A Review of the Role Playing Game Supplement Villainous Pirates

Villainous Pirates by John Bennett, Andy Glenn and David Posener is a role playing game supplement published by Raging Swan Press for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. As such, it is covered by the Open Game License with some parts being considered Open Game Content. This supplement describes individual pirates and is intended to be a companion volume for So What’s The Pirate Ship Like, Anyway?

This is a 49 page bookmarked PDF which is available from RPGNow at the regular price of $5.99 but which was purchased at the greatly reduced price of $0.27 as part of a special bundle. Two pages are Raging Swan’s standard plain front and rear covers, one page is a catalogue of products, two pages are the front matter, one page is the Contents and Foreword, one page is a list of pirates by CR, one page is About the Designers, one page is a standard one on Reading Stat Blocks, explaining how they are laid out and one page is an advert for So What’s The Pirate Ship Like, Anyway? and the Open Game License.

Villainous PiratesThe supplement starts with a single page In Your Campaign, on how to use the various pirates in a campaign. Options provided are as crewmen, enemies, flavour and rivals.

The first section, Pirates of Note, is the largest. This describes 30 pirates stated as being moderately famous, suitable for first mate, ship’s champion or as captain of a small vessel, that range in CR from 3 to 7. Each pirate has a brief introduction followed by their background, personality, mannerisms and distinguishing features, followed by their stats. This section concludes with a list of the pirates organised by alignment (not all are evil; a couple are actually good).

Pirates of Renown has more detailed descriptions of ‘famed freebooters,’ captains of their own vessels ranging from CR9 to CR13. Each has the same areas covered as in the previous section, but in far more detail and most have tactics and adventure seeds as well. Two of these pirates are connected, as one is basically a pawn of another. One pirate is from Villains II and can also be found in the compilation supplement Scions of Evil. This section also finishes with a list of pirates by alignment; all but one of these are evil and that one is neutral.

Villainous Pirates in Review

The PDF is well bookmarked with each pirate linked as are adventure seeds where applicable. The Contents is almost as thorough and is also hyperlinked. Navigation is therefore well above average. The text maintains a two column format and no errors were noted. There are a handful of black and white illustrations, for a few of the pirates, and at least some are definitely stock. Illustrations for every pirate would have been nice, but frankly unlikely.

This is not your standard list of stereotypical “Arr, Jim lad!” Robert Newton (i.e. Long John Silver) clones; it’s a far different collection indeed. Very few of the pirates are human and there are some truly unusual races; halfling is one of the more normal ones but there are such as a sandman, serpentfolk and cassian angel (the last tied to a compass). There’s even a cloaker that works as a ship’s sail. The classes are also far more wide ranging, with many archetypes and more than a few multiclassed NPCs.

The lower level pirates have a decent amount of background information but the pirates of renown have far more. This provides a host of different motivations and ways to get involved. So0me of the pirates may be of the simple plunder/loot variety but most are far more complex characters than that. There are many, many different ways that players could encounter these pirates, and some may prove to be allies.

This is an excellent and well presented collection of pirates – who are not all truly villainous and is well worth getting, either for a standard campaign or perhaps for use with Paizo‘s Skull and Shackles Adventure Path. Villainous Pirates can be found by clicking here.


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