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Author Topic: Pirates, how?  (Read 2212 times)

Richard S.

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Pirates, how?
« on: 11 September 2022, 12:03:27 »
I'm tired so I'm just gonna get straight to the point. A trip between two planets is, on average, two weeks. A two-way trip is a month. Pirates need fuel and supplies enough for that trip, while still being able to make a profit from touching down, rampaging through a city or two for a bit, and leaving. How does that work?

I can understand periphery worlds not having good enough defenses to stop unauthorized dropship landings or a handful of mechs, but still how is it profitable for the pirates to go through all that effort to reach the planet in the first place? Do they stay on worlds for extended periods, more of an occupation than a raid? Or am I underestimating how much can be gotten from a simple smash and grab?

Natasha Kerensky

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Re: Pirates, how?
« Reply #1 on: 11 September 2022, 12:29:24 »
One answer is that it’s FASAnomics so don’t worry and be happy.

Another is that some raids were about survival — getting the resources, equipment, expertise, breeding stock, etc. that small bandit kingdoms on marginal worlds needed to survive — not about becoming fabulously wealthy or even turning a profit.

Another is that the cost of a bandit raid may not have been that high, anyway.  Jumpships recharge thru sunlight.  Dropships, fighters, and mechs all run on hydrogen — just water plus some electrolysis.  So we’re really down to crew and combatant costs — food and pay.  And pay may not have to be that high for people on the run from the law who have no other choices.  As long as crews could fix and jury-rig ships and equipment and as long as combatants didn’t incur substantial damage or injury, it’s not clear that a raid against an undefended settlement would cost much at all.  Like Norse jarls and real-world pirate captains did, bandit kings could probably just pay the crew and combatants out of shares of the spoils/loot from each raid.

Hope this helps.
« Last Edit: 11 September 2022, 22:20:25 by Natasha Kerensky »
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AlphaMirage

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Re: Pirates, how?
« Reply #2 on: 11 September 2022, 13:00:05 »
Yeah BT pirates are more Viking raiders or Corsairs than Caribbean buccaneers. Although it you have a decent crew of Espaliers one can easily overpower an unescorted Jumpship and hold it for ransom, Somali style. You can also use a Dropship with shuttles and fighters to control a space station

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Re: Pirates, how?
« Reply #3 on: 12 September 2022, 15:50:45 »
Also good to remember that a halfway-decent BattleMech lance with the transport to get them within striking range of a pirate dropsite is generally enough to deter most pirates. Repair costs tend to be pretty low when most pirates deliberately single out poorly-defended world with a handful of light tanks and a few infantry platoons spread across two or three settlements. It's only the really ballsy or really desperate pirates who stick around for anything even remotely resembling a fair fight.

You'll also see a lot of pirates targeting agriculturally-rich worlds to satisfy their monetary and dietary needs at the same time (as was shown in one of TW's short stories, by memory). That was actually an incredibly strong trend in the FedSuns' Periphery March.
« Last Edit: 12 September 2022, 15:52:25 by pokefan548 »
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Re: Pirates, how?
« Reply #4 on: 13 September 2022, 10:57:39 »
And keep in mind that things change in different eras. Pirates had an easier time during the Jihad, when chaos was high and WoB actually helped them with equipment.
During the Dark Age, the lack of interstellar communications is also good for pirates, because worlds can't mount a coordinated defense. Makes it easier to hit multiple worlds in a row.
And then you have pirates who didn't know what they are going to face. Which is probably what happened to quite a. Few pirates who attacked the Scorpion Empire. The were expecting the Hanseatic League. They ran into Clanners.
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Re: Pirates, how?
« Reply #5 on: 13 September 2022, 12:04:55 »
I think the issue is what constitutes profit for a pirate. Such people have already divorced themselves from normal society, so the very notion would have a different meaning for them. When you're stealing everything that isn't too heavy to drag off, including unwilling humans, without regard for the destruction caused in the taking, profit is probably less important than silencing the grumbling of an empty stomach. (I made a bit of light of piracy in "The Marshal Way" on BC back in the day. Anyone with JumpShips, DropShips, and 'Mechs shouldn't need to steal. They could sell all that stuff and retire comfortably, but noooooo.)

DOC_Agren

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Re: Pirates, how?
« Reply #6 on: 13 September 2022, 21:23:22 »
And remember many Pirates are "sponsored" by someone to raid...  so that helps as well
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Re: Pirates, how?
« Reply #7 on: 13 September 2022, 21:56:06 »
most of the 'pirates' people tend to think about are pirate coalitions like Redjac Ryans group, or pirate states like the Tortuga dominions, which are more like rogue nations that raid their neighbors than wandering down on their luck thieves. these would be analogous to historical groups like the "Pirate republic of Nassau" or the Barbary Corsairs, where multiple groups came together to form a loose nation of sorts under the leadership of either an existing head of state that employs them or under the leadership of a particularly powerful or charismatic leader. often these assemblages of pirate groups end up taking over one or more worlds to serve as their home base, taking advantage of the civilian populace and industry to supply food, fuel, and technical support, as well as entertainment needs.

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Re: Pirates, how?
« Reply #8 on: 14 September 2022, 16:30:15 »
To me pirates should be divided into two groups:
1) the group that raids because they need to
2) the group raids because they want to

Group 1 is pretty much on the edge of death (food, water, air, repair parts, etc are insufficient), only have an FTL ship plus a Dropship to get anywhere, plus have combat platforms.  The fun question is why the Jumpship and Dropship crews haven't left the pirate group behind and headed off on their own.  But this is the sort of group that lands on as planet, tries to grab as much as possible of everything before the local defenses can respond.  This means they are grabbing relatively low-quality stuff and have to process it on their own.  This lower income means they will always be on the edge, until they either screw up or hit a big score.

Possible way to defeat them is to just offer them a one-time payout and clearing all of their past crimes.  Just let them retire somewhere on-planet under a new ID, and see if you can use their Mech for defense.  Also see if you can use their Dropship and Jumpship to set up trade.


Group 2 is the ones that have some sort of support structure, or at least enough firepower to hit bigger targets.  They can attack a jewelry store for the items inside it, they can raid for slaves due to having extra life support, they can grab water filtration equipment because they have the technical knowledge to remove them safely, etc.  This group is far more dangerous as a location gets wealthier, but poorer locations might actually be spared as they are no longer worth raiding.  Instead, the poorer locations might be vulnerable to someone coming in and setting themselves up in charge, if the new warlord can defend their location.

The problem with this group is that it will take far more resources to bribe them to go away, and that they may have given the location of the planet to their buddies so another group could come along eventually.  After all, if your planet can afford to buy off one pirate group, that means they are wealthy enough to pay off other groups too. And if those other groups have enough firepower, they can be paid off without giving up their Mechs (aka robbing).

To me the key weakness is the Jumpship crew.  If you can strand a pirate group on their home planet, they are no longer a threat to anyone.  The other option for the pirates to have a 'trade' options where the locals just leave out some supplies for the pirates to pick up, as a form of taxation.

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Re: Pirates, how?
« Reply #9 on: 14 September 2022, 19:08:14 »
a lot of times "group 1" are down on their luck former mercs or the shattered remnants of some successor state military unit, which have found or are looking for a safe haven on a world somewhere 'off the map', and who raid because either said world has a lot of needs that can only be filled by taking from other worlds nearby (or from the more populated parts of the fringe of the IS), or who themselves have logistical needs that are easier to fill by raiding than with the money they do not have. (i would also not be surprised if many of those independant worlds out there aren't just hiring such hardluck units to raid their more well off neighbors)

group 2 are the ones that tend to end up as part of the bandit kingdoms and pirate coalitions. they are often the members of group 1 that decide they like the raiding, and the power and opportunities it brings, and decide to keep doing it when the rest try to stop.
« Last Edit: 14 September 2022, 19:16:08 by glitterboy2098 »

snakespinner

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Re: Pirates, how?
« Reply #10 on: 15 September 2022, 20:40:16 »
Didn't comstar fund pirates to raid the periphery borders of states to cause trouble during the 3rd SW.
Quite a lot of pirate raids originated from this sponsorship.
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Re: Pirates, how?
« Reply #11 on: 15 September 2022, 20:44:07 »
Didn't comstar fund pirates to raid the periphery borders of states to cause trouble during the 3rd SW.
Quite a lot of pirate raids originated from this sponsorship.

Yes, Operation Jolly Roger, it instantly blew up in ROM's face as usual but makes for an amusing story

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Re: Pirates, how?
« Reply #12 on: 16 September 2022, 09:15:49 »
Campaign Operations' force creation and operation rules address pirate forces.

The point in Campaign Operations is that pirates don't just raid planets for booty, swag, and rum. At a minimum, they've got some chronic supply problems to address:

1. They've got high tech 'Mechs, DropShips, and JumpShips to run, but pirate worlds don't have the vast pyramid of industries necessary to produce spare parts for such units. So, they need all the advanced technology that they cannot manufacture themselves. And pirates generally don't have much manufacturing beyond that needed for subsistence farming.

2. Many pirates start off as a military forces put in hard places, leading them to flee the Inner Sphere. They're short of even personnel for farming. They need the basics of survival: food, labor, clean water, toilet paper, nails, medicine, etc. That has to come from somewhere.

At the upper end of the scale, "pirate" operations are well-organized raids backed with extensive intelligence footwork to acquire industrial tooling, advanced military equipment, and skilled labor needed for pirate worlds' industries and militaries. The Marian Hegemony is the best example, though arguably the resource raids of the Third Succession War amount to House-backed piracy.

At the low end, pirates are just trying to get food, water, maybe spare parts, or the cash to buy that stuff.

Pirate force operations in Campaign Ops reflect that: missions are presented as opportunities to get necessities, wealth, and the like.
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VhenRa

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Re: Pirates, how?
« Reply #13 on: 28 September 2022, 06:06:04 »
And honestly with a number of places you are hitting... if you turn up with enough force you can probably get what you want [or enough of it] without having to shoot anyone or be shot at.

You turn up to many places on the fringes of the Inner Sphere with a mech company or two and demand X... they'll give you X because there is only two ways this can go:

1: You march in, kill anyone who resists, take X and walk out. Then maybe bring up the Firestarters and kill 90% of the population to make an example of why you don't pick 1.
2: They give you X, you walk away satisfied and no one has to get hurt.

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Re: Pirates, how?
« Reply #14 on: 28 September 2022, 06:47:17 »
And honestly with a number of places you are hitting... if you turn up with enough force you can probably get what you want [or enough of it] without having to shoot anyone or be shot at.

You turn up to many places on the fringes of the Inner Sphere with a mech company or two and demand X... they'll give you X because there is only two ways this can go:

1: You march in, kill anyone who resists, take X and walk out. Then maybe bring up the Firestarters and kill 90% of the population to make an example of why you don't pick 1.
2: They give you X, you walk away satisfied and no one has to get hurt.

I wonder if a few pirates might go an extra bit there, and use their Mechs to help out the local colony while they are loading the loot?  An Axeman might not be as good as a LoggerMech, but having a Mechwarrior spend a little extra time to clear cut part of the woods and haul the lumber back might be appreciated.  A Mech with a fusion-powered Flamer can be used to superheat some rocks, then another Mech with a tank of water pours the water on the rocks to shatter them to make them easier to remove.

Eventually the population just considers the pirates as a bunch of very cranky tax collectors.

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Re: Pirates, how?
« Reply #15 on: 28 September 2022, 19:24:38 »
I wonder if a few pirates might go an extra bit there, and use their Mechs to help out the local colony while they are loading the loot?  An Axeman might not be as good as a LoggerMech, but having a Mechwarrior spend a little extra time to clear cut part of the woods and haul the lumber back might be appreciated.  A Mech with a fusion-powered Flamer can be used to superheat some rocks, then another Mech with a tank of water pours the water on the rocks to shatter them to make them easier to remove.

Eventually the population just considers the pirates as a bunch of very cranky tax collectors.
I suddenly want to build the Revenue Service Collectors or the RSC group of "pirates" kinda built along this idea....
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Re: Pirates, how?
« Reply #16 on: 29 September 2022, 12:08:19 »
I wonder if a few pirates might go an extra bit there, and use their Mechs to help out the local colony while they are loading the loot?  An Axeman might not be as good as a LoggerMech, but having a Mechwarrior spend a little extra time to clear cut part of the woods and haul the lumber back might be appreciated.  A Mech with a fusion-powered Flamer can be used to superheat some rocks, then another Mech with a tank of water pours the water on the rocks to shatter them to make them easier to remove.

Eventually the population just considers the pirates as a bunch of very cranky tax collectors.

Sort of this . . .

Consider it this way . . . dumb pirates are the ones that butcher the sheep to get a woolskin once.  Smart pirates are the ones that sheer the sheep getting bags of wool every year.

As a pirate you may want/need the items but you do not want to damage those you are taking from too much or they will not be able to make more stuff to take in the future.  Loot is just a crop you harvest seasonally.
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Re: Pirates, how?
« Reply #17 on: 30 September 2022, 15:31:15 »
Sort of this . . .

Consider it this way . . . dumb pirates are the ones that butcher the sheep to get a woolskin once.  Smart pirates are the ones that sheer the sheep getting bags of wool every year.

As a pirate you may want/need the items but you do not want to damage those you are taking from too much or they will not be able to make more stuff to take in the future.  Loot is just a crop you harvest seasonally.

Like go to hollywood for some ideas and in my mind i figure most pirate are very much kind of like the bad guys in the magnificent 7.  They come in just before harvest and make it clear who in charge and they  plan on returning on a certain date for much needed goods.  In the film, why the group didn't leave the farmer was cause it was late in the season and they didn't have any other village to gather the food they will need to survive the winter.  Pirate are sort of the same way they will hit marginal places case they need supplies to last them a few years.  Maybe they need tractors and farm good for their slave labor.  Or medical supplies.  They will always have something they will be short on that a good raid will fix.  On top of that some goods can be sold to a local traders for good that they can use. 

Its not till they get big headed that they start nation building that when they start looking for some serious industrial material.

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Re: Pirates, how?
« Reply #18 on: 02 October 2022, 10:38:43 »
I recall an episode of Vikings where the raiders were coming up the river and found a cart full of loot at the landing to the village they were going to raid.  They looked at each other, then the loot, then decided to just take it and go home.  ^-^

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Re: Pirates, how?
« Reply #19 on: 02 October 2022, 19:42:54 »
Like go to hollywood for some ideas and in my mind i figure most pirate are very much kind of like the bad guys in the magnificent 7.  They come in just before harvest and make it clear who in charge and they  plan on returning on a certain date for much needed goods.  In the film, why the group didn't leave the farmer was cause it was late in the season and they didn't have any other village to gather the food they will need to survive the winter.  Pirate are sort of the same way they will hit marginal places case they need supplies to last them a few years.  Maybe they need tractors and farm good for their slave labor.  Or medical supplies.  They will always have something they will be short on that a good raid will fix.  On top of that some goods can be sold to a local traders for good that they can use. 

Its not till they get big headed that they start nation building that when they start looking for some serious industrial material.

even more so like the bandits in Seven Samurai, which that western was derived from. which were once warriors from the army of daimyo that got smashed in the many wars that dominated the sengoku period. these now masterless warriors basically staked a claim to an area and sent out regular foraging parties, just like they would have while on campaign. (this is also why in that story there are Ronin warriors around the village could hire for their defense.. survivors from those same Daimyo armies who didn't turn to banditry, instead going in for mercenary work as bodyguards and the like, or just wandering)
« Last Edit: 02 October 2022, 19:54:23 by glitterboy2098 »

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Re: Pirates, how?
« Reply #20 on: 04 October 2022, 11:20:13 »
even more so like the bandits in Seven Samurai, which that western was derived from. which were once warriors from the army of daimyo that got smashed in the many wars that dominated the sengoku period. these now masterless warriors basically staked a claim to an area and sent out regular foraging parties, just like they would have while on campaign. (this is also why in that story there are Ronin warriors around the village could hire for their defense.. survivors from those same Daimyo armies who didn't turn to banditry, instead going in for mercenary work as bodyguards and the like, or just wandering)

There was also a difference in the American Southwest and the Sengoku-period.  Japan was and is a resource poor, but has a high population (Japan's greatest natural-resource are trees) vs. the Southwest, which is resource rich with a low population; The Magnificent-Seven, chose, to be mercenaries/bandits; they could have easily became fur-trappers or farms or miners etc. Samurai don't have that option.

There's no reason to believe the Periphery-Worlds are inhospitable; there's no reason for the worlds just outside the Inner-Sphere to be any different that the worlds within the Inner-Sphere; they should mostly be Earth-like, terrestrial, with a shortage of water as per Fasa's cannon.  So, most likely, they choose to be pirates.

There's also a bit of economic-scarcity, which could be another factor; yes, they are raiding for the latest version of IPhone.

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Re: Pirates, how?
« Reply #21 on: 05 October 2022, 20:59:24 »
I recall an episode of Vikings where the raiders were coming up the river and found a cart full of loot at the landing to the village they were going to raid.  They looked at each other, then the loot, then decided to just take it and go home.  ^-^

Coercion/extortion was the third stage of the Viking colonization cycle — trade then raid then coerce/extort then invade/settle.  Coercion/extortion is more lucrative than raiding because normally nothing physical is risked.  Ideally it’s all threats, not combat.  The practice had different names in different parts and times in the Viking world, like the Danegeld below.  Mafia (Circinians?) would call it a protection racket.  Ancient Greeks and Romans (Marians?) would have called it tribute.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danegeld

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protection_racket

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tribute
« Last Edit: 05 October 2022, 21:06:08 by Natasha Kerensky »
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Re: Pirates, how?
« Reply #22 on: 06 October 2022, 03:25:56 »
Agreed on all counts!  :thumbsup:

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Re: Pirates, how?
« Reply #23 on: 11 October 2022, 18:50:20 »
The question should actually read "Pirates How Not?"

All throughout history there is excellent account of piracy, especially during times of hardship, governmental collapse, power vacuums, etc.

Sure a trip between two planets takes a few weeks (sometimes longer sometimes shorter) for the pirates. But any responding force is going to take that same amount of time, plus whatever time it takes for them to be notified of the incoming pirates, plus their response time and if the pirates are smart they aren't going to be going for the worlds with the best communication networks or garrisons... See where I am going with this?

As far as it being profitable, that is the easy part. Even a periphery world is going to have a population somewhere in the tens to hundreds of millions. Even assuming the median income in these troubled economies is 1/4 that of a "typical" successor state world. They are going to be making (per house sourcebooks) somewhere around 2000 C Bills per person per year. Even ignoring corporate entities, royalty, etc. The government of a planetary system like this is going to be on par with at least a modern day EU country. Would it be profitable for a company sized group of battlemechs to raid modern day Germany, Italy or France for resources? Absolutely. In a short order even a single Locust mech and a company of infantry could rob a worlds gold / precocious metal reserves, major banks, take high profile individuals for ransom, or threaten to destroy their entire infrastructure if they don't pay up. This is completely discounting the capturing of rare military equipment, resources, etc. I don't want to go too far down the wormhole in terms of FASAnomics. But you can see how easy it would be to cash out immensely with even a fast raid involving one or two mechs. Also why stop there? Until someone stronger comes along that is your world now. And as the OP pointed out it could take literal months for a responding force large enough to "evict" these pirates could even respond.

Also state sponsored Piracy is a major factor in Battletech. Think back to the saga of the Gray Death legion for example, or Comstars Op Jollyroger. Successor states / any major powers are always going to be looking to utilize privateer type forces to winnow down their enemies resources and to stretch them thin. So the prospect of being a successful pirate just became that much sweeter when you realize that the people you want to raid likely have powerful enemies that may sponsor or even pay you to do it! Especially when you consider the relative scarcity of Battlemechs during periods like the succession wars era. Rogue House Units, Mercenaries who are down on their luck and are looking to cash in, Battling noblility, etc. are all sources of "pirate" units. The key to being a successful pirate is not getting caught, and provided you managed to snag a jumpship you are going to be really hard to catch if you plot your moves intelligently. Also there are going to be literally hundreds of charted jump points in a ships log that no one is going to really use as they don't have habitable or useful star systems. So the possibility to hide out in space is really unlimited.

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Re: Pirates, how?
« Reply #24 on: 11 October 2022, 18:59:53 »
Really the way pirates really stand to gain is in Jumpships, Dropships & Mechs (together with their parts). Capturing these rare and scarce resources would provide not only a proverbial cash cow but your enemies are going to be really remiss about just blowing your ships / units apart to kill you due to their value & scarcity. This gives you a lot of leverage and reduces your likelihood of "getting caught with your pants down" as a pirate. Additionally most worlds pirates frequent wouldn't even be able to scrape a lance of mechs together, so they have to rely on calling for aid. And is that minor lord in charge of the prefecture really going to dispatch his personally owned irreplaceable equipment to potentially get destroyed chasing pirates raiding a minor world?
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Re: Pirates, how?
« Reply #25 on: 11 October 2022, 20:27:13 »
Only JumpShips really fall into that category...  ^-^

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Re: Pirates, how?
« Reply #26 on: 12 October 2022, 09:37:12 »
Only JumpShips really fall into that category...  ^-^

Eh, 3SW dropships do and late in that period the Houses were surrendering/retreating when their equipment was at risk.  Put enough damage on someone and outmanuever them and they surrender- such as what Andrew Redburn did with Delta Company against heavier machines.
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Daryk

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Re: Pirates, how?
« Reply #27 on: 12 October 2022, 18:13:02 »
I'm not sure about that.  DropShips are rather less rare these days, even in the 3SW.

cray

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Re: Pirates, how?
« Reply #28 on: 14 October 2022, 13:27:07 »
As far as it being profitable, that is the easy part. Even a periphery world is going to have a population somewhere in the tens to hundreds of millions.

They have a population of tens of millions or hundreds of millions if you're in the Taurian Concordat or Magistracy. The Outworlds Alliance showed lower populations and some worlds of the Outworlds Waste could be uninhabited after 2850. Campaign Operations provides a rough estimate of how planetary populations tend to drop with distance from Terra. Distant worlds received fewer colonists later in history, giving less time for growth than a core world.

Quote
In a short order even a single Locust mech and a company of infantry could rob a worlds gold / precocious metal reserves, major banks, take high profile individuals for ransom, or threaten to destroy their entire infrastructure if they don't pay up.

If pirates are going to linger on a high population planet then:

1. The pirates are going to get out of their 'Mechs at some point. Then they're vulnerable to snipers, prostitutes' knives**, and arrest.

2. The pirates give the locals plenty of time to set up IEDs and drive truck bombs to their barracks/DropShips. ("It's your fifth shipment of gold, promise!")

3. The pirate 'Mechs are going to need maintenance, per Campaign Operations' force operation rules.

**I always thought the novel, "Illegal Aliens" by Nick Pollotta and Phil Foglio did an excellent job of depicting what happens when a small group of all-powerful pirates shows up on a populous world. The Bloody Deckers could've trashed Earth given time, but they fell for a honey trap and special forces (I repeat myself).   ;)
« Last Edit: 14 October 2022, 18:35:43 by cray »
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Re: Pirates, how?
« Reply #29 on: 15 October 2022, 13:40:09 »
They have a population of tens of millions or hundreds of millions if you're in the Taurian Concordat or Magistracy. The Outworlds Alliance showed lower populations and some worlds of the Outworlds Waste could be uninhabited after 2850. Campaign Operations provides a rough estimate of how planetary populations tend to drop with distance from Terra. Distant worlds received fewer colonists later in history, giving less time for growth than a core world.

I've got a few points to address on this one. You bring up some good points and you are correct on every account of these being ways to end the pirates reign of terror who falls into one of these traps. These are the methods that are always going to be used, and always have been used against pirate attackers.

Pirates are constantly analyzing the risk versus reward matrix. High risk = high rewards but higher chance of getting killed. Hitting more organized worlds or well defended convoys, settlements etc. might equal larger loot but you are more likely to get your group killed. Pirates aren't going to be very successful doing this often. They might get famous hitting these bold targets, but a more successful pirate will hit low risk targets more frequently and come out better off. Your point about the deeper periphery worlds having lower populations just goes to bolster my initial point. The keys to piracy are:

Legal and jurisdictional opportunities
Conflict and disorder
Under-funded military / law enforcement /inadequate security
Permissive political environments / Cultural acceptability
Reward

Pretty much all periphery worlds have these factors going for (or rather against) them. When you factor in state sanctioned piracy and warring interstellar states it makes piracy even easier. Not only piracy as a direct action, but terrorism, mercenary work or the classic "non-state actor" role all offer pirates other mechanisms to gain money. With jump ships and interstellar travel opportunities, a pirate force can call a low population / (otherwise uninhabited) planet home base. From there pirate forces can gather intel via spies, interrogations, or other intelligence gathering. A well planned raid will occur quickly.

If pirates are going to linger on a high population planet then:

1. The pirates are going to get out of their 'Mechs at some point. Then they're vulnerable to snipers, prostitutes' knives**, and arrest.

2. The pirates give the locals plenty of time to set up IEDs and drive truck bombs to their barracks/DropShips. ("It's your fifth shipment of gold, promise!")

3. The pirate 'Mechs are going to need maintenance, per Campaign Operations' force operation rules.

1. Of course they are, but whoever the pirates are attacking are just as vulnerable to these things, potentially more so because the pirates are not operating under the guise of any sort of legality. So a clever pirate might send advance "Scouts" to a world and assassinate their military commanders / mechwarrios, sabotage equipment, destroy bridges, spaceport infrastructure etc. These are all ways of pulling off a more successful raid.

2. If pulled off correctly the locals aren't going to know the pirates are hitting until they do. Ideally pirates would jump into a (pirate point) and make planetside as fast as possible. Planetary defense systems are going to be minimal at best in the periphery in particular but even in inner sphere backwaters they will be limited. From this point out its a smash and grab raid, set a time limit and objective and start carrying it out. The longer it drags on the higher the changes of "getting caught" one way or the other. As a pirate leaving a dropship in an indefensible location is tantamount to stupidity. A dropship though, could take off after dropping the pirates off and land somewhere uninhabited, then return to pick up the pirates at a DZ. Putting the shoe on the other foot what do you think a periphery mining company would pay off to avoid pirates from destroying / seizing a mid-charge jumpship or a dropship for that matter? The pirates might not even have to attack. With some decent spy work from the pirate side pulling something like this off couldn't be too difficult.

3. This is probably a portion of the reasoning behind the raid to begin with. We aren't talking about a protracted campaign but something more like Henry Morgans raid on Portobello. He hit Portobello and then contacted the Spanish after looting the town. Morgan demanded ransom or he would burn all of Portobello. Spain paid off. I think a lot of periphery nations would act similarly when facing losing a major settlement

Again, successful pirates are either going to get enough loot to cash out and retire (which shouldn't be too hard with battlemechs) or they are going to end up going privateer / mercenary type route. Considering most periphery nations are pretty poor, getting a contract with the enemies of who you were raiding should not be difficult for you. But for every smart / lucky pirate that pulls these things off there will be 10 that fail. As your pointed out there are so many pitfalls / honey traps / general difficulties to avoid. But it is the prospect that keeps them coming back. After all the root word pirate means to "try or to risk". Given high enough reward, there will always be many who will risk it.
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