Pirates of the Burning Sea: Bi-Weekly Q&A SeriesPirates of the Burning Sea: Interview #4Pirates of the Burning Sea: Bi-Weekly Q&A Series - RSS 2.0
Jess Lebow is the Content Director of Pirates of the Burning Sea, but in this latest edition of our Q&A series, we talk to him about what inspires him and what made it into the game from history and reality. Lebow - who is also a novelist - gives us in-depth responses on all fronts!
"History and Inspiration"
Answers by Jess Lebow (Content Director)
Questions by Dana Massey
WarCry: What have been your prevailing influences in designing Pirates, in terms of history, literature and pop-culture?
Jess Lebow: Wow, well, to be honest, the list is long. We play a lot of games at Flying Lab (and we have some very serious pop-culture junkies). So off the top of my head, here's a less-than-comprehensive list...
- Sid Meier's Pirates!
- City of Heroes
- Guild Wars
- Monkey Island
- And in terms of storytelling-anything Bioware has made (we've played them all)
- Patrick O'Brian
- C.S. Forester
- Dudley Pope
- Rafael Sabatini
- Captain Blood
- Captain Hook :)
- Horatio Hornblower
- Treasure Island
- Pirate's Guide to Freeport
- Under the Black Flag
- The General History of Pirates
- Blackbeard (of course)
- William Kidd
- Black Bart Roberts
- Anne Bonny
- Mary Read
WarCry: Often, we're told that when history and fun collide, fun wins. While that makes perfect sense, talk about some of the areas where historical accuracy has endured.
Jess Lebow: I think the biggest thing is the sense of freedom and danger that were so prevalent in the Caribbean at that time. If you take a look at the map and you think about the political climate in 1720, you realize that the conditions were absolutely perfect for piracy. It's a huge area, dotted with islands-which means there were plenty of places to hide. The fastest form of travel is via sailing ship-which means that a pirate in a small ship is likely as well equipped as even the British navy and in many cases too fast to catch.
Add to this the fact that none of the European powers have enough ships to be considered the one true authority in the Caribbean. (As an example, the Royal Navy in 1714 had only 214 ships world wide. If you assume the other nations' navies had similar numbers and that only a fraction of those ships were stationed in the Caribbean, you start to see that it was nearly impossible for them to maintain order.) And of course, they bicker amongst themselves, oftentimes taking each others ports-which means they have to divide their limited resources between fighting the other European nations and hunting down pirates.
Anyone who sailed the open sea was taking a tremendous risk with every voyage they undertook. But with that risk came reward for those who had the might or the negotiating skills to capitalize on it. And pirates were free to do whatever they pleased-as long as they had the strength or the speed to get away with it.
In PotBS when I'm taking a load of iron ingots and black powder into a contested area, I'm taking a similar risk. I've spent time and in-game currency to create these goods, and if I get attacked by pirates or privateers while I'm on my way to market, then I could lose them (and a point of durability on my ship). Of course, I have the choice to take my wares to another location, so I can avoid this, but only if I'm willing to take less money or allow my nations enemies to deter me.
We've tried really hard to preserve this emotional sense of freedom and danger that organically comes out of the reality of this time period, and we've succeeded.