Letters of Marque are a staple of historical adventure and pirate-oriented fiction: be it in the Spanish Main or at large into the stardust-strewn Orion’s Arm, no matter if you command a sailing ship or motor launch or a starship, a Letter of Marque is what you need to be on the safe side. At least, on one safe side, at least.
The handbook definition is as follows:
Letters of marque and reprisal are commissions or warrants issued to someone to commit what would otherwise be acts of piracy. They will normally contain the following first three elements, unless they imply or refer to a declaration of war to define the enemies, and may optionally contain the remainder:
- Names person, authorizes him to pass beyond borders with forces under his command.
- Specifies nationality of targets for action.
- Authorizes seizure or destruction of assets or personnel of target nationality.
- Describes offense for which commission is issued as reprisal.
- Restriction on time, manner, place, or amount of reprisal.
And that’s what I’ve been doing this afternoon, contrary to my plans – no, I don’t mean committing what would otherwise be acts of piracy(although it would be fun). I mean I spent part of the afternoon putting together a Letter of Marque issued by the Honourable East India Company to characters and players in my Hope & Glory roleplaying game – as in my universe John Company has become a sort of corporate state, they have a right to issue such documents.
Because we like sky privateers.
The letter is part of a special treat for some of our fans, and part of the current Kickstarter to release an Italian language edition of the game.
And who knows, might turn into a hook for future adventures. It was also a nice opportunity to do the sort of research that makes this writing thing quite fun.