The Roleplaying Diaries of Bryan Stephens
With time on their hands and precious few places to go, Shackles pirates have come up with an astonishing array of pastimes.
One way pirates amuse themselves is through songs and stories. Pirates love a good sea chantey, and characters with Perform skills quickly find themselves popular members of the crew (although pirates aren’t generally big on Chelish Opera). If a character succeeds at a DC 20 Perform check, he gains a +2 circumstance bonus on all Charisma-based skill checks made to interact with any listener among the crew for the next 24 hours. A Perform result of 9 or lower, however, indicates that the next time he attempts to use Perform to entertain the crew, everyone ignores him unless he makes a successful DC 15 Bluff or Intimidate check before doing so.
Aside from telling stories, singing songs, and other recreations (all of which might be simulated with the Perform skill), these pastimes have two things in common they are dangerous, and they are played for money. When betting on any of the following games, the minimum bet is 1 gp, and the maximum ready cash any NPC in the lesser crew is likely to have is 20 gp. Some people are bad losers—the ramifications of this are leftfor the GM to decide.
Not merely typical arm wrestling bouts, such matches are usually conducted on a barrel top covered in broken glass, knives, or caltrops. Participants make opposed Strength checks, with the higher result determining the winner, and the loser taking an amount of damage equal to 1d2 + the winner’s Strength modifier as his hand and arm are pushed onto whatever lies on the table.
Participants lob a lead ingot covered in a greased piglet skin, the “hog,” as far across the deck as possible. This game is resolved by d20 checks between any number of players, who agree on a bet beforehand. The hog counts as an improvised weapon, imposing a –4 penalty on all rolls using it unless the thrower has the Throw Anything feat. Checks are resolved as attack rolls using the character’s CMB. Characters toss the hog a number of feet equal to their adjusted rolls; for example, a character who gets a result of 22 throws the hog 22 feet. Some pirates claim to have participated in games played against Asmodeus using a live hog.
This potentially deadly drinking game is played with rum and takes place between any number of pirates, who bet to predict the winner beforehand. Each pirate drinks a half pint of rum in one swig. Doing so forces participants to make a successful DC 15 Fortitude save or have the damage dealt by the rum ration increase by +1 (see sidebar; this is in addition to the normal effects of the rum ration). This DC increases by +3 for each consecutive drink. Pirates then take turns drinking until only one is left standing. Some tales tell of entire crews drinking themselves to death through this game, leaving ships of drunk ghosts wandering the shipping routes.