Welcome to Adventure Seeds, a semi-regular column that will help ‘plant’ ideas. We’re going to start off with the old standby, pirates. (And yes, we’ll be doing a column on ninjas later, just to be fair) Whether in the old school X1 The Isle of Dread, Green Ronin’s Freeport setting, or Paizo’s Skull & Shackles Adventure Path the Jolly Roger/Johnny Depp folk are part of D&D. Let’s look at some other ways to bring these mateys into your games.
Pirates are a fact of life at sea. Any ship carrying any cargo of value was almost inevitably going to be targeted by pirates, be they contracted corsairs or bloodthirsty rogues just out to steal. If you’re running a game involving sea travel, and the threat of the scourges of the sea sounds like something you’d like to implement in your campaign, read on ye scurvy scalawag! You’ll find the following Adventure Seeds a helpful way to start.
- Curse of the Skeleton Crew
The party hears a centuries-old legend of a pirate crew who stole priceless artifacts from the cleric of a vengeful god. As revenge, the cleric cursed the crew, turning them all into mindless undead skeletons. For hundreds of years, the Skeleton Crew aimlessly sailed the seas, with several conflicting accounts of it’s appearance coming from sailors who have claimed to have seen it. Though one thing is universally agreed upon, the Crew is always seen mindlessly carrying out the sailor’s duties they once performed in life, and forever guarding their sacred treasure.
- Treasure of the Silver Star
The party is contracted as mercenaries by an old sea dog captain who needs extra muscle for protection on a dangerous expedition. The captain’s brother, a captain in his own right, went missing at sea several months ago along with his crew, and, more importantly to the captain, all that remains of their grandfather’s family fortune. The captain is mounting an expedition to recover it, and hires the extra protection out of fear of the legendary sea monsters that are rumored to lurk the region his brother disappeared in.
- Black Powder Peril!
A high-ranking naval official charters the party to act as corsairs (pirates employed by a government to attack enemy ships) on his behalf. Suddenly, the nation’s current enemy somehow acquired new, more effective gunpowder weapons (both small and large) than that which his military is using. The party’s mission is to target ships that contain these weapons, and to track down whoever is producing them and open trade negotiations to supply their side with these weapons.
- Long Live the King
The King’s ship was attacked by pirates, and they have taken the monarch hostage and are demanding a ransom. Quickly and quietly, the king’s advisors develop a covert plan to track down these pirates in the middle of the night to strike back against the scourges and rescue their king.
- Scurvy and its Cure
During your voyage, an outbreak of scurvy claims most of the ship’s sailors. With most of the crew too sick to work, those that are still healthy have no choice but to make a dangerous detour. Not too far out of the way is a tropical island where oranges and lemons grow in the wild, yet the legends say the island is also home to many dangerous beasts and monsters. To save their shipmates, the party must venture to this island to collect the citrus fruits while defending themselves against the savage beasts.
As with all Adventure Seeds, these are merely to spark your own creativity. If one of these makes you have an even better idea, don’t feel obliged to stick with what the original seed said. With these starting points, you should be taking your campaign on to adventure in the high seas in no time.