Anger Issues and Pirates

posted October 11, 2005 by Jer

JerI was playing "Yohoho Puzzle Pirates" the other night. If any of you out there would like to join me, my name is Ashe on the Midnight ocean, sailing as The Pirates of Splurd. I do so love that little game.

So, a bit of background for those who do not play. The world is a collection of islands. These islands have commerce and government that is entirely player-run. There are wars in this game that are actually disputes between actual groups of actual humans. The commerce of these islands, however, is based on the waterways. Players sail their ships, armed with cannons and hopefully a seasoned crew to ship good or steal goods from others. You can be honest or you can be treacherous - or you can be both in the same trip. Its grand. Within the game are several devices to encourage you to sail your ship from location to location - I suppose these are what other online RPGs would call quests, but they are much less formal. One such device is the existence of gems.

There are plenty of commodities that need shipping and trading, but gems are a rare and complicated find. The islands of the world are divided into eight archipelagos, each named after a gemstone. (Emerald, Diamond, Jet, etc.) Gems can actually be found anywhere, even foraged for free off of uninhabited islands. Gems are guaranteed to sell for 1000 Pieces of Eight (the standard monetary unit). There's a catch though. A gem can only be sold on the capitol island of the archipelago named after it.

The night in question, I found 4 jet gems. Another sailor had foraged them and didn't have the patience to ship them across half the world to sell them. I, however, was feeling audacious. I bought the gems at a fraction of their price and set out towards Xi island, capitol of the Jet Archipelago, where I would make a heavy profit.

The ship was manned by Myself, fellow Splurdagumi Q, a handful of quite talented pirates and a couple NPC pirates to fill in the blanks. The voyage didn't even start out well. Not five minutes in were we first attacked. The waters of Puzzle Pirates are dangerous. There are no limits to the Player vs Player, however random PVP really isn't that prevalent, as it's not always the most profitable activity. The real money lies with the NPC ships, which can be Merchants, Brigands or Navy. The danger, however, is that if you look tasty to the NPC brigands, they'll attack you. It is my theory that we must not have been flying our Jolly Rodger that night and instead bore a flag that said "WE ARE SHIPPING RARE AND BEAUTIFUL GEMSTONES!"

Everyone wanted my Gems. The night was filled with battle after battle. My crew was talented and fierce, and most of the sorties ended in victory. However, each time we lost, the filthy brigands would wrap their greasy fingers around my beloved stones. After half an hour, the first was gone.

Ten minutes later, a ship got a lucky strike on us, blasting us full of holes, coming aboard and stealing a second Gem. My crew was hurt, my ship in bad shape, but my anger was flared. I turned round the ship and re-engaged the pompous corsairs. My crew, albeit terrified, fought with my rage behind them, bringing us to a difficult and bloody victory. To my dismay, we searched their ship only to find no sign of the gem. They paid for it rightly in goods and money, but I turned them loose baring a scar that would not heal easily that night.

Onward we sailed, working furiously to repair the damage before the next attack. Over and over again we were engaged, only to fight our pursuers off, sometimes by the skin of our very teeth. My crew became weary, and as we pulled into port at Spring Island to restock supplies, my brave jobbing pirates needed to stay ashore. I paid them well, as our constant battles had filled our hull quite handsomely with swag and booty. But the night was not yet over for Q and myself. If you port your ship for the night with jewels in the hold, they will be stolen in the night. It is not a high probability, it is a certainty. We had to trek on into the lonely night sea, with naught but soulless NPC pirates to aid us.

The trek from Spring to Xi island was short. We did not expect we should have trouble. Our ship had been fully repaired and restocked at Spring, so we felt confident of the voyage ahead. Halfway to Hephestus Forge - the last Island before Xi, we were attacked upon the high sea. I could have avoided the fight, but the brigands looked no meaner than us, and evasive maneuvers would have dragged the mission out much later. I let them engage and readied the cannons. Their cannonballs flew wide as I blasted their ship once and grappled them for melee. To my shock and horror, these pirates were brutally talented fencers, and I watched as Q and my soulless crew fell one by one to their blades. I fought with every trick I had learned upon the seas, fighting with rage and greed for my precious cargo, but I could not fight three blades by myself, and I was defeated. Another of my Gems slipped from my grasp.

We set sail to get into another fight, and then another. Cannons blasted our hull, hooks grappled our deck, swords clashed again and again into the night. Anger filled me. Sheer rage propelled my hammer as I repaired our ship, growing insane with defence of my remaining black gem. The brigands hounded us, determined to squeeze that last drop of booty from our hull. We pillaged their valuables as we struck them down, but all of it was nothing to my last beautiful stone. Each battle slowed our progress, dragging our out journey. Again we were pursued, and again. Each time I saw a brigand ship upon the horizon, I spat venom and fire leaped from my eyes. There was but one Gem left, and it would be mine. So was it until the sweet sight of land appeared on the horizon. Xi island at last.

Exhausted, we pulled into port. I had sold the Gem before Q had divided our pillaged loot. The reward seemed so meager compared to the grand riches I set out to earn. I split the reward in half with Q, and retired from the seas for the night.

As the real world faded back, I started to realize how angry I was. I reflected upon the burning, vicious, murderous rage, and tried to figure out where it came from. How did this cute little pirate game wake such a monster? I've had such control over my anger for so long, has it just been building up all this time? Whatever it was, it felt DAMN good to let it out... and all because of one of the best, most under-appreciated online multiplayer RPGs ever. Dig that shit.