Pirates

Corresponding to the crescent in our van, we beheld another in our rear. It seemed formed of detached white vapours, rising and falling something like the spouts of the whales; only they did not so completely come and go; for they constantly hovered, without finally disappearing. Levelling his glass at this sight, Ahab quickly revolved in his pivot-hole, crying, “Aloft there, and rig whips and buckets to wet the sails;—Malays, sir, and after us!”

As if too long lurking behind the headlands, till the Pequod should fairly have entered the straits, these rascally Asiatics were now in hot pursuit, to make up for their over-cautious delay. But when the swift Pequod, with a fresh leading wind, was herself in hot chase; how very kind of these tawny philanthropists to assist in speeding her on to her own chosen pursuit,—mere riding-whips and rowels to her, that they were. As with glass under arm, Ahab to-and-fro paced the deck; in his forward turn beholding the monsters he chased, and in the after one the bloodthirsty pirates chasing him; some such fancy as the above seemed his. And when he glanced upon the green walls of the watery defile in which the ship was then sailing, and bethought him that through that gate lay the route to his vengeance, and beheld, how that through that same gate he was now both chasing and being chased to his deadly end; and not only that, but a herd of remorseless wild pirates and inhuman atheistical devils were infernally cheering him on with their curses;—when all these conceits had passed through his brain, Ahab’s brow was left gaunt and ribbed, like the black sand beach after some stormy tide has been gnawing it, without being able to drag the firm thing from its place.

—The Grand Armada

While the narrative of the Pequod’s near encounter with Malay pirates is a brief one, the inclusion of pirates into this game was never doubted—just as Melville’s inclusion of the pirates is a brief but forceful tool to enhance the madness of Ahab, and to enter the final waters of the Pacific with all the necessary heightening of dramatic tension. Our use of this tool is modified into the use of brief ‘mini-game’ scenarios, found in both traditional and emerging game systems.

The players must, in turn, put forward one of their more valued sailors, should they wish to defeat the pirate boat, or in some scenarios, put forward a sailor they wouldn’t mind being rid of—one of the cursed pair Gabriel and Elijah, or even one of the less valuable forecastlemen, all for the sake of forcing the loss of a valued sailor put forward by a rival player. Who but the most piratish among us would stoop so low? Such maneuvering is bold play, and will make you enemies, but never forget that it’s the sea that holds your fate in it’s unfeeling fingers, not those fellow mortals—but, enough.

Original Image Courtesy of The New Bedford Whaling Museum.

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