The Story

So to not accidentally spoil the story for the players, the main story line will remain within the Game Master's Guide. However, this page will be dedicated to the Downtime Pastimes.

Being a pirate was surprisingly boring. Ships could go months on the sea with nothing happening. Between waiting for merchant ships and escaping naval ships, there was a lot of downtime. Therefore, there will be some boring moments between ship battles and plot lines. To prevent your players from getting too bored, here are some suggestions from history to fill that time.

  1. Mock trials

    1. Pirates would hold silly trials over silly things, one person playing judge, another jury, another lawyer, and so on. These were shows put on for everyone who could watch and were a source of joy for those acting. Here are the rules for holding a mock trial:

      1. To start: allow the players to come up with the crime and who committed it. Then choose who will be judge, jury, jailer, and lawyer. 

      2. Jailers will call witnesses and ask them questions.

      3. The lawyer, who is defending the criminal will then have a turn asking the questions of the witness. 

      4. The jury, who can be multiple people, will listen closely and then decide, depending on the ‘trial’ or how funny the result will be, if the criminal is guilty or not. 

      5. The judge, who has acted as referee this entire time will sentence the criminal to do some childish dare.

      6. To be cleared, the criminal will have to complete the dare.

  2. Plays

    1. Pirates that were educated tended to know the stories of famous plays and would replay those stories to their fellow crew who would want to put on those performances. Here’s how to go about putting on a play:

      1. The players will pick a play from a list and only receive a summary of the characters and the plot. From there, they have to act out what they think the natural conclusion of the play would be. Here is the list:

        1. Don Sancho by Elizabeth Boyd

          1. In a garden in Oxford, Don Sancho, the necromancer helps students Joe Curious and his friends resurrect Shakespeare. Shakespeare, who is risen with Dryden does not appreciate the effort.

            1. Characters:

              1. Don Sancho

              2. Joe Curious

              3. Shakespeare

              4. Dryden

              5. Friend 1

              6. Friend 2

        2. The Way of the World by William Congreve

          1. This is a play about two lovers, Millamant and Mirabell who wish to marry each other without losing Millamant’s inheritance from her aunt, Lady Wishfort, who most likely won’t accept the marriage because Mirabell once pretended to love Lady Wishfort at one point. Mirabell and Millamant plot to get Lady Wishfort to marry a servant, Waitworth, who is not only disguised as Mirabell’s uncle, Sir Rowland but is also married to one of Lady Wishfort’s maids, Foible. The resulting scandal would be stopped if Lady Wishfort agrees to the marriage between Millamant and Mirabell. However, Ms. Marwood, who is unrequitedly in love with Mirabell, overhears the plan being told to Mrs. Fainall and tells Mr. Fainall, the man she’s having an affair with. Those two plot to stop the plan. Meanwhile, the bumbling nephew of Lady Wishfort, Sir Wilfull comes to town and Lady Wishfort want’s Millamant to marry him. 

            1. Characters:

              1. Millamant

              2. Mirabell

              3. Lady Wishfort

              4. Ms. Marwood

              5. Mr. Fainall

              6. Mrs. Fainall

              7. Sir Wilfull

              8. Waitworth

        3. The Recruiting Officer by George Farquhar 

          1. This is a play about two officers trying to recruit soldiers in Shrewsbury while also getting the runaround by the women of the town. Plume is a womanizer who is in love with Sylvia. Brazen is a coward whom stuff just sort of happens to. Worthy, a local gentleman has been trying to marry Sylvia’s cousin Melinda who keeps doing things to reject him. Kite is Plume’s Sergeant. At some point, Sylvia dresses as a man and goes to bed with Rose and gets accused of sexually assaulting her, ending up at trial with her father, Mr. Balance, and two other men, Mr. Scale and Mr. Scruple, as the judge and jury.

            1. Characters:

              1. Mr. Balance 

              2. Mr. Scale

              3. Mr. Scruple 

              4. Mr. Worthy

              5. Captain Plume

              6. Captain Brazen

              7. Kite

              8. Melinda

              9. Sylvia

              10. Lucy

              11. Rose

        4. The Beaux’ Stratagem by George Farquhar

          1. This is a story about Aimwell and Archer who are trying to trick heiresses to marry them to steal their fortune and run off. They start with Dorinda, daughter of Lady Bountiful. Archer pretends to be Aimwell’s servant. While Aimwell cozies up to Dorinda, Archer strikes a good friendship with Kate, Dorinda’s sister-in-law who is unhappily married to Sullen (who likes to hunt, eat, drink and that’s it). Meanwhile, Sullen despises his wife, the innkeeper’s daughter Cherry falls in love with Aarcher, the Lady Bountiful thinks herself a great healer, and Gibbet, Hounslow, and Bagshot are planning on robbing Lady Bountiful.

            1. Characters:

              1. Archer

              2. Aimwell

              3. Boniface (Innkeeper)

              4. Cherry

              5. Lady Bountiful

              6. Dorinda

              7. Sullen 

              8. Kate

              9. Gibbet

              10. Hounslow

              11. Bagshot

  3. Gambling/cards

    1. Pirates often gambled with each other to pass the time. They also played Patients (basically solitaire) by themselves. Here are some games your players can play:

      1. Cribbage: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cribbage 

      2. Piquet: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piquet

      3. Gyp: Roll 2 d6s and if you get a seven or a twelve, you win the pot.

  4. Sea Shanties

    1. Pirates were rather musical, there’s nothing better than belting out a song you and your friends made up together. Here are some historical shanties along with rules for your players to make up their own!

      1. Drunken Sailor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGyPuey-1Jw&ab_channel=Momratz 

      2. Ballad of Captain Kidd: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37mmXiubvaY&ab_channel=barthyde

      3. Take your pick from this website: https://www.thepirateking.com/music/shanty_lyrics.htm 

      4. Finally, how to have your players sing their own shanty:

        1. Shanties were often about whatever the crew wanted. They were often call and response. Appoint one player as the shantyman, the caller, and have them come up with the words, it can be what they’re doing, thinking, or might do.

  5. Board Games

    1. Like with card games, pirates would bring board games aboard their ships and play together. Here are some board games they could have played:

      1. The Game of the Goose

      2. Tafl Games

  6. Teach

    1. Some pirates were literate, some were not. To pass time, some of the literate pirates would teach their crewmates how to read and write as well as math. 

    2. To do this, have the players teaching each other, roll various intelligence checks while they roll play what they’re teaching each other.

  7. Gunnery Practice

    1. Occasionally, if they had enough supplies, pirates would practice shooting empty barrels dropped from the ship with cannons. This not only helped them when a battle came, but also served as a fun game.

    2. To do this, have the players roll intelligence to load a cannon and then dexterity to aim. You can encourage them to make it a competition!