2018/08/11

OSR: Background Table for Pirate Campaigns

Pirate campaign planning continues at a furious pace! Here are 1d100 Backgrounds for your pirate game. File off the serial numbers and reuse them wherever you'd like.

Wexland, Tarracon, Valois, and the Ranstead League are Old World powers detailed in this post.
Notes on the pirate Isla de Caracol can be found here.

Notes on the Golden Isles can be found here.
Notes on Chult can be found here.
And finally, notes on Yoon-Suin can be found here.

Character Generation

1. Roll on the big 1d100 Background Table. Alternatively, roll on the Simplified Background table below, but that seems less fun. Entries are somewhat unbalanced, but the overall distribution of stat rerolls is even. I've tried to make the entries gender-neutral. You can play any sort of pirate; chances are good life on the high seas is considerably more liberating than life back home (if certain 100% accurate documentaries are to be believed), so go nuts.

2. Roll your stats. You can reroll the stat listed with your background and take the higher result.


3. Write down your starting language. You don't need to pick your other languages yet. It's possible the group won't share a language. Hopefully, with some fiddling, everyone can translate back and forth. If you speak one of the Old World languages, you can muddle by in the rest for the purposes of ordering beer or shouting at sailors.

4. Pick your class.

5. Roll 1d10 for starting gold pieces. Spend them on items or guns.


1d100 Background Reroll Skill Extra Languages Additional Info

Wexland Language: Wexlish
1 Seasoned deckhand in the merchant fleet. Str Sailor
Start with abundant lash marks on your back.
2 Child of nobility, education just completed. Dex Literature +1 Family will hate you for dishonoring their name.
3 Tipsy midshipman in the Wexlish Navy. Con Sailor
Start with 3 bottles of rum.
4 Religious separatist with impractical aims. Int Religion +1 Start with 1 book and a holy icon.
5 Elder searching the world for something. Wis Wilderness
Start with a spyglass.
6 Political radical fleeing a failed revolution. Cha Literature +1 Save when speaking of Wexland or get angry.
7 Former marine, out for better pay. Str Soldier
Start with a musket and a blue and white uniform.
8 Press-ganged slave-trader. Con Sailor +2 Start with a surprising number of enemies.
9 Clerk in a colonial enterprise on Rat Leg. Int Bureaucracy +1 Start with eyeglasses and a book.
10 Disgraced officer in the Wexlish Navy. Cha Courtesy +1 Start with a bundle of old love letters.
11 Mercenary guard of a decadent trader. Str Soldier +1 Start with a sword and 1 extra gp.
12 Disgraced lawyer accused of corruption. Int Law +2 Start with a wig, a pistol, and 1 charge.
13 Experienced tavern-keeper. Cha Merchant
Start with 3 bottles of rum and 1 extra gp.
14 Newly pressed sailor from Wexland. Dex Sailor
Save or stare in awe at moderately unusual things.
15 Silver prospector with awful luck. Con Geology
Start with a pickaxe and itchy bug bites.

Tarracon Language: Tarraconese
16 Solider in the conquest of Chult. Str Soldier +1 Start with a sword and a red and orange uniform.
17 Performer in traveling plays and songs. Dex Singer +1 Start with a gaudy costume and 1 extra gp.
18 Exhausted villager from Refuge Point. Con Farmer
Start with a saw, 1 extra gp, and a leather apron.
19 Escaped religious initiate. Int Religion +1 Incredibly naieve. Save in surprise at improprieties.
20 Engineer from the New Castle. Wis Carpentry +1 Start with a hammer and chisel.
21 Intelligence service operative. Cha Spycraft +2 Former masters and other nations want you dead.
22 Merchant sailor, just survived a shipwreck. Dex Sailor
Start with 2 bottles of rum and a sword.
23 Poet inspired to visit the new world. Wis Poetry +2 Start with a book and no shoes.
24 Exiled scandalous lover of a noble. Cha Courtesy +1 Start with a courtly costume and several enemies.
25 Assassin on a cancelled mission. Dex Poisons +2 Start with a dagger and 1 vial of poison.
26 Blacksmith fleeing an accidental crime. Str Blacksmith
Start with a hammer and 2 extra gp.
27 Spice trader and gourmet assistant. Con Cook +1 Immune to most less-than-lethal poisons.
28 Bankrupt beast trainer and fur trader. Wis Wilderness +1 Start with an ragged spotted pelt worth 1gp.
29 Dance instructor, pupils died of fever. Cha Dance +2 Start with a dancing master's whip.
30 Roving collector of folk songs. Str Singer +2 Start with a book and a distrust of sailors.

Valois Language: Valoch
31 Veteran of wars in the Old World. Str Soldier
Start with a uniform, a musket, and 6 charges.
32 Noble officer with dueling scars. Dex Courtesy +1 Save when insulted or fly into a rage.
33 Sailor, lone survivor of a pirate attack. Con Sailor
Start with a sword and a fear of pirates.
34 Shipwrecked genealogist with a grudge. Int Literature +2 Start with ink and a pen. Save or obey noble orders.
35 Assistant on a lost hunting expedition. Wis Taxidermy +1 Start with scissors, thread, and a needle. 
36 Courtier inspecting the colonies on a whim. Cha Courtesy +2 Pampered. Save to do disgusting things.
37 Astrologer to a superstitious captain. Int Astrology +1 Start with a book.
38 Mercenary down on your luck. Str Soldier +1 Start with a pistol and 6 charges.
39 Ship's cook without a ship. Con Cook
Start with an iron pot and 3 utensils.
40 Indigo merchant and inspector. Int Merchant
Start with a book and a bottle of indigo worth 1gp.
41 Unwilling partner of a dissipated noble. Cha Courtesy +1 Start with 1 scandalous outfit and a dagger.
42 Junior rat-catcher, second class. Dex Sailor
Start with a small but vicious dog.
43 Ship's navigator dreaming of the horizon. Wis Navigation +1 Start with navigation tools and a book.
44 Unpaid carpenter for a large plantation. Str Carpentry
Start with a saw, a hammer, and 10 nails.
45 Stable hand to a brutal noble. Wis Horses
Start with rags and a dagger.

The Ranstead League Language: League Tongue
46 Dockyard worker, couldn't take it anymore. Str Sailor +1 Start with a club and a pearl earring worth 1gp.
47 Household servant, expelled for thieving. Dex Courtesy
Start with livery and a mild warrant for arrest.
48 Seasoned merchant navigator. Con Navigation +1 Start with a wildly inaccurate map of the area.
49 Disgraced child of a spice trader family. Int Merchant +2 Start with 2 fingers missing (taken for your debts).
50 Gold prospector and assayer. Wis Geology +1 Start with a pickaxe.
51 Stoic but ambitious banker. Cha Merchant +1 Start with a book, ink, pen, and 2 extra gp.
52 Survivor of the hurricane on Splinterpoint. Con Sailor +1 Start with 3gp, a hat, ragged shorts, and a sunburn.
53 Intelligence service operative. Wis Spycraft +2 Most nations want you dead.
54 Haughty overseer from Crimsontown. Dex Soldier
Start with a sword, a pistol, and 1 charge.
55 New minted bounty hunter Str Bureaucracy +1 Start with a pistol and 6 charges.
56 Lawyer to a powerful merchant house. Int Law +2 Start with a wig, gown, and many enemies.
57 Exotic dancer with a grudge. Cha Dance +1 Start with a dancing outfit, 2 extra gp, and an enemy.
58 Card shark, caught and robbed. Con Gambling +1 Start with 2 decks of card, 1 marked.
59 Hastily trained barber-surgeon. Wis Medicine
Start with a needle, thread, and a book.
60 Bitter alchemist turned assassin. Dex Poisons +1 Start with a book and 1 vial of poison.

Isla de Caracol Language: Wexlish or Tarraconese or Valoch
61 Prize fighter without prospects. Str Gambling
Start with one Interesting Scar.
62 Ex-pirate without a crew or ship. Dex Sailor +1 Branded with a pirate mark on your right hand.
63 Castaway, recovered from your prison. Con Wilderness
Deranged but hardy. Cannot die from drowning.
64 Barber-surgeon, fake or real. Int Sewing +1 Start with a dagger, needle, and thread.
65 Keen-eyed urchin. Wis Pickpocket
Start with a lantern, a dagger, and a grey cloak.
66 Ambitious prostitute with vague plans. Cha Merchant
Start with 3 high-quality outfits.
67 Musician trying to find something else to do. Dex Music +1 Start with a musical instrument.
68 Apprentice in an opium den. Wis Medicine
Start with an opium pipe and opium worth 5gp.
69 Spy for several of the Old World powers. Cha Spycraft +2 Almost everyone, pirates included, want you dead.
70 Notorious liar, storyteller, or windbag. Con Sailor +1 Start with a book and a very dubious treasure map.

Golden Isles Language: Zakharan

71 Lost from your fishing fleet. Str Sailor +1 Start with a net.
72 Sometime merchant, sometime pirate. Dex Merchant +1 Start with a sword and a red cloak.
73 Plantation slave from the Isles of the Claw. Con Farmer
Start with a pack of spices worth 5gp.
74 Religious scholar, not a demagogue. Int Religion +1 Start with a book, 1gp, and fear of capture.
75 Nomad from the desert, sold into slavery. Wis Horses +1 Start with a slave brand on the back of your neck.
76 Cartographer to the King of Gana. Cha Navigation +2 Start with a sword, 4gp, and an air of superiority.
77 Goon hired to protect a now-dead merchant. Str Soldier
Start with 2 pistols and 6 charges.
78 Ornament of a court.  Dex Courtesy +1 Start with 3 elaborate outfits.
79 Ape Island trader in tapa paper. Wis Sailor +1 Start with a barrel of very low quality gunpowder.
80 Old visionary from the Islands of the Claw. Int Wilderness
Take 1/2 damage from magic or sorcery.

Chultan Language: Chultan
81 Escaped from a massive indigo plantation. Str Farmer
Start with rags and an Interesting Scar.
82 Trusted household slave, dead master. Dex Merchant +1 Start with livery and a dagger.
83 Miner from outside Port Nyanzaru. Con Geology
Start with a pickaxe and an uncut gem worth 10gp.
84 Child of nobility, caught in factional intrigue. Int Courtesy
Save or refuse to talk to scum or fools.
85 Advisor to a rebel group, sold to traders. Wis Soldier +1 Start with a musket and 6 charges.
86 Owned a small business in Splinterpoint. Cha Bureaucracy +1 Start with 2 extra gp and a box of trinkets.
87 Former pirate from Jahaka Bay.  Str Sailor +1 Start with a pirate brand on your right hand.
88 Illegitimate child of a Valois noble. Int Courtesy +1 Your existence is very mildly scandalous.
89 Educated in the priesthood. Wis Religion +2 Start with brown robes and a book.
90 Independant farmer driven off land. Con Farmer +1 Start with a sword and a sack full of tubers.

Yoon-Suin Language: Yoon-Suin Trade Tongue
91 Deep jungle mercenary from Làhàg. Str Wilderness
Immune to most poisons.
92 Riverboat crew from the Yellow City. Dex Sailor +1 Start with an enormous elaborate sunhat.
93 Escaped slave from Lamarakh. Con Farmer +1 Tattooed with a slave mark on your right hand.
94 Indebted opium farmer from the Yellow City. Int Merchant +2 Owe 20x1d10 gp to your Yoon-Suin creditors.
95 Street scum from the Yellow City. Wis Pickpocket
Start with 2 gp extra.
96 Exiled prostitute from the Yellow City. Cha Merchant +2 Angry Yoon-Suin debt-keepers if you return.
97 Proud scholar from the Yellow City. Int Literature +2 Save or refuse to talk to scum or fools.
98 Ghost-binder from Làhàg. Cha Religion +1 Take 1/2 damage from magic or sorcery.
99 Eunuch slave of a wealthy family. Con Courtesy +2 Immune to seduction. Start with 2 extra gp.
100 Survived a shipwreck on the Misty Isle. Dex Sailor +1 Start with vague knowledge of the Misty Isle of Eld.
Peter Scott

Simplified Background Table



1d10 Origin Language Reroll Stat Skill
1-2 Wexland Wexlish 1 Str Soldier
3-4 Tarracon Tarraconese 2 Dex Sailor
5-6 Valois Valoch 3 Con Literature
7-8 The Ranstead League League Tongue 4 Int Farmer
9 Isla de Caracol Wexlish / Tarraconese / Valoch 5 Wis Courtesy
10 Golden Isles Zakharan 6 Cha Wilderness
11 Chultan Chultan


12 Yoon-Suin Trade Tongue of Yoon-Suin / Lamarakhi






1d10 Languages
1 Wexlish
2 Tarraconese
3 Valoch
4 League Tongue
5 Zakharan
6 Chultan
7 Trade Tongue of Yoon-Suin
8 Lamarakhi
9 Olman
10 Rhenish (like Latin)

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