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The Perfect Ten: Pirates ahoy!


Fantasy pirates: Love 'em or hate 'em, they're deeply ingrained in geek culture to the point that they're almost impossible to dislodge. This past Monday was International Talk Like a Pirate Day, when everyone's inner pirate was encouraged to "Arr!" heartily, look for treasure in long-forgotten places, and embrace the fashion style of bandanas and eyepatches.

It seemed like a perfect week, therefore, to look at piratey life in MMOs. From entire games to mere outfits and from the token pirate union that has a chapter in each game to delusional madmen, this list aims to sate the swagger of keyboard swashbucklers. It's a testament to the pirate phenomenon that most developers can't help but include a buccaneer or two, even if the setting isn't always asking for it -- a phenomenon even the U.S. Navy has accepted.

Hit the jump to start, and sail straight on 'til morning!

Perfect Ten #1
1. World of Warcraft: The Deadmines

World of Warcraft fully embraced the pirate spirit from Day One, and nowhere is this seen more than in the uber-popular dungeon of The Deadmines. The underground pirate fortress culminates in an epic battle onboard a secret pirate ship, where fabled foes such as Mr. Smite and Cookie the Cook lie in wait. Lucky players can nab themselves a colorful parrot pet along the way, and everyone races to be the one to get to fire the big ol' cannon.

The Deadmines' setting is based on The Goonies, which also featured an underground pirate ship. Years later, Lord of the Rings Online would do the same with its Inn of the Forsaken, but it's such a fun concept that few people complained of it being derivative. Speaking of Middle-earth...

Perfect Ten #2
2. Lord of the Rings Online: The Tale of the Shipwrecked Mariners

While "pirates" aren't the first thing that comes to mind when dealing with JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series, Turbine couldn't seem to help itself in shoehorning a bilge rat or two into LotRO. Thus, The Tale of the Shipwrecked Mariners, a mini-event of sorts, was introduced into the game in September 2007. During brief windows of time, players can accept the quest to help out a pirate shipwrecked mariner who is in no way bad. He stands there stranded on the shores of the Brandywine, offering helpful adventurers the opportunity to earn themselves a few nifty cosmetics for retrieving his stuff.

Sure, the event might be punching holes through the lore, but at least the guy isn't singing "Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me" while aping Johnny Depp.

Perfect Ten #3
3. Dungeons and Dragons Online: Yaaryar

Ask any veteran DDO player where one might find pirates in Stormreach, and invariably you'll be pointed in the direction of Irestone Inlet. It's here that the not-so-fearsome hobgoblin pirate Yaaryar and his crew of mateys are waiting for you to blow up their ship and ruin their day. The instance is full of hilarious voice-overs from the dungeon master, including the classic "Yaryarr shouts 'I will kill you, kill you all!' as he falls, effectively calling his own bluff."

Perfect Ten #4
4. Pirates of the Burning Sea: Swashbuckling adventures

From privateers to buccaneers, Pirates of the Burning Sea is wall-to-wall pirates for those in our audience who don't want to pussyfoot around with a mere pegleg cameo. Fighting for the cutthroats or against them, players are encouraged to embrace the spirit of the old Caribbean as they sail tall ships looking for plunder and fame. Pirates of the Burning Sea is one of those largely undiscovered gems in the MMO industry that tends to get pretty positive word-of-mouth -- if people take the time to play it, that is.

Perfect Ten #5
5. Pirates of the Caribbean Online: Savvy? Anyone?

Do you know anyone who plays this? I'm genuinely curious because I sure as heck don't. With the immense popularity of this four-film, one-theme park ride franchise, it makes complete sense to want to milk it from the udders of MMOs. But the title didn't seem to grab either kids nor adults, it got middling reviews, and to this day it dithers somewhere in the realm of Davy Jones' Locker. A shame, that.

Perfect Ten #6
6. City of Villains: G-g-ghost pirates

As Scooby-Doo taught us, the only thing worse than a pirate is a ghost pirate. This is true for the fort at City of Villains' Port Oakes, where a massacre by pirates turned innocent French sailors into vengeful ghosts. Now the place has become rife with ghost sailors and pirates alike, all looking for their rightful piece of eight but unable to secure a loan from the bank due to their incorporeal status.

Perfect Ten #7
7. Warhammer Online: Long Drong

The pirate thing's been done so many times over the years with such little innovation that we almost forget there's leeway to be creative with the concept. Enter Warhammer Online's Captain Long Drong, a pirate who so happens to be a Dwarf, and not just any Dwarf, but a punk Slayer Dwarf. He's also eschewed the traditional pirate ship for a heavily armored ironclad vessel that's sitting in the cove off Barak Varr, looking to take a bite out of the nasty Greenskins.

Perfect Ten #8
8. Free Realms: Pirate's Plunder

Well-known for its many minigames and adventurous spirit, Free Realms embraced the spirit of the Jolly Roger with its Pirate's Plunder update. Players were invited to leap into a fast-paced ship vs. ship skirmish as scallywags fought over all the treasure that was conveniently located in open water. Pirates! Cute!

Perfect Ten #9
9. EVE Online: Pirates in space

Of course, it's hard to have a discussion about MMO pirates without mentioning the game that thrives on piracy of all types: EVE Online. While predators may not fly the skull-and-crossbones, these players are pirates nevertheless, attacking and looting the weaker and less fortunate for their sparkling modules. It amuses me that there has to be a distinction made between player pirates and NPC pirates (or "rats"), as there's so much piracy in here that it comes in multiple flavors. The Baskin-Robbins of picaroons, so to speak.

Perfect Ten #10
10. Runes of Magic: Ravenfell

Pirates are good and all, but most just burn out after a few years of looting and pillaging. The truly dedicated folk set up a dynasty of pirate legends and perhaps a few associated gift shops, as was done in Runes of Magic. Ravenfell is such a pirate magnet that it's been terrorized by the Black Sail for generations, to the point that you'd think the locals would just get up and move on, perhaps going to the calmer locale of Pirates of the Caribbean Online. There they could retire in peace without having to worry about any intruders forcing the servers to generate virtual mayhem.

Justin "Syp" Olivetti enjoys counting up to ten, a feat that he considers the apex of his career. If you'd like to learn how to count as well, check out The Perfect Ten. You can contact him via email at or through his gaming blog, Bio Break.

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