Today's post is another interlude, a bit of action that can be dropped into the middle of another scenario or perhaps used as a springboard to further activity. The next adventure, "Into the Shadows," is progressing nicely and hopefully will be completed by the end of the month.
Interlude: The Competition
Sooner or later, the PC's in a pirate-themed RPG campaign are bound to end up (or start off) in a tavern. While this is usually just the backdrop for other adventure-related activities, it can also be an opportunity for a little entertainment. Alternately, some of these activities could also be used to kill some time during a voyage at sea. These moments can provide chances for characters to use their abilities in non-combat situations, albeit ones that can be just as entertaining as the fiercest fight.
Detailed below are some ideas for how to incorporate such contests and competitions into a session.
For more detailed information about the potencies of various beverages and their effects on drinkers, refer to the article “Of Rum and Drunkenness” in Issue 5 of the Buccaneers & Bokor e-zine. These guidelines use a modified version of the rules from that article.
Essentially, each time the characters take a drink, they must make Fortitude saves. The DC's for these vary from 10, for ale or rum punch, to 14 for straight rum. Characters begin as sober; the first failure leaves them lit, and the second makes them thoroughly drunk. A third failure causes characters to fall unconscious. In this way, all characters should proceed with one drink at a time until only one is left standing.
Use the rules for Grapple attacks to resolve a wrestling match. The two combatants, after a bit of circling, should roll for initiative. At that point one can strike, attempting a melee attack. Success allows that character to attempt a grapple, making an opposed check with the enemy. Failure gives the initiative to the other combatant.
Once the grapple is established, the opponent must break it or continue to suffer. The character in control, on the other hand, can choose to damage an opponent or attempt a pin. This process continues until one character wins. Before the match the combatants should decide what condition constitutes a victory, such as being pinned, being reduced to unconsciousness or something else.
Refer to the lists of pregenerated characters provided on this blog for some possible opponents. Another option, of course, is to work in named NPC's, ones who could become ongoing rivals for the characters. For a twist, an NPC could even bring in a wild animal against which to wrestle.
To start this activity, someone hangs a target on one wall, then chooses a distance for throwers to stand away from it. Each of the three rings on the target has a different AC—15 for the first, 20 for the second, 25 for the third and 30 for the bull's eye. The different rings are worth one to four points, respectively. Characters throw three knives per round, for a set number of rounds; the victor is the one who scores the highest number of points.
For a fun variation on this, especially once a little rum is involved, the characters could try pistol or musket shooting. In this case, five empty bottles are lined up on a table; characters fire at their AC of 13, modified by range. The one who hits the most of them wins.
If any of the characters is a shantyman, or otherwise trained in the Perform skill, another option is to stage a contest of playing and/or singing songs. This can be conducted through skill checks, perhaps for one to three performances. In addition to dice rolling, however, this could give players who enjoy it a chance to do some roleplaying. There are numerous appropriate songs that one might sing; the two-CD anthology Rogue's Gallery, or a bit of online research, can provide many good examples.
Finally, enterprising characters might be able to turn a tidy profit if they can convince other characters to wager against them on the competitions, at the GM's discretion.