With every new update, Rare likes to sew the seeds for their upcoming plot points – it’s happened as far back as Cursed Sails with Wanda slowly turning into a skeleton, and more recently the dig site on one of the unmarked islands growing larger with every update has been gaining attention and raising questions.
And instead of answering some of these questions, the latest update has raised some different ones.
The Pirate Emporium and Their Suspicious Shopkeepers
This week’s Smuggler’s Fortune update brought with it the Pirate Emporium, the in-game shop where players can purchase Pets, Emotes, and heritage ship cosmetics with Ancient Coins, a newly introduced currency.
When I walked into these shops, I expected to be greeted by the usual shopkeeper with a couple of throwaway lines of dialogue; what I got, however, was far more intriguing.
“Did you know that the Pirate Lord’s Legendary mark was inspired by the first Ancient Coins he found?” Earl, the Pirate Emporium shopkeeper from the Ancient Spire Outpost answers question of ‘What’s the Pirate Emporium?’
Then he said this:
What I expected to be some one-off lines quickly turned into burning questions – I had to know more. Why have they been collecting them? What power are they hoping to unlock? Who else are they working with?
Finding More Pieces of the Puzzle
I set off to the remaining Outposts in search of the other shopkeepers to see what they had to say. Some of them didn’t add much, but I was able to piece together bits and pieces from all of them to paint the below picture:
- The Pirate Emporium is a group of merchants who deal in ‘premium’ grade goods that can’t be found in the Sea of Thieves
- All of them were Gold Hoarders at one point in time
- They seemingly have secret routes to ferry goods from outside the Sea of Thieves (Eduardo at Plunder Outpost stated that the Merchant Alliance would “never figure out my routes”)
- The other Trading Companies don’t like their presence
- They’re collecting Ancient Coins for a hidden purpose
The two greatest pieces of information I came across were when talking to Earnest at Galleon’s Grave:
“We’re collecting them, you see. The future is in the past, I was told.”
And Emily at Golden Sands:
“We were lucky to be taken under the GMU’s wing. They’ve really supported us in opening trade to the outside world. Oh – sorry, forget I said that. It’s supposed to be for our ears only. Shh!“
That’s probably the most intriguing line of all.
Friends in High Places
The ‘GMU’ Emily referred to is known as the Grand Maritime Union, though we know little else about them.
The few times they have cropped up have been in throwaway lines from characters such as the Stranger in the Tavern, saying any new Trading Company is welcome in the Sea of Thieves so long as they don’t go the way of the Grand Maritime Union.
Or there’s Senior Trader Mollie, who used to work for the Grand Maritime Union before starting the Merchant Alliance when arriving in the Sea of Thieves:
“Though, frankly, I am far more worried about the Grand Maritime Union. Some day they will find this place and they have more money and more men to throw at a problem than the whole of Sea of Thieves combined.”
Captain Falcore has a great video on the real-world context around what inspired the Grand Maritime Union, and how they might end up in the game:
And we also have this interesting piece of information from none other than the Design Director himself, Mike Chapman:
The East India Trading Company have nothing on the Grand Maritime Union (GMU) from the world of #SeaOfThieves. Wait till the GMU find out that some of their previous employees have banded together as part of a so-called Merchant Alliance and now pay pirates to ferry cargo 😲 https://t.co/oyhkONEU8h— Mike Chapman 🏴☠️ (@ChappersChapman) December 31, 2018
Putting the Pieces Together
All in all, it’s not looking good for pirates dwelling within the Sea of Thieves.
The Grand Maritime Union – a massive monopolising entity that likely caused the existence of piracy as we know it within the Sea of Thieves – is trying to make their way in. They’ve started by employing and sending in envoys (former Gold Hoarders, no less, so they’re likely trusted within the existing Trading Companies) to sell rare and niche goods that only they can provide – in exchange for Ancient Coins.
They’re then using these Ancient Coins to… what? Their goal here is unclear, but it would more than likely have something to do with helping them gain entrance to the Sea of Thieves. Perhaps they’re trying to unlock the power of the Shroudbreaker, but on a fleet-wide scale?
I’ll leave you with Ellis from the Arena Tavern’s dialogue, and you can make up your own mind.
“We were once Gold Hoarders but we found something on the Shores of Gold that changed us – a hoard of Ancient Coins!
After that, gold just didn’t have the same allure. We realised that the Sea of Thieves had truly powerful rulers, long before the Pirate Lord.
They had the power to move the Shroud, even. But it’s not my place to talk about that.”
What do you think? Do you believe the Grand Maritime Union is planning an infiltration into the Sea of Thieves? Or is it all a wild goose chase? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!