Arr, mateys! We rolled “pirates / buccaneers” on the wilderness wandering monster tables, and we need a bit more detail than that!
I was originally going to do a straight d12 table expanding on the pirate description like I did for Brigands, Bandits and Highwaymen way back in January, but the scurvy scum of the seas get so much love that I couldn’t stop there.
So here’s a set of tables to see what those pirates are all about.
Normally a pirate fleet is lead by an 8th or 9th level fighter (8th level for Pirates, 9th for Buccaneers), and if a pirate fleet has 300 or more crew (not actually possible using the random fleets in the Expert rulebook, but quite possible using the Labyrinth Lord rules if the pirates have Large Galleys or War Galleys), then they are lead by a level 11 fighter. These tables add details to the pirate leader (or replaces him completely). If the tables result in something other than a fighter as the captain, build the replacement NPC with the same rough power level as the pirate captain he is replacing (8th, 9th or 11th level equivalent).
These tables assume you are playing B/X D&D or Labyrinth Lord, and some of the creatures in the special pirates table require either the Advanced Edition Companion, or the 1979 Monster Manual.
Pirate Captain Race / Class (d20)
1-8. Human Fighter
9-10. Human Thief
11-13. Dwarf (Fighter)
14-16. Elf (Fighter / Magic User)
17. Halfling (Fighter)
18. Human Sorcerer (Magic User)
19-20. Special Race
Special Pirates (d12)
1. The Black Djinn of the Seas – 7+1 HD Djinni (Lesser)
2. Grethun Greatbeard – 8 HD Hill Giant – who has to sit on the deck of the ship all day and all night, so he is perpetually sunburned and often quite wet (and rarely happy).
3. Kharebutu The Drowned – 5+1 HD Mummy – who hides his undead state from most under heavy clothes, but his rotted out eyes give him away, and are quite intimidating.
4. Scarred Sar – 6+3 HD Troll
5. Doubles – 4 HD Dopplegangers – d4+1 dopplegangers have replaced the captain and key crew members – treat as a human fighter captain until the chips are down.
6. Furnaul, Demon of the Seas – 9 HD Hezrou (demon) – a great evil toad commands this ship from the depths of the abyss itself.
7. Damis the Hunter – 6+5 HD Erinyes (devil) – a beautiful winged human seeking other evil souls to bring back to hell
8. Karreth the Hungry – 9 HD Lamia – she enslaves and consumes her victims
9. Daria the Seaborn Crone – 8 HD Night Hag – immediately identifiable by her enormous nails, she never uses her dream visitation ability for long for fear of successfully capturing the soul of a victim and being forced back to her home plane.
10. The River Oni – 5+2 HD Ogre Mage – surrounded by 2d6 slaves, this pirate runs a small slaving empire
11. The Dread Buccaneer Orm – 7 HD Rakshasa – no one is said to have ever seen his face – the reality is that it changes for everyone he sees.
12. Unique Undead – Use the Uniquely Undead rules to advance a wight to the appropriate hit dice and roll for what powers it has.
Distinguishing Characteristics (Standard) (1d8)
1. Wears an eyepatch
2. Has a parrot on his shoulder
3. Has a hook for a hand
4. Has a peg-leg
5. Quite tattooed
6. Wears lots of jewelry
7. Roll on Unusual Characteristics
8. Roll 1d6 on this table twice
9. Roll 1d10 on this table and again on Unusual Characteristics
10. Roll 1d10 twice on this table
1. Suffers from strange mutations giving him odd tentacles and other growths – gains an additional attack each round dealing 1d8 damage (potentially more in the case of the Hill Giant, for instance).
2. Cursed to the life of a pirate and can never come ashore without dying.
3. Has a quasit perched upon his shoulder advising him in a classic pirate voice.
4. Religious fanatic – will allow captives to go free if they convert to his faith. 1/4 of his crew are acolytes (level 1 clerics).
5. Good hand has been removed and replaced not with a hook but with a magic cutlass (roll for magic sword as normal, and counts against the treasure of the fleet).
6. Wears a seemingly empty cage on his belt (actually a captured Pixie).
7. Is accompanied by 1d4 pet rats that live in his coat.
8. Has become separated from his shadow, which now acts as a shadow (the monster) ally.
10. Believes he is the child of the local god of the sea.
11. Compulsive Gambler – offers safety, escape or treasure based on the results of a game of chance, and will never turn down a similar offer.
12. Was once a great noble, much to the embarrassment of his family.
13. Schizophrenic – hears voices, and tends to obey them.
14. Gluttonous – is quite fat (if suitable) and treasures food over any other loot. Will not be found in negotiations or other social situations without food at hand.
15. Has a taboo against cutting his hair or facial hair
16. Carries two bandoleers of throwing daggers (or axes), and has many others prominently displayed.
17. Eyepatch conceals a magical gem that allows him to cast one spell per day (chosen by the DM – something like fireball, charm monster, or whatever you don’t mind letting your players get their hands on also, as long as they are willing to sacrifice an eyeball).
18-20. Has special crew members – up to 25% of his crew is made up of unusual crew either suited to his race (elven corsairs, dwarven gunners, halfling assassins, lemures, zombies, skeletons, etc), or that are otherwise too cool to not add to his ships (a few ogres, a team of merfolk outriders, kobold cabin boys, etc).
This is post #18 in the A to Z Blogging Challenge – Arrrr…. Random Pirates!