Situation Mining: Skull and Shackles

I’ve been using Paizo Adventure Paths as the inspirational starting points for Burning Wheel campaigns.


There’s adventure to be had on the high seas when a group of press-ganged strangers seizes a ship and becomes embroiled in the plots and politics of the Shackles—an infamous island chain dominated by pirate warlords. But as these new swashbucklers make names for themselves, rival scalawags, enemy navies, legendary sea monsters, and the infamous Hurricane King himself seek to see them walk the plank. Who will survive when there’s glory to plunder?


The Situation

You’ve been press ganged into the Chelaxite navy!

Is it true the old ways of Cheliax have been subverted since the Thrune Ascendancy? Is it true that the state religion is now worship of Asmodeous, the God Tyrant of Hell? Is it true that human sacrifices to said Devil-God take place in the city of Westcrown?

All true! Welcome to the Chelaxite Unholy Navy. We’ll be hunting pirates to bring back and sacrifice to our Infernal Dread Lord upon his fell, basalt altars.

Desperation has driven you to the capital city and you had drinks in the wrong tavern. You awaken in a state of impressment – press ganged into naval service.

You might need this map of Golarion’s pirate-y area or the Player’s PDF Preview of the Adventure Path or the Adventure Paths themselves or the Story Names Names for some fast access to pirate names.

The Characters

These are 3 lifepath characters. They are rank beginners. Can you survive your new life at sea?

Life as a 3 LP character is a hard one and the sea doesn’t make it easy. Look to your beliefs and look to the world around you for future beliefs you’d like to write. The beliefs are your way of letting the GM know what interests you. You  might go from 0 to hero or you might be fish-bait. You might be admirals or pirate-kings or you might just use your cunning to get home to your old landlocked lives.

The Shepherd BW

Kid from the Village BW

Carpenter BW


Belief Guidelines

Write a belief about accepting your new life at sea or something about your land-life that you will hold onto.

Write a belief about something you will learn so that you might better survive.

Write a belief about those who have been press-ganged with you. If you stick together you just might survive this mess.

Olde Salt

What’s that, you want one character to be a mentor, to ease the land-lubbers into their sea-legs? Sure, Old Salt will do it. If you are playing Old Salt, just make sure the press-ganged don’t drown in bilge on their first day.

Olde Salt BW


Olde Jacob Salt if played by Tom Noonan

Olde Salt’s player, you have a special roll in all this and you get different belief guidelines. If possible, the person playing Jonah should have experience playing Burning Wheel, especially if the others are green at the gills and don’t know the spokes from the hub.


Olde Janet Salt if played by Melissa Jaffey

Write a belief about what you love about the sea life.

Write a belief about something you will teach the press-ganged so they might survive.

Write a belief about getting these sandcrabs up to speed so they might be of use to the captain.
 Oh sure, Olde Salt was a captain once but not anymore. His best days are in his wake. To the player who takes up Olde Salt – help the characters and help the players. You’ve got helping dice to lend in almost every situation but at the same time, you have to let the go out on their own and fail and make mistakes too. It is a fine line to toe and no easy task but the Captain is watching and ye don’t want to disappoint him.
captain is watching

Ian McShane as The Captain Who Be Watching

If you play, please let me know how it goes.

Next Week

I’ll look at the Shattered Star Adventure Path as inspired by Omar Little.

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