Sunday, November 15, 2015

Strange Stars A-To-Z: "P" Is For Pirate

Doctor Who "Sleep No More"

Did you see last night's episode? There was a funny quip by the Doctor that you don't really add anything by putting the word "space" in front of words like "restaurant." It's not a space restaurant, just a restaurant. Clara's rejoinder is "What about spacesuit? And space pirate?"

That shuts the Doctor up for a second. And next thing the Doctor and Clara know they're being accused of being space pirates.

Most of the Strange Stars Fate games I have GMed have included space pirates. In three cases, the players decided to BE the pirates. This works very well with on-the-fly style games that come together at conventions.

Space battles are rare in the Strange Stars setting (hyperspace-capable starships use very old, very difficult to replace and repair technology), but space piracy isn't. Boarding actions are common, as are hijackings (either at a starport or in deep space), false flag "rescue" operations, and raids on planets and space stations. Extortion/protection rackets targeting traffick on secondary and tertiary hyperspace routes are another way that piracy occurs. Many Space Haulers quit while they're ahead and give up the goods at the first hail from a pirate.

There are distinct tiers to the pirate enterprise. The top players are the dreaded, cyborged-up, ruthless Zao Corsairs. They are the Strange Stars' answer to Firefly's Reavers. But don't say you're a Zao Corsair unless you really are: the Zao take a dim view of wannabees who dilute their brand.

Another bad news group that frequently resorts to piracy is the inhuman Ssraad. While the three warring clades of these reptillian space demons are as likely to prey on each other as on any unfortunates whose path they happen to cross, there is no doubt that the Ssraad are beginning to range farther and farther from home.

Then there is everyone else. Part-time Space Haulers, belters, smugglers, or mercenaries. Mutineers with nowhere else to go. All pirates great and small. They're all bad news.

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