The Pirate Nations are a collection of nations (and in some cases, "nation" is used very loosely) where scoundrels, thieves, rebels, freedom fighters, and villains are quite at home. These nations can only be reached via ship. Most, like the nations of Jaragua, Aragosta, and the Rahuri tribes are located in the Atabean Sea. La Bucca and the Numanari Isles can be found not far from the southern coast of Theah.
The existence of these nations is threatened by the machinations of the villainous Atabean Trading Company- the largest and most powerful merchant cartel on Terra- even more than the Vendel League and the Princes of Vodacce. Any enemies they can't buy off are destroyed with their private army and warships.
Aragosta (The Republic of Pirates; Second Edition)
The home of the Brotherhood of the Coast, the nation of Aragosta was founded when the worst pirate to ever exist - Vodacce merchant prince Vincenzo Gatto - lost 7 ships trying to live his dream of being a romantic pirate. His reputation as a floating disaster drove off potential crewmen and he was forced to accept a pardon from the Castillian Navy and retire to the small Atabean island of Aragosta, giving up on his dream. Gatto then decided if he couldn't be a pirate, he would simply surround himself with pirates and live his dream through them. He spent his vast fortune building Porto de Aragosta and opened 5 different bars (which each burned down, fell over, or were destroyed in barfights) to cater specifically to pirates. The final bar was named "Bucket o' Blood" as a joke. And it stayed up.
From the Bucket o' Blood, the first nine captains came together to forge an alliance to resist Castillian and Montaigne pirate hunters. They proved so successful that the island became a haven for smugglers, dissidents, pirates, and generally the lowest-common-denominators of Theah. The budding Republic was solidified by the nine captains when they signed a formal Charter declaring the nation, and Gatto was given an offer to sign the Charter alongside them. He did so, returning to his beachside home as a withered old man, but his dream of being a pirate realized- and he was never seen again...
- Army of Thieves and Whores: The military of Aragosta is almost entirely voluntary. What they lack in discipline and numbers, they make up for in bloodthirsty battle tactics.
- Black Spot: Literally tattooed on those captains who refuse to bend to the will of the Pirate King or sell out the Republic to the ATC.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Whenever a crew of Heroes makes port in Aragosta, this trope should always be in the back of their minds. Two great betrayals emblematic of this problem- Captain Reis, who sold the collective souls of the Republic's founders to the Devil Jonah, and Stephen Fevrier who betrayed them all to the ATC and became the company's chief pirate hunter. Most pirates that could join the Republic are now bribed by the ATC into becoming "Independent Contractors," a steady job that actually pays well with plenty of freedom to roam. The Republic struggles to stem these betrayals at all times.
- Deal with the Devil: Aragostans are the most familiar with the Ghost Pirate known as the Devil Jonah, and his hunger for organs to replace his own rotting body parts. They also know Jonah repays parts freely given with strange magic items that often replace function of the sacrificed part. Also, that he's relatively cordial to those who have traded with him in the past, which makes him far less of an inevitable doom when he boards you. Trading a part is illegal. It happens a lot anyway.
- Illegal Religion: Aragosta is covered with makeshift shrines and temples. Vaticines, Objectionists, Dinists, and Ifrian Ori worship are all permitted, and their congregants get along just fine. But you can expect a mob to form and dispense street justice (really, the only kind of justice in Aragosta) if you're caught worshipping the Devil Jonah.
- Magically Binding Contract: Aragostan sorcery involves signing a magical charter with the entire crew of the ship. So long as the terms of the charter are kept, signatories are able to draw bonus dice to use on any roll. Anyone who breaks the charter will receive one curse for each other signer.
- Reluctant Ruler: One of the defining traits of those who hold the title of Pirate King/Queen. Not for any altruistic reasons, though. The First Charter orders that whoever hold the title must remain on the island of Aragosta to resolve disputes between captains. Putting it bluntly, in an ocean teeming with riches and adventure, being King/Queen is a first class ticket to boredom and poverty.
- Probably best exemplified by the "election" of the current Pirate Queen. King Gosse wanted to retire after being maimed on the job, but no one would take the crown from him. So Gosse declared that the last person to enter the Bucket o' Blood on the last day of the year and say "I don't want your job!" would become the new monarch. All hail the late Queen Bonaventura!
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Pirate Queen Bonaventura. The head of the Republic, she has kept the island from being conquered by the ATC but can't seem to get much support to build the island into anything more than a fortress against the Company.
Atabean Trading Company (The British East India Company; Second Edition)
The most powerful merchant cartel to come out of Theah since the Vendel League, a corporation with the power of a nation that answers to no Crown. The Company holds absolute dominion over most of the Atabean Sea after they were disowned by Vendel League for social darwinist business tendencies, then violently expelled from Montaigne when L'empereur discovered their business philosophy also rejects the absolute rule of monarchs. The company was able to recover and bought the long failing sugar and tobacco plantations of Jaragua, using them to go from a small shipping venture to a global superpower in the space of 30 years.
Most of the Company's Thean customers think they are an honest merchant company, charitably resettling Ifrian war refugees on the Atabean islands, shipping sugar and tobacco back to Theah for consumption, all while being harried by pirates and smugglers. Few in the public know the truth- the company has created a civil war in the Ifrian nation of Mbey, is shipping Ifrians (refugees and kidnapping victims alike) and Thean convicts to the Atabean plantations to work until death, and it's powerful enough to go toe-to-toe with Avalon's navy and Montaigne's army in a war. Only in the past few years have the Pirate Nations been able to win victories against the Company to stall their ultimate victory over the Atabean and domination of the few Thean colonies. Time and the actions of Heroes will tell if their luck will hold.
- Agent Provocateur: All instability within Ifri (except Khemet) can be traced, directly or indirectly, back to the ATC. The first domino to fall in the continent's troubles was when the Atabean Trading Company incited a rebellion against the Bour Ba of Mbey through his outlying city states. They've flooded the continent with guns and steel to fuel the wars, buying up the prisoners of war as slaves for their colonies and establishing forts on the coast to protect their operations. After seventeen years of this trade, they are only now realizing that they may have sold too many guns to the Mbey.
- Affably Evil: The guidebook advises GM to highlight Rudd's gentle and well-disposed nature, as well as the fact that he genuinely believes that he's saving the souls of the people the ATC enslaves.
- A Postal Worker is You: So much of the ATC is wrapped up in the inhumanity of the slave trade that there are only three character options for playing someone directly associated with the company- a "Seahorse" postal worker, a deserter, and an escaped Atabean Slave.
- Citadel City: Fort Freedom is the only true Thean city in the Atabean and is the Company's main base of operations now that Jaragua is independent. It's guarded by "Fort Snowflake," a cutting edge Star-Fort designed by one of the premier military architects from mainland Theah. It has multiple powder magazines, overlapping fields of fire, brig, and a fully staffed garrison of soldiers. The fortress is considered unassailable by anything but an overwhelming conventional military invasion- something that no Thean nation possesses in the Atabean.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: The heads of the ATC wear this trope as a badge of honor.
- President George Rourke comes off as a President Evil, believing in the most harsh form of Social Darwinism Theah has ever known. Even L'Empereur thinks this guy is a huge jackass and wants his head on a pike.
- Chief Procurement Officer Flemming Rudd comes off as a Sinister Minister. A devout Vaticine, he believes wholeheartedly that the brutality of the slave trade is necessary in order to "civilize" the Rahuri and the Ifri peoples, while bringing the light of the Church to them and "save" their souls in the afterlife. The Church is horrified by this philosophy.
- Laerke Ulriksdottir, their head of security, is a raging Blood Knight who gathered a band of like-minded Vesten mercenaries and signed on with the company in order to follow the Vesten tradition of Rape, Pillage, and Burn in a new world.
- Annie Goldenflower defies this trope. The Company's half-Rahuri Chief Financial Officer, she has her own goals and keeps them close to the chest. Namely, she hopes to enact a hostile takeover of the organization through stock purchases, sack the entire board, and purge the Company of the slave trade and war profiteering in Ifri.
- Didn't See That Coming: The Company happily spent years trading guns and steel for slaves in the Ifrian uprising it engineered, using their profits to establish larger compounds and forts to continue the trade. They've traded so many weapons to the Mbey that they are now in real danger of being massacred wholesale by Mbey's soldiers- to say nothing about the Eldritch Abomination the Bour Ba has summoned to aid his armies.
- Enigmatic Minion: Postmaster General Mesquite. He came one day to help the ATC find new sea routes, and has worked for them ever since as head of the Seahorses, but nobody knows who he is or what he wants to accomplish by helping the Company. While the guidebook reveals that he's in reality a minor Aztlan god in disguise, it also doesn't reveal anything about his motivations except that they are in the long term.
- Equal-Opportunity Evil: The Company had no qualms about who it enslaved, so long as they worked until death. The overwhelming majority of slaves in its Jaraguan plantations were of Ifrian descent, but about one-in-twelve was a convict or political prisoner from Theah. It also has no qualms about who it hires, not caring about their nation or their social origins, as long as they're competent and share the Company's philosophy.
- Every Man Has His Price: The Company's newest tactic in curing their pirate problem- hire on any rogue vessels as "independent contractors" to haul cargo for them. A steady paycheck, sign on bonuses, and unrestricted freedom of the seas? It's proving to be worryingly effective against the Republic.
- Faux Affably Evil: President Rourke is a charming and charismatic man, full of dreams and generous when it comes to small gifts, but he also ordered the enslavement and caused the deaths of thousands of people for his own profits.
- God Was My Copilot: Postmaster General Mesquite, a minor Aztlan god in disguise, also sits on the board as head of the Seahorses. No one knows what exactly they want, only that they're very good at the job.
- Irony: Their Ifrian venture, guided by greed and racism, is exactly the kind of thing the dark Ifrian god Bonsam feeds on and knows how to manipulate; as a result, a big threat in Ifri stories is them being co-opted to infiltrate and invade Theah.
- Lowered Recruiting Standards: The source of the Company's massive army. Soldiers who engaged in casual atrocities during the War of the Cross were cast out of their national militaries, ostracized by society. The Company sees nothing but benefit for hiring the worst of the worst in humanity.
- N.G.O. Superpower: The Atabean Trading Company is run by people from all nations of Theah, though the board is primarily made up of Vesten and Avalonian executives. It possesses the fleet, finances, and forces to conquer the Atabean Sea and dominate the tiny Thean colonies around it. Only the Republic of Aragosta, the Rahuri tribes, and the young nation of Jaragua stand in its way.
- Persona Non Grata: Emperor Leon Alexander didn't like the idea of a company that owed no allegiance to him operating in Montaigne. The Musketeers drove the ATC out with fire and steel, and to this day the Company's vessels, cargo, and personnel can expect no safe harbor within Montaigne's ports. L'Empereur still hopes he can foist Rourke's head onto a pike some day.
- Pet the Dog: Rourke allows the Explorer Society to have a headquarter in his city, even though they are his direct competitors to find new lands, because he views them as Worthy Opponents (and to keep an eye on them).
- Token Good Teammate: Annie Glodenflower, the Chief Financial Officer, longs to enact a hostile takeover of the organization through stock purchases, sack the entire board, and purge the Company of the slave trade and war profiteering in Ifri.
- Villain with Good Publicity: The Company's Seahorse Division (Postal Service) is the only branch of the company untouched by the violence of the slave trade, but it allows the Company to pick and choose what information from the Atabean Sea makes it back to Theah, thus hiding the full extent of their abuses of the Ifri and Rahuri from any nation that might be in a position to stop them. Most of Theah see them as a honest merchant company resettling Ifrian war refugees on the Atabean islands.
La Bucca (The Azores; Second Edition)
A tiny island off the southern coast of Theah, La Bucca was initially only known for a native pig population, some Syrneth ruins, and an enormous sea creature that would only lurk in the waters around the island. The island's discoverer found that the creature's behavior could be controlled somewhat through a strange device in the ruins. The Castillians soon turned the island into a fortress prison, taking common criminals and political prisoners from all Thean nations.
Recently, a successful prison revolt was able to wrest control of the massive sea creature from the powers-that-be. The prisoners, rather than descending into anarchy and bloodshed, formed Theah's first democracy since the days of old Numa. Now the "Buccaneers" are renowned as privateers, illicit trade, and building a new political awareness at the edge of Thean thought.
- Bazaar of the Bizarre: The Free Market of La Bucca is famous for the free exchange of items from all across Terra. Whether you need something mundane or magical, goods or services, chances are you can find it for a price on the island's market.
- City of Spies: One major draw for visitors to La Bucca. Spies from all over Theah can trade in information from sailors, merchants, and other spies and pass it on to their courts at home.
- Not-So-Safe Harbor: The island is patrolled by an enormous sea monster controlled by Syrneth artifacts. The creature is the primary reason the island hasn't been conquered by any major Thean nation yet.
- Orphanage of Love: Run by the mysterious Mother of La Bucca, a Porte sorceress who can only use her Porte sorcery to travel to those in need and bring them back to the island. She uses the orphans she raises as spies to support the Chapters of the island.
- Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits: La Bucca was originally established as the most remote prison in all of Theah. Montaigne and Castille exiled their most subversive political prisoners to waste away and die on the island. After the overthrow, they've established a multinational capitalist democracy- though the aesthetics of ramshackle homes and suspension bridges lead one to believe it's nothing more than a Wreteche Hive of anarchy and greed.
- War for Fun and Profit: The ships of La Bucca happily take Letters of Marque from any country in Theah and act as proxy warriors in battles between nations. They get to keep most of the loot, and the nations of Theah get to bloody their enemies while maintaining plausible deniability.
- We Sell Everything: Any ship sailing to Theah can sell almost any sort of cargo in its markets for a modest fee, all outside the watchful eyes of the Vendel League. It's become a major bone of contention between the League and La Bucca.
- Wretched Hive: An island that was originally populated by the most violent of Castille's prisoners and the most volatile and subversive political prisoners from across all of Thea. Newcomers are regularly shocked to find out the island is actually a thriving capitalist democracy.
Jaragua (Post-Revolution Haiti; Second Edition)
Jaragua is one of the newest nations to be established on the surface of Terra. Long the crown jewel of the Atabean Trading Company, its board of directors rose to wealth and power through mass importation, abuse, and killing of Ifrian slaves. It took eight long years of guerrilla warfare before the slaves drove the company away and freed themselves.
Today the nation struggles for economic and diplomatic stability. Slavery is illegal in Theah and prohibited by the Vaticine Church, but the Sea of Monsters and ATC agents have kept the truth of their abuses from common Theans. The expensive cash crops the Jaraguans worked themselves to death producing could fuel their nation's rise to power and stability, but there is significant (and understandable) resistance to return to farming sugar and molasses. And to make matters worse, the unity of the Jaraguans and Rahuri has been shattered- the island nation has been split in half between the two, dividing the freedom fighters before they can declare victory over the Company.
- Ambadassador: Many Jaraguan Heroes. The ATC has successfully hidden the truth about the slave uprising and the brutality they inflicted on the Ifrians from the rest of Thea. As a result, Jaraguan travelers are often sent abroad to establish diplomatic ties with any Thean nation that will listen to their stories.
- Fate Worse than Death: Jaragua was a planter's nightmare when Theans began to colonize it, with the plantations unable to keep full staffs of free workers on to process crops in humid and dangerous conditions. The Company was able to bring the island to peak profitability by importing massive numbers of slaves from Ifri, working them to death in hellish conditions and buying more from Mbey to replace the dead.
- Gondor Calls for Aid: One of the main missions of Jaraguan heroes- bring back weapons, allies, and other heroes to help the fledgling nation fight off the coming ATC attack.
- Machete Mayhem: Pirates fight with cutlasses. Theans fight with rapiers. Jaraguans use machetes.
- Slave Liberation: After 17 years of mass importation of Ifrian slaves and subjugation of Rahuri natives, the two sides united to overthrow the ATC overseers. The 8 year struggle recently ended with the expulsion of the Company from the island.
- We ARE Struggling Together: After the success of the Revolution, the Ifrians and the Rahuri tribes could not come to a consensus about their nation and split the island in two. The Rahuri have allowed Castillians to settle on their shores and even use slave labor once again- a fact that irks the Jaraguan Oligarchy more and more each day. The ATC is still strictly banned from doing business with the Rahuri half of the island. There is even some contention between Jaraguans based on former slave status, with those who had comparatively safer roles on the plantations (working in the kitchens versus the sugar mills) resenting those who dealt with grueling, often lethal conditions.
- Weird Currency: Jaragua's people have so few precious metals and Guilders on the island that they use stamped seashells as their internal currency- which are carefully managed with the help of the Vendel League volunteer Herlief Asgersen, an old man working out of spite for what the ATC has become.
Numa (Greece; Second Edition)
One of the oldest nations on Terra, the Numanari Isles were the bastion of culture, military and scientific thought before the modern era. Their decline and subjugation to the Crescent Empire and Vodacce has long chafed such a proud and courageous people. They have only recently thrown off the yolk of these outsiders, but their Pride may yet be their downfall as they launched a retaliatory attack on the peaceful province of Sarmion in the Empire. The invasion was repelled with both Numa and Sarmion's innocents suffering heavy losses.
- The Federation: What happens when the many Poleis become threatened by either Vodacce or The Crescent Empire. When they aren't threatened by an outside power, it becomes We ARE Struggling Together
- Lady Land: A former city-state, Agrotera, that was destroyed long ago. Its' people, the Amazons, now live as The Horde while wandering the Numanari isles. They keep any female children born to them and give any male children into the care of the boy's father.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The Numanari isles only recently threw off the rule of the Crescent Empire. Rather than focusing on rebuilding they launched an attack on Sarmion, doing terrible damage to one of their former rulers' provinces while the Empress was in the midst of rebuilding after her brother's disastrous rule. The Numanari were driven off, but neither side has forgotten the damage each other did.
- The Spartan Way: The Agoge dueling academies, but also the militaristic Poleis Lakedaimon.
- Training from Hell: The Numan dueling style, Agoge, is only taught in specific academies to the warrior classes. Students are kept underfed but shown where the food is stored and specifically told they can keep anything they can steal, but being caught is a punishable offense. They are also taught civics, music, and history in these academies. All before the age of 8.
- Underwater Ruins: The Numanari Isles used to be dominated by their neighbor, the Island Kingdom of Malcedon. The young King Iskandar used his own soldiers and the Khemet to forge his empire, leading a conquest of what would become the Crescent Empire. The Numanari weren't pleased at the competition and once Iskandar died on the borders of Cathay, the Numanari sacked Malcedon and took Iskandar's mother as their prisoner while their magicians performed a ritual which forced Malcedon under the waves, destroying it for all time.
The Rahuri (Indigenous Caribbean Peoples; Second Edition)
The Rahuri are the original inhabitants of the Atabean Sea. Once, long ago, they were a tribe from the Empire of Aztlan. After the Fall that destroyed the great empire, they were targeted by the survivors as a mass sacrifice to the gods. They fled to the coast and, with nowhere else to go, a great water spirit ferried them to safety in the Atabean. Apocoatl, the Great Feathered Serpent, was unhappy with their escape but the Rahuri bargained with the god. They would hunt and herd the creatures in the Sea of Monsters for the god in exchange for his protection from the mainland. Apocoatl accepted the bargain.
The Rahuri are a people who live their lives along coasts and at sea. Their ability to hunt leviathans and kraken, shaping their bones into weapons and skins into armor, is legendary to the newcomer Theans. To have a single Rahuri aboard a Thean ship significantly raises its chances of crossing the Sea of Monsters intact.
- Cool Old Person: Rahuri Caciques (kah-seeks), the heads of the island villages. Adventurers in the Atabean will inevitably need to seek the help of the Rahuri in order to get around the numerous sea monsters. The abuses of the ATC have made the Caciques much more skeptical of Theans and their intentions.
- Destroyer Deity: The Rahuri venerate Mama Yaya the Mother Goddess for saving them, and even Theans pray to Mama Tortue, her child, the Protector of lost sailors. But they have special fear and awe for Tiburon, the Shark Whose Maw Consumes. Tiburon is the more martial guardian deity of the Rahuri, a shark so large he can swallow small fishing ships whole and sink Thean warships in a single bite. Humans consumed by him are reborn as sharks to prowl the sea and attack the enemies of the Rahuri. Tiburon has been summoned three times by the Rahuri Caciques to consume their enemies in great storms and feeding frenzies of his children. And lest you think yourself safe on land, Tiburon can take on human form.
- Here There Be Dragons: The Rahuri have learned to hunt and manage the enormous sea monsters in their waters. The only reason Theans "discovered" the "new world"? The Rahuri decided to save the Theans from being eaten.
- Nature Hero: The Rahuri believe that as long as they continue to keep the sea's monsters in check for the gods Mama Yaya and Apocoatl, the world will naturally provide for them and they will want for nothing. The ATC slave raids and genocidal attacks have put this to the test, and many more sea monsters are beginning to appear while the Rahuri abandon their mandate and mobilize against the Company.
- The Promised Land: The Rahuri initially lived on the mainland of Aztlan during the great civil war. The people of the mainland targeted their tribe for extermination via human sacrifice, forcing them to flee to the islands. The Great Turtle Mama Yaya ferried the Rahuri to a land of safety in the Atabean, free from Aztlan pursuit, angering the Aztlani feathered serpent Apocoatl. To soothe the feathered god's rage, the Rahuri promised to tend his feeding grounds in the Atabean.
- Spirit Advisor: Rahuri magic involves making a journey to the metaphysical Island of the Dead. From there, they can call upon an ancestor to assist with their journey. It's not uncommon for visitors to a Rahuri village to see numerous green, translucent ghosts working diligently to build boats and homes, guard against attackers, or maintain equipment- any suitably important task they have been summoned for.