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WOLF PIRATES

OVERVIEW

In 1621 there are some 60+ Wolf Pirate ships, before Harrek's circumnavigation. Let's say that losses get replaced and by 1625, we have 60+ ships operating in the Choralinthor Bay, which comes out to about 3100+ Wolf Pirates. 

The average Wolf Pirate ship has on average 50 warrior-rowers, 1 captain, and 5 officers. Each ship has a small Dormal shrine and a protective spirit housed in the figurehead on the prow.

<For comparison purposes, this is comparable to the total number of pirates in the Caribbean during the Golden Age of Piracy and comparable to most of the Viking fleets that operated around the North Sea.>

Although they started in the Yggs Islands, by 1625 the Wolf Pirates are multi-ethnic, as soldiers, refugees, outlaws, and adventurers have joined Harrek's fleet. Yggs Islanders now form a relatively small minority of the Wolf Pirates. 

The lingua franca among the Wolf Pirates is a Theyalan creole made out of a simplified Ygg Islander with strong influences from Rathori and Jonating, Many Wolf Pirates also use Tradetalk. 

WOLF PIRATES NATIONAL ORIGIN 

No.  Origin             %

620 Yggs Islands 20%

620 other Fronelans 20%

155 Malkioni heretics 5%

310 Maniria 10%

310 Sartar 10%

310 Holy Country 10%

155 Teshnites 5%

310 Fonrit 10%

310 Other 10%

SOCIETY

The basic unit of social organization for the Wolf Pirates is the ship crew. Joining a ship's crew is an initiation into that community - the crew worships the spirit of their ship. Every crew elects its own captain and officers. Every Wolf Pirate is entitled to an equal vote when choosing their captain and officers; but once chosen, the captain and officers must be obeyed unless replaced or personally challenged. Every crew member gets an equal share of any plunder, except that the officers get two shares, and the captain three.

The Wolf Pirates welcome anyone into their society who is willing to live by their rules. Captives are offered this opportunity if they have the skills, and many folk seek them out when they are in a neutral port, or even raiding the mainland. Others take ship or boat and sail to Three-Step to join. 

Despite this, Harrek the Berserk is the unquestioned Sea-King. Although all have the right to challenge his decision, none dare contradict the savage demi-god. 

WARFARE

The Wolf Pirates do most of their fighting on land. In sea battles, they try to board enemy ships and use their superior numbers of warriors to overwhelm their victims. On land, the Wolf Pirates use a variety of arms and armor. Wealthy pirates often wear corselets of bronze and linen, or just out of boiled leather. They are famed for their horned or feathered helmets. They use javelins as distance weapons, and engage with sword and shield.

RELIGION

The most important cults of the Wolf Pirates is Orlanth (more than a third of all Wolf Pirates are initiates of Orlanth) and Ygg (about 20% of all Wolf Pirates are initiates of Ygg). The next most important cults are Dorma (more than 10% of all Wolf Pirates are initiates of the Sailing God) and Humakt (nearly 10% worship the God of War). Gods of lesser importance include Valind, various Sea Gods, Hrestol, Arkat, the Two Brothers, Abdamedric, and Tolat.

YGG

The North Wind

Ygg is a rapacius son of Vadrus, and brother of Valind. He is one of the Vadruding, the terrible sons of Vadrus. He raged across the land and water, bringing death and destruction in his wake. Ygg took many hostages from the sea gods until Neliomi submitted to him. Ygg plundered and pillaged the Western Lands and aided his brother the Winter God in his attempts to conquer the world.

Rune Spells: Increase Wind, Shield, and Sleet, and Wind Warp. He can command up to Medium Air Elementals. 

Ygg has a subcult (Wavebeater) that can summon and command enslaved Small and Medium Water Elementals.

Ygg is served by Rune Priests and is associated with Orlanth and Valind.

HISTORY

The Wolf Pirates originate on Yggs Islands, a small chain of forested islands off the northern coast of Fronela. They were visited by Dormal  in 1583, and the Islanders returned to the seas. The Yggs Islanders fought a long war with the Kingdom of Loksalm. 

About two dozen Wolf Pirate ships left Yggs Islands in 1598, and defeated the Loksalmi fleet. For a dozen years, these pirates plagued the West. Many settled on the island of Ginorth, in Old Seshnela.

In 1607, Gunda the Guilty, a Jonating warrior-woman became a Wolf Pirate ship captain, and within a few years, made herself one of the leading Wolf Pirate leaders.

In 1610, the Wolf Pirates settle on Three Step Isles, barren islands south of Kethaela that had been abandoned since the Dawn. This has became the main base of the Wolf Pirates.

In 1615, Harrek was chosen by the god Ygg to lead the Wolf Pirates and be their Sea-King. He led the Wolf Pirates  to raid the Genertela coast from Fronela to Prax, sailing as far abroad as Jrustela.

In 1621 Harrek led his Wolf Pirates on a three-year voyage around the Homeward Ocean, raiding Teshnos, Teleos, Font, Umathela, Jrustela, and Seshnela, before returning to Kethaela in early 1624. Surprisingly, he allied with several Kethaelan leaders to fight the Lunar Empire at Pennel Ford. Later that year, he received his reward and plundered the magical City of Wonders.

For the next several years, the Wolf Pirates raid Kethaela with impunity. The Kethaelans agree to follow Argrath of Sartar if the new Prince can get rid of Harrek and the Wolf Pirates. The Prince achieves this by allying with Harrek, and that year, half the Wolf Pirates follow Argrath over the Dragonspine into Tarsh. Although Harrek later quarrels with Argrath and leaves Dragon Pass altogether in 1631, many of the Wolf Pirates that followed Argrath into Dragon Pass remain.

NOTES

THREE-STEP ISLANDS

A substantial island-bound population has settled on Three Step Islands now. These are wives, concubines, and families of the pirates, as well as refugees, merchants, shop-keepers, and fishermen who make the pirates lives bearable upon the isle. There are even a few farmers and a large number of sheep-herders.

The only sizeable settlement is Skullport, which serves as the main port of operations for Harrek's fleet. Given that the Wolf Pirates themselves are transient, Skullport is normally populated largely by slaves capture by the Wolf Pirates, and by those foreign merchants (including Vadeli), shopkeepers, wine sellers, entertainers, and prostitutes who live of the pirate's plunder. It is estimated that there is at least one drinking house for every ten residents.

LEADERS OF THE WOLF PIRATES

Harrek is king of the Wolf Pirates. His authority is supreme and unquestioned. He is also a demigod, and doesn’t really care about administrative matters.

Gunda is the military brains behind the Wolf Pirates. She leads the battles, as Harrek just kills. 

Gold Gotti is the organizational brains behind the Wolf Pirates. He keeps the food and supplies flowing. He organizes the efficient plunder of everything.

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Can you provide basic info for anyone who'd like to have a Wolf Pirate/Ygg islander character (e.g. cultural skills, rune affinities, starting passions, etc.?) Would a Wolf Pirate PC have a starting passion of loyalty to their ship?

(or is that info being held on to for a future publication?)

Edited by Beoferret
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The Three Step Islands are explicitly populated with quite a lot of people who don't crew the Wolf Pirate ships. What's the proportion of non-pirate inhabitants to crew? We don't get a political map of the Three Step Islands, thus no population numbers.

What about the wolf pirates on Gothalos (northern Jrustela) and Ginorth off Kanthor's Forest in Seshnela? Gothalos is said to have 5k Yggs Islander inhabitants. We don't have a population number for Ginorth, but I would expect a similar numbers.

Both these island colonies have been visited by Harrek's fleet, and may have served as temporary base of operation, a place to retire to, and a place to recruit from.

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15 hours ago, Jeff said:

Ygg is a rapacius son of Vadrus, and brother of Valind. He is one of the Vadruding, the terrible sons of Vadrus. He raged across the land and water, bringing death and destruction in his wake. Ygg took many hostages from the sea gods until Neliomi submitted to him. Ygg plundered and pillaged the Western Lands and aided his brother the Winter God in his attempts to conquer the world.

 

Ooooh! 

So, fun fact, back when I was doing some minor fan writing about Ygg for my own edification, I considered making Ygg a direct son of Vadrus instead of a grandson by way of Valind (as other sources I've seen say), and I upgraded his marriage from a local sea nymph or something (I forget her name) to Neliomi itself (who I called Nela locally, but that's beside the point). My rationale was basically that Ygg would be a more prestigious and central deity from the perspective of his worshippers as opposed to the more remote and minor role he plays in Theyalan Orlanthi mythology.

So cool to see this also happen from Chaosium! Neat! 

(Now to finish that fanfic of how Ygg raided the Underworld and stole back the Sun...)

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2 minutes ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

Ooooh! 

So, fun fact, back when I was doing some minor fan writing about Ygg for my own edification, I considered making Ygg a direct son of Vadrus instead of a grandson by way of Valind (as other sources I've seen say), and I upgraded his marriage from a local sea nymph or something (I forget her name) to Neliomi itself (who I called Nela locally, but that's beside the point). My rationale was basically that Ygg would be a more prestigious and central deity from the perspective of his worshippers as opposed to the more remote and minor role he plays in Theyalan Orlanthi mythology.

So cool to see this also happen from Chaosium! Neat! 

(Now to finish that fanfic of how Ygg raided the Underworld and stole back the Sun...)

I doubt the Theyalans knew him as anything other than "another Vadrudi" until the Wolf Pirates came on to the scene. Given that Orlanth is now the biggest cult among the Wolf Pirates, Ygg is clearly an important nephew of the Storm King. 

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How do the pirates maintain worship to Orlanth, Humakt and other gods? Do they carry small shrines on their ships? Have they stablished temples on the Three Steps Islands? Do they plunder and desecrate any temples on the coasts they raid? Are the ship spirits they worship like wyters?

I'm interested because I'm playing a pirate in RQ. In a Pamaltelan campaign, but even so. 😋

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9 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

Ooooh! 

So, fun fact, back when I was doing some minor fan writing about Ygg for my own edification, I considered making Ygg a direct son of Vadrus instead of a grandson by way of Valind (as other sources I've seen say),

Odayla has been named a brother of Orlanth at times, too, while at other times he is ranked as a son.

 

9 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

and I upgraded his marriage from a local sea nymph or something (I forget her name) to Neliomi itself (who I called Nela locally, but that's beside the point).

Nelarinna - no need to change the name.

I use the male pronoun for Neliom, but with watery beings that is mainly a convention, not a biological necessity.

Storm god and sea nymph makes the Ygg Islanders quite similar to Malkion. Aerlit flew with the Vadrudi, too, and Warera is another descendant of the Neliomi Wartain sea tribe.

 

9 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

My rationale was basically that Ygg would be a more prestigious and central deity from the perspective of his worshippers as opposed to the more remote and minor role he plays in Theyalan Orlanthi mythology.

Compare Odayla's role in Sylila. There the Sky Bear is the primary storm god, their cognate of Orlanth though not sharing all of Orlanth's feats.

In Maniria, the boar is taking a similar role. Compare the ancestor of the Harandings, son-in-law of another Orlanthson king and rival to Vingkotling sovereignty.

 

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On 10/22/2020 at 8:25 PM, Jeff said:

The average Wolf Pirate ship has on average 50 warrior-rowers, 1 captain, and 5 officers. Each ship has a small Dormal shrine and a protective spirit housed in the figurehead on the prow.

 

Rune Spells: Increase Wind, Shield, and Sleet, and Wind Warp. He can command up to Medium Air Elementals.

Isn't that too few worshippers for a shrine? And for a wyter?

Don't they have Windwalk anymore?

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32 minutes ago, Brootse said:

Isn't that too few worshippers for a shrine? And for a wyter?

Don't they have Windwalk anymore?

Anymore? There's never been an official writeup of Yggs before.

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2 hours ago, Runeblogger said:

How do the pirates maintain worship to Orlanth, Humakt and other gods? Do they carry small shrines on their ships? Have they stablished temples on the Three Steps Islands? Do they plunder and desecrate any temples on the coasts they raid? Are the ship spirits they worship like wyters?

I'm interested because I'm playing a pirate in RQ. In a Pamaltelan campaign, but even so. 😋

They carry shrines, initiates of several ships flock to priest to perform rites. They have temples on Three Steps Islands as well. The rarely sack co-religionists temples, but that is easy enough to avoid doing. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

This is interesting information - and food for thought. Though for me, I wonder if Gloranthan piracy, especially in the Holy Country, would be more akin to that found in the Mediterranean during the Classical period? But then, reports for the time seem to indicate that every other headland concealed a lurking pentekonter or hemolina. :)* Pirate fleets in the ancient times could reach great numbers - up to several hundred vessels - until Pompey's campaign in the first century BCE.

One of my professors pointed out that, from the point of view of the Trojans, the Hellens were the biggest pirate fleet ever seen...  He also said, figuring out if a settlement was 'piratical' was pretty much impossible from the archaeological record unless you found something "really nifty."  But every fishing village could turn pirate and probably did, when opportunity arose.  Which meant the various city states and polities would create leagues and construct pirate-hunting ships as a matter of course...  And these might often be little better than pirates themselves, depending on the polity.

Sixty ships seems small, to be honest. That said, I am not really sure where we are in the evolution of sea-faring around that coast.

From a forest by the sea without pirates, I hope

- V

* i just realized my love for "Turtletaub's" Wine Dark Sea is showing again.

Edited by Voriof
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