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Captain William Bones ‘Billy Bones’

Billy Bones
Illustration by N. C. Wyeth for 1911 edition.

Billy Bones or Captain William Bones is a fictional character, a pirate in the first section of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel Treasure Island.

  • Alias – Billy Bones
  • Gender – Male
  • Race – Human
  • Occupation – Pirate / first mate
  • Religion – Not specified
  • Allies – Other pirates, Long John Silver (briefly)
  • Enemies – The British Navy, Flint’s crew (his former crewmates)
  • Abode/ Base of operations –  Kingdom of EnglandNassau (Republic of Pirates)Caribbean, On board his ship, The Walrus, or various ports and islands
  • Nationality – English
  • Languages – English
  • Alignment – Chaotic Neutral
  • Affiliation (s) – The crew of The Walrus, Brethren of the Coast
  • Significant others – None mentioned in the novel.

Billy Bones appears at the very outset of the story with a mysterious sea chest, looking for a wayside inn with a view of the sea but little traffic. Bones decides upon the Admiral Benbow Inn where he asks to be addressed merely as “Captain”.

Though his down-payment for lodgings is adequate, even generous, he stays for many months and browbeats Jim Hawkins’s father out of asking for more money even when his deposit has been spent. He does, however, pay Jim fourpence a month to keep watch for “a seafaring man with one leg”. Though he seems sometimes on the verge of deciding this a waste of money, he invariably repents. Most of the daytime is spent walking the cliffs and looking out to sea.

A habitual drunkard, the Captain terrorizes the customers of the Benbow with his swearing, singing and general bullying. Yet he begins to attract customers by his very notoriety and earns some admiration from locals who consider him a “real old salt”. The winter after his arrival the Captain is visited by Black Dog, a villainous-looking man with two fingers missing from his hand.

There is a noisy argument between the two which turns into a sword fight and the Captain drives off a wounded Black Dog. As soon as the unwelcome visitor is gone, the Captain suffers a stroke. He is tended to by Dr. Livesey who discovers the real name of the Captain to be Billy Bones when his arm is bared as a prelude to a surgical bloodletting and finds the name tattooed there.

The doctor saves his life and warns him to lay off rum or it will be the death of him. Bones does not heed Livesey’s warning over his excessive drinking. He is plainly weakened by his stroke and the shock of Black Dog’s visit, and at one point Hawkins even hears him sing a country love-song, a gentle relic of his innocent days as a youth. He admits to Jim Hawkins that he sailed with Captain Flint, the notorious pirate and was first mate on his ship. This explains much of the mysterious circumstances and solitary behaviour of the early part of the story.

A few days later, a blind pirate known only as Pew reaches the inn, and Bones is plainly terrified. Pew slips a “black spot” into Bones’s hand and departs. Immediately, Bones suffers a second stroke and dies. Bones was in possession of Flint’s map showing the island and exact location on the island where his buried treasure would lie: this is found by Hawkins when the chest is searched. Captain Flint gave it to Bones on his deathbed.

Billy Bones, Pirate Captain

Billy Bones

Medium humanoid (human), chaotic neutral

Armor Class 16 (studded leather armor)

Hit Points 127 (17d8 + 51)

Speed 30 ft.

AbilityScore (Modifier)
STR18 (+4)
DEX16 (+3)
CON16 (+3)
INT12 (+1)
WIS10 (+0)
CHA14 (+2)

Skills Acrobatics +6, Athletics +7, Perception +3, Stealth +6

Senses passive Perception 13

Languages Common

Challenge 6 (2,300 XP)


  • Cutlass Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d6+4) slashing damage.
  • Flintlock Pistol Ranged Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, range 30/90 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d8+3) piercing damage.
  • Grenade Ranged Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, range 30/60 ft., area burst. Hit: 22 (4d10) fire damage to all creatures in a 10-foot radius.

Legendary Actions

Billy Bones can take 3 legendary actions per round, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action option can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. Billy Bones regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.

  • Parry Billy Bones uses his reaction to parry an attack made against him.
  • Quick Draw Billy Bones sheathes his cutlass and draws his flintlock pistol or vice versa.
  • Retreat Billy Bones uses the Disengage action and moves up to his speed without provoking opportunity attacks.

Lair Actions

On initiative count 20 (losing initiative ties), Billy Bones takes a lair action to cause one of the following effects; he can’t use the same effect two rounds in a row:

Explosive Barrel

Billy Bones calls out to his crew to light a fuse on a nearby barrel, causing it to explode and deal 16 (3d10) fire damage to all creatures within a 10-foot radius.

Swinging Mast

Billy Bones pulls on a nearby rope, causing a swinging mast to slam into all creatures within a 10-foot line. Each creature in the line must make a DC 14 Dexterity saving throw, taking 13 (3d8) bludgeoning damage on a failed save, or half as much on a successful one.


  • Cutlass
  • Flintlock Pistol
  • 10 flintlock pistol bullets
  • 2 grenades
  • Studded leather armor
  • 50 gp

Magic Items

  • None


Billy Bones is a grizzled old pirate with a reputation for being tough as nails. He’s missing an eye and his beard is long and scraggly. He wears a patch over his missing eye and a red bandana around his head. His studded leather armor is adorned with various trophies from his many battles at sea.


Billy Bones is a gruff, no-nonsense pirate captain who’s seen it all. He’s fiercely loyal to his crew and will do whatever it takes to protect them. He’s also a bit of a hothead and doesn’t take kindly to anyone who crosses him. Despite his rough exterior, he has a soft spot for children and will go out of his way to protect them.


Billy Bones grew up in a poor fishing village and turned to a life of piracy at a young age. He quickly made a name for himself as a skilled fighter and cunning strategist, rising through the ranks to become the captain of his own ship. He’s spent years pillaging and plundering along the high seas, amassing a fortune in treasure and earning the fear and respect of his enemies.

But despite his success, Billy Bones has a burning desire for revenge against a rival pirate captain who betrayed him years ago. He will stop at nothing to track down and defeat his enemy, even if it means putting his crew and himself in danger.

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