Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Minions: Pirates

Pirates
The mooks I’ve created so far have obvious relations to the real world. Troopers, criminals and cops all actually exist, and I’ve largely just replaced real world firearms with blasters and real-world armor with ultra-tech armor. If I have one frustration with Star Wars (and thus Psi-Wars), it is this tendency to keep things “like the real world.” If we’re going to play in a sci-fi setting, I’d like to explore sci-fi concepts. Pirates are my first chance to do that, as they don’t really represent anything that actually exists in the real world. Certainly, we have our own, actual pirates, but the pirates of Psi-Wars must necessarily operate in a unique environment: space.




The Concept of Space Pirates

Like criminals, pirates are less focused on defeating their opponents than in acquiring material gain. This could consist of a ship’s cargo, the ship’s personnel (slaves) or the ship itself. Whatever their focus, this necessitates boarding the ship. Pirates can’t afford to simply blow a ship up, though they might demand the surrender of an enemy ship, but even then, one might expect some resistance from the crew on the ship itself. The tactics necessary for the space battle itself isn’t relevant to this article, so much as the tactics of the boarding crew itself.

Pirates might focus on more than just boarding enemy ships. Pirates could double as low-rent mercenaries or the soldiers of an alien warlord. In a sense, they represent “paramilitary” criminals, and survivalist soldiers.

The basic pirate is the raider. Traditionally, pirates were simply sailors who, when close enough, would just mount an attack. I’d expect space pirates to work the same way: the non-essential crew of a pirate vessel would simply arm up with appropriate weapons and join in the boarding parties. Fighting on a spaceship would be close and personal, and we wouldn’t want to excessively damage the ship or your merchandise, so I’m going with vibro-blades and blaster pistols. Pirates might also wear vaccuum suits of some kind, in case things go catastrophically wrong (or, if the pirates are considered expendable by their captain, they might not).

The next is the marauder. A pirate works because most civilians will be poorly armed. A few men with blasters and vibro-blades are dangerous enough if you’re unarmed. If you’re facing well-armed and professional crewman, say some defensive mercenaries. For that, we need even heavier arms and armor, and more destructive intent. For this, I’d go with a combat hardsuit (or perhaps even space armor), and either a plasma shotgun or a plasma gun. It’s explosive, which could rip apart your loot, but a marauder is someone you send in against the hardest of point of opposition. They represent a cross between heavy troopers and assault troopers as depicted by a crazed space-mercenary. In case you need a marauder to act like a typical boarder, we can give them a vibrosword.

Then we’ll need specialists. Broadly speaking, in addition to typical loot (cargo, the starship itself), pirates might want to get at parts or steal robots, or they might want to enslave the crew itself. For the first, we’ll use engineers, characters armed with explosives, emp weapons and engineering skill. These can double as asteroid miners or repair crew. For the latter, we’ll use slavers, characters armed with either neurolash baton or a neurolash whip, for additional flair.


Tactical Theory

Like criminal gangs and security forces, tactics will vary a great deal from criminal gang to gang. Generally, once the ship has been boarded, all pirates will make a bee-line for the command deck, fighting their way through any opposition. Boarders will make up the bulk of the pirates, subduing any minor opposition, such as crewmen or aggressive passengers, either with threats or violence. Rogue Miners will either replace all boarders, in certain crews, or bolster their numbers as low-rent marauders or assist in cutting through secured doors. Marauders, if they’re present, will hammer any serious points of opposition, spearheading the rest of the boarders.

Saboteurs and Slavers exist to add some interesting spice to pirate encounters. Saboteurs will quickly remove any technological advantage a party might have, while slavers will quickly intimidate and defeat any hirelings the party might have, and threaten the crew directly.


Skill Level Theory

Boarders and Engineers are essentially combat amateurs. Like criminal goons, they’re primary threat is that they have weapons and are willing to use them; they’re skill 10. Slavers are necessarily more professional, though low-risk professionals. They’re skill 12. Finally, Marauders might be skill 12, as we wouldn’t expect pirates to have serious military-grade training, but Marauders represent the most dangerous things a pirate can throw at you, and they regularly face high level risks. Thus, I’d make them skill 15.

Technological Detail

In many ways, we’d expect pirates to resemble criminals, albeit with heavier weaponry and vacuum suits.

The Vibro-Blade

Setting aside the obvious space-cutlass imagery, the intent behind equipping pirates with vibro-blades is that they’re cheaper than blaster and less likely to create collateral damage, while more than good enough to cut through most forms of armor, including most battleweave vests and the less well-armored parts of light combat hardsuits. We don’t need to choose any specific or unique form of vibro-blade.

Blasters and Plasma Weapons

The old blaster pistol, designed for criminal goons, works pretty well here too. The pistol, of course, is a superior weapon to a vibro-blade but there’s a chance that it will miss and inflict collateral damage on something, which isn’t to say that they shouldn’t use it, but it becomes a secondary weapon, something to use when you’re sure it’s safe, or when you’re hard pressed.
A plasma weapon might seem to be an even worse weapon for the purposes of collateral damage than a blaster pistol, but it’s a remarkably cheap weapon for the amount of firepower it offers. A variety of plasma weapons could serve well as back-up weapons, and their explosive nature makes them great for blowing doors open.

Specialist Gear

Miners will obviously use demolition charges and plasma torches to do their work. The fusion torch from Ultra-Tech seems good enough (I note that it’s only reach C, but that seems errata, so I’ll include reach 1). To deal with robots and electronics, they’ll deploy EMP grenades. For slavers, the existing neurolash options are perfectly fine.

Armor

We could simply give our pirates vacc suits, but they’ll fail the first time they go into combat. So, instead, we’ll give them a battleweave armored battlesuit. We don’t have actual rules for that, but we can extrapolate out to 30 points of DR, which gives us roughly the same armor as a heavy battleweave vest.

A heavy combat hardsuit makes perfect sense for our mauraders and engineers, but we wouldn’t expect them to be as advanced or capable as those of Imperial Troopers. However, Imperial Troopers have heavy hardsuit armor with the advanced option, making it twice as expensive and 2/3 the weight. If we reverse engineer that, we can get “less advanced” armor that costs $5,000 and weighs 45 lbs for the same protection.

In all cases the armor and vacuum suits comes equipped with a communication device, but the helments do not feature HUD or Infra-Red: they’re simple space helmets. Most pirates also carry lighting devices and electronic cuffs (to take prisoners with).

Pirates

All the following minions have been created in such a way that they'll fit on two sides of an A6, so you should be able to print 4 per page. I have greatly reduced their complexity even further, so that most characters are virtually identical. Note that the listed tactics aren't the only moves possible, just a helper for some of the more complex actions these characters might undertake.

Pirate Raider

The Pirate Raider is your basic combatant. They'll tend to favor threatening with the vibro-blade over firing with their pistols unless that becomes strictly necessary. As usual, the tactics listed below are only optional.

ST 11 HP 11 Speed 5
DX 10 Will 10/12 Move: 5 (4)
IQ 10 Per 10

HT 10 FP 10 SM +0
Dodge 8 (7)
Parry 8
DR: 30




Old Blaster Pistol (10):
3d(5) burn sur (Acc 5, Range 150/450 RoF 3, Bulk -2)

Hotshot Plasma Pistol (10): 10d (2) burn ex (RoF 3, Range 400/1200, Rcl 2 Bulk -2, Malf 14)

Vibro-Blade (10): 2d+3(5) cut (Reach 1 Parry 0)

Skills: Spacer-10, Vacc Suit-10

Traits: Fearlessness +2, Off-Hand Weapon Training (Pistol).

Notes: Human; Helmet provides vacuum seal, filtered air, hearing protection (+5 to resist hearing damage) and -4 to sighted attacks. They also feature 100-mile communication devices. Carry 25 yard light source and neurolash cuffs. Lightly Encumbered.


Raider Tactics



Combat Assault (8): While holding the pistol in one hand, make a Move and Attack. Move up to your full movement and roll Close-Quarter Battle-2 (or -0), using full RoF 3. Successful hits strike a random hit location and deal deal 3d(5) burn. You may dodge, but you may not retreat or drop.

Burn Cover (15): Make a sighted All-Out Attack (Determined) (+1) for the top of someone’s cover (+4 for targeting a point). Success means the character is not directly hit, but is caught in the explosive radius. Apply damage without an armor divisor.

Vibro-Slaughter (14): Move up to 2 yards. Make an All-Out Attack (Determined) with Vibro-Sword against opponent’s torso. Opponent defends normally. You may not defend.

Pirate Engineer

The Pirate Engineer understands how ships work and will provide that knowledge to his allies. He exists to force doors open, to slap mines on opponents or doors, or to toss EMP grenades at robots. Most of these aren't listed in the tactics below because tossing a grenade requires no special rules that aren't already listed below.
ST 12 HP 12 Speed 5
DX 10 Will 11 Move: 5 (2)
IQ 11 Per 11

HT 10 FP 10 SM +0
Dodge 8 (4)
Parry 8
DR: 100/60




Fusion Torch (10):
8d+2(5) burn(Reach C, 1, Parry no)

EMP Grenade (10): HT-8(5) (8 yard radius,
range 35 yards, +4 if you aim for the ground, 1 turn to ready, 2 seconds to blow)

HEMP Limpet Mine (10): 6dx8(10) cr inc + 8d cr ex [3d] (Reach C; Requires 3 ready actions to prep; After placed, required a ready action to send a command to blow mine)

Skills: Engineer (Spaceship)-10, Explosives (Demolition)-12, Forced Entry-12, Spacer-12, Vacc Suit-12

Traits: None.

Notes: Human; Helmet provides vacuum seal, filtered air, hearing protection (+5 to resist hearing damage) and -4 to sighted attacks. They also feature 100-mile communication devices. Carry 25 yard light source and neurolash cuffs. Heavily Encumbered.

Engineer Tactics



Fusion-Slaughter (14): Move up to 1 yard. Make an All-Out Attack (Determined) with Fusion Torch against opponent’s torso. Opponent defends normally. You may not defend.

Pirate Slaver

The Pirate Slaver, like the Raider, will focus on melee over ranged as melee is safer, especially when your preferred cargo, people, are so fragile. Remember, Mooks can just use standard attacks; the tactics below represent exceptional moves, options if you want to make them more dangerous. The Neurolash Entanglement is especially effective and frightening! Slavers will also make use of their Intimidation skill (add +1 for Callous!)
ST 11 HP 11 Speed 5.25
DX 10 Will 10/12 Move: 5 (4)
IQ 10 Per 10

HT 11 FP 11 SM +0
Dodge 8 (7)
Parry 8
DR: 30




Old Blaster Pistol (12):
3d(5) burn sur (Acc 5, Range 150/450 RoF 3, Bulk -2)

Neurolash Baton (12): 1d-1 cr + HT-5 (5) (Reach 1, Parry 0)

Neurolash Whip (12): 1d-2 cr + HT-5 (5) (Reach 1-3, Parry -2U)


Skills: Intimidation-12, Spacer-12, Vacc Suit-12

Traits: Callous, Bully (12), Fearlessness +2, Off-Hand Weapon Training (Pistol).

Notes: Human; Helmet provides vacuum seal, filtered air, hearing protection (+5 to resist hearing damage) and -4 to sighted attacks. They also feature 100-mile communication devices. Carry 25 yard light source and neurolash cuffs. Lightly Encumbered.


Slaver Tactics



Combat Assault (10): While holding the pistol in one hand, make a Move and Attack. Move up to your full movement and roll Close-Quarter Battle-2 (or -0), using full RoF 3. Successful hits strike a random hit location and deal deal 3d(5) burn. You may dodge, but you may not retreat or drop.

Neurolash Brutality (13): Move up to 2 yards and make an All-Out (Determined, +4) attack for your opponent’s vitals (-3). Your opponent defends normally. If you hit, inflict 1d-3 cr damage and HT-10(5) neurolash affliction. Any damage that inflicts shock requires a roll for stunning. You may not defend.
Neurolash Entanglement (14): Move up to 2 yards and make a Committed (+2) Entangle (-4) attack at the torso. If you hit, inflict HT-5(5) neurolash affliction. You may use a Ready on subsequent turns to maintain the grapple with a quick contest of 11 vs their ST. You may not parry with your whip and you may not retreat, but you may dodge at -2.

Pirate Marauder

These are the strike force of your pirates, the elite of the elite. They'll unleash a devastating amount of firepower and threaten everything, but that's precisely what makes them so terrifying. Consider having them offer threats before making good on them with a devastating blast of firepower.
ST 15 HP 15 Speed 5.5
DX 10 Will 10/12 Move: 5 (3)
IQ 10 Per 10

HT 12 FP 12 SM +0
Dodge 9 (7)
Parry 11
DR: 100/60




Plasma Shotgun (15): 10d(2) burn sur (Acc 8, Range 350/1000, RoF 3, bulk -3)

Vibro-Blade (15): 3d+3(5) cut (Reach 1 Parry 0)

Skills: Intimidation-12, Spacer-12, Vacc Suit-15

Traits: Bloodlust (12), Combat Reflexes

Notes: Human; Helmet provides vacuum seal, filtered air, hearing protection (+5 to resist hearing damage) and -4 to sighted attacks. They also feature 100-mile communication devices. Carry 25 yard light source and neurolash cuffs. Medium Encumbrance.

Marauder Tactics



Plasma Avalanche (12): When firing a semi-automatic explosive weapon with an enormous store of ammunition, accuracy isn’t so important! While firing a plasma shotgun from the shoulder, make a Fast-Firing (-4) hipshot for a total RoF of 6 (+1). Your recoil is 3! You may spread your fire, and roll for scatter if you miss; Gain +2 to fast-draw and cascading waits. You may not defend.

Burn Cover (19): Make a Hip-fired shot for the top of someone’s cover (+4 for targeting a point). Success means the character is not directly hit, but is caught in the explosive radius. Apply damage without an armor divisor. Gain +2 to fast-draw and Cascating waits. You may defend normally.


Vibro-Slaughter (15): Move up to 2 yards. Make an All-Out Attack (Strong) with Vibro-Sword against opponent’s torso. Deal 3d+6(5) cut damage. Opponent defends normally. You may not defend.
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