From the piratical free-for-all following the conquest of Spanish Jamaica, to the turning of the tide against the Spanish-hunting Caribbean sea rovers, Firelock Games brings you the romance and reality of buccaneering combat at sea and ashore!
The game period begins circa 1620 as the Dutch, English, and French set their sights on the New World: on establishing colonies and on depriving Spain of her American wealth. These adventurers are known variously as privateers, buccaneers, flibustiers, and pirates. This sea thieving will accelerate significantly in 1655 and beyond, when the English conquerors of Jamaica ally with French flibustiers and boucaniers from Tortuga, and send small vessels far and wide to raid Spanish ships and towns along the Spanish Main. Using their skills in intelligence collection, maritime combat, and land warfare, these rovers strike greedy blows against New World Spain. The game period comes briefly to a close at the end of the century with the sack of Cartagena by the French and a very tenuous and temporary peace.
Yet not for the purpose of rebellion do these adventurers engage their enemy with musket and cutlass, for these rovers are rebels only in the sense that all adventurers are rebels. Nor for patriotism do these men engage their enemy, except in the narrowest sense.
Henry Morgan was born to a Welsh family in the old world, and had he remained there it is likely that his life would have been quite unremarkable. British society was a fixed structure with nearly impenetrable barriers, but the New World can be likened unto a primeval chaos, where a clever man with unbound ambitions could make for himself whatever life he chose. Henry Morgan was such a man. From obscurity he emerged as the most notorious commander in the Caribbean, whose name was undoubtedly uttered with curses and praises in the courts of kings. As the admiral of the Brethren of the Coasts, he regularly frustrated Spanish defenses against impossible odds, plundering the wealth of New Spain as freely as the wind carried his vessels. Some Spaniards called him El Drake, believing him to be the reincarnation of that dreaded pirate who, not too long before, ravaged the coasts of the Spanish Main. Morgan would in fact exceed Sir Francis Drake in many ways, becoming the greatest threat to Spanish hegemony in the new world.
Socialite, patriot, pirate. The English privateer, Captain William Kidd, was an enigmatic figure who proved how thin the line was between countryman and outlaw. Before his fateful voyage to the Indian Ocean, he was regarded as a capable and faithful commander. In the words of one naval officer, “he was a mighty man who fought as well as any man I ever saw.”
While it is difficult to call him a romantic, as he was not far enough removed from the Middle Ages to refer to his notions of chivalry as sentimental, Manuel Rivero Pardal was certainly cut from that sort of cloth. There is no question that he sought personal glory, as did most every sea rover of his time, but unlike those other sea rovers, Pardal was also moved by a notion that his quest was nobel, and his cause pure. Pardal seemed to be passionately and genuinely motivated by an ideal: that the English were encroaching on divinely appointed territory. For him, the Anglo conquest of Jamaica was an intolerable heresy, and his indignation on this matter would prove to be a source of inspiration for the Spanish inhabitants of the new world. When no other Spanish captain would take a commission against the English, Rivero managed to fill his 14 gun light frigate, San Pedro y La Fama, with 70-80 willing volunteers. His success would eventually inspire other captains as well, and culminate in a resurgence of Spanish privateers on the Spanish Main.
For the French and English sailors who traversed the Windward Passage or the North Cuban coast, there was one name which inspired fear like no other: Juan Corso. The infamous corsair was notorious for his brutality and the swift surprisal tactics he implemented with his flotilla of piraguas.
The fame of his cruelties… made him so well known through the Indies, that the Spaniards in his time would choose rather to die or sink fighting, than surrender, knowing they should have no mercy at his hands.” Thus was the reputation of Jean David Nau, more commonly know as François l’Olonnais, according to Exquemelin. This reputation of his was well earned, for, if the historical record can be trusted, he was almost certainly a sociopath. But as he exceeded all men in atrocities, he did so in intrepidness as well. He was an inspiring commander, always leading from the front and never showing fear in the face of death. As was such, he had one of the most accomplished careers of any buccaneer captain in the 17th century. At the height of his fame, he was the most sought after captain in Tortuga. In his final voyage he filled his vessels with over 700 volunteers, for it was widely understood that, while in l’Olonnais’ company, one was “safe… to the greatest dangers,” and riches would come easily.
Perhaps the greatest swashbuckler of his age, Laurens de Graff was the sort of figure who inspired legends and whose exploits were as fantastic as any you might find in a Hollywood script. Handsome, daring, and usually accompanied by minstrels, this Dutch-born filibuster captain was a relentless terror to many Iberians.
Piet Heyn was a Dutch admiral and master tactician who became a hero of the United Provinces when he, under a West India Company commission, captured the Spanish treasure fleet. So great were the spoils of this victory that — after paying off his men — it funded the WIC’s war in Brazil for nearly a decade!
The tribes of the Darien were some of the most feared in all the Spanish Main, and of all their chiefs there was none regarded as highly as King Golden Cap. He actively contested the Spanish, whom he bitterly hated, and even issued commissions that were recognized in English courts.