Friday, November 2, 2018

Scurvy Space Dogs - The Pirate Career

Scurvy Space Dogs – the Pirate career

Now that Piracy & Privateering is out, it's time to have a look at the CT Pirate career, as found in Supp:4 Citizens of the Imperium. Is a pirate's life for you?
Piracy is harder to get into than you might think. At 7+, it's tougher than Bureaucrats, Sailors/Flyers or Scientists. Pirates will take lower-class types than Rogues (+1 DM for SOC 7-, instead of 8- for rogues).

All pirates learn Brawling. Well, maybe that's more on-the-job training than a planned course. I expected Gun combat. When you're raiding a ship, is there more brandishing weapons than actual fighting? Plus the bottom rung of the pirate ladder is likely considered expendable. Why waste time training them?

That could explain the 6+ survival throw. This is tougher than sailors/flyers, the Navy, the Army, and as tough as the Marines. Is this saying that Pirates and Marines (natural enemies) are evenly matched? It's INT that helps the pirate survive. This makes sense, given the chaotic nature of the career. But brains are not the first characteristic many think of when considering pirates.

Getting rank in the pirates is tough; the hardest in the COTI careers. Only the Navy has a tougher bar to commission. STR 10+ is the DM, but that's hard to come by (17% on 2D), and it's only +1, from 28% to 42% probability. Without the DM, a pirate may need four terms just to make rank 1 “henchman”.

Pirates and skills

All pirates learn brawling, and pirate lieutenants (rank 4) learn Pilot. Unlike the Other, pirates don't risk losing SOC from their activities; why is that? They can improve their physiques, learn gambling, fighting, and general technical skills. Tactics and Ship Tactics are both available. (I should retrofit this into the Navy career)

There are some skills missing. Worst offense is there's no Admin or Bribery skill, which help with the selling of cargo. No liaison either, which will do in a pinch.

Two shipboard skills are missing as well: Steward and Medical. Yes, these make sense for a pirate. Only a lunatic launches a space operation as dangerous as piracy without a doctor aboard. Pirates are passengers too, aboard their own ships. Pirates are also fighters, and fighters need somebody to fight. The captain must keep them happy and occupied in between raiding missions or there can be fights, riots and mutinies. Ask Long John Silver about that one. Get a good steward, and problem solved.

Pirates who retire

Well, retire isn't the word. Pirates don't get a pension or retirement, according to the COTI book.

The Mustering Out benefits are  . . . not great. Cash is not generous except at Captain level, and Doctors & Diplomats both beat it. Oh, look, there's the -1 SOC 'benefit' on the table, along with a weapon, passages, and a blank result. Throw a 4 and you get bupkis. Captains may come out with a ship, but few Pirates get their own Captain's chair. The benefits of piracy are not in evidence on these tables.

More so than other careers, the Pirate career calls for some world building by the referee. The COTI book does not discuss the pirate career any further, leaving it to the referee how piracy exists and interacts with the TU he runs. How common is piracy, how tolerated, feared, hated, hunted is it? Is there a pirate community with ”pirate codes” or not? Are pirates jolly scallywags, or cynical murderous bastards? Do pirates spare captured crews & passengers, or put them to the sword? This is more than color text; this shapes the kinds of adventures that a pirate PC will face.

Sample character:

Sam “Shanker” Hollowell
887867 Pirate Corporal    Cr 11,000
3 terms
Brawling-2, Streetwise-1, Dagger-2, Vacc suit-1, Gambling-1
Dagger, Mid Passage

Shanker dropped out of college and became a pirate. He didn't have any genuine desire for the adventurous life; he did it for revenge. During his schooling, his beloved father died in a pirate raid on a star liner. Sam (rashly) vowed to find the pirate responsible, and kill him. It took him twelve years to track down the ship and crew that attacked his father's ship. By this time, Sam had amassed a rep, and a rap sheet. He was too late, though. The guilty pirate had drunk himself to death almost a year before Sam identified him. He jumped ship and left the pirate life behind as soon as he could.

The Life won't let him alone though. His past continues to follow him around. He travels under assumed names and stays off the radar as best he can. He uses the skills he's acquired to oppose criminal gangs to remind himself that he's 'not one of them.' Sam has killed before, but only other pirates, so he is not charged with murder in any jurisdiction that he knows.

We don't do X marks the spot anymore. We use beacon lights now.

His former comrades may be after him. The other thing Sam did during his time was keep careful note of every base, station, hideout and treasure trove he came across. He has already raided two hideouts for cash and supplies. Odd isn't it how professional thieves don't like it when someone steals from them. Or notifies the local Space Patrol of where they are.

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