Swabbies are NPPs that are hired onto a ship when a crew member of officer rank or above clicks the "hire jobbers" checkbox, provided there are less than a specific number of yellow-named pirates on the ship.
The number of swabbies available depends on the ship.
- Sloop: 4
- Cutter, Dhow, Fanchuan, Merchant Brig: 6
- Longship, Merchant Galleon, Baghlah, Junk: 8
- War Brig: 11
- Xebec, War Frigate: 14
- Grand Frigate: 75
Swabbies are also called aboard the ship when players leave in the middle of a sea battle. The first swabbie comes aboard when one player departs, subsequent swabbies come aboard for every three players leaving. Once the sea battle ends, these swabbies will leave the ship.
Swabbies consistently get a low "Fine" on duty reports (just above a "Poor"), can not be ordered to navigate or treasure haul, and randomly switch between opponents during the sea battle swordfight/rumble, but otherwise behave as normal pirates that can be ordered about. They are Able in every puzzle, and consume a small amount of rum. When swabbies participate in a battle they receive a small portion of the booty before it is divided among the ship (Hermes).
Swabbies were introduced with Alpha release 2003-06-05. Before that, NPPs had to be hired from the islands to sail on a ship. At first, swabbies had to be paid in much the same manner that the NPPs before them had to be paid, but this part was removed with Alpha release 2003-06-30 which also changed the number of swabbies brought aboard vessels.
Prior to release 2013-09-16, up to three swabbies could be hired on sloops and up to four on other ships.