Adventuring as Pirates: Bards

“Ho there! Sit, sit.”
[She flings a cup of something at you. You look at the dark liquid with little flecks in it, raise an eyebrow.]
“Yes, drink, drink! It’s rum… rum with something, don’t worry. It’s our old drink on the Charlatan. I hear you are interested in our societies. I’m out now, retired here, so maybe I tell you a bit. Nothing that will let those Royals know about them, but sure, I understand the appeal. We don’t have colleges, so how do bards study?”

Pirate Ship by Carlo Mirante

Pirate Ship by Carlo Mirante from

The tale-tellers, minstrels and jack-of-all trades at sea ignore land-lubber colleges. There is little structure in an island port. These women and men do maintain connections with each other, sometimes even when their ships are at war. They will talk to Bards in Colleges, because maybe they’ll learn something useful. Those that sail under the black will never talk to those that sail under the crown.

Under a crown a sea-going Bard is a member of a Royal Society, often Valor as one of the officers. These societies adventure to learn, to discover and to stop the plunder.

Under the black the bards also have a society. They meet in pubs and brothels, dark corners where they swap tales and songs, wary of those with writs and honest eyes.

This is the second of my “pirate all classes” project. The first was Rogues and explains the concept and rules of the exercise.

Society of Lore

Silver always knew the next step. Whether it was a tale he picked up at a brothel, on another ship, or a story from his pre-piracy days, his knowledge helped us. No one really liked Silver, but we listened. Maybe a dozen of us are alive because of him. He’d never win a vote for captaincy, but no one wants him off the ship either.

You are the teller of tales, the knower of legends. No matter what officer or crew asks a question you know the answer. Sometimes your answer is true. Often it isn’t, but they believe you, this crew. You keep their spirits high during the storm, banging that drum, blasting the horn, or whistling the recorder. Your voice is a rallying cry. As a mere swabbie you rarely get the awful details, because others will serve for you. They’ve seen you bandage a wound, or fling a dagger. No matter what is needed, you are there. Maybe someday you’ll be an officer, but that would make port a lot less fun.

Take six skills, it doesn’t matter. Expertise should be in history or performance for the telling of tall tales. Athletics or Vehicles (Water) should be your other Expertise. You are a sailor.

Charisma is your key stat with Intelligence and either Dexterity or Strength in that order.

Society of Valor

There are better fighters than Flint. Not many, have you, but a few. He swings sword or first with the best of them. Plus, when Flint asks for help, you do it. His words, or sometimes even his look, is inspiring. He has no time for instruments, but his voice, those times he uses it, it gets you right in the heart.

The Royals (pure blooded fools) expose themselves through valor. You’re more about winning, always. Because you can fight you’ve earned your way from mere swabbie to a lower officer – boatswain or first mate. Without a doubt you will be a captain someday. You lead the boarding party at sea and defend the ship in port. You aren’t in charge, formally. Things just go better when you are around the crew. The last fight you lost was because you felt bad for the captain. He’s a good guy and you don’t want to run the ship.

Athletics is important as you leap from ship to ship. Acrobatics can be useful as well. Take the Soldier or City Watch backgrounds. You were once honest, but life at sea changes a man or woman.

Strength is vital. You are a warrior with extra talents as well. Charisma is a good second stat. If you expect to swim long distances boost your Constitution.

Society of Swords

[This is from Unearthed Arcana:Kits of Old]

Flynn is interesting soul. He’ll never do anything simply. When he spins his blades it isn’t just defeat the enemy, or to inspire us, it is for art. One time he did this thing where he did this thing where he spun his dagger on top of his rapier and then with just a flick of his wrist it went flying off pinning the enemy captain to his cabin door.

You do not need an instrument. Your daggers and blades sing tunes. They can inspire fear, warm the heart or heal the soul. With a good blade in your hand, and your other hand, and on your belt, and on your boot, and in that hidden scabbard at the small of your back you can win any fight – mostly. When it is time to board another vessel you are one of the first. The regular crew follows you easily. They know that the opposing guards will head to you first. In port you work a stage or street corner juggling some blades or scarves.

Acrobatics is a must have skill. Prior to life at sea you were likely a Noble or Courtier or Inheritor. You enjoy the thrill of discovery, and showing off your blades.

Dexterity and Charisma are the most important attributes. You use finesse weapons, so Strength isn’t important.

Society of Satire

[This is from Unearthed Arcana:Kits of Old]

I knew Sparrow before he had his own ship. I don’t think he was ever drunk, it was more an act to fool the rest of us. Fool, ha! That’s what he was and is. All jokes and cutting words, that Sparrow. Somehow he found a ship willing to put up with his constant humor.

When you work the rigging you make monkey noises. When you swap the deck you make certain it’s wet enough to trip that crew member you do not like. If you are on lookout you might tell the ship you see something that doesn’t exist. You aren’t the best crew member, but when a sail rips, or someone is trapped in the rigging you can fix that faster than anyone else. Your “drunkeness” gets you into and out of trouble in a dash. Some crews love you, others hate you. That often times has no relation to the ship you are currently working.

Performance, Intimidation and Insight are highly useful for the Satirist. Any background can inspire the woman or man that finds that the only way to deal with life is through jokes.

Charisma, and then some more Charisma. You likely have a high Wisdom, as you understand what makes people tick.

One thought on “Adventuring as Pirates: Bards

  1. Pingback: So, you got into ShanyTok, now what | Full Moon Storytelling

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