Skull and Shackarrs
Letter of Mark
Scribed with a firm hand in blood-red ink and emblazoned
with an elaborate seal of crimson wax, this thick, waxed
paper grants its bearer license to attack and capture ships
of enemy nations as a privateer. It is not an uncommon
practice for nations of the Inner Sea to issue letters of
marque and reprisal to their ships, but those issued in the
pirate confederacy of the Shackles grant permission to
engage in egregious acts of pillage and prize-taking, which
can only be described as piracy by more lawful nations.
Lawful letters of marque are issued to
specific ships, not individuals, but in the
Shackles, they are granted to a specific
captain and his or her officers. A Shackles
letter of marque accords its bearer the
authority to seize or destroy cargo, incarcerate
or slay crew and passengers, and sink or capture
ships from other nations, mercantile or otherwise.
Within the territorial bounds of the Shackles, these
manifold privileges also apply against any ships or captains
who haven’t sworn loyalty to a known Free Captain or who
doesn’t carry their own letter of marque (though bearing a
letter of marque is no guarantee of safety from other pirates,
who frequently strike first and ask questions later).
Possession of a Shackles letter of marque is a crime
in most civilized nations and regularly carries a penalty
of death by hanging. As a result, a Shackles letter of
marque is protected by a secret page spell, enabling its
bearer to speak a secret command word to alter the text
to something more innocuous, such as a cargo manifest,
nautical chart, or page from a ship’s log.
It’s common knowledge within the Shackles who
has been granted letters of marque, and most Free
Captains keep accounts of which ships and captains have
them, making it extraordinarily difficult to forge these
documents or steal them to perpetrate a deception.
A Shackles letter of marque radiates faint transmutation