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Pirates Campaign
A fantasy RPG campaign for Rolemaster and Midgard set in a pirates scenario.

Copyright Robert Wenner ©2001

Edited by Lowell R. Matthews for The Guild Companion

This is the Pirates Campaign index.  It contains:

Notes/Hints on Using the Scenarios in the Campaign

Oar Slaves

The GM should play the beginning of this scenario in detail and give the players the feeling that their situation cannot be worse—they have no weapons or equipment, they are in bad shape due to lack of food and constant mistreatment by the pirates, and they have no hope of escape.  Each slave is shackled to the oar (chain length is about 50 cm [20"]).  The GM should now role-play the pirates as they whip oarsmen for just speaking, or punish them in other ways (no food, extra-heavy work, etc.) for looking like a spell-caster, or some other reason.  Mistreat them and make them suffer.  Be sure to make Captain Moralon especially cruel, as the PC's need to want to take revenge on Moralon, or the campaign ends after this scenario!  (This nearly failed in my group, as the players sighed about their treatment, but I knew they would forget Moralon after they had left the ship.  So I decided to use the most heavy treatment I could think of:  Moralon ordered a [not very handsome] female player character to be raped as punishment for sailors [not the female slave!].  My girlfriend was very angry with me, but at least her character wanted to kill Moralon, while the other [male] players still shrugged.)

Get rowing.

First Steps in Ghanija

This scenario is not usable outside of the context of the Pirates Campaign, so it is not presented as a separate scenario but explained here.

After the PC's arrive in Ghanija and have advanced a level (if they have earned it), they may get some equipment.  Depending on their behavior towards Zaolon in the previous scenario, they will be supported by him and his father; otherwise, they have to get some money by other means (working in bars, etc.).

The search for Moralon is difficult.  He may be known to some people in Ghanija, but most people talk of Absallar, the Shark, a very well known pirate captain.  Anyway, nobody can tell whether or when Moralon will next visit.

At last, the party will find Candra.  Candra takes gold from traders and gives it to pirate captains with a suggestion of which traders' ships to leave in peace.  Candra owns a small shop between the port and the market (bazaar) and during the day he is often on his way to visit various traders.  In the evening, he travels bars and meets with pirates.  In this region, his business (racket) is not illegal.  Pirates and blood money are considered to belong together, as do light and shadow.  When pirates cut profits too deep, some mercenaries are sent out to cut down some pirates.  Most traders buy lots of wares from pirates and earn a lot of money in this semi-legal business.  This means that Candra deals with pirates and traders, but does not necessary have friends or protectors on either side.  At best, he has business partners.

Candra can lead the party to Sanwan, an old pirate captain who has retired after loss of his left leg.  He now lives in Calpan, a small village on the coast of Huaxal.  Sanwan knows Moralon, and they have a friend in common.  There are many ways to get this information out of Candra; one way is violence (or the threat of violence), as Candra cannot hope for help from traders or pirates (although he will try to persuade one of his mighty pirate friends).  On the other hand, Candra doesn't owe anything to the pirates and will give away this information without worry.  The PC's may also blackmail Candra by threatening to ruin his reputation, by telling everybody they have been shanghaied in spite of payment.  Alternatively, they could steal some of Candra's money and thus put him in a conflicting situation—he cannot pay the pirates to protect the trader, but he also cannot guarantee a safe journey to the trader.  Candra might give his information away for the money.

If the party commits acts of extreme stupidity in this scenario, the GM may make Ghanija unimportant (Moralon cruises further to the north, and only Absallar, the Shark, is important in this area).  The PC's may be sent to another city (e.g., Amarija) to start over there.  Remember, pirates are not members of a big guild, and if the party tracks Absallar, they don't get closer to Moralon.  Also, if Absallar knows (and maybe hunts) them, this doesn't matter to Moralon.  The party won't be able to play pirate captains off against each other, as most pirates don't compete directly; the chance for big money is low and the effort is way too high.

Smugglers in Calpan

After the PC's have proven Sanwan guilty, he will offer to buy their silence.  He knows the "famous" pirate captain Hassal, who owes him a favor.  If the players ask for Moralon, Sanwan will gladly point out that Moralon is the best friend of Hassal—they meet at certain times at the pirates' secret island!  Sanwan does not know the island's location.  (As he hasn't been on a ship in some years and has never been known to Moralon himself, this is plausible.)  The party should see here that this is their only chance.  They can spend their whole lives searching for Moralon, but if they can get to the secret island, they can simply wait for him.  Sanwan offers to get them a good job in Hassal's crew, and using this disguise, they will be able to find Moralon.  Sanwan doesn't care about the PC's goals; as long as they don't prevent his smuggling, he will do everything he can to make them leave.

Tricks like, "We have a very important message to give to Moralon" will not work with either Sanwan or Hassal.  Both know that Moralon has spies in many cities and other messages are exchanged at the pirates' island, Kharadat.  Anyway, Hassal will offer to take the message to Kharadat, and "No, it is personal and I cannot write" won't persuade him (Hassal can read and write).

On the ride on Hassal's ship, the PC's have to prove themselves worthy and gain Hassal's trust in them.  If Hassal thinks the PC's are incompetent, he will dump them in the next port.

Go to the smugglers at Calpan.

Aboard Ormut's Blessing

Aboard Ormut's Blessing, Hassal's ship, the PC's are expected to work as all other sailors.  This includes raiding other ships (fighting or operating the ship catapult).  I suggest playing some hunts and ship duels and/or fights between the PC's and some mercenaries on the traders' ships.  (Use Sea Law, if available.)

The PC's teammates are Keipal, the navigator (officially the second man on the Ormut's Blessing after Hassal); the extremely ill-tempered and aggressive female pirate Uahu (from Achimactan); Pedro, the ship's carpenter; Tonce, a sailor who hangs in the ropes most of the time and is called Eagle's Eye for his sharp eyes; Cadro, the old sailor with never-ending stories about ghost ships and sea adventures of every kind; Achal, a superstitious sailor, who is always scared by Cadro's stories; Alatl, who sees himself as Hassal's right hand and proper second captain; and last but not least, Alcham and Harallah, two sailors from Eschar.

During the time abroad the Ormut's Blessing the GM should tell stories about sea monsters and ghost ships (especially the Flying Valian) to prepare the group for later adventures.

Slavers

In ship combat, Hassal is defeated by a trader using a ship catapult loaded with some sort of Greek fire.  The Ormut's Blessing is damaged and Hassal has to flee.  Checking the damage, Hassal discovers that another burning missile has hit the lower part of the ship, killing several oarsmen.

In this scenario, some honest characters have to be persuaded to go slave hunting.  Note that in Eschar and Nahuatlan, the main countries in this campaign between which ships travel, slavery is very common; a slave hunter is a merchant, not an outlaw.  Hassal will be very suspicious if the PC's reject this task.

Go slave hunting.

Kidnapping

After raiding a merchant's vessel, the pirates capture Madjama, the 17-year-old daughter of Ali Canar.  Her clothes show that her parents must be quite wealthy.  As her ship came from Amarija, Hassal wants to go to Amarija and try blackmailing her parents into ransoming Madjama.  This comes in handy, as the sailors need some time on land as well.  In Amarija, Hassal orders the party to get him 5000 gold coins or the same value in jewelry for Madjama.  He wants to leave town in 10 days.  As all other sailors, the party gets their share of the pay.

Blackmail Ali Canar.

The Prisoner of Al-Katras

Hassal wants the PC's to rescue a good friend from Al-Katras, the notorious prison in Estoleo in the state of Corua.  The PC's have as much time as they need and Hassal supports them according to their previous behavior.  If he is content with their work, they get more help.

The pirate to be freed is Ansu, who is 30 years old and has lost one eye.  He was imprisoned because the Estoleo city council wanted to make him an example of the price of piracy.  Thus, he is a political prisoner whose importance and attention declines with time.  Ansu lives in a first-level cell for many people.

Get to the prisoner of Al-Katras.

The Flying Valian

This scenario can be used to boost the PC's equipment before they get to the pirates' island.  The journey to the island should take enough time to heal at least the PC's major wounds.

Sail to the flying Valian.

Pirate's Island

If Hassal distrusts the PC's, he will either not take them to Kharadat at all, or he will order the island's guards to keep an eye on the PC's.

The PC's advantage in this scenario is their anonymity.  The Old has not seen them before and Moralon should have forgotten their faces.  So they have some time to explore the island and make plans.  For use in the campaign, Moralon is already in Kharadat or arrives a few days later.  Hassal wants some free time after the meeting with the Flying Valian, so there is no time limit.

The party shouldn't kill the Old, as he is intended to hunt them in the next scenario (Treasure Hunting)—but if they do, he can be replaced by any other pirate (captain).

Step on the pirate's island.

Treasure Hunting

This scenario requires a pursuer, maybe the Old from the previous scenario or a new pirate captain, who maybe also wants to take revenge on the party and of course get the treasure for himself.

The PC's decision after the treasure hunting is open.  Maybe they want to remain in the piracy business and find a merchant or council for whom they rob other ships.  Maybe they are fed up with the sea and go look for a new job in some country without ports.  Whatever, they have made some new foes and maybe also friends.  They have not stopped or reduced piracy; it was just a drop in the bucket.  Piracy belongs to trade as shadow to light.

Go treasure hunting..

What Else Would Have Been Possible....

Of course many other pirate clichés not touched in this campaign come to mind.  For example:
  • Love between the pirate (captain) and the governor's daughter:  What about a PC falling in love with Madjama in the kidnapping scenario?  What do they do then?  Take the money and leave the loved woman?  And what about Madjama, does she love the pirate?  Maybe not in the beginning, but during her imprisonment does she fall in love with him?  And how do they get rid of the very angry Ali Canar?  Or will the loving pirate betray his friends and marry Madjama and live a life of wealth and harmony?  Or will the PC's kidnap Madjama again after taking the money and get away with both?
  • Power struggles aboard the Ormut's Blessing split the crew in half:  After Hassal falls into a coma from wounds taken in the last battle, Alatl tries to rule the crew—against Hassal's official second man, Keipal.
  • A hostile voodoo priest (or something similar) from the dark jungle pursues the Ormut's Blessing.  In the beginning nobody knows what he wants (language problem!), and later it becomes clear that he is only interested in a small (and relative worthless) figurine the pirates have aboard.
  • Different pirate captains struggling for power wage their own private war:  Ships sink in the ports, assassins stalk the night, and for some reason, the city guard suddenly enters a ship and takes a captain as prisoner.  Maybe the party has to get rid of some other captain, or just wants to get the money to be paid by the council captain's head.
  • A sea monster for some additional combat activities is also possible.
As the campaign is very flexible, a scenario can be inserted anywhere between the kidnapping scenario and the pirates' island.  I am very interested in such scenario ideas and would like to add them to the campaign "officially." 

Distances Table

This table shows distances in kilometers (approximate miles in parentheses, 1 mi = 1.6 km) between some important locations.  A color map can be found at Pegasus Games' web server (sort of, see Editor's note below).  The data comes from using a ruler on a big color map and may be very rough.  All distances are "as the crow flies" and don't take into account the courses a ship may take.
Editor's note: The original link for the color map appears defunct. However, it would appear that a clickable map of the various continents and countries is available. Via the aforementioned clickable map, you can find color maps of the various countries and continents. These country/continent names are indicated in the distance table below by parentheses after the city names.

 
A M S E Ac G D I NH SG K H WI
Amarija (E) -
Mardeba (E) 125
(80)
-
Sukkara (E) 220
(140)
60
(40)
-
Estoleo (C) 600
(375)
750
(470)
850
(530)
-
Achimactan (E) 1450
(905)
1180
(740)
1170
(730)
1700
(1065)
-
Ghanija (E) 750
(470)
640
(400)
625
(390)
1375
(860)
1570
(980)
-
Dairaba (E) 880
(550)
875
(545)
800
(500)
1550
(970)
1600
(1000)
180
(115)
-
Ikenga Delta (I) 630
(395)
500
(315)
480
(300)
1300
(815)
1125
(705)
440
(275)
525
(330)
-
Northern Coast of Huaxal (H) 1375
(860)
1250
(780)
1250
(780)
1570
(980)
440
(275)
1580
(990)
1765
(1105)
1440
(900)
-
Southern Coast of Huaxal (H) 1500
(940)
1375
(860)
1310
(820)
1850
(1155)
320
(200)
1510
(945)
1750
(1095)
1250
(780)
820
(515)
-
Northeastern Coast of Karvuvu (F) 1650
(1030)
150
(95)
1450
(905)
2125
(1330)
625
(390)
1625
(1015)
1750
(1095)
1250
(780)
1170
(730)
525
(330)
-
Hadschar (E) 800
(500)
900
(565)
750
(470)
1500
(940)
1550
(970)
120
(75)
100
(65)
500
(315)
1690
(1055)
1690
(1055)
1625
(1015)
-
Western Coast of Ikenga (I) 1000
(625)
930
(580)
875
(545)
1625
(1015)
1125
(705)
880
(550)
935
(585)
430
(270)
1490
(930)
1150
(720)
1000
(625)
1000
(625)
-
Letters in brackets after the city names indicate whether the city is in Eschar (E), belongs to one of the city-states known as Coast States (C), belongs to the jungles of the Ikenga (I), are on the continent of Huaxal (H) (country Nahuatlan), or belong to the Fire Islands (F).

Assume that fast warship will travel 70–190 km (45–120 mi) per day (includes sailing in the night).  A merchant ship may make 50–100 km (30–60 mi) (also with sailing in the night).

Index of Names

This is the alphabetical name index of all important persons, places, and ships from this campaign.
Absallar, the Shark
Pirate captain very well known in Ghanija.
Achal
Superstitious sailor aboard the Ormut's Blessing.
Alaman
Dark god in the Din Dhulahi (a dualist religion), Ormut's nemesis.  Alaman is not served, but respected (and feared) as important part of religion in Eschar.
Alatl
Sailor on the Ormut's Blessing who wants to be captain.
Alcham
Another sailor aboard Ormut's Blessing.
Al-Katras
Notorious prison in Estoleo in the city state of Corua (one of the Coast States).
Ansu
Prisoner in Al-Katras and friend of Hassal.  The PC's are ordered to rescue him.
Boghet
Family of Estoleo controlling the area around Al-Katras.
Cadro
Old sailor abroad the Ormut's Blessing who knows a lot of stories and often spins a yarn.
Calpan
Village at Huaxal's western coast, where the players meet the smuggler Sanwan.
Canar, Ali
Wealthy merchant from Amarija, who is blackmailed in the kidnapping scenario to pay for the life of his daughter.
Candra
Mediator between pirates and merchants.  Offers merchant ships "protection" from pirates and gives money to pirate captains for leaving protected ships alone.
Catalopre
Moralon's second (later, only) ship, made in the same style as the Maschallah in Eschar (an Arabic parallel culture) with elements from the Coast States (parallel to 15th Century Italy).  Uses (triangular) lateen sails as well as 30 oarsmen.
Coast States
Some independent counties on Midgard, resembling 15th Century Italy.
Conxatli
Sanwan's intelligent helper at Calpan.
Corua
City-state in the Coast States.  Al-Katras, the notorious prison, is located in Corua's main city of Estoleo.
Dama
Prean's former pupil, now a ghost/apparition desperately trying to get the Flying Valian to port.
Davin
Sailor from the Coast States who is stranded with the PC's.
Darain
Old Valian sea mage.  He built the original mansion on Kharadat and died there in a failed summoning.
Dodocap (Uncle Dodocap)
Unofficial boss of Al-Katras, "godfather" of all prisoners.  He controls all illegal activities in Al-Katras.
Elhaddar
The cities of Elhaddar form a loose union of trading cities at the eastern coast of Eschar.  All trade to Nahuatlan (Huaxal) starts here.
Eschar
Country on the fantasy world of Midgard; it resembles an Arabic country.
Estoleo
Capital of Corua; Al-Katras is located here.
Ghanija
City at the south end of Elhaddar, well known for its slave markets.
Harallah
Sailor aboard the Ormut's Blessing.
Hassal
Pirate captain (of the Ormut's Blessing).  The party has to sail with him to get to Kharadat.
Haxuptli
Serf on Kharadat who hates the Old.
Huaxal
Continent (on Midgard) to the west of Eschar (and Elhaddar).  Most of Huaxal (the whole main continent) belongs to Nahuatlan, an Aztec parallel country.
Iquibalam
War-god and most important/powerful god of Nahuatlan.  (His holy symbol is the jaguar.)
Irom
Old sewer guard in Estoleo, Corua.
Jussuf
Always the best informed barkeeper in Kharadat's biggest pub.
Keipal
Navigator and official second man aboard Hassal's Ormut's Blessing.
Kharadat
Secret distant island used by the Old for his pirate headquarters.
Lefkaka
Healer stranded with the party in the first scenario.
Madjama
Kidnapped daughter of Ali Canar.
Maloghet
Zaolon's guard/servant.
Maschallah
Moralon's ship that sinks at the beginning of the first scenario.
Maxtupl
Sanwan's stupid helper.
Miacapnar
Boss of Al-Katras, the notorious prison in Estoleo.
Mialin
Stranded sailor from the Coast States in the first scenario.
Moralon
Cruel pirate captain and campaign's nemesis.  The PC's want to find Moralon to have their revenge for what he does to them in the first scenario.
Nahuatlan
Country on Midgard's continent Huaxal; its culture resembles a hybrid of Aztec, Maya, and Inca.
Okawana
Shaman from a village in the Ikenga jungles, where the PC's try to hunt some slaves.
Old, The
Retired pirate captain who uses Kharadat as his secret island to offer a secure port for his pirate friends.
Ormut
God of Light in Eschar, positive aspect of the religion of duality.
Ormut's Blessing
Hassal's ship, where the PC's are pirates.
Pedro
Carpenter aboard the Ormut's Blessing.
Prean
Navigator murdered by the captain of the Flying Valian.
Predoncal
Mentalist in Al-Katras, hired to provide magical surveillance.
Sansul
Commands the Old's guard on Kharadat.
Sanwan
Former pirate captain, now fisher/smuggler in Calpan (Nahuatlan).
Stoan
Depressed sailor stranded with the players.
Tacaodano
The "Flying Valian," Undead captain of the ghost ship crossing the sea between Eschar and Nahuatlan.
Tonce
Sailor aboard the Ormut's Blessing.
Tonma
Zaolon's servant/guard.
Uhau
Aggressive, ill-tempered female pirate aboard the Ormut's Blessing.
Zaolon
Son of a merchant from Ghanija who meets the party in the first scenario.
Please send your comments to Robert Wenner (robert.wenner@gmx.de).

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