“Captain Graybeard’s Plunder” is a web based point and click game by Julian Mortimer Smith. Much of the pirate fiction I’ve seen in past IF has been written as light puzzlers; Captain Verdeterre’s Plunder (Ryan Veeder, 2013), Pirateship (Robin Johnson, 2019), even going way back to “Plundered Hearts” (Amy Briggs, 1987). For that matter, many of the recent pirate films have been written light “The Pirates! Band of Misfits.” or the unending “Pirates of the Carribean” franchise. Of course there have also been some rather more violent and dramatic treatments of modern piracy off the coast of Africa. “Captain Graybeard’s Plunder” takes neither of these approaches.
That I went into “Captain Graybeard’s Plunder” hoping for comedy was a mistake. My first play-through I scrolled through more quickly than the author’s efforts deserved, just wanting to see the ending. Once I understood what it was about, I went back and played a second time, reading more carefully. “Graybeard’s Plunder” draws on a tradition of sea faring stories much older than “Pirates of the Carribean”. Indeed, the reader is invited to create their own sea story by cobbling together passages from 19th century literature. The game is an homage to authors who knew the sea and its dangers: H.Melville, RL.Stevenson, J.Verne and others. While doing this, the player comes to know the character of Graybeard, an aging pirate who once experienced defeat at sea and now has only his books.
The graphic design in the game is well done. A variety of font choices appear for deliberate purpose in the story telling. This game works well as a piece of IF conceptual art.