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Pirate, Why Do You Plunder?

If you are enjoying reading Neverland Fantasy Role-Playing or Neverland - The Impossible Island and want to run the setting like I do, your mind might turn to pirates. Or maybe you have another sea or space based pirate RPG you enjoy. We know what pirates do, but why do pirates plunder? Why flout the law and risk a hanging? Here are d6 ideas why your player character might choose to say, “A pirate life for me.” While these ideas are written with the high seas in mind, they can easily be ported into space as well.


picture courtesy of Pixabay

1. Revenge

Someone did you wrong. Maybe you were made to walk the plank but managed to swim to shore or were marooned on a desert island. Once you make it back to another crew you likely want to work your way up the ranks and plot to extract your revenge one day. Revenge may be something that drives you or it might be in the back of your mind waiting for the right time to be brought to fruition.

2. Rum-Soaked Dreams

You drink a lot. Life seems to blend seamlessly between rum-fueled dreaming and real life. You talk to the unseen, you never walk in a straight line, and your crew never knows exactly what you may do next. However, you always come through in a fight or when sailing the high seas. You are chaos incarnate and dangerous as hell when swords cross.

3. Press Gang

Piracy was not a choice because you were press ganged into it. Then you found out you were good at fighting, drinking, and raiding. And your old life seemed dull by comparison. You have taken to the pirate life, but you remember those who forced you into it. Whether you want them to pay for kidnapping you remains a choice you haven’t made just yet. Until then you will sail and loot and live your new life.

4. Ruthless

You might have been kicked out of the Royal Marines for brawling, just avoiding the hangman. Or the merchant marine cashiered you for drunkenness. You are just too mean and too rough for legal work on the seas. But as a pirate those violent skills and lack of impulse control can take you far, if you avoid angering the officers. And if they cause you too much grief, well, mutiny can always lead to a brand new command if needed.

5. Wanderlust

You kill when needed and take what you need. But what you really enjoy are new port towns to visit, hearing a new foreign language, and smelling salt spray from many different seas. Maybe you collect seashells or take notes on what you’ve seen or you only feel truly alive while at sea. You want to sail and keep sailing and you’re willing to kill to keep enjoying the privilege.

6. Buried Treasure

You’re in it for the gold. You want to be rich or maybe you just want piles of loot. You know you have to be careful if you aren’t the captain to keep your greed hidden. Dead men tell no tales may be a cliché, but it is a cliché for a good reason. If you discover the location of buried treasure you have be very careful who you share that secret with.

Next time you decide to play a pirate, pause for a moment and consider how your pirate joined the life and why he stays. Then hoist the Jolly Roger and sail off to unearth buried treasure and take to a life of skullduggery on the high seas. Or pick up a blaster, board a beat up starship, and head for the Outer Rim as a pirate in search of merchant prey.
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Charles Dunwoody

Charles Dunwoody


All I wanted to add to this thread was it was kind of humorous that the OP had pirates using press gangs, since that was something the Royal Navy used, and more than a fair few pirates were runaways from what was a slave navy in practice if not in name.

If it hasn't been recommended, the Republic of Pirates by Colin Woodward is a pretty good book.


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Your top skirts on Jyhad; it's a truism that Jyhadi believe they are fighting evil. Also, they do differ a bit - the Muslim "Pirates" of the Barbary Coast in several periods were noted to enslave those who would not convert, and press into service aboard those who did convert. Those who refused both of those two outcomes and/or attempted to revolt were summarily executed.
Dehumanizing your enemy is as old as war. Any time someone tells you that someone "doesn't value human life the same way" or that "life is cheap" in some other group, they're telling you it's OK to kill those folks or to let them die.

And it's only a "Jyhad" if vampires are involved.

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