Peace with Spain was signed in February 1720. In late April its news arrived to the West Indies, so all the Navies got allied against the common foe – pirates, making their trade more difficult to survive. Which side are you on?
Be ye a pirate, a naval officer, a slave or a lady, you will find a place aboard one of our four ships or live on a paradise island. Men aboard any ship are strongly recommended as first characters, and civilians as secondary ones. No more female sailors are allowed.
We are not the usual sandboxy RPG, neither a narrative-driven one, but a story-focused writing community where each actively writing character can make a difference and an impact on the overall plot. We are writing collaboratively a coherent story with many sideplots aside of it. We also have guides to help you with the time setting, and are more influenced by historical events rather than following them by the history books!
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Port de Paix dwellers
The inhabitants of Port de Paix
, a French colony, are now busy with celebrating Saint Jean d'Ete
and a wedding
among the highest nobility. Time for everyone who happens to be in Port de Paix to know them better… and to add your personal flavour to the holiday!
Our Story So Far, - the condensed version -
It happened in 1719...Backstory
“Behold! A cry from the crow's nest.
A ship appears from the south west.
The years below deck that bored me,
All lead to what lies before me:
Hear the terror! Fires burn and cannons sound.
Fate awaits me, as the vessels circle round
See the slaughter - cutlass swings and pistols fire.
I hold my breath, close my eyes and hang on for
Death before the mast.”
Since the beginning of 1719, the alliances and hostilities between the European nations extend all the way to their distant colonies, causing the Caribbean Sea to boil with conflict as the War of the Quadruple Alliance begins to unfold. The English, French and Dutch have allied their forces against the Spanish, and from Aruba to the Bahamas and beyond, there is no quiet spot ashore or at sea. Adventures of all kind
Besides the political turmoil that leads the colonies to the point of tearing at each other’s throats, the pirates and privateers are also on the prowl. Terror rules the trade routes, and both Spanish and English authorities have sworn to try and end piracy in seas.
While the ships are fighting storms and enemies, on the islands life attempts to go on as normally as possible in the face of the war; people work, pray, drink, brawl, party, fall in love and break up. In a world where nobody is what they seem to be, everyone has their own secrets: the tavern owners and barmaids are spying for the pirates, the tanned merchant sailor with a charming smile is a mercenary following his mark, the youngest English Navy sailor is a girl in disguise, the French Governor is involved in shady deals with the pirates, including granting them hidden protections… Who knows what other secrets people could be hiding?
During a working dinner with the English governor of the Bahamas - Sir Woodes Rogers - a strategic alliance was formed, with the English privateers agreeing to assist the English and French Navies in the ever present battle against piracy, as well as against the common enemy in the Caribbean: Spain. The daring plan agreed upon was to disguise their man-of-wars as defenseless merchant ships and pretend to be a trading convoy, a juicy piece of bait for both pirates and Spaniards alike who certainly would not be able to resist sailing into the allied firepower of the strong vessels, blinded by their greed... or will they be able to see the trap?
Meanwhile, the privateers and the Navies aren’t the only tricky ones in the Caribbean. The pirate ship the ”Caribbean Siren” has been spying on the English Navy’s moves in Kingston, as well as watching for the arrival of a rich Manila Fleet in Havana. Nobody ever knows where their informants will be hiding, and their cunning makes them just as formidable a foe as the Spanish. Information continues to change hands as the weeks go by, and no one can ever be certain who has the advantage in this war…
Early in the spring of 1719, the French Navy ship ”Le Phenix” got lucky and managed to board, plunder, and sink the Spanish vessel ”La Princesa”, taking the Admiral’s daughter hostage. The French capitaine Raoul Duval looked forward to a sure promotion for his successful venture, as well as his valuable booty, but his luck was quick to change. His already damaged ship was boarded by the notorious pirate crew of the ”Caribbean Siren”, and not only was Duval taken prisoner, but his proud French flagship was stripped of anything with worth, including the high-born Admiral’s daughter. Yet surprising to everyone, Captain Duval, as well as the rest of his ship, were set free again, leaving his crew to wonder at what price they had been granted their liberty… Relationships and Intrigues
Back in Tortuga, the pirates partied the night away, celebrating the victory while the newcomers who jumped ship from ”Le Phenix” and ”La Princesa” tried to fit in with the new crowd. But somewhere in the midst of the festivities, the pirate captain made a bad bet in a game of cards, and was nearly fooled into losing his sailing master. Fortunately, the bartered man managed to get himself out of the trade with a little bit of intimate service, and returned to the captain who had mistakenly bet him away.
In Cuba, when it was discovered that the Spanish Admiral’s daughter was missing, a mercenary known by the name of El Moreno was sent to retrieve her. Though he soon brought her home to her father safe and sound, he kept to himself the information that she had been all too willing to go with the pirates in the first place, and had been reluctant to be rescued…
Through March and April, the French seamen were forced to spend a couple of long months ashore before their ship, ”Le Phenix”, was finally repaired from the damage the pirates had inflicted. But once the imposing vessel was back out on the high seas, the alliance of the English privateers, the English Navy, and the French Navy wasted no time in putting their plans of attack in motion. The three vessels assumed disguises as merchant ships, and by doing so managed to ensnare two pirate ships, when they then towed to Port-de-Paix. But much to the allies’ dismay, the ”Caribbean Siren” was otherwise occupied, and didn’t take the bait…
However, the ”Siren” crew was not able to hold onto their streak of luck much longer. After an unfortunate succession of events, the pirate ship’s sailing master suffered an intense flogging after infringing upon the pirates’ code, and then was further tormented by the boatswain’s mate, who abused the already weak man while no one else was around. Feverish and frightened, the sailing master fled to Port-de-Paix, where some friends secretly helped him recover his help. But in an attempt to find the sick and runaway sailing master, the pirate captain, Sol Galvez, ended up being captured and imprisoned on the French island along with two other pirate men taken as “trophies.”
It didn’t take long for the pirates to formulate a plan to rescue their captain, though, and after sneaking their way into the fort where the men were imprisoned, they managed to free Galvez and return him to Tortuga.
Not long before the pirates’ escape plan was put into effect, a mutiny ensued aboard the privateer ship, ”The Fate’s Hand”. The mutineers killed the acting captain and then took the ship they had captured from the pirates as a prize, renaming it as the ”Twilight Shark” and sailing under a newly elected captain. With a letter of marque from Nassau and a ragtag crew of men, the new privateer ship set off in search of prey, ready and willing to take on Spanish and pirates alike.
Fortunately for them, the privateers didn’t have to wait long before an opportunity for triumph arose. On the 23rd of June at St. John’s Festival, the Duchess of St. Albans made a startling arrangement with the pirates. She asked them to attack her husband’s ship, and kill him in the process, which the crew of the ”Siren” readily agreed to. After confronting the ship in battle, the pirates took the Duchess as a “prisoner,” killing her husband as requested.
But before the noblewoman could even be brought to solid land, the pirates found themselves in an encounter of a very different kind. On their way back to Tortuga under the cover of night, they were attacked by the ”Twilight Shark”. Although the details of the battle aren’t known to many outside of the two crews, the fact of the matter is that the pirates invoked the right of parley, and a truce was reached between the ships. The privateers took the Duchess with them and returned to Kingston, where they were received as heroes, and the pirates went home to fight another day…
After the ”Twilight Shark” captured a Spanish galleon as a prize, they weighed anchor only to realize that Captain Sharky, as well as his trusted man, Kemba, were missing. Investigations made them understand that their captain and fellow crewmate won’t return anymore, since they had been sold to a slaver. So, they had to elect a new captain, who started gaining new prizes for them due to an original way of gathering intelligence.
After a string of victories in battle, the ”Caribbean Siren” set out yet again on an expedition at the beginning of August of 1719, not knowing that it would be their last aboard the ship. They encountered the vengeful allied English and French Navies all too quickly once at sea, and the resulting clash came with disastrous results. How many of the crew survived this battle, which ended finally in the sinking of the ”Caribbean Siren”? It’s up to you to count them… But like the legendary bird getting reborn from its ashes, the remaining crew got regrouped again around their captain, gaining a new ship, the “Rising Sun”, new members and new victories… Will they win also against the forces of nature, as hurricane season is ongoing?
The Navy forces are regrouping too after the taxing battle. There is a new British ship, HMS “Sovereign”, with a new captain, ready to fight pirates, and the known French flagship, ”Le Phenix”, has a new captain, since the former one has been promoted to rear-admiral.
A new governor arrived to Saint Domingue, the former one being recalled to France after having married away his daughter to the new flag captain. This means the complete end of the “closing eyes” policy against pirates selling their loot to the local merchants, and enhancing the war against piracy.
Times are changing, and weather too. A strong hurricane hit all the islands and all the ships in the open sea at the beginning of October 1719.
It took a great toll, both at sea and on land. At sea, our four ships had found themselves stranded on the same desert island in the Bahamas, where they had sought shelter from the storm. The pirates and the privateers had been forced to conclude a truce and cooperate for the time of their stay on the island, otherwise none of the two ships could get repaired and sail off. The Navy ships cooperated too, but they were allies anyway. And an alliance comes with a price – including the one of sharing the treasure discovered on the island… Only if the island of Inagua could tell us about the secrets it had witnessed during those days! Friendships forged between people who might find themselves, next month, exchanging broadsides in a battle, brothers found on opposite sides, and many more…
Both on land and at sea, the survivors are facing reconstruction problems, mourning their dead and working to repair their possessions.
Hispaniola was hit by an epidemic and it was in quarantine for most of the month of October. The rear-admiral and the captain of ”Le Phenix” had risked on several plans when entering the harbour despite the yellow flag.
In Kingston, there was famine until the next convoy of ships with supplies arrived from the Windward Islands, as the previous ones had been not only hit by the hurricane, but also destroyed by a Spanish armada, against which the Vice-Admiral had sworn revenge. Said and done! A blockade against Cuba happened in November and December, with the help of the French allies and of the privateers.
In Tortuga, the inn “Elixir d’Armagnac” was attacked and looted by pirates remained shipless after the hurricane. Will the owner and the tavern maids succeed to regain the inn’s good reputation after having got the revenge, but not recovered the lost valuables?
Once the ships returned to their home ports and their repairs finished, people attempt, more or less successfully, to pick up their lives and go on. The treasures found by seamen while stranded on Inagua will definitely help some of them cope with the aftermath of the hurricane. Others need something else than gold to soothe their grief… Some people are making plans for the future.
The British Navy ship HMS “Sovereign” arrived, in November 1719, to Port de Paix with a delicate mission for which it needed the help of the privateers and of the French Navy… They left, all allied ships, to blockade Cuba, as retaliation for the cutting out of the supplies for Jamaica by the remains of the Spanish convoy – which, if the hurricane didn’t side with the British, would have attacked Jamaica too…
They got some blockade runners, some escaped them, but deep in the night, the French Rear-Admiral was hit by a crossbow bolt, the assassin succeeding to disappear in the waters. According to the message he left, he had been sent by the Spanish Admiral, not only with the intent to stop the blockade the hard way, but also as a revenge for the way he had taken prisoner the Spanish Admiral's daughter, back in February...
The pirates left on a new expedition too, as the freshly repaired and strengthened ship has swallowed a lot of money. And most expeditions come with a blood price...
The privateers were cheated by the French authorities of their deserved shares, paid with their own blood, so they decided to take their vengeance and planned the sinking of the Spanish prize ship in the harbour, after being stripped of anything valuable, in a way which didn’t make them suspects. The looted goods got sold in Tortuga, where no questions were asked.
The New Year Masquerade, celebrating in style the arrival of the year 1720, had its own mysteries - not only the usual flirting behind the masks, forging new relationships, and confusions of all kind… Anything can happen behind the masks! From negotiating secret exchanges of prisoners, far from the ears of the present allies, too busy flirting, to attempting to seduce a mark in order to apply the coup de grace! It turned out that the one attempted to be killed wasn't the actual mark, Rear-Admiral Raoul Duval, but a victim of the masquerade disguising, the commander of Fort Charles in Kingston. Two other officers, one French, one British, were hurt severely in the assassins’ escape.
Love and romance abound in the Caribbean, and it is a well known fact that sometimes, the relationships, the scandals, and the gossip – both true and fabricated – can become as complicated as the bloody battles themselves.
The tavern keeper from Tortuga, Maribel Vargas, fell in love with the most unlikely suitor, a young and innocent French pirate, without knowing that he wasn’t the only one pining after her. But a few months later, when learning the whole truth of the other man’s love, she made a painful decision, and broke the heart of her French courter to follow truer love with the pirate master gunner. (Said Frenchman got soon comforted by a lovely naïve Mulatto, whom he not only swept away to Tortuga, but he married her officially, circumventing the Code Noir interdictions.) Would the lovers of the Tortuga women be so strong and understanding to help them get over the attack on the inn, happened in their absence?
The French Navy rear-admiral Raoul Duval continues to stir up the Caribbean with his highly secretive and intriguing love life, which rumor has it consists of an ex-pirate male lover as well as a pretty mistress who is carrying his baby – or so he thinks... To keep the affair out of the way of gossip and scandal, the captain has arranged a marriage for his mistress, with no intention of letting her, or his child, out of his life anytime soon. Will the birth of his first son, in October 1719, influence him in any way? (Not too much, since at the New Year Masquerade he is finding a new mistress, of higher status than the mother of his child).
Over the time, the French Governor's daughter, Marie Josephine de la Bastide, has managed to raise the interest of not only two French Navy lieutenants, but of an English one's as well. In the end, however, only one of them had the courage to ask her father to give them his blessing, and he obtained it. The wedding of Marie de la Bastide and Giles Laurent took place in early September, much to her father’s happiness, as he had to return to France soon, and Laurent has been promoted in recent months to a captain’s position.
The noble ladies of Saint Domingue raise the interest of many men, not all possessing the blue blood and family fortune needed to court them. Helene de Croismare had found herself prey of nasty rumours affecting her reputation, following unchaperoned discussions with a few Navy men. Fortunately, her fiancé believed in her innocence and did not break the engagement. A few friends supported her too.
And the intrigues are never ending…
"Goals change a vague dream into a plan of action. Clearly stated goals are the step between what you want and what you get. But goals dependent entirely on the actions of others are destructive."
It happened in 1720...Adventures of all kind
The French Navy flagship, temporarily commanded by young lieutenants, had been the target of a mutiny attempt. The sailors’ discontentment with some of their petty and warrant officers and with a cruel lieutenant had errupted into a revolt after two of these officers killed two sailors. Blood had been spilled, but also a decent petition had been written. The Court Martial indicted and hanged the mutineers, re-assigned the crew, but the Rear-Admiral took into account most of the grievances in the petition, in order to avoid further mutinies spreading within the French fleet.Relationships and Intrigues
The best men in the British Navy ship's crew were sent on a special quest, in total secret and health... where only seagulls dared... Their task was to sink the biggest ship ever built without involving the allied Navies officially in this, but trying to seem a band of pirates. This was achieved with the help of the French allies and with some mercenaries hired on the spot, but also with losses on all sides.
The pirate ship has achieved some successful expeditions - a British schooner full of gold, a French gabarre with expensive goods and a Kingston lady held for ransom - but a leak in the hull and a strong gale determined losses of lives and almost sunk the ship. Conflicts aboard led to dismissing some of the pirates also - better in Tortuga than marrooned on an island, since no lives were taken.
As a result of the failed assassination attempt at the New Year Masquerade, the assassins turned their attention to their employer instead, learning on the way that other persons are interested in his death as well. While the death of Admiral Moncada resulted in Cuba negotiating a surrender and the Allied navies’ blockade being lifted, it also generated a fight for power among the Spanish high Navy officers, some of them being for peace, some for war - hence they decided to attack Nassau in February 1720.
The epic Battle of Nassau got all the allies involved in it, privateers included. Blood and gunpowder stained the sea, and the privateer ship "Twilight Shark" got sunk, with some of its crew saved by other ships, including the French privateer "La Chanson".
As for the British Navy ship, it was also involved in catching a stray Spanish ship which had succeeded to run away from Nassau...
In Saint Domingue, a noble lady had been kidnapped by rebel slaves, and two adventurers went to her rescue. Would the slave uprisings extend all over the French colony? It is very possible... Intrigues of all kind were brewing also in Port de Paix.
In the meanwhile, a bunch of smugglers led by a mercenary, with the help of a British Navy officer and a pirate captain, got on another investigation mission in Cuba, completed successfuly. If it will be of any use to the payer, it remains to be seen, though...
At the end of March, the pirates caught a Spanish treasure ship, getting the jealousy of other Tortuga residents. In late April, the captain's and master gunner's dreams of vengeance materialised in catching the slaver ship who had kidnapped and sold away women they cared for. Nevertheless, the revenge wasn't as sweet when nobody knew the whereabouts of one's fiancee and the other's sister...
The pirate council voted, at a frail majority, for sparing all the slavers' lives, however one morning, four of the slaver officers had been found mysteriously dead. Some said it was poisoning, others voudou, divine judgment or an epidemic the medicine couldn't cure. However, it was only the start of the pirates' misfortunes... Because upon their return in Tortuga, a group of shipless pirates planned to commandeer the "Rising Sun". The pirate captain got a warning, though, and the invaders were awaited by armed pirates and overcome. Some died, the pirate captain got severely hurt too, but some of the invaders lived and kept conspiring with the spared slavers...
The British Navy ship returned to its usual patrolling at the beginning of April, after having been repaired and reinforced. The French Navy flagship escorted a convoy with supplies to Nouvelle Orleans, having aboard the new fort commander. In the Mississippi Delta, they got attacked by villains who hoped to prey on a small merchant ship, so the fort commander made a triumphal entry into town.
The privateers were out at sea too, fighting first Spaniards, then pirates, and the French Navy ship saved, in late May 1720, the privateer frigate, seriously damaged by a pirate snow which succeeded to run away.
Love and romance abound in the Caribbean, and it is a well known fact that sometimes, the relationships, the scandals, and the gossip – both true and fabricated – can become as complicated as the bloody battles themselves. What happened in the summer of 1720
The noble ladies of Saint Domingue raise the interest of many men, not all possessing the blue blood and family fortune needed to court them. An Austrian countess has got a French Rear-Admiral, a British Captain and his second lieutenant, all competing for her attention, but she seems to favour also a street dancer, whom she had taken under her patronnage…
Other two young, unmarried ladies of Saint Domingue, one of them the cousin of the Rear-Admiral, are prone to scandal for their unrestrained behaviour which can be misinterpreted. The death of the flag captain's wife in childbed let him unconsolated and broken, so he asked for a transfer. The rear-admiral chose the very funeral to announce the promotions - would the new captain be better than the former one?
In the nonconformist Tortuga, a cheated wife has befriended her man’s mistress. Two coloured young women, one of them married, have been spending too much time in the company of an Oriental young man who taught them an original way of self-defense. Inconceivable in a more civilised place! A former mercenary, now smuggler, made the pledge to be a pirate's sworn brother. One would say the world is going upside down...
The arrival of two new women aboard the pirate ship gave room to gossips, speculations and jealousy, especially when one of them is an accomplished sailor. But people would always gossip… Especially when one of them is appointed as first mate, no matter how capable she had proven herself in front of the crew.
Peace with Spain was signed in February 1720. In late April its news arrived to the West Indies, so the May Day in Kingston was widely celebrated in a week-long festival, as the day Peace was officially instituted again in the West Indies. French allies and former Spanish enemies were invited to Kingston to the feast, and enough Navy men don't know they had drunk or competed in strength games with pirates. A smuggler captain saved a young woman from thugs, and got wounded in the process, so now she is tending his wounds. Will a new love story blossom from this vulnerability?
The rumours are flowing about everyone in the Colonies, and in order to counter them, the French Rear-Admiral gets trapped into a shotgun wedding he is not thrilled with. In Tortuga a double wedding is celebrated right after Easter, and some others are to happen in June...
From France and Louisiana, there are also gossips about failing investments rendering rich people poor and making money vanishing. Who will be trapped in the Mississippi Bubbles, on the French and British sides?
There is Saint Jean's holiday in Port de Paix, corroborrated with a birthday party and a wedding in the upper class. Pirates in disguise might crash the parties too – but with them there will be never peace, as now all the Navies will ally against the common foe – pirates, making their trade more difficult to survive. The same holiday is celebrated in Tortuga too, offering some surprises around the midnight fires.
And the intrigues are never ending…
The pirates have remained shipless and marrooned on a desert island, as some of the the former slavers mutinied, plotting together with the survivors of the commandeering attack which had taken place at the beginning of May. The ones who were aboard the ship got sold to the French Navy and got to prison. Those stranded on the island were saved by a British Navy ship and they succeeded to return to Tortuga before the Navy captain learnt the truth about them. In his ire, it remained to him only to punish some of his crewmen for not telling him/ not knowing that those were pirates.
In Port de Paix, a princesse de sang's arrival causes turmoil in the high society... and even more havoc the day she goes missing. Soon a ransom letter is received by the Rear-Admiral, showing that she had been kidnapped by pirates who want some of theirs freed in exchange... He had to swallow his pride and make the exchange, for the princess's sake (and his position), swearing revenge for later and sending all his ships in patrol, to hunt all the possible pirates.
The pirates found allies to help them recover the ship, and went, with Captain Johnson's two ships, to seek for their beloved "Rising Sun". Only that, when finally found, the "Rising Sun" got sunk by mistake, with a wrongly aimed cannonade from their allies. And the sound of the battle had alerted the two Navy ships in the area, HMS Sovereign and Le Phenix, who came to investigate.
A doomsday battle ensued. Some well aimed fire arrows met the Sovereign's ammunition bag, and the British Navy ship exploded together with its pirate prize the crew had just boarded. The French flagship succeeded to sink the other pirate ship and to fish out some prisoners, but not before getting raked by bow. Therefore, sixteen hours later, the flagship lost its fight with the water seeping into the ship through the damaged hull. There have to be some survivors, and their story will be told in our next volume, Caribbean Dawn.
In the meanwhile, life goes on in all towns...
What happens next? Who will be fighting whom, and who will find death before the mast? Whose lovers will weep somewhere ashore, and whose will celebrate, showered in gold and gifts? That's entirely up to our players... and to you!
Sharpen your blades, load your guns, drain the last sip of rum, and raise your sword to swashbuckling adventure, building a colonial paradise under a new Caribbean Dawn!
"Goals change a vague dream into a plan of action. Clearly stated goals are the step between what you want and what you get. But goals dependent entirely on the actions of others are destructive."
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. This skin was made by MORU
specifically for BEFORE THE MAST
and rethemed by MASCHA