Well, shiver me timbers, me buckos, it be that time o’ year. Official Talk Like a Pirate Day be Friday, the 19th of September. Ye doesna want ta be a lubber, does ye? Avast, ye scurvy dogs!
Ye be wantin’ the whole scuzzy tale? That ye can find on International Talk Like a Pirate Day. You can even learn the ten best pickup lines to use on buxom wenches on TLPD (Such as “Pardon me, but would ya mind if I fired me cannon through your porthole?” and “Prepare to be Boarded!”).
When ye be ready ta start talkin’ the talk and walkin’ the walk, ye might larn a bit aboard this here schooner.
Pirate Lore (or Pirate Lori)
“There be a bit o’ pirate in all of us. Some of our most memorable D&D adventures involved the pirate ship “The Lion Rampant” and its intrepid – or at least unusual – crew. Cap’n o’ the Rampant was Buccaneer Brucie, a foppish, presumed gay male paragon played by Lori. The first time she rolled into gaming session dressed ta the nines as Buccaneer Brucie – scarves, flintlock, cutlass, powdered white wig, tricorner hat, and all – there were several seconds of awed silence afore the gale force laughter hit us all.
Corey was slightly less impressive as the Dead Pirate Rogers. Despite never having watched Mr. Roger’s Neighorhood, he soon learned that a fuzzy sweater was apparently required armor for the role. Dead Pirate was a Dwarf, and First Mate to Cap’n Brucie. Of course, Dwarves aren’t yer usual sort o’ pirates.
Rogers was actually King Rockhard Ironstaff, deposed leader of the Dwarven kingdom of Moronia. Bein’ not a altogether bad pirate, Rogers composed this song (to the tune of the Disneyland Pirates of the Caribbean theme song (this happened long before the films):
Yo ho, yo ho, privateers we be!
We plunder, we pillage,
We ravage the village,
But always by letters of marque —
Because we’re not pirates, but privateers,
We don’t do this for a lark!
Yo ho, yo ho, privateers we be!
Also memorable in the ship’s crew was Ferdiad, the sadistic ship’s surgeon. His favorite “cure” for all ills was Doctor Death’s Salve, a concoction so caustic that many preferred to die of their wounds rather than be cured with the Salve. (There was the time that Hobbes, the mischievous Hobbit, substituted Dr. Death’s salve for bear grease, but we won’t go there…)
The jolly ship’s crew had an actual treasure hunt in character on our ranch in the middle of the night by lantern light. Unfortunately, the character who had the map was a Hoka (a species of intelligent bear-like creatures from a high gravity planet in stories by Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson). The Hoka, being a bear of little brain, started happily leading the party off in entirely the wrong direction. We’d marched half-way across the ranch before someone thought to actually look at the map.
The adventures of the Lion Rampant were chaotic and silly, but rollicking good fun.
Look Behind You! It’s a Three-Headed Monkey!
Despite having authored multiple best-selling “adventure games,” we’ve never played them very much. LucasArt’s “The Secret of Monkey Island” was the notable exception. We loved the humor, the mostly non-frustrating puzzles, the graphic style, the music, the setting, the story. It went on a short list of computer games that both of us loved to play (along with Rogue, Dungeonmaster, and Wizardry).
Note the timing on game releases – Hero’s Quest shipped in 1989, The Secret of Monkey Island and Quest for Glory 2: Trial by Fire in 1990, and Monkey Island 2: Le Chuck’s Revenge in 1991. We talked to Ron Gilbert – lead designer of the first two Monkey Island games – at the Computer Game Developers’ Conference, and he admitted to being influenced by Hero’s Quest, just as we were by his games.
Secret of Monkey Island had the most fun combat system we’ve ever seen in a game. Instead of slashes and thrusts, Guybrush Threepwood and his opponents hurled deadly (at least to the ego) insults at each other. Each insult could be parried by an appropriate witty repartee. Of course, you had to practice your dueling skills to hone your wit to a razor edge.
The story also held together really well, including some great foreshadowing. Early in the game, Guybrush is trying to be recognized as a pirate. Asked if he has any special talents, he says, “Well, I can hold my breath for ten minutes.” This turns out to be important later in the game, and those patient players who held out for the full ten minutes got to see an Easter Egg of sorts.
Dead Men Tell No Tales
Whenever we visited Disneyland, we tended to make a beeline to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. The imagineers did a fantastic job with the setting. Combining Pirates with the Blue Bayou restaurant was a stroke of genius, as each contributes to the atmosphere of the other. The food at the Blue Bayou was also probably the best the park had to offer. As fond as we were of pirate stories like Treasure Island, The Muppet’s Treasure Island, and The Princess Bride, the Pirates of the Caribbean ride made us shiver with delight.
So we looked forward to the Pirates of the Caribbean film with a mixture of anticipation and fear. Would they manage to capture the essence of the ride, or turn out a commercialized travesty? To our delight, the movie was fantastic. Johnny Depp played Cap’n Jack Sparrow in the spitting image of Buccaneer Brucie (well, aside from having dreadlocks and a beard, while noticeably lacking a purple frock coat, white wig, and high heels – It’s all about the attitude), and the writers managed to walk that narrow plank between humor and a dramatic story absolutely perfectly. We were already Johnny Depp fans, and Pirates solidified his standing as one of the great character actors of our time. Of course the movie did undermine one of the basic premises of Piratedom – “Dead Men Tell no Tales”. Then again, most of the pirates in the movie were Undead Men, so maybe that makes it ok.
So, be ye a landlubber or a true pirate? Ye’ll get ta show yer true colors this Friday and on International Talk Like a Pirate Day every year. Scupper us with a marlinspike if we not be speakin’ the plain truth. and speakin’ it like pirates!
Brucie’s Flag, the “Hello Sailor” and the singing Meep pirates were from our first “TLPD” on Transolar years ago. The coin is a bronze casting that Lori made at an SCA event from the mold of the coins used in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie. The Monkey Island cover is from our original game box. The portrait at the beginning of the article is of the notorious Meeps, Cap’n Redbeard and Molly (a Meep thinly disguised as a parrot).