Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Hostile Ship Encounters

So, you've encountered another ship, which means that you're on a close enough vector to interact. You roll reaction.

I like to adjust that roll according to the presence of naval and scout bases: +2 reaction for navy base, +1 for a scout, +1 for a B port, +2 for an A port. It's much less likely for truly hostile encounters to occur in A or B systems. Unfriendly encounters there with merchants will likely result in arguments about spacelane crowding, trade competition, and the like, and will probably result in legalities in port.

But suppose it's a C port, and there's no base, and a merchantman's hostile, and decides to attack. he might just think you're a pirate; he might want to prevent you from competing. His first priority will be defending his multimillion credit ship. But if he can get a lucky shot in and cripple you, then there's another decision point. Does he leave you drifting while he goes about his business, or does he attempt to board? Types M and R are unlikely to do more than disable you or drive you off: they have passengers aboard, for the most part. Type A ships might not be so busy, though, and may indeed be interested in opportunistic piracy, just like a lot of PCs might be. (Boarding is another can of worms for another day)

Hostile type T ships are somebody's navy, probably, and if you've kept your nose clean, they just want to board you. Just do as the man says, and everything will be fine - if you're skipping, or if you've gone pirate, or if you're breaking local law levels, you'll probably find yourself chilling in the low berths while your ship gets sold at a 40% discount. Hostile Scouts will likely behave the same, or at least call in the cavalry or report you to the Starport.

Hostile type C ships are liable to be local military, or hired by them, and might be operating on the same terms as a Navy patrol... but they might be a little more inclined to requisition cargos or take substantial bribes not to. Or, they might have been hired to streamline competition in local markets, in which case you'll probably be escorted to the gas giant and out of the system. Unless you want to fight, in which case they might pick you up after you abandon ship.

will almost certainly attack. Again, the fact that there's an encounter at all indicates that they happen to be traveling on a vector close to yours, which means they're in a position to attack you.

A reaction roll is useful here. A negative roll indicating attack? Well, they'll come in shooting, and pick the corpse after they've disabled you. A positive reaction means they threaten you first: if you behave, shutting down and shutting up (no maneuvers, no firing, no distress calls) they'll board without blowing you up.

The smart captain opens the hold, opens the ship's locker (with the ship's payroll and operations funds), and seals the passengers and crew with him in the bridge. It might not work. The pirates might insist on prisoners; they might think the captain's holding out; the pirates might decide they want the whole ship. If that's the case, then there's likely to be an ugly fight for the bridge and everyone dies. But the pirates might also take what they can get cheaply and quickly, and leave. If they have lots of time, they might strip out the engineering section, leaving your ship a driveless hulk.

If the captain fights back, then it'll just get ugly faster. Passengers will be taken for ransom and/or enslaved, or maybe they'll just kill them along with the crew, who are totally dead for having fought at all.


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