Yesterday I had very little leisure time, and consequently I have nothing to say today. So I thought I’d try something a little different and share my technique for role-playing in MMOs. I’m just not quick-witted enough to role-play in ‘real time’ in games, but I do like to gin up some kind of storyline that explains where my character(s) come from.
In the case of Pirates of the Burning Sea, I was in a guild called The Highland Confederacy. The premise of this guild was that they were a group of Scottish, Irish and Welsh Jacobites fighting on the side of France. In game terms, we figured the English faction was going to be over-crowded, so this allowed us to play under the flag of France but still speak English.
I was playing two characters, a trader and a a privateer. The two were brothers. But what brought them to the New World and led them to The Highland Confederacy? I decided to chronicle their story as a series of log entries written by the elder brother, Morgan Rhydderch of Wales. I had fun weaving some history into their story.
This is pretty long so, y’know, I won’t be offended if you don’t read it all. And I’d best break the post here so I don’t swamp the RSS feeds out there. 🙂
The Log of Morgan Rhydderch
October the 12th, 1716, Swansea, Wales
Ill news arrived today with the return of The Lady Luck, one of my father’s fleet. She was doing a run, her regular run, from Swansea to Dublin and was on her return leg when she was hailed by an English sloop-of-war, the HMS Shrike. Captain Bumpford of the Lady Luck, having naught to hide, hove to. The English boarded, inspected the cargo and manifests and found everything in order. This, Bumpford says, seemed to displease the English captain, a brute of a man who suddenly decided he was short on crew, and that the Lady seemed over-manned. English marines held the crew of the Lady at bay with pistol and cutlass as a handful of honest, hard-working sailors were pressed into service aboard the Shrike.
My youngest brother, Mathias, was one of them. My father, wanting to break the lad of his cavalier habits when it came to both coin and time, decided it would do Mathias good to serve as a common sailor for a season or two. Father knew there were risks involved, but he had in mind storms and shoals, not the damned English and their press gangs. He is beside himself with grief and guilt. It falls to me to put things to right.
October the 21st, 1716, Swansea, Wales
All is prepared for my journey to London. Father has told me to spare no expense in tracking down Mathias. His entire demeanor has changed in the past week. He seems somehow smaller, and yet holds more anger in his heart towards the English than ever I have seen. It is all we can do to get him to attend to the family shipping business. His will is entirely bent on getting Mathias back.
April 14th, 1717, London, England
The spring warmth brings with it the smallest glimmer of hope. The agent that I hired shortly after Christmas has finally gotten access to the naval records. The Shrike put in to London in early December and while there a copy of its log was deposited with the admiralty. The pressing action that took Mathias and three others is recorded. The Shrike was in London briefly to re-supply, then joined a convey. No transfer of crew is recorded, so the agent assumes Mathias was still on board when the convoy left.
The bad news is, the convoy was headed for The New World. The admiralty is sending the Shrike to be stationed out of Georgetown “until further notice.” My agent thinks the captain of the Shrike has fallen out of favor, and is being sent away indefinitely. I shall return, finally, to Swansea to report to my father. The agent will be kept on retainer, and has promised to pass on any and all news.
June 24th, 1718, Swansea, Wales
Today is Mathias’ 18th birthday, wherever he is. In the fourteen months since I left London, there has been no new news, though the agent I hired still checks in via post now and again. Father’s condition continues to deteriorate. His ill health takes its toll on the company, though I do what I can to keep the business afloat, as it were.
March 3rd, 1719, Swansea, Wales
There is news, finally, of Mathias, but it is grim tidings indeed. Our agent reports that news has come from the New World. There was a mutiny aboard the Shrike. The captain and officers were put ashore unharmed, with but a handful of the crew. Mathias’ name wasn’t among those listed. He is either dead, or has become a mutineer! Father is beside himself and cannot bring himself to believe that his son would turn down such a dark path. I do not know what to think. We sent a sixteen year old boy to sea, but if he yet lives, Mathias is nearly nineteen and a man. How much can a person change after being at sea against his will for three long years?
June 24th, 1719, Swansea, Wales
Mathias’ 19th birthday. Father came to me today with news that I still cannot wrap my head around. He wants me to go search for Mathias in person. To the New World! He apparently has been planning this for some time, unbeknownst to me. I am to take command of one of our ships and sail across the Atlantic. Has Father gone mad? Would he throw away a first son in search of his second? Our ships were not made for such long voyages.
August 14th, 1719, Swansea, Wales
Father is not mad after all. I’ve now seen the ship, and she has been refit to withstand the rigors of the journey (including several small cannon, and sufficient shot to last us a good while). At what cost, I can only imagine, but I suspect Father has invested virtually all of his wealth into this voyage. He took me aside to give me my instructions. I am to make contact with one of the French colonies when I get there. If I find Mathias alive, the English will undoubtedly bring him to trial for whatever part he played in the mutiny on the Shrike, even if he was not a willing participant. Father’s hatred for the English has deepened over the past few years, and I find I can not blame him.
October 2nd, 1719, Swansea, Wales
In the morning, we set sail for the new world. I’ve a ship, a crew, and not much more. Father bids me use my business skills when I arrive in order that I establish a base of operations. We both know the search for Mathias won’t be a short one, and Father has all but bankrupt himself and his business in outfitting the ship. I will have to make my own way once I arrive. If I arrive. It is a perilous journey even though conditions at the outset seem favorable. Father planned our departure such that we leave before winter storms set in, and arrive in the new world after the worst of the great autumn storms there subside. We shall see.
November 23rd, 1719, The Open Sea
The voyage has been more tedious than perilous; Father planned well. I would do much for fresh water and fresh vegetables, though! Still, myself, officers and crew are all healthy and we’ve avoided mishaps so far. And best news of all? Land has been sighted!
January 1st, 1720, Charlesfort, The New World
Happy New Year! We have been lucky beyond all measure. That first line we spotted was an uninhabited island, but we did find fresh water and even a bit of fruit. It took us a few weeks of searching before we made contact with our newfound allies, the French. Had I known then what I know now, I’m not sure I would’ve had the fortitude to seek them out. The waters in the area are rife with pirates, and it was just good fortune that kept us safe. We have seen English and Spanish ships as well, but neither took much notice of us. I gave myself and the crew a fortnight to celebrate Christmas and to rest, but now my meager supply of coins is running out, and it is time to get to work. Happily there is much work to be done. I’m feeling wonderfully optimistic, and feel quite sure that, vast as this new world is, I shall find Mathias and bring him safely back home.
January 8th, 1720, Charlesfort, The New World
Our good fortune prevails. Or perhaps Father knew more than he let on. It turns out there is a sizable number of Irishmen and Scots here, as well as a few of my fellow countrymen. Ironically, the community has settled on English as the ‘common tongue’. Even many of the French speak it.
The barman told me of a gathering of these fellows, called The Highland Confederacy. I shall strive to make contact with them, as they seem a far-ranging group of adventurers and businessmen. Perhaps one of them has news of Mathias.