Skull and Shackles
In the Skull & Shackles Adventure Path, the PCs take on the role of pirates, but they must make a name for themselves in piracy, plunder, and disrepute to truly become infamous Free Captains of the Shackles. The most important thing to keep in mind when creating your character is that piracy plays a significant role in this Adventure Path—your character should want to become a pirate, or at least not be opposed to the idea.
Under the banner of their Hurricane King, these buccaneers sally forth from that archipelago of lawless pirate ports and anchorages known as the Shackles, plundering the shipping of countless countries and trade consortiums, then vanishing back into the maze of islands and reefs they call home. The nations of the Inner Sea would like nothing more than to end the pirate menace once and for all, but the eternal hurricane known as the Eye of Abendego has
thus far shielded the Free Captains of the Shackles from the threat of retaliation.
Skull & Shackles Characters
Characters of almost any race or class can be found in the melting pot of the Shackles, so long as they have a reason to embrace a life of piracy. In fact, the only class that is
probably not a good fit for the Skull & Shackles Adventure Path is the paladin, whose alignment restriction and code of conduct are in direct opposition to the themes of piracy
and plunder in this campaign.
Archetypes: A number of archetypes are especially suitable for use in the Skull & Shackles Adventure Path.
The following archetypes from the Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player’s Guide are all good choices: aquatic druid (druid); rake, swashbuckler, thug (rogue); sea singer (bard); and
water elementalist (wizard). The tempest druid archetype from Pathfinder Player Companion: Inner Sea Magic is also a good fit, while Pathfinder Player Companion: Pirates of the Inner
Sea offers the buccaneer (bard), corsair (fighter), freebooter (ranger), and smuggler (rogue) archetypes.
From Pathfinder RPG Ultimate Combat, the cad (fighter), daredevil (bard), pirate (rogue), and sea reaver (barbarian) archetypes all complement the themes of this Adventure Path, as do the sea witch (witch), shark shaman (druid), and storm druid (druid) archetypes from Pathfinder RPG Ultimate Magic.
Bloodlines: The elemental (water) bloodline is a solid choice for a sorcerer in the Skull & Shackles Adventure Path, as is the aquatic bloodline or stormborn bloodline from the Advanced Player’s Guide.
Domains: Clerics, druids, and inquisitors that have some connection to the sea make a perfect fit for the Skull & Shackles Adventure Path. Details on Besmara—goddess of piracy, strife, and sea monsters—can be found in Pathfinder Adventure Path #55. Good domain choices
include Charm, Liberation, Luck, Travel, Trickery, Water, and Weather, and useful subdomains include Curse, Deception, Oceans, Revolution, Storms, and Thievery. In addition, druids might be interested in the aquatic terrain domain from Ultimate Magic.
Skills and Feats: Certain skills and feats will be particularly useful during the Skull & Shackles Adventure Path. First and foremost is the Profession (sailor) skill. Some sort of social skill—either Bluff, Diplomacy, or Intimidate—will also be important. Characters interested in using siege engines such as ballistae and catapults during ship-to-ship combat should strongly consider taking the Exotic Weapon Proficiency feat to gain proficiency with siege engines and putting ranks in Knowledge (engineering).
Other skills that will be helpful are Climb, Craft (sails), Craft (ships), Craft (siege engine), Knowledge (engineering), Knowledge (local), Profession (cook), Profession (siege engineer), and Swim.
Feats such as Athletic and Skill Focus can be useful, as well as feats such as Expert Driver, Sea Legs, Siege Commander, Siege Engineer, Siege Gunner, Skilled Driver, and Sure Grasp
(all from Ultimate Combat).