Currently this is pretty minimal. Mostly this is just a list of features, without sustained commentary to really provide a robust structure. However, it does get at least most of the basic concepts down and provides a starting place.
- Ship to Ship Combat is a must
- Magic? (If available)
- Basic Choice of Tactics: Sink, Board, or Evade?
- Boarding Parties (BYOB - Bring Your Own Blade)
- Coming Alongside
- Grappling Hooks, Boarding Planks, Swinging Across
- Coastal Raids
- Ship to Town Cannon Fire
- Sneaking In and Sneaking Out
- Inside Help
- Black Powder Weapons and Swashbuckling
- Swinging from Chandeliers, Rigging, Tree Branches
- Jumping Down From Above (Rigging, Cabin Roof, Stairs, Building Roof)
- Belaying Pins, Cutlass, Knives and Daggers
- Pistol, Rifle; Flintlock, Matchlock
- Different kinds of shot
- Barrels of Gunpowder
Iron Men, Wooden Ships
- Ship Damage
- Recruitment and Pay
- Sea Creatures
- Electric Eel
- Some Social Skills
- Letters of Marque and Reprisal (Privateering)
- Sea Legs
- Storms, Shipwreck
- Navigational Instruments, Charts
- Eye Patch, Wooden Leg, Hook
- Rum and Sodomy, well, at least include the Rum
- Governor's Fiery Daughter
- Clever, Trained Monkey
- Pirate Talk
- Jewelry, esp. Earrings, Gold Teeth
- Big Pirate Boots, Pirate Hats, Sashes
- Jolly Roger
- Ability to carry a dagger (at least) in the mouth
- Treasure Maps
- Treasure Chests
- X marks the spot
- Buried treasure, caves, hollow trees
- Gold, Jewels, "Doubloons", "Pieces of Eight", Jewelry
Some fantasy elements are fairly easily blended into even "historical" piracy.
- Native Curses
- Undead (Zombies, Skeletons, Ghosts)
- Magical Tattoos
- Exceptionally Clever Talking Parrots
- Sea Monsters
There is also the option of having a piracy game in a pseudo-D&D fantasy world, with elves, dwarves, gnomes, etc. Any world with treasure-laden ships and limited protection for them will have pirates.
And then there are the Vampirates. The vampirates are ocean-going vampires who hate land-based vampires ("lubbers"). They're more piratical than vampire in their ways, but the expression "bucket of blood" is more likely to be literal. Something I developed for other reasons, but could make it into a more fantasy-rich Pirate game.
The "Pirate Alphabet"
The "Roguelike Alphabet" section of my theme features is meant primarily for those using traditional ASCII graphics where monsters are represented by letters, but even if you are using tile graphics, they are a resource for filling out your game's population.
- A American, albatross
- B buccaneer, boatman, boy, bird
- C cabin boy, captain
- D deckhand, dockhand, dolphin, dog
- E eel, Englishman
- F fisherman, fish, Frenchman
- G girl, governor
- H helmsman, hookhand
- I islander, Indian, iguana
- J jack/jack-tar, jellyfish
- K king, kelp
- L Limey, (land)lubber, longshoreman
- M mariner, marine, midshipman, master, mate, monkey
- N navigator, native
- O oarsman, officer
- P pirate, parrot, priest, pegleg
- Q queen, quartermaster
- R rower, rat/rodent
- S seaman, sailor, shipman, shark, Spaniard, Scot, squid, soldier
- T tar, turncoat
- U urchin
- V voodoo priest
- W whaler, whale, whore, wench
- X treasure
- Y yeoman, youth
- Z Zorro-a-like
And a list of possible pirate types/titles: pirate, buccaneer, privateer, freeboot(er), marauder, ravager, pillager, looter, ransacker, raider, seafarer, sea dog, sea rover, scalawag
And we need another alphabet for play at sea:
- A - Aquatic creature (Octopus, Shark, etc.)
- B - Bottle, Barrel, Barge, Barque
- C - Canoe, Caravel, Catamaran, Coracle, Cutter
- D - Dinghy, Dory, Dreadnought, Dugout
- E - ?
- F - Ferry, Frigate
- G - Galleon, Galley, Ghost Ship
- H - ?
- I - Iceberg
- J - Junk (Chinese boat)
- K - Kayak
- L - Launch, Lifeboat, Log, Longboat
- M - Man-o-war, Merchant ship
- N - ?
- O - Outrigger
- P - Punt
- Q - ?
- R - Raft, Rowboat
- S - Scow, Skiff, Sloop, Sargasso
- T - Trireme
- U - ?
- V - aVian creature -- also, V looks like a bird
- W - Whaleboat
- X - ?
- Y - Yacht
- Z - ?
- ^ - Shark!
While I really like the idea of using ^ for sharks, I'd probably want something like
- ^ for rough waves
- ~ for normal ocean
- - for calm water
- : for rocks/coral
- ' for sandbars).
Books: Treasure Island, Peter Pan, histories of pirates
Movies: any movie based on a listed pirate book, Pirates of the Caribbean, Errol Flynn pirate movies