Avast ye land lubber!
I rather doubt any sea-fairer – piratical or otherwise – shouted such nonsense, but it suits for the intro. Below are some 20-odd characters for pirate stories and adventurers. I wrote these some twenty-odd years ago for a text-based open world fantasy single/multiplayer game, based on 2nd edition D&D. Basically, it was a modified version of Circle MUD, written in C, and running on a dedicated linux server. We had a few villages and forests and such and I wrote this for a planned pirate section.
I can’t remember the research, but it was fairly thorough, involving stacks of books with titles like “The Complete Book of Villains”, and more authoritative and altogether weightier reference books.
If you are unfamiliar with the style, it goes sometime like this:
You move north
“You are in a pitch black room. something moves towards up”
“You are in a small cabin. There is a bunk bed against the west wall. A circular portal is half open and a light sea breeze blows into the room, taking the edge of the stench of unwashed bodies pervading the room.”
“A pirate moves towards you.”
“You look at the pirate.”
From there you either go into tactical mode and have at the pirate, or you leg it out the room. You get the idea.
Can be used for regular stories too. A byline is nice if you use these, but it’s not conditional. Creative Commons and all that :)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
The pirate crew, and ‘guest’
PIRATE KING (Uber pirate overlord, perhaps a lich too)
You have discovered the kingpin of the pirate captains; an overlord who has terrorised shipping commerce for almost age. Standing well over six feet tall, he exudes an almost palpable aura of malice and most profound hatred. His face is hooded in the shadows of a repulsive cloak. Made entirely of the flayed skin of prisoners, it is stained black octopus ink and the blood of innocents. Over its surface malformed sigils, picked out in luminous scarlet, seem to crawl with a mind of their own. Sensing you, his eyes seem to shine with a cold, necrotic light.
PIRATE CAPTAIN [Thalikon, Human]
Ruthless master of all he surveys, the pirate captain stares contemptuously down at you. His ruddy face is framed by fiery red hair and a full, bristling beard. A great bear of a man, the years have done little to reduce the savagery of his strength. His massive, barrel-like chest straining at his dark red velvet doublet, the corded muscles on his arms ripple as he effortlessly swings a basket-hilted broadsword in a figure of eight, menacing you.
PIRATE FIRST MATE (Second in command) [Biejan, Human]
The first mate is a tall, muscular man with rakish good looks. He is completely bald, lacking even eyebrows and similarly, there is no visible body hair upon his sun-bronzed torso what so ever. A large gold earring dangles from his left earlobe, and heavy gold torc in the form of a two-headed snake adorns his thick neck. His other apparel consists of thick leather pants, dyed blood red, orc spiker boots and a studded leather jerkin with steel shoulder plates. Saluting with the main-gauche on his left hand, he draws an emerald jewelled sabre and adopts a comfortable fighting stance.
PIRATE HELMSMAN (Pilot) (Steers, orders re-rigging etc.) [Treader, Human]
The helmsman is a mean and tough man. As befits someone expected to hold the enormous steering wheel steady in any storm, the seven-foot giant is an enormously built, heavily muscled man. He has a dark red bushy beard and long red hair tied back in a tight ponytail. His scuffed, hob-nailed, boots are offset by his sea-green cotton pants held up with suspenders, brocaded purple velvet jacket and heavy seal-skin cloak. Strapped to his back is a massive, horn handled, claymore.
PIRATE NAVIGATOR [Baotram, Gnome]
Rubbing nervously at the grey stubble peppering his scrawny neck, the wizened gnome glances up nervously, pushing thick-rimmed glasses up his bulbous nose. On seeing you, he utters a startled oath and falls a step back, his sextant dropping noisily onto his maps as he reaches for a light crossbow.
PIRATE QUARTERMASTER (controls ships tiller – flags, lanterns, compasses) [Kede, human]
A weaselly looking man in his late 40s, he is on the downward slide,
muscles turning to fat, his stomach paunchy and his posture bend and stooped from far too long below decks. Nondescript grey woollen clothes, a pinched face and a thin moustache that twitches when he wrinkles his nose all add to his rat-like look. Around his waist and shoulders are bandoliers of throwing knives.
PIRATE MESS STEWARD (Cook) [Ceagan, Halfling]
Before you is a very plump halfling, though he as a handsome face for such an obese figure. He wears dingy grey cotton pants and a long faded silk doublet, both of which are stained with wine and reak of fish, rancid fat and sweat. Flicking greasy brown hair from his eyes, he pulls a bloody meat cleaver from what looks look the body of a large black rat and waves it menacingly around.
PIRATE BOATSWAIN (Bosun) (In charge of rigging, sails, anchor)
The bandy-legged pirate staggers momentarily on his sea legs, unbalanced no doubt due to his long journeys at sea. His left arm ends is a wickedly sharp gaff hook, the hand ripped off in rigging years earlier when he slipped from the mainsail during a storm. He is clad in a thick studded leather jerkin and leggings and swings his cutlass with years of experience.
PIRATE BOSUN’S MATE(S) (Boatswain monkies)
The skinny pirate glances uneasily over at you as you approach. His twitching hand reaches nervously for a belaying pin to throw, even as he draws his short sword. The scruffy sailor is bare-chested, clad only in frayed cotton pants and soft leather shoes; he reeks of rum and the sea.
PIRATE MASTER ARMOURER (In charge of providing weapons. Also ballistae and catapults) [Grorid, Gnome]
The one-eyed gnome before you is perhaps not what you expected for the pirate ship’s master armourer. Grorid is a tiny bundle of corded muscle and bristling, snow-white hair. He is dressed from head to toe in a thick leather suit, thick with oil and grease and sewn all over with deep pockets from which an array of spanners, hammers and other tools stick out. However, there is nothing small or delicate about the warhammer he casually hefts.
PIRATE ARMOURERS (Master armourer’s monkies)
You see a rangy, smelly and tough-looking pirate. His many years at sea are reflected in the lines of his leathery face, the hard life telling in the cruel, merciless way he stares uncaringly at you. Like the others in the projectile team, he wears heavy, steel-toed work boots, a grease-stained leather apron and heavy gloves. The massive harpoon he holds is probably meant for a ballista. However, it’s still an effective weapon in his expert hands.
PIRATE LOOKOUT (Crows nest) [Lothojar, Elf]
A slender elf balances effortlessly before you, his lithe, feline grace more than compensating for his precarious position. Mismatched eyes, one ice-blue, the other a startling emerald-green glare at you from beneath a wide-brimmed black hat. His once handsome face is now horribly disfigured by the loss of his nose, bitten off in some past encounter. A silver longsword hangs loosely against his velvet pants, a longbow taut in his hand.
PIRATE OARSMEN (these are sometimes slaves – they can’t be trusted! Any and all pirates can be oarsmen at a push)
The stocky oarsman is wearing soft leather shoes and what could loosely be described as grey cotton pants, and he reeks of stagnant bilge water. Below a balding pate and deeply etched frown lines, his dark brown eyes are narrowed to evil-looking slits as glares daggers at you from, his face twisted in an almost perpetual sneer. Casting around, he grabs a heavy iron chain to use as an impromptu flail.
HUMAN PIRATE WARRIOR
Before you stands a skinny-looking individual dressed in mismatched clothes that might once have been white breeches and shirt but are now dingy grey rags that smell of fish and hemp. His skin is leathery and wrinkled from years at sea, and many scars mark his body, the result of countless battles, not all won. Tattoos of lost loves, entwining shapes, mythical beasts and long-forgotten ports cover his upper body, arms, even his face and neck. For all this, there’s grim determination in his eyes as he draws a notched cutlass.
HALF-ORC PIRATE WARRIOR
Staring back at you is one of the biggest and ugliest pirates you have ever
seen. Beady black eyes glare venomously around, his piggish, almost snout-like nose wrinkling in distaste. He grins nastily, revealing crooked and tusked teeth, a few of which are rotted to blackened stumps. The sloped forehead and yellow-green tinged skin give a clear indication of his orcish, even ogrish ancestry. Huge, calloused hands tightly grip his great scimitar and with a roar, expelling foul-smelling breath, he stamps forwards.
HALFLING PIRATE WARRIOR
Capering about on hirsute, bare feet, he is wearing only brown breeches and a once white shirt. This agile halfling, with his cheeky smile and gay laughter, would be almost comical were it not for the fact the merriment in no way reaches his hard brown eyes. Nor the almost fondly, he pats his twin ivory-handled daggers. With cold, mechanical precision, he loads a spiky lead ball into his slingshot and chooses his target. You!
HALF-ELF PIRATE WARRIOR
Like a rose among weeds, the gaily dressed half-elf stands out even in this mismatched pirate crew. His long and unruly, sun-bleached blonde hair is held back from his bright green eyes with a red bandana. His supple boots are made from crocodile skin, whilst beneath a flowing, chromatic coloured, silk cloak he is dressed in orange lacquered armour. On his left arm is a red-gold serpentine armband with rubies for eyes, held in his right hand, is a perfectly balanced longsword. He carries himself with quiet dignity and utter confidence.
DWARVEN PIRATE WARRIOR
It is with an almost profound shock that you realise the stocky, bared faced, clean-shaven warrior glaring belligerently is a dwarf. Despite the obvious and inherent danger of armour at sea, this strange creature is wearing heavy dwarf boots with steel reinforced toecap, heel and shin guard, thick shark-skin breeches and a heavy chainmail hauberk and coif. Any other thoughts of why a heavily armoured dwarf is at sea with such a motley crew are forgotten as he stomps towards you. Menacingly, his razor-sharp battleaxe clangs noisily against his dented shield.
PIRATE MAGE [Ach, human]
Greasy brown hair falls into the eyes of this short man. Clad in low, soft
boots, grey cloak, coarse brown tunic and faded red cotton trousers, he watches you nervously with watery blue eyes, circled with dark bags. Muttering something unintelligible under his breath, he uses his stoat oak staff to help him stand straight. Letting out a long wheeze of rum laden breath, he begins a spell.
PIRATE CLERIC [Shandra, human]
Facing you is a young and rather rotund cleric of Lassal. Hanging below the rolls of fat on her throat is a necklace of twisted silver, the effigy of a
conch shell carved of coral nestled between rows of ivory white sharks teeth. She is clad in poorly fitting studded armour, the splitting seams of which show through under a tabard of blue, turquoise and white stripes. In one pudgy hand, club-like, she wields a huge ham shank.
PIRATE CABIN BOY [Pietre, human]
The young boy looks about nine years old and is obviously malnourished. A tattered and dirty chemise, several sizes too big, hangs loosely from his bony shoulders. The child brushes a mop of orange-red hair aside to reveal a face full of freckles, his right cheek marred and purpling under the still glowing mark of a large handprint. He faces towards you, awkwardly clutching a small and rusty knife.
A pale, thin man in lies in heavy shackles, he is whimpering pitifully in agony. His left-hand looks badly broken, the fingers misshapen. His other hand is also injured; grisly and festering; several of the fingernails have been torn out. Other burns, cuts and marks show he’s been repeatedly beaten and tortured over some time. He is weak from hunger and babbles incoherently to himself every so often. His soiled finery and fine-boned, if bruised features, speak of his past wealth and position.
( Feature image by Jacqueline Macou from Pixabay )