Wednesday 19 December 2012

Pirate Crawl Classics Occupations

So I've been thinking more about seafaring skills and I think I have a better solution.  I recently got to browse through a copy of Dungeon Crawl Classics and I liked the skill system, so I'm using something similar for the Pirate game:

  • Characters have an occupation from before choosing a life of adventuring
  • Tasks requiring a skill check have a DC between 0 and 20 depending on difficulty
    • Character with relevant Occupation roll 1d20
    • Characters without relevant Occupation roll 1d10
    • Roll is modified by ability score modifier where relevant
      • Blacksmith making a battle axe uses STR modifier
      • Blacksmith making a tiny key uses DEX modifier
  • Simple career tasks may not require a skill check for a trained character.  If an untrained individual attempts these, the DM can decide on a case-by-case basis if a check is required.  For example:
    • taking the helm of a ship for simple manoeuvres in fair weather- no check
    • managing the rigging for simple manoeuvres in fair weather- no check
    • firing a canon at a target- modify attack roll by DEX bonus if DEX was half of current value
  • If a character spends a long time doing a particular career action they may gain an additional career.  The DM and players may negotiate this, but in general, it should be quite rare.  For example:
    • If the ship's carpenter takes the helm on a regular basis for a year of game-time, he may add the Helmsman career
    • If the ship's carpenter is constantly having to treat other wounded characters in the absence of a Doctor, over the course of years, he still is probably not going to add a Doctor career without years of study.  But maybe the DM will invent a Medic career which is more limited.
  • If you want an Occupation that doesn't appear here, invent it.


Here are some occupations and some of the things they can do:
  • Seafaring Occupations- all know the basics and can serve as riggers, powder monkeys, lookouts, helmsmen in favourable conditions
    • Sailor- tie knots, fix sails, traverse rigging even in foul weather
      • as lookout, skill check to see underwater reefs 
    • Helmsman- pilot a large ship or command an untrained person at helm
      • manoeuvre ship effectively in combat
      • skill check to traverse narrow passages through straits, reefs
    • Navigator- read/draw maps, get boat from point A to point B
      • skill check to go to particular hex(failure means ending-up travelling to an adjacent hex)
    • Ship Doctor- know how to set broken bones, install peglegs, care for wounded crew
      • skill check to double patient's healing rate
    • Ship Carpenter- fix boat parts
      • fix damage from canons, storms
    • Ship Gunner- fire a heavy gun and oversee it's maintainence
      • skill check to hit particular target
    • Ship Cook- create a meal out of nearly anything
    • Fisherman- catch fish
    • Marine- soldier stationed on ship
      • no penalty fighting on ship during high seas
  • Other Occupations(what are you, a landlubber?!)
    • Noble- member of noble class
      • begin with more starting funds
    • Smith- make simple things from metal
    • Gunsmith- make/fix guns
    • Leatherwork- make complex things from leather
    • Performer- entertain people
    • Professional Gambler- gamble
    • Pearl Diver- swim, hold breath

A Word on Character Class

This skill system gives you a good deal of flexibility as far as what character classes you want to allow.  

  • For Pirates in the line of Treasure Island you may only want to allow Fighting Man
    • in this case you may want to add a Burglar Occupation who makes skill checks when thief skills are needed
  • For more fantastical Pirate adventures like Adventures of Sindbad, you can just use standard DnD classes with the above occupations

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