A Pirate's Life for Me
Plunder Infamy and Disrepute
Pirates capture and steal all manner of treasure and goods from the ships they capture. Instead of writing down every crate of sugar, animal fur, or dyed linens and calculating the gold cost, we’ll be using the plunder system. It’s really easy: each cargo you capture has a certain number of points of plunder. Each point of plunder is worth approximately 1,000gp, whether it is a single crate of extremely valuable goods or a whole cargo hold full of cabbages. Plunder has two uses: selling at ports for wealth and increasing your infamy score.
Selling plunder is a negotiation, and how much you can get for it depends on the size of the port as well as the skill of the seller. Exchanging one point of plunder for gold requires one PC to spend a full day at port and making a skill check. Note that multiple PCs can sell each day, and in general that’s the fastest way to unload your spoils and get back to sea. Skills for trading plunder can be Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, and Profession (merchant)—though different sorts of checks will have different results in different ports. Intimidate might work better at the tiny hamlet while your ship blocks their docks, but it won’t work quite as well in Port Peril or Azir. Likewise, Bluff might be your only chance at Egorian, the upstream capital of Cheliax, where pretending you’re a legitimate ship is necessary to avoid the Navy’s wrath.
The following chart is the basic breakdown by community size, how much gold they will basically pay per point of plunder, the DC to increase the sale price, and the maximum sale percentage (with associated DC). Note that it’s not a “roll and see how high you can get” kind of situation. Rather, you declare the amount your character is trying for and seek to meet that—if you fail, you get only the base price.
|Base Sale % (gp for Plunder)||DC to increase sale||Maximum Sale % (Max DC & gp for plunder)|
|Thorp||10% (100 gp)||10 + 5 per 5%||20% (DC 20; 200 gp)|
|Hamlet||20% (200 gp)||10 + 5 per 5%||30% (DC 20; 300 gp)|
|Village||30% (300 gp)||10 + 5 per 5%||40% (DC 20; 400 gp)|
|Small Town||40% (400 gp)||10 + 5 per 5%||60% (DC 30; 600 gp)|
|Large Town||60% (600 gp)||10 + 5 per 5%||80% (DC 30; 800 gp)|
|Small City||80% (800 gp)||10 + 10 per 5%||90% (DC 30; 900 gp)|
|Large City||90% (900 gp)||10 + 10 per 5%||120% (DC 40; 1,200 gp)|
|Metropolis||100% (1,000 gp)||10 + 10 per 5%||140% (DC 50; 1,400 gp)|
Infamy is the measure of your pirate crew’s reputation. In most basic sense, it’s a measure of how many stories and rumors are being spread about your ship, your captain, and your crewmates across the Shackles and in broader Golarion.
To gain Infamy, you need: an audience, a deed to tell about, a storyteller, and perhaps proof of your deeds in the form of treasure or plunder. To make an Infamy check, the group determines one PC to spread word of their deeds for one day at a port (multiples are not allowed at once, and this person cannot be occupied selling Plunder that day). The PC then makes a Bluff, Intimidate, or appropriate Perform check (Oratory is most appropriate, but Act or Sing could be used as well). The DC for this check is equal to 15 + 2x the party’s level. If the character succeeds, the crew’s Infamy increases by 1. If the DC is beat by 5, the Infamy increases by 2. If the character gets a result of DC +10, then the score increases by 3. Three is the maximum any one check can raise the Infamy score. If the PC fails, then their time has been wasted. If they fail twice in a row in the same port, no further checks can be made in that port until they succeed in both raising their Infamy in some other location and completing a new deed to brag about (you can’t hang around the same port bragging poorly about the same deeds over and over).
The crew can only gain a maximum of 5 Infamy from any port, for each Infamy threshold (see chart below). Once a new threshold is met, the amount able to gain from each port is reset.
The crew can also use their Plunder to help make their deeds more real. The group decides how many points of Plunder will be used to support any given check. Instead of exchanging that Plunder for gold, it is removed but gains them a +2 bonus to the Infamy skill check. You can spend as many as you have, as the book says: “Even the most leaden-tongued pirate might win fabulous renown by spending enough booty.” If a check is failed, the party can choose to spend 3 points of Plunder to immediately re-roll the check. The second result stands, and the Plunder is spent even if the re-roll fails.
Note that certain events in the campaign may give a default Infamy increase—these are up to your characters to find and succeed at. And a few shameful or cowardly acts might result in loss of Infamy.
Title, Required Infamy, and Benefit
Disgraceful (10+ Infamy)
- The Captain may purchase disgraceful impositions
- The PCs choose one favored port. They gain a +2 to all Infamy checks in that port
Despicable (20+ Infamy)
- The Captain may purchase despicable impositions
- Once per week, the PCs can sacrifice a prisoner or crew member to immediately gain 1d3 points of Disrepute. The sacrifice is always fatal, and returning the victim to life results in the loss of d6 disrepute.
Notorious (30+ Infamy)
- The Captain may purchase notorious impositions
- Disgraceful impositions can be purchased for half price
- The PCs choose a second favored port. They gain +2 bonus on Infamy checks at that port, and their first favored port bonus rises to +4
Loathsome (40+ Infamy)
- The Captain may purchase loathsome impositions
- Despicable impositions can be purchased for half price
- All crewmember PCs gain a +5 bonus on skill checks made to sell Plunder
Vile (55+ Infamy)
- The Captain may purchase vile impositions
- Notorious impositions can be purchased for half price.
- The PCs choose a third favored port. They gain +2 bonus on Infamy checks at that port, and their second favored port bonus rises to +4, and first favored bonus rises to +6
In addition to the levels of Infamy, notorious Captains and Crews can leverage their impressive or nasty reputations to gain certain benefits: push their crew, menace a foe, or influence a port. This is called Disrepute. Each time the crew gains an Infamy point, they get a Disrepute point. They can also gain Disrepute in other ways, but Disrepute can never rise higher than the PC’s Infamy score.
Disrepute points can be spent to get various in-game bonuses, called Impositions. Disrepute can only be spent on Impositions at levels that the group’s Infamy is at or has passed. Being a pirate ship, the Captain of the ship is nominally the one who can spend Disrepute at her or his leisure. However, the crew can also choose to spend a point if they agree democratically (over half) even if the Captain does not. The problem with the latter is that Disrepute costs for each Imposition increased by +1 for each PC crew member who disagrees (including the Captain).
- Yes Sir or Ma’am: For the next hour, the crew completes any mundane tasks to prepare, maintain, or repair the ship at half the time, such as Craft or Profession (sailor) checks.
Cost – 2
- Walk the plank: Sacrifice one crew member or prisoner to grant themselves one of two bonuses: either a +2 bonus to attack rolls or +2 bonus to skill checks. This lasts for one day, and applies only while on board the PC’s ship. There is a penalty if the character is returned to life.
Cost – 5
- Lashings: The speed of the PC’s ship doubles for one day.
Cost – 5
- Get Up, You Dogs: Every PC and allied character gains 1d8+5 temporary hit points, which last until lost or one day passes. This Imposition can only be used once per week.
Cost – 10
- You’ll take it: The PCs can spend up to 5 points of Plunder in one hour’s time, gaining 50% of its value regardless of community size. This amount cannot be adjusted by skill checks.
Cost – 5
- Honor the Code: The PCs and their crew gain +4 to all Charisma-based skill checks made against other pirates for the next 24 hours.
Cost – 5
- Chum the Waters: The PC’s bloody wake happens to contain 1d4 sharks for each Infamy threshold they possess. Buying this Imposition means that the sharks happen to be swimming close to the ship at this time. These sharks are not under the PC’s control and they viciously attack any creature in the waters.
Cost – 10
- You’ll take it and like it: The PCs can spend up to 5 points of Plunder in one hour’s time, gaining 100% of its value regardless of community size. This amount cannot be adjusted by skill checks. Doing this in a favored port moves that port one down the ladder of favor: a first favored port becomes the second favored and replaces the first, and if the port is last on the list (second at Notorious, third at Vile) then it must be replaced with a different favored port.
Cost – 10
- Our reputation precedes us: Choose one enemy vessel that you can see. Stories of your Infamy have reached that vessel, and the mere sight of your ship fills them with fear. All sailors on the ship gain the Shaken condition until your ship is out of sight. Major character NPCs on the ship get a Will Save (fear effect) saving throw of DC 15.
Cost – 10
- More lashings: The speed of the PC’s ship quadruples for one day.
Cost – 10
- Dead men tell no tales: The threat of your menace causes everyone to be silent about your whereabouts. Any rumors of which port you might be at or where your ship is located are immediately ceased. In addition, the speak with dead spell results in no information about your whereabouts.
Cost – 10
- Besmara’s Notice: The goddess Pirate Queen Besmara herself takes notice of your ship and crew and grants a boon (one choice from the following list):
a) Control Weather cast in a way that assists the sailing of your ship
b) Heroes’ Feast cast upon a meal from the galley
c) Find the Path cast upon the person manning the helm
All of these effects are cast as if cleric spells by a 20th level caster.
Cost – 25