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Author Topic: Pirates - why are they so popular?  (Read 1562 times)

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Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Pirates - why are they so popular?
« Reply #25 on: January 13, 2015, 05:24:40 PM »
Oh yes. Second season starts on the 24th.

Is this series any good? I've seen it available on some VOD sites...

We were pillaging British ships right, left and center.  Something like 1700 Letters of Marque were issued, and around 600 British ships were captured or destroyed.  We didn't really have a 'Navy', per se - these were ships ranging from 8-ton whalers with a few crewmen to 600 ton ships with cannons.

Interesting...

BTW. I keep forgetting how close to the age of pirates the American revolution was. Somehow, I keep placing pirates sometime during the 17th century...

Offline Rogue

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Re: Pirates - why are they so popular?
« Reply #26 on: January 13, 2015, 06:10:56 PM »
Pirates existed until steam powered engines became a major thing. :)

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Pirates - why are they so popular?
« Reply #27 on: January 13, 2015, 07:10:49 PM »
Yep, pirates embody an idea of freedom, it's highly appealing. And the occasional codes of honour likely add to it too - absolute loyalty to your captain and the crew, fighting unto death rather than being captured - and the mutual admiration for brave and generous captains and their men.

Also, they moved in a world where large parts of the globe were still white spots, where you could still find unknown green islands or escape the king's men by sneaking up some far-off coastline and either hide or make landfall. That's *very* romantic.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Pirates - why are they so popular?
« Reply #28 on: January 13, 2015, 08:19:23 PM »
Pirates existed until steam powered engines became a major thing. :)

Technically, pirates still exist.  Do a Google search on Somalian news sometime.

Offline Madmartigan

Re: Pirates - why are they so popular?
« Reply #29 on: January 13, 2015, 08:26:26 PM »
I really wonder what players in such games came up with regarding their characters' backgrounds...

Well, here's one I came up with a while back. Brief and breezy, but he reflected my historical interest in Mediterranean/North African piracy as opposed to the more frequently romanticized Caribbean pirates.

There is an attraction to the idea of a life of great risk and comparable reward. If you have the power to take it, it's yours. Men, women, gold, whatever it is you want. You just have to want it more than whoever currently has it and remember there's always someone with more power who wants to take it from you. That's the appeal of it from my writing perspective, anyway.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Pirates - why are they so popular?
« Reply #30 on: January 13, 2015, 08:39:24 PM »
Technically, pirates still exist.  Do a Google search on Somalian news sometime.

Even around my neck of the woods - at least it was alleged in the news at the time, by state authorities and police who should know, that a Russian ship that "disappeared" (went out of touch and off the radio) in the Baltic Sea in the summer of 2009 had been boarded and taken over by pirates. A couple of weeks later it emerged off Cape Verde, thousands of miles away! What really happened to the ship, how it got out of the Baltic Sea into the Atlantic without getting sighted (the passages are both narrow and fairly busy), what kind of cargo it had (officially...timber?) and how it was taken over, are still unresolved questions.

I remember feeling embarrassed at the time by the poor reporting in Swedish newspapers. who should have been digging like angry bulldogs into this unusual story but mostly just put out lame rewrites of what the UK press had to say. It's about four hundred years since the last "real" waves of pirates and seahawks in the Baltic Sea.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2015, 08:54:07 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Rogue

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Re: Pirates - why are they so popular?
« Reply #31 on: January 13, 2015, 10:37:16 PM »
Technically, pirates still exist.  Do a Google search on Somalian news sometime.

Wasn't quite sure if there still were so I gave some wiggle room. *grins*

Offline GnothiSeauton

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Re: Pirates - why are they so popular?
« Reply #32 on: January 13, 2015, 10:54:08 PM »
I dunno about anyone else, but...

This is why I like pirates...




... highly 'romanticized', but I don't care.

*stares at the Toby Stevens as Captain Flint pic*

A-fucking-men

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Pirates - why are they so popular?
« Reply #33 on: January 14, 2015, 04:27:37 PM »
Well, here's one I came up with a while back. Brief and breezy, but he reflected my historical interest in Mediterranean/North African piracy as opposed to the more frequently romanticized Caribbean pirates.

There is an attraction to the idea of a life of great risk and comparable reward. If you have the power to take it, it's yours. Men, women, gold, whatever it is you want. You just have to want it more than whoever currently has it and remember there's always someone with more power who wants to take it from you. That's the appeal of it from my writing perspective, anyway.

And you didn't have trouble having fun when writing a character who does evil things to innocent people?

Offline Rogue

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Re: Pirates - why are they so popular?
« Reply #34 on: January 14, 2015, 04:35:34 PM »
And you didn't have trouble having fun when writing a character who does evil things to innocent people?

Villains are one of the most fun forms of aggression control. *grins*

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Pirates - why are they so popular?
« Reply #35 on: January 14, 2015, 04:49:52 PM »
Really? I have trouble playing villains.

I once played in a supervillain game, but that worked only because I made my villain into a sympathetic, non-lethal character. Similarly, I've tried coming up with concepts for a blackguard / deathknight I could play in some fantasy game, but I've always ended up making the characters sympathetic and repentant... Also, I once made an experimental story where I played a repentant serial killer, but it proved to be... way too heavy for me.

Offline GnothiSeauton

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Re: Pirates - why are they so popular?
« Reply #36 on: January 14, 2015, 05:20:29 PM »
I wouldn't say they were all really unpleasant people.  I think a lot of pop culture and propaganda of the time tries to portray them as blood thirsty, dangerous, and murderous villains.  Some were painted as pirates when they were merely trying to aid their country.  Take, for example, Francis Drake, who raided and pirated ships of the Spanish Navy to aid in the cause of England, was painted as a pirate and monster by the Spanish. 

A lot, from my understanding, were just looking to make a better life not only for themselves, but for their crew members as well as their families.  From my own understanding, they did not purposefully seek out the act of murdering crew members of ships.  They were often given a chance to be assimilated into the pirating crew, or stay on the disabled and pillaged ship.  It was the goal of being their own man (or in some cases, women) that didn't bow to a King or Queen, or worked and gave their hard earned pay for the taxes and rich.  Their priority, in my readings, was a desire to gain wealth and make a better lives for themselves.

Pirates were among the first, in my opinion, to bring a sense of Democracy into the New World.  Captains and Quartermasters were elected by the crew, with a checks and balances system in place as well as every equal shares (with some raises in injury pay) for raided ships.

In a group game that I'm currently co-GMing (shameless plug), I have two pirate captains of their own different ships.  One is a ship made up of freed/liberated slaves, and the other is just a ship of sailors.  Their endgame, their main driving purpose, is the betterment of their lives.  I can't speak for the others who are writing pirate captains (I do know that some are writing slavers), but I think, in the end, at least for my characters, it's about making a better lives not only for themselves, but of their crew mates as well as their families as well.

A really good book that I would really recommend for people wanting to learn more about the Golden Age of Piracy is "Under the Black Flag" by David Cordingly

Offline Madmartigan

Re: Pirates - why are they so popular?
« Reply #37 on: January 15, 2015, 08:43:49 AM »
And you didn't have trouble having fun when writing a character who does evil things to innocent people?

No, but then I enjoy playing villains. In my normal life, I spend a a great deal of time (professionally and privately) dwelling on the desires and needs of others and fulfilling them selflessly, even at some cost to my personal desires and needs.

Therefore, in my fictional lives, I do find it cathartic to write up a character whose only thought is of his own desire. The rest of the world is expendable. Every other human being in it is less important - not only less important, but perhaps even less than human. Now, very often a large part of a villain's motivation is that he truly believes he can make other peoples' lives better by being in control of them, and that's the best/worst kind of villain there is. One who thinks he's really a hero.

But getting back to piracy, as Gnothi has pointed out, becoming a pirate was one of the very few options historically available to the lower classes to elevate their circumstance.

Offline Lux12

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Re: Pirates - why are they so popular?
« Reply #38 on: January 15, 2015, 11:10:45 AM »
Well here's a few reasons:

1. If someone wants to play up the heroic rogue trope , you could write such a character as a high seas Robin Hood or someone rebelling against an unfair system. As people have already said, this is part of the appeal. It's worth noting that a number of real pirates were pretty pissed off about the countries they fought for suddenly disowning them.

2. Pirates of the Caribbean. That movie series made the pirate seem cool or at least fun again.

3. In sort of a link to number one, it's a character one could write as more morally complicated. Yes their job is killing, plundering, and other such activities, but they may also have noble aspects or motivations. Their methods however might be less than savory.

4. Some people simply like to cheer on the villain.

5. Outfits. Let's face it. A stereotypical pirate captains clothes look kind of bad ass on the right person.

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Pirates - why are they so popular?
« Reply #39 on: January 15, 2015, 04:15:45 PM »
I wouldn't say they were all really unpleasant people.  I think a lot of pop culture and propaganda of the time tries to portray them as blood thirsty, dangerous, and murderous villains.  Some were painted as pirates when they were merely trying to aid their country.  Take, for example, Francis Drake, who raided and pirated ships of the Spanish Navy to aid in the cause of England, was painted as a pirate and monster by the Spanish. 

My knowledge my fault me here, but wasn't Drake raiding Spanish civilian ships, too? To my knowledge, he was simply a privateer... and a privateer is simply a pirate who was given an "Okay, you can rob all those other ships" by one country.

Quote
A lot, from my understanding, were just looking to make a better life not only for themselves, but for their crew members as well as their families.  From my own understanding, they did not purposefully seek out the act of murdering crew members of ships.  They were often given a chance to be assimilated into the pirating crew, or stay on the disabled and pillaged ship.  It was the goal of being their own man (or in some cases, women) that didn't bow to a King or Queen, or worked and gave their hard earned pay for the taxes and rich.  Their priority, in my readings, was a desire to gain wealth and make a better lives for themselves.

... wait. If someone today stole money from a bank to make a better life for themselves, would you say it's okay?  ;)

Also, the thing is that, to gain that wealth for their families, the pirates did attack and, at least occassionally, killed other people...

Quote
In a group game that I'm currently co-GMing (shameless plug), I have two pirate captains of their own different ships.  One is a ship made up of freed/liberated slaves, and the other is just a ship of sailors.  Their endgame, their main driving purpose, is the betterment of their lives.  I can't speak for the others who are writing pirate captains (I do know that some are writing slavers), but I think, in the end, at least for my characters, it's about making a better lives not only for themselves, but of their crew mates as well as their families as well.

Interesting. Do your characters rob or kill, then?

Offline consortium11

Re: Pirates - why are they so popular?
« Reply #40 on: January 15, 2015, 04:40:50 PM »
Interesting. Do your characters rob or kill, then?

I'm playing a character in the same story who while not falling into the pirate stereotype (he's more a pseudo-viking/highlander hybrid) does do a fair amount of pirating, raiding and reaving.

And he certainly robs, kills and does rather a lot of unpleasant things to people.

Offline GnothiSeauton

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Re: Pirates - why are they so popular?
« Reply #41 on: January 15, 2015, 06:42:39 PM »
My knowledge my fault me here, but wasn't Drake raiding Spanish civilian ships, too? To my knowledge, he was simply a privateer... and a privateer is simply a pirate who was given an "Okay, you can rob all those other ships" by one country.

I'm well aware of what a privateer is.  I was pointing out that one nation's pirate could be another nation's patriot. 

... wait. If someone today stole money from a bank to make a better life for themselves, would you say it's okay?  ;)

Also, the thing is that, to gain that wealth for their families, the pirates did attack and, at least occassionally, killed other people...

I wouldn't say that it's okay, but also, I think it's a bit more complicated to compare a robber of today and a pirate of a few hundred years ago and longer.  There wasn't the opportunity for social and economic mobility that there is today.  I'd say that there is a much better chance at survival as well as social and economic well being today, as compared to a time when there was such a huge and stark difference in economic statuses.

Interesting. Do your characters rob or kill, then?

I don't have them murdering and butchering the innocent, if that's what you're asking.

I have a pirate that would kill, and has killed, slavers and oppressors who would benefit off the sale and suffering of others.  I have another who is trying to make the best life possible for his crew and those of the island of which the story is largely set.  Would he kill just for fun?  No.  Would he kill to make a point?  Probably not.  Would he kill someone who tried to kill him?  I could see that as a possibility.