Ah, the promise of a new world to explore. Even after doing the beta of a game, there is still something different about it when it goes live, when it “counts.” One neat and at the same time frustrating aspect of a new game world is the excitement of discovery– whether its a new cool area you’ve never seen or even the mundane aspects of “how things work” in the new world.
Most of this blush wears off when a game matures as so much knowledge is absorbed in teh interwebs. The game changes. Its becomes not so much about how things work but simply how to get to the good stuff quickly which can be its own kind of fun.
If you’ve ever leveled an alt you know what I mean. The second time through can be fun but its a different kind of fun. Like watching a rerun of a movie you enjoyed. You wont be surprised by a plot twist, but you begin to see different aspects of it and enjoy it nonetheless.
Of course, the first toon through a new world takes some knocks and makes some inevitable if-I’d-only-known wrong turns. The first time through is more like puzzle play almost.
Well, puzzle play continues for me in PotBS as I re-learned the difference between “pennants” and “commendations” last night. I knew this at one point but obviously forgot.
The non-pirates or “Nationals” in PotBS don’t get to actually capture and keep the ships they defeat in battle. Thats what pirates do. Instead the nationals only get to collect either a pennant or a commendation from vessels they defeat. In theory, they are all in service to the crown, so off the ship goes for the good of the realm and, aside from the loot you keep, you earn one of these rewards which you can turn in later for good stuff. More on that in a minute.
At level five, all three careers, Naval Officer, Freetrader and Privateer get a skill called Claim Prize which allows one to loot these reward marks from defeated ships. For Naval Officers, it yields a commendation. For Freetraders and Privateers, it gives you a pennant. Pennants and commendations are turned in for very different things. PotBS Wiki has a fair summary here. Note the French turn in in Point-a-Pitre in the Antilles.
That is unless, you are a Privateer and you specced your career points to get the skill “Grease the Wheel.” Grease the Wheel lets a Privateer get commendations instead of pennants. As far as I know, Freetraders are still stuck with pennants only, and Naval Officers commendations. Correct me if I’m wrong please.
Of course, I had it in my head that 25 of something got you a Bermuda Sloop, the first non-civilian upgrade ship. As a Privateer, I was tooling around running missions and taking advantage of any NPCs that I thought I could beat and although I had already bought a Bermuda Sloop on the auction house, I thought, hey, the economy is young, there are few ships on the market, I’ll just go collect my Bermuda Sloop deed and resell it.
So off I go on the long sail from Florida down to Point-a-Pitre when to my horror I realize that the 25 pennants I’ve been collecting can’t be turned in for a Bermuda Sloop. As a matter of fact, it takes 120 pennants just for a Dolphyn Ketch (a modest merchant vessel). A little research on teh interwebs (cheating :P) revealed that I in fact needed commendations and to get them I needed the Grease the Wheel skill.
So, how to respec? Well, apparently junk merchants (in the auction houses) sell career respecs for a modest 10k DB. Ouch. Or, I could turn in 10 pennants for one (hurray!). So out of the dark of despair came a glimmer of hope– I respecced the skill, picked up some other building materials to start my economy, left a ship in the capital so I could teleport back when needed and sailed with my tail only somewhat between my legs back to Tampa to call it a night. So two steps forward, one step back, but thats the fun and frustration of life in the new world.