Skull & Shackles
A Priest's Role
There is essentially no hierarchy within the church—each priest crafts his or her own title and recognizes no authority other than the goddess. Priests do not report to anyone, though they may defer to a mentor’s decision if there is no compelling reason not to do so. Rarely does a particular ship have more than one priest on board, and even then they may be rivals. Every few years, a charismatic priest-captain may unite other like-minded priests under his or her banner, creating an armada with the leading priest as the admiral, but this is an exception. Most priests consider themselves entirely independent of each other.
Most priests are practical folk rather than zealots, using their magic to gain strength on the water. This is not to say that a typical priest’s belief isn’t sincere, but there is a marked difference between the crazed devotion of a Lamashtan cleric or noble serenity of an Iomedaean paladin and the utilitarian faith of a Besmaran priest. As long as the goddess is respected and gets her fair share of tribute, she is content with little more than lip service, and her priests know this. By using her magic to gain wealth, power, and fame, they serve her interests and demonstrate her greatness.
Like lay worshipers, Besmara’s priests are either pirates or folk whose business directly relies on piracy. Their personalities run the gamut from dashing privateers to rapacious murderers, and some in the middle may play both roles as the mood or pay suits them. They bless pirates and ships, heal crews, act as go-betweens for those looking for work or workers, guard pirate ships, chase off or bind sea monsters, and always try to profit from their activities. They consider the tithe-based survival of religious monks and priests to be incredibly humiliating and would rather accept a common share swabbing a deck than take a handout from someone else. They work until they’ve earned enough gold to retire, and go back to work if they spend it all before they die.
Priests of Besmara are usually skilled at Heal and Profession (sailor). Most have ranks in Acrobatics, Appraise, and Intimidate. Canny ones also have ranks in Diplomacy, Knowledge (geography), Knowledge (history), Knowledge (local), and Knowledge (nature). Priests don’t have any set routine, though most follow the normal cycle of activity on ship. Daily prayers are short and to the point.