Skies of Arcadia
Like the Blue Rogues, the Black Pirates are not a unified faction. Each ship is a kingdom unto itself and controlled by its captain. Unlike the Blue Rogues, the Black Pirates have few if any redeeming qualities. Black Pirates have no code, and the only unifying force on their vessels is the captain, who rules absolutely and from whom the entire vessel takes its tone and culture. While Blue Rogues are in it for the adventure & fame as much as the money, Black Pirates exist solely to enrich themselves, and the only fame they’re interested in is in the way of being feared. To that end, Black Pirates target vessels that can offer them the most amount of profit for the least amount of effort. That means they target primarily unarmed civilian vessels, the richer the better. While Valuan Armada Vessels often offer great pickings, taking one on is a considerable challenge, and thus does not mesh well with the “quickest road to profit” mentality of the Black Pirates. However, Black Pirates are certainly not above picking on a military vessel if they think the circumstances are heavily in their favor.
The plight of passengers and crew of targeted ships varies greatly depending on which Black Pirate they are dealing with. The good news is that since neither Valua nor Nasr permit slavery, Black Pirates have no motivation for the systematic taking of captives. Kidnappings are generally limited mainly to persons of interest and means, who can be ransomed for profit. A few Black Pirates do capture personal “servants” but this practice is restricted by the number of people a crew busy sailing a sky ship can forcibly keep in line, usually limited to no more than 3 or four slaves per ship. So while enslavement generally isn’t an issue, death certainly can be. Fortunately, the focus of Black Pirates is gaining material wealth with the minimum effort necessary, and killing non-combatants requires additional effort.
That being said, some Black Pirates use murder and terror as part of their arsenal of weapons. One such example was Rimwalled the Ruthless, who made it his policy to slaughter everyone aboard any vessel that attempted to resist his call for surrender. If, however, the vessel heaved to and surrendered then he would spare its passengers and crew.
And of course, some Black Pirates are truly depraved, such as Dellegrade the Depraved. He and his crew would take prisoner any women they liked from a vessel the captured, then kill all aboard and scuttle the ship once they had finished taking anything of value they wanted. The women were used, and then discarded, literally – as in tossed overboard, when Dellegrade and his crew were finished with them. They were even known to deliberately target passenger ships to sate their appetite for rape and murder. Fortunately for Arcadia, Dellegrade did not last long. His bloodletting provoked great ire from Valua, Nasr, and the Blue Rogues who all hunted him down and sent his ship, The Crimson Marauder down to the bottom of Deep Sky with all her hands. The destruction of Dellegrade is the only time on record when a vessel from the Valuan Armada and a Blue Rogues pirate ship were within engagement range, and did not at least trade shots.
While Dellegrade and Rimwalled represent the worst of the Black Pirates, most are simply content to rob and plunder without engaging in wholesale slaughter, killing only those who offer active resistance, and quick to accept a surrender, the better to preserve more of the loot from a battle’s destruction. Baltor the Bearded is a fairly typical Black Pirate, brutal and ruthless, but only to a point.
Typical Ships and Resources.
Since air pirates don’t have the support of major populations like the governments of Arcadia, they have to go in for the simpler ship configurations. By no stretch of the imagination does this mean that these ships are not formidable, however. Since they can’t afford the heavy metal of Valua, and lack access to the hexagonal bracing techniques of the Nasr, air pirates go for lightweight sailing rigs that use a mix of moonstone buoyancy and thrusters for lift, and a mix of thrusters, hull sweeps, and sailing rigs for propulsion. There is nothing as fast as an air pirate ship sailing with the wind. This makes for speedy approach when executing an ambush, and a quick getaway. While their armaments aren’t as heavy as most military vessels, they make up for that by using their speed advantage to maneuver close in and pound a target ship at pointblank range. They then use that chaos to grapple and away boarding parties. Unlike Blue Rogues, who relish the opportunities for hand to hand combat with a skilled opponent that boarding actions provide, Black Pirates generally prefer to bombard their intended victim into submission so that the boarding phase is just a formality. Their are a few, however, that prefer to keep the bombardment to a minimum in order to avoid damaging any valuable cargo, and use boarding as their primary means of taking a ship down.
Since no ports welcome Black Pirates, they always operate out of secret bases. Unlike Blue Rogues who generally operate near a village populated by their families which offer support, Black Pirates are not generally what you’d call “family” men and women. A Black Pirate with a family is almost always a retired Black Pirate living in anonymity. Black Pirates fence their stolen goods with black market traders and merchants, and occasionally do enter legitimate ports incognito to sell off some of their more mundane and generic goods at market value. Sailor’s Island is a favorite for this, as it asks few questions of those who do not cause trouble, and has no dedicated military or town guard. However, even Sailor’s Island will not tolerate Black Pirates openly in the area, and there are always Blue Rogues, Valuan warships, and Nasr gunboats close about who can be quickly summoned for aid, and who will come to investigate any notable disturbance on their own.
Relationship with Other Factions
Other Black Pirates: Unlike Blue Rogues, there is no particular camaraderie between Black Pirates. Territorial and personality disputes are common among them on the rare occasions when they encounter one another. Still, they all share common foes in Valua and Nasr and rivals in the Blue Rogues, and they much prefer to spend their efforts plundering merchant traffic than to fighting profitless battles between each other. Temporary alliances have been known to occasionally spring up among them in order to take down “larger” prey. Fortunately for Arcadians, these alliances never last longer than the score, and are often doomed from the beginning by squabbling and greed anyway.
Nasr: While Nasr may cut the Blue Rogues some slack, they have exactly as much love for Black Pirates as the Valuans do. The main difference is that Nasr isn’t quite as ruthless as Valua, nor are its ships as far ranging, and that makes Nasr merchant vessels seem just slightly softer targets. This attitude does sometimes get them into trouble. Nasr Navy vessels have superior maneuverability in three dimensions, and their incendiary rounds are hell on the wooden hulled pirate vessels. A Black Pirate who underestimates the Nasr navy is a dead Black Pirate.
Valua: Valua hates all air pirates. Most air pirates hate them back. Unlike Blue Rogues who make great efforts to let the Valuan Armada know just how they feel, Black Pirates generally prefer to avoid the heavily armed warships. On the other hand, Valuan merchants who are found away from their overbearing military are plump targets. And of course, if a Black Pirate can catch one of the smaller Valuan warships by surprise, they often find the plunder to be worth their while.
Blue Rogues: These prissy pretty boys drive most Black Pirates straight up a wall. They strut around the skies in their flashy threads, flaunting their “code” and using it as an excuse to claim they’re better than the rest of their (Black) Pirate brethren even though they’re just as much thieves and killers as any Black Pirate. And the really, truly galling thing is that most of the people of Arcadia actually buy this absurd fantasy espoused by these strutting peacocks, and that gives them unfair access to legitimate ports and better prices for their plunder!!! At least the Valuans can see through them, for which many Black Pirates afford them a certain amount of grudging respect. Possibly even worse, Blue Rogues are quick to hunt Black Pirates for the bounties put out on them. Not only will The Sailor’s Guild not accept the posting of bounties for Blue Rogues, but since it doesn’t ask any questions beyond those needed to verify a takedown, Blue Rogues can even collect on Valuan posted bounties through them. It’s just not fair. Blue Rogue raiders are some of the few armed ships which some Black Pirates will go out of their way to attack. As raiding vessels themselves, Blue raiders generally have sufficient plunder aboard to be a profitable catch if they can be taken. However, since Blue Rogues relish such combat opportunities and are quite skilled at them, most Black Pirates quickly find attacking them to be a losing prospect unless they have the Blue Rouges heavily outgunned and outnumbered. This, of course, just galls them even more!