Interlude 49: The Kid
One of the lesser-known, but no less remarkable, pirates from the annals of history is a young fellow by the name of John King. He was a passenger aboard the ship Bonetta, when it was overtaken by Samuel Bellamy and his crew aboard the ship Mary Anne. He was a passenger when the cutthroats claimed their prize but, to their surprise, he insisted that he be allowed to join their crew. Although the pirates initially scoffed at that notion, the boy threatened suicide if he should be refused. With that, perhaps the youngest scallywag in the history of piracy began his career. (It is also interesting to note that, when the wreck of the Whydah was discovered and excavated, it is believed that John King's remains were found and identified.)
This interlude, of course, features a similar situation. It can begin in the aftermath of an attack by the PC's on another vessel, at some point when they meet a young boy named Zaccharias. He takes an immediate liking to the PC's and declares his intention to join the crew. Should they be less than enthusiastic about it, he insists that he can do what pirates do; he tromps around the deck brandishing his wooden cutlass and saying pirate-sounding things like "Avast, there!" and "Run out the guns and hoist the Jolly Roger!" Failing that he pleads to be allowed to join. At that point he seems to except the decision--but later he intends to sneak aboard and hide somewhere until the ship has sailed. (Note that this interlude assumes a boy has decided to join a predominantly male crew, but it could just as likely be that a girl wants to join a band of female pirates.)
As long as he does manage to sail with the PC's, Zaccharias then chooses one PC who is his complete hero. This could very well be the most dashing, charismatic and swashbuckling member of the crew. On the other hand, it could be fun for this to be a character who is not very personable at all, even one who might be displeased by such hero worship. Whaterver the case, the boy slowly begins emulating that character--dressing in a similar manner, carrying the same kind of weapons, using the same language and expressions, etc. This should be subtle at first, but eventually grows to be quite blatant.
While this situation is developing, there's also the question of combat and other dangers of life at sea. As Zaccharias begins to mimic his hero, he also begins taking more and more risks. This could be trying to join a boarding party, or it could be more mundane tasks like climbing the mainmast and the like. It should be apparent that he is doing these things out of a desire to be like his idol; it's up to the PC in question, along with the rest of the party, to decide whether or not such behavior is encouraged. If the GM is tracking shipboard NPC's as suggested in the article "A Motley Crew," the boy can develop just like other characters--but there's also the chance that he could be injured or killed in combat.
Commoner 1; CR 1/2; Size small; HD 1d4; hp 5; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 12 (+2 Dex); Atk -2 (1d4-2, wooden sword) or +2 (ranged, modified by nonproficieny penalty); SQ details; AL NG; SV: Fort +1, Ref +2, Will +2; Str 7, Dex 15, Con 12, Int 8, Wis 14, Cha 13.
Skills: Climb +7, Jump +2, Swim +2.
Feats: Rope Monkey.
Equipment: Clothing, wooden sword.
Zaccharias is a tow-headed young kid with blue eyes and a bright smile. He dresses in a manner suitable to the situation in which the PC's first encounter him.