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Sneaky peeky like

March 26, 2017

In a fit of inspiration, I’ve started working on the pirate book I outlined in my previous post. The first character I’ve written about is the pirate queen who has been appearing in various gaming scenarios. This is an early draft, unless everyone loves it at which point it becomes “nearly finished”. I’d love your commentary: is the description and the background interesting? Are there enough hints and hooks to spark the imagination? Does this feel like a character you could built a gaming scenario around? No need to be too gentle, I want to make this as good as possible. If something is rubbish, let me know!

As you can see in the piece below, several details are intentionally fuzzy. I haven’t set an exact date – it’s sometime in the early 1700s. The geographic location of the small, fictitious island Port George is located on isn’t set in stone. It’s somewhere in the West Indies. Things like ship types aren’t defined either. A few characters are mentioned in passing, but not really detailed. This isn’t laziness on my part, but rather an effort to make the material easy to modify and adapt. I have tried to keep the details historically plausible.

The Pirate Queen
Maricruz Aguilera de Cartagena

Few people on the island command as much respect as Maricruz Aguilera, known as the Pirate Queen of [to be defined] Bay. The daughter of a wealthy criollo merchant family from Cartagena on the Spanish Main, her turn to piracy remains shrouded in mystery. In their parlours bitter men speak of hysteria, ill humours and a mind seduced by piratical tales. For all their talk, they come up short when trying to give a credible explanation as to why and how years back the crew of merchantman Santa Estrella de la Esperanza violently mutinied and gave a female passenger command of the ship. Some claim it was the Devil’s work, others that she simply knew how to stoke the anger of the flogged and hungry sailors.

Whatever the truth of the matter is, Aguilera has since mercilessly raided shipping in the West Indies and the Spanish Main. Rumour has it her disgraced family has put a sizeable bounty on her head, and several pirate hunters have made it their task to track her down. The Vindictive, sailing under the infamous captain Oxley, is the only one to even come close, at a heavy cost to both the captain and his ship.

In Port George Aguilera holds a strong position. She has a hand in most of the contraband that passes through the town, while her ship, the sleek Espíritu del Viento sits at anchor in the bay. The queen drives a hard but fair bargain, and she is well-liked. Aguilera surrounds herself with a fiercely loyal multi-national crew of thirty, with her first mate, the Welshman Davies having sailed with her since her early days as a rover. The close bond the rakish Davies shares with his captain is a constant source of rumour.

Lately the pirate queen has been preoccupied. While illegitimate trade and piracy still flourish, she can see the tide slowly turning both on the island and the West Indies. With the recent calls to purge Port George of its unsavoury elements, it will soon be a time to decide whether to fight or to slip away into a comfortable life of anonymity while still ahead. The first carries with it the risk of the gallows, the second would mean throwing away years of struggle against the rich and the powerful and abandoning her crew to their fate.

I’ve also contacted a very talented artist for some character portraits, and I’m looking forward to seeing what she comes up with. Here’s a 19th century painting by Gustave Courbet that I sent to her as part of the character description, for visual reference.

So, fire away! Hit or miss?

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15 comments

  1. Two words – love it


    • Thanks IRO, so nice to hear that!


  2. Very nice! Perhaps a hint towards where her lair is rumored to be might be inspiring for scenarios (every pirate needs a secret lair, or at least rumors about it).


    • Good idea, I think I’ll use that for another character! I’m thinking of the queen as a semi-legitimate character, living boldly and very publicly, almost daring the authorities to come at her.


      • Ah, cool!


        • I love the secret lair idea though, so I may need to write up a pirate shunned even by other pirates for one reason or another.


  3. Cool! She’s spot on mate – enough mystery to give you plenty of scope, but enough substance to begin to get the picture. She’s clearly very capable as a leader, and is a thinker too. Chuffed that there’s a Welshman involved 🙂


    • Thanks Alex! Ship crews really tended to be very multi-national. I’m cautiously thinking of putting some Swedes in there as well…


      • It would be rude not to! 🙂


  4. Loving this so far. I would be tempted to get a one off 28mm character cast just for fun to bring this pirate to life ?


    • Not a bad idea! The character is originally based on a Reaper pirate miniature. If I get really crazy about this project, custom minis aren’t impossible. I have already given some thought to the subject even!


  5. I really like the short characterization. We have a strong female protagonist, intelligent, fair, yet burdened with the disgrace she brought on her family and her doubts if her lifestyle will not be her demise in the end. I also like the idea of a romantic interest first mate. She is relate able and I like her already as a character.

    I could see that she faces her brother in a scenario, who wants to convince her to come home and give up the life of piracy.

    Maybe there is a traitor in her crew and she will need to find a way to see who works for Oxley.

    The portrait looks really good and artwork based on this should be spot on.


    • Warm thanks for the comment, really glad you liked it. I figured I would not set the relationship with the first mate in stone – they are close and there are rumours, but I left it at that. I’m happy to hear that she managed to get your imagination going too!


  6. […] With this introduction, I present to you the two character portraits I’ve commissioned so far. First up is the pirate queen Maricruz Aguilera de Cartagena described in my previous post: […]



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