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[Games on the Brain] Pirate Adventures for Fun and Buckling of Swashes

September 18, 2015

Let’s do something fun now. Because after the last few weeks, it’s definitely time for some fun.

A few weeks back, I was turned on to a little contest being held by fellow RPG gaming geek, Kevin Smith at his blog, Melvin Smif’s Geekery. The contest was to see who could pitch him the best ideas for both a Deadlands: Reloaded adventure, and separately a Dungeons and Dragons adventure for him to run at the upcoming AcadeCon. Well, I decided to write up a little idea I had been holding on to for Deadlands and sent it to Kevin. Turns out he liked my adventure pitch, titled “The Lady & The Casket”, enough to name me the winner. Thanks Kevin!

My little adventure write-up is now in Kevin’s hands, and it’s his to post publicly (which I assume he will do after the Con he wants to run it at). But I decided that I would like to flesh out some similar ideas that I had bumping around in my head. So, for your enjoyment, and the benefit of all mankind, here is a pirate-themed adventure pitch, in much the same style as my winning Deadlands pitch.

Personally, I highly recommend running your tales of ship battles and swashbuckling using the Savage Worlds rules, but you should of course adapt this to whatever game system puts the wind in your sails. There aren’t any rules-specific stats used below anyhow.


The Wreck of La Diabla Plata (or perhaps El Angel Plata?)

Adventure Ideas for Pirates of the Spanish Main, 50 Fathoms, or any other piratical campaign setting you might have in mind.

Not far from their home port, the player characters spy a Spanish galleon run aground on a reef, far from shore. Her sails are flapping in the breeze, loose and tattered. There are more than a few cannonball-size holes in her hull. There is no sign of her crew above decks.

So what’s going on, and what’s inside the ship? Funny you should ask. Draw a card and look at the suit:

Spades: Treasure! The hold is filled with silver and valuable timber. The few remaining Spanish sailors on board are wounded, and are below decks. Among them is a passenger, the beautiful young daughter of a Spanish nobleman. The ship full of pirates that has been pursuing them arrives on the scene minutes after the PC’s discover the wounded crewmen. If the PC’s represent themselves as proper Brethren of the Coast, the pirate captain may be willing to let them bargain their share of the treasure, but the lives of the sailors are forfeit in this case. If the pirates discover the girl onboard, they will insist they have “the right” to hold and ransom her.

Hearts: Xitlanhualpilli, and ancient undead Aztec priest. (If you have Deadlands: Reloaded, you can use the stats for Aztec Mummy.) He is disguised as living human, and a particularly charismatic and persuasive one at that. He will seek the PC’s help in establishing his cult in the Caribbean, beginning with their home port, and will promise each of them their heart’s desire. Just don’t ask about what happened to the crew , or the bodies of sailors stashed in the hold that are missing their hearts. (It’ll make him angry.)

Xitlanhualpilli is pursued by a religious monster-hunting privateer and his crew, who arrive by ship approximately an hour after the PC’s meet the ancient one. The privateer will stop at nothing to track down the undead priest and see him destroyed.

Diamonds: The Holy Grail! (Feel free to substitute the Ark of the Covenant or any other religious artifact of your choice.) The surviving monks onboard are members of the Catholic Church’s secretive Order of Saint George. They discovered the Grail in the Andes Mountains, and were attempting to return it to Jerusalem when they were attacked by a ship of the Knights Templar (who just happen to have a letter of marque from the English governor of St. Kitts). The monks won’t easily divulge the exact nature of their mission or the artifact that they are carrying, but they will promise “great earthly rewards” and the gratitude of the Church to those who aid them. The Knights Templar who arrive on the scene shortly after will make similar promises about spiritual power and a place in the “new order”.

Clubs: It’s a trap! The hold of the ship is loaded with gold, but there’s a terrible curse laid upon it. Once any living person touches the gold, the undead pirates who last attempted to claim it materialize and attack. (Use stats for zombies. These are the somewhat intelligent, weapon-using kind of zombie pirates.) They will attempt to trap the PC’s in the hold if they can. Whether the undead are defeated, or the PC’s simply escape, the cursed dead will show up later to reclaim their gold if any was removed from the ship. The curse can be lifted if either the gold is all thrown overboard, or if the galleon is blown to smithereens. There are twelve barrels of gunpowder on board that should do the trick, but at least eight of them have to be gathered in one place for a concentrated enough explosion. The power of the curse will prevent the galleon from simply burning.

Joker: Ninjas! Come on, you need a write up for this one? OK, fine. The descendants of the Koga Clan have tracked a lost sacred scroll of theirs to the Caribbean, and are onboard the galleon torturing the crewmen who can possibly tell them where to find it. One of the crewmen does know the scroll’s whereabouts, but he doesn’t want the ninjas to know that his ancestor helped steal it in the first place. If the Koga reclaim the scroll, they will use it to summon a water demon to plague pirates and smugglers throughout the Caribbean. (It’ll be a test run for when they summon a demon to overthrow the Shogunate back home.)


I tend to keep my scenarios open-ended so I can to give the players the opportunities to make the big choices in the game. If anyone gets any mileage out of any of these ideas at the game table, I’d love to hear about it. I’d like to run a game for my friends soon, but right now, I just don’t know when I’ll be able to make time for it.

Good sailing everyone!

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