While listening to an episode of Extra Credits yesterday (the episode about Anonymous), I found myself thinking about the “pirate” social faction I designed for the Rumors of War ‘verse. One of the problems I had with the factions before was that I wanted them all to have a “positive” facet, and pirates/bandits/slavers seemed to be completely irredeemable in my eyes.

Thinking about Anonymous got me thinking about the outlaw’s place in society. I got to thinking about exiles, explorers, adventurers, and bandits. Often times, the people who were sent out to explore the world weren’t really the most likeable sort. They were given leave to “go somewhere else” because they had become undesirables.

So I got to thinking about how this might be reflected in the factions I’d already developed. While working on the pirates, I noticed too much crossover with pilgrims, who are supposed to oppose them. Exiles belong with the pilgrims — one trait most pilgrims share they’re usually “walking the earth” in search of something important to them, possibly (more often than not) seeking atonement.

Paragons of the pilgrim archetype are wandering judges, notable for their ability to discern the character of individuals and pass judgment after hearing the details of an incident. They serve as advocates, juries, and judges, having an unimpeachable role in society. (They’re a wizened outsider who may well be a demigod in disguise.)

I realized that to complement pilgrims, then, I had to do something with the pirates, bandits, and slavers, when it occurred to me that they might serve a very important role — as jailers. In times where murder or theft may have you forced out of the only place in an unforgiving world where people know your name, there are some people who will still recognize your ability to move heavy objects.

Becoming a slave gives an un-person new purpose in the world, when your options are “go away or die.” You may give up your freedom, but you can be put to some use. It’s a way to start over. There’s always someone who will take you, if you’ve lost everything but haven’t given up hope (even if you feel like you’ve given up hope).

It occurred to me then, that pirates, bandits, and slavers fill an important role in society — where criminals are turned out of towns and villages or executed in cities, they still have value among those who need work done. You might crew a pirate vessel, or serve in a mine or on some kind of farm or plantation. You might even have hope, that with enough work you’ll be redeemed of whatever crime you’ve committed.

Now that I’ve figured out where pirates belong, I’m reevaluating the other factions to see what can be done to further differentiate them from one another.