Sunday, December 30, 2012

Two Arcane Items

To go along with the previous post, with rules for arcane spellcasters, I have for today two magical items drawn from popular folklore.

Also, assuming I don't post tomorrow, I'd like to wish everybody a happy new year!


There's an ancient tradition in folk magic which holds that a small image of a person, one that contains actual material from that person's body, is mystically linked to that person. What is more, it can be used to deliver harm to said victim. The specific effectiveness of the poppet depends on how well it is crafted, by comparing the results of a Craft (sewing) or (woodcarving) check to the table below. This determines both the DC for the Fortitude save that the victim receives, as well as the maximum amount of damage that one item can cause to its subject.

Check    Max. Damage
Result / and Save DC
0-4 / 5 hp; DC 6
5-9 / 10 hp; DC 9
1-14 / 15 hp; DC 12
15-19 / 20 hp; DC 15
20-24 / 30 hp; DC 18
25-29 / 40 hp; DC 21
30-34 / 50 hp; DC 24
35-39 / 75 hp; DC 27
40+ / 100 hp; DC 30

Note that a character must possess the Craft Poppet feat in order to attempt the process. Furthermore, failing to provide a bit of material—a lock of hair, a bit of blood or even nail pairings—causes a -10 circumstance penalty to this effort. Additionally, crafting the poppet requires special materials that cost 5 poe multiplied by the level of the victim squared. For example, if an enemy wanted to make a poppet depicting Captain Ned Carstens, a fifth-level Expert, it would cost 125 (5 x 5 x 5) poe.

New Feat: Craft Poppet
This feat functions like other item creation feats, and allows you to make poppets.
Prerequisites: Caster level 3rd.

Tarot Cards
Each of these iconic cards has certain ideas associated with it; these images, then, are the sources for meanings and messages interpreted from them.

Magician—A powerful wizard, or the use of strong magic
High Priestess—A female cleric or oracle, or a religious organization
Empress—A powerful female sovereign, or the country itself
Emperor—An influential male monarch, or the realm
Hierophant—A male cleric or oracle, or a congregation
Lovers—The possibility of romance, or a specific couple
Chariot—Upcoming travel, or a battle
Strength—A symbol of virility and power, physical or otherwise
Hermit—A mysterious figure, but perhaps one who can be of assistance
Wheel of Fortune—Luck, for good or bad; an approaching gain or loss
Justice—The law and enforcement of it, or those who do so
Hanged Man—Someone who has broken the law, or was accused of doing so
Death—Just what it seems
Temperance—Upright living, moderation and harmony
Devil—A powerful force for evil, such as a vampire or a dragon
Tower—A stronghold or other such important place
Star—Hope in times of darkness; inspiration
Moon—Things of the night, and perhaps the sea
Sun—Enlightenment and beauty
Judgment—An important decision to be made
World—Tremendous accomplishment or success; wholeness
Fool—A trickster or a deception

The cards can be used for a number of different layouts—the process through which they are read. One of the more simple ones, referred to as “the Norns,” has cards representing the past (first), present (second) and future (third). Another is the “horseshoe.” For it, the cards represent 1) the past, 2) the present, 3) influences, 4) obstacles, 5) expectations, 6) the best course of action and 7) likely outcomes. As mentioned above, the GM can use an actual draw of cards and interpret them as fits the situation, or choose ahead of time and tailor them to the circumstances.

In game terms, using a deck of Tarot cards could provide insight into an upcoming situation, provided that the reader succeeds at a DC 15 Knowledge (arcane) check. Success allows the subject to gain the benefits of the good fortune associated with the Luck cleric domain. Once per day said character can choose to reroll the result of one check, and even gains a +2 insight bonus to the new roll. As always, the character must abide by the new result, for better or for worse. At the GM's discretion, failing the check by more than five could result in misinformation, such as by leading a character in the wrong direction or misidentifying an innocent person as an enemy.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Arcane Magic

To help launch the new story arc for the blog's adventure series, I have an article about incorporating occult magic in a quasi-historical, low-magic pirate campaign.


Arcane Magic
The Skull & Bones rulebook mentions, while disallowing the sorcerer and wizard classes, that “the era when powerful magic was available without dire consequences is long gone.” This makes sense for a lot of swashbuckling, low-fantasy campaigns, since magic-users don't fit with every style of play. For the new story arc in the Come Hell and High Water campaign, however, a cabal of occultists is a key power group. To that end, this article provides guidelines for using wizards and sorcerers in the Skull & Bones setting.

Using the Occult in a Low Fantasy, Quasi-Historical Setting
One of the most appealing elements of a setting like Skull & Bones is the clash of cultures that occurs within it. In the Caribbean alone one finds the Spanish jealously guarding their territory (taken from the Mayans, Aztecs, Caribs, Arawaks and others) against incursions by the Dutch and English and French. There's also the presence of African slaves, bringing their own beliefs and adding to an admixture with the native populations. Combine those backgrounds with the conflict between Catholicism, various Protestant sects and non-Christian traditions such as can be found around the Mediterranean and further eastward, and it makes for a truly varied and intriguing tapestry.

Involving arcane magic and spellcasters in this setting draws from these traditions and builds upon them in interesting ways. Indeed, the history of occult magic in the world is no less colorful. Even during Biblical times there were tales of other traditions, represented by such individuals as Simon Magus, who offered to buy the Holy Spirit from the Apostles, and the enigmatic Witch of Endor. Greek and Roman legends from the same time period tell of powerful arcane practitioners such as Circe and Medea, who worked sometimes for and sometimes against the heroes of the time.

The rise of the “religions of the book”—Judaism, Christianity and Islam—eventually led to a tremendous reduction in the practice of arcane magic. Indeed, it was those faiths that led to men and, even more so, women being labeled as witches, reviled pariahs who were tortured and executed for their beliefs. Even so, the study and use of occult magic endured, practiced by the precursors of enlightened science known as alchemists.

Despite this stigma, occultists were sometimes even able to gain positions of tremendous influence, even in recent times. Take, for example, the curious figure Merlin, who was believed to be a close associate of the semi-mythical King Arthur. Another such person is John Dee, who rose to become a powerful advisor to Queen Elizabeth of England. Not only did he use his magical powers to aid her in protecting the realm, but he was also able to learn tremendous amounts of information from the sea dogs who explored the world and plundered enemy ports and vessels at her command.

In a similar manner, the pursuit of arcane magic provides a strong impetus to seek adventure, given the opportunities to discover new spells and relics. Such exotic and elusive creatures as the island giants and the possess their own traditions—not to mention the hougans and bokor of the Caribbean—from whom eldritch secrets can be learned.

Arcane Spell List
A previous article, “Clerics in the New World,” detailed how a limited list of subtle spells can allow clerics to be used in an effective but not too flashy manner. In the same way, the following list provides an option for arcane casters.

Subtle Spells

Level 0—Arcane mark, detect magic, read magic, resistance

Level 1—Endure elements, identify, mage armor, magic weapon, protection from chaos/evil/good/law, shield, true strike

Level 2—Bear's endurance, bull's strength, cat's grace, eagle's splendor, false life, fox's cunning, misdirection, obscure object, owl's wisdom, protection from arrows

Level 3—Arcane sight, dispel magic, haste, heroism, keen edge, magic circle against chaos/evil/good/law, protection from energy, rage

Level 4—Bestow curse, detect scrying, dimensional anchor, enervation, lesser globe of invulnerability, locate creature, remove curse

Level 5—Break enchantment, contact other plane, dismissal, dream, lesser planar binding, nightmare, permanency

Level 6—Analyze dweomer, antimagic field, contingency, globe of invulnerability, greater dispel magic, greater heroism, mass bear's endurance, mass bull's strength, mass cat's grace, mass eagle's splendor, mass fox's cunning, mass owl's wisdom

Level 7—Banishment, greater arcane sight, spell turning

Level 8—Antipathy, dimensional lock, discern location, greater planar binding, mind blank, moment of prescience, sympathy

Level 9—Energy drain, foresight

Note that this list should provide a basis from which to develop personal collections of spells. For example, an occultist who visits Hispaniola and interacts with hougans there might learn to cast a spell or two from them, at the GM's discretion. Indeed, such an arrangement can provide both motivation to go adventuring and rewards for doing so. As always, the GM should feel free to add to, or subtract from, the preceding list to fit the desires of the players and the needs of the campaign.

Morgan and Associates, Booksellers

Although it has proven to be an enduring tradition that has persevered in the face of adversity for centuries, the practice of arcane magic is still not well accepted in the world. This is especially true in the larger cities of the world, where the powers that be have enough influence and manpower to enforce a prohibition of such activities. (One need only look at the witch trials in the English colonies for an example of how even suspicion of the practice can lead to ruthless persecution.) For that reason, those who are interested in the occult do well to conceal this endeavor.

It is that need for secrecy that has led a young man named Edgar Morgan to found a business enterprise known as Morgan and Associates, merchants who specialize in finding rare and antique books on all the subjects that one can image. This trade provides the perfect front, allowing them to delve into ancient tomes without attracting unwanted suspicion.

Presented here are stats for Morgan and his pupils, typical examples of those who pursue eldritch power.

Master—Edgar Morgan
Male Wizard 6; CR 6; Size medium; HD 6d4; hp 16; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 12 (+2 Dex); Atk +3 (1d4, dagger) or +5 (ranged); SQ Spells; AL LN; SV: Fort +2, Ref +4, Will +8; Str 10, Dex 14, Con 10, Int 16, Wis 10, Cha 16.
Background: Scholar.
Skills: Appraise + 5, Concentration +9, Decipher Script +12, Knowledge (arcane) +12, Knowledge (geography) +12, Knowledge (history) +12, Spellcraft +15.
Feats: Combat Casting, Leadership, Mental Acumen, Scribe Scroll, Skill Focus (Spellcraft).
Fortunes: Enemy, Magic.
Equipment: Clothing, spellbook, writing materials, pouch of spell components, pouch holding 50 poe, ring of keys.

Spells per Day: 4/3+1/3+1/2+1. Spells Known: (0) Arcane mark, detect magic, read magic, resistance; (1) Endure elements, identify, mage armor, magic weapon, protection from chaos/evil/good/law, shield, true strike; (2) cat's grace, fox's cunning, owl's wisdom, protection from arrows; (3) arcane sight, dispel magic, haste, heroism.

Edgar Morgan is an expert in a relatively small and illicit field; as such, he uses the bookselling business as a cover for his investigations. Even so, he is intrigued by the legends of arcane magic from around the world, and has vowed to seek out and discover the truth behind them.

Journeyman Student
Female Wizard 4; CR 4; Size medium; HD 4d4; hp 11; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 12 (+2 Dex); Atk +2 (1d4, dagger) or +2 (ranged); SQ Spells; AL LN; SV: Fort +1, Ref +3, Will +7; Str 10, Dex 14, Con 10, Int 16, Wis 10, Cha 12.
Background: Scholar.
Skills: Appraise + 5, Concentration +7, Decipher Script +10, Knowledge (arcane) +10, Knowledge (geography) +10, Knowledge (history) +10, Spellcraft +13.
Feats: Combat Casting, Mental Acumen, Scribe Scroll, Skill Focus (Spellcraft).
Fortunes: Enemy, Magic.
Equipment: Clothing, spellbook, writing materials, pouch of spell components, pouch holding 20 poe.

Spells per Day: 4/3+1/2+1. Spells Known: (0) arcane mark, detect magic, read magic, resistance; (1) endure elements, identify, mage armor, magic weapon, protection from chaos/evil/good/law, shield, true strike; (2) cat's grace, fox's cunning, owl's wisdom, protection from arrows.

The journeyman has advanced further in his studies than have the other students, and therefore lords it over the apprentices. Although he acts fawningly subservient to Morgan, he in fact watches for opportunities to strike out on his own.

Student Apprentices
Various Wizard 1; CR 1; Size medium; HD 1d4; hp 4; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 11 (+1 Dex); Atk +0 (1d4, dagger) or +1 (ranged); SQ Spells; AL LN; SV: Fort +0, Ref +1, Will +2; Str 10, Dex 13, Con 10, Int 16, Wis 10, Cha 12.
Background: Scholar.
Skills: Appraise + 5, Concentration +4, Decipher Script +7, Knowledge (arcane) +7, Knowledge (geography) +7, Knowledge (history) +7, Spellcraft +10.
Feats: Combat Casting, Scribe Scroll, Skill Focus (Spellcraft).
Fortunes: Enemy, Magic.
Equipment: Clothing, spellbook, writing materials, pouch of spell components, pouch holding 10 poe.

Spells per Day: 3/1+1. Spells Known: (0) arcane mark, detect magic, read magic, resistance; (1) endure elements, identify, mage armor, magic weapon, shield, true strike.

Although they possess only rudimentary skills, these apprentices all aspire to greatness. As such, they work for Edgar Morgan, running the bookstore and aiding in his research.

New Background: Scholar
While they aren't thought to be as adventurous as people from other backgrounds, those who pursue the scholarly arts are important in their own way. Amongst their ranks they might count navigators, cartographers, researchers and the like. Indeed, there are occasionally buccaneer-naturalists who choose to catalogue the wonders they discover through their explorations.
Free Skill Ranks: Choose 2 ranks in any two Knowledge skills.
Bonuses and Penalties: Scholars tend to be most comfortable around others who share their interests, receiving a +2 bonus to Charisma-based checks made in such company. Among others who value their input, they are at least on neutral terms, but among those who held their efforts in contempt, they suffer a -2 penalty to such checks.
Contacts: Two free contacts with others who are interested in scholarly pursuits

The Book Shoppe
Refer to the appropriate map for the following area descriptions.

1. Front Room
Inside the shop's front door is a desk and chair where the shopkeeper normally waits, ready to do business. He or she is usually one of the apprentice students, as the journeyman and master are busy with more important tasks. In the event that a customer arrives who requires more knowledgeable attention, however, those others are quick to respond. The front door is made from stout wood reinforced with iron bands (DC 25 to open; hardness 10 and 50 hit points).

Beyond that area, flanking the outside walls, are sections dedicated to different subjects. They include religion (2); philosophy (3); literature and drama (4); along with history and geography (5).

6. Reading Area
Potential buyers who want to peruse possible selections can do so at the table and chairs found here.

7. Office and Storage
This room is kept closed and locked (DC 20 to open; hardness 5 and 15 hit points). Located here are the ledgers containing records of all the shop's transactions, along with a cash box that usually holds the equivalent of 200 poe and doubloons. Across from it are stairs leading to the upper level, along with the secret door that provides access to the lower level (DC 25 Search or Spot to notice).

8. Guest Bedroom
A bed, table and chair and wardrobe can be found here, for the use of guests who visit from out of town.

9. Master Bedroom
Morgan's own bedroom, it is outfitted with the same type of furniture—albeit of a more comfortable variety—as what is found in the guest quarters.

10. Study
The walls of this room are line with shelves, ones that are filled with all manners of texts and tomes, including scrolls, codices, sheafs of papers, pamphlets and even a few engraved tablets. In the middle of it all stands the desk at which Morgan conducts his endless research.

11. Kitchen
A cooking hearth stands against the outside wall of this room, one that connects via a narrow chimney to the fireplace in the front room. There is also a broad table for preparing food, along with a barrel of water and a basket of wood for fuel. Shelves here hold all kinds of spices and similar items.

12. Pantry
This room is filled with dry goods, bottles, jars and the like, holding an impressive variety of foodstuffs.

13. Closet
Spare linens and the like, for the dining room and bedrooms, are stored here, along with dishes, utensils and things of a similar nature.

14. Dining Room
A broad table, surrounded by chairs, occupies the center of this room. Morgan uses it for taking meals with his students, as well as for entertaining important guests.

15. Workspace
As mentioned above, access to the building's lower level is provided only through the secret door at the top of the stairs. This broad, open area boasts a pentagram in the floor and provides room for performing more elaborate rituals. Close inspection (DC 20 Search or Spot checks) reveals traces of blood on the packed dirt floor, along with stains from other, less recognizable substances.

16. Storage
The walls here are lined with shelves like in other closets, but they are filled with all manner of obscure occult materials. These could include all manner of spell components, along with, at the GM's discretion, other exotic things.

17. Meeting Room
When the nature of a meeting is just too sensitive to be held where others might eavesdrop on it, such business is conducted here.

18. Secure Storage
The most important items in Morgan's collection are kept here, under lock and key (DC 30 to unlock; hardness 10 and 50 hit points; also protected by an arcane lock spell). These include Morgan's collection of grimoires, a chest holding 2000 poe worth of mix coinage, along with other items at the GM's discretion.

Using Arcane Magic and Spellcasters in a Campaign
As mentioned above, occultists provide many reasons for characters in a Skull & Bones campaign to seek adventure. Just a few of the possibilities include the following options.
  • The pursuit of lost relics and ancient lore requires occultists, or those in their employ, to travel to the far ends of the earth. This could lead to remote settlements of exotic cultures, ruins filled with numerous dangers, and the like.
  • Those occultists who discover charm-related magic could use it to influence other power individuals, thereby becoming embroiled in all manner of plots.
  • In this way, occultists who work for an enemy of the PC's could turn into a subtle, ongoing threat in a campaign.
  • Should said occultists discover a truly powerful relic, they might even become a political force with which others need to reckon.
  • Such a discovery could lead to divisions in the ranks, with some of the occultists seeking to prevent the item's use while others wish to harness its power.
  • Etc.

New Relic: Grimoires
By far some of the most prized items, for those who study arcane magic, are these collections of spells. They can take numerous forms, including scrolls, codices and even tablets. In the same way, grimoires can be written in all manner of languages. Whatever the case, they all contain old and obscure formulae.

For a Skull & Bones campaign that includes arcane spellcasters, these texts can be an ongoing source of treasures. This is because they can each hold different secrets, ones that relate to their source. For example, a scroll in Greek from the enchantress Circle might provide access to a charm person spell, while a tablet with runic writing from Iceland could be a source for heroism. As mentioned above, these can provide the impetus for going on adventures, along with pleasant surprises as part of larger treasure caches.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Three Years Running

It pleases me to post this update. Three years ago I started this blog, and I think it's been going well since then. Not only have I been able to maintain a steady stream of posts, but this past year has been my most productive so far. I already have a number of ideas in the works for 2013, so the year looks promising.

What is more, I've set up a Dropbox account with which to share documents. So far I've uploaded PDF compilations of my blog posts from the past three years, along with a character sheet addendum that I like for encouraging players to write about their PC's. Here are the links for those pages. Please let me know if they aren't working; you can e-mail me, as always, at nathanael(dot)christen(at)gmail(dot)com.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Interlude 29: The Ransom

Interlude 29: The Ransom
When a pirate crew captures a prize, there's more than just the cargo that's of value to them. The ship has its own worth, of course, but sometimes the passengers themselves are more lucrative than anything else. After all, pirates can demand payment for their release, and particularly notable hostages demand high prices.

This interlude assumes that a ship has been taken, and that the pirates responsible for doing so have issued a demand for ransom. The demand could be for a large some of money, but could be for other things, too. For example, Blackbeard's crew once demanded a chest of medicines, probably for treating venereal diseases, for the return of certain prisoners. Another option is for an exchange of prisoners, possibly offering a relative of the governor in trade for crew members who've recently been taken prisoner. Whatever the case, since refusal generally isn't a good response, the recipient of said demand decides to comply with it.

That's where the PC's become involved. Said recipient approaches them, asking them to make the delivery. This could be someone they already know through previous adventures, or somebody who knows them by reputation. The influential, wealthy family members detailed in a previous Interlude could be good candidates for such delicate business. Whatever the case, the PC's seem like the best people for the job. For that reason, that person approaches them in a suitable location—possibly leading to other difficulties—and makes the pitch.

Of course, matters are never so straightforward as they should be. Perhaps the person being extorted wants to double-cross the pirates, and asks the PC's to stage a rescue while the exchange is taking place. That could entail finding and then sneaking aboard a ship while it's anchor, or raiding a hideout in a similar manner. Another options is that the PC's, while trying to make an honest delivery of the ransom payment, learn that the business is based on deceit and treachery. A few of the possibilities include the following:
  • The person being extorted could be a merchant who has acted as a fence for goods taken through piracy, and then tried to go clean by ending such ties; now the pirates have chosen to use force to settle the old score. In that case, there's plenty of evidence that the merchant wants to suppress, and it's up to the PC's to decide how they want to handle such information.
  • The pirates could demand payment in the form of a map, leaving the PC's to decide whether they want to make the delivery or keep it for themselves and try to discover it secrets.
  • Another option is that the victim of the kidnapping is actually in league with the pirates, perhaps someone who has fallen in love with a dashing captain or a traitor in the organization of the recipient. In this case, once the money or item is delivered, the pirates and hostage depart, leaving the PC's to explain the matter to the person be extorted.
  • There could also be conflict between the characters who receive the demand. For example, while a father is willing to pay the ransom, a brother might wish to stage a daring rescue.
  • Some of these options could even be combined. The recipient could have been a fence for the pirates, and is thus willing to capitulate, while the daring son considers that to be a slight against the family's honor. Just how Junior reacts when he learns his father's dirty secret could make for some good roleplaying.
  • The recipient could also use the PC's as unwitting dupes, sending them with a fake payment while intending to ambush the pirates. Just how the PC's react when the truth is revealed could make for all kinds of interesting developments.
  • One of the people involved—especially the hostage or the recipient of the ransom demand—could be a romantic interest of one of the PC's, making the whole business personal for one or more characters.
However the matter develops, it can make for many different, engaging scenes.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Buccaneers and More

This update is a quick one. For those who are interested in piratical TV shows, Hulu has an old series, The Buccaneers, with all of the episodes; check it out at the link below.

Add to that a link for an interesting blog. I have only skimmed through it, but it has a lot of pirate-related information.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Additions and Corrections

One of the problems with publishing work is that I often think of little changes that I'd like to make to pieces after doing so. Today's post includes two such items, ideas for using tattoos with the Lucky Charm fortune and stats for characters who can be used with the manor house detailed in a previous post.

Also, I'd like to start making articles and adventures available for download. As such, I ask readers who notice errors in any of my posts to let me know about them by emailing me at nathanael(dot)christen(at) gmail(dot)com.


(Added to Lucky Charms)

Tattoos—These can take on a variety of appearances. Some are simple pictures, and can function in much the same way as fetishes (see above). For example, a picture of a tiger could provide the same bonus as a tiger fetish. Alternately, the tattoo could be important words, such as a verse from the Bible or some other holy text. In that case, the bonus provided should of course coincide with the nature of the words. Another option is for the tattoo to present a treasure map; it could even be tattooed on a shaved head, after which the hair is allowed to grow in order to conceal it.

(Added to the Interlude: The Manor)

The McGovern Family

Neil McGovern, Sr.
Fighter 5/Aristocrat 4; CR 8; Size medium; HD 5d10+4d8+9; hp 59; Init +7 (+3 Dex, +4 Improved Initiative); Spd 30 ft.; AC 14 (+3 Dex, +1 buff coat); Atk +13/+8 (1d8+3, rapier) or +11/+6 (2d4, pistol); AL LN; SV: Fort +6, Ref +3, Will +5; Str 12, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 18.
Background: Gentleman-Adventurer (Diplomacy and Knowledge: ).
Skills: Appraise +5, Climb +9, Diplomacy +8, Gather Information +6, Jump +9, Knowledge: local +8, Sense Motive +5, Swim +9.
Feats: Dodge, Improved Initiative, Mobility, Spring Attack, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus (rapier), Weapon Specialization (rapier).
Fortunes: Ally, Obligation.
Equipment: Gentleman's outfit, dueling jacket, gentry's wig, masterwork rapier, masterwork pistols, shot and powder, pouch containing 50 poe.

NeilMcGovern, Sr. is every bit the English gentleman. He dresses in fine clothing and wears a fancy wig. Having inherited his family's wealth and estate, he spends his time mingling with other influential member's of the upper-class local society. Even so, he should not be underestimated as an enemy, for he is more than a little skilled with his rapier and tenaciously defends his own.

Joanna McGovern
Aristocrat 9; CR 9; Size medium; HD 9d8; hp 35; Init +3 (+3 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 13 (+3 Dex); Atk +6/+1 (1d4, dagger) or +9/+4 (ranged); AL LG; SV: Fort +3, Ref +6, Will +10; Str 10, Dex 16, Con 10, Int 12, Wis 8, Cha 18.
Background: Lady-Adventurer (Diplomacy, Knowledge: local).
Skills: Appraise +15, Diplomacy +18, Gather Information +16, Knowledge (local) +13, Knowledge (sea lore) +6, Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +13, Sense Motive +10.
Feats: Diligent, Force of Personality, Guidance, Negotiator, Port Savvy.
Fortunes: Enlightened.
Equipment: Gentlewoman's outfit, dagger, pouch containing 100 poe.

Joanna is a beautiful woman whose smile can brighten a room. In fact, it is her ability to charm others that helps maintain her husband's business success. When not engaged in such affairs, she enjoys reading tales of chivalry, and delights in opportunities to hear them first-hand.

Neil McGovern, Jr.
Fighter 5; CR 5; Size medium; HD 5d10+5; hp 37; Init +3 (+3 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 14 (+3 Dex, +1 dueling jacket); Atk +10 (1d8+3, rapier) or +8 (2d4, pistols); AL X; SV: Fort +5, Ref +4, Will +1; Str 12, Dex 17, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 16.
Background: Gentleman-Adventurer (Diplomacy and Knowledge: local).
Skills: Climb +7, Jump +7, Diplomacy +5, Knowledge (local) +2, Ride +9, Swim +7.
Feats: Dodge, Mobility, Spring Attack, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus (rapier), Weapon Specialization (rapier).
Fortunes: Code of Honor.
Equipment: Gentleman's outfit, dueling jacket, masterwork rapier, pair of pistols, pouch containing 50 poe.

The younger NeilMcGovern is a soldier at heart. While he fulfills his obligations to his family, he dreams of serving his country in battle. Because of this, he serves as a lieutenant in the Royal Army, a role in which he is zealous and capable.

Jessica McGovern
Rogue 5; CR 5; Size medium; HD 5d6+5; hp 25; Init +3 (+3 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 13 (+3 Dex); Atk +6 (1d8, rapier) or +6 (2d4, pistol); SQ Sneak attack +3d6, trapfinding, evasion, trap sense +1, uncanny dodge; AL TN; SV: Fort +2, Ref +7, Will +0; Str 10, Dex 17, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 8, Cha 14.
Background: Lady-Adventurer (Diplomacy and Knowledge: local).
Skills: Bluff +10, Climb +8, Diplomacy +4, Disable Device +12, Escape Artist +11, Hide +13, Knowledge (local) +4, Move Silently +13, Open Lock +13, Search +10, Sleight of Hand +13, Tumble +11, Use Rope +13.
Feats: Deft Hands, Dodge, Nimble Fingers, Stealthy.
Fortunes: Quick-Fingered.
Equipment: Gentlewoman's outfit, gentleman's outfit, rapier, pistol, pouch containing 50 doubloons, thieves' picks and tools.

Jessica shares her brother's yearning for adventure, something that her situation as a young gentlewoman denies her. For that reason she has taken to sneaking out at night and visiting the more rough-and-tumble parts of town, where she carouses with sailors and similar types. Needless to say, at those times she keeps her true identity and gender a closely guarded secret.

Fighter 3; CR 3; Size medium; HD 3d10+6; hp 27; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 13 (+1 Dex, +2 buff coat); Atk +5 (1d8+2, cutlass) or +4 (2d4, pistol); AL LN; SV: Fort +5, Ref +2, Will +2; Str 15, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8.
Background: Colonist (Knowledge: local and Profession: soldier).
Skills: Climb +8, Jump +8, Swim +8.
Feats: Cleave, Point Blank Shot, Power Attack, Precise Shot.
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Tradesman's outfit, buff coat, cutlass, pistol.

These fellows are all tough and skilled in battle. They guard McGovern manor and accompany family members on business around town.

Commoner 3; CR 2; Size medium; HD 3d4+3; hp 12; Init -1 (-1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 9 (-1 Dex); Atk +1 (1d3, unarmed) or +0 (ranged); AL LG; SV: Fort +2, Ref +0, Will +3; Str 10, Dex 8, Con 12, Int 13, Wis 15, Cha 14.
Background: Indentured Servant (Listen and Bluff).
Skills: Bluff +8, Craft (cooking) +10, Handle Animal +4, Listen +10, Spot +10.
Feats: Alertness, Endurance, Skill Focus (craft: cooking).
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Tradesmen's or tradeswomen's clothing.

While people tend to overlook the men and women who keep the family's house, they see and hear all that happens inside it. As such, they could be useful informants for those who seek such information.

Monday, November 26, 2012

More Pregenerated Characters

Some two years ago, I wrote up a post containing stats for first-level Skull & Bones characters, including the four classes from the core supplement along with the rogue and barbarian. Since then I've decided to include three other classes from the D&D Player's Handbook--the cleric, fighter and monk. The fighter is meant to be typical of most military forces, while the cleric represents an English minister and the monk is inspired by a Cimaroon trained in Capoeira.


Cleric Archetype

Strength 12 (+1)
Dexterity 10 (+0)
Constitution 12 (+1)
Intelligence 10 (+0)
Wisdom 16 (+3)
Charisma 14 (+2)

Background: Religious

Class: Cleric
Level: 1
Special Abilities:
Turn or Rebuke Undead

Code of Honor

Concentration +5, Diplomacy +6, Heal +7, Knowledge (religion) +7

Languages Spoken:

Languages Read/Written:

Combat Casting, Iron Will

Hit Points: 9
Armor Class: 13
(+3 pitch jacket)
Touch: 10
Flat-Footed: 14
Initiative: +0
(+0 Dex)
Speed: 30 ft

Base Attack Bonus: +0
Grapple +1
+1 (1d6+1, cudgel)

Saving Throws:
Fortitude +3
Reflex +0
Willpower +7

Simple clothing
Pitch jacket
171 pieces of eight

Fighter Archetype

Strength 14 (+2)
Dexterity 14 (+2)
Constitution 14 (+2)
Intelligence 10 (+0)
Wisdom 12 (+1)
Charisma 12 (+1)

Background: Military

Class: Fighter
Level: 1
Special Abilities:

Ally, Obligation

Climb +6, Jump +6, Survival +3, Swim +6

Languages Spoken:

Languages Read/Written:

Precise Shot, Point Blank Shot, Weapon Focus (cutlass)

Hit Points: 12
Armor Class: 14
(+2 Dex, +3 pitch jacket)
Touch: 12
Flat-Footed: 13
Initiative: +2
(+2 Dex)
Speed: 30 ft

Base Attack Bonus: +1
Grapple +3
+4 (1d6+2, cutlass)
+3 (2d6, long musket)
+3 (2d4, pistol)

Saving Throws:
Fortitude +4
Reflex +2
Willpower +1

Pitch jacket
Tradesman's outfit and boots
Long musket
Dozen powder and shot for each
158 pieces of eight

Monk Archetype

Strength 14 (+2)
Dexterity 14 (+2)
Constitution 14 (+2)
Intelligence 10 (+0)
Wisdom 14 (+2)
Charisma 10 (+0)

Background: Slave

Class: Monk
Level: 1
Special Abilities:
Flurry of Blows, Unarmed Strike

Cause, Enemy

Balance +6, Bluff +2, Climb +6, Escape Artist +4, Jump +8, Perform (Dance) +4, Tumble +8

Languages Spoken:

Languages Read/Written:

Acrobatic, Improved Grapple, Improved Initiative

Hit Points: 10
Armor Class: 14
(+2 Dex, +2 Wis)
Touch: 14
Flat-Footed: 14
Initiative: +6
(+2 Dex, +4 Improved Initiative)
Speed: 30 ft

Base Attack Bonus: +2
Grapple +6
+2 (1d6+2, grapple)

Saving Throws:
Fortitude +4
Reflex +4
Willpower +4

Simple clothing
16 pieces of eight

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Two Magical Items

Today I have two new magical items, one drawn from the history of the Spanish Main and the other taken from Homer's Odyssey.


Cimaroon Scimitar
Although there were other freebooters who came before him, Sir Francis Drake was the first English sailor who really made a name for himself by raiding the settlements of the Spanish Main. In this he was of course assisted by his crewmen, but there were others who received less credit—the Cimaroons. They were escaped slaves who lived in small jungled communities, wilderness warriors who served as guides, porters and scouts for the Englishmen. It was through their aid that Drake and his forces managed to raid a caravan of mules carrying a fortune in gold and silver, a year's worth of profits being shipped back to Spain. Among the treasures claimed, the freebooters acquired a gilded scimitar covered in gilded engraving. This Drake presented to the leader of the Cimaroons as a token of his appreciation. In game terms, the sword functions as a scimitar +1, speed

This rare herb has the power to protect people who consume it from various kinds of sorcery. Its powers have been known for at least two and a half millennia, since it is mentioned in the Greek epic The Odyssey. In that tale, the messenger god Hermes delivers a sample of the herb to the hero Odysseus to help defend against the enchantments of the witch Circe, who had turned his crewmen into animals. With it Odysseus is able to overcome Circe's influence and eventually continue his journey homeward. The epic describes moly as having black roots and a white flower. Moreover, it is said to be dangerous for mortals to pick, but no such problem for the gods.

In game terms, harvesting and preparing a sprig of moly requires a Knowledge: nature check, with a synergy bonus for having at least five ranks in Knowledge: arcana. The result of the check determines the risk of being poisoned by the plant instead of gaining its beneficial effects, a +5 circumstance bonus to all saves made to risk magical effects for the next four hours. Once the herb has been harvested, it remains fresh for one day's time. After that it can be dried, but its effectiveness is reduced to a +2 bonus.

Result / Effects
0-9 / DC 21 Fortitude save; damage 1d6 Constitution initial and secondary
10-19 / DC 18 Fortitude save; damage 1d4 Constitution initial and secondary
20-29 / DC 15 Fortitude save; damage 1d2 Constitution initial and secondary
30+ / No risk of harm

Friday, November 9, 2012

New Interlude, Prestige Class and Optional Rule

Recently I've been reading a number of books that talk about salvage efforts on sunken Spanish galleons; this has inspired a new interlude, along with a new prestige class and an optional rule taken from another RPG.


Interlude 28: The Shipwreck 2
A previous interlude introduced a shipwreck, a vessel that sunk but was mostly intact. This interlude involves a more complicated salvage operation, one in which the vessel in question broke up as it sank, leaving wreckage and valuable goods scattered across the bottom of the sea. Because of this, recovering the lucre is much more difficult.

Even before the PC's undertake a salvage operation, it's important to figure out some details for the wreck in question. From where was it sailing, and to where? Who was the captain, and what other passengers of note traveled aboard it? What kind of cargo was it carrying? Not only do these details impact what the heroes might find during the business, but can provide hooks for other adventures in the future.

The PC's could learn of this opportunity in a variety of ways. In the aftermath of a big storm, rumors might start to spread of a ship that didn't reach its destination. This could lead to a race against rivals, with everyone outfitting ships and gathering crew members as quickly as possible in order to find the most loot. Alternately, a concerned relative or business partner might seek out the PC's and ask them to go looking for the lost ship.
Once it comes time to outfit, the PC's need to lay in the appropriate supplies and hire personnel. In addition to extra rope, empty barrels for use as buoys are especially useful. It could also be good to hire some divers, requiring negotiations for payment and other concerns.

Finding the Site
Locating the wreck requires a few different steps. The first requires some information gathering, and then plotting the intended course of the ship in question. After that they can set out to follow that path. This should require use of Knowledge: navigation, followed by Search or Spot checks to find some of the debris. At that point additional checks, perhaps by teams in longboats, to trace the path of destruction.

Eventually it is necessary for someone to go into the water. The PC's could hire divers, or do it themselves. Historically, native people were the most skilled, able to stay down longer and thus find more goods. Depending on the weather, this requires Swim checks to reach the wreckage, and then Search or Spot checks to find items of value. Coinage and smaller items can be loaded into baskets, and larger loads could require a Strength check to be lifted.
There is also the possibility that sharks are attracted to the site. This should provide some excitement; keep in mind that the rules for fighting underwater make it much tougher for landlubbers to battle creatures of the sea.

Hauling Up the Goods
While smaller items can be lifted manually, larger things like cannons and treasure chests need to have ropes tied to them so that they can be raised by the crew. One good option is to run a line from the capstan, through a block and tackle hanging from one of the spars, and then down into the water. In that way one character can make the Strength check, while up to five others can make checks to assist. Detailed below are check DC's for different types of cannon. Of course, it is also necessary for someone to tie a line to the cannon underwater, requiring a Use Rope check with a DC five less than that of the Strength check.

Cannon / DC
Demi-Culverin / 18
Culverin / 21
Demi-Cannon / 24
Cannon / 27

There's an old saying that “Treasure is trouble.” This proves true when other interested parties show up with hopes of taking some of the lucre for themselves. It is up to the GM here to decide on the appropriate level of challenge for the PC's, but other interludes and adventures provide plenty of options for sample crews and captains.

Rules for Complex Actions
First and foremost, it should be acknowledged that these rules are inspired by the Cortex rules system from Margaret Weis Productions.

To represent the extended time it takes to perform certain tasks, such as plumbing the depths to remove lucre from a shipwreck, the GM should set a DC higher than is normal—for example, 250. Each day's work allows one check, with subsequent results being cumulative toward that total DC. What is more, the GM can add various stipulations to the results. For example, characters involved in salvage might recover 1000 p.o.e. x the daily result, up to a given maximum. There could also be a time limit, such as a storm arriving or an enemy showing up after ten days' time.

Complex actions can be used in a number of other situations as well. For example, the PC's could be caught when the entrance to the tunnels they're exploring collapses; it takes a complex Strength check to remove enough of the debris so that they can escape, with the risk of suffocating from lack of air after a certain amount of time. Alternately, the PC's might be forced to seek a safe harbor after a battle, with a complex Craft: shipbuilding check to make repairs before their enemies find them to continue the fight.

The Diver Prestige Class
Some people in this world take to the water as if they were born with gills and webbed feet. Where others feel uncomfortable in an environment where they can’t breathe, the Diver becomes just as comfortable as if she were on the land.

Swim +6

Game Rule Information
Divers have the following game statistics.

Hit Die
Divers gain 1d8 hit points per level.

Class Skills
Climb, Hide, Jump, Listen, Move Silently, Search, Spot, Survival, Swim, Tumble.

Skill Points at Each Level: 4 + Int modifier.

Special Abilities
Iron Lungs: At 1st level the Diver automatically gains the feat Iron Lungs. If she already possesses that feat, she may select a different one from the list below.

Fast Swimmer: The Diver is so much at home in the water that she can swim almost as well as a marine animal. Instead of covering one-quarter her speed as a move action and half her speed as a full-round action, she covers half her speed as a move action and her full speed as a full-round action.

Underwater Combatant: Because of her familiarity with the marine environment, the Diver no longer suffers all of the penalties that hinder others. For her, the usual –2 penalties on Reflex saves, attack and damage rolls are reduced to –1; the –4 penalty for wielding bludgeoning weapons is reduced to –2.

Bonus Feats: Divers may select their bonus feats from the following list: Alertness, Dodge, Extraordinary Ability, Great Fortitude, Lightning Reflexes.

Deep Diver: A Diver becomes accustomed to working at extreme depths. While she still has her ability to hold her breath decreased, the penalties for her are reduced.

Depth: Duration
0-30 feet: Normal
31-60 feet: Normal
61-120 feet: 2/3
121-250 feet: 1/2
251-500 feet: 1/3

Monday, October 29, 2012

Interlude: The Hazards

This post details some of the hazards of sailing, especially sandbars and reefs.


Interlude 27: The Hazards
Many are the dangers that a ship's crew members face, what with storms, pirates, sea monsters and the like. There are other perils, however, that, while less spectacular, can be just as harmful to a vessel. Detailed here are some of these potential threats—or, in the hands of a skilled sailor, perhaps even tools of the trade.

In many ways these hazards function just like traps in the dungeon setting. Each has a DC for Spot or Search checks to notice it, along with DC's for other skill checks to avoid it. Success in one or the other means that the party can avoid it, while failure in both forces characters to suffer the consequences.

Coral Reefs
These clumps of coral are probably the greatest danger to vessels, if they go unnoticed. They are very sharp and quite solid, acting like a spear to be driven through the hull of a ship. The difficulty for seeing them, along with the damage that they can do, depends on the size of the reef in question.

Huge—DC 26 to notice—DC 20 to avoid—Damage 4d8
Gargantuan—DC 23 to notice—DC 23 to avoid—Damage 6d8
Colossal—DC 20 to notice—DC 26 to avoid—Damage 8d8

Furthermore, a vessel that suffers more than 50% of its hull points in damage from a collision is stopped dead in the water. In order to free it, the crew of the ship must succeed at a DC 24 Profession: sailor check, a process that last one hour. The DC of this check is reduced by two for every step that the tide rises, representing the fact that rising water can simply float a ship free (see below for more details). This means that ships which hit an obstacle during high tide are in big trouble. At the GM's discretion, each time the tide falls by a step, the obstacle does one quarter the original damage again to a trapped ship; this represents new stresses on the hull due to the falling water level. Woe to those poor ships that should be trapped in such a way if a storm arises.

While not as big a danger as reefs, given the fact that they're neither solid nor pointy, sandbars can still be dangerous if they bring a ship to a halt during a dangerous situation.

Huge—DC 26 to notice—DC 20 to avoid—Damage 2d8
Gargantuan—DC 23 to notice—DC 23 to avoid—Damage 3d8
Colossal—DC 20 to notice—DC 26 to avoid—Damage 4d8

Just as with reefs, mentioned above, sandbars can also stop a vessel dead in the water. In this case, the collision only needs to cause 25% of a ship's hull points in damage. What is more, the DC for a Profession: sailor check to free a vessel is only 20, and still decreases by two for each step by which the tide rises.

While these fluctuations in the depths of the world's seas are not in and of themselves dangerous, it can be important to have information about them if a ship is trapped on a sandbar or a reef. When that happens, roll 1d8, with the following results: 1—High tide; 2—Ebbing from high; 3—Middle tide; 4—Ebbing from middle; 5—Low tide; 6—Rising from low; 7—Middle tide; 8—Rising from middle. It takes about fifty minutes to move from one stage to the next, or just over twelve hours to move from one high tide to the next. (This is based on an average of tidal fluctuation; it does not apply exactly to all places in the world.)

Contrary Winds
The direction of the wind can become important when a party is facing obstacles such as these. To do so, roll 1d8, with the following results: 1—North; 2—Northeast; 3—East; 4—Southeast; 5—South; 6—Southwest; 7—West; 8—Northwest. Ships sailing into the wind suffer a -2 circumstance penalty to Profession: sailor checks, while those with it at their backs receive a +2 bonus. Those with the wind off to one side or the other have neither a bonus nor a penalty.

The Ship's Draft
The rules mentioned above assume that the obstacles are shallow enough to endanger a ship, while not being so shallow that they can plainly be seen. At times it could become necessary for a vessel to seek out dangerous waters, so as to escape from pursuit by a larger ship. For example, a Bermuda sloop could sail over a reef that doesn't threaten it, while a pursuing Spanish galleon faces grave danger. To represent this, the obstacle should be given a depth ranging from zero to five fathoms. Ships that sit higher in the water are not threatened by these obstacles. Indeed, the location of such hazards can become an important trade secret for pirates and smugglers, providing them with a weapon to wield against enemies.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Bit of Fiction and Another Resource

Today's post includes something of a new venture for me. Although I do a lot of writing for RPG-related projects, I don't write much fiction. I want to do more of that, however, and the short story included below is a start in that direction. While I was writing it, I also stumbled across a cool resource for 3.X D&D campaigns in general and Skull & Bones in particular.


The Benediction
How are the preparations going, Captain?” Able seaman Roy Williams stood on a pier in the harbor of Port Royal, next to his superior officer, watching as the crew of the Venture finished loading and securing a steady stream of cargo and supplies.

“Well, I'd say.” Ned Carstens stroked his beard as he surveyed the scene. “Another hour or so, and I reckon we'll be ready to sail.”

“Aye, Sir.” Roy nodded. “Your leave, then, to run a quick errand?”


“Thank you, Sir.” With something akin to a bow, Roy slipped away, jogging down the pier and then turning onto Fisher's Row, which ran parallel to the harbor. Before long he reached a small merchant's stall, where an old woman had various fruits and vegetables on display.

“Good afternoon, Miss Agnes.” He bowed.

Courtly manners always brought a smile to her face. “And good day to you, Mister Roy. What is your business today?”

“The usual, of course; we expect to sail in a couple of hours.”

“I'd heard as much, and so I saved something special just for you.” From the pile of produce she retrieved a large, ripe breadfruit and held it up for his inspection.

“It's perfect, as always.” Roy counted out the correct coinage, plus a little more.”

“Thank you, Mister Roy. Clear skies to you—and give my regards to the Reverend.”

“Thank you, milady; I will.”

With another bow he was on his way again, continuing up Fisher's Row until it ran into Thames Street. There, on the edge of a broad, open square, stood the Sign of the Boar's Head, tavern, inn and brothel. Ordinarily Roy would have had a considerable interest in what that place had to offer, but today he had other business.

Behind the building was a short alley that ended at a high wall. In front of the wall stood a makeshift shrine consisting of a small table and hat rack.

Perched atop the latter item as a parrot, wearing a small golden crucifix around its neck.

“Good afternoon, Reverend.” Roy broke the breadfruit in half, exposing the flesh and seeds inside it, and then placed it on the table.

“Rawk.” The bird hopped down from its perch and began to tear at the offering with its beak. “The Lord bless you and keep you,” it pronounced.

“Thank you, Reverend.” With a tip of his hat, Roy headed back toward his waiting ship.

Animal; CR 1/3; Size tiny; HD 1d8+1; hp 5; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Spd 10 ft., fly 60 ft.; AC 16 (+2 size, +2 Dex, +2 natural); Atk +4 (1d4-2, talons); SQ Low-light vision, mimicry; AL N; SV: Fort +3, Ref +4, Will +2; Str 6, Dex 14, Con 13, Int 2, Wis 14, Cha 10.
Skills: Spot +6, Listen +12.
Feats: Weapon Finesse (talons).

Saturday, October 13, 2012

More Links to Resources

Continuing a previous post, I have another link. This is for the old D&D Map-A-Week feature, still available on the Wizards of the Coast website.

In particular, I recommend the maps for Islands Galore; deck plans for a keelboat, pinnace, cog and caravel, along with the Sable Drake; the Hag Caverns; Mansion 1; the Cathedral of Hope and Doom; a Pirate's Port; a combination Fort/Garrison/Prison Cells; a Small City and Marina; and the Pirate Roost.


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.