the malata ones) are order of knights who fights the piracy with the piracy, they are all corsairs( and i want to remember that the rodi, cipro, malta knights are the heirs of the templars).


Privateers and corsairs are the same thing under different names. As for LG pirates, it has been done before in a fantasy setting.


Sea witch is a trick don't do it. keep your first level hex and take the water lung hex.


Ructo Confibular, my brother's Skull and Shackles character, was a thing of beauty.

He was a ninja, but he never explained that to anybody. People just saw a Princely Grippli wearing colourful clothes, a rapier and a feather in his hat. Nobody could ever figure out how he was vanishing, pulling off stunts and disguising himself. It was good enough to seem magical, but he never cast any spells. Maybe he really is just that good?

Climbing and swimming like a Grippli is obvious very, very useful. He could just jump into the sea and climb up the side of a ship. People didn't really know much about Gripplis and he'd combine that approach with stealth, so nobody quite figured that out either.


Funny enough, Air Kineticists work best for pirate games. Gusting infusion lets you push the sails, Air's reach can let you outrange some types of cannons, and Air Bubble is suitable for emergencies or underwater adventures.

My Pharasma worshipping witch in PFS actually transitioned into a nautical style quite smoothly. Profession Sailor was a fun skill to stick onto my headband of Int (I still have one rank for emergencies) and Bruising Intellect allows her to be pretty scary when she needs to be. However, I didn't go out of my way to pick an archetype or familiar to go with the pirate theme. Hell, I didn't take the plunge until 5th level when the Big Three hexes were becoming a flavorless grind.


I had a Gnome pirate captain NPC named "Blue Beard" I made in a similar setting. He was a Gunslinger(Siegegunner)/Alchemist multiclass. Firing his bombs through his pistols with devastating effect. Extracts, Alchemist Discoveries and Gunslinger Deeds made him quite savage. He also carried a Culverin to fire a massive scatter blast if he got outnumbered or load a grapeshot and use the Dead Shot Deed to inflict massive damage to a single target.

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