The following is Part II of a five part series which aims to reveal the important details of the WSMG Society’s fourth MegaGame, Chaos on the Iron Sea.
The End of an Era
The year is 1719 and the Golden Age of Piracy, as it will one day be known, is coming to a bloody end.
Following many years of war, a number of uneasy peace treaties have been signed over the last 5 years between the major European monarchs dealing in trade and expansionism in the Caribbean. While these treaties are far from stable, the end of Queen Anne’s War meant the decommissioning of large quantities of ships and manpower from all factions. This ‘peace time’ left a large number of trained, idle and unpaid sailors and soldiers. The idea of privateering across ‘no-man’s oceans’ and making their own fortunes was a tempting one.
The years following saw a massive rise in piracy; both the number of pirates and the ferocity of their operations across the globe. While this was a good thing for pirates in the short term, it ultimately brought to the attention of the reigning powers of the world just what the buccaneer threat could become if it went unchecked.
In response to this boom of high seas piracy, European nations bolstered their own navies once more to offer greater protection for merchants and to hunt down pirates by means of a unified front. The excess of skilled sailors meant there was a large pool that could be recruited into national navies as well. By the year 1719, the Golden Age of Piracy is in its dying days.
The Black Noose Islands
Nestled away from the major trade routes connecting the Caribbean, Europe and Africa, the Black Noose Islands have historically been a safe port of call to travellers of all origins. With a bustling economy based on trade, and the coffers of local settlements boosted by unsavoury dealings with pirates over the past decades, the Black Noose Islands are quite a strong and financially stable corner of the world come 1719.
The four major ports that circle the islands – Botts Bay, Sanston, Bergen Cove and Sevor Point – began as small, beach side shanty towns in the early days of European expansionism in the region. Now, decades later, fire and blood and coin have forged these island paradises into civilised economic hubs for trade and tourism.
With such a fervent crackdown on high seas piracy by the major navies operating in the area, the past six months have seen the Black Noose Islands stand host to a large range of privateer vessels as they seek a safe haven from the coming inevitability that is the extinction of piracy.
Some come for the luxury of surplus – booze, companionship and revelry – while others come with desperate pleas (or inspiring words) in the hopes of rallying enough support to oppose the naval flags that are soon to be waving on the horizon.
The Iron Sea
The oceans surrounding the Black Noose Islands, formally part of the vast Caribbean Sea, have earned a nickname over the years – the Iron Sea. It is in these waters, after all, that some of the most gruelling naval battles between sovereignty and privateer have been fought. The ocean floor around the islands is dotted with wrecks and unsalvageable jetsam, long abandoned and rotting away with the ghosts of countless souls.
Some even go as far to suggest that the waters surrounding the islands are indeed cursed, haunted and watched over by the damned souls that were lost there, though such tales are usually spilled by retired sailors after a healthy dose of rum and tobacco.
Regardless of the truth behind these rumours, one thing is definite – something big is headed for the Iron Sea and no doubt their days of fire and blood are not yet done. Unknown to some, the future of the Black Noose Islands is teetering on the edge of a knife.