I been spending a lot of time reading Knife Fight, where acting like it’s the Internet is not cool. So my growl-o-meter is prolly better calibrated than usual.
Anyway, the deal is, military power in the Iron Empires is concentrated in the Pilotry. Think of it like late medieval efforts to limit fortification (you know, once the King had enough artillery that those efforts were at least somewhat successful) or like pre-WWI naval treaties, or like nuclear proliferation.
So, a Hammer command officer? Pilot and Ship’s Captain from Spacefarer. First Officer, Hammer Master from Hammer. Maybe some other military LPs. Pirate or Smuggler from Outcast. Think of him like a Sea Dog or something, and he’s probably flying a converted mercator or captured Hammer. Capturing those Hammer warships is totally a maneuver! And a great one! And yes, the pilotry will be ANGRY! It would need to be circled and sourced and tech burned otherwise. You could do some tech burning before play as well.
Think about the military of a medieval free city. They’ve got mercenaries, and some reasonably-drilled infantry, and a few light cannon, and town walls. But they don’t have real knights, they don’t have a siege train, and they don’t have a real, hardened, fortification.
Basically, these are really complicated human systems with whole social classes behind them. No rebel or resistance to the Roman Empire ever raised legions to oppose them (well, when they did they were doing a civil war thing really rather than a rebellion). The Gauls, the Jewish rebellion, none of them. Why? It’s not like they couldn’t walk in lines and carry a sword and a big shield. But it’s a lot more complicated than that. Actually, if you read John Keegan’s latest, “A History of Warfare,” he talks a lot about the social conditions necessary to produce certain kinds of warfare.
Oh, and why don’t the communes or merchant league worlds just raise fake pilotry from outside? Because sooner or later those lords-pilot will figure it out and take over. Look at the Sforzas. Look how many revolutions it took to bring Western civilization to the point where the military stopped becoming an aristocracy. Now imagine that, rather than making that transition when it was safe from outside threats, it was doing so basically while in the process of collapse. As a bit of a historian, this makes a lot of sense to me.
Having the Royalists do it is even worse. Imagine you’re, I don’t know, China just after the revolution. Chiang Kai-shek’s faction is still holding some turf, skirmishing with you, but basically they’re out. They have the ability to make nukes, though (don’t ask how that works, maybe they don’t have the facilities, just the know-how). You ask them “Hey, would you train some of our guys to make and use those?” See where I’m going with this? You’re giving these men the ability to obliterate your whole world, putting them up in a fusion-powered Sword of Damocles, and you’re gonna have the Royalists train them up?
Do the thing where they capture up the Hammer instead. That’s awesome.
Oh, one other thing to remember. The Infiltration phase, and to some extent the Usurpation, happen without obvious Vaylen action. They can be about power struggles between apparently-human factions like this.