Interlude 19: The Fence
At the end of every successful pirate cruise, the crew is left with a question: How can they dispose of their ill-gotten gains? While coinage can easily be spent in the nearest tavern or brothel, trade goods such as cloth, tobacco and the like must be sold if pirates are going to claim their profits. To that end, they must find a willing purchaser.
That's where the fence enters the situation. This is usually a merchant of some means, but one who is not opposed to dealing with ne'er-do-wells. It is up to that person to pass the goods on to the general market, providing a legitimate front that eliminates any difficult local scrutiny—all while turning a tidy profit on the deal. While some might view this practice as ethically objectionable, other regard it as simply letting the free market operate.
Detailed below is the operation of one Lucas Rathbone, known as “Lucky Luke” among the buccaneers of Jamaica.
Expert 7; CR 6; Size medium; HD 7d6; hp 27; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 11 (+1 Dex); Atk +6 (2d4, pistol) or +4 (1d4-1, knife); AL LN; SV: Fort +2, Ref +3, Will +7; Str 8, Dex 12, Con 10, Int 13, Wis 14, Cha 16.
Skills: Appraise +14, Bluff +15, Diplomacy +16, Forgery +11, Intimidate +9, Knowledge: local +11, Listen +12, Sense Motive +12, Spot +12.
Feats: Persuasive, Skill Foci (Appraise, Diplomacy), Weapon Proficiency (simple), Leadership.
Fortunes: Booty, Vice.
Equipment: Pistol, knife, ledger book, pen, ink, paper, purse of coins.
Lucas “Lucky Luke” Rathbone is a successful merchant with a friendly demeanor, an eye for the value of merchandise and loose definition of right and wrong. He can mix equally well with the upper crust of Jamaican society and pirates; this is aided by his love of wine, women and song—qualities he shares with many of those illicit business associates. Rathbone is a short, stout fellow who wears well-tailored clothing but otherwise does not show off his wealth. After all, he prefers to spend it on his aforementioned vices.
Warrior 5; CR 4; Size medium; HD 5d8+10; hp 36; Init +3 (+3 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 15 (+3 Dex, +2 armor); Atk +8 (2d6, short musket) or +6 (1d6+1, cutlass); AL LN; SV: Fort +6, Ref +4, Will +2; Str 13, Dex 16, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 10.
Skills: Climb +7, Jump +7, Survival +7, Swim +7.
Feats: Armor Proficiency (light), Far Shot, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Weapon Proficiencies (simple, martial).
Equipment: Buff coat, short musket, cutlass, pair of pistols.
Bertrand—whom Rathbone refers to as Bert—is an old French filibuster who was growing old for the life of life at sea, and thus jumped at the chance to work for a fence. This provides him with a steady income, while still allowing him to stay in touch with this old comrades.
Warrior 1; CR 1/2; Size medium; HD 1d8+2; hp 10; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 14 (+2 Dex, +2 armor); Atk +3 (2d6, short musket) or +2 (1d6+1, cutlass); AL LN; SV: Fort +4, Ref +2, Will +1; Str 13, Dex 15, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 10.
Skills: Climb +3, Jump +3, Survival +3, Swim +3.
Feats: Armor Proficiency (light), Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Weapon Proficiencies (simple, martial).
Fortunes: Devil's Own Luck, Wastrel.
Equipment: Buff coat, short musket, cutlass.
These fellows are tough, skilled and completely loyal to their employer.
This map depicts a building typical of the ones that Rathbone and other fences use to store their goods. It is two stories in height, with walls of solid stone and iron-reinforced wooden doors (DC 25 to pick the lock or DC 20 to force; hardness 10 and 50 hit points). There are skylights in the roof (DC 20 to pick the lock or DC 10 to force without breaking the glass; hardness 2 and 5 hit points for the glass), but it takes one or two DC 20 Climb checks to reach them.
Inside the warehouse, as expected, is a broad, open room. It is filled with tall shelves, on which all manner of crates, barrels, boxes and sacks are organized (Area 2). Two double doors provide access, one set at ground level and one atop a five-foot-high platform that can be reached by a long ramp and is used for loading goods into wagons (Area 1). In the back corner of the building is Rathbone's office, raised off the floor and reached via a short set of stairs (Area 3). Underneath the office is a cellar used for storing merchandise that must be kept cool.
The exact contacts of the office in particular, and warehouse in general, should be determined by the GM, depending on the needs of the campaign.
The fence can become involved in a campaign through a variety of means; just a few of the possibilities are detailed below.
- First and foremost, the PC's could turn to Rathbone if they have a valuable cargo and need to sell it. This requires negotiation, and could make for some good roleplaying.
- Alternately, the PC's might be hired to break into the warehouse to retrieve a particular item, perhaps from a cargo taken by other pirates.
- In another twist, Rathbone could betray his pirate associates, leading them into a trap so that the English authorities can arrest them.
- Building on the previous possibility, the fence could be coerced into such treachery because a loved one is kidnapped and held by an enemy.