Shackles Letter of Marque
A Shackles letter of marque radiates faint transmutation magic.
Scribed with a firm hand in blood-red ink and emblazoned with an elaborate seal of crimson wax, this thick, waxed paper grants its bearer license to attack and capture ships of enemy nations as a privateer. It is not an uncommon practice for nations of the Inner Sea to issue letters of marque and reprisal to their ships, but those issued in the pirate confederacy of the Shackles grant permission to engage in egregious acts of pillage and prize-taking, which can only be described as piracy by more lawful nations.
Lawful letters of marque are issued to specific ships, not individuals, but in the Shackles, they are granted to a specific captain and his or her officers. A Shackles letter of marque accords its bearer the authority to seize or destroy cargo, incarcerate or slay crew and passengers, and sink or capture ships from other nations, mercantile or otherwise. Within the territorial bounds of the Shackles, these manifold privileges also apply against any ships or captains who haven’t sworn loyalty to a known Free Captain or who doesn’t carry their own letter of marque (though bearing a letter of marque is no guarantee of safety from other pirates, who frequently strike first and ask questions later).
Possession of a Shackles letter of marque is a crime in most civilized nations and regularly carries a penalty of death by hanging. As a result, a Shackles letter of marque is protected by a secret page spell, enabling its bearer to speak a secret command word to alter the text to something more innocuous, such as a cargo manifest, nautical chart, or page from a ship’s log.
It’s common knowledge within the Shackles who has been granted letters of marque, and most Free Captains keep accounts of which ships and captains have them, making it extraordinarily difficult to forge these documents or steal them to perpetrate a deception.