Pirates, Pirates, Everywhere! Pirates: they seem simple enough, but a closer look shows the complexity that is piracy. If you look at it creatively, one can have pirates in almost any setting. But how? A pirate was one who committed murder or robbery on the high seas. However, this definition was later expanded to include any felony that occurred where the Lord High Admiral had jurisdiction, including waterways such as rivers and creeks. Over the years, and particularly in fictional works, the definition of piracy has broadened. It has grown to include not only traditional maritime pirates, but space pirates, air pirates, and information pirates. Fortunately, that means many options for Pirate Roleplay. Traditional Pirates Traditional pirates, be they fictional or historical, are the first thing many people picture when they hear the word “pirate”. Unfortunately (or fortunately), there is much more variance when it comes to traditional pirates than most people realize. Here are a few examples of pirates through the ages: Greek and Roman Pirates Vikings and Danes Sea Beggars, the Dutch pirates who helped win independence for the Netherlands Mediterranean Pirates who fought on both sides of holy wars French Pirates The Maratha Pirates of Malabar, India Ilanum Pirates of the Philipines Pirates of the South China Sea, who were lead by a former Cantonese prostitute Corsairs of the Barbary Coast Buccaneers of the Caribbean This alone is a great deal to work with for pirate RP. Here, research is your friend, whether your setting be historical or fantasy. There is much to work with and it is interesting that so many places and times in history had piracy. It is not a stretch to imagine that piracy can occur anywhere there is water, and even some places there isn’t. Modern Pirates Though the Golden Age of Piracy is long gone, piracy still occurs today. The Somali Pirates have gained great notoriety, and it is easy to imagine anyone desperate enough launching attacks on ships. AU modern games with pirates have the potential to be very fun, although very dark. The closer the theme of piracy is to our modern day, the less whimsical and romantic it becomes. Space Pirates Any science fiction setting with big ships and heavy space shipping lanes is open for piracy. Space Pirates can be deadly enemies who rob megacorps or romantic protagonists, fighting on the side of the rebellion. Playing as a space pirate is a way to keep the romance and extend it, for your sci fi world may not be the friendliest. Playing the bad guy, in this setting, doesn’t always mean playing the villain, as there is often a darker enemy to find. The biggest difference between Space and Traditional pirates is that the combat now takes place in three dimensions and, well, in space. Be prepared to use terms such as “nadir” and “zenith” along with “port” and “starboard”. Tossing someone out the airlock is the equivalent to tossing them overboard, though it is a much quicker death. Piracy in space is a good way to explore morality. Is your character truly evil or are they just fighting against the commonly perceived good? Do they only steal from the filthy rich or is anyone fair game? To quote one of my favorite characters: “We don’t do this for the glory, or to help people. We do this because this is what we have to do. We do this for freedom, for it is the only way we know how to live free. If others benefit from our actions, that is a side effect and truly, we don’t care. We aren’t heroes. We’re the bad guys. Don’t think running off to join us is some romantic notion. You won’t last if you do. We’re free, yes. But we’re also forever caged.” Sky Pirates Sky pirates are a Steampunk or other skyfaring sort of pirates. They also often operate in three dimensions instead of relying on the surface of water. However, transitions can be slower depending on what sort of sky ship they are employing. Some are very similar to dirigibles, while others employ magic or their own setting’s strange natural wonders to fly. Airship or Sky pirates are often the disillusioned setting out for new lives. They may also be something completely unique to their own world setting. Information Pirates Information or Data pirates do not have to sail the seas or fly the skies, but they may find themselves there. However, they are more a modern phenomenon and very suited for cyberpunk roleplay. These specialized hackers, going by many names in as many settings, aren’t after hard goods. They deal in the precious commodity of information and gossip and, unlike most pirates, the proof of their talent is that you never realize they’ve been in your systems or event at all. Data pirates are important members of a heroic or mercenary group in cyberpunk and cybergoth settings and are not to be underestimated. They may not get as much screentime, but they are necessary if you ever want to figure out what’s hidden in the enemy’s database. Body Pirates Body pirates can be in any genre. They may just hitch a ride in the case of nanobots, they may use a body as a spy, they may completely rewrite or bespell a new existence into the body. This sort of piracy has nothing to do with the loss of goods and rarely even the loss of life at early stages. No, this is about lack of agency. Body pirates can even capture, mindwipe, and reprogram people, and sometimes these Blanks are willing victims, needing something of their own taken care of in return for lending their bodies to the pirates. So, now you’ve learned about many types of pirates in every setting from Norse to Sci fi. Pirates can be played for many reasons, in many scenarios. So, have fun!