Icons of the Ashen Coast - The Corsair and the Dread Pirate

The Corsair and the Dread Pirate are both pirates, yet both the utter antithesis of the other. Their enmity is the stuff of legends. 

The Corsair grew out of a minor NPC in my last Campaign (who I had planned to build upon but unfortunately never got the chance.). This is where he might have ended up. I wanted to quite closely mirror The Prince of Shadows from 13th Age, as they both sit within the Thief archetype. Unlike that Prince though, the Corsair is well known and incredibly proactive. 

Interestingly his home, Rib, was the creation of one of my players very early on in the Campaign (possibly before it even properly started). It's a settlement built into the remains of an ancient leviathan, making a living selling magical reagents recovered from its depths. I liked it so much I wanted to bring it to some prominence and making it the home of an icon seemed like the perfect way!

Icon from http://game-icons.net/ and by Lorc

The Corsair is a hero to some and a villain to others. His exploits are the stuff of legend, as is his greed. He has stolen from the crown, robbed the vaults of the Wizards of Thrinn and removed a single droplet of holy water from The High Priestess' chalice. Those with little see him as a bringer of justice, taking from those who have too much; cynics point out that he makes no attempt to redistribute his acquisitions. 

'I will seek and I will seek 'til it is rightfully mine, once again!'

Usual Location
The Island of Rib in the Gulf of Shattered Leviathans, or wherever he wants to be. 

Common Knowlege
The Corsair has, over the past decade, returned piracy to Coast and battles for control of the sea. Those who have seen him describe a man of advancing years, with a bitter countenance and piercing eyes. He guards his wealth jealously, and none have taken so much as a single coin from him and escaped with their lives. 

He leads an armada of pirates, thieves and cutthroats who operate throughout the Coast, taking items - some obviously valuable, many not - and returning them to his fortress at Rib. However, many see them as the first line of defence against the Dread Pirate's unearthly plots and the enemy of your enemy must surely be your friend; even if he has stolen the thing most precious to you in the world. 

What seems to be certain is that he has a goal and everything he has done is but a stepping stone on the path to achieving it. Whether that goal is for the good or ill of the Coast, who can say except the Corsair himself?

Adventurers and the Icon
Many adventurers view the Corsair as a criminal who must answer for his crimes. Others a force for change to be joined with; signing up to a ships crew or captaining one themselves; though that is a particularly dangerous path to tread. Others still simply like the cut of his jib and wish to emulate his exploits. 

Others work for the Corsair without even realising it, furthering his unknown goals as he watches from the shadows. 

The King of Thun seems to grudgingly allow the Corsair to operate out of the Gulf of Shattered Leviathans as long as he stands against The Dread Pirate. It seems clear, however, that the King would like nothing more than to rid his seas of the Corsair but doesn't have the resources to spare. 

The truest enemy of the Corsair is the Dread Pirate - their fleets have clashed many a time. Indeed, the Corsair is forever interrupting the Dread Pirate's schemes and their enmity seems to go beyond simple rivalry. 

Almost every Icon has something they would like returned from the Corsair's possession though, if it could possibly be arranged.  

It has been 10 years since the Corsair stormed Rib, taking it from the clutches of the Dread Pirate, and in that time he has slowly but surely built his powerbase to Iconic status. 

The True Danger
Everything will be alright as long as the Corsair doesn't find what he truly seeks. 

The Dread Pirate has been a villain terrorising the Ashen Coast since I first really started thinking about it. I brought this miniature from Reaper Miniatures and knew I had to create a bad guy deserving of such an awesome model. Hints of his terrible plan only just began to filter through into my last game. Perhaps it will finally come to fruition soon. 

The Dread Pirate doesn't conform to any of archetype presented in the 13th Age icons. He's simply a being of otherworldy terror and madness. I think every game could do with one! 

The Dread Pirate Brinemurk is the scourge of the Ashen Coast, a villain of unspeakable terror whose mad pirate crews seek to bring forth otherworldly nightmares into the world and doom the Coast to thralldom.

'You are right to tremble before me. I find your fear quite... nourishing.'

Usual Location
The hidden Firemist Island, once a pirate republic, now a place where only the mad or the truly foolish, would dare to tread. 

Common Knowledge
The Dread Pirate Captain Brinemurk is the scourge of the seas, whose raids on ships and towns are horrifying and unpredictable. Madness follows in his wake, with many survivors simply unable to function in normal society again, left as terrified, gibbering, wrecks. Many of these survivors end up seeking to join the crews upon a dread-ship, hoping to find some strange solace in the madness within. More often they find a far worse fate at the hands of the Dread Pirate himself.

There seems to be no method in his madness, no reason behind his attacks and incursions. Perhaps none of the icons is as feared as the Dread Pirate, for even the dark gods have goals that are knowable by man, even if they are terrible to comprehend.

Adventurers and the Icon
Only the most insane, or stupid, adventurers would seek to ally with a mind flayer, let alone one as terrible as the Dread Pirate. Still, they do exist - often they are Sorcerers seeking to gain forbidden knowledge and power.

None of the Icons knowingly sides with the Dread Pirate, for he is evil and insanity incarnate. There are times when his raids might benefit them, but only insofar as they coincide with their own goals. Perhaps that is not a coincidence at all?

All of the other Icons, although the Corsair has been described as his greatest enemy. His raids on the Kingdom's shipping and populace mean that the King of Thun would dearly like to be rid of the Dread Pirate.

There has been a Captain Brinemurk for hundreds of years, a pirate whose raids on shipping were tolerated. Tolerated because at least he was the only pirate, thanks to the influence of the Red Dragon. None could say for certain if this Captain was the same man or if it was a title handed down from pirate to pirate but he was known for his fairness (although not kindness) and love of gold above all else.

Soon after the Red Dragon disappeared, Brinemurk's motives changed. He seemed to forsake gold, and was openly known to be a being of cosmic horror. Perhaps this was Brinemurk's true purpose all along, and the Red Dragon was the only thing keeping him in check. Perhaps the original Brinemurk title has been usurped by this terrible being. None can say for certain.

The True Danger
Everything will be alright as long as the Dread Pirate cannot achieve his goals. However, how will anyone know what those are until it is far too late?

So, what would your character's relationship be with the Corsair or the Dread Pirate? Would you stand against madness or with it? Or does piracy offend your sense of law and honour?

Also the awesome icons are from game-icons.net and I first saw them used for iconic purposes at Tolrendor DM's Blog!