It's 1719 in the West Indies. The Caribbean Sea is boiling in the war and there is no quiet place ashore or at sea. Besides the political turmoil which leads the colonies at each other's throats, pirates and privateers are on the prowl. Come spend some time with us BEFORE THE MAST, on any ship you like!
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played by Secar
The Jamaican Governor's secretary, besides being a well researched character, has started the first thread
in January 1720 - somebody had to start our second volume!
Taking into account that the writer's mother tongue is not English, even more deserved congratulations!
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Character Types Encouraged Before The Mast
fighting the Spanish Armada since Sir Walter Raleigh's time
Group: Fleet Admiral
Member No.: 2
Joined: 19-July 10
You might have noticed, looking around, that we have three types of characters in our crew manifest and masterlist. This is because we have a few different kinds of characters. They are:
- main characters, which are the first ones you have when joining us, and who are the most developed and – usually – the most active.
- temporary characters, which are the secondary option for players who have had at least one main character accepted. These characters are as active as needed by the story. Sometimes they occupy less-major roles in the story, providing background support and flavor to specific plotlines, and they may happen to appear in limited settings (this is why civilians are encouraged as temporary characters). Sometimes they might be the most active ones for a period of time – well, it depends only on the needs of the story.
- non-player characters, or NPCs, are minor characters used recurrently in more than one thread as a sort of background character to contribute to moving the story on or characters created for a specific plot and who isn’t likely to appear again in another thread. More details, if needed, after you join "Before the Mast" with your own characters, can be found here. Unlike the previous two character types, which belong to specific players, NPCs are available to be played by anyone, and do not have their own character account. Anyone can invent an NPC in their posts.
Not sure what kind of character you want to play? Now, everybody knows that we focus on seafaring. Most of our storylines involve life and work aboard the ships. So we need Navy officers, seamen, privateers and pirates most, but civilians are needed sometimes too.
Herebelow is a list of our possible character types, and I thank Alcia
for the idea of writing them in character and for the additional information to include.
Captain of the "Rising Sun"
Group: Pirate Admin
Member No.: 6
Joined: 31-July 10
| So... do you wanna be a pirate?
You made the right choice. Our pirate ship, one of the many pirate vessels that are on the prowl in these waters, is always looking for crew. We prefer those who have a skill or another… but we have taken youngsters and landmen too. We need able seamen, good fighters, some higher skilled people if we can take them from the boarded ships or among the craftsmen who had to abandon their homes for a reason or another - and most of all, men who fear neither God, nor the Devil nor the allied Navies in a fight.
Unlike most pirate ships, we accept a few women aboard too (temporary characters only), because the captain and the quartermaster are less superstitious. But those who come aboard are no princesses, only as hardworking as their male crewmates, and they have to prove themselves sea-worthy deckhands. If some people tell, in ports, drunken stories about pirate queens and mighty lady captains, we know they are just stories. Many sailors are fiercely superstitious regarding the presence of women on ships, and while yes, there were female pirates in history and we are a testimony of this, we know that they were the exception and not the rule.
Our single allegiance is to our crew, our ship and to the articles. We, the "gentlemen of fortune" as we prefer to be called, are much freer in our decisions that anybody else in our times (the first democracy in the modern world was Libertalia
, a pirate-founded one). There might be scoundrels among us, but not as many as our enemies believe – only as many as you can find aboard a Navy ship or a merchant ship. Most of us are loyal to our people, and proud to have forged a name for ourselves by our own efforts, unlike in the Navy, where one can get promoted based on family connections and wealth.
We have a captain and officers and all that... but what counts is the vote of the council
, even for the route to take for a new prey. Every sailor has the same right and his vote counts the same and only if a majority decides on something, it becomes law. If the captain is abusive, incompetent or merely unlucky, he can be demoted based on the Council’s vote, so he has to prove himself continuously.
The council draws up our law, the Articles of Agreement
. They can be changed only by the council, on majority vote, according to the situation. Any infringement of the Articles leads to punishment, if the quartermaster
agrees. Outside battles, he is the highest authority on board, not the captain, who commands the ship during an encounter with an enemy vessel.
Speaking of battles, yes, there is always a risk at sea… and to those the Navy and merchant ships have to face, we have one more – a short drop and a sudden stop
, also known as the hempen jig
, may God forbid it for us and our friends! But what is earned without effort in life? Unlike for those above mentioned, if successful, each sailor receives an equal share of the loot, and good food and enough liquor – with bonuses, according to the Articles, for those who see first the prize and who board first the prize.
The ones who get crippled in fight, are left ashore with the means to provide for themselves – if they are wise in spending their money. Besides, you might have a matelot
to take care of you… or to inherit your earthly goods after you meet Davy Jones. Not all the matelots are sharing each other’s beds, this is merely an administrative arrangement and some of them are only sworn brothers; but if a male lover floats your boat, this is an opportunity you have only here – on any of the God-fearing islands, this is a hanging offence.
There are ports where we are welcome to sell our goods at good prices
. Also, most women like a gallant lover, lavishing them with presents a landlubber usually can’t… As you see, there are plenty of happy moments in a pirate’s life, so look at the ship roster
and join us today for a merry, albeit occasionally too short life!
Group: French Navy Admin
Member No.: 9
Joined: 31-July 10
| Do you want to join the Navy, uphold the law and fight for your King and country?
Each of the two allied Navy vessels, the French and the British one, need crew
. Of course, I am the French Navy captain, so I am talking first of all to my proud co-nationals. But if you are British, our allies will be glad to receive you…
The commissioned officers must be second or third sons of noble families, well schooled and wealthy enough to be able to buy their commissions. Or at least with high acquaintances…
There are two way for a commoner to end up on a Navy vessel, either by choice... or by a press gang
. Soldiers are welcomed too, because this is what marines are – soldiers deployed aboard a ship, with their own non-commissioned and commissioned officers. And, for all the men, discipline is firm and punishment is swift on board of a warship. There are various things that are forbidden
, but they all have a deeper reason and are upheld firmly by everybody who values the ship and her readiness for battle. We are the armed hands of our King in this godless, lawless part of the world and have to get rid our seas of the Dons as well as the pirate scourge.
If you are good, you will be remarked and promoted to petty officer, then later to warrant officer – this, of course, if you have some schooling too. A promotion from able seaman to petty officer needs a man to be able to read, write and cipher, exactly what a primary school gives a man… Anyway, these are the ranks on a good Navy vessel
. You better learn them by heart to avoid any "starting" by the boatswain for not showing the appropriate respect to your betters.
But if you adhere to the rules and obey your orders, you can rest assured that we take care of the sailors. We have decent rations of food (not saying anything about quality, though! Sometimes it's just hard tack and salty pork) and a fixed ration of rum as long as you don't misbehave. The pay is not high... but at least you are employed and earning your bread - besides, there are prize money too in the Navy, after good catches! Given that the French and British Navies are allied now, you will get shore leave in Port de Paix, Kingston or Nassau - and, as the song says, every girl likes a sailor!
Please see the available positions on the ship roster
, join the Navy and fight for the King and Country! (If there is a position you want and which is not mentioned at all in the ship roster, PM the staff and we’ll discuss about it).
Member No.: 12
Joined: 1-August 10
KEVIN PRICE, privateer, acting quartermaster
If you have grown your sea legs already, but being a pirate or a stuffed Navy isn’t to your liking, then join the privateers!
A privateer is a private ship authorized by a government to attack the enemy ships during wartime. Usually merchant ships become privateers in wartime. The proceeds would be distributed among the ship owner, the captain and crew. Conditions on board vary from like on merchant ships towards pirate ones. Being privately owned and run, privateers don’t take orders from the Naval command, but they co-operate with the Navy, fighting for the crown and country, against the same enemies.
The discipline is not as harsh as in the Navy and the prize money is better and more equally split - and aboard the "Twilight Shark", which is more democratically run, it applies more than aboard ships having an owner or a few owners somewhere ashore.
We also have to obey our own Codex, slightly different than the pirates', and our ship has the same needs
like a pirate (or merchant) one.
Joining us is the right choice, because you can plunder all the enemy galleons full of gold, silk and spices, while being protected by a letter of marque
signed by the British King. Unlike pirates, we are quite open about what we do and we are considered heroes by the British nation and well received in all allied ports. The allied forces see us as legitimate partners in the war, while the Spanish enemies consider us pirates.
Only that the pirates are our enemies too. The Governor of Bahamas
, who had been a privateer like us before, has been entrusted with fighting piracy. He brought the King's pardon
for whom wants to give up pyracy, turn against their former Brethren and fight for the Crown. No, my crewmen and I have never been pirates, but now we are pirate hunters too, not only Spanish galleon hunters. Choose an available position on the ship roster
and join us in the adventure of your life!
Tavern keeper, Tortuga
Group: Civilian Admin
Member No.: 11
Joined: 31-July 10
| Do you want to remain a landlubber?
The possibilities for land-based characters include: nobles, merchants, shopkeepers, tradesmen, servants, slaves and ex-slaves. Black and Native American characters are warmly welcome. The most seen ethnicities in the Caribbean are: English, French, Spanish, Dutch.
Your social position, may it be a noble, a worker, a prostitute, an indentured servant or a runaway slave, determines what people you meet and how they treat you in return. A slave or indentured servant who would lack the necesary respect could be punished, a noblewoman bestowing her attention on somebody of lower class would cause a scandal...
We have a list of professions
for men and women in 1700s, for you to choose. If you think about our setting, there are a few aspects to take into consideration:
- We strongly encourage you to choose for your first character a ship-based one
– because this is where the most action is. Civilians are encouraged as second characters. Most players who have a land dwelling character, also play a character or more on the ships.
- The civilian census list
shows what professions are the existing characters. If there is a doctor/seamstress/ midwife/ etc. in one city, you might want either to choose another profession for your character, or another town/ island for your character of a certain profession.
- The nobility have less opportunities of interaction with commoners, so if you are set on making one, it should better be a secondary character, not your first one. Besides, a few noble people are NPCs
here, so you can play them in one thread or another if you wish, without owning them;
- If choosing a woman, please take into account that a woman of those times didn’t have the same opportunities, rights and access to professions and learning as a man.
Powerful men opposed the education of women. Past rudimentary reading and writing skills, girls were taught homemaking skills that were thought to be important in the colonial household such as sewing, cooking, and cleaning. It was thought improper and unnecessary to educate girls on the same level as their brothers. Girls in upper-class families however, had tutors or they were sent on to monastery schools where they were taught music, French and other skills thought to be pleasing to potential suitors, while several commoners worked outside of home, as servants, cooks, nannys or in various trades.
Female characters are welcome, provided they make sense within the context of the setting. If you have an idea for a female character but aren't sure about whether or not it would be realistic, PM a staff member to talk it over. Realistic female characters would likely be civilians, wives, daughters. Some might be society ladies, or some might be working class, running shops or other establishments. Still more might become prostitutes and barmaids.
A wild, unconventional girl, not obeying the social norms of the time, and who had fighting skills was an exception, and if her reputation was tainted by any gossips, she couldn’t get married. A couple going off unchaperoned would create a huge scandal. There have always been at least a few women who actually were ahead of their times, and these are more fun to write about, but the mouthy, independent heroine some people want to describe would not have survived long in 1700s. A character’s actions and beliefs must reflect not the values of contemporary times but the period in which they were living. Women worked subtlely from within their constraints and then pushing those constraints outward- they did not break a barrier, exactly, but they made the barrier around them bigger and more malleable.
Women usually married between 17-21 years old and had 6 to 14 children, not all surviving to adulthood. A man had complete power over the property and his wife. A married woman could not own property, file lawsuits, or participate in political life, even when widowed. The role of wives was to raise and nurture healthy children and support their husbands. Marriage was completely detached from love, focusing on economic purposes and an rising in the social hierarchy and mostly arranged by parents.This doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t choose the character type you like, as long as it fits the historical setting and it has opportunities to interact with the others!
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