Posts Tagged ‘Pirate book’

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Looking ahead

May 26, 2017

Billy Bones by NC Wyeth

Last night I got to thinking about the future of my pirate project, and figured I’d share some of my plans with you. That way I’ll have them down in writing, too. Having the book project on the go really helps – miniatures inspire me two make up fiction and characters, and vice versa. This stuff might and probably will change as new ideas come up, as these things tend to do. In no particular order:

Port George and New Port George

Instead of having a nice side of town and a shady side of town, they will be two different towns in the fiction. After the original Port George was struck by a heavy epidemic of yellow fever, the better-off residents fled to somewhat higher, drier ground and re-founded Port George, leaving the old town to those too poor or ill to build new houses. In time, pirates and other types settled in and made the old town their own. While the towns are near each other, the residents of New Port George rarely have reason to visit the old town, unless there’s more or less shady business to be done. Even then, they’ll bring protection.

Modelling-wise, I’ll keep on as before. New Port George will have larger, plastered brick houses and a small fort, whereas the old town will have more wooden plank houses, as well as more dirt and decay in general. This way I don’t have to worry about fitting two different styles together.

Maroons

Another faction on the island is a group of maroons – escaped slaves – who have taken up residence in the old, ruined Spanish mission. They mostly keep to themselves, although they do some trading with the pirates. With the new industry plans for the island (see below), the maroons are more than a little riled up, and are bound to cause all sorts of trouble. For miniatures I’ll be using the Foundry minis I bought at Salute a month ago:

© Wargames Foundry

They’re sweet minis, and will find double use as pirates too. My voodoo queen will likely be tied in with them too.

The Spanish mission

Spanish Caribbean buildings with their red pantile rooves are a staple of pirate visuals. I wanted to include them, but also wanted a British town. The solution? Put in an old, deserted 17th century mission town. Not only is this historically plausible, it also gives me the chance to build some Spanish style houses and model an overgrown, somewhat ruined town now inhabited by the maroons mentioned above.

Horrible capitalists

These will be some if not the main antagonists in the setting. They’re wealthy traders who are looking to set up sugar plantations on the island, with all the horrible things they bring along. While I want to address the concept of slavery in the project, I don’t want to dwell on it too explicitly. However, having the drive for building plantations – or maybe the plantations being built – creates suitable tension in my opinion. The traders are trying to pressure the governor, the pirates are disrupting slave trade, the maroons are attacking traders and under construction plantations…there’s plenty here! I have some great minis from Blue Moon that I also bought at Salute, they look haughty and rich and should be a great fit for the job. I might need some henchmen for them as well.

While I don’t want the book to be overtly political, in reality a lot of the pirate issue was about class and race, trade and capital, and I want the book and the project to reflect that – not only for ideological reasons, but historical accuracy as well. It also allows me to posit pirates as the protagonists, which is something I want to do. And of course rich slave traders make for wonderful antagonists.

So, that’s what’s in store. Over two years with this project, and more and more hyped – wonderful!

Pirate illustration: Billy Bones by NC Wyeth, public domain

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Visualising

April 4, 2017

The pirate book thing is slowly but happily becoming reality. Now, one of the most important things in this project for me is the opportunity to turn imaginary characters and places into something a little more concrete. Sure, vague concepts of characters exist, as do miniatures representing said characters. However, there is something very special in not only writing up a character, but having that piece of fiction turned into a picture.

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:

The second one is another familiar character to regular readers. He is none other than captain Jonathan Pemberton-Smythe of His Royal Majesty’s army:

Both are the work of the incredibly talented Gabriella “Sayara-S” Bujdosó. She will (for obvious reasons, just see the pictures above) be doing the rest of the character illustrations as well. You can see more of her work on her DeviantArt page, as well as in the Song of Shadows and Dust game. I’m really happy to have her on board this little project!

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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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