Monday, February 25, 2013

Interlude: The Writer

This Interlude introduces a character that can provide all kinds of adventure hooks, a writer who seeks to chronicle the tales of real-life pirates. I like the NPC in part because he represents what I think I would do aboard a pirate ship back in the day.


Interlude 36: The Writer
During the Golden Age of Piracy, it was not uncommon for a person of a literary bent to spend some time among the buccaneers and scallywags of the world in hopes of writing a book about them. Take, for example, two very popular compilations, The Bunccaneers of America by Alexander Esquemeling and A History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates by Captain Charles Johnson. The prior book focuses on the buccaneers who were active during the time of Henry Morgan and other Brethren of the Coast, while the latter focuses on those who sailed around the time of Blackbeard and various members of the Flying Gang. Esquemeling wrote his book after spending considerable time among the buccaneers, while Johnson conducted extensive interviews but is not believed to have served on a pirate crew. In both cases, however, the books were runaway successes, with readers thrilling to the swashbuckling adventures and wicked misdeeds of the characters chronicled.

With that in mind, the PC's and their allies, once they have established themselves as notable pirates, somehow manage to attract the attention of a writer named Durwin Oswald Chatwick. He is an eager reader of adventure stories and of a mind to write some of his own--or somebody's stories, at least. (Think of the character John Reed from Cutthroat Island for an example of this type of character.)

Durwin Oswald Chatwick
Expert 8; CR 7; Size medium; HD 7d6+14; hp 41; Init +0 (+0 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 10 (+0 Dex); Atk +7/+2 (1d6, walking stick) or +6/+1 (ranged); SQ none; AL X; SV: Fort +4, Ref +2, Will +6; Str 12, Dex 10, Con 14, Int 18, Wis 10, Cha 14.
Background: Scholar (Knowledge: history and Knowledge: sea lore).
Skills: Appraise +17, Bluff +13, Craft (writing) +18, Decipher Script +17, Diplomacy +15, Forgery +15, Gather Information +15, Knowledge (history) +11, Knowledge (local) +15, Knowledge (sea lore) +12, Profession (printer) +11, Search +17, Sense Motive +2.
Feats: Diligent, Investigator, Negotiator, Skill Focus (Craft: writing).
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Clothing, walking stick, satchel containing quills, ink and papers, pouch containing 20 poe, printing press.

Durwin Chatwick is an amicable fellow who is robust but rather soft. He enjoys nothing more than a rousing tale, with a glass of ale, in comfortable surroundings. As such, while he himself would not make a good pirate, he thrills to other peoples' stories of derring-do. That is why he has decided to come to the Caribbean and seek out those who have lived such lives, in order to chronicle their exploits and thus win a name for himself.

Using the Writer in a Campaign
Chatwick could find any number of uses in a Skull & Bones campaign; a few of the possibilities are detailed here.
  • The PC's might find Chatwick aboard a ship, either a prize or a friendly vessel; he could even be transporting a printing press to Port Royal or somewhere else in the New World.
  • Alternately, Chatwick could hear of the Player Characters' reputations and decide to seek them out to record their tales.
  • This interview process provides great opportunities for roleplaying, as Chatwick asks the PC's to recount some of their most famous exploits. This is a chance to test the players' memories, and to see how different characters recall various events in different ways.
  • If their are players in the group who keep detailed notes about adventures, these writings could form the basis of Chatwick's manuscript.
  • Should the PC's decide to invite the writer to accompany them on a voyage, he would eagerly agree--and then prove to be a liability, as his book knowledge does not help him in dangerous sistuations.
  • In the event that he has interviewed other pirates, the PC's could learn from him an important clue to some unfinished business or unclaimed treasure.
  • This could even lead to an uncomfortable encounter with an old enemy whom Chatwick has also arranged to interview.
  • Chatwick could decide to take liberties with someone's story, perhaps adding details that would be considered libelous.
  • If the PC's had any political motivations of their own, access to Chatwick's printing press could help them spread their beliefs by creating pamphlets.
  • Of course, Chatwick could always be a spy, looking for the PC's to confess their misdeeds so that some power can bring them to justice.
  • For a more complicated scenario, a band of troglodytes could take an interest in Chatwick's printing press and steal parts from it just as a book is being readied for publication.

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