Cyclopaedia 21: Pirates

Welcome to Cyclopaedia 21: PiratesCyclopaedia is a monthly article on the InnRoads Ministries website as part of the Getting Started series. While growing up, I was introduced to classic books by my grandfather, including Robinson Crusoe and Treasure Island. It was there I was first introduced to the villainous yet adventurous world of pirates. Since then I have been impacted by cartoons like Pirates of Dark Water and the Pirates of the Caribbean movie series which have added a romantic and almost heroic aspect to fictional piracy. And one of my all time favorite movies, Goonies, solidified my fascination with pirates and their legends. Whether you view pirates as villains or as misunderstood anti-heroes, they are a common staple in seafaring and coastal stories. Climb to the crow’s nest and seek out treasure with me!

If you have questions about this article or topics you would like me to consider researching for future Cyclopaedia articles, please leave a comment below.


Piracy, historically, constitutes a criminal act by ship-borne attackers, sometimes attacking other ships, but most often attacking coastal settlements. Those who commit acts of piracy are called pirates.

From that historical perspective, the romantic view of pirates blossomed in literature and cinema, and later into games and other entertainment. We have romanticized their criminal lives and seafaring adventures, whether they be villains or anti-heroes seeking freedom on the high seas. Their mysterious lives, codes of conduct, brash attitudes, skill in battle, and their life on the seas, sailing from island to island have fascinated readers and viewers for centuries.

Add in the mysteries of buried treasures, legends, shipwrecks, and curses to create interest and passions the world over. From historians to novelists, from archaeologists to treasure hunters, and from kids to kids-at-heart, pirates fill the dreams and stories the world over.

From the early days of sea voyages in wood ships to the high-tech voyages of cargo ships, piracy and pirates still garner the attention and interests of fact and fiction today.

More Than One Kind Of Pirate?

When most think of pirates, they either think of the cinematic-influenced sailor of the seas ransacking ships and ports, looking for treasure. Yet throughout history, there have been various purveyors of piracy that have gone by very specific and romantic-sounding names.

  • Buccaneer
  • Corsair
  • Freebooter
  • Marauder
  • Picaroon
  • Privateer
  • Raider
  • Sea Rover

Following are sources of information pertaining to Pirates to assist prospective game masters, game designers, writers, and storytellers in knowing where to start their research.



Feral Cities — Pirate Havens – Throughout its history, piracy could not have survived — And cannot survive today — Without firmly emplaced lifelines on land.
By Frick, Matthew M
Source: Proceedings of the United States Naval Institute. 134, no. 12, (2008): 40           

Pirate and buccaneer doctors
By Eloesser, Leo
Source: Annals of medical history, Vol. 8 (1926), p. 31-60

Pirate Voyages in History and Fantasy
By Bialuschewski, Arne
Source: Global Crime, 7, no. 2 (2006): 256-259



Birds of Prey
By Smith, Wilbur

The Buccaneers of America
By Exquemelin, Alexander O.

Captain Blood
By Sabatini, Rafael

Captain Pugwash
By Ryan, John

Captain Singleton
By Defoe, Daniel

The Coral Island
By Ballantyne, RM

A General History of the Pyrates
By Defoe, Daniel

A General History of the Robberies and Murderers of the Most Notorious Pirates
By Johnson, Capt. Charles

The Gold-Bug
By Poe, Edger Allan

The Golden Age of Piracy: The Truth Behind Pirate Myths
By Little, Benerson

How I Became a Pirate
By Long, Melinda

The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates
By Leeson, Peter T.

Iron Men, Wooden Women: Gender and Seafaring in the Atlantic World, 1700-1920
By Creighton, Margaret S.

The Island
By Benchley, Peter

On Stranger Tides
By Powers, Tim

By Shakespeare, William

Peter Pan
By Barrie, J.M

The Pirate
By Scott, Sir Walter

The Pirate Hunter
By Zacks, Richard

Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship
By Kurson, Robert

Pirate Latitudes
By Crichton, Michael

The Pirate Primer: Mastering the Language of Swashbucklers and Rogues
By Choundas, George

Pirate Spirit
By Williams, Jeffery

Pirate Women: The Princesses, Prostitutes, and Privateers Who Ruled the Seven Seas
By Duncombe, Laura Sook

Queen of the Black Coast
By Howard, Robert E.

The Red Rover
By Cooper, James Fenimore

The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down
By Woodard, Colin

Robinson Crusoe
By Defoe, Daniel

Seafaring Women: Adventures of Pirate Queens, Female Stowaways, and Sailors’ Wives
By Cordingly, David

The Sea Rover’s Practice: Pirate Tactics and Techniques, 1630-1730
By Little, Benerson

She Captains: Heroines and Hellions of the Sea
By Druett, Joan

Treasure Island
By Stevenson, Robert Louis

Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Pirates
By Cordingly, David

X Marks the Spot: The Archaeology of Piracy
By Skowronek, Russell K.

Z for Zachariah
By O’Brien, Robert C.



50 Fathoms – RPG
7th Sea – RPG
Age of Booty – Computer Game
Age of Pirates 2: City of Abandoned Ships – Computer Game
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag – Computer Game
Black Fleet – Tabletop Game
Blackwake – Computer Game
Blood & Gold Caribbean – Computer Game
Cartegena – Tabletop Game
Dark Seas – Tabletop Game
Dead Man’s Draw – Computer Game
Dead Men Tell No Tales – Tabletop Game
Down Among The Dead Men – Computer Game
Flashing Blades – RPG
Freeport: The City of Adventure – RPG
The Goonies Board Game – Tabletop Game
Grog Island – Tabletop Game
GURPS Swashbucklers – RPG
Jamaica – Tabletop Game
Lego Pirates of the Caribbean – Computer Game
Libertalia – Tabletop Game
Loot – Tabletop Game
Man O’War – Computer Game
Merchants & Marauders – Tabletop Game
Munchkin Booty – Tabletop Game
Monkey Island – Computer Game
Oath of the Brotherhood – Tabletop Game
Pirate’s Cove – Tabletop Game
Pirate Fluxx – Tabletop Game
Port Royal – Tabletop Game
Pirate Den – Tabletop Game
Pirate Dice – Tabletop Game
Pirates of the 7 Seas – Tabletop Game
Pirates of the Burning Sea – Computer Game
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag – Computer Game
Piratoons – Tabletop Game
Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot – Tabletop Game
Pirates of the Fallen Stars – RPG
Port Royal – Tabletop Game
Port Royale 3 – Computer Game
Risen 2: Dark Waters – Computer Game
Rum & Bones – Tabletop Game
Rum & Pirates – Tabletop Game
Sea of Clouds – Tabletop Game
Sea of Thieves – Computer Game
Sid Meier’s Pirates! – Computer Game
Skulls & Shackles – RPG
Windward – Computer Game
Yarr! – RPG



Against All Flags
Anne of the Indies
Blackbeard the Pirate
Blackbeard’s Ghost
Black Sails – TV
The Black Swan
The Buccaneer
Captain Blood
Captain Phillips
The Crimson Pirate
Crossbones – TV
Cutthroat Island
The Goonies
A High Wind in Jamaica
The Island
Muppet Treasure Island
Mutiny on the Bounty
One Piece – Anime
Peter Pan
The Pirates! Band of Misfits
The Pirates of Dark Water – TV
Pirates of Penzance
Pirates of the Caribbean
The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything
Princess Bride
Savage Islands
The Scarlet Buccaneer
The Sea Hawk
Swiss Family Robinson
Treasure Island
Treasure Planet



Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum

Port Royal, Jamaica

St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum

Whydah Pirate Museum



Samuel Bellamy “Black Bellamy”
Stede Bonnet
Anne Bonny
Cheung Po Tsai
Ching Shih
Jeanne de Clisson
William Dampier
Stephen Decatur
Jacquotte Delahaye
Anne Dieu-Le-Veut
Sir Francis Drake
Henry Every “Long Ben”
Benjamin Hornigold
Sayyida al Hurra
William Kidd
Lady Elizabeth Killigrew
Jean Lafitte
Edward Lowe
Sir Henry Morgan
Grace O’Malley
John Rackham “Calico Jack”
Mary Read
Bartholomew Roberts “Black Bart”}
Edward Teach “Blackbeard”

I hope you find these resources informative and inspiring for your adventures, storytelling, or game design.

Stay Creative!

T.R. Knight

( If you would like to save this list of resources as a convenient PDF for later reference, you can find that HERE )


He is a freelance editor, proofreader, and writer in the game industry. He is also a Husband and Caregiver to his wife Angie, Father of Twins Emily and Rachel, Foodie and Hobby Chef, and Director of Academic Technology/Associate CIO at Taylor University. You can learn more about T.R. at his blog

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