General Prestige Class : Dread Pirate

Thugs and cutthroats in every port lay claim to the title "pirate," but actually making a fortune through piracy is no easy task. A dread pirate, however, has mastered every aspect of larceny on the high seas. His network of contacts tells him when a particularly valuable cargo is shipping out. After a flawless ambush at sea, he swings aboard the target ship on a rope, rapier in hand. Once he and his shipmates have overpowered the prize vessel's crew, they liberate the cargo and make their escape. Later, the dread pirate meets representatives from the black market in some isolated cove and sells his newly acquired cargo for a handsome profit.

Some dread pirates accomplish their goals through fear, killing indiscriminately and ruling their ships at rapier-point. Others minimize bloodshed and exhibit a curious sort of chivalry, perhaps realizing that the captain and crew of a prize ship are more likely to surrender if they believe they'll live to see port again. Now and then a dread pirate takes his chivalric streak a step further and preys only on the ships of enemy nations - or even solely on other pirates.

A dread pirate's lifestyle fits most rogues to a tee, for the job requires a number of skills that members of other classes don't have the time or inclination to learn. However, the class is also attractive for some spellcasters, who can use magic to conceal their ships or incapacitate a prize vessel's crew.


To qualify to become a Dread Pirate, a character must fulfill all the following criteria:

Class Skills

The dread pirate's class skills are Appraise, Balance, Bluff, Climb, Craft, Gather Information, Intimidate, Jump, Listen, Profession, Search, Sense Motive, Sleight of Hand, Spot, Survival, Swim, Tumble, and Use Rope.

Skill Points at Each Level: 6 + Int modifier.

Class Features

All the following are class features of the dread pirate prestige class. The Difficulty Class (DC) for any required skill check is included where appropriate.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: A dread pirate is proficient with simple and martial weapons and with light and medium armor. if he is wearing light, medium, or no armor, he can fight with two weapons as if he had the Two-Weapon Fighting feat. A dread pirate most often fights with a rapier and either a short sword or a dagger in his offhand. if he has no magical means of swimming in armor, he usually goes unarmored, at least while aboard ship.

Fearsome Reputation: At 2nd level, the dread pirate is developing a reputation on the high seas. At this point, he must decide whether to adopt the honorable pirate's code (avoid undue bloodshed and focus on cargo, nor mayhem) or take the more bloodthirsty, dishonorable approach. Unless he is going incognito, the dread pirate gains a +2 circumstance bonus on Diplomacy checks (if honorable) or Intimidate checks (if dishonorable). Every two dread pirate levels thereafter, this bonus increases by +2. Failure to live up to his reputation at any point may (at the DM's discretion) negate these bonuses.

Rope Swing (Ex): If a number of overhead ropes or booms are nearby (and on a ship, they almost always are), a dread pirate of 3rd level or higher can grab one and swing up to 20 feet in a straight line as a move-equivalent action or as the movement portion of a charge action. if the dread pirate makes a successful Use Rope check (DC 15), this movement doesn't provoke attacks of opportunity for moving through threatened squares. A successful Use Rope check (DC 25) allows the character to move tip to 20 feet through occupied squares without provoking attacks of opportunity. Failure in either case means the dread pirate swings through the desired area but provokes attacks of opportunity normally. Rope swing can be used on land as well - in a room with a tapestry or chandelier, for example.

Players using the variant rules for Tumble should apply the same variant to rope swing.

Wind at Your Back: At 3rd level, the dread pirate has become a master at eking every bit of propulsion out of the prevailing winds. Any ship he captains moves 1 mile per hour faster than normal.

Leadership Bonus: At 5th level, the dread pirate gains a +2 bonus to his character level for the purpose of acquiring cohorts with the Leadership feat. Every two dread pirate levels thereafter, this bonus increases by +2.

Shifting Deck: As a free action, a dread pirate of 5th level or higher can attempt a Balance check (DC 15). Success negates any penalties for uneven ground, such as a ships deck in rolling seas, and any higher-ground bonuses that opponents might otherwise have. The DM may set a higher DC for checks involving particularly uneven or dangerous ground.

Come About: The dread pirate's ability to maneuver a vessel is legendary. At 6th level, he gains a +4 insight bonus on Profession (sailor) checks.

Concealed Weapon Attack: A dread pirate often hides small daggers up his sleeves or in his boots. At 7th level, a dread pirate who doesn't already have the sneak attack ability gets it now at a +2d6 damage bonus, but he can use it only to make sneak attacks with concealed weapons. If the character does have the sneak attack ability from a previous class, the damage bonuses stack only for sneak attacks made with concealed weapons.

Hoist The Black Flag (Sp): The unique insignia of a dread pirate of 8th level or higher is so well known that when it is displayed on a flag or banner, every ally within 50 feet of it gains a +2 morale bonus on attacks. This bonus lasts for 10 rounds after the flag is revealed, or until it is destroyed or lowered, whichever occurs first. Hoist the Black Flag may be used three times per day, and the dread pirate must either hoist the flag personally or hand it to an ally who then hoists it.

Scourge of the Seas: A 10th-level dread pirate's exploits have become so legendary that hundreds of able sailors are willing to sign on as his crew for no compensation other than a share of the booty. High-level dread pirates can use this influx of sailors to crew pirate fleets of up to a dozen ships. Any small city's dock district has enough sailors (1st-level warriors and experts) to crew a single ship, and a larger city can provide the crew for an entire fleet. This ability is separate from the leadership feat; crew members acquired with the scourge of the seas ability don't count as cohorts or followers.

Dread PirateHit Die: d6
1st+1+0+2+0Fight with two weapons
2nd+2+0+3+0Fearsome reputation +2
3rd+3+1+3+1Rope swing, wind at your back
4th+4+1+4+1Fearsome reputation +4
5th+5+1+4+1Leadership +2, shifting deck
6th+6+2+5+2Come about, fearsome reputation +6
7th+7+2+5+2Concealed weapon attack, leadership +4
8th+8+2+6+2Fearsome reputation +8, hoist the black flag
9th+9+3+6+3Leadership +6
10th+10+3++3Fearsome reputation +10, scourge of the seas

Source: Complete Adventurer
Song and Silence

General Prestige Classes