Skull & Shackles
Skills and Feats
Acrobatics: Ships at sea offer a number of unique and continuously reoccurring challenges to balance and dextrous movement. From moving on a slippery deck to walking a boarding plank on a stormy sea, acrobatics can be a sailor’s best friend.
Bluff: In addition to its common usages, this skill is deployed in a pirate campaign when embellishing an attempt to activate Reputation and when selling plunder. In grim shipboard situations, a captain may also need this skill to maintain control of his crew.
Climb: An essential skill for a rigger, climb is still a prized ability by any sailor hoping to scale his way out of the drink or reach the crow’s nest.
Craft (Carpentry): A pirate ship is made of wood and often enters battle; the life of the carpenter may not be as glamorous as the captain’s or as exciting as the Master Gunner’s, but it’s equally important. Moreover, a skilled carpenter is also capable of crafting his own boats of Huge size or less -a handy ability if one is ever marooned.
Craft (Ship’s Maintenance): This skill covers all of the fixes and repairs necessary to keep a vessel in tip-top condition. Sewing, rope work, minor blacksmithing, and cooping all play a role in this ability.
Diplomacy: The gentleman’s alternative to Bluff, this skill relies on honesty and rapport. It otherwise performs many of the same functions (albeit, without the same chance for reward or regret) as Bluff, including activating Reputation and selling plunder.
Healing: While clerics and potions are nice luxuries, not every ship is lucky enough to have them. Moreover, ship-to-ship combat often involves a great many injuries -enough to deplete even the most plentiful stores or the strongest faith. Thus, it is important that any vessel have a trained healer. Indeed, this skill is essential for a ship’s surgeon.
Knowledge (Geography): The absolutely crucial tasks of navigation and piloting fall under this skill. While Profession (sailor) covers the maneuvering and handling of a ship, the science of navigation requires a distinctly different set of training -mathematics, geometry, optics, and astronomy, among other fields. See Stormwrack page 86 for details.
Knowledge (Local): The Shackles is a magnificent, deadly, varied, and secretive place. Why not know a bit more about it?
Knowledge (Nature): This skill provides one with knowledge of the flora and fauna of the sea and its shores, as well as a basic understanding of tides, currents, and wind patterns. Furthermore, one can better predict approaching storms (synergy bonus with Survival skill) and determine approximate distance from land based on the type and number of creatures thereabout.
Knowledge (Shipwright): This skills allows one to design, draft, and construct any vessel (given, of course, the proper material and help from trained carpenters).
Profession (Sailor):* This skill covers a broad variety of tasks and training, ranging from routine jobs such as steering, setting sails, and dropping or raising anchor to smart shiphandling, tactical maneuver, and handling a ship in a storm.
- 1-2 ranks = typical swab or deckhand
- 3-7 ranks = petty officers, or technical experts such as boatswains
- 8+ ranks = expert shiphandlers. They know how sails should be set for current winds. They can handle tricky tasks of piloting such as crossing a river bar or navigating a reef. They are also skilled at tactical maneuvers in battle such as executing or avoiding a ramming attack, bringing a ship alongside for boarding.
Profession (Cook): Morale is incredibly important on a ship at sea, and, other than plunder and rum, nothing changes a crew’s mood more than the grub.
Profession (Siege Engineer): Although not all are fortunate enough to have them, siege engines greatly increase the battle prowess of ship, increasing range, damage potential, and intimidation. Possessing this skills allows one to operate and maintain siege equipment and is a general requisite of a ship’s master gunner. With the proper materials and in conjunction with a carpenter, one can also construct siege equipment.
Survival (Seas & Coasts): The open ocean is one of the most hostile environments in the world. Food and drink are extremely hard to come by; seawater only increases dehydration and mid-ocean waters can be surprisingly barren of fish. With Survival, one can gather rain water from a passing storm and make a meal of an unlucky seabird or curious fish. En toto, this skill will allow one to survive this environment with little more than some bravery and luck.
Swim: Historically many sailors lacked the ability to swim, but when continuously surrounded by water one’s entire professional adult life, why take the chance? Moreover, one rank does not a skilled swimmer make. Consider investing in order to survive turbulent or difficult waters.
Athletic, Expert Driver, Expert Swimmer, Exotic weapon proficiency (siege weapons), Sea Legs, Siege Commander, Skill Focus, Skilled Driver, Sure Grasp, Great Captain, Old Salt, Port Savvy (S&B), Sailor’s Balance, Sanctify Water, Scourge of the Seas, Storm Magic, Windsinger, Weapon Display (S&B)