Saturday, January 22, 2011

Pirates! The Career of Captain Gatomalo, Part 2

I have recruited a spy in the court of Santiago.

August 1662: I resume my career after several months of vacation. A small crew of 25 men has heard my call and returned to Santiago to sign up with my barque, but I soon pick up 63 more in the tavern. Unfortunately, Spain still remains at peace with all of the surrounding nations, and Spain and England remain firmly in alliance. England and Holland are still at war, but I care not about their squabble. I have a treasure map for Panama, and news of my father awaits in Trinidad. My plan is to sail south from Santiago to Panama, collect the treasure, and then sail along the coast of South America to Trinidad. I will capture and plunder pirates as I find them and remain hopeful that Spain will soon be at war with someone.

December 1662: The Panama treasure--11,000 gold pieces--is in my hold, and my crew is happy. In Cartagena, I turn in two more pirates and am promoted to a Spanish Colonel, but the snotty merchants refuse to trade with me because I'm a "pirate." A difficult fight with Baron D'Valdez guts my crew so much I am unable to even spare a prize crew for his ship. I put in to Maracaibo for reinforcements and manage to seduce another governor's daughter to be my spy. I also buy a treasure map that depicts another location in the Bahamas.

January 1663: I've traveled to Trinidad for nothing. Count Oropesa left months ago for Cumana. I turn back west.

Aren't "skilled" and "able" the same thing?

February 1663: I find and defeat Oropesa in Cumana. The map he gives me to the plantation on which my father is being held is maddeningly unspecific; it could be any island in the Spanish Main. I need another piece. I resolve to sail north along the Lesser Antilles and ultimately to the Bahamas to get the treasure. I hope to get enough pirates along the way to earn favor with a governor and get more news of my father.

April 1663: France is at war with England. Great.

June 1663: I stumble upon the location of my father, in the Bahamas, just after finding buried treasure there. What serendipity! And, like my sister, my father has somehow come across a map to an incredible treasure. Its location is harder to determine than the last. It seems to be next to a lake on the north coast of somewhere--could be Cuba, Hispanola, South America, or Central America. The only way to tell is to sail the coasts. I have nothing else to do, and the haul last time was definitely worth it.

August 1663: The governor of Havana makes me an Admiral. How come only the Spanish care about captured pirates? I find out that the Marquis Porreno in Caracas knows about my lost mother. It'll be a while before I make it there.

"Well, back to the Spanish Main! I'll be back in two years or so."

October 1663: Months of fruitless sailing along the Mexican and Central American coastlines puts me back in Puerto Bello, the town I started in. I visit the governor and find that his daughter is a ravishing beauty. Impetuously, I propose marriage and she agrees! After a duel with her jealous suitor, my lovely black-haired beauty and I are wed. How can I fight the Spanish if I'm married to one of them? What have I done?

Take that, Pizarro!

December 1663: Off the coast of South America, just southwest of Caracas, I find the Inca treasure. Another 100,000 gold pieces are mine. In Caracas, things get busy. I defeat Marquis Porreno and get a map to my lost mother--another mysterious island. The governor gives me a mission to capture the pirate "Pegleg" off the coast of Cartagena. Meanwhile, I turn in two more pirates to him, and he's so giddy that he makes me a Baron! I am now both married and landed nobility among my enemies, and all because no nation dare engage them in war. The absurdity makes me scream.

January 1664: You know what? Sod the Dutch. They have every reason to hate the Spanish, and yet they pussyfoot around their natural enemies and make war on the English instead. They will pay for their cowardice, and I will get rewards from England for their suffering. I capture a Dutch sloop on my way past Curacao. When I return, I will sack this miserable town.

March 1664: I capture Pegleg off Cartagena and make my way back to Curacao, collecting men and ships on the way. Curacao has 270 soliders, and I need to be equal to the task of invading the city. My crew is unhappy with the increased staffing and their reduced shares, although they will see the rate climb soon enough.

April 1664: In the waters off Curacao, I capture a few Dutch ships to increase my cargo capacity. Then it's time to strike! Opting for a land battle, I approach the city from the north. As expected, the garrison marches out to meet me. After some volleys with their ships and battalions, my men scale the fort's walls. When my duel with the fort's commander begins, we are nearly matched in men, but he is no match for my blade. Within a minute, he has surrendered, and the city is mine. Maybe now that they have been sacked by a Spanish Baron, they will see the error of their ways.

Unfortunately, my quick victory means that I am left with a large, unhappy crew. I admit I'm not as quick to win the next few battles as I could be. Soon the contingent is smaller and pleased again.

June 1664: My expectations of rewards from the English were well-founded. I am made an Ensign and given 300 acres of land in Barbados. Unfortunately, my crew is unhappy again. I am forced to divide up the plunder. The crew is pleased with their portions.

Plundering St. Martin.

1665: My third expedition. My ploy against Curacao worked, and Spain is now at war with Holland. Actually, everyone is at war with Holland, the poor bastards. Unfortunately, the Dutch want nothing to do with me, so the war avails me not, and Spain remains a firm ally of my new patrons, the English. I sack both St. Martin and St. Eustatius in sea battles. My continuing piracy against Holland--which feels like shooting fish in a barrel--coupled with my pirate hunting has made me a Spanish Duke, an English Admiral, and a French Colonel.

1666: I turn 31 this year, and my health is starting to fail. It is "fair" for now, but who knows how many more wounds I can take? Sword fights are getting harder. I realize now that I will never have vengeance on Spain. I have become Spain. A future in Puerto Bello with my lovely wife, titles, gold, and land is starting to sound attractive.

After several years of searching, I finally had enough map pieces to find my mother. I discover her on a plantation north of Tortuga. Like my sister and father before her, she has a map to lost Inca treasure, but it depicts a location so generic--on the easternmost point of any number of islands--that at first I despair of ever finding it. But suddenly I spot the location on Jamaica near Port Royale. A third treasure of 100,000 gold is mine! My crew is getting ornery despite the gold, and so I divide up the plunder and give myself a promotion to journeyman.

November 1666: Treachery! I attempt to put into port at Santiago to sell some captured pirate vessels when the traitors fire on me! A Spanish duke! Resolved to sneak into town and have words with the governor, I am spotted by a town guard, who engages me in a duel. I beat him, of course, but I am forced to flee like a coward. All my hatred for the Spanish resurfaces. I may have to live among them, but I will humiliate them before I retire.

December 1, 1666: I successfully sneak into Santiago and meet with the governor's daughter, my spy. She tells me that the treasure fleet is in Puerto Bello. If it follows its usual pattern, it will leave soon for Cartagena, then far to the northeast to Campeche. I should be able to intercept the fleet before Campeche, or between Campeche and Havana. I begin collecting crew and ships.

January 6, 1667: I arrive in Campeche to find the treasure fleet in town! A dilemma awaits me. There are 250 soldiers in town; my party consists of 224. Do I sack the town and take the entire fleet, or do I wait until it leaves and pick off the galleons one-by-one with my superior seamanship?

The land battle is a disaster. I forget to account for the extra soldiers supplied by the treasure fleet itself. By the time my men reach the walls, I have only 99 crew against a garrison of 355. My swordmanship skills are strong, but they avail me not. I am wounded, captured and imprisoned. Damn my rashness! Damn the Spanish!

December 19, 1667: Released from prison after a year, I limp my way back to Puerto Bello and my wife, and I retire from this insane life of politics and slaughter. My fortune is thus:

  • I achieved the title of Spanish Duke, English Admiral, and French Admiral, making me an extremely important member of my community.
  • I accumulated the sum of 41,220 gold pieces and 2,150 acres of land during my career, making me a rather wealthy man.
  • My exploits on the high seas leave me with a reputation as a "quiet and cautious captain." (Huh?)
  • I retired from privateering at age 32. My bride is a lovely and cheerful girl. I succeeded in rescuing 3 members of my family. I was wounded 1 time in the course of my career. I become a contented and cheerful man.
  • My pirating days are at an end. As a result of my seafaring exploits, I become a merchant captain, with 50/100 pirate points.

Ah, but I can fantasize about a life in which I did not give in to my hatred--in which I retired before brashly attacking Campeche and the treasure fleet. In such a life, my reputation is of a "competent and active" captain, I become a "cheerful and happy" man, and I wile away my days as a sugar planter. So, yeah, it didn't turn out so bad the way it was.

Avast! Tomorrow I shall pour myself a GIMLET and reflect more on the merits of my pirating days, as well as a career I had 'afore pirating, exploring dank caverns in search of treasure.


  1. Lol, this is insanely amusing. You can write a great novel with this stuff.

  2. Nice playthrough!
    I can't wait for the GIMLET.

  3. An enjoyable set of posts and another game to add to my "to play" list

  4. Addict, I am an early riser, and I want you to know how unaccountably fun it is to wake up, pour a cup of coffee, and find a post from the night before waiting for me. As you've been making your way through this remarkable range of games, I've had the thought of what might make an interesting "special topics" post sometime in the future: real-time vs. turn-based gameplay. (I have been following you from the beginning, and it seems like there's a mix of the two in these early days; I don't recall you posting on this specific subject.) It would be great to hear your take!

  5. For some reason I REALLY like the concept of someone setting out for revenge and then COMPLETELY ACCIDENTALLY becoming extremely respected and well-viewed by the ones they set out for revenge against in the first place to the point where revenge just isn't worth it anymore.

  6. Thanks for the positive feedback, everyone.

    Kevin, I will take your suggestion. I've added it to my list of ideas, and I'll probably write it when I get to a game that exemplifies one or the other.

    Zink, that was amusing to me, too. When I started off, I really thought I was going to beat the hell out of the Spanish and rise in the ranks of every other nation. My first promotion was an accident, and then since no one was at war with the Spanish, I figured why turn 3/4 of the Caribbean against me for nothing? It's a great example of how, no matter what you want to do, you have to adapt your plans to the things that happen externally in the game.

  7. I am curious, Why did the spanish turn on you when tried to make port in Santiago? Is that something you did to keep the story happening?

  8. Lame, that was actually a problem throughout the entire game. I don't remember it being an issue when I played "Pirates!" as a young lad; I mean, nations that were "hostile" to you always fired on you, and so did ones you'd recently attacked, regardless of your rank, but throughout this game, I had problems sailing in to the wealthier ports. I took to going ashore nearby and marching into town because if they fire on you when you march in, you don't lose any ships.

    Anyway, the time I wrote about was the only time I was unable to sneak in on the first try--I guess I was too "infamous" by then. So while I didn't do it deliberately for the story, I seized on it as an excuse to attack the treasure fleet, since I think tit's something that every Pirates! player ought to try once.

  9. "I think tit's"
    Freudian slip there? :-)

  10. Nice of Gatomalo (Badcat?) of sparing Maracaibo instead of plundering it like other certain pirates did. My ancestors are grateful for that.

  11. Around 2010 I replayed Pirates! while in a hospital waiting room for several hours. For kicks, I stitched together a full map of the Caribbean from screen shots. It makes finding locations of relatives and treasure trivial.

  12. I've been working my way through the archive (I think I was brought here via Obscuritory) and, given the comments here look unusually sparse, I just want to say I really enjoyed the approach you took these two posts (and also the NetHack "Five Adventurers, Five Fates" one).

    1. Thanks, Alicia. I didn't have much of a following when this was posted, so there weren't as many people commenting on each entry. Even though there's no way to justify Pirates! as an RPG, I had a lot of fun playing it.


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