So You Want to be a Pirate: Methods

You got your backstory. You got your ship, bristling with weapons. You got your loyal (?) crew. You got your informants, relaying news of fat traders plodding along, with barely small arms for the crews aboard, and sweet cargo. It comes down to this, some people will resist your attempts to make off with their ship and/or cargo. Was are you going to do about it?

Use Fear: make them understand they will regret any resistance they make. Historically, some pirates would hoist a red flag, announcing they would kill everyone aboard. Sailors would see the crimson banner and jump ship to swim for it. The pirates presumably ignored them and took an empty and pristine ship. The bad news with this approach is you had to have committed depraved and murderous acts at least once and hell yes that'd bring the Navy down on you. You also have to let someone escape to tell of you heinous conduct.

Use Force: this is what people usually think of when you say pirates. Ships trading broadsides, ramming and then their crews engaging in vicious hand to hand combat. It's not terribly accurate. Most pirates [referred to capture ships. Shooting them up was counterproductive. Also, space battles are fought at much  greater range than conflicts in the Age of Sail. Back then, you could deist a ship, crippling its movement to  make it easy to board.

Space weapons are not that selective or precise unless you shell out for high end targeting programs. The Navy keeps an eye on people buying those. But without them any shot could blast the cargo deck. Then you wasted your time and announced your presence to any patrols.

Use Fakery: shooting at the other guy is counterproductive.It can lead to them returning fire for one thing. How much better to deprive them of the means to resist. This ideally means getting someone onboard your target ship either before it launches or when you intercept. This person can attempt various acts of subterfuge: computer hacks, time bombs, drive and weapon sabotage. If they manage to get aboard as crew or a passenger, they can try to release tranquilizing or poison gas or interrupt the life systems cause people to pass out from high CO2 or low O2. The possibilities are endless.

Needless to say, that   pirate gets a very large share of the loot.

I've heard that there is no good reason for a life boat n space. You are  better off staying with the ship in almost disaster, short of a reactor exploding or melting. Being boarded by pirates trumps that. A well provisioned gig is priceless. You lose your cargo (it was all freighting), and ship (you were five months behind in payments) but you can beat a retreat while they rifle through your ship. 

Some poor sports leave booby traps behind for pirates. Doing things like this also make it harder to return to your vessel to salvage it, and if a rescue ship sets off your traps you could be facing jail time. That sort of stuff is reserved for the military in times of war (and pirates) trying to keep information secret. The Bank also takes a dim view of destroying a ship that could be recaptured later. The pirates take such a dim view, they may decide your lousy life boat is worth one of those nukes they were saving for a special occasion.

Next: More nattering about classic style combat and then So You Want to be a Pirate: Dirty Tricks.


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