I was looking over the nautical rules in Ghosts of Saltmarsh and have vague ideas that ships have full stats, including Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma based on their class and history. Ship classes are monster names. Big, dramatic dragon-class ships, sleek, fast griffon-class ships, slow, well armored dragon-turtle-class ships…etc. Maybe you can level ships up?
My dad is visiting and I had this idea about getting friends together and running a game with him. Give them some choices:
Blockade Runners getting goods past a line of ships in the midst of a vicious war.
Privateers with a Letter of Marque from a liege.
Straight-up Pirates, looking to grow their fleet or support their secret port.
Zealot Pirates worshipping some kind of sea deity that we’d make up together.
I’m thinking Ship sheets inspired by Blades in the Dark‘s crew sheets or maybe choose the type of piratical fun based on the type of ship…ala Scum and Villainy each with its own starting Situation.
Captain, First Mate, Bosun, Carpenter, Press Ganged as Backgrounds, perhaps. But I like the idea of pirates who were once Folk Heroes, Scholars, Acolytes or Marines…nah, no new backgrounds.
I don’t want to make a map and outline a world made of countless islands. I am already doing this in my head but I don’t want to make anything official until the players starting rolling up characters.
Here’s what I know about what I want in a pirate D&D game:
No real world analogues: No British Empire but they’re elves, no Portugal but dwarves, no New World filled with orcs. NO NEW WORLD BUT ORCS. This leads us to my next thing…
No Colonialism as we know it: Sure there will be political battles for resources and power dynamics in play but nothing analogous to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade nor the way Europe treated the New World with noble savages…
Dungeons might be:
Islands shaped like skulls
Abandoned ships from the Sorcerer-Kings’ ancient fleet
Corrupt merchants’ ships in need of pirating
Fire Vikings’ volcano barrows
Etc. (you get the idea)
Start with a ship: Name it, come up with the story of how you got it. Classes of ships are named after monstrous beasts (manticore, dragon, hydra, griffon, tarrasque).
Also, the ship has a character sheet. I’m not sure what this will mean yet but we’ll figure it out.
Wierd fantasy: Tiefling Altar Ships, Dragonborn Lair-ships, Elf Druid Ships made of Living Mangove Forests, Foating Mountain Dwarf Ships.
Listen here and come to know how Gentleman Bill Jaggard, the most polite pirate to ever sail the Summer Ocean, became a consort to a Storm Goddess, a pawn of the Mists and a wraith on the Dread Seas.
When he was living Gentleman Jaggard robbed the Summer Queen’s ships for the better part of a year from his ship, The Forbidden Folio. Her majesty put a price on his head, demanding that he be brought to her alive. The Queen wanted him alive as a courtesy for his mindful manners, as a method to enrage her jealous husband – the King, and as a centerpiece for one of her famous parties.
The King’s most leal captain was irate that he could not kill the pirate outright. Captain Robin “Puck” Goodfellow set a trap for Bill and captured him aboard the H.M.S. Merry Wanderer but could not kill him because of the Queen’s powerful magic. Instead, he took the captured pirate to a fell shrine honoring the Mother of Storms, a vicious stone statue of a mermaid as tall as a castle tower made of sharp stone and coral. The shrine was a finger of land only inhabited by vicious crabs and mocking seagulls. Captain Goodfellow put Bill in a crow’s cage hanging from the Storm Goddess’ trident. Puck spilled blood to the Mother, asking her to destroy any ships that approached to try and save the pirate.
And they tried. Pirates from every corner of the sea came to try and save Bill. Starving, dehydrated, hanging on the crow’s cage, Bill’s hope died as he watched familiar sails approach on the horizon and unnatural storms sink them one by one.
Finally, a young captain named Petra Quince, guiding his ship, the Roaring Lion, got closer than anyone had yet. Petra had been born on Bill’s ship and had come up through the pirate ranks and now had her own ship. When the Roaring Lion set anchor, an ugly laughter tried to escape Bill’s dry throat. The bloody laughter turned to agonizing sobs as a storm approached and smashed the rowboats into the Mother of Storm’s shrine, sinking the Roaring Lion under the waves.
As the crabs ate the last of his friends who had given their lives to try and save him, the Mists rolled in and Captain Jaggard’s Fleet was born. The Jaggard Fleet is made of the dead friends he watched sink trying to save him, now his undead armada.
They say he is not a gentleman no more. He likes to say that he is the Mother of Storm’s consort and often makes sacrifices to her, turning prisoners without use into chum.
There is no known way to kill Captain Jaggard or keep his fell fleet sunk. Since the Mists have adopted him he has been drawn and quartered, tossed into a Leviathan’s mouth, cut into pieces and fed to a Dragon Turtle and beheaded by a named Holy Avenger whose blade’s edge had been kissed by an angel. The only way to exorcise him and his fleet from the seas forever would be to capture him and bring him to the Queen of the Feywild.
But what crew could take and hold an undead pirate and what ship could survive the Mother of Storm’s wrath? It is said all of the elements of Jaggard’s bloody path to Ravenloft were captured by the Mists from the Mother of Storm’s fell shrine to the Puck’s Merry Wanderer. However the Summer Queen kept the Mists at Bay with her arcane might, despite her part in Jaggard’s rebirth. In order to exorcise the wraith pirate, he would have to be brought outside of Ravenloft to the Summer Court. No sailor has navigated the Domain of Dread’s seas (Sighs, Souls, Secrets, Storms, Shoals, Sorrows) into the outside world…not yet.
Until someone does, when mists roll in on ports and bloody laughter is heard by the City Watch, the Jaggard Fleet will follow, bringing death and devastation in their wake.
Captain Bill is a Wraith while his crew is a mix of Ghouls, Wights and Zombies.
Darklord: Captain Bill Jaggard
Hallmarks: Nautical Horror, Port and Island Domains
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