Pirates Campaign: Pirates' Island
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 scenario describes a small island far away from usual trade routes.
It is the secret base of a pirate gang. The scenario is the beginning
of the end of the Pirates Campaign, but may also be used as a stand-alone
Kharadat is a small island far away from the usual trading routes and
thus an ideal hiding place for the "Old" and his pirate gang. Kharadat's
area is about 200 km² (78 mi²) with a maximum width of 30 km
(19 mi). In addition to fishing, some farms scattered all over the
island provide enough food for some hundred people. The only village
on Kharadat is a nameless collection of huts at the port, the only cove
with both a beach and water deep enough for ships. The other parts
of the island's coastline cannot be used for ports because they sport dangerous
cliffs. On top of the highest cliff rests the Old Villa, the Old's
headquarters. Other pirate captains also live here during their visits.
History of the Island
Nine hundred years ago, the island had other inhabitants. Darain,
a Valian mage, built the villa and lived here with his family and some
servants. He chose to live in this place instead of within a great
city so he would be undisturbed in his magical experiments.
Darain's main field of research was summoning, and finally he tried
to control a very powerful demon lord called Zurul. This demon lord
was very upset about this involuntary summons to the human sphere, and
his angry outburst was brief but impressive. He killed all humans
on the island and finally struck the island and made it break apart.
By this blow the cliff was formed and the rocks in the water still make
it essentially impossible for ships to get close to the island from the
Ten years ago, the Old, a pirate from Eschar, came upon the island while
sailing around a storm. He decided to use it as a hiding place and
named it Kharadat. He moved to the Old Villa, repaired and replaced
the house where necessary, and founded the village at the port and the
farms. The farms are run by former oar-slaves. Most people
in the village are also former slaves. The slaves lead a relatively
secure life now, without heavy work at the oars, so most of them view living
on Kharadat as a reward.
About 100 people (former slaves) live in the nameless village at the harbor.
Most of the time, some 10 to 60 pirates, depending on the number of ships
in the port, also have quarters there. Most of the villagers work
as fishermen and will go fishing with their small boats at night.
The village also has a woodworker, four pubs, a healer, and another shop
selling various goods like tools. These shops are almost only for
pirates; the normal villagers do not have any money.
The houses in the village are mostly made of stone and wood. A
stone foundation and wall of 30 to 100 cm (1 to 3 feet) in height supports
the upper part of the house, which is made from wood. The roofs are
generally made from thatch. The village's biggest house is a storehouse
near the port where stolen wares are stored up under the 4-m (13') high
ceiling. Other houses do not have more than the ground floor and
the space under the roof is used as sleeping room.
Like the pirates, the villagers are a motley group with people from
Eschar, the Coast States, Nahuatlan, and even dark-skinned people from
the Ikenga jungles. Almost all speak Scharidisch, the language from
Eschar; some speak New-Valinga, which is common in the Coast States.
Fearing a revolt by the villagers, the Old forbids many things.
No one except his guards may carry a weapon (this is also true for visiting
pirates, as their weapons might be stolen when they are drunk). The
guards have no mercy and will punish any disobedience without consideration
of the situation. For the villagers, this is accompanied by the constant
fear of being forced back to the oars again one day, or of being imprisoned
in the Old Villa and left to rot in its dungeon. Tools made from
iron also attract the suspicion of the guards, so in most cases the villagers
use tools made from wood, bone, stone, or bronze. Use of magic in
any form is prohibited and may very well be punished by death.
Four farms support the fishermen in delivering food to the Old Villa.
Each farm is run by a big family of 6 to 10 persons (if the family is too
small, other people from the village are assigned to the farm). The
farmers have to work on the fields as well as care for pigs and sheep.
Running a farm is a hard job, as the Old likes meat more than fish.
Crop failures or lost animals are interpreted as betrayals subject to cruel
The Old Villa
Now dangerously close to the sheer cliffs, the Old Villa on the highest
point of the island looks somewhat like a stronghold, and in fact it is
a stronghold. Heavy doors block the entrances, and the guards in
the villa are well armed. All carry light crossbows, clubs, and shortswords,
and wear leather armor (AT 10) in combat. The windows are blocked
by wooden bars and may be secured by additional boards, which are placed
in the window and leave only a small embrasure. The house itself
is made from heavy stones, the windows at the ground floor are 50 cm (20")
broad and 70 cm (27.5") high, in the first level only 50 cm times 50 cm.
In the first level's windows, fragile wooden adornments form grilles.
1. Main Entrance: Three steps
lead to the mighty double doors with a heavy bronze door knocker.
Over the door is engraved the year when the house was built, 1537, but
it is hard to decipher. During the daytime, two guards wait in front
of the door, most times sitting on the stairs.
2. Garden: From the main entrance,
visitors pass into the garden, which once formed the center of the house.
Nowadays it is unkempt and weeds grow everywhere. It is no longer
used, as it seems quite dangerous to step too close to the edge.
Three steps lead down to the staircase. In the wall to the right
are two doors.
3. Corridor: This corridor connects
the garden and the kitchen. Heavy boards lean on the wall besides
the windows. They are used to block the windows at night (or when
defending the villa). The boards are hung on iron hooks in the wall
and secured by bolts at the lower ends. Their main purpose is to
prevent monkeys or birds from entering and maybe stealing food. Four
doors lead on from here; at the door to the garden, four steps are required
to reach the higher garden level.
4. Kitchen: During daytime, two
women work here. A big chimney at the back wall is open and can be
used from the room behind as well. On tables are various cooking
tools, bowls, and pots. The cupboards and closets hold dishes and
some more tools. The dishes are made from wood; valuable dishes are
stored on the first floor. A big iron cauldron hangs in the chimney.
A heavy door secured by a strong bolt leads outside; three other doors
lead to other rooms.
5. Washhouse: Some big tubs fill
the room and dirty clothes lie in a corner. On a shelf rest some
pieces of soap and brushes. The chimney from the kitchen can also
be used from this room.
6. Workshop: This room is a workshop
with a workbench. Most tools are for woodworking. New bolts
for the guards' crossbows are made here. Nobody works here regularly.
7. Storeroom: This room without
windows is the coolest room on ground floor and thus it is used as the
storeroom. On the floor stand bags of flour and grain; salt meat
and sausages hang from the ceiling. Two beer barrels rest in a corner.
Stairs lead down to another storeroom (room 37) and
a door leads to the kitchen.
8. Quarters: In this former servant's
room now lives Sansul, the guard boss. A bed stands in a corner,
beside a desk, and a closet is next to the door. On a wooden stand
rests Sansul's adorned leather armor. The closet contains various
clothes from Eschar. On the desk stand ink, parchment, and a quill.
Sansul has some problems with reading and writing, but he would never admit
this. A chest under the bed contains another pot of ink with a ruby
and a golden ring hidden inside.
9. Latrine: A simple board and
a hole leading down to a grotto (room 35).
This grotto is flushed by the flood tide in certain intervals, so manual
clearing is not necessary.
10. Hall: The big room was the
former feasting hall for great ceremonies. Today it is the common
room for the guards, who spend their time gambling and/or drinking.
Banks stand at three tables and decorative weapons hang on the walls.
11. Old Shrine: This now half-open
but inaccessible room was the shrine of the house and could be entered
via a door from the garden. After the destruction of the house, the
garden part broke away and nobody has entered the shrine since. The
shrine was dedicated to Notuns, the Valian sea-god, which can be discovered
by clearing the altar from dirt, weeds, and broken stones.
12. Unused Space: As this part
of the house is exposed to the elements and also doesn't seem very stable,
this room is not used anymore. The only exception to this is that
it is sometimes used by guards from room 14 who don't want to walk over
to the latrine at night. Darain used the room to keep some animals
in cages for his experiments; some pieces of iron bars may still be found
in the rubbish.
13. Staircase: Stairs lead up
and down here. Four steps lead to the garden. The corridor
ends at two doors. Next to the stairs is a hidden secret door (–50
to Locate Secret Opening). It is not secured or trapped and may be
opened by lifting some stones. From the other side, there is a door
handle and no concealment. Behind the secret door a small spiral
staircase leads down. It seems as though the pirates have not yet
found the secret door, as the air is stale and thick dust covers everything.
The stairs end at the corridor (room 29) which leads to the secret lab
(room 30). The door leading outside the villa is heavy and can be
bolted from the inside.
14–15. Quarters: These big
rooms are the guards' quarters. Some beds line the walls, each with
a chest containing the guards' private possessions (cards, dice, weapons,
money, jewelry, etc.). Rooms 14 and 15 contain 15 and 12 beds, respectively,
although at present there are only 20 guards. As some guards may
work at night, at almost any time some guards will be sleeping here.
Room 14 was originally Darain's training room.
16. Equipment Room: This room
is used to store weapons (clubs, shortswords, crossbows, and bolts) and
armor (rigid leather armor) for the guards. Whetstones, rags, and
other tools for weapon and armor care are also stored here.
17. Shed: The slowly rotting
shed is not used by the pirates. It was formerly a workshop; some
of Darain's servants once lived here.
Usually there are no guards on the first floor; it is reserved for such
important persons as pirate captains. Exception to this are servants,
emergencies, or an order to come up.
18. Staircase: The first-level
staircase is as unadorned as the ground level's staircase. From up
here the garden can be watched and the Old uses this place for meeting
people he doesn't trust. In that case, some guards with crossbows
will stand in this room, aiming at the visitors and ordered to shoot at
the first sign of aggression.
19. Rubbish: A small, unused
room littered with rubbish and stones. A skilled climber could be
able to get onto the roof of the lower house part from here.
20. Corridor: This corridor
is adorned with carpets on floor and walls showing great sea battles.
The doors are finely carved with great skill, showing intricate patterns.
Usually in this corridor always waits a guard—not functioning as a guard,
but as a servant.
21–22. Guests' Quarters:
In these rooms reside such important guests as pirate captains and other
friends of the Old. The rooms are decorated as is usual in Eschar
with a great bed, colored lamps hanging from the ceiling, a coal basin,
and a water pipe to complete the inventory. Lockable chests and cupboards
offer the opportunity to store valuables. Many elegant clothes hang
in the closet. Darian used the room for one of his children.
23. Corridor: This narrow corridor
connects two rooms to the latrine (room 24).
24. Latrine: This room is connected
to the ground-floor latrine (room 9) by a pipe. Periodically, a guard
flushes the pipes with fresh water. A small dish of fragrant herbs
is placed here to get rid of any bad smells.
25. Old's Quarters: This room
is the most splendid room in the house. The Old has collected the
best pieces of his pirate career from years of piracy. The floor
is covered by deep, soft carpets, some with gold threads sewn into them.
All chests, cupboards, shelves, and chairs are made by the most skilled
woodworkers and show intricate patterns. Lamps of pure gold and crystal
shine multicolored light around the room. The finely carved wood
at the windows is fragile and looks as though it could break even from
the faintest draft of air. Pillows made from fine silk lie on the
big bed and the floor. A luxurious water pipe rests next to a coal
bowl made from silver and a tobacco case set with diamonds. In the
patterns on the room's door is imbedded a rune with a Magic Lock
spell (as Magic Lock on the "Unbarring Ways" list except for permanent
duration). Thus, the door will only open if someone says, loudly,
"Come in!" Another rune on the water pipe will Teleport the
Old away from trouble. Both runes are hidden in the intricate patterns
and can only be found with a Very Hard (–20) Perception roll. A chest
contains a double bottom hiding a treasure map. As this secret compartment
is very thin (just the height of a parchment), it is very difficult to
find (Absurd, –70).
26–27. Guest Quarters: As
The cellar consists of four independent parts. The secret lab is
unknown to the pirates. The grotto system can be accessed from the
latrine and the "normal" cellar rooms.
28. Corridor: In the corridor
are some torch holders attached to the walls, but they are empty as the
cellar is not often used. A door and a corridor lead onwards.
A secret door, which is known to only some guards (they keep this secret
to have a escape tunnel in case of a revolt from the villagers) leads into
the grotto system. The secret door is quite easy to detect with a
fair light source (Medium, +0).
29. Secret Corridor: Behind
the secret door some steps lead down and after some meters the sea can
be heard. The tunnel leads to room 12 in
30. Secret Laboratory: In this
secret lab, Darain made his last summoning. The shelves in this musty
room contain rotten books and parchments; bowls with strange contents rest
on the table. On the floor some strange circle patterns and other
symbols are drawn with colored chalk (protection circles of various kinds).
Nothing useful can be found here, as most things are rotten by now.
In the floor under the table is a trapdoor, which is barred from the other
31. Torture Chamber: Next to
the stairs is the torture chamber. The walls are lined with various
mean-looking pliers, pointed irons, thumb screws, and other tools.
The main part of the room is used by a bank for the delinquent. Here
the pirates try to make captured rich-looking people speak, and most times
the sight of the tools is enough. This room is the villagers' main
horror, as nobody will pay ransom for them, so their lives are worth nothing
to the pirates.
32. Corridor: This narrow corridor
leads to four cells. It looks newer than the other rooms, and in
fact the pirates made this corridor and the cells. Four thick doors
with small barred windows lead to the cells.
33. Cells: Each cell contains
a bag of straw to sleep on, some rotting straw to cover the floor, and
a mug of water. Hostages and sometimes villagers are imprisoned here
away from any sunlight to demoralize them. A villager in the last
cell might help them. He was imprisoned for a small theft and now
has not seen the sun for almost one year. From the lonely time in
complete darkness, he is nearly blind and insane, and keeps talking to
himself, sometimes screaming for freedom.
34. Secret Escape Tunnel: This
tunnel was created by Darain long ago. It leads several steps down
and far under the sea, finding its end below a small island. When
Darain built the tunnel, it didn't end below an island, but inside a cave
in a forest. The tunnel enters the grottoes at Room 12.
35. Latrine Grotto: This cavern
(2.5 m [8'] radius) has a drain of about half a meter (20") leading to
the sea, but its opening is normally over the water surface and water only
flushes the cavern floor at flood tides to wash away the dirt with the
returning water. PC's may climb into the cavern from the sea (room
10). There is no unusual danger of drowning even when the water fills
cave, as the ceiling is high enough. It is essentially impossible
to enter the Old Villa through the latrine, as the shaft is 7 m (23') long
and only 30 cm (12") wide.
36. Storeroom: This second room
is also used to store food, especially those foods that could go bad in
the heat as this room is cooler than the ground floor's storeroom.
A locked door leads to the wine cellar (37), the stairs lead to the upper
37. Wine Cellar: In this room,
the Old stores his valuable wines; only the Old himself and Sansul, captain
of the guard, have a key to the door. Along the wall rest barrels
and shelves filled with bottles of various whiskeys, grog, and other highly
The Grotto System Under the Cliff
Under the cliff and the sea, some small tunnels form a natural labyrinth,
which was formed long before the demon lord Zurul created the cliff.
It was used and adopted by Darain but is still unknown to the pirates.
Some of the tiny islands in front of the cliff also offer entrance to the
grotto system. These islands may be reached by swimming or using
a small boat, although with the danger of being spotted from the Old Villa.
Walls, floor, and ceiling in the grotto system are natural, with virtually
no signs of artificial work. Fungi and seaweeds grow on the walls
close to sea entrances. Normally, the ceiling is 1.5 m (5') high.
1. Island with Entrance: Behind
some bushes an entrance to the grotto system is hidden. After entering
a cave, a tunnel leads on below sea level, finally reaching a small grotto
and a tunnel running parallel to the cliff.
2. Door at Tunnel's End: This
carefully sealed door leads to nowhere except the sea floor. It was
originally made by Darain as a fake escape route leading to a cliff; a
pursuer breaking through the door would have fallen down the cliff.
Nowadays, this trap is even more deadly—if anybody opens it (with force,
as it is barred/locked), water will flow in, flushing the whole labyrinth
in a very short time. The right exit is at Room 3.
3. Trapdoor in the Ceiling: Finding
this hidden trapdoor requires a successful Very Hard (–20) Perception roll,
though the difficulty drops to Medium (+0) if PC's explicitly search the
ceiling. The trapdoor is not secured or locked and may be opened
without any problems. It leads to a grotto, where a tunnel leads
to the final exit on another island.
4. Island with Dead End: The grotto
below this island is a dead end.
5. Entrance: On this slightly
larger island, a shaft leads down (10 m [33']) to a grotto that connects
to the labyrinth.
6–7. Grottoes: These grottoes
(7 m [23'] and 10 m [33'] in diameter) are empty.
8. Fork: Here the floor is
quite slippery, as water drips from the ceiling and forms puddles on the
9. Entrance: This island has
a specially hidden entrance to the grotto system. A hollow piece
of rock overlaps some water; only by diving under the rock can the entrance
be discovered. Inside the rock there is a shaft (over the surface)
10. Drain: This 1-m (3'3")
diameter artificial drain carries the wastewater away from Room 35 in the
11. Former Cellar: This artificially
made room was once planned by Darain to be used as an escape tunnel, but
he found the other tunnel and gave up this room. It has no connection
to the Old Villa.
12. Secret Door to the Cellars:
Coming from the labyrinth, this door is not concealed, so after some steps
PC's will reach the door. There is a 20% chance of hearing screams
from the prisoner in the last cell; this may indicate their location to
the PC's. The door may be opened from this side, but there is a 10%
chance of guards being in the floor. This chance may be higher, if
many or important prisoners are kept in the cells or the torture chamber.
13. Storage Grotto: This storage
room is filled with chests and large boxes. Darain used them to store
components for magical experiments. Organic materials rotted long
ago, but the PC's may find some magical items here (GM decision).
From an almost collapsed corridor to Room 15 the garbage may be removed
in 2 man-hours.
14. Cave: This cave is accessible
from the sea, but nevertheless it is a dead-end. PC's may get the
idea to look for further entrances.
15. Second Lab: This was Darain's
second lab for particularly risky experiments (such as his last, the one
that failed in Cellar Room 30). As in the cellar lab, many (protection)
circles and runes are drawn on the floor, while books and scrolls rot on
the shelves. The room is still guarded by a demon that will attack
everybody except Darain. It takes the demon 5 rounds to materialize.
It looks like a 2-m (6'7") high insect-like beast with six arms (it may
use only two of them in combat). The demon will follow fleeing people
and attack any living beings.
16. Ladder: A ladder leads
up to the trapdoor under the table in the other lab in the cellar (Room
30). The trapdoor may only be opened from below, as the floor square
must be pushed aside, which is not possible from above.
The Old: Former pirate captain who has retired to this island
and now heads a pirate gang. He commands five ships (or better, commands
their captains) and has his spies in various ports. Thus, he is a
very powerful enemy. He is about 45 years old with black hair (somewhat
bald at the forehead) and a beard. He comes from Eschar and has decorated
the Old Villa in styles from home.
Sansul: Captain of the watch, a fighter from Eschar who
has been working for the Old for 12 years. He is absolute loyal to
the Old and very content with his own position. In his mind, this
job is much less dangerous than sailing for prey and risking his life daily.
Sansul is dutiful and the other guards like him, as he still is "one of
them." He wears the same clothes and drinks with them, and although
all obey his orders, nobody feels oppressed.
Ali Shabal: The village's carpenter has a higher rank than
the other villagers, as his experiences in woodworking and marine carpentry
are valuable to the pirates, as he might best repair their ships.
The Old has intimidated him to ensure his loyalty. Ali Shabal's wife
Abala wears a magic collar around her neck. The Old does not know
its real purpose (it will increase the wearer's strength when the wearer
says, "Give me power!"), but he has told Ali Shabal that he can close the
ring with a simple command and make Abala suffocate. Ali Shabal believes
this, and thus will never (openly) conspire against the pirates.
Haxuptli: A native of Nahuatlan who runs one of the farms.
His three sons take care of the pigs, while Haxuptli and his wife work
with two helpers in the fields. One year ago, a young pig ran away
and the Old punished the poor boy, Haxuptli's youngest son, very cruelly.
The Old wanted to kill the boy; because of the parents' pleas, he had the
boy "only" whipped. The boy survived this punishment after a week-long
fight against death. Since that day, Haxuptli has hated the Old,
but has not found any chance for revenge. He has hidden a dagger
in his hut's floor.
Jussuf: The barkeeper from the biggest tavern in the village,
which has no name shown outside (most people here are not able to read
anyway), it is just called Jussuf's. This inn is meeting point for
many sailors exchanging messages to other pirates by the help of Jussuf.
By this way, he always knows the latest gossip. Should no guest want
to tell a new story, Jussuf will tell one from his great repertoire.
Jussuf is quite content with his life; he almost always has guests and
pirates and villagers as well respect him. In case of conflict, he
is not too stupid to chose his side early, but he will to see who will
win and support that party.
|Rolemaster NPC data
||Max pace / MN Bonus
||Size / Crit
||FSpt / 10
||MF / FA
||L / II
||100We / 60LBa / Spells
|Usually the Old doesn't wear armor. When he has to fight
he will wear a +10 leather vest (AT 5). The guards are Common Men
|The demon may use 25 PP daily for spells from the "Insect
Mastery" list (Druid Base, RC5).
The PC's may come to Kharadat for many reasons, including personal revenge
(as in the Pirates Campaign), hope for treasures in the Old Villa, to free
a prisoner from the pirates' cells, or on a quest for magical artifacts
from Darain's old lab. In all these cases, the PC's have to be very
careful, as the Old will never be their friend. (Other cases might
make him more favorably disposed to the PC's.)
In the village and the farms, the PC's might find help. If they
have a good plan to end the Old's oppression of the island, they might
find some fighters (e.g., Haxuptli) for a revolt against the pirates.
In such a scenario, the PC's need to gain the people's trust (maybe by
saving a villager from his death penalty). Then the time for the
revolt has to be chosen; no ships should be in port (to keep the number
of enemies low), and a celebration would also be helpful as some guards
may be drunk.
If the PC's just want to get a special item (e.g., the treasure
map from the Old's chest), or if they want to take revenge, entering the
Old Villa via the grotto system is easier. On their way through the
lab, they may find other "help," because the demon can be drawn up the
stairs by fleeing players to attack the guards.
These actions may also be combined: in the chaos caused by the
revolt, the PC's enter the villa via the labyrinth, kill their old enemy,
and steal the treasure map.