Creating a Shackles Letter of Marque

Skull & Shackles

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In AP 57, Tempest Rising, the Hurricane King awards the players a Marque proving their status as Free Captains and outlining their authority to pirate in the area.

This seems like an important piece of document for the campaign and I'd love to create a handout that seems authentic and fitting to the AP as far as how it is written.

Does anyone have any suggestions of a Marque right-up I could put down on paper or has anyone already created one of these for their players and could offer some tips?

Game Well!

Otoh i suspect they are about as useful as a troglodyte tribe writing a writ of friendship to all troglodytes. Chances are the next tribe will try to eat you anyway :D

Its a dog eat dog world.

Maybe gets you out of being harrassed and robbed at the port. Maybe.

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I see the Shackles Letter of Marque as either a deliberate tongue-in-cheek statement to other nations (as if a pirate needs anyone's authority to relieve a ship of plunder - the PCs Raid the Fever Sea all through Part 2 without a Letter of Marque, after all) or as a Get Out of a Fleecing Free card: Given all the skullduggery involved in Shackles life, it's not surprising that not everything is as it appears. I get the impression life is cheap in the Shackles and consequently there is a consistent turn around in the who's who in the zoo. Outside of the Shackles, it's of dubious use as it would only likely guarantee arrest, hence the efforts to keep them secret.

If you're a pirate lord in the Shackles and it appears some up-and-coming crew, not knowing any better, is trying to board your vessel to commit piracy upon you, the Letter may grant you more options. Sure you can tough it out and eventually send them packing. But maybe you're busy and would rather conserve your resources to use against a fatter merchant. You can parley with the other captain long enough to whip out your secret Dude, I'm a Better Pirate Than You card (the Shackles Letter of Marque). That allows the upstart to realize who exactly he is dealing with so he can reconsider his bold stunt. Both pirates can come to terms without profitless battle. After all, why squander crew against a ship with no plunder?

The above I guess more in conversation with Ikki as it in no way addresses your request, Singer. I'm all for more Shackles player hand-outs so all the power to you. I'm too lazy for wording right now. Good luck!

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Letters of Marque in historical use were a political document. It granted a thin layer of authority to your actions. Priviteers if caught or pursued by the authorities of their own country would flash the letter to get off the hook. For other countries that want to act against privateers have to consider that they are not just dealing with one pirate ship but a pirate ship with backing who presented the letter of Marque. So in the shackles context a letter of marque would be part of your reputation. Your not just a pirate but a pirate lord, its kinda like being a "made man" in organized crime. To the countries that might want to send pirate chasers after infamous pirates now have to add to their consideration that this pirate has clout and it may have repurcussions.

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Thank you for the comments and advice. =)

I worked up a lovely little Marque on parchment complete with Bonefist's sigil in gold, blood red ink and a real wax seal to hold the envelope together. I analyzed some authentic Marques and altered the words to fit the setting. It turned out to be a great hand out and the players clutched it like it was the real deal tonight. All in all, I was very happy with the end results despite the time I put into piecing it together.

+1 for caring enough to make handout props for your players. I may follow your example as we approach that milestone in the AP.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010

Any chance of a photo, or even a copy of the text you used? :-)

I just ordered some parchment papers and i will use some bloodred ink to write with a feahter :) Can you give us an example of your text? I really like to get some more inpiration


Awesome! I'm planning on writing up text for a letter, too. It'll basically be a humorous list of all the countries that are considered legitimate targets of attack -- which is all of them, except Sargava.


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Here's my text, currently:

To all who shall see these presents, greetings:

Be it known that in pursuance of the decree of Kerdak Bonefist, Hurricane King of the Shackles, Lord of the Freehold of Port Peril, Commodore of the Fever Sea, Chairman of the Pirate Council, Captain of the Filthy Lucre, and Scourge of the Seven Seas, that this commission has been granted and presented to _______, _________, ________, and _______, captain and officers of the Free Ship _______.

The persons named above, and all crew under their command, as well as any vessels in their possession, are hereby granted the right to subdue, seize, and take any vessel, armed or unarmed, public or private, belonging to the countries, nations, and tribes with whom a state of war currently exists between themselves and the lawful and rightly constituted government of the Shackles, or any sub-government of any of the Shackles Islands, or any of the lawfully acknowledged Free Captains of the Shackles.

At the time of this commission, these countries include, but may not necessarily be limited to:

Absalom, Andoran, Bloodcove, Chauxen, Cheliax, Dehrukani, Droon, Geb, Hermea, Holomog, Jalmeray, Katapesh, The Kelesh Empire, Korvosa, The Linnorm Kingdoms, Lirgen, Magnimar, Mediogalti Island, The Mordant Spire, Nex, Nidal, Nurvatchta, Osirion, Qadira, Rahadoum, Riddleport, Senghor, Taldor, The Terwa Lordships, Thuvia, Tirakawhan, Yamasa, and all of their lieges, suzerains, allies, tributaries, vassals, servitors, agents, licensed companies, and private citizens.

This commission shall also apply to any portions or inhabitants of the Shackles found to be in rebellion from the lawful rule of the Hurricane King and the Pirate Council, or any organization, government, or nation not currently under a negotiated settlement with the Pirate Council, and the inhabitants and rulers of any lands, domains, or settlements currently unknown to the Government of the Shackles.

And also the right to raid the settlements and habitations of said countries, nations, and tribes, to seize their goods, effects, and persons, and to dispose of all such captured property in such a way as the commissioned holders deem fitting.

This commission to continue in force until such time as it is revoked by the Hurricane King of the Shackles.

Given under the hand and seal of Kerdak Bonefist, Hurricane King, on the _____ day of _____, in the year _______ Absalom Reckoning.

It's based on this version of an American Letter of Marque from 1812.

Hi all! I haven't looked in on this post in a few weeks so I apologize for no replies. The players framed their marque and it resides now in glass at our local gaming store. lol. I'll get my hands on it this Thurs and take a few pics.

Trinite that rocks!!

1- cool historical fun tie in.
2- when I googled it there is apparently yahos out there that are pointing out that the right to grant letters of marque still exist in the constitution. LOL. I find that funny.

Singer wrote:
Hi all! I haven't looked in on this post in a few weeks so I apologize for no replies. The players framed their marque and it resides now in glass at our local gaming store. lol. I'll get my hands on it this Thurs and take a few pics.

Cool, definitely interested to see it.

Def. would like to see this thing. Always nice to have another "authentic" trophy in the game room.

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Partially inspired by this thread, I created a Letter of Marque fro my campaign: Link

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