The Dichotomy of Piracy

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AnotherDilbert
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Re: The Dichotomy of Piracy

Postby AnotherDilbert » Mon Nov 19, 2018 3:30 pm

Sigtrygg wrote: In the OTU governed by Newtonian movement and conservation of momentum boarding a ship that is capable of maneuvering during combat is impossible, ...
With an acceleration advantage and a quick enough system to duplicate the targets acceleration, any relative motion or acceleration can be counteracted and removed from consideration.

As you said earlier rolling the target ship would pose a problem for the attacker. Reasonably if a ships artificial gravity can only counteract a limited acceleration, it can also only counteract a limited centripetal force, limiting the rate of rotation around the ships centre of gravity.

The attacking craft would have to use it's acceleration advantage to match the targets rotation at extremely close range and use the forced linkage to make up the difference. Even with some shock absorption, the forced docking would be a massive shock to the smaller ship.

So I would say it's difficult, presuming a decent acceleration advantage, but not impossible.
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Re: The Dichotomy of Piracy

Postby Bardicheart » Thu Nov 22, 2018 3:50 pm

This has been a fun read so far, which is a refreshing change from the usual piracy / anti-piracy "debates".

Recently I was looking over the Deneb Sector book. In that it deals quite a bit with rival nobility engaging in various private wars. Mercs are often hired, huscarle fleets employed and letters of marque are handed out. Huscarle fleets have a size cap of 2000 dT for ships, so it keeps it a nice small ship environment more suitable to players (and deck plans and boarding actions with cutlasses, yaaaaargh!). Letter's of marque are only good against certain targets, if you have a letter of mark from Count Harold, that's good for attacking the huscarle fleet and privately owned trade ships of Baron Zarg or Baroness Volmesh but don't you even think about hitting that Ling Standard's freighter on its regular trade run, and if you attack anything belonging to the sub sector Duke, the Count never heard of you...

Long as you stick to the rules the Imperial Navy doesn't give much of a damn what you do, cross the line and you get zapped, period. Then there's that tense moment when an Imperial CruRon jumps in and you're wondering if the Baroness has managed to convince them you've crossed the line when you haven't... but really they're just passing through on a redeployment because you haven't heard the news yet that the Fifth Frontier war just heated up. So that's one possible campaign where players can play at piracy, mercs, and/or nobles with (small) fighting ships having at each other. I find the idea quite intriguing.

The other thing I'll note is that piracy depends in part on the economy and the economics of shipping. In the golden age of sail piracy allowed you to either seize a ship that was itself valuable or more often the cargo which was both valuable and portable, shipping was expensive and you didn't ship lumber half way around the world unless it was particularly rare and valuable. A modern superfreighter loaded with cargo containers of grain or consumer products will attract a different kind of piracy, there you're better off stealing either portables or else holding the ship and crew for ransom. In the latter case, if you aren't too greedy or violent and you're smart enough (*cough*) about it you might get away with it. The merchant line pays you a couple MCr, the ship and crew continue and its almost viewed as a "tax", that *might* work. Stealing some small launches and other portables, getting in and out quickly is probably more viable. Pirates always go for portable valuables, whether that's gold bars, spices, a small launch or a the crew itself. Being able to dispose of the whole ship and its cargo would be a plot on par with Ocean's Eleven.

As some have noted, public opinion will factor into it. Its not just simple economics. You can't boil it down saying "as long as they don't increase trade costs by more than 2% then there's no response but at 2.1% the Imperial Navy will be sent in." Its never that simple, never. The exact tipping point where the public or the trade companies have had enough and manage to get the Navy involved is one of those unknowables. You might think that hijacking a 200,000 dT superfreighter, murdering the crew and crashing it into a planet when you didn't get your ransom would be the tipping point... you might be right, you might not. People can be surprisingly oblivious at times and a few years later overreact to the smallest thing; so would be pirates take note and keep tabs on public opinion. Neither is invading another polity to wipe out pirates always an option. The Vargr are a constant source of raiders along the border, but I doubt very much the population of the Imperium would tolerate the Imperial Navy going on a mass campaign to smash the Vargr fleets. Sure, they have the firepower to do it and it wouldn't even remotely be a contest. But you'd have sophont rights groups going nuts and Emperor Strephon would be branded a racist in short order, and they don't impeach Emperors, they... well... we all know how THAT turns out (which ironically would make piracy a whole lot more viable! :lol: ) Or not, maybe you'd have anti-Vargr racism going mainstream instead, people can be strange... and the Vargr get blamed for the Emperor's death and it sparks a whole different war. Flip a coin if you like and have at it.

Then there's the points to be made about how long it takes to get news of what happened, response times, star systems are big places, and so forth. If a Frontier War can be fought and ended before the Emperor's response arrives, its entirely possible a certain pirate kingdom could spring up and strike terms before more than a Sector Duke could respond (and if a subsector or sector duke negotiating on behalf of the 3I "gave away the farm" so to speak, well... so much for their career).

Anyway, I think there are specific places and situations where piracy is viable even within the Imperium. But I also think they have to be taken on a case by case basis and some thought given to the who, the what and the why of each.
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Re: The Dichotomy of Piracy

Postby locarno24 » Thu Nov 22, 2018 4:09 pm

Bardicheart wrote:
Thu Nov 22, 2018 3:50 pm
Anyway, I think there are specific places and situations where piracy is viable even within the Imperium. But I also think they have to be taken on a case by case basis and some thought given to the who, the what and the why of each.
Agree wholeheartedly. Piracy (and Privateering) can work, but anyone who just decides one day that "being a pirate sounds fun" without planning, support, and prevailing economic and political conditions to support it just ends up as target practice for an SDB a few days later.
Understand that I'm not advocating violence.
I'm just saying that it's highly effective and I strongly recommend using it.
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Re: The Dichotomy of Piracy

Postby Bardicheart » Thu Nov 22, 2018 4:56 pm

Here's another scenario for piracy.

Ship A, a small trade ship with a plucky crew has had a run of bad luck lately... trade deals gone bad, equipment breakdowns, it happens. While in a less than well patrolled system and feeling particularly grumpy they notice another small ship making its way to a nearby planet to do some trading. Crew looks at each other and before you know it they're closing on the ship. One way or another, they end up docked and raiding the ship for its cargo and anything not nailed down before jumping out and looking for somewhere to sell their ill gotten goods.

Meanwhile Ship B, the victim of Ship A above is now left in tough circumstances and struggling to pay bills, they were counting on that cargo. A few weeks later and feeling desperate they try the same stunt, only it doesn't go so well and they end up facing a Navy patrol, some SDBs and ultimately some vacation time on a prison planet.

Ship A goes back to trading, having sold their cargo successfully and with the influx of cash and some repairs are back to making an honest living and saving their stories of "that time we were pirates" for their grandkids (which none of them has yet).

Simple scenario and very viable in almost any setting. Maybe in your game its the players in Ship A... or maybe they're in Ship B. Nobody said life was fair. How often does piracy happen in OTU? How often is their a Ship A or a Ship B in desperate circumstances trying to make ends meet?

Food for thought
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Re: The Dichotomy of Piracy

Postby JMISBEST » Thu Nov 22, 2018 5:46 pm

Piracy question

If A Ships Crew had their cargo stolen by pirates but for some reason didn't report it would it be piracy and/or murder if they later encountered the same pirate ship, which wasn't a known pirate ship, undergoing repairs in a legitimate system and took by force cargo, cash and other stuff with a market value of triple what the pirates stole from them then spaced everyone onboard as pirates and called it justice?
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Re: The Dichotomy of Piracy

Postby Bardicheart » Thu Nov 22, 2018 6:03 pm

JMISBEST wrote:
Thu Nov 22, 2018 5:46 pm
Piracy question

If A Ships Crew had their cargo stolen by pirates but for some reason didn't report it would it be piracy and/or murder if they later encountered the same pirate ship, which wasn't a known pirate ship, undergoing repairs in a legitimate system and took by force cargo, cash and other stuff with a market value of triple what the pirates stole from them then spaced everyone onboard as pirates and called it justice?
Let's take Ship A and Ship B from my example above.

Ship A robbed Ship B and for some reason Ship B didn't report it.
Later Ship B see's ship A and crew at a starport, mugged them and killed them. Would that be murder? Yup.
Would it be murder even if they did report Ship A? Yup.

End result, ship B's crew ends up taking a very long vacation on a prison planet.

Course if said starport happens to be a downport on a desert world where you won't find a worse hive of villainy... maybe nobody cares and nobody goes to prison. Solo shot first.
P. Sean ONeal
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locarno24
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Re: The Dichotomy of Piracy

Postby locarno24 » Fri Nov 23, 2018 8:30 am

Pretty much this.
If you didn't report it, then - as far as the law is concerned - it didn't happen.
Taking any kind of revenge for it is therefore not permitted, even in a system whose legal system might acknowledge the concept of 'blood money' or 'vigilante justice', and most don't.
Understand that I'm not advocating violence.
I'm just saying that it's highly effective and I strongly recommend using it.
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Re: The Dichotomy of Piracy

Postby phavoc » Thu Nov 29, 2018 6:20 pm

AnotherDilbert wrote:
Mon Nov 19, 2018 3:30 pm
Sigtrygg wrote: In the OTU governed by Newtonian movement and conservation of momentum boarding a ship that is capable of maneuvering during combat is impossible, ...
With an acceleration advantage and a quick enough system to duplicate the targets acceleration, any relative motion or acceleration can be counteracted and removed from consideration.

As you said earlier rolling the target ship would pose a problem for the attacker. Reasonably if a ships artificial gravity can only counteract a limited acceleration, it can also only counteract a limited centripetal force, limiting the rate of rotation around the ships centre of gravity.

The attacking craft would have to use it's acceleration advantage to match the targets rotation at extremely close range and use the forced linkage to make up the difference. Even with some shock absorption, the forced docking would be a massive shock to the smaller ship.

So I would say it's difficult, presuming a decent acceleration advantage, but not impossible.
The further away from a ship that an attacker is, the more energy/thrust it has to expend to counter whatever the defender is doing. And any acceleration advantage you have under Newtonian movement means your THUSTERS have to also be aligned in the same place. Ships main engines are in the rear and push the ship. Changing your speed means flipping to apply an equal amount of thrust (and time) in the opposite direction.

A ship defending itself by rolling it's airlock away from the attacker means the attacker not only has to match it's roll rate, but also it's position in both side-to-side and forward movement. Basically it's complicated as hell and requires a lot more control, luck and prediction from the attacking craft. In this case defenders have all the advantages. Which is why boarding a craft underway is damn hard - unless it's much bigger than you and you can just ram yourself into it's side. Then things become much easier for the attacker.

A ships inertial dampening field, generated by it's artificial gravity plates, is internal to the ship itself. And as far as the rules go the fields can go up to at least 25G - otherwise all those hard burn thrusters would be making a lot of paste out of pilots. And the energy requirement is apparently quite small as well. Ergo a forced docking would have no apparent effect on the target ship except for a loud noise. All of this falls within the very extremely gray area that Traveller has treated artificial gravity fields with. Because it's so nebulous there can't be that many negative effects, and if there are they simply get waived off because the rules are so vague. One of the many drawbacks to not providing a framework.

However this IS gaming, and if you need a sliderule and 2nd year calculus to do a naval engagement you might as well break out your MtG cards and find something more interesting to do.
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Re: The Dichotomy of Piracy

Postby Condottiere » Fri Nov 30, 2018 4:57 am

I want to see specific rules before I'd allow a manned spaceships to go twenty five gravities acceleration.

When it was introduced it seemed like a fun gimmick; further reflection makes it untenable, or should I say, unmannable. Or untenantable?
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Re: The Dichotomy of Piracy

Postby Reynard » Fri Nov 30, 2018 12:02 pm

I would assume when Mongoose created rules allowing construction of vessels with 25gs and no note saying you'll die if you use it they meant the physics of inertial compensation does indeed protect you.

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