Life on Board a Pirate Ship

Jobs and Day Time Actions


New members of the crew are assigned to a only a few positions: rigger, cook’s mate or swab. Each day crew are assigned a task based on their positions. Most tasks are resolved with a skill check or series of checks. Failing the check means you fail at the task. (Failing to complete daily tasks will result in punishment. The worse the failure the worse the punishment.)

Riggers are responsible for the sails, rigging and keeping lookout. Essentially anything above the actual decks of the ship. Works under the First Mate (Mr. Plugg on the Wormwood.)

The Cook’s mate is assigned to work directly with the Ship’s Cook (Ambrose “Fishguts” Kroop in the case of the Wormwood.) They help prepare the meals for the captain and his officers and for the crew. They may also be asked to help catch food for the day’s meal.

Swabs take care of most of the grunt-work on the main deck and below. This includes the nominal swabbing of the deck, manning the bilges, hauling ropes, completing repairs, or running messages to the officers. Swabs are overseen by the boatswain (Master Scourge for the unlucky swabs of the Wormwood.)

Daytime Actions

In addition to completing their assigned daily tasks, players can also choose one additional action for their characters to do each day. Some of these additional daytime actions can affect your performance of assigned duties.

  • Work Diligently- Gain a +4 bonus on one check for a job’s daily task.
  • Influence- Make normal checks for daily duties and attempt to influence a single NPC.
  • Sneak- Make normal checks for daily duties and briefly explore one area of the ship (i.e. make a single perception check or other skill check with no chance of detection.)
  • Shop- Take a -2 penalty on all checks for daily task and visit the quartermaster’s store to barter for return of your equipment.
  • Shirk- Take a -2 penalty on all checks for daily task and take time exploring one area of the ship. The PC can take 10 on a single perception check or other skill check but does have a chance of being discovered.
  • Other actions that could be taken during the day should be broached with the DM.

Recovering Gear

Impressed sailors gear are taken as booty for the Captain and Crew. Like all booty, this gear is stored in the Quartermaster’s Store on the Wormwood. To try to reclaim their booty, impressed pirates must try to influence Cut-Throat Grok to retrieve your gear. (Please note that there is a reward for PCs who recover all of their lost gear.)

Nighttime Activities and Actions

Bloody Hour

At dusk, the Crew gathers on deck for the “Bloody Hour,” the nightly dispensing of punishments aboard the ship. Anyone who fails to complete assigned tasks or who attempt to steal from the ship, kills another sailor or other crimes against the Crew or Captain, will be assigned a punishment. Victims are tied to the whipping post on board the main deck and their backs are stripped for punishment, with extra punishment heaped on those who resist. Punishments range in severity, from rope bashes (being hit with the hefty sealed end of a ship’s rope), lashes from a whip that just bruises the person, lashes from a cat-o’-nine-tails which cuts the skin, being confined to the sweatbox (cramped metal box left on deck exposed to the sun), and finally keelhauling (being tied to a rope looped over the skip’s keel, or main beam that runs from bow to stern (or front to back for land lubbers) and dragged down one side of a ship, underwater across the hull and up the other side. Lashes from a cat-o’-nine-tails or keelhauling can result in death. Other punishments will only result in unconsciousness, at worse.

Evening Meal and “Rum Ration”

After the Bloody Hour, the evening meal is served to the pirates on the main deck. The captain and those officers not assigned night watch, eat in the captain’s quarters. With the evening meal comes the nightly Rum Ration, which is basically a mug of rum mixed with other ingredients that the entire crew must drink. This is supposed to be a reward from the captain for a job well done but also serves to keep the crew docile and too drunk to make trouble for the Captain or with each other.

Nighttime Actions

After the meal, the pirates have some free time. For players, this time can be spent in one of the following ways.

  • Sleep- Go to sleep early and sleep through the night, thus recovering from fatigue.
  • Gamble- Play in or gamble on a game of chance or other pirate entertainment. (see below)
  • Entertain- Make a Perform check to entertain the crew.
  • Influence- Attempt to influence a single NPC.
  • Sneak- Take time exploring one area of the ship. The PC can take 20 on a single Perception check or other skill check but must make a check to avoid detection while doing so.
  • Steal- Attempt to open a locked door or locker. PC must make a check to avoid detection while doing so.

Pirate Entertainments

Other than singing, storytelling or other performances, Pirate entertainments are often dangerous and plated for money. To bet on any of the following games, pirates must have at least 1 gp and no pirate crew member has more than 20 gp on them at any time. Also be warned that some crew are sore losers.

Common entertainments include:

  • Arm Wrestling
    *Hog Lob- throwing a hob (lead ingot covered in greased pig skin as far across the deck as possible.
    Heave- Drinking game in which players drink a half pint of rum in one swig to see who will pass out until one one is pirate is left conscious. Some pirates have been known to die of alcohol poisoning from this game.

Life on Board a Pirate Ship

The Barnacle's Revenge Campaign KerryStanhope