Entertainment at Sea
With time on their hands and precious few places to go, Shackles pirates have come up with an astonishing array of pastimes. Even punishments can break up the day, though they’re a lot more enjoyable when you’re not the one getting punished.
Performances: One way pirates amuse themselves is through songs and stories. Pirates love a good sea chantey, and characters with the right kind of Perform skills quickly find themselves popular members of the crew. However, a bad performance could result in the crew ignoring the next performance unless the performer makes a Bluff or Intimidate check before doing so.
Arm Wrestling: 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 damage as his hand and arm are pushed onto whatever lies on the table.
Hog Lob: Participants lob a lead ingot covered in a greased piglet skin, the “hog,” as far across the deck as possible. Some pirates claim to have participated in games played against The Hurricane King using a live hog.
Heave: 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. 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.
Boxing: Self-explanatory. Two sailors fight with bare knuckles. Extensive damage is usually frowned upon, as a gravely wounded sailor is a sailor who can’t work.
Rope Bash: Little more than an admonishment—and occasionally used as a sign of endearment—a rope bash is a single attack with the hefty, sealed end of a ship’s rope that delivers nonlethal damage.
The Lash: This is an attack using a whip. Damage dealt by the lash during ‘Bloody Hour’ is typically non-lethal. Most punishments are dealt with by a few lashes.
Cat-o’-Nine-Tails: This is an attack using a cat-o’-nine-tails, also referred to simply as a cat— which deals slashing damage on a successful hit. Serious transgressions are typically met with the ‘Cat’.
Confined in the Sweat-box: A cramped metal box left on deck and exposed to the sun, a sweatbox is terribly confining and replicates unbearably hot conditions. Each hour a character spends in the box, she must succeed at a fortitude saving throw or take nonlethal damage. Victims typically spend 8, 12 or even 24 hours locked up in the sweat-box but serious transgressions can lead to longer (sometimes with short breaks to allow the crew-member to be conscious for the punishment).
Keelhauling: The most frightful of pirate punishments is keelhauling, as it generally ends in death—often by decapitation. Being keelhauled involves being tied to a rope looped over a ship’s keel and dragged down one side of a ship, underwater across the barnacle encrusted hull, and up the other side. Keelhauling takes several rounds and can be done either fast or slow. If done fast, the barnacles cut deep and flense the victim, dealing damage per round. If done slow, shallower cuts are incurred, dealing less damage per round, but the risk of drowning increases . How long keelhauling takes typically depends on the vessel.