Pirates: The Reason Why the Rum Is Gone

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A few weeks ago I wrote a list of various thieves types and said that I didn’t have to explain pirates.  Well, it has been pointed out that there are different types of pirates.  Forgive me if I’m wrong on the real types, but I’m trying here.  So, here’s a list of types with a few real, but most fiction:

  1. Pirate–  This is a general character type where you make them nothing more than a rum-drinking, foul-tempered roamer of the open sea.  There’s no real specialty and they use your standard pirate package.  A lot of personality helps to make this a popular character.
  2. Privateer– This type of pirate is government sanctioned.  In fiction, they work for a kingdom and rob the enemies of the throne.  A real world example would be Sir Francis Drake.  They typically have the usual skills of a pirate, but with less grittiness than the wild and untamed pirates.
  3. Buccaneer– In history, these are pirates who are connected to a specific nationality and tended to attack Spanish colonies.  They were inspired by the privateers, but they don’t have the sanctions.  Think of these pirates as vigilantes like the Punisher or Batman of the sea.
  4. Swashbuckler– These pirates focus a lot on sword play.  They’re often similar to knights in that they save damsels and take on the role of a hero.  Even if they have the confidence and bravado of a pirate, they still take on the role of handsome protagonist. Dread Pirate Westley from Princess Bride would be a good example.
  5. Raider–  Attacking other ships and a specialty in boarding maneuvers is what these guys are about.  Tend to be bad guys or mean pirates lead by a kind captain.  You’ll find that these types get used a lot in the ‘mean, but quirky’ category.  That’s if they’re not acting as bad guys or plot devices.
  6. Treasure Hunters– A crew of pirates who are out for treasure and that’s just about it.  They have an obsession with treasure, but unlike a raiding type of pirate, they look for the hidden stuff.  If they’re not the main characters then they get involved with the plot as a temporary mode of transportation.  There might even be that one pirate who joins the heroes.
  7. The Captain–  Master of a crew of cutthroats and taking the role of the big villain.  You rarely see this type doing real pirate moves until the climax of a story or scenes to enhance their ruthlessness.  They are smooth-talking, cunning, and rather intimidating.  Think of Captain Hook without the Disney dressing or, my favorite, Long John Silver.  My favorite pirate scene is still when Silver, who has one leg, pounces on two people and kills them.  Viciousness helps with this type.
  8. Singing Pirates–  This is self-explanatory.  A crew of rugged men who seem to spend a lot of time singing and being friendly.
  9. Undead Pirate–  The crew of a ghost ship, so they can’t leave their vessel.  Not unless part of the plot is them finding a way to do so.  A variation here is a zombie crew, but both tend to be villains.
  10. Captain Jack Sparrow– This character gets a type all his own because so many people try to imitate him.  My suggestion: Don’t.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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23 Responses to Pirates: The Reason Why the Rum Is Gone

  1. Great descriptions, I hadn’t given them enough thought to realize that there really are many kinds of pirates. Interesting piece.


  2. This is such a useful breakdown. My go to reference from here on out. I love a pirate!


  3. I wouldn’t have counted so many varieties of pirates. 🙂


  4. Aldrea Alien says:

    Wait. So I’ve got a pirate who is a Raider turned Privateer turned Captain of the goddess’ personal ship, but he’s nice. My head hurts…
    Great list though.

    And Captain Jack Sparrow should always be in a class of his own.


  5. Reblogged this on Julian Froment's Blog and commented:
    You can never have too many pirates, or indeed, too much rum.


  6. Myas says:

    I kept a notepad at the helm and a pen at the ready as I read through. I’ll take one Swashbuckler, no mustard.


  7. sknicholls says:

    A cool pirate Thesaurus, Charles! A Pirate Looks at Forty. Jimmy Buffett. Great song. Love me a pirate.


  8. hocuspocus13 says:

    Reblogged this on hocuspocus13.


  9. Awesome post! If I ever write a book about pirates, I’ll have to use this as my guide! 🙂 Love Jack Sparrow! lol


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