The Wormwood

The Wormwood is a three-masted sailing ship, 100 feet long from stem to stern, and 30 feet wide amidships.

Statistics for a sailing ship (as well as other common ship types) are detailed in the Skull & Shackles Player’s Guide. The ship needs a minimum crew of 20. If the crew falls below 20 people for any reason, the work becomes harder, and the DC of all checks for work-related tasks increases by +2.

Unless otherwise indicated, interior walls on the ship are of wood, 2 inches thick (hardness 5, hp 20, Break DC 20). Doors are of good wooden construction (hardness 5, hp 15, Break DC 18). Interior rooms are unlit during the day (except for those with windows or portholes), and usually have a single hooded lantern for light at night, providing either normal or dim light (open flames are dangerous on a ship at sea). Many doors and chests are trapped to keep them off-limits to swabs and common sailors.


A1. Foredeck: This raised deck stands some 10 feet above the main deck (area A3), immediately behind the bowsprit, which is shaped like a rearing dragon. The foremast rises 30 feet above this deck.

A2. Poop Deck: This raised deck stands 15 feet above the main deck (area A3). The mizzenmast rises 30 feet above this deck. The ship’s bridge protrudes forward of the mizzenmast, and holds the ship’s wheel. The wheel is 3 feet across and has 10 spokes decorated with silver inlays, its bolts carved to resemble kraken heads.

An iron cage hangs from the side of the mizzenmast, containing the body of Harmak Gruft, a pirate who beat the captain at dice. Gruft is dead, but his ugly parrot Pluck perches atop the cage, still waiting for its master to awaken. The aptly named Pluck, which has lost more than few of its feathers, could make a good pet or familiar if it can be lured down. Pluck is considered unfriendly and possesses a considerable vocabulary of appalling curse words.

Captain Harrigan and Mr. Plugg spend most of their time on this deck. When the captain is on deck, the poop deck is off-limits to everyone but officers.

A3. Main Deck: The ship’s main deck runs between the foredeck and poop deck. The mainmast rises from the center of the deck, extending 60 feet into the air and topped by a crow’s nest. Rigging connects the mainmast to the ship’s other masts and can be crossed with DC 10 Acrobatics
or Climb checks. Several strands of thick rope are secured to the foot of the mainmast for use as a whipping post.

The ship’s clock, a macabre brass-and-copper object depicting worms writhing through whale corpses, is mounted to the mast above the whipping post. Not only does the clock keep time, but its bell strikes at dawn and dusk to signal the beginning and the end of the workday.

Two 10-foot-square hatches sit in the deck fore and aft of the mainmast. These hatches are thick wooden grilles (hardness 5, hp 30, DC 25 Strength check to lift) and open onto the middle hold (area A6) 15 feet below. At the fore of the ship, two doors lead into the officers’ quarters (area A4), while two doors aft lead to the captain’s quarters (area A5).

A large wooden box bound in iron sits just beneath the bridge. This sweatbox, used to torment sailors, has just enough room to hold one Medium creature (and can be altered to confine a Small creature). It is locked; Captain Harrigan and Mr. Plugg have the keys.

A small jolly boat (same statistics as a rowboat) sits on the deck next to the port rail. It has two sets of oars but no mast. Although designed to carry 5 Medium passengers, the jolly boat can fit 8 at a push.

A4. Officers’ Quarters: The ship’s officers occupy the hammocks and sleeping mats in this cramped cabin. A set of steps descends sharply into the middle hold (area A6) below. The two narrow doors leading to the main deck (area A3) are locked. Mr. Plugg, Master Scourge, Riaris Krine, Peppery Longfarthing, and Habbly Quarne sleep here at night, and at least one of them may often be found here at any given time during the day as well.

A4a. Armory: This tiny chamber is crammed with chests and neatly ordered weapon racks. The ship’s master gunner, Riaris Krine, is meticulous in her job and quickly spots any obvious thefts, in which case an immediate search of the crew’s lockers is made. Anyone found in possession of stolen items from the armory is given six lashes with the cat for a first offense, or is keelhauled (see page 67) for a second offense.

A4b. Peppery Longfarthing’s Laboratory: The ship’s sailing master and resident sorcerer, Peppery Longfarthing, uses this chamber as her laboratory. The cramped cabin is overwhelmed with curious and often unsettling objects that Longfarthing is studying.

A5. Captain’s Cabin: Captain Harrigan’s cabin is richly decorated, its walls covered with intricate carvings depicting krakens devouring whales. A quartet of portholes allow light to drift in, and a bed that can double as a navigational or dining table when the mattress is rolled up sits against the aft bulkhead with a chest at its feet. Two rich carpets flank the bed. A f light of steps leads down to the middle hold (area A6). Captain Harrigan usually entertains his officers for dinner here, and sleeps here at night.

A5a. Cabin Girl’s Quarters: The captain’s cabin girl, “Caulky” Tarroon, sleeps on a small cot in the starboard compartment.

A5b. Captain’s Storage: The captain stores his personal booty in this portside compartment.

A6. Middle Hold: This is the ship’s main cargo hold. The hold is mostly empty at the start of the adventure, save for the 14 pigs; normally kept caged, they periodically escape
and run loose within the hold.

In the forward section, a flight of wooden stairs climbs up to the officers’ quarters (area A4), while a second set of stairs descends into the lower hold (area A10). Owlbear Hartshorn is invariably chained to the foremast here to keep him from causing trouble and to keep people out of the officers’ cabin. Another flight of stairs in the aft section next to the galley leads up to the captain’s quarters (area A5), but it is common knowledge among the crew that the door is trapped. A final flight of stairs in the aft section allows the common crew to reach the main deck (area A3).

Stored near the mainmast are two light ballistas, a disassembled light catapult, and 12 barrels containing 20 gallons of oil each.

A7. Quartermaster and Cook’s Cabin: This tiny cabin contains two beds and two footlockers. The Wormwood’s quartermaster, Cut-Throat Grok, and ship’s cook, Ambrose “Fishguts” Kroop, share this cabin with several of Kroop’s chickens. Grok sleeps here at night, as does Kroop, who is found here during the day as well if he is insensibly drunk.

A8. Galley: The galley is the domain of Ambrose “Fishguts” Kroop, the drunken ship’s cook. The cramped and chaotic kitchen holds two wooden worktables, several wooden cupboards, and two small stoves against the port wall, as well as virtually every cooking utensil imaginable and a frightening array of meat cleavers. A score of chickens and three goats wander freely throughout the chamber; the goats are meant to be caged, but have a distressing tendency to escape their bonds.

The kitchen is a madness of dirt, food, and knives, and finding anything in here requires a Perception check. The stoves are perpetually lit, and large cauldrons bubble away atop them all times. A huge array of spices mingle with barrels of rainwater, two tuns of rum, cupboards full of ship’s biscuit and salted beef, barrels of sauerkraut, and a small supply of fresh vegetables picked up in Port Peril.

Despite the chaos, the entire galley functions as a set of masterwork tools for Profession (cook) checks.

A9. Quartermaster’s Store: This cramped storeroom is full of the ship’s equipment. The quartermaster’s store acts as a kind of unofficial shop aboard the Wormwood. While any plunder stored there technically belongs to the captain, this is a pirate ship after all, and everything has its price. Any equipment stored within is for sale at the normal price listed in the Core Rulebook.

Items found on the ship (or won from other pirates) can also be traded at the store for other merchandise. Bartered objects are generally worth 50% of their normal value when traded for goods.

While the store is, in theory, open at all hours, it’s usually only open from dawn to about 3 p.m., when Grok starts drinking. She only opens the door outside these hours to friends. Grok has a tendency to get drunk in the afternoons and closes the store before heading to the deck for the evening meal. After supper, Grok carries the crew’s rum rations in a bucket to the main deck. She often forgets to lock the door or the hatch at this time, an oversight that occurs 75% of the time.

A10. Lower Hold and Crew Berths: Sixteen pillars support the deck above this spacious hold. At night, the Wormwood’s common pirates tie their hammocks between the walls and pillars and sleep until dawn. Two of Mr. Plugg’s toadies, Kipper and Patch Patchsalt, have claimed the far forward section of the hold as their own, and their hammocks are strung between the foremast and the stairs leading up to the middle hold (area A6).

A trap door just behind the mainmast opens onto the bilges below (area A11), and requires a DC 10 Strength check to lift. The hold is currently empty of cargo, but several footlockers line the walls. Each member of the crew has a locker, equivalent to a small chest.

A11. Bilges: The lowest deck of the ship, the bilges are a foul, damp place with thick cobwebs above and 1–2 feet of dark, brackish water that stinks abominably below. A ladder leads up to a trap door that opens in the lower hold (area A10), and a single bilge pump rests near the stern.
The bilges also double as the ship’s brig, and six sets of masterwork manacles are fixed to the bulkheads in the forward portion of the deck.

The Wormwood

Avast! karlprosek