Thugs and cutthroats in every city lay claim to the title “pirate,” but actually making a fortune through piracy is no easy task. A sky pirate, however, has mastered every aspect of larceny in the high skies. His network of contacts tells him when a particularly valuable cargo is shipping out. After a flawless ambush, he swings aboard the target airship 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.
The sky pirate is an archetype of the thief class.
Limit Break (Su)
At 1st level, the sky pirate receives the Limit Break (Rallying Cry).
Rallying Cry (Su): This Limit Break allows the sky pirate to make a loud shout, encouraging allies to be more courageous and to fight better. For the duration of 1 round + 1 round per four thief levels after 1st, all allies (including the sky pirate) is granted a morale bonus of +1 to attack rolls, skill checks, and saving throws as well as a +1 dodge bonus to armor class plus an additional +1 per four thief levels after 1st. This limit break requires only a swift action.
This ability replaces the Limit Break (Vanish).
Sea Legs (Ex)
At 1st level, a sky pirate becomes adept at moving on ships, boats, and similar vessels. He gains the Sea Legs feat as a bonus feat, even if he does not meet the prerequisites.
This ability replaces trapfinding.
A sky pirate adds an insight bonus equal to half his thief level on all Profession (sailor) checks, rounded down. Allies within sight or hearing of a sky pirate add an insight bonus equal to half this number on their Profession (sailor) checks, rounded down.
This ability replaces mark.
Swinging Reposition (Ex)
At 2nd level, a sky pirate incorporates a ship’s masts, rigging, ropes, sails, and other such structures into his combat style. Provided he is wearing light armor or no armor, when fighting in an environment where such structures exist, the sky pirate incorporates them into his movement, and does not have to move in a straight line when making either a charge attack or bull rush combat maneuver. Once he completes his attack or maneuver, he can reposition himself. Immediately after making the charge or bull rush, he can move 5 feet as a free action, even if the charge ends his turn. This movement does not provoke attacks of opportunity.
This ability replaces a thief talent gained at 2nd level.
Sky pirates are a salty and steadfast lot. At 3rd level, a sky pirate gains a +1 bonus on saving throws against fear and mind-affecting effects. This bonus increases by +1 for every three levels, to a maximum of +6 at 18th level.
This ability replaces danger sense.
Fearsome Reputation (Ex)
By the time he attains 3rd level, a sky pirate has developed a reputation in the high skies. At this point, he must choose whether to cultivate a reputation as an honorable pirate (avoiding undue bloodshed, honoring flags of truce, and the like) or as a dishonorable pirate (favoring mayhem and dire treatment of prisoners).
An honorable sky pirate gains a +2 circumstance bonus on Diplomacy checks, while a dishonorable sky pirate gains a +2 circumstance bonus on Intimidate checks. For every four levels thereafter, this bonus increases by +2. In addition, a sky pirate gains other abilities at higher levels based on his chosen reputation.
A sky pirate’s actual activities or alignment need not match his reputation. However, a radical shift from his reputation might negate or even reverse that reputation at the DM’s option. Also, a sky pirate in disguise does not gain any effect granted by his reputation (including the special abilities described below that depend on the sky pirate’s reputation).
This ability replaces measure the mark.
As a sky pirate develops his skill, he learns a number of tricks that aid him in his work. Starting at 4th level and every other thereafter, he may gain a thief talent or a pirate trick. A sky pirate cannot select an individual trick more than once. Tricks marked with an asterisk add effects to a sky pirate’s sneak attack. Only one of these tricks can be applied to an individual attack, and the decision must be made before the attack roll is made.
Burst of Speed (Ex): The sky pirate has learned to coax speed out of his ship when it really counts. With a DC 20 Profession (sailor) check, he doubles his ship’s base movement for 1 round. He can use this ability once per day.
Deep Breath (Ex): The sky pirate can hold his breath for a number of rounds equal to three times his Constitution modifier before he must start making Constitution checks.
Defensive Climber (Ex): The sky pirate does not lose his Dexterity bonus to AC when climbing.
Drink for Free (Ex): This ability presumes that the sky pirate is admired or feared in the taverns he frequents. The sky pirate designates one tavern per two thief levels as a “favored tavern.” When in a favored tavern, the sky pirate drinks for free. In addition, he gains a +2 circumstance bonus on Diplomacy and Intimidate checks within a favored tavern.
Farseer (Ex): Sky pirates take turns serving as lookouts. A sky pirate with this ability reduces any distance-based penalties on Perception checks by half when he is at least 10 feet off the ground or above the deck of a ship.
Fearsome Advance* (Ex): If the sky pirate deals damage with his sneak attack, he can make an Intimidate check as an immediate action to demoralize the damaged opponent.
Foot Sweep* (Ex): The sky pirate has learned to sweep his opponents’ legs when they are reeling from the pain of his precise attacks. If the sky pirate deals damage with a sneak attack, he can make a trip attack against the damaged opponent as an immediate action. All the usual rules for trip attacks apply, and feats such as Improved Trip modify the attack normally.
Hand Stab* (Ex): The sky pirate can weaken an opponent’s weapon hand by hitting with a sneak attack. When he deals sneak attack damage against an opponent, that opponent becomes easier to disarm. Until the end of the sky pirate’s next turn, anyone attempting to disarm that opponent gains a +2 bonus on the disarm attempt.
Quick Appraise (Ex): The sky pirate must at times quickly select the most valuable items to spirit away. He appraises an item as a move action and can determine the most valuable item in a treasure hoard as a standard action.
Storm Sailor (Ex): The sky pirate treats all storms as if they were one category less severe for the purposes of sailing and navigation. He can make an Acrobatics check to move his normal speed across uneven ground, and he does not take a penalty on any Acrobatics checks due to slightly slippery, slightly unsteady, or moderately unsteady conditions.
Windrigger (Ex): The sky pirate has learned the tricky art of tacking. With a DC 15 Profession (sailor) check, he increases his ship’s base movement by 5 feet for 1 hour.
Rally the Crew (Ex)
Starting at 5th level, an honorable sky pirate can inspire his allies (including himself) to great bravery in combat once per day. This inspiration grants them a +1 morale bonus on saving throws against charm and fear effects and a +1 morale bonus on attack and weapon damage rolls. To be affected, an ally must be able to see or hear the sky pirate. The effect requires a free action to activate and lasts for 1 minute per sky pirate level, even if the sky pirate moves out of range or loses consciousness. This is a mind-affecting ability. At 9th level and every four levels thereafter, a sky pirate can use this ability an additional time per day, and the bonus increases by +1.
This ability replaces improved theft.
Fearsome Strike (Ex)
At 5th level, a dishonorable sky pirate can terrify an opponent with a single hit. A number of times per day equal to his Charisma modifier (minimum 1), when a sky pirate confirms a critical hit and deals sneak attack damage to an opponent, he can choose to make the opponent frightened for a number of rounds equal to his Charisma modifier (minimum 1). He cannot use this ability in conjunction with a critical feat.
This ability replaces improved theft.
Deck Fighting (Ex)
A sky pirate is used to fighting on crowded decks, and isn’t fazed by fighting multiple opponents at once. At 6th level, he gains Cleave as a bonus feat. He may use this feat even if he does not meet the prerequisites. A sky pirate does not take the normal –2 penalty to his AC when using the Cleave feat.
This ability replaces skilled liar.
Luck of the Wind (Ex)
Once per day, an honorable sky pirate of 9th level or higher can reroll any failed attack roll, skill check, ability check, or saving throw. He must take the result of the reroll, even if it’s worse than the original roll.
This ability replaces distraction.
Scourge of the Skies (Ex)
Starting at 9th level, a dishonorable sky pirate can instill fear into his enemies. When the character uses Intimidate to demoralize foes, the attempt affects all enemies within 30 feet who can see and hear him, and the effect lasts for a number of rounds equal to his Charisma modifier (minimum 1 round). Multiple uses of this ability don’t stack. This is a mind-affecting ability.
This ability replaces distraction.
Skill Mastery (Ex)
At 10th level, a sky pirate becomes supremely confident of his mobility. He has mastered the skills, Acrobatics and Climb, to the extent that he can take 10 with them even under stress.
This ability replaces mug.
Sailor’s Step (Ex)
At 11th level, a sky pirate has learned to use the chaos of an airship to his benefit, taking advantage of the swaying airship and swinging rigging to remain out of reach of his opponents. While aboard an airship and wearing nothing more than light armor, the sky pirate gains a +2 dodge bonus to his Armor Class. If he is caught flat-footed or otherwise denied his Dexterity bonus, he also loses this bonus. At 15th level, the dodge bonus from the sailor’s step class feature increases to +4.
This ability replaces ambush.
Pirate’s Charge (Ex)
At 13th level, whenever a sky pirate makes a charge, his attack deals sneak attack damage as if the target were flat-footed. Foes with uncanny dodge are immune to this ability.
This ability replaces skirmisher.
Frightening Lunge (Ex)
As an honorable sky pirate, his ability to run his enemies through is unnerving to those who cross swords with him. Beginning at 15th level, on a successful sneak attack, a sky pirate can sacrifice 1d6 points of sneak attack damage to render his foe shaken for 1 round. A shaken character takes a –2 penalty to all attack rolls, saves, skill checks, and ability checks. For each d6 of sneak attack damage sacrificed, the penalty increases by 2.
This ability replaces theft mastery.
Pirate’s Feint (Ex)
As a dishonorable sky pirate, he is a master of dirty fighting and trickery. He can make a feint as a free action rather than as a move action. But once he has surprised his enemies with such a feint, it takes time before he is able to fool them again. At 15th level, the sky pirate must wait 2d4 rounds before using pirate’s feint again. Waiting requires no specific actions on his part; he can fight normally during this time. Beginning at 20th level, his reflexes improve and the time between pirate’s feints drops to only 1d4 rounds.
This ability replaces theft mastery.
Improved Deck Fighting (Su)
At 17th level, the sky pirate gains Great Cleave as a bonus feat. He may use this feat even if he does not meet the prerequisites. A sky pirate does not take the normal –2 penalty to his AC when using the Great Cleave feat.
This ability replaces hide in plain sight.
Fight to the Death (Ex)
At 19th level and higher, an honorable sky pirate can inspire his allies to carry on against tremendous odds. Each ally affected by the sky pirate’s rally the crew ability (see above) also gains temporary hit points equal to 10 + the sky pirate’s Charisma modifier (minimum +1), gains a dodge bonus to Armor Class equal to the sky pirate’s Charisma modifier (minimum +1), and is treated as having the Diehard feat even if he doesn’t meet the prerequisites. These effects are lost if the sky pirate loses consciousness.
This ability replaces shadow step.
Motivate the Scum (Ex)
Once per day, a dishonorable sky pirate of 19th level or higher can motivate his allies by killing a helpless individual. All allies of the sky pirate who see the act gain a +2 morale bonus on damage rolls. This effect lasts for 24 hours. Most dishonorable sky pirates don’t care whether the victim is a prisoner or one of their own crew. In fact, if the slain individual is one of the sky pirate’s crew, the morale bonus on damage rolls improves to +4, but the allies also take a -2 penalty on Will saves for the duration of the effect.
This ability replaces shadow step.
Sky Pirate King (Ex)
A 20th-level sky pirate’s exploits have become so legendary that great numbers of able sailors are willing to sign on as his crew for no compensation other than a share of the booty. Treat this ability as the equivalent of the Leadership feat, except that only followers (and no cohorts) are gained.
This ability replaces master strike.
The following thief talents complement the sky pirate archetype: black market connections, combat trick, finesse thief, firearm training, hold breath, rope master, and strong stroke.
Advanced Thief Talents
The following advanced thief talents complement the sky pirate archetype: getaway master, hard to fool, and unwitting ally.
The Sky Pirate Code
Most sky pirate codes share a number of elements regarding the proper “etiquette” of piracy. Here are a few ideas that might be appropriate for your sky pirate’s personal code:
- Everyone shall obey all orders.
- Everyone shall have a vote in major decisions. (This point is not necessarily limited to honorable sky pirates.)
- Everyone shall have a share of captured food and drink.
- Booty will be shared out as follows: one share to each among the crew; one and one-half shares each to the first mate, master engineer, and master carpenter; and two shares to the captain. (Some honorable captains might accept a smaller share, but they will take no fewer than one and one-half shares.)
- Anyone not keeping his weapons clean and fit for an engagement shall be cut off from his share, and suffer other punishment as the captain deems fit.
- Anyone who strikes another among the crew shall receive forty lashes across his back.
- Anyone who attempts to desert or keep any secret from the company shall be marooned with one bottle of water and one weapon.
- Anyone who steals from a crewmate shall be marooned or run through. (The latter consequence is more appropriate for dishonorable sky pirates.)