So what do you want to see in a Fantasy Pirate Campaigns?

Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I'm running a pirate campaign for my players this weekend and thought that I would expand my horizon a bit, checking with you guys, what kind of things you want to see in a piracy campaign? Mostly using your ideas as inspiration.

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Here are some random ideas:

Ship to ship combat focused on boarding parties (since that is where pathfinder shines)

An Isle or Tortuga that is actually a giant turtle

Have the party lead a mutiny and get there own ship

Ghost ships crewed by literal skeletons

Cannons, inevitably there will be a big strong half-orc who wants to carry a small cannon around on his back.

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Legitimately, and I've never been able to have a sea-faring campaign last long enough to do this, but have Zaheer as a "pirate". He's... CN played pretty fantastically, and is a very valid threat to good and evil aligned characters.

Other than that, I have a lot of fun playing seafaring campaigns in general. Remember to make your eventual sea captains have to give safety briefs to their sailors before releasing them for shore liberty, otherwise they're going to get in ~8 or 9 ARIs that you'll have to deal with after liberty is secured.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

@Bardarok: I'm on the right track first session is the mutiny to get their own ship then.

@Kaelan: Guessing you mean Zaheer from Legend of Korra? I actually really enjoy that guy with Occult classes, he is even easier to make nowadays.

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Sea monsters!

Sassy parrots!

Treasure maps!

Cut up treasure maps distributed among the now scattered crew!

Missing body parts! Hook hands! Peg legs! Eye patches!


Swinging from ropes for your boarding actions!

In addition to the tropes, I like some forethought about alignment in pirate games. IRL Pirates were Pathfinder evil, armed robbery doesn't get any less evil just because you have a boat and a jaunty hat. If you want a game of heroic romanticized piracy, it is worthwhile to give some forethought on moral theories that can make that work.

The crews of the ships they're fighting need to be unambiguously worse, freedom loving pirates resisting the evil invading Chelish navy or attacking slavers are some good options.

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Yup, Zaheer from Korra. A chaotic neutral lover of anarchy... that doesn't believe in queens.

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Pullable rugs underfoot.
Swingable chandeliers above.
Iron pokers by the fireside.
Bad monkeys.
Slideable-whilst-parrying-and-quipping bannisters.
Some rigging to climb and a long white sail to knife-slice while descending.

And maps with a X.

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Powder kegs!

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If you are looking for a cg piracy option, Sam bellamy might be a good real-life basis for a good or at least non-evil pirate

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber


RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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Democracy! Make the PCs vote for their captain. Often!

Longboat sea cave adventures with kuo-toa.



Writs of Privateering. Make the PCs good guys, and make them pillage evil slavers and other bad guys.

Bring back the Use Rope skill. I ran a 3.5 pirate campaign, and we had fun using rigging in combat by adding Use Rope skill checks to Acrobatics and Jump checks when swinging on the rope, climbing the riggings, etc. Give everyone 2 extra skill points per level, and they can choose to spend them normally, or in pirate stuff like Use Rope, Swim, Climb, Knowledge geography, Survival, Profession sailor, Perception, Linguistics (for codes), etc.

Treasure maps!


Archipelagos! Lots of islands, with lots of variation on the islands: Dinosaur islands, Merchant islands, Persian Islands, Hawaiian Islands, Ninja Islands, Pirate Islands, Undead Islands, Beastmen Islands, Asylum Islands, Rum Island, Skull Island, Giant Ape Island, Sorceress Island, Ice Cream Island, Iron Islands, Cultist Islands, Magic Fruit Island, Golden Fleece Island, Lost Island of the Gods, Island of the Ancients, Steampunk Island, Crashed Spaceship Island, Kraken Island, Ancient Greece Island, Volcano Island, Slavelord Island, Prison Island, Giant Island, Halfling Island, Idyllic Island...

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Open up the Combat Maneuvers system, allowing them to interact with Skills (per Smilodan's suggestions). For example, when rolling with a skill bonus to attempt a combat maneuver, consider using critical success/fumble rules. To keep these more in line with the standard maths for attack rolls and CMDs, use a progressive penalty system to measure the "daring" of an attempted stunt.

-5 easy stunt
-10 regular stunt
-15 wild stunt

I was going to say chaotic evil singing clams, but that works too.


Oh... you mean IN the campaign...

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