When you are still a boy, your family is enslaved by the evil Marquis de
Montalban, and only you manage to escape. Ten years later, now a lad of 18, you
decide to set sail for the Caribbean to try your luck there, and hopefully find
a trace of your family and get your revenge on the evil Marquis while you're at
Every game of Sid Meier's Pirates starts with the creation of a pirate. Except
for the very first game after installation, where you only enter a name and all
the other options are preset to the easiest available, as a tutorial of sorts.
You also choose a starting nationality by signing up with any of the four
captains. Your choice between the Dutch, English, French and Spanish has some
consequences on your starting position, but you are in no way required to stay
with the nation you decide to start with. You can work for or against anybody
you choose and change allegiances however much you want during your career.
Once you've chosen who to sign up with, a short scene describes your voyage to
the Caribbean, and how a mutiny on board eventually sees you as the ship's new
captain. As the game begins, you have one ship and a small crew under your
command, and you'll start outside a random port (usually one of some
consequence) of the nation you've chosen to start out with.
From there on, the game is completely in your hands. Where you sail and what
you do there is now up to you. Some of the activities you might engage in are:
- Buy and sell various goods in the ports of the Caribbean; preferably buying
low and selling high.
- Attack the shipping of one or more nations, plundering the gold aboard their
ships and selling off the cargo you steal from them.
- Work either as a freelance pirate or attack the enemies of a specific nation
to win their favor as a privateer, and gain rank and land grants for your
- Add ships to your fleet by stealing them from other nations, and add to your
crew by recruiting new men in taverns. Upgrade and repair your ships at various
- Get special items that help out with various parts of your career from
mysterious travellers, or gather information about poorly defended ports or
fat prizes sailing around nearby.
- Attack and plunder ports, and possibly get the chance to install a governor
of another nation if your attack is overwhelming enough; definitely getting the
favour of said nation.
- Get introduced to governor's daughters, impress them with your dancing
ability if they invite you to the ball, and eventually court and marry the one
of your choice. Or just have a girlfriend in every port if you prefer.
- Cross swords with 9 famous, historical pirates who are also active in the
Caribbean and establish yourself as the most notorious pirate of your era.
- Receive information on buried treasure, lost cities, the whereabouts of your
enslaved family members, and the hideout of Marquis Montalban himself. Then,
of course, act on that information.
- Retire a wealthy, high ranking, married and happy man when you become too old
for piracy. Or disappear in disgrace as a penniless pickpocket if you did not
do so well.
The majority of the game takes place sailing on the world map of the Caribbean,
and conducting your business in ports. Apart from that, most activities are
structured as a minigame of sorts, which includes naval battles, land battles,
swordfighting, dancing, and sneaking in/out of hostile ports. All these
activities are described in detail in this FAQ.