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Piracy is a form of criminal violence or robbery by individuals using ships, boats, and, less commonly, aerial means of transport. Historically, piracy has been common across many parts of the world, with some regions such as the Eastern Sea being notorious for their high levels of naval crime. Most piracy is aimed at the acquisition of wealth through illegal means.

Generally speaking, pirate crews were considered outlaws and hunted by states, though sometimes corsairs have been tolerated or even enlisted by government-linked individuals or groups for covert purposes. On the other side, pirates have sometimes operated as actual, politically and socially motivated rebels.

Pirate groups can range from small collections of criminals to massive organizations like the Fifth Nation which were more akin to a raiding people than a pirate crew. Even before the globalization after the Hundred Year War, pirate groups were often cultural melting pots, uniting people of many different backgrounds.

History[]

For much of history, the Eastern Sea harbored a great number of often infighting pirate groups.[1][2] In contrast, the waters around the Fire Islands were usually rather free of corsairs, as the powerful Fire Navy hunted any attempting to bother the Fire Nation.[1]

The 4th and 3rd centuries BG were a period of especially high pirate activity. One group in particular, the Fifth Nation, grew during the eras of Yangchen and Kuruk until it had become more like a maritime people instead of a crime group. The Fifth Nation ultimately became so powerful as to largely control the Eastern Sea and the South Sea, emboldening it to seek official status and conquer coastal areas. It was ultimately shattered in a confrontation with Avatar Kyoshi and Yun's party in 296 BG,[1][2] though remnant groups continued to persist.[3][4] Kyoshi continued to hunt pirates after this battle.[5]

In the era of Roku, pirates were still common enough to potentially threaten the "Grand Tour" of the Unity.[6]

Sokka convincing the pirates

In 99 AG, one pirate group captured Avatar Aang.

There was another surge of piracy during the Hundred Year War. Pirates were rather common in the waters surrounding the Earth Kingdom,[7][8][9] and could also be found raiding the latter's rivers.[10] In addition, corsairs operated around the South Pole.[11] By the late war, some pirate groups became bold enough to raid the Fire Nation military for supplies,[9] and a few operated as outright anti-Fire Nation rebels.[10][12] One such group, the Crimson Sails Armada, grew large enough to even threaten the Fire Islands until it was bribed by Fire Lord Ozai to become neutral.[12] Another pirate group also became repeatedly entangled with Aang's Team Avatar[7][13] and almost murdered Prince Zuko.[14]

Piracy remained an issue after the Hundred Year War. The Crimson Sails Armada launched a large-scale raiding campaign against the Fire Nation during Fire Lord Zuko's early reign.[12] Decades later, the United Forces clashed with pirates.[15] Various pirates and other criminals managed to entrench themselves in the less well-regulated sections of Republic City's harbors.[16] By the 170s AG, some corsairs started to operate biplanes and engaded in air piracy.[17]

Practices[]

Pirates usually cooperate with other, land-based crime groups such as smugglers or urban gangs. In this way, they can turn their ill-gotten gains into money.[10][18] Other pirates prefer to directly sell their illegal wares on their ships, turning their vessels into mobile black markets.[7][19] Some pirate groups like the Fifth Nation were also active as slavers and kidnappers, using their victims as forced labor or selling them into servitude.[1][2][20]

Tagaka

Fifth Nation leader Tagaka was part of a pirate dynasty covering several generations.

Many pirates value exotic goods and certain animals to signify their status,[4][21] with the iguana parrot being a popular pet among corsairs.[21] It is also not uncommon for piracy to develop into a family business, with several generations serving in the same crew.[2][10][22] Having a family background in piracy, especially one rooted in respected or feared groups like the Fifth Nation, can earn people greater acceptance in criminal circles.[3][12]

Despite their illegal and violent activities, pirates are welcomed in some areas of the world. Certain settlements such as the seedy merchants pier opened their harbors for pirates due to an interest in partaking in their profits.[23] In massive cities like Republic City, certain harbor sections lacked police oversight, allowing for criminal activity by pirates.[16] In other cases, communities facing great economic difficulties became so desperate that cooperation with pirates was their main way to survive.[4] Some pirate groups, especially powerful ones, have also been able to set up bases and fortresses, often on islands[9][12] or other protected locations such as coastal caves.[8][11] Corsair bases occasionally grow into major agglomerations, with the pirate-controlled island of Crimson Sails possessing a substantial population by the 100s AG.[12][24]

Known pirate groups[]

Trivia[]

References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 16, 2019). Chapter Three, "The Boy From Makapu". The Rise of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 16, 2019). Chapter Seven, "The Iceberg". The Rise of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Messages, Avatar: Generations. Navigator Games & Square Enix Mobile London (August 11, 2022). Square Enix.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Core Book, Version 1.0, 2022, p. 43.
  5. Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 21, 2020). Chapter Nineteen, "The Companion". The Shadow of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  6. Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Core Book, Version 1.0, 2022, p. 52.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 O'Bryan, John (writer) & Lioi, Anthony (director). (April 29, 2005). "The Waterbending Scroll". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 1. Episode 9. Nickelodeon.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "Kyoshi Island", Avatar: Generations. Navigator Games & Square Enix Mobile London (August 11, 2022). Square Enix.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 "Ketu Harbor", Avatar: Generations. Navigator Games & Square Enix Mobile London (August 11, 2022). Square Enix.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 Hicks, Faith Erin; Hedrick, Tim (writer), Wartman, Peter (artist), Matera, Adele (colorist), Betancourt, Jimmy (letterer). Katara and the Pirate's Silver (October 13, 2020), Dark Horse Comics.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 "Icebound Labyrinth", Avatar: Generations. Navigator Games & Square Enix Mobile London (November 7, 2022). Square Enix.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Starter Set, Adventure Booklet, pg. 5.
  13. Koertge, Ron (writer), Yang, Gene Luen (artist), Pien, Lark (colorist). "Sokka's Poem" (October 2, 2019), Dark Horse Comics.
  14. DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (November 18, 2005). "The Waterbending Master". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 1. Episode 18. Nickelodeon.
  15. Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Graham, Ian (director). (November 15, 2013). "Harmonic Convergence". The Legend of Korra. Book Two: Spirits. Episode 12. Nickelodeon.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Republic City, Version 1.0, 2022, p. 28.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Dawson, Delilah (writer), Monik, Alexandria (artist), Betancourt, Jimmy; Starkings, Richard (letterer). "Cat-Owl's Cradle" (November 30, 2022), Dark Horse Comics.
  18. Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Quickstart, Version 1.0, 2021, p. 31.
  19. From older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, originally on Nick.com. Encyclopedia now broken, archived at The Lost Lore of Avatar Aang - Location: Pirate ship boutique.
  20. Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Core Book, Version 1.0, 2022, p. 264.
  21. 21.0 21.1 From older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, originally on Nick.com. Encyclopedia now broken, archived at The Lost Lore of Avatar Aang - The Lost Lore of Avatar Aang - Creature: Reptile bird.
  22. 22.0 22.1 Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Starter Set, Kahola the Successor playbook.
  23. From older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, originally on Nick.com. Encyclopedia now broken, archived at The Lost Lore of Avatar Aang - Location: Merchant's pier.
  24. Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Starter Set, Adventure Booklet, pg. 14.
  25. The Lost Scrolls: Water, page 37 of The Lost Scrolls Collection.
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