A Jolly Rogers Tale: Skull & Shackles
Naval Crew Weapons
Pirates choose their weapons carefully. Style factors into this decision—most pirates want to look as fierce as possible, as an enemy who immediately surrenders is always preferable to one you have to kill. Practical considerations, however, factor in as well; some weapons are simply better suited to shipboard combat than others.
Bayonet: Bayonets are close-combat weapons designed to fit into the grooves or muzzles of crossbows and firearms. They allow you to make melee attacks with these weapons, but render them temporarily useless as ranged weapons. Attaching or removing a bayonet is a move action.
Boarding Axe: Basically a hand axe with a backwardpointing spike, a boarding axe is used to chop through hatches or rigging, to drag burning debris off a ship, or as a weapon. A boarding axe is a one-handed martial weapon that uses the same statistics as a handaxe, except it deals slashing or piercing damage. In addition, the spike grants a +2 circumstance bonus on Climb checks on wooden surfaces.
Boarding Gaff: A gaff hook is a long pole with a hook on one end for spearing fish. Pirates often add extra, heavier hooks to both ends of gaff hooks to assist with boarding actions. After the pirates use grappling hooks to draw ships close together, they hook the gunwales together with boarding gaffs to prevent the ships from drifting. Small crafts often use boarding gaffs in place of grappling hooks.
Boarding gaffs bite deeply into the wood of the railing. It takes 1 minute to pry a boarding gaff loose. Most pirates use a boarding axe or cutlass to cut through boarding gaffs rather than trying to unhook them one by one.
The gaff can also be used for fishing when not in combat.
Boarding Pike: A boarding pike is an 8-foot-long pole topped with a foot-long tapered metal tip. Boarding pikes look much like longspears, but the metal pike is designed to flow into the wooden haft, leaving no grooves, collars, or spikes that could trap salt water and cause rust. Boarding pikes are mainly used defensively, to repel boarding actions. The pikes are kept in brackets around the mast, so sailors can quickly grab pikes and brace them against the gunwale to repel boarders.
Brass Knife: Pirates often carry long brass knives for working aboard a ship. Though brass doesn’t hold as sharp an edge as steel, it isn’t vulnerable to rust like steel is. In a pinch, a pirate can use his brass knife as a weapon. Mostly, though, they are used for cutting ropes, cleaning fish, and other sundry tasks.
A brass knife has the fragile quality. A fragile weapon gains the broken condition if the wielder rolls a natural 1 on an attack roll with the weapon. If a fragile weapon is already broken, rolling a natural 1 destroys it instead.
Cat-o’-Nine-Tails: A cat-o’-nine-tails, also known as the “captain’s daughter,” is a short whip made of nine knotted thongs about 3 feet in length, designed to lacerate and inflict great pain without doing serious permanent damage.
A cat-o’-nine-tails deals no damage to any creature with an armor bonus of +1 or higher or a natural armor bonus of +3 or higher.
Cutlass: A cutlass is a short, curved sword with a single sharp edge. Pirates favor cutlasses because the blade is sharp enough to cut through rigging (and enemy sailors) but is short enough to use in crowded shipboard melees.
Grappling Hook: A grappling hook is usually thought of as a climbing instrument, but is also used to grapple enemy ships and draw them close before a boarding action. Grappling hooks bite deeply into the wood of the railing. It takes 1 minute to pry a grappling hook free. The rope attached to a grappling hook can be cut, but pirates often target the rigging and masts to make it difficult to remove the hooks. Tying off the rope of a grappling hook is a move action.
A grappling hook can also be used as a ranged weapon. If you are proficient in the grappling hook, it is a grappling weapon. On a successful critical hit with a weapon of this type, you can grapple the target of the attack. You can attempt a combat maneuver check to grapple your opponent as a free action. This grapple attempt does not provoke an attack of opportunity from the creature you are attempting to grapple if that creature is not threatening you. While you grapple the target with a grappling weapon, you can only move or damage the creature on your turn. You are still considered grappled, though you do not have to be adjacent to the creature to continue the grapple. If you move far enough away to be out of the weapon’s reach, the grapple ends.
A grappling hook’s weight includes the weight of 50 feet of hemp rope. It can be reduced by using shorter or lighter rope.
Harpoon: A harpoon is a barbed spear with an attached rope 50 feet or less in length. If you are proficient in the harpoon, it is a grappling weapon. On a successful critical hit with a weapon of this type, you can grapple the target of the attack. You can then attempt a combat maneuver check to grapple your opponent as a free action. This grapple attempt does not provoke an attack of opportunity from the creature you are attempting to grapple if that creature is not threatening you. While you grapple the target with a grappling weapon, you can only move or damage the creature on your turn. You are still considered grappled, though you do not have to be adjacent to the creature to continue the grapple. If you move far enough away to be out of the weapon’s reach, the grapple ends.
The harpoon appears in Pathfinder RPG Ultimate Combat as a Bronze Age weapon; it uses the same stats here, but is made out of steel. A harpoon’s weight includes the weight of 50 feet of hemp rope—it can be lightened by using shorter or lighter rope.
Hook Hand: Pirates who lose a hand in the course of their adventures sometimes attach hooks to their wrists. Your opponent cannot use a disarm action to disarm you of a hook hand. Hook hands generally do not interfere with routine activities, but you cannot use another weapon two-handed if you have a hook hand attached. You cannot use any type of weapon if both your hands are hook hands, and you may have trouble with routine activities.
Hook hands presume that the wrist joint is intact. If the wrist joint is not intact, use the prosthesis statistics instead. It takes 1 minute to attach or detach a hook hand.