CRB is a repository of all the creative things that float through my mind about the RPG Pathfinder. Two major features are random character generation and building characters based on the god they worship. Anything that seems like it adds to the creative aspects of the game will pop up from time to time, including location descriptions, adventure ideas and even short stories. CRB won't just be my own creativity, it will open the floor to anyone who has an idea sparked by what I present to you.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Water Water Everywhere

The Sea Is More Than Pirates

Illustration by Luis Perez
People love a good campaign based around pirates. Paizo has made not one but two Adventure Paths - Skulls and Shackles and Serpent’s Skull - as well as at least one module with pirates as the theme. Chris Jackson has contributed their splat book on ships as well as written three book series about the crew of the Stargazer. Seafaring seems to be pretty popular in Pathfinder, and with the new 7th Sea book which came out last year I think it's pretty popular across game platforms.

Pirates, however, aren't the only people sailing the seas of the world. There are plenty of other types of ships to ply the waters that your players might enjoy playing, or to feature as enemies. Using Golarion as an example Andoran, Cheliax, Qadira, and Taldor all have massive navies. Games set around being a crewman on any one of these seagoing vessels could be quite interesting. It is a slightly more structured lifestyle than being on a pirate ship but you're far less likely to get a knife in the back for your share of plunder.

If you'd like a mix of pirates and legitimate naval fleets maybe it’s time to live the life of a privateer. Letters of Marque given to buccaneers allowed them to prey on ships of enemy countries. Taldor relies on these legal pirates to patrol the river that runs between the empire and Qadira. Even Andoran uses privateers to attack the slaver ships of Okeno, and occasionally vessels from Cheliax. Even though Cheliax is considered an evil nation they are all about order and they despise both pirates and privateers.

In the northern waters you have the Ulfen raiders. Not as active as they once were, still some clans of the Ulfen from both the Land of the Linnorm Kings and the Ironbound Archipelago continue the tradition of raiding coastal villages and towns. Different from pirates who usually attack other ships, these raiders are also usually a family or clan, which has a different dynamic than the 'every man for himself' rule of a pirate ship.

Slavers are feared across the inner sea region. The yellow-sailed ships of the slavers of the Katapeshi island of Okeno strike terror even into the hearts of hardened pirates. Using these foul folk as a foil to your sea bound players could lead to many interesting games. Be careful though, slavery is a tough subject for some so choose your use of slavers judiciously.

No matter what kind of seafaring game you end up playing, a lot of folk who end up on boats for a living grew up around them. We need to consider where characters learned to sail in the first place. Fisherfolk, merchant vessels, and transport ships are all perfect places for sea bound characters to have gotten their start. Children of people who make a living off the sea often find a way out onto the waters themselves.

One need not have ever been on a boat to know a lot about them. There is a lot of support that goes into the seafaring. Harbors and docks are filled with shipwrights, sailmakers, and cordonniers. If your parents were dockworkers, harbormasters, or even a barkeep in a dockside tavern there is a good chance you'll have some knowledge of seafaring.

On Golarion you also have deities that deal with waters and seafaring; Gozreh in her female aspect of goddess of the sea, Besmara the goddess of pirates,  Hei Feng the Tian god of the seas. Other than these major and minor deities there are a few Demon Lords, Infernal Dukes, and Empyreal Lords that deal with aspects of life at sea or on the coasts. Deciding which deity a character pays homage to gives a good idea of how they feel about the sea.

So, there’s more to just sailing the seas than being a pirate. Whether you’re playing in or running a game based on a ship there’s a lot to consider, and not just what you do on the boat. How did you learn to sail? What do you do on land? What job do you have onboard? Which deity do you pray to to keep you safe?

The open waters have been a source of wonder for ages, and hopefully the CRB brings you that same sense of excitement and adventure. Contributing to my Patreon is a great way to help support the CRB, giving me the time write the content you enjoy and do things like replace the cracked screen on my laptop. If a onetime donation is more your speed consider contributing a donation via my paypal.

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The opening illustration was created by the fine artist Luis Perez. You can find him on TwitterTumblr, and on Instagram at luisperezart.

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