September 23, 2023

Half Man, Half Shark Equals One Complete Gentleman

Cabin Boy, Touchstone Pictures, 1994

You keep watch while the salty, foul-mouthed fishermen you’re sharing a ship with are below deck, sleeping or drinking or drinking until they’re sleeping. The occasional shout indicates that they haven’t all passed out yet, but on deck it is quiet and the sea is still. Maybe too still, there isn’t enough wind to fill your sails, but for tonight, peace is welcome. 

A splash off the bow jolts you out of your thoughts and back to reality. It’s probably just a fish too near the surface, but you scan the horizon anyway. And then you see a fin slip below the water–the distinctive dorsal fin of a shark. The boat is big enough that a shark shouldn’t be able to do too much damage, but you know better than to turn your back on something that would be happy to eat you if it had the chance. You follow the fin as it glides underwater, under the hull, and you turn toward the stern and watch as it resurfaces. What emerges from the water is not the pointed snout of a shark but the head and arms of a man, gray haired and bearded. He smiles and waves at you. 

Oh shit. It’s Chocki. 

Cabin Boy, Touchstone Pictures, 1994

Today’s creature comes to us from one of the most hated movies in film history: Cabin Boy. This much maligned mid-90s masterpiece has become a cult classic, and an underutilized source of inspiration for TTRPG campaigns. I’m actually a little upset that there isn’t already a Cabin Boy RPG, but I guess I’ll have to work through those issues on my own. 

Chocki is half man, half shark (and one complete gentleman), product of a shark mother who fell in love with his Viking father. He doesn’t seem to speak but is intelligent and fiercely loyal. If he takes a liking to you he’ll probably follow you through your travels, which could prove useful if you’re in a fight and could use some fishy backup. However, Chocki’s also notoriously flighty, so he may turn on you without warning. And if he gets jealous or dislikes your travel compatriots, there are high chances that he’ll attack them. 

Should you ever cross paths with Chocki, play nice and try to stay on his good side, but don’t get too comfortable. Don’t let the kind face fool you–this sharkman is still half wild animal, and you should expect some unpredictability.