How can pirates work?

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zozotroll
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How can pirates work?

Postby zozotroll » Mon Jun 09, 2008 2:40 pm

Following my own suggestion, a pirate thread labeled as such.

The questoin is how can large scale piracy even exist?

Some of the points against it.

1. Lots and lots of imperial warships floating about. Particularly on the borders where there are other states.

2. the Imperium depenbds on free trader and pirates disrupt that.

3. Why be a pirate anyway? The crew is desperate and starving and is pushed into it doesnt work well because they are mililionaires. Ships are so expensive that it is worth selling if you get in trouble. Could still happen but rarely.

4. Ships are much more valuable than the cargo. The main thing worth stealing is the ship itself, and the crew will object. It doesnt take much battle damage to wipe out any profits.

5. The scouting you need to do to keep hostile fleets from invadeing works real good to find those pesky hidden bases. And after 1100 years the navy has visited all the best sites for them, and probably checks on them regular.

There are more reasons, but these should do for a good bit of squabble.

I would like to note at the start that I include pirates in my game, and love the taste they bring to the setting. But I dont use up to the minute standard 3I to set them in.

Anyway, lets have fun

Owen.
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Postby Zowy » Mon Jun 09, 2008 3:16 pm

There are many cargos that are worth as much or more than the ships that move them. Pirates working out of a fixed base would be rare. The space lanes are not that heavly watched. Alot of backwater systems would have an Navy Escort or IISS Scout ship insystem maybe 1/2 the time if they are lucky. It's the X-Boat and main systems that have the best protection. The 3I is not a bright shiny place :?

Trade-wars, Hijackings, lots of corruption, ect. The space lanes are not safe :twisted:
Last edited by Zowy on Mon Jun 09, 2008 3:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby dmccoy1693 » Mon Jun 09, 2008 3:20 pm

Pirates look like Free Traders when in port. Leave no survivors and no one knows you illegally obtained the goods when you bring them into port. Plus if you drag the ship some distance away from shipping lines, only you know where it is at and can "salvage" it later.

Why sell the ship? That's like selling your car. Would you sell your car if you had no other? No, you need it to get to and from work. Pirates/Traders, their "car" is their work.

Pirates use to obtain their ships by stealing them while in port. No battle damage, free ship. Now have a lively hood. And yes the ship is worth more then any individual load of cargo, but the same is true with cargo truck on the road. The cargo will pay off the transporation vehicle, given enough deliveries.
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Postby -Daniel- » Mon Jun 09, 2008 4:37 pm

I have always thought that what ever pirates exist would be more like Privateers.

Corporations paying to defend their lanes from other corporations or independents. As long as it does not get to out of hand the Imperium may have other things to worry about.

But I have never seen piracy as being a large scale thing.

Also the crimes I see being the more bothersome would be scams and cons. Independent merchants being used in cons and being caught in the middle.

Bottom line, I see Smuggling and con artists as far outnumbering the real Pirates.

Just my .02

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Postby simonh » Mon Jun 09, 2008 4:49 pm

Zowy wrote:The space lanes are not that heavly watched. Alot of backwater systems would have an Navy Escort or IISS Scout ship insystem maybe 1/2 the time if they are lucky. It's the X-Boat and main systems that have the best protection. The 3I is not a bright shiny place :?
It's not according to the way it's portrayed in the game, but that's the point. It should be. According to canon the Imperium has thousands of very heavily armed ships in the Spinward Marches, every single one of which is perfectly capable of thoroughly kicking the snot out of anything a pirate is likely to get hold of, and they've been patrolling there for a thousand years. Yes you are right, the Spinward Marches is portrayed as a thinly patrolled frontier that's lightly policed, yet the fleet lists and wargames make it clear it's actually a very heavily armed camp. That's the point, these are completely contradictory.

My favoured solution is to forget the wargames and the fleet lists, etc, and say the Marches are as they are portrayed in the scenarios and most of the sourcebooks. Therefore the Imperium doesn't have vast military resources available in the region. IMHO it makes for a better game that way.

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Postby dmccoy1693 » Mon Jun 09, 2008 4:55 pm

dafrca wrote:But I have never seen piracy as being a large scale thing.
If it was, the navy would get involved.
dafrca wrote:Bottom line, I see Smuggling and con artists as far outnumbering the real Pirates.
I'd agree with this. Folks like Malcom Reynolds, Sapphron/Bridget/Yolanda, and similar would be far more common then the net operators.
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Postby spinwardpirate » Mon Jun 09, 2008 5:04 pm

I've spent a helluvalot of time examining pirates in a historical sense. Pirates can only thrive when not kept at bay by governments.

Governments, on an interstellar level, might potentially look the other way in order to further some goal, allowing pirates some measure of free reign. Or, governments on a local level, might be corrupt (or poor) enough as to allow pirates to use their port, turning a blind eye as long as the pirates don't cause too much trouble.
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Postby hdrider67 » Mon Jun 09, 2008 5:09 pm

simonh wrote:
Zowy wrote:The space lanes are not that heavly watched. Alot of backwater systems would have an Navy Escort or IISS Scout ship insystem maybe 1/2 the time if they are lucky. It's the X-Boat and main systems that have the best protection. The 3I is not a bright shiny place :?
It's not according to the way it's portrayed in the game, but that's the point. It should be. According to canon the Imperium has thousands of very heavily armed ships in the Spinward Marches, every single one of which is perfectly capable of thoroughly kicking the snot out of anything a pirate is likely to get hold of, and they've been patrolling there for a thousand years. Yes you are right, the Spinward Marches is portrayed as a thinly patrolled frontier that's lightly policed, yet the fleet lists and wargames make it clear it's actually a very heavily armed camp. That's the point, these are completely contradictory.

My favoured solution is to forget the wargames and the fleet lists, etc, and say the Marches are as they are portrayed in the scenarios and most of the sourcebooks. Therefore the Imperium doesn't have vast military resources available in the region. IMHO it makes for a better game that way.

Simon Hibbs
Thousands of ships made me start thinking of the HHGTTG. "Space is big. Really big..."

Thousands of ships are practically nothing.

Piracy is usually a losing proposition because in the end, most will be killed fairly violently. That said, the practice can be a good way of getting rich very quickly and a disciplined crew out for a big score or two could very well get away scott free, if they don't booze away their dough and have to resort to piracy again.

There are societies that are based on Piracy (old Tripoli) that did well for themselves until they became too much of a nuisance.

What is a pirate, anyway? He's an armed robber writ large. Criminals, especially the armed variety rarely do well in the long run but there never seems to have been a shortage of them. Criminals tend not to think or care about the long run or consequences.

I'm not say8ng that piracy would be a daily concern for 3I traders but the threat would be real enough that cautious and prepared captains would do better than ones who paid no mind to a statistically small threat.
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Postby spinwardpirate » Mon Jun 09, 2008 5:56 pm

The best answer to this question, for me at least, is as follows. Traveller is a game. Pirates make for fun gaming. It's called the Rule of Fun. It overrides all other rules.
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Postby Lane Shutt » Mon Jun 09, 2008 6:12 pm

How does piracy work present day?

That should give you a model for traveler pirates.
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Postby Leo Knight » Mon Jun 09, 2008 6:30 pm

Good call, Lane. Just Google "modern piracy" and be enlightened.

Most of what I've read about is more armed hijacking. Some years ago I read several stories about yachtsmen in tropical ports being set upon by armed locals paddling out under cover of darkness. Some disappearances were presumed to be a murdered crew and a stolen yacht. There were also stories of drug runners killing crews so they could use an unobtrusive yacht for smuggling. Much cheaper than buying.

My regular playing group, when I ran Traveller back in the day, made it a point to try to steal a ship, every time we played. Needless to say, security upgrades came into effect: "What do you mean, weapons search? They're law level zero!"

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Postby Klaus Kipling » Mon Jun 09, 2008 6:34 pm

In the Spinward Marches, pirates could easily have sponsors. The Sword Worlds would be happy to encourage piracy in the 3I. The Zhodani would easily turn a blind eye if it suited them. And the Vargr have a culture based on it.

To be honest I'd see piracy as more of a problem in Corridor than the SM, but in areas such as D268 and Vilis it could thrive. D268 is on a main with little IN protection, and Vilis is quite isolated, for instance.

And space is very big. You could probably easily sneak from the Vargr Extents down to Glisten, say. If you kept your jumps to the out system, you could pass a whole fleet by unnoticed.
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Postby simonh » Mon Jun 09, 2008 6:58 pm

hdrider67 wrote: Thousands of ships made me start thinking of the HHGTTG. "Space is big. Really big..."

Thousands of ships are practically nothing.
That cuts both ways. If space is too big to find the pirates, then it's too big for the pirates to catch their prey. You can't have it one way without the other.

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Postby Klaus Kipling » Mon Jun 09, 2008 7:03 pm

You can if the pirates operate intelligence gathering groups getting info on the traders, at a local level.

They'd then know where their targets were; the IN could only counter that if their intelligence operations were up to scratch.
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Postby dmccoy1693 » Mon Jun 09, 2008 7:18 pm

Klaus Kipling wrote:You can if the pirates operate intelligence gathering groups getting info on the traders, at a local level.
*cough*Sapphron*cough*

Sorry, I happen to remember an episode of Firefly (imagine that) where a group of pirates had a "net" that can ensnare ships, but to get the net in place, they needed someone to stowaway and pose as a sweet innocent person and then change the ship's course and sabotage the helm.

The pirates didn't FIND the ship, they hijacked the ship and steered it to them.

Modern "random" pirates hang out a about 1 mile outside of US waters and attack any ship that leaves the safety of US territory. Ships that frequently leave US waters are captained by those that want to get high without the "sea pigs" going after them (in addition to light cargo haulers and such).
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Postby zozotroll » Mon Jun 09, 2008 8:32 pm

Home for lunch, I will cover as many points as I can.

First, you are bad pirates, you are thinking to much about what you can do, and not what your prey is able to do. Dont feel bad :D , my young soldiers used to do it all the time


Second, RW examples fall down because the little spped boats are faster than thier prey. In space everybody has the same top speed, it is just DV that is different.

There are no space lanes, as most of the time you are in hyper. So the only time that counts is when you are within 100d of a planet. So, as a merchie, whats the best thing you can do to avoid Mr Pirate?

Come out of hyper as fast as you can, and still be able to decel to orbit speed by the time you get to the planet. So what if the pirate has 3 times your thrust, if you have lots os KPS initial advantage, you cant catch you. Even if he does have initial vector such that he can catch you, he cant make you stop short of the planet, you are already slowing down as much as you can.

And shooting at you does nothing to change this. So, unless he wants to loot you in orbit, there is little he can do. Now if the planet has no defenses, he can, but why is he messing around hitting one ship, when he can be looting a whole planet, after all no defenses is no defenses. And why hyper into such a poor place anyway? If they dont have enough to protect themselves, they probably cant afford your cargo either.
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Postby hdrider67 » Mon Jun 09, 2008 8:37 pm

simonh wrote:
hdrider67 wrote: Thousands of ships made me start thinking of the HHGTTG. "Space is big. Really big..."

Thousands of ships are practically nothing.
That cuts both ways. If space is too big to find the pirates, then it's too big for the pirates to catch their prey. You can't have it one way without the other.

Simon Hibbs
That's certainly true. However, the majority or pirates today (and in the old days, note I'm not including privateers) were largely unsuccessful. They had to stick to trade routes that tended to be patrolled. They did a fair share of running.

For the smart ones and the privateers it came down to a question of Intelligence. Captain Morgan and Captain Drake were fairly successful but they planned out their adventures and still suffered setbacks.

I'd say the 3I is more analogous to the 17th/18th century than it is to modern day piracy, given the speed of communication between ports.

One tactic that would give the pirates an advantage would be to watch local shipping and hang out somewhere near the 100D limit. whether or not they take their intended prize, they're a very short space from a predetermined jump point and destination. Unless they're seen by and chased by a jump capable fleet, they'll have a really good chance of escape.
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Postby zozotroll » Mon Jun 09, 2008 8:41 pm

On setting up a pirate base. In the golden age of piracy, any place that had food, fresh water and a suppy of wood was a potential base. The only tools needed where carried on the ship, and the crew knew how to use them.

A starship is a different animal altogather. To fix things you need a full shipyard. And trained people to work the equipment. Then you need a local industry to make the spare parts, and make new lasrs and all that other stuff that comes of fightiing in space. And this rather large complex is not going to be very hidden. Any body who cruises by will notice the energy signature if nothing else. And when the Navy comes to check it out, it will be with a scout cruiser in the 50k-60k range.

And the question comes up of why? If you have the billions needed to build all of this, then why are you doing it? Golden age pirates where not paid well, or treated well, so piracy seemed a way out and up. But spacers already make a good liveing. They are educated enough to realize thier long term prospects are not good as pirates. And the bank is not going to loan you the money to make a base.
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Postby zozotroll » Mon Jun 09, 2008 8:45 pm

It should be required to have read "Space Viking" by H. Beam Piper before you can play a pirate in traveller. In fact whne you consider how much of trav was lifted from it, it should be required reading period.
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Postby zozotroll » Mon Jun 09, 2008 8:59 pm

Hrider, are you familiar with the incident some years back where a band of intrepid pirates tried to molest a tanker, only to discover to late that it was a Russian Navy underway replenishment ship? If not, they did not discover thier mistake until one of the 57mm AA mounts was uncovered and opened up. Talk about a case of bad intel. And bad judgement as well. Next time you will study your recognition cards better.


I do agree that good intel is the best way to make it. But that makes for a bigger organization, and more potential to be discovered. Both of these make it harder for PCs to be pirates.

And really, that is mostly what I am interested in. NPC pirates are no problem. They simply happen, and who knows or cares if they are long term viable. PCs OTOH are more of a problem.

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