Encounters: Ghost Pirate Captain

Posted on July 2, 2012 by


The heroes have been forced to explore a ghost ship, which has fallen to pieces as they make their way through. As the heroes make their way to the deck, they find that the back half of the ship has been demolished, and the rest of the ship is spinning at the lip of a giant whirlpool, summoned by the captain of the ghost pirates in order to such the whole ship down into the briny depths. The battlefield is slanted creating a ramp, at the top of which is the fearsome foe.

Setting the Field: Create a rectangular battlefield, I found 14×10 squares to be just about right. Place another row behind the top of the ramp. For added effect you can angle the playing field.

The Red squares represent the area above the battlefield, where ghostly pirates will appear to drop stuff down on the players.


The ghost pirates have three turns each round, which can be equally dispersed throughout the initiative order or clumped up as the DM sees fit.

Turn A – Melora’s Chest

The captain chooses a target at random and imprisons them in a coffin of rotting wood, pulled from the ship’s deck. This attack slides them 3 squares towards the bottom of the ramp, and on the player’s turn, the coffin slides another 3 squares. If the coffin reaches the bottom of the ramp, have it teeter there for another round before falling.

The problem here is that there’s nothing the trapped player can do to escape their coffin, they must rely on their allies to destroy it with conventional attacks. Give the coffin enough health that it will take a couple of striker hits to break through.

This attack keeps the heroes moving and trying to break coffins before their friends fall to their doom. Allow push effects to move the coffins and buy players more time.

Turn B – Captain’s Wake

If two or more heroes are in the top three rows of the ramp, the ghost captain hits them all with a wave of water that knocks them 3 squares back, dealing medium damage.

If there are less than two heroes near the ghost captain, he instead targets the furthest opponent with an attack that deals high damage.

Turn C – Flotsam

Above the captain, a number of ghost pirates line up and prepare to throw down crates and barrels that will slide down the ramp, hitting all targets in their column for high damage. Position these ghost pirates a full turn in advance so that the players can see the shots coming. This gives them incentive to run around and avoid attacks.


This is a great encounter to run simply because there’s so much happening to keep the players occupied. A non-damage threat like the coffins creates a new and challenging scenario for the players, while also encouraging them to rely on friends to keep them alive.


A steam golem fights the players on a conveyor belt in a gnomish factory, trapping the heroes in crates as cannons randomly fire at heroes from behind the boss.

Posted in: Encounters