Good ship for Vargr pirates?

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SJE
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Good ship for Vargr pirates?

Postby SJE » Mon Feb 09, 2015 12:38 am

So, the PC crew of a Gagh class trader (or a Far Trader equivalent) with maybe 1 turret and a sandcaster need to fight off some villanous Vargr pirates in my game. What ship would be a good match for them for an exciting but balanced space battle?

Thx

Steve
GypsyComet
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Re: Good ship for Vargr pirates?

Postby GypsyComet » Mon Feb 09, 2015 1:18 am

If they don't have any offensive weaponry, then even an armed Cutter is potentially too much fight, especially since a Cutter can run rings around a Free Trader.
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Tom Kalbfus
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Re: Good ship for Vargr pirates?

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Mon Feb 09, 2015 4:44 am

GypsyComet wrote:If they don't have any offensive weaponry, then even an armed Cutter is potentially too much fight, especially since a Cutter can run rings around a Free Trader.
Remember the Adventure Imperial Fringe? the PCs are given a scout/courier without weapons. What happens if they are attacked by Vargr Pirates in a free trader while leaving Regina?
Well I guess the most valuable thing the PCs would have at this moment would be the scout ship, that is worth cr27,540,500. So what are the pirates going to do? If they destroy the scout ship, they don't get cr27,540,500 (probably they would be lucky to get cr10,000,000 for it since its a stolen scout ship and they'll be selling it on the black market. People go to the black market to buy things if they want a discount. After all the pirates didn't build it, whatever they sell, is still 100% profit for them even if discounted) So not the Vargr pirates probably won't blow up an unarmed ship, since they will get nothing. So what do they do?

Well, I think the pirates in the Free Trader have a problem, because it only accelerates at 1g, and the Scout/Courier can do 2g, it is unarmed though, so it can't fight back, other than by ramming the Free Trader with their own ship. So the Vargr Pirates radio to the PCs to cut their engines and prepare to be boarded or they will be blown out of the sky! The leader of the PCs says to the rest of the party, "we can out run them!" Another PC says, "But what if they blow us out of the sky?" the leader says, "I can try some evasive maneuvers to avoid their fire!" The PC leader radio's back, "Go suck an egg!" and then accelerates away at 2g. The Vargr leader bares his teeth at this, his second in command notes that there are three Police cutters taking off from Regina, and mentions that they must have heard the radio transmissions as they are heading this way. The Pirate captain snarls, "How much time before they get here?" "About an hour at the rate they are accelerating," says the first mate. The PC captain consults with his crew, "well we can head for the Jump limit and jump out of here, or we can head towards those Police cutters, what shall we do?"
Last edited by Tom Kalbfus on Mon Feb 09, 2015 5:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
GypsyComet
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Re: Good ship for Vargr pirates?

Postby GypsyComet » Mon Feb 09, 2015 5:03 am

To reprise:
"an exciting but balanced space battle"

If the PCs ship is essentially a Free Trader, then potentially its ability to escape into jump is only one combat turn away from being crippled.

If the PC's ship has a sandcaster or two, the enemy should probably *not* have weapons that ignore sand, or be somehow limited in their use (not many missiles available, for example). The enemy should also not have more weapons than the PCs can respond to with that sand.

If you want to build tension, have two ships close on the PCs in obvious intercept vectors. The one that will get within range first is a Pirate. The other is running silent, but is a Patrol Corvette. Thus the Pirate only gets a couple shots off at the PCs before having to flee into jump itself. The players get a taste of ship combat and a few new items on their shopping list...
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SJE
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Re: Good ship for Vargr pirates?

Postby SJE » Mon Feb 09, 2015 6:56 am

Sorry, i was meaning by 1 turret, that they did have a weapon- a Pulse or Beam Laser perhaps in addition to the sandcaster.

Thx.

SJE
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Re: Good ship for Vargr pirates?

Postby GypsyComet » Mon Feb 09, 2015 7:54 am

A big problem with "even" fights is that they can go either way quickly, and most pirates aren't going to engage in an "even" fight of they can help it. They ARE pirates after all.

Narratively there is a big difference between an unasked for "even" fight and one the PCs know is coming or which they set up themselves. Being wiped in a couple lucky rounds by a random encounter is a campaign derailer. If you and your players recognize that, go for it.

If, on the other hand, you want to telegraph an unfair fight and let the players work ahead of time to even it out, that can be great fun.

Example:
Your Free Trader is on a backwater world with almost no port and just enough populace to be worth a visit. Shortly before your planned departure (with the bulk of the valuable cargo from the world) another ship comes in. It quickly becomes clear that they are criminals. You and the populace together are a bit too much to handle and the locals no longer have anything they want anyway, but they can simply wait for you to take off and run you down away from prying eyes. They out-gun you by four to one AND have a ship's boat with another gun on it that they conveniently left in orbit with a crew.

The PCs now have several days to come up with a plan. They should be able to get past the Boat in orbit, but they have to cripple the main ship in some way, since it can easily outrun and outgun them.

Keeping the Pirate on the ground halves its firepower toward a fleeing ship since two of its turrets are underneath. Crippling the turrets directly might be easier to do, or perhaps get the whole crew blind drunk or gripped with Space Food Poisoning. The Port Master won't let you simply fire on the pirate on the ground since he doesn't have a warrant for their arrest, and doing so would make *you* a pirate. As a side note, firing lasers capable of reaching ten thousand km at a target only 200m away on the tarmac *will* leave scorch marks, cause sensors and any people nearby to go at least temporarily blind, and generally cause an uproar, which is the other reason the Port Master doesn't want you trying that.

The goal is to reduce the scenario to your under-armed Free Trader vs the Ship's Boat, and then win that fight. It won't matter that it is not a fair fight (your sand gives an advantage) because the PCs wrestled the encounter down to that point.

If you want the running fight in orbit to be a bit more even, have the PCs find out as they lift that it isn't a Ship's Boat, but an Assault Boat, or TWO Ship's Boats. Also have the Port Master (or a mysterious old man in the Port Bar, or their trade contact) remind them that firing first would not look good, no matter the evidence on the ground.

Your players get a session full of cunning plan with a winnable fire-fight at the end, you have some re-useable NPCs at the Port. Win-Win.
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Re: Good ship for Vargr pirates?

Postby CosmicGamer » Mon Feb 09, 2015 1:04 pm

"balanced" Unless you are fudging dice rolls, I agree with this:
GypsyComet wrote:A big problem with "even" fights is that they can go either way quickly
keep throwing balanced fights at the characters and they will die 50% of the time if they, or their opponent, are the fight to the death type.

"fight off" I agree with this:
GypsyComet wrote:most pirates aren't going to engage in an "even" fight of they can help it. They ARE pirates after all.
as mentioned, a ship is a very valuable prize. And the pirates ship is valuable too. So odds are they are career pirates and not just some group willing to take high risk for a one time huge payday - their own ship could be sold on the black market and they'd all be filthy rich. They probably don't want to have the expense of repairs, the risk of getting caught due to the ship being damaged and unable to fight patrols or run effectively, and there is loosing their ship and life if the opponent is capable.

"exciting" is likely to be their ship is better but we were able to hold them off. I'd think the primary combat oriented option, unless there is some trick up your sleeve, like a pop up turret so that the pirate doesn't know your full armament, is running to the Jump point or to aid such as another ship, patrols, orbital defenses... Personally, even if I thought I might win the fight, I'd still do such just to be on the safe side.

If a pirate is making a career at it and not just a one off, reputation matters. As far as pirates not shooting up their prize, I think that a pirate would want people to fear them yet know they are fair. Surrender without a fight and we let you live. Fight us and we will kill any crew left alive when we take the ship, passengers are allowed to live if they do not join in resisting boarding (encourages passengers to discourage the crew from doing something stupid). May not want to destroy the ship, but if it looks like you are going to escape or reach safety then destruction is preferred so that the next ship doesn't try that in the future.

Sometimes there is an interesting solution the GM may have but it might not be obvious to the players. For example, the pirates ship and crew is about the same size as the players but it outguns/outmaneuvers/has better armor or whatnot. GM figures the player characters will try surrendering so that they are not on the loosing end of a space battle, then try to kill the pirates off when they board. Maybe the players group has very good armor and weapons.

Of course the players characters could do something surprising to the GM like while the pirates are boarding the players ship, how many are left to defend theirs? The players characters go EVA and board the pirates ship or disable the turrets from outside or something else while the pirates are boarding theirs and searching for the crew.

Thus the problem with any scripted scene - the GM may think a fight is balanced and will be exciting but the players may take the characters off script.
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Re: Good ship for Vargr pirates?

Postby JBRocky » Mon Feb 09, 2015 10:10 pm

Whenever I see people talking about Vargr ships I think back to an early issue of Challenge where the Vargr ship was a giant can of dog food.
GypsyComet
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Re: Good ship for Vargr pirates?

Postby GypsyComet » Tue Feb 10, 2015 2:51 am

Canon does state that early Vargr ships were cylinders. Then they met the Zhodani. The epiphany that ships could be sexy and charismatic spread rapidly...
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Re: Good ship for Vargr pirates?

Postby FraNe91 » Thu Feb 12, 2015 3:40 pm

CosmicGamer wrote: Sometimes there is an interesting solution the GM may have but it might not be obvious to the players. For example, the pirates ship and crew is about the same size as the players but it outguns/outmaneuvers/has better armor or whatnot. GM figures the player characters will try surrendering so that they are not on the loosing end of a space battle, then try to kill the pirates off when they board.
That's exactly what I did, with the difference that the "pirates" were desperate poor devils with shoddy preparation and weapons -they tried to pirate my player's ship because it was defenceless.
And they got stunned in the first boarding combat round by a single stun grenade -that's when I discovered that these gadgets are really too powerful ("save or faint" roll? Really?) and decided where military-only weapons and replaced them with a less powerful stun version.

But I'm digressing... :mrgreen:
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SJE
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Re: Good ship for Vargr pirates?

Postby SJE » Sun Feb 22, 2015 1:35 am

I'm thinking of a small fighter swarm might be a useful challenge - a 2 turret Fast Trader (1 turret with Beam laser and Sandcaster, second turret with Pulse laser and Sandcaster) vs. 2-3 Light fighters armed with Pulse lasers and maybe a single Basic missile each, starting at long range?

What would a good base ship be?

Thx

SJE
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Re: Good ship for Vargr pirates?

Postby Fovean » Sun Feb 22, 2015 7:32 am

SJE wrote:I'm thinking of a small fighter swarm might be a useful challenge - What would a good base ship be?
That's a great idea... a little more work than a one-on-one battle but likely a lot more fun.

Check out the Khoghue Armed Junker from Merchants & Cruisers. IIRC it was in S&P too though I'm having trouble finding the issue. It's basically a spine with grapples to hold cargo containers and salvage... no reason it couldn't carry a few fighters and have a little room left over for treasure...

I don't recall the specs offhand but if someone doesn't beat me to it I'll post them when I find them.
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Re: Good ship for Vargr pirates?

Postby Fovean » Sun Feb 22, 2015 7:42 am

It's in S&P 85, 500 tons distributed, J2/M2 with over 100 tons cargo and four grapples...

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