Skull & Shackles
Character traits are essentially half-feats that help customize a PC’s background and tie her to the themes and events of a particular adventure. Each character should begin play with two traits, one of which may be selected from the Skull & Shackles campaign traits below. For general traits, see the Advanced Player’s Guide or the Character Traits Web Enhancement, a free PDF download available at paizo.com/traits. Additionally, most Pathfinder Player Companion supplements contain racial, regional, and faith traits unique to Golarion and suitable for use by Skull & Shackles PCs. Campaign traits are tailored to a specific Adventure Path and give your character a built-in reason to begin the first adventure in a new campaign. Campaign traits assume a lot more about your character’s backstory than do normal traits, and they are meant to help serve as inspiration for a player working to create a detailed and interesting history for her character. You have a certain amount of leeway in adjusting a campaign trait’s expected backstory once you’ve selected the trait that’s right for you; just be sure to get your GM’s approval before you run with a modified history. All of the following traits revolve around characters that have a reason to be in Port Peril—the unruly capital of the Shackles—and the circumstances that brought them to the notorious dockside tavern known as the Formidably Maid, where they ran afoul of a press gang from the pirate ship Wormwood. You can take a look at these traits to get a general, spoiler-free idea of the types of foes and challenges your character might encounter over the course of the Adventure Path. Knowing that there are going to be elements of piracy, sailing ships, ancient cyclops ruins, and both jungle and underwater adventuring should help you build a character that fits more organically into the campaign you’re about to join.
Ancient Explorer: You are a student of the ancient history of Golarion, and you’ve come to the Shackles to explore the crumbling and vine-choked ruins of the cyclops empire of Ghol-Gan, which have lain abandoned among the isles of the Shackles for thousands of years. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Knowledge (history) and Knowledge (local) checks, and one of these skills is a class skill for you. In addition, you gain Cyclops or Polyglot as a bonus language. You went to a tavern called the Formidably Maid in Port Peril last night to meet a contact who supposedly had an old map of lost cyclops ruins to sell, but the drink was stronger than you had expected and you passed out before making the deal.
Barroom Talespinner: You grew up listening to tales of adventure and piracy on the high seas and the sea chanteys of old salts in dockside dives. You learned all about what it’s like to be a pirate by talking with the sailors on shore leave, and learned how to tell a tale (or perform some other pirate entertainment) yourself. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Diplomacy checks and one category of Perform checks, and one of these skills is a class skill for you. In addition, once per week you can make a DC 15 Knowledge (local) or Intelligence check to see if you know a popular legendary pirate tale, the telling of which grants you a +1 trait bonus on checks made to influence NPCs on the Wormwood. You went to a tavern called the Formidably Maid in Port Peril to earn a few coins with your tales of the sea. The patrons seemed pleased with your performance and bought you a few drinks. You had just remembered a tale of an unfortunate sailor who found himself press-ganged on a pirate ship after his drink was drugged when suddenly everything went black.
Besmara’s Blessing: You were born aboard a ship at sea or down by the docks in a port city on an auspicious day. Old salts and sea dogs nod knowingly and say that Besmara the Pirate Queen, goddess of piracy, sea monsters, and strife, has marked you for a greater destiny. You don’t know anything about that, but you’ve always felt more at home on the sea than on land, and your keen eyes can easily pick out a sail on the distant horizon. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Perception and Profession (sailor) checks. In addition, once per week you can reroll a Profession (sailor) check and take the higher result (you must announce that you are using this ability before the results of the check are known). You came to a tavern in Port Peril called the Formidably Maid in search of your fate. You’re not sure how many drinks you had, but they quickly went to your head and you passed out on the table before you found your destiny—unless it lay in the bottom of a bottle. Then again, maybe you found your destiny after all…
Buccaneer’s Blood: One of your ancestors was an infamous Free Captain of the Shackles, whose very name struck fear in the hearts of those who sailed the seas in search of an honest living. Piracy is in your blood, and you’ve always longed to follow in your forebear’s footsteps and plunder the shipping lanes. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Intimidate and Profession (sailor) checks. In addition, you gain a one-time +1 trait bonus to your Disrepute and Infamy scores (see “The Life of a Pirate” in Pathfinder Adventure Path #55 for details on the Infamy system). You went to a tavern called the Formidably Maid, a notorious pirate hangout in Port Peril, eager to start your career as a buccaneer. While you were there, however, a dashing and flirtatious corsair caught your eye, and after a whirlwind night of booze and romance, you found yourself beaten senseless and stuffed in a sack, carried off to who knows where.
Dockside Brawler: You grew up on the dangerous docks of one of the Shackles’ numerous ports or anchorages, and quickly learned that fists often make a better point than fancy words, especially when used the right way. You’ve always preferred action to talk, anyway. You gain a +1 trait bonus on damage rolls with brass knuckles (Advanced Player’s Guide 176) and improvised weapons. While drinking at a tavern called the Formidably Maid in Port Peril last night, you got into a brawl with some of the other patrons. You handled yourself well, but a group of rough-looking characters ganged up on you and overwhelmed you, knocking you unconscious. Fortunately, you were able to conceal your brass knuckles when you were press-ganged, and you begin the campaign with them, regardless of your starting circumstances.
Eye for Plunder: You’ve always had a keen eye for the glitter of gold or silver, and you’ve robbed enough rich merchants and raided enough ships to have a feel for where the most valuable plunder is hidden. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Appraise and Perception checks to find concealed or secret objects (including doors and traps). In addition, you begin the campaign with a selection mundane trade goods worth 50 gp that you were able to scrounge together during your first day on the Wormwood. You found yourself relatively well off when you got your share of your last voyage’s plunder, and decided to spend a few of your hard-won coins at the Formidably Maid, a popular pirate tavern in Port Peril. Maybe the shine of your new wealth distracted you, however, because you never saw the miscreants who slipped something into your drink, knocking you out cold.
Ilizmagorti Native: You grew up in the city of Ilizmagorti on Mediogalti Island, a pirate port infamous for both the scoundrels who visit it and the feared Red Mantis assassins who run it. You’ve been around pirates all your life, but you’ve learned to be wary in your dealings with people, as there’s no telling who might be a Red Mantis in disguise. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Sense Motive checks, and Sense Motive is a class skill for you. In addition, your familiarity with the pirate’s life allows you to make untrained Knowledge (local) checks regarding pirates or the region of the Shackles. Looking to make your fortune, you hopped aboard a pirate ship in Ilizmagorti, and decided to celebrate your safe arrival in Port Peril with a few drinks at a tavern called the Formidably Maid. There were some suspicious looking characters there, to be sure, and you decided to give them a wide berth, but as you left, feeling a bit woozy from drink, you were set upon by thugs in a dark alley and knocked unconscious.
Peg Leg: One of your legs was bitten off below the knee by a shark when you were just a child, and was replaced with a wooden peg leg (Pathfinder Player Companion: Pirates of the Inner Sea 20). You’ve long since gotten used to your prosthesis, however, and take none of the normal penalties from having a peg leg. You’ve had to learn to deal with the pain of your injury as well, and you gain a +1 trait bonus on Fortitude saves. Ever since your accident you’ve hated sharks, and you also gain a +1 trait bonus on damage rolls against sharks and other animals with the aquatic subtype. Your balance always gets a bit shaky after a few drinks, and last night at the Formidably Maid—a tavern in Port Peril—was no exception. That must be why you fell to the floor as soon as you tried to stand up. What happened next is hazy, but you’re pretty sure you were dragged out of the bar and onto a ship at the docks. At least they didn’t throw you to the sharks…
Ship’s Surgeon: On a ship, a sailor often has to learn multiple skills, and this rule certainly applies to you. Your father was a woodworker, and you learned your first trade from him. But on your first voyage at sea you quickly found out that a carpenter is often a ship’s doctor as well—after all, who knows more about sawing off limbs than someone who saws wood for a living? People are a lot bloodier than wood, that’s for sure, but you haven’t had many complaints—those sailors who have enjoyed your services are either happy to be alive or dead, and there’s old salts who swear the peg legs you for made them are better than the real legs they used to have. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Craft (carpentry) and Heal checks, and Heal is a class skill for you. You were between ships in Port Peril, and after stopping for a drink at a tavern called the Formidably Maid, you happened upon a damsel in distress in the alleyway outside. Thinking you could help, you didn’t notice the thugs hiding nearby, and they caught you unawares. You’ve been on enough ships to know a press gang by the blow of the sap on the back of your neck—you just hope whatever ship you end up on needs a surgeon. Although the majority of your equipment was taken away when you were press-ganged, you managed to hang on to a fully stocked healer’s kit, and you begin the campaign with it, regardless of your starting circumstances.
Touched by the Sea: You’ve always felt the call of the sea and your blood surges with the ebb and flow of the tides. Perhaps one of your parents was a sailor or pirate, or maybe one of your ancestors had a bit of aquatic elf or undine blood in them. Whatever the reason, you’re as comfortable in the water as you are on land. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Swim checks and Swim is a class skill for you. In addition, penalties on attack rolls made underwater are lessened by 1. You came to Port Peril in search of your destiny, and after a few drinks at a tavern called the Formidably Maid, you went down to the docks to take in a view of the sea. The last thing you remember is a blow to the back of your head and the waves rushing up to meet you.