Anyone who regularly traverses the space lanes is aware of the threat posed by space pirates. Piracy is a serious concern for any corporation that needs to ship goods from one planet to another. While the wealthier companies are able to outfit their cargo ships with enough firepower to fend off raiders or hire mercenary escorts, smaller vessels need to be fast or stealthy to avoid the predations of space pirates. Most private citizens rely on patrols to keep space safe, but those forces can’t be everywhere at once.
Pirate captains can be encountered as boarding parties sent to seize control of disabled ships or in small gangs taking shore leave in lawless pirate ports or remote outposts on the fringes of society. Larger groups serve as crews aboard pirate ships in the depths of space, while the most powerful individuals might be part of a delegation from the pirate captains’ pirate council.
Boarding Party (CR 5): Four space pirates.
Pirate Crew (CR 7): Five space pirates, one pirate captain.
Pirate Council Entourage (CR 9): Three pirate captains, one pirate lord.
Three example pirates are presented below, along with advice on how to use them in similar NPC roles.
Adaptation: The following stat blocks and encounters can be used for buccaneers, or freebooters, anywhere in the galaxy. Similarly, these stat blocks can be used to represent any hardscrabble starship crews eking out a living on the fringes of civilized space, whether smugglers, tramp traders, opportunistic scavengers, or even members of organized crime syndicates. These stat blocks could also represent explorers, if played with more interest in knowledge and exploration than raiding and plunder. They might also serve as ragtag military troops, such as a colonial militia or a frontier garrison.
Space Pirate CR 1
Space pirates are any rank-and-file crew members found aboard a pirate vessel. They may have taken to a life of piracy because of a criminal past or a lack of other opportunities, or because they were press-ganged, or they may even have been born into a family or clan of pirates. Given the barest basics of pilot training, space pirates focus most of their abilities on combat and intimidation, serving as gunners for the ship’s weapons and as members of boarding parties.
Some pirate captains aren’t particular about the kind of crew members they recruit for their vessels, taking any bodies they can find. Others are looking for only the cream of the crop, but they are willing to train those who appear to have potential.
Adaptation: A space pirate can be a crew member on any starship, especially ones where the crew needs to be as good at fighting as they are at flying the ship.
NE Medium humanoid (human)
Init +8; Perception +5
EAC 11; KAC 13
Fort +3; Ref +3; Will +3
Speed 30 ft.
Melee longsword +5 (1d8+3 S)
Ranged tactical semi-auto pistol +8 (1d6+1 P) or frag grenade I +8 (explode [15 ft., 1d6 P, DC 10])
Offensive Abilities fighting styles (bombard), grenade expert (+10 ft.)
Str +2; Dex +4; Con +1; Int –1; Wis +0; Cha +0
Skills Acrobatics +5, Athletics +5, Intimidate +5, Piloting +10
Languages Common, Sarcesian
Gear second skin, longsword, tactical semi-auto pistol with 30 small arm rounds, frag grenades I (2)
Pirate Captain CR 4
Those pirate captains with their own ships who are successful and gain the respect of established pirate captains are awarded full membership in the loose confederation of buccaneers that is the pirate captains, usually with a raucous ceremony on Broken Rock. A pirate captain whose initiation is attended by one or more pirate lords generally has a promising career ahead.
Most pirate captains command just a single starship and know every inch of their ships from fore to aft. They are usually beholden to or allied with a more powerful pirate lord. Pirate captains are seldom encountered alone, as their ships and crews are never far away, if the captain can help it.
Adaptation: A pirate captain can be the captain of any starship, especially one involved in questionably legal (or outright illegal) activities like smuggling or blockade running. Replacing the pirate captain’s Intimidate skill with Diplomacy makes a charismatic starship officer—one who is likely quite popular with her crew.
NE Medium humanoid (kasatha)
Init +7; Perception +10
EAC 16; KAC 17
Fort +3; Ref +5; Will +7
Speed 30 ft.
Melee tactical dueling sword +8 (1d6+5 S)
Ranged thunderstrike sonic pistol +10 (1d8+4 So; critical deafen [DC 15]) or frag grenade II +10 (explode [15 ft., 2d6 P, DC 15])
Str +1; Dex +3; Con +0; Int +3; Wis +0; Cha +5
Skills Acrobatics +15, Athletics +15, Computers +10, Culture +10, Engineering +10, Intimidate +15, Piloting +15, Sense Motive +15
Languages Common, Kasatha, Sarcesian
Other Abilities desert stride, envoy improvisations (get ’em, quick dispiriting taunt), four-armed
Gear defrex hide, tactical dueling sword, thunderstrike sonic pistol with 2 batteries (20 charges each), frag grenades II (2)
Pirate Lord CR 7
The pirate council provides what little leadership and direction pirates will accept, but only the most infamous and successful pirate captains are considered pirate lords and nominated for positions on the council. This political process is fraught with backstabbing and betrayal, as the current members of the pirate council are often reluctant to share their power with those whom they consider newcomers.
Each pirate lord commands a fleet of starships and controls one of the innumerable asteroid bases, hidden dockyards, and pirate ports. A few pirate lords own gaudy mansions and spend a lot of their time lounging within them, delegating control of their fleets to trusted underlings. Other pirate lords tend to scoff at these hands-off pirate lords.
Adaptation: A pirate lord could be a flashy warlord commanding a personal fleet of starships or an organized crime boss. Alternatively, a pirate lord could be a famous pirate hunter, fearlessly tracking down wanted pirates and bringing them to justice.
LE Medium humanoid (vesk)
Init +8; Senses low-light vision; Perception +14
EAC 19; KAC 21
Fort +9; Ref +7; Will +8; +2 vs. fear
Resistances cold or fire 5
Speed 30 ft.
Melee advanced doshko +17 (2d12+12 P) or unarmed strike +17 (1d3+15 B)
Ranged red star plasma pistol +14 (1d8+7 E & F; critical burn 1d8)
Offensive Abilities flashing strikes, natural weapons, stellar revelations (black hole [25-ft. radius, pull 15 ft., DC 15], gravity surge [+17], stellar rush [3d6 F, DC 15], supernova [10-ft. radius, 8d6 F, DC 15])
Str +5; Dex +4; Con +2; Int +0; Wis +1; Cha +2
Skills Athletics +14, Intimidate +14, Mysticism +14, Piloting +19
Languages Common, Sarcesian, Vesk
Other Abilities armor savant, solar manifestation (armor), stellar alignment
Gear silver travel suit, advanced doshko, red star plasma pistol with 4 batteries (20 charges each)