Wilderlands Skull and Shackles
The Free Captains' Letter of Marque
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 seagoing City States of the Wilderlands to issue letters of marque and reprisal to their ships, but those issued by the pirate confederacy of Rallu grant permission to engage in egregious acts of pillage and prize-taking, which can only be described as piracy by more lawful City States.
Lawful letters of marque are issued to specific ships, not individuals, but among the Free Captains of Rallu, they are granted to a specific captain and his or her officers. A Free Captains’ 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 City States or ports, mercantile or otherwise. The sole exception is ships of the The Tarantine Merchant’s Association, which pays an annual tribute to the Free Captains’ pirate council.
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 Free Captains’ letter of marque is a crime in most civilized nations and regularly carries a penalty of death by excruciating means. As a result, a Free Captains’ 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 throughout the Fingers of Oricha and the Shackles archipelago 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 magic.