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The Captain is the profession of the player character and offers no real benefits. If the Captain dies, the First Mate will be the new Captain.
The First Mate
The First Mate is the right hand to the Captain. If the Captain dies, the First Mate will take control of the ship and becomes Captain. It is recommended that a crew member is appointed First Mate to increase the longevity of a campaign.
It is not recommended the First Mate to be hired right at the start of the game, as your Captain will easily survive at the beginning of the game.
The Quartermaster has been removed as of Patch 0.4.2.0
The Quartermaster has only one use, teach you the basics of Pixel Piracy. The first 5 games, you will get the Quartermaster for free and it will teach you the basics with hints and tricks displayed in the bottom-left. After 5 played games, the Quartermaster will no longer spawn right at the start—he effectively serves as an instructor for new players, who, after five games, will likely not need his help.
You can hire Quartermasters at the Inn, but they don't have a profession skill. They are, at this point, mostly useless. Only buy them when they have very useful perks.
The Sailor is a must-have on every boat. He keeps the boat clean of poop and that makes every crew member happy. If you don't have a Sailor on your boat, you're gonna have a bad time.
If you don't hire them, and you go on an adventure with a ship full of poop, the morale of your crew members will easily drop to 0 and they will turn against you. So buy the Sailor at the start to prevent that problem in your journey.
The Fighter does what the name says: he fights. He does more damage in battles and he can resist knock-back better than any other profession. Give him a cutlass or a spear and he will conquer the world.
Many players recommend to hire one at the start if you have some spare money. A Fighter on your ship is very useful if you run into some unwanted encounters. If you don't have the money for it at the start, plunder an island, get some money and hire him then. He is needed to plunder/conquer the high level ships.
Meet the Carpenter. He repairs your hull when it is damaged in battle. A Carpenter will repair every hull block separately right at the start when you hire him. He will keep the ship healthy, which is needed when your ship gets attacked.
Your ship will not be attacked by cannonballs at the first stages of the game, so at that time, there is no use for a Carpenter. Hire him when you want to encounter ships with cannons, which are around level 4. Hire him before the battle so he can upgrade your ship to full health because every ship will start with half health.
The Fisherman will catch fish for you if equipped with a fishing pole, which can be bought at shops. A fishing pole costs around 200 gold, so remember that when you are going to hire a Fisherman. Fish cannot be eaten raw, so you also need a Cook to prepare the fish.
He's only recommended if you have all the money for a Fisherman + Cook + Fishing Pole, which is around 800 gold if you want good crew members. At the beginning, you can survive by buying fruit at the shops. Later on, you can eventually hire him to keep your food supply at a high level. Hire him if you have the money for it; this can be early on or in the late-game, depends on your encounters/islands.
Every ship needs food, so a Cook will prepare food for your crew members. He will prepare food that cannot be eaten raw, like meat and fish.
You must hire the Cook when you get a Fisherman or when you get food that needs to be prepared. This is usually during the mid-game, but it depends on the map generation and the gold you retrieve from your journeys. You can easily make short journeys with food that doesn't need preparation, but if you want to make a long journey, in combination with a fisherman, a cook is a must-have.
The Navigator is a profession which is very useful but not essential. He enlarges the world map and makes the ship travel faster. If you want to see more of the world and travel faster, hire a Navigator.
The Cannoneer will shoot the cannons if you have cannons on your place on your ship. He will shoot with high damage cannonballs at the opponent to damage their ship as well as their crewmembers.
The Cannoneer is a profession which is highly recommended if you want to fight high level opponents. They will have cannons, and so will you. The battle will be much easier with a Cannoneer, so you can say that the Cannoneer is essential, but not until you are planning to encounter high-level opponents.
He will heal your units when you are sailing. It will speed up the healing time for your crew, which is useful when you have a lot of encounters to do.
Most players will hire the Doctor in the middle of the game; he is not essential at the start, but when you are going to take journeys where you want to attack a lot of hostile ships, the Doctor is surely recommended.
Gunslingers don't need ammo and they start with Veronica Pistols.
Heavily based on Rolf | Gewoon Achterlijk Professions Guide.