The Golden Prize is a Brigantine. This shallow-draft, two-mast brigand’s ship provided great maneuverability and speed from its various square and fore/aft-rigged sail possibilities. Longer, heavier, roomier, and better manned than the smaller sloops and schooners, it was usually the first choice for prolonged battles instead of quick hits. 70-80 foot length, 125-150 tons, 100+ men, 12 guns.
About the design: The larger cargo area combined with moderate firepower meant the versatile brigantine also saw widespread use as a trade ship. (Most pirate ships were trade ships before they were taken by pirates)It was valued in the Mediterranean, where its earlier versions sometimes included oars that were better for diminished winds.
Her Colors are a gold skull on a black field; a variation on the classic pirate colors.
The Ship was given a Old Rune Mark on the bow. The mark allows the ship to travel to places where "no man has gone before". (This is actually a misnomer. People have gone there before, travelers there are just few and far between.) The ship can sometimes find currents and winds from other places and travel with great speed because of this magic.
This is set up for the Ocean. The ship could be changed to a Skyship or another type of large vessel without a problem.
The Reputation and Tales
The Golden Prize is a freebooter. She is normally a pirate, but sometimes she does somewhat honest work (and occasional good works too). The Captain and crew have traditionally been more about the adventure than the gold, though nobody minds having enough gold. This tradition started under the previous two captains and has continued on under the current.
While they do quite a bit of pirating, they will help missionaries, rescue people adrift, depose tyranical island kings, sink slavers while saving the slaves, and generally do right by people (asides from a bit of honest piracy). This Pirate with a Heart reputation makes the Golden Prize the only pirat…errrr freebooting trader ship allowed in ports that are normally closed to pirates.
The tales told about this ship and what it has encountered seem quite "tall", if you catch the drift. They have encountered, Gods, Devils, Clockwork monsters, Krackens, sailed to other worlds through the Lost Fog and The Astral Sea, seen the end of the realm, fought against Kargans, The Dylori, and a host of others. Yet the crew will swear up and down, and upon their mother’s graves, that they are all (mostly) true. It is the thing of legends.
This be a strange ship, even on the waters of the Liquid Sky (The Blue Waters of the Center Ocean, see Palordi). They are Freebooters in the extreme.
Her current Captain won her in a card game from the previous Captain. He too was a man of honor and tarnished nobility, much like the current Captain. The game was a private affair between the two. After the game, the Captain Spears came out and declared the winner was the New Captain. Much of the crew stayed on under the New Captain.
Though, nobody on the current crew knows, this was how Captain Spears became Ships Captain from the previous Captain Roberts.
The Crew tends to be Threllian (1) ex-navy. These are men who love the sea and are kind to their country too. They also have good skills drilled into them and some degree of discipline. For pirates, they tend to be honorable, polite, and even vaguely honest. Again, adjusted for men who be pirates. It is a mark of honor to be accepted into the fold of the Golden Prize.
The Secret is known by the Captain’s circle. (And a few of the crew know it too, as that is why they signed on). Most of the crew would not be too upset if they knew it, but it would spell their doom as pirates.
The Golden Prize is an ship of the Trellian government. They are technically privateers, pirates in the employ of a government.However they can not let their status be known as the Brotherhood of the Pirate Skull (i.e. all established pirates) would hunt them down and send them to the bottom. The Brotherhood is quite clear that no pirate work for a landing government or crown.
So they function as a pirate, trying to perform "orders recieved by various means", without seeming as an agent of the crown. All the while they are outlaws, hunted by the very government that they are supporting.
Their status as pirates gives them the freedom to do things that would be cause of war if an regular navy ship attempted it. Their unconventional means of accomplishing things (as the Navy is very "by the book") increases their success rate at other missions as well. So by all means, they tend to be considered Pirates or Freebooters with a heart.
Only four or so people know of the Golden Prize’s status. Three are in the Navy Command, the fourth is the Crowns Intelligencer. Others know there are agents in the Waters of the Liquid Sky, but know not who they are.
While they try to avoid to prey on Trellian ships, they do it upon occasion. It is good for their cover. (They tend to be gentle with these ships though, and sometimes they even secretly return most of the gold or donate it to an orphanage). They are even lightly hunted by The Navy as well. They are heavily hunted by the Kargans and Dylori forces.
The Captain is always an ex-Trellian captain who was brilliant, loyal, but too maverick for the Trellian navy. Rather than bust them out of the service and lose a good captain, they are given a unique career opportunity. An easily set up "misconduct charge" or a quiet retirement or some shrouded incident at court, and you have a captain of skill drummed out of the Navy.
Many of the Ship’s Circle (what would be known as senior officers) are somewhat associated with the Trellians. They are happy to assist the Captain.
A few men under the decks were navy men that were good men, but had trouble fitting the Navy Mold. Through various means they were given suggestions to do certain things and found their way to the Golden Prize.
The notables in the crew are listed in the scroll below. I will add a few more as I work them out, but these first five should serve.
This submission was inspired by an "inspired" example in one of my articles 1800. They are a great set of characters. As I said before, With one or two quick decisions, I had a full crew, with a deep history, in a fraction of the time it would of taken for me to do it from scratch.
(1) The Threllians are "the good guys" in the world. They are generally seen as proper and upright (perhaps a bit too self rightous at times). If you need a hook, think Englishmen.
Additional Ideas (5)
Young, handsome, daring, and brilliant, Captain Tibereous had a promising career in The Navy. However, his inability to follow orders from superiors when his own plan was better, created a dilemma for the high command. One does not argue with success, but one can not tolerate disobeying orders and lack of respect for chain of command. He had scandal after scandal, both on the seas and in port (either in bed or in the dueling courts). He was stripped of rank and cast off his ship by a regional governor. He floated around a bit, crewing on a number of ships. He eventually found his way to a pirate's port.
He made quite a stir there, between wenching, dueling, and drinking. Think about that. He made a stir doing that at a pirate's port.
After a brief card game, he took possession of the Golden Prize. His brilliant, but unorthodox tactics, allowed him and his crew to become quite successful scoring several successful raids on the Kargan's island fort and drydock on Tirimara, and their holdings on Puril and Tanagon.
The Golden Prize has always had a colorful record. Under his command these last four years, the ship and its crew has done some amazing things. The crew love the man and will follow him anywhere.
The women love him anywhere he stops. They will be his undoing someday. He will never lose his heart to them. His heart is to the sea and his ship.
He has a strong bond with his First Mate and Keepers of the Wind. It is a mutual admiration for their complimentry strengths and weaknesses that keeps the relationship strong.
He keeps the physicer's council. The Old One has been around a while and has seen many things. He is full of homespun advice and sayings.
He is very accepting of those who are different. That is how he has managed to attract and keep many an odd man on the crew.
Vullan is a man of many worlds, part of many, at home in none. He is a Half Elven man at sea. In a world of few halfbreeds, he is notably unique -neither man nor elf. Given that Elves avoid the sea, his choice of profession seems odd. He is a mage of some repute, specializing in spells of Wind, Sail, and Navagation. He is no longer soley part of the mundane world, yet he harness the arcane only for very practical purposes. He is a man who is not at home even in his own skin.
Vullan is a stoic man, prizing thought and planning over passion and intuition. He is quite learned, speaking and reading a dozen languages. He loves to read and does so on a regular basis. His iron self discipline has allowed him to go far in his studies of magic and craft of the sea. He seems aloof from the crew. That is true. He simply does not know how to related to these rowdy seamen.
Vullen served with Tiberious on one of the few crew posts he took before becoming The Captain. (It was a merchant ship he was serving on after his term with the Trellian Navy). Together they saved themselves and the crew from Evil Canablistic Island Cultists, and ran the ship on its way back to its destination port. A year later, upon receiving a letter, Vullen made his way to join the Golden Prize.
In The Captain he sees what he lacks. However, he also sees the dangers of the extreme. His cool words have guided The Captain to "jump to the right conclusion". The two balance each other, rather than being in opposition like so many aspects of his world.
The Bones and he have a Friend-foe relationship. Both are men of letters, but their approaches are radically different. One could say the sky is blue and the other would say it was light blue, just to be contrary. Both respect each others intellects and some of their positions, but the two will argue about just almost everything.
He and the Helmsmen Su have a strong bond as well, as both are "foreigners" and far from home. Their positions mean they work long hours together to move the ship along. They have had time to talk. While Vullan has not revealed too much about himself, he has revealed a great deal to this master of war and the wheel.
The Bones is a creepy old medic. He is wrinkled, descrept, balding, but with wild fly away white hair about his shoulders. He seems older than the hills, but is suprising spry for the age he appears. (Some speculate he is a victim of some disease that makes him look aged.) He has a way at looking at you, that seems to penetrate your soul. He takes your measure and tells you about yourself, including things you did not even know about yourself. He speak in cryptic phrases most of the time, often requiring the listener to puzzle out what he is talking about. In his more charming moments, he tosses out "homespun wisdom" from the western dales of Trellia - his homeland. He is a hornery old coot at the best of time. But there is no one else you would want to lay hands on your injured body.
If you can stand the self scruitny, he can fix a broken heart as easily as a sword wound. He is a top notch surgeon and physicker. He is a man of letters, and if the stories are to be believed, trained at one of the finest academies in all the world. Yet he practices various superstitious healing practices, the rattling of bones to scare spirits, the spinning of patients, and the use of the sun and stars to heal as well. "Sometimes the old ways are good ways," he says. "Other times they are just old."
He was a country squire long ago, but he had to give it up because of love, scandal, and conflicting vows. He feels obliged to help everyone he can. He joined The Crew under Captain Spear, recruiting him after they stopped a maurader attack against the temple clinic he was helping at.
He also organizes The Captain's Circle Card Game. He is quite good.
The Bones believes in feelings and the mysterious, not rationality and magic/ power. This puts him at odds with Vullen. Still he likes a good debate, even with a pointy eared statue.
The Golden Prize was operating in The Pearl Waters. Teamed up with a Pirate King, they were taking on Dylori "poaching" upon their pirate territories. The battle was grand. The Great Dragon Ship of the Dylori was stopped and both shipping AND piracy were safe in the eastern Pearl Waters.
Su was fished from the waters when his Pirate Prince's ship was destroyed by the Golden Prize. Taking over for their wounded Helmsman, feelilng an obligation to his rescuers, his hands and The Captains commands helped guide the Golden Prize to victory that day. From that day on, he has simply been the ship's Helmsman.
Su is from the Pearl Lands that the Dylori have not conquered. He is a master warrior using the strange "arts of wars" they practice there. He is a master of sword, fist, and foot.
Since he is from the Pearl Lands and the Golden Prize mostly sails in the Western Ocean, he is a man far from home and things familiar.
He and Vellan are the only two who speak his language onboard, so they converse quite often. More so that their two positions (Helmsman and Master of Winds) require interaction on a regular basis.
They also enjoy the Foods of the Pearl Lands, so they will often eat together.
In dangerous situations, he will appoint himself as The Captain's Bodyguard.
He is a man full of bluster and life like most Highlanders. Though a male he be, a man he is not. He be a Half Orc. The Highlanders be as wild as the Orcs they fight. Seeking his fortune away from the Hills and Valleys, he found his way to a sailing ship. That was twenty years ago and he has never looked back. He is the Master of the Sails for the Golden Prize, commanding the use of sails and riggings. He is also in charge of the carpenters who keep the ship solid as well.
He treats The Golden Prize as his child. He frequently calls it "his ship". His "boys" run the riggings here. He drills his men like a drill sargent, but nobody will be better on the riggings than one of "his boys".
Skah-Ti was part of Captain Spears crew. He stayed on because it was his ship and "no fancy pants green toe" was going to wreck it. He grew to like The New Captain, especially since they both have the same taste of fun (drinking and wenching). Given Skah's looks, it is more drinking on his part, but that does not bother him.
He is the only true pirate in the Captain's Circle. He knows The Secret and really does not care. The Golden Prize goes places no one has gone before and does things that only Bards would dream of. He would not trade his bunk for all the Gold in the world (well maybe he would, but he would feel bad about it).