Sea of Thieves Emissary Guide

The Latest Sea of Thieves update has arrived, and while it’s not being touted as much as the first anniversary update last April, the second anniversary content pack has the potential to alter the game’s meta in ways we’ve not seen before. If you’re confused about Emissaries and how they work in the Ships of Fortune update, here’s an explainer that should help you find your sea legs and maximize the gold you stash.

What Are Emissaries in Sea of Thieves?

Within the story, players can become Emissaries for any of the usual trading companies, plus the new one, but we’ll get to that in a moment. As Emissaries, players embark on their usual quests ,but this time every quest action you take — defeating skeletons as Order of Souls Emissaries, digging up chests as Gold Hoarder Emissaries, and so on — nets you increased rewards. There are five tiers of Emissary Grade to climb, and it resets with every session.

That means every time you hop into the game, you’ll have a new chance to reach as high as a Grade 5 Emissary. Each grade nets rank and loot multipliers, meaning you’ll become rich and famous (and Pirate Legend) much faster should you keep ranking up.

Sea of Thieves Emissary company Reaper's Bones

What’s the Catch?

The catch here is the new trading company, the fear-inducing Reaper’s Bones. Joining the Gold Hoarders, Order of Souls, Merchants Alliance, and Athena’s Fortune (the Pirate Legend-exclusive company), the Reaper’s Bones are a fifth company willing to accept you as an Emissary. While companies such as the Gold Hoarders seek treasure chests and Merchants seek cargo and livestock, the Reapers seek only one thing: sunken ships.

As a Reaper, you can chase traditional loot like anyone else and sell it to your shadowy quest-giver at the remodeled Reaper’s Hideout, but you’ll also get the biggest bonuses for sinking other Emissary ships. Doing so will leave their flag in the water as a new sellable item. Safely securing that flag at the Hideout is the true objective of the Reaper’s Bones company, which means PvP is likely to be on the rise at sea in the weeks and months ahead.

Sea of Thieves Emissary guide map Reaper's Bones

What If I Don’t Like PvP?

There’s a sizable portion of Sea of Thieves Adventure mode players that prefer to play the PvPvE game without that second P, and those players may be worried that they’re doomed at sea now that ship sinking is incentivized more significantly. But fear not — there are ways around conflict.

It’s most important to note that Reapers can only sell the flags of other Emissary ships, not standard ships. So there’s no reason for them to sink a typical ship that isn’t flying an Emissary flag — at least, no new reason. Some people may still want your loot (or tears) just as before.

Rare has seen to it that repeated sinking doesn’t pay the pirate bills either, as you can only sink the same Emissary ship a few times, with dwindling rewards, before there’s no reward at all. That way, even the fiercest Reapers aren’t able to profit off the revisited watery graves of other pirates.

It also pays to know that while other Emissaries can see Reapers and their Emissary Grade on their map tables (much like flying the Reaper’s Mark flag), those Reapers can’t see you, though any pirate can see how many Emissary ships are in each lobby. In that way, you’ll know which company may make the most sense to join. For example, if your crew is in a game with lots of Emissary ships but no Reapers yet, it may pay to take on that role. On the other hand, if there are already several ships flying the Gold Hoarder flag, it would be beneficial for you to join the trend and even make alliances if you find those ships at sea.

Sea of Thieves Emissary rewards bonuses gold hoarders

What Other Rewards Can I Earn with Emissaries?

The size of this update, for whatever reason, has been a bit understated. Ships of Fortune feels like a true second anniversary update deserving of similar fanfare to last April’s major content drop. A lot of that new content comes from the Emissary system, specifically the way it alters rank and rewards.

In addition to session-only loot multipliers awarded to your Emissary Grades 1-5, you’ll also be able to track weeks-long Emissary Ledgers. These ledgers act as leaderboards with more exclusive cosmetics available in each trading company’s menus. The more you play as Emissaries, the higher your name will climb for each company. The first season of ledgers ends after a 40-day period, but this timetable is likely something Rare will tweak if needed.

Each company also offers a new kind of pirate cosmetic in costumes. One full-body costume is available for purchase from each trading company, so you can completely look the part when you’re flying the flag of the various companies. Each of these will cost you about 68,000 gold, and they’re not required to play as Emissaries.

Lastly, the level cap has been increased from 50 to 75 in all the usual companies, and from 10 to 20 for Athena’s Fortune. With the new level cap come new cosmetics unlocked at every interval of five for every company too. These ranks can be achieved the same way as before, through traditional play, but like anything else, they’ll be boosted more quickly if you have a high Emissary Grade.

gold hoarders

How Do I Join an Emissary in Sea of Thieves?

Now that you know the ups and downs of Emissary life, you may want to try it out for yourself. To do that, there are a few specific steps to take:

  1. Load into an Outpost and seek each trading company. Speak to the representatives for each company, and buy the Emissary flag. It’ll cost you 20,000 gold, but it’s a one-time purchase, so you won’t need to repurchase it with each play session even as your Emissary Grade does reset with each session. Note that if you’ve not yet bought the Reaper’s Bones flag, you must do that at the Reaper’s Hideout, not an Outpost.
  2. Check the Emissary table to elect to fly a flag for your desired company. You’ll need to vote on it with your crew like you would a voyage. Once you’ve approved a company to join, you’ll see the flag now sticking off the end of your ship, as well as a prominent banner flying atop your crow’s nest. This signifies to other ships whom you’re working for, and from there they may elect to ally with you, ignore you, or, if they’re Reapers, give chase.
  3. As you continue on your voyages, you’ll see your Emissary Grade increasing with each relevant action. From there, you just have to keep your loot and your ship safe. A sunken ship will reset your Emissary Grade, and no one wants that.

With all that explained, there’s nothing left to do other than find a seafaring crew, establish yourself as Emissaries, and give chase to the many new boatloads of rewards in Sea of Thieves. Happy sailing!

Mark Delaney
Mark is a Boston native now living in Portland, Oregon. Formerly the Features and Reviews Editor of TrueAchievements, he's been writing online since 2011 and continues to do so as a freelancer today for outlets like Escapist, GamesRadar, EGM, and OpenCritic. Outside of games, he is an avid biker, a loud animal advocate, an HBO binge-watcher, and a lucky family man. He almost never writes in the third-person.

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