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    The Freelancers of the Waves: Buccaneers and Privateers
    Posted on Sat, February 21, 2009 by LordCeb
    Crag writes ""To sail forth seeking the enemy is a grand idea; provided you have a safe harbour to spend the plunder."

    The Freelancers of the Waves: Buccaneers and Privateers

    By Crag

    Oerth has an abundance of navigable expansive bodies of water hence no singular fleet has emerged capable of the imposition of naval dominance. Endless financial opportunities abound for the freelance sailor to seek their fortune and escape the labour of the land. Far from shore awaits freedom and wealth enough to satiate the most gluttonous of appetites but it is not for the timid. However freelance mariners must still abide within understood codes of conduct to be successful. Freelance mariners regardless of their expertise prefer to achieve their objectives through the threat of violence rather then costly conflict. Most freelance ships choose to use personalized emblems rather than the more ostentatious methods associated with some national navies. Some affluent naval powers emblaze their heraldry within vibrantly coloured sailcloth however even the most destitute national fleet proudly hoists its colours aloft.

    Some freelance mariners offer their skills to patron nations; known as buccaneers within the Solnor Ocean and privateers within the Azure Sea. In exchange for safe harbour, official sanctioned colours and a letter of marque these freelancers surrender a portion of the spoils to their patron sponsor. The portion amount varies widely depending upon the patron, length of service and the reputation of the supplicant privateer. However the standard patron portion of 10% is considered reasonable although it is rumoured Iuz claims 50% from his Rhenne privateers on the Nyr Dyv and rages at the measly pittance.

    Many nations recruit freelance ships for a variety of reasons;buccaneers/privateers provide a weak naval power with the means to appropriate enemy goods and wealth. Buccaneers/Privateers also supplement naval strength by providing additional ships and seasoned sailors without the expense of commissioning ships. If the buccaneer/privateer fails, no naval assets are lost but if successful the buccaneer/privateer provides an economic windfall for the patron. Buccaneers/Privateers are a viable option for nations that lack the revenue to build and maintain a powerful fleet. Of course the victims of the buccaneers/privateers view them as cowardly criminals and their patrons as dishonourable enemies deserving of harsh retaliation. Patrons often discover non-hostile merchant ships are mistakenly attacked which can prove disastrous for the patrons’ reputation, costly to its purse and can provoke a military response.

    Buccaneers/Privateers must be concerned about their patrons' reaction to their activities. The benefits to the buccaneer/privateer are a safe harbour to repair the ship and a compliant market to sell their plunder without fear of reprisal. Successful buccaneers/privateers also gain a measure of societal fame for their endeavors. Although rare; some sponsors have offered successful buccaneers/privateers accolades and a position within respectable society. Unfortunately for most; the protection of a patron rarely extends beyond the conflict as most patrons are eager to rid themselves of potential liabilities. Of course the victims of the predations of buccaneers/privateers often seek to bring them to the gallows even after the conflict ends.

    Many patrons also provide buccaneer/privateer a distinctive flag which identifies the buccaneer/privateer to friendly vessels and hopefully inspires fear among its enemies. These colours often relate to a recognized societal motif within the patron nation. Of course most nations do not hire buccaneers/privateers due to the potential damage which can occur to the reputation of the patron. Historically the most active patrons were Ahlissa, North Province and Nyrond. However the continental conflict and its aftermath have altered the historical situation; Keoland, Principality of Ulek, Free Forces of Onnwal, Furyondy and Iuz have become active patrons. These latest patrons have achieved varying degrees of success as some privateers sailing for the Principality of Ulek, grumble it is near impossible to convince a dwarf to open his pouch. Keoland is also disappointed so few privateer prospects have offered to serve the Lion Throne although the choice of a sleeping lion cub for their privateer colours could explain the less than enthusiastic initial response.

    The Bloody Embrace

    The Bloody Embrace is a successful buccaneer ship that proudly hoists the red flail, hailed as heroes within the Great Kingdom of Northern Aerdy. This carrack boldly prowls the far north seeking the barbarian longships which plague the coastal cities of their homeland. Under the command of Redirmund Vigindas, this priest of Hextor and his devout crew have cut a bloody path throughout the far north. Possessed of an unquenchable bloodlust; this ship has been known to attack several barbarian longships rather then retreat, so far the Bloody Embrace has emerged victorious. The captain and his crew are convinced they have attracted the favour of Hextor. Eager to keep his divine attention, this ship has been sailing ever northward in search of prey and no longer care what wealth, if any, their victims have. A secret unknown outside of the crew; the captain occasionally suffers fits. During these fits, he sobs until his first mate and childhood friend tells him; he is a very special boy.

    The Crew of the Bloody Embrace

    Redirmund Vigindas, Captain of the Bloody Embrace
    Hiric Frila, First Mate of the Bloody Embrace

    Possible Adventure:

    The Bloody Embrace has been in negotiations with the buccaneers of Leastisle to sink a merchant vessel sent to the northern sea with a sea baron envoy on board. This agreement suits both parties as a peace agreement between the northern barbarians and sea barons would allow the barbarians to intensify their raiding efforts upon the Great Kingdom of Northern Aerdy and allow the sea barons to mount an invasion of Least Isle. Of course the more warlike Jarls and Scarlet Brotherhood agents within the far north would not be pleased with such a peace treaty.

    The Cat's Paw

    The Cat's Paw is an inexperienced Keolander privateer that on occasion hoists the sleeping lion cub but more often this crew seeks to covertly contact the coastal résistance within the Hold of the Sea Princes. Under the command of Madhnidyi Cralmond, this Great Galley is crewed primarily with patriotic young men that for a variety of reasons have been refused service within the national fleet. So far; this privateer has gathered information, retrieved useful civilians, transported adventurers and run supplies to the coastal résistance. The coastal résistance is composed of desperate thieves and terrified local peasants rather then heroic patriots but with support the résistance could grow. No matter how unreliable; the coastal résistance is one of the few firsthand sources of information Keoland has access to within the Sea Princes. The Lion Throne is unwilling to risk valuable naval resources maintain contact but is content to allow these brave lads to assume the risk.

    The Crew of the Cat's Paw

    Madhnidyi Cralmond, Captain of the Cat's Paw
    Mathech Maich, First Mate of the Cats Paw

    Possible Adventure:

    The Cats Paw is always eager to transport adventurers to the Hold of the Sea Princes to perform several useful endeavors; spying, smuggling, cultivation of contacts, rescue and retrieval efforts. The crew is comprised of naive patriots but the captain and the first mate are perpetrating a charade. Both men are actually trained intelligence operatives placed within the southern privateer community by the Keoland Intelligence Service to influence the privateer community and turn the coastal résistance into a viable military threat."
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