Skull & Shackles
Aboard many ships, half a pint of rum is distributed to each crew member at dusk. The rum is staggeringly strong, and is often watered down to make grog. Characters drinking the ration are affected as though they had taken an addictive drug. The rum ration is doled out more to keep the crew sated and docile than for recreation. The penalty for selling or spilling the ration is six lashes, or six lashes from a cat-o’-nine-tails for a second offense. Deliberately tipping away rum on board a crowded ship without being seen requires a DC 10 Stealth check. While on merchant or navy vessels rum rations are strictly limited, on pirate ships, crew members can often request more rum if they please.
Shackles Rum Ration
Type ingested; Addiction minor, Fortitude DC 5
Price 2 sp
Effect variable; +1d4 alchemical bonus to Charisma and fatigued for 1d8 hours
Damage 1d3 Con
With time on their hands and precious few places to go, Shackles pirates have come up with an astonishing array of pastimes.
One way pirates amuse themselves is through songs and stories. Pirates love a good sea chantey, and characters with Perform skills quickly find themselves popular members of the crew (although pirates aren’t generally big on Chelish Opera). If a character succeeds at a DC 20 Perform check, he gains a +2 circumstance bonus on all Charisma-based skill checks made to interact with any listener among the crew for the next 24 hours. A Perform result of 9 or lower, however, indicates that the next time he attempts to use Perform to entertain the crew, everyone ignores him unless he makes a successful DC 15 Bluff or Intimidate check before doing so.
Aside from telling stories, singing songs, and other recreations (all of which might be simulated with the Perform skill), these pastimes have two things in common: they are dangerous, and they are played for money. When betting on any of the following games, the minimum bet is 1 gp, and the maximum ready cash any NPC in the lesser crew is likely to have is 20 gp. Some people are bad losers—the ramifications of this are left for the GM to decide.
Not merely typical arm wrestling bouts, such matches are usually conducted on a barrel top covered in broken glass, knives, or caltrops. Participants make opposed Strength checks, with the higher result determining the winner, and the loser taking an amount of damage equal to 1d2 + the winner’s Strength modifier as his hand and arm are pushed onto whatever lies on the table.
Participants lob a lead ingot covered in a greased piglet skin, the “hog,” as far across the deck as possible. This game is resolved by d20 checks between any number of players, who agree on a bet beforehand. The hog counts as an improvised weapon, imposing a –4 penalty on all rolls using it unless the thrower has the Throw Anything feat. Checks are resolved as attack rolls using the character’s CMB. Characters toss the hog a number of feet equal to their adjusted rolls; for example, a character who gets a result of 22 throws the hog 22 feet. Some pirates claim to have participated in games played against Asmodeus using a live hog.
This potentially deadly drinking game is played with rum and takes place between any number of pirates, who bet to predict the winner beforehand. Each pirate drinks a half pint of rum in one swig. Doing so forces participants to make a successful DC 15 Fortitude save or have the damage dealt by the rum ration increase by +1 (see sidebar; this is in addition to the normal effects of the rum ration). This DC increases by +3 for each consecutive drink. Pirates then take turns drinking until only one is left standing. Some tales tell of entire crews drinking themselves to death through this game, leaving ships of drunk ghosts wandering the shipping routes.
Bounder is unique among gambling games in that both the players and dealer use dice. The dealer gets three 6-sided dice, and each player gets two 20-siders. To start, each player bets a stake (minimum 1 sp). Each player rolls his first d20, making his “point.” After all players have rolled their points, each player may double his stake if desired. Then the dealer rolls 3d6. Anyone whose point the dealer matches loses his stake. Then each player rolls his second d20. If the player’s two dice results are on either side of the dealer’s result—one greater than and one less than the dealer’s number—he “bounds” the dealer and wins an amount equal to the amount he bet. Otherwise, he loses his stake. If a player rolls a 1 and a 20 (or a 20 and a 1), he wins double his bet.
A deck of cards, plus an amulet and coins to track bets. A golem deck is identical to a real-world poker deck, except the cards go from 1 to 13 in four suits: flesh (hearts), clay (spades), stone (diamonds), and iron (clubs). Golem is a player-vs.-player card game similar to five-card draw poker, but with a “golem hand.” Golem is played in a series of games; one game must be completely resolved before the next begins. The player to the right of the dealer gets the amulet to start the night. The dealer deals five cards to each player. Starting at the amulet, each player can bet, raise one coin, or fold. Anyone who folds is out of the game, and can’t come back in until a new game begins. Next, each player may discard up to two cards and receive that many back from the dealer. These discarded cards go facedown on the center of the table. Another round of betting occurs, starting at the amulet. If, at any point, only one player hasn’t folded, he wins the pot—the house taking 5 percent—and the game is over. If at least two players are still in after all bets are called, those players reveal their hands. Then the dealer “ups the golem.” The golem hand—those cards discarded when players had the chance to draw new cards—is revealed, and if the player with the best hand beats the golem, he wins the pot, and the game is over. But if the player with the best hand does not beat the golem, that player must put into the pot an amount of coins equal to what’s already in the pot, and all cards are collected so that a new hand can be dealt for the players who were still in at the end. This continues until someone wins the pot. The house takes 5 percent of the final pot, and then the amulet moves one position to the right and a new game is dealt.