The Pirate Game
|“Carve your name on the ever-changing sea with a saber of terror and triumph. Fight for plunder, fame, and glory, and earn your place among the legends of the sea.”|
|Titles: The Pirate Queen, the Black Lady, the Sea Banshee, Sailor’s Doom|
|Portfolio: Piracy, Strife, Sea Monsters|
|Cleric Alignments: Neutral, Chaotic Good, Chaotic Neutral, Chaotic Evil|
|Domains: Chaos, Trickery, War, Water, Weather|
|Holy Symbol: the Jolly Roger|
|Favoured Weapon: Rapier|
Besmara (pronounced bes-MAR-uh), also known as the Pirate Queen, is a goddess most commonly worshiped by the sailor-folk of the Shackles or Ilizmagorti. She is said to captain her legendary ship Seawraith throughout the seas and waterways of the Great Beyond (especially the Maelstrom), making raids on places such as Hell, Elysium, Axis, and Heaven.
Nearly all of Besmara’s followers are pirates or pirates by any other name. The rest are folks who profit from strife (such as war profiteers, dog fighters, and similar low-class folk), officials in “pirate towns,” a few intelligent sea monsters, pirates’ spouses, and prostitutes whose clientele comprises mainly pirates. Even such strumpets, harlots, trollops, and rent boys who rarely or never set foot on pirate ships indirectly profit from successful piracy, and pray to Besmara that their favorite buccaneers return with lust in their hearts and many coins to spend. Some of these consider themselves “sacred prostitutes” of the goddess, though this devotion often consists of little more than a “pirate queen” costume and roleplayed seduction (the goddess herself laughs at these mortal antics). Male prostitutes among the faithful are often referred to as matelots (a term also sometimes given to the male spouse of a pirate).
There is essentially no hierarchy within the church— each priest crafts his or her own title and recognizes no authority other than the goddess. Priests do not report to anyone, though they may defer to a mentor’s decision if there is no compelling reason not to do so. Rarely does a particular ship have more than one priest on board, and even then they may be rivals. Every few years, a charismatic priest-captain may unite other like-minded priests under his or her banner, creating an armada with the leading priest as the admiral, but this is an exception. Most priests consider themselves entirely independent of each other.
Like lay worshipers, Besmara’s priests are either pirates or folk whose business directly relies on piracy. Their personalities run the gamut from dashing privateers to rapacious murderers, and some in the middle may play both roles as the mood or pay suits them. They bless pirates and ships, heal crews, act as go-betweens for those looking for work or workers, guard pirate ships, chase off or bind sea monsters, and always try to profit from their activities. They consider the tithe-based survival of religious monks and priests to be incredibly humiliating and would rather accept a common share swabbing a deck than take a handout from someone else. They work until they’ve earned enough gold to retire, and go back to work if they spend it all before they die.
Priests of Besmara are usually skilled at Heal and Profession (sailor). Most have ranks in Acrobatics, Appraise, and Intimidate. Canny ones also have ranks in Diplomacy, Knowledge (geography), Knowledge (history), Knowledge (local), and Knowledge (nature). Priests don’t have any set routine, though most follow the normal cycle of activity on ship. Daily prayers are short and to the point.
These three phrases are the core of the goddess’s code, and any person familiar with her faith should recognize them and understand what they mean.
End Your Quarrels on Shore: Whatever disagreements one sailor has with another, onboard a ship is not the place to settle them, for everyone’s survival depends on the crew working together. If one member of the crew has a disagreement with another, the place to settle it is on shore—whether this is a port or just a sandy beach.
Thirty Stripes Lacking One: The traditional punishment for a serious infraction on the ship is thirty lashes on the bare back. The captain or boatswain, however, may choose to reserve the last (30th) lash as an act of mercy if the target is repentant or unconscious. Still, the captain always has the option to make that last strike at any time—a threat to ensure better behavior from the target. Usually this “lash debt” is canceled once the ship makes port, and always if the target leaves the crew.
Truce Ends at the Horizon: While pirates recognize the need for parley, any truce is only valid until the opposing ship is past the horizon. This gives the weaker captain a head start should he fear the other captain’s intentions. Breaking this part of the code is seen as not only unsportsmanlike, but a threat to all pirates.