Working on my own Campaign "Pirates Life"

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I figured I would start everyone off on a Pirate Ship.  All the Adventurers are level 1 and all are forced to be shipmates.  The captain has a treasure map that will make everyone very rich.  They of course will have to get certain pieces of the puzzle (3 Gems) before they can find the Treasure.  The captain (Bullie Hayes) of course picks some crew members to go out on land missions.  Of course one group is the Player Characters.

Once they get to a certain level they will be able to go in there own direction.  After they get all 3 gems they will have a showdown with the captain.  Where they could have a ship of there own or have it destroyed.  From there they can go in any direction.  I really like making the players seem like they are making there own decisions.  Of course I will have it all planned out.

The first Island is of course them fighting Goblins.

Second Island Undead and another group that is looking for the exact same treasure.  They "could" find out that this item will heal Dopplegangers.  They also start to figure out the captain isn't very nice and possible find out him and his underlings don't plan on sharing the treasure.

Just as they reach the third island they are attacked by another ship.  He orders the characters to take the ship when they do finally take it.  He destroys it.  He wants the only ship.

Third Island I am still working on but it deals with lizard men and their volcano god.


I've been DMing regularly for about a decade, About a year ago, after an DM break, as I enjoy playing as well as DMing and one of my group members wanted to try DMing for the first time. I set up a campaign with a pirate theme. I started a party of PCs, which consisted of a fighter, a rogue, a warlock, a sorcerer and a mute pacifist cleric companion character, captured aboard a ship. They broke free and fought their way through the ship, threatened/bribed the crew to work with them for a split of treasure and a chance of not being slaughtered on the spot. Killed the crew that wouldn't be threatened/bribed and captured the captain to use for information later as well as retained the cook who was really a wererat that worked for a thieves guild.

The campaign I set up was a sandbox adventure. I preplanned many different islands and ports which were full of hints, story hooks, and plots of their own. They found a treasure map in the captain's cabin. First thing they did was travel to the nearest port city to get supplies. Which in my world had been infected by a rare psionic slug that controls it's people, the only goal of the slugs was to expand to different populations. When they got to the island one of the PCs managed a 30 perception check to notice the slug on the docks where some guards were patrolling. They cautiously went into town, found the townspeople to be mindless drones. Killed a few of the people, including the dock guards, and left the island.

Then they traveled to a city, kind of like in Pirates of the Caribbean the hidden pirate city. The party went into town to get supplies, when the ships cook sneaked off the ship and told the thieves guild about the cleric, who was left on the boat to as a guard, and shortly thereafter the cleric was abducted by the local thieves guild who left a ransom note. Discovering the note, the sorcerer and warlock went to bargain with the thieves guild, while the fighter and rogue decided to explore the town. The fighter got in a fight in a bar (go figure a dwarf fighter picking a bar fight) where he was badly wounded when the rogue, all the while staying out of the fight, drug him back to the ship.

In the mean time the warlock and sorcerer, went to bargain with the thieves guild to return the cleric. The thieves guild told them the story of how the thieves and assassins guild had been at war for centuries. Every 10 years they were required by a sea goddess to make a sacrifice of treasure at the sacred shrine at an appointed time that was coming up in the next few days. The assassins had stolen the thieves' offering and a great battle was fought, the guild master of the assassin's guild was badly injured, and the thieves captured the cleric to trade for the offering. After the PCs heard the story they shrugged their shoulders, said it's not worth the effort and walked out. The warlock and sorcerer decided to head back to the ship and sail out to sea to find treasure.

Meanwhile back on the ship the rogue had decided to drag the badly injured fighter back to the ship, the captain of the ship, still captured at this point, taunted the rogue to the point where she got upset, undocked the ship let it float out quite a ways, to prevent the captain from escaping, and set the boat a flame. She remembered she had stored a weapon aboard the ship she really wanted back, so she swam back to the sinking ship, waited for it to sink (endurance check! fail) made a few really bad swim and endurance checks while she was swimming down to the ship to get her weapon back, and drowned.

It was at this point everyone unanimously declared that they had no interest in a nautical, pirate themed campaign. That they were used to land based campaigns and would like to stick to that. I had given them a boat, sandbox opportunities, and freedom with many points of light, darkness, intrigue and hooks all around a world I built specifically for a pirate themed campaign. I had imagined ship battles, which I did a lot of research on and found some good adaptations for 4e, pirating, treasure, epic scenes of daring escapes and run ins with a vast amount of adventure, excitement and reward.

Moral of the story. Ask your party about the campaign setting and theme BEFORE you put a ton of effort into a theme or setting they have no interest in playing. Pirate settings sound really fun, but if the party isn't really interested there's no forcing the fun. Just my experience with a pirate themed campaign. I hope it works out for you, and happy DMing.
I have 2 people who are interested in the Pirate theme.  I still don't have a whole group togethor to play yet though.  Which is the reason why we haven't started yet.  I am making them aware that they can leave the ship shortly after a few weeks.  If they like the pirate theme they keep the ship pretty much.  The two guys that I play with are the good guy types.  They don't do anything too crazy. 

Thanks to some dungeon delve games I have decided to play D and D again.  Played second edition.  I have gone through the rules and I think I have most of them down.  I have been DMing / Judging RPG's for 26 years.  I do a very good job of DMing Marvel RPG.  I have done that for years.


Let me introduce you to my friend Ori. He's a little salty behind the ears but he's guided several parties of adventurers around the high seas of my game worlds. Ori isn't mine originally (major cred to whoever invented him so many years ago), but over the years he's earned a special place in my DMing repitoire.

Ori doesn't really have stats, the PCs have never attacked him.

Ori is a dragon.

I'm not really sure what kind of dragon, in fact, it hardly seems to matter. I suppose he's a sea green/blue in color... stat him however you like (or do what I do and don't).

Ori lives alone on an island and he blows steam from his nose like real dragon... but he's pretty weak, or at least weak willed, and hardly has a scrap of courage within his body.

Ori is a pirate; or at least he fancys himself to be one and is instantly best friends with anyone who considers him one as well.

He lives alone on an island inside of a cave, he's a pretty lonely guy, but he is only interested in taking the company of other pirates, not yellow bellied land lubbers.

There are but two way to earn Ori's favor:

One is to swap piratey insults with him until he runs out (Once you swap 3 or 4 with the party, Ori gets stumped). This pirate game has a name, I dont remember what it is, look it up or make one up though. It's best to introduce the game earlier in the game so the PCs can pick up on what Ori is trying to do when they first meet him.

The second way is to bring him more pirate's loot n' booty, he already has quite the hoard nad he's still looking for more. Gold and jewels are nice, Ori has very few though, but what he REALLY wants are things that make him feel like a pirate; old sails and rigging, a ships helm, deck lanterns... anything to support his pirate life style.

How to use Ori in a campaign:
The PC's come across his island, how they do this is up to you. Often I have them marooned there by the pirate captain they were with (a BBEG for later on), but they could have their own ship and simply happen across it looking for water, or in pursuit of a lost ship (recent or long ago). Starting on the beach there are scattered remains of ships' driftwood, parts of ship hulls, scattered remains of spoiled cargo, etc., this is the beginning of Ori's hoard. If the PC's start to poke around the stuff on the beach, Ori will come to the tree line to confront them, otherwise the encounter will happen at Ori's cave.
Ori will start from concealment, whether he is in some trees, behind a low hill, or inside his cave. Have him start with some gruff questioning and insults (remember, establish the game beforehand and have other pirate NPCs engage the PCs in the insult game beforehand, hopefully they will catch on). Stuff like "Aye ye land lubbers, get yer grubby rat claws off me treasure!" "What 'er you mangey salt dogs doin' on me island?!" "What brings you sour bilge rats to me cave?". It's best to write out about 10 insults ahead of time so you dont have to repeat any.
Once the PCs defeat Ori with insults (or vice versa if the players are really quick witted), he congratulates on a game well played and chats with them about himself and his island. He asks them for pirate tales of thier own and maybe tells them one of his own (his only one... if he has any to tell at all).
Ori's place in the campaign is a flavorful information broker. He can tell the PCs about ships that come and go near his island, old ship wrecks to explore, pirate hideouts here and there, and anything else you can think of.
The PCs can perhaps use the island as a hideout and base later on, so long as they keep Ori happy with fresh insults and more pirate trinkets.

I will do some searching and see if I can't dig up the original file I got Ori from and post a link.

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