I have been crafting this theory for a while, but with the recent lore post concerning curses, I figured I might as well go ahead and tell you guys.
The skeletons we fight are not just cursed sailors who happened to be reanimated by an unknown force long past their deaths. The skeletons in the forts, islands, etc, could have fallen victim to the same affliction that Wanda is experiencing, where they do not truly die, but rather change into their new skeletal form.
Furthermore, the members of the Gold Hoarders, Merchant Alliance, and Order of Souls all experience special curses at some point.
The Gold Hoarders all are seen with their bodies slowly turning into gold. This may seem negligible as a curse, but upon turning into a skeleton, the gold hardens and weighs them down by the weight of their former ambition and lust for wealth.
The Merchant Alliance, probably the most passive of the three traders, have exploited the natural resources of the islands through their pursuit of profit. So, upon their skeletal transformation, nature reclaims it's dues from them by using their bones as a host for plants.
The Order, who seeks to use mystic powers to tap into the secret history of those affected by the skeletal curse, are punished by having their bones infused by the same mystic energies that they once used.
The generic skeletons, Bone Skeletons, are most likely pirates who had no allegiance to any particular faction or went their own way.
Note: The following concerns post-Legendary dialogue, I don't know how strict the spoiler rules are concerning this, but I will hide it just to be sure.
The Pirate Lord, the leader of the first Pirate Legends to enter the Sea of Theives, states that multiple members of his crew were affected by the skeletal curse. I can't tell if these crew members were also PLs, but if so there is no indication what form a legendary skeleton would take, although it is possible that Flameheart or the Gold Hoarder Skeleton could be legendary skeletons, but we simply do not know.
This theory is mostly incomplete of course, but I hope to expand it upon seeing the lore and story of both cursed sails and forsaken shores. Thanks for giving it a read and feel free to give any feedback or contributions.
© Post "Possible theory concerning curses, skeletons, and the three trader factions." for game Sea of Thieves.
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