The Engagement Ring is a series of volcanic islands surrounding an oceanic sulphur spring. Located north of impassable Continental terrain, surrounded by rocky bluffs and projected by the dangerous waters of the straight between Etsey and the Continent known as Perjory’s Casket, the Ring has long been the haven of pirates.
Each bay and series of caves is claimed by a clan; the larger the clan, the larger the area claimed. Each clan might have anywhere from four to four hundred pirate vessels at its command, ranging from commandeered grand frigates to lowly ten-man sloops. They patrol the icy waters of the north, intercepting Hainian cargo ships and running the highly profitable (and economically necessary) smuggling trade between the Continent and Etsey. While Ring pirates often go south to the warmer shores of southern Catal for special runs, they have gone less and less since the wars began.
Ring pirates tend to wear their hair long and in thick matted ropes which can be piled on their head using one of the matted ropes as a tie during battle. The colors of dye, bits of fabric, and sometimes pieces of metal worked into the hair ropes signify clan, position, and skills mastered. Other jewelry such as earrings and necklaces indicate sexual preference and prowess, heritage, and cargo preference.
Above all else Ring pirates prize independence. While they aren’t disloyal, each pirate understands his clan is at best a loose protection and that in dangerous situations he should best look after himself. The only line not to be crossed is ownership of a vessel; mutiny is a sin among Ring pirates more devious than cold-blooded murder. Any crew that mutinies is immediately outcast from not just their clan but the Ring itself, and if they are found out by any other Ring pirate vessel they will be captured and hung with no mercy granted.
Ships are assigned by clan leaders. Clan leaders are elected from a pool of retired pirates of a clan, and the higher rankings within the leadership are worked out by the leadership itself. Young pirates are rarely born; they make their way to the Ring from other countries and choose their clan and their captain. All ship captains must win their crew, who are free to move to a new ship at every return to port.
Ring pirates are almost always men; there are occasionally women pirates, but generally they abandon their male-led ships as soon as a kinder ship appears, and it is a well-known fact that if a Ring pirate ship carries female crew, a kinder ship will appear sooner or later, though no one knows quite how this works.