I feel that the piratical theme of Billy No-Mates is a great opportunity to play with the traditional presentation of playing cards and the four suits are obviously an integral part of that.
I want each suit to feel thematic in its own right - each of the pirates (or treasures, or parrots) should feel like they 'belong' to their suit and on a basic visual level, each suit should be easily distinguishable from the others.
My original notes for Billy No-Mates have sat in a text document for about a year now and my original choice of suits was Hearts, Cups, Gems & Skulls. However, now I've started working on them, I've decided to drop Gems, in favour of Daggers. I like the fact that Hearts, Cups, Daggers & Skulls are alliteratively tied to Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades. Also, the characters that I imagine when thinking of Gems seem a little too similar to the ones that Hearts conjures up. Daggers feels like a completely distinct suit thematically.
The Suit of Hearts - Clearly the sauciest of the suits. No doubt the 'King' or 'Kaptain' of Hearts will have a fondness for romantic poetry. Strumpets and Dandies each and every one of them.
The Suits of Cups - The most drunken pirates will be found here. I also like the link to the tarot suit. Cups can be very magical - not just something to hold grog.
The Suit of Daggers - This suit bristles with cold steel. Likely the most willingly aggressive of pirates sail under the Dagger Flag
The Suit of Skulls - Dark, Deathly. Are these pirates going to be undead? Oh god. It's likely isn't it. Well - in for a penny in for a pound - If you thought 'Pirates' was a hackneyed theme, it can only get worse with Zombie Pirates.
While nothing yet is set in stone - I think I'm happy to move forward with Hearts, Cups, Daggers & Skulls.