Monday, October 1, 2012


Today's post is a set of reference tables for randomly determining a ship's cargo.


It is a common practice for pirates to go cruising, lurking in waters where they expect merchant traffic in order to find and overwhelm vessels loaded with spoils. If and when that happens in a Skull & Bones campaign, the GM might need a means of determining just what's in a prize's hold. To that end, presented here are some tables with which to do just that.

Note that this system can help provide possible adventure hooks, too. For example, if the PC's take a merchant sloop carrying beef off of Santo Domingo, which produces plenty of cattle, then they'll need to look elsewhere in order to sell the goods. This could force interactions with a fence, and perhaps even bring encounters with scrutinizing government officials or require some smuggling. Alternately, if the PC's find that they've captured a shipload of slaves, the situation could create a moral dilemma for them.

To use the following tables, the GM should first decide just what kind of vessel it is that the PC's are facing. That, after all, influences the CR of the enemy ship—although a wicked GM could randomize that aspect, too, pitting the PC's against whatever kind of vessel happens to come along and leaving it up to them if they want to attack it.

One ton of cargo space holds:
Two pipes
Three head of cattle
Four hogsheads
Six barrels
Six bales
Twelve casks
Thirty bushels

Large Cargoes
Roll 1d20 and consult the following list to determine the contents of a ship's hold. Then, roll 2d4+2 and multiply the result by 10% to determine how much of the hold is filled with that cargo. For a little more variety, roll twice and have each type of cargo occupy (1d4+1)x10% of the ship's cargo space.
1. Ale, barrel
2. Cattle, head
3. Cotton, bale
4. Empty
5. Flour, barrel
6. Fresh Water, pipe
7. Fruit, barrel
8. Indigo, cask
9. Molasses, barrel
10. Provisions (one month's supply per five tons of space)
11. Rice, barrel
12. Rum, barrel
13. Salt Beef, barrel
14. Slaves
15. Wheat (four per ton of space)
16. Wine, pipe
17. Two large cargoes (roll again)
18. One large and one small cargo (roll above and below)
19. One large cargo and one special cargo (roll above and below)
20. Special—This could include soldiers, religious pilgrims or similar surprises, good or bad.

Small Cargoes
Roll 1d8 and consult the following list to determine the contents of a ship's hold. Then, roll 1d4+1 and multiply the result by 5% to determine how much of the hold is filled with that cargo.
1. Brandy, barrel
2. Cocoa, cask
3. Oil, pipe
4. Pitch, barrel
5. Salt, barrel
6. Spice, barrel
7. Sugar, barrel
8. Vinegar, barrel

Special Cargoes
Roll 1d4 and consult the following list.
1. Ivory (1d6 tusks)
2. Precious Metals (5d10 x 1000 doubloons)
3. Silk (5d10 bolts)
4. GM's selection—This could include a magical relic, cannons and barrels of powder, or something else unexpected.

Refer to the equipment section of the Skull & Bones book to find prices for the items listed above.

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