Governors of settlements & towns can:
- Provide daughters to romance, eventually leading to plays to attend, special items, maps to cities of gold, clues to missions and family members, and score (up to 10 points). The process of romance can also result in duels with other suitors and rescue missions, which can be lucretive.
- Provide Letters of Marque, authorizing piracy. It seems the actual letters aren't shown except for the first one obtained and in the event you want absolution after a price has been placed on your head. (It seems that free Letters of Marque are only given out on first meetings in the easiest difficulty.)
- Provide promotions on behalf of that Governor's nation. Each nation has a set of eight ranks to achieve, each worth one point.
- Grant land in the area, which contributes to wealth score.
- Provide escort missions (sometimes without their asking) to towns of other nations, resulting in war, truce or peace if they make it.
Mayors of towns can:
- Send strains of disease-resistant grain to other towns, boosting agriculture. The mayor asks the player which town to send to.
- Sent a new governor to another town. The game picks which, and it's always of the same nation (I think). Upon success, the destination town rises one prosperity class.
Abbots of Jesuit missions may:
- Provide delivery missions that send immigrants to other towns, increasing their citizens if they are successful. The abbot asks the player which town to send to. Completing a mission makes other Jesuit missions friendly.
- Trade, but they can't buy or sell much.
Leaders in pirate towns can:
- Attack a town, reducing its wealth class. The leader asks for a town that would make a good target, but you can tell him to not send if you wish.
Indian chiefs in indian villages can:
- Attack a town, driving away citizens. The chief asks for the target.
All the attacks and escort/delivery missions above involve a ship that will attempt to sail to the target town. So far, it seems that there is always at least one ship generated (and sometimes more than one) to attack that ship, either allied to pirates, indians or an opposing nation. If the player chooses, he may attack the ship himself (I don't know if there's a penalty for doing so).