Designing a Pirate Ship

I’m reviewing possibilities for an upcoming Burning Empires game (tonight!), and one of the things I’m considering is a pirate/smuggler. So, of course, he’ll need a ship!

My assumptions concerning what’s necessary: it should be Low Index at most, given that pirates generally aren’t going to be from the few shiny parts of the universe, nor are they rich. It should have room for a small crew AND a modest amount of cargo. It needs to be armed, but shouldn’t look like a military vehicle. Signals and sensors are important, to detect prey and keep them from alerting help. Armor is not particularly necessary; we’re not looking to pick a fair fight! Speed is a nice perk. Finally, it should have some sort of ability to disable prey if possible; for example, a nail gun.

The ideal vehicle would probably be the Hammer Assault Shuttle or Hammer Patrol Craft (if your crew is prosperous enough).

Considering the rules about owning military spacecraft (“Hammer Lord, Anvil Lord and Forged Lord”, p. 112), I suspect that a pirate ship would have to be modified up from a civilian vehicle, rather than modified down from a military one. That’s OK, considering that’s probably what would actually happen.

Correct me if I’m wrong about any of the ship classes: Civilian Interstellar Hammer appears to be strictly a passenger vehicle- the station wagon of the interstellar routes (3 passengers or cargo). Therefore, not a great pirate vehicle; we need both crew and a reasonable amount of cargo space. Civilian Intergalactic Hammer is only slightly larger, with much more range. However, it still doesn’t have much in the way of cargo space, and besides, it’s High Index. Mercators seem to be interstellar buses/cruise ships/passenger liners. A good target for pirates, but not necessarily a good ship.

That pretty much leaves the cargo shuttle. Zero index, so the base ship should be abundant. It can carry a small crew plus cargo. Low profile. Control sucks, but not any worse than the Hammer Assault Shuttle. Signals and sensors aren’t as good, but they can be upgraded or simply rely on a good crew (upgrading them could make for a good Scene). Obviously some ordinance is necessary- a vehicular mount at a minimum if you want to mount a nail gun. Two would be better, as a nail gun isn’t that damaging aside from disruption effects. Speed needs to be boosted.

Technological Traits:

Hidden Gun Mount (+4 points)
This ship sports a mount for a vehicular weapon (often a nail gun) hidden behind a panel in the fuselage. It adds a +2Ob to all Sensors checks to detect this weapon (categorical limitation).

I’m thinking this would automatically count as Advanced/Illegal/Restricted and thus cost 2 points at character burning, as well as requiring one of the traits for owning a spacecraft. Would two of these mounts be reasonable, with the rest of the upgrades coming in-game?

Calling Rob Bohl…

Rob was just telling me about a sweet, sweet smuggler and ship that he made.

if you think about the term ‘pirate’ - it might apply differently in the Iron Empires than our more conventional idea of a pirate. a pirate captain in the iron empires could concievably be a rogue Hammer Lord or even forged lord forced into piracy because his planet was blown up, taken by the vaylen, or just broke.

if you like that idea, then you can just buy the tech with your Hammer Lord trait.

now, if you want it to be a smaller scale pirate, cargo shuttle is very small scale. mercator makes sense, too, cuz you can have a small army of fighters to board other ships, which is mostly what you’d be doing as a pirate. then, if you wanted weapons you’d need to add the ordanance trait (see p. 384) +2 trait points for vehicular, then another +3 to make your gun mount hidden. my suggestion, buy the unodified ship in the character burn, have the hidden gun mount as color, and then tech-burn it with fabrication/resources or shipwright in game when you need it.

Those are good points. If we go Human and I decide on a pirate, I’ll throw out both ideas (small merchant pirate and rogue Hammer Lord) to the group and see what will mesh best. I like the idea of keeping the weapons and other modifications as color until they’re needed. It even does a good job of emulating the Millenium Falcon’s constant malfunctions- “OK, the hyperdrive has just been color until now. Test Resources. Oops! Well, it sputters and fails as the TIE fighters close in…”

One of my players is playing an exiled-noble smuggler/crime boss-turned-viceroy (Big Deal DoW can be insane sometimes). Anyway, we are on a high-index world and when he was buying his gear he got a cargo shuttle for a res point since it was one of those “integral to the character” bits. He hardly ever flies it but it’s there and even has some hidden color guns and stuff.

I’m thinking a pirate vessal could be a fast merchant transport converted into a Q-ship or pocket warship, or maybe an old surplused Hammer Escort corvette or Frigitte. Nothing high-tech or well armed, but great at intimdating merchantmen, passenger liners, Noble yahcts, and Smugglers.

Don’t forget the 2d bonus to thread necromancy.

Don’t like my thread zombies