Fire No Guns, Shed No Tears!
A Guide To Star Wars Privateering
Commanded by Capt. Biel Lutwar, who has been on several cruises, and met with great success.
All Gentlemen Volunteers; spacers, and able bodied soldiers-of-fortune, who wish to acquire riches and honor, are invited to repair on board the Revenge Privateer Starship, now laying in Aardek Station; mounting two ion cannons, two quad laser cannons, and a tractor beam, bound on a cruise to the Outer Rim for four months against the Empire, and all the Rebellion's enemies, and then to return to this station.
All volunteers will be received on board the said ship - or by Captain Biel Lutwar, at his rendezvous at Mr. Proud's Tavern near the Market Bazaar, where they will meet with all due encouragement, and the best treatment; Proper Advance will be given.
Yeah, that talk's all right to get you onboard, but what about the action? How can you be sure that privateers actually get anything done?
-The following are excerpts from the Holonet newsbrief service
0620 CST at outer dock, Sluis Van: Armed privateers boarded a general cargo ship via airlock tube. They broke into fore locker and stole ship's stores.
2320 CST at Kuat Drive Yards Repair Station CR-12: Ten privateers boarded a bulk carrier and broke in to forward lockers. They stole a large quantity of ship's stores and property and escaped in an unidentified light freighter.
0140 CST at Docking Bay 76, Ord Mantell: Four armed privateers broke into a general cargo ship at berth from a small boat. They broke open door lock seals, and proceeded to initiate uncleared takeoff. Anti piracy watchman spotted them but pirates threatened him with an iron bar. He raised alarm and Army garrison mustered. Pirates blasted off with ship's hold of goods totalling 350,000 credits.
Welcome to the world of privateering, where the clever and fleet corsairs ply their trade on the open starlanes! Riches are there for the taking, and glory to boot, for those with the backbone. After all, if the Imperials really earned the things they stole, it wouldn't be so darned easy to walk off with them. So, strap yourself in, prepare to see some action, and the Imperials better hold on to their cash with both hands!!
Privateers are a bunch of lawless ruffians. They are often confused with or mistaken for pirates. This is mistake is commonly made, because privateers are pirates from a certain perspective. There exists one fundamental difference between a pirate and a privateer: government backing. During times of extreme desperation (read: Galactic Civil War) one government may choose to augment its navy, or assist in harassing enemy commerce, by hiring privateers. These privateers are civilians, owning their own ships, who choose to either fight. They keep the profits, and actually often pay for the privelege of fighting for a government. During the Classic Era, the Rebellion, unlike the Empire, frequently issued letters of marque (the document allowing privateers to fight) for little or nothing, other than the promise that the privateers would not step too far out of line. There was tremendous opportunity for getting rich, as Imperial convoys were often fat, rich, and poorly guarded. Some exceptionally successful privateers made millions off the Galactic Civil War, a sticking point with many self-righteous New Republic military.
The way a privateer was commissioned was this: If the privateer wished to raid commerce on behalf of the Rebellion, and already had a ship, he was simply issued a Letter of Marque (often free, to help entice rogues into aiding the Alliance) and allowed to go about his business. If the privateer wished to add his ship to the Alliance's line combat capability (fight the Empire directly) he was awarded a Letter of Marque, and a temporary rank of Brevet (temporary) Captain, and compensated accordingly, as were his shipmates. The privateer could leave the Alliance Navy at any time, with his ship, but, while serving, he could not rise above the rank of Brevet Captain. If the privateer, after this, wished to permanently join the Alliance, he and his crew would take the oath of alliegance, and he and the rest of his crew would be commissioned and enlisted in the Alliance Navy. The privateer then assumed the permanent rank of Captain, with the possibility of promotion. Now that we have the nitty gritty out of the way, let's move on to the most common types of privateers.
Each privateer has his own particular style. Privateering can encompass the theft or destruction of either commercial goods, or the starships that guard and carry them. Some like the one some like the other. They all have an eye on the bottom line, and that means avoiding being killed. No matter what, a privateer will avoid engagement if at all possible. The only shot a privateer likes to make is the customary warning shot off a ship's bow to warn it to heave to to offload cargo; any messier than that, and a privateer will get very grumpy.
These privateers run from convoy to weakly defended convoy, reaping the cream of Imperial goods without paying. Often their goods are up to the highest bidder, although certain things of significant value they donate to the Alliance, to keep in the good graces of their erstwhile employer. Decency does have its limits, however, and these commerce raiders push it. They often rely on intimidation to catch their prey. Hey, do you know any tugboat skippers who would argue with a quad laser cannon? This method is simple, and effective, but Darwin's rules say that eventually you're going to run into a bigger gun. And they do. More than one of these privateers has met their maker staring down the wrong end of an Imperial turbolaser battery. There is another popular method among Alliance privateers, and that is disguise. The standard tactic is to take a normal-looking bulk freighter, and retrofit it with better weapons and shielding, and more speed. Then drift into the convoy, look inconspicuous, and pounce when the time is right. These privateers have been having remarkable success, and tend to live longer than the rush-in-with-guns-blazing type.
Type: Privateer/Commerce Raider
Blaster, Dodge, Blaster Artillery, Melee Combat, Melee Parry
Con, Command, Bargain
Business, Value, Streetwise, Intimidation
Starship Repair, Demolition
Astrogation, Cap. Ship Gunnery, Space Transports, Starship Gunnery, Starship Shields
These guys aren't in it for the cargo; they're in it for the ships. Often obsessed with ships from youth, these guys do nothing but steal them. They often work in teams, because the bigger the team, the bigger the target they can handle. You'll see them skulking around repair drydocks, and construction facilities, taking notes on defences and security. This is a highly dangerous job, as anyone who is wealthy enough to own a starship often takes a dim view toward someone else stealing it. Fortunately, Alliance regulations on privateering declare that any enemy ship captured is immediately forfeit to the capturer. Ship Thieves are security experts, able to bypass any lock, any countermeasure to get their prize.
Type: Privateer/Ship Thief
Blaster, Dodge, Melee Combat
Con, Command, Hide, Sneak
Business, Value, Streetwise
Starship Repair, Demolition, Security
Astrogation, Cap. Ship Gunnery, Cap. Ship Piloting, Starfighter Piloting, Space Transports, Starship Gunnery, Starship Shields
Privateers rely on being able to catch their ships unguarded, or being able to outrun and outgun them. Therefore, privateer ships fall into two general models: Small, fast ships designed to catch their prey with firepower, and big well-gunned ships that look like something inconspicuous; say a bulk freighter. Either way, privateer ships are often the cream of the crop, as these hotrodders have to be able to outrun or outgun any Imperial convoy guards they come across. This is not an easy task, but most privateers say it pays too well to pass up.
Craft: Modified Ghtroc 580 Light Freighter
Type: Light Freighter
Length: 37 m
Skill: Space Transports: Ghtroc 580
Crew Skill: varies
Cargo Capacity: 200 metric tons
Consumables: 6 Months
Cost: 129,000 credits
Backup Hyperdrive: x16
1 Twin Blaster Cannon
1 Light Ion Cannon
"Freighter G-13, heave to for boarding!"
"What, are you kidding me?"
"NO...Freighter G-13, I repeat, stand down for boarding!"
"You're tryin' to board me with that piece of bantha crap?"
"Hey, she may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts..."
"Look, I may be unarmed, but I'm not stupid..."
"Ok, so she may not have it where it counts, but I'm one hell of a pilot..."
"Ok, so I'm not much of a pilot...look, just stand down!!!"
This is a privateer ship...sort of. It's a little light on weaponry, and it doesn't have much in the way of shields or speed, but... oh, this thing is awful, and most people would be more afraid of a nerf...but it's the only thing you can afford right now. Besides, isn't privateering about capturing new ships?
The Hurly Burly
Craft: Heavily modified Corellian Action VI transport
Type: Medium Bulk Freighter/Commerce Raider
Skill: Space Transports
Crew: 10, 12 gunners; skeleton 6/+10
Crew Skill: Varies
Cargo Capacity: 5,000 metric tons
Consumables: 3 months
Hyperdrive Backup: x14
6 Light Turbolaser Batteries
6 Capital Ion Cannons
1 Concussion Missile Launcher
This is a modified Action VI Bulk Cruiser, one of the more common modes of bulk transport in the galaxy. Its exterior is, however, quite deceptive. This particular Action VI has seen extensive retrofitting, and now sports enough firepower to knock out much larger convoy ships, including the guards. This role of commerce raider suits the craft well, for, with the right set of transponders, its inconspicuous bulk makes it a cinch to mop up an underdefended Imperial convoy.
Craft: Rendili StarDrives XM-7 Culverin-Class Pinnace
Type: Modified Pinnace
Skill: Space Transports
Crew: 4, 3 gunners
Crew Skill: Varies
Cargo Capacity: 200 metric tons
Consumables: 2 months
Hyperdrive Backup: x20
Hull: 4D +1
2 Quad Light Laser Cannons
2 Heavy Ion Cannons (fire-linked)
1 Tractor Beam
Hold Power: 4D
Special: Laser turrets, and cannon mountings on the Culverin-Class are highly modifiable. +10 to any roll to modify or replace the weapons payload.
Rendili StarDrive intended this ship to function as a small-scall anti-fighter/interdiction/patrol ship in coordination with larger ships. It certainl is big enough to get the job done, providing an excellent screen to break up starfighter formations. Unfortunately, the Lancer frigate won the contract for a starfighter interdiction platform, so Rendili, who had already produced over 300 of them in anticipation of winning the contract, decided to market them to home defense fleets and private buyers as an exceptional courier and multirole attack craft. However, due to the high cost of the craft, sales were slow. Rendili decided to discontinue production. The Culverin-Class, however, has a rabid fan base, including technicians, who admire its modifiability. There is still an active market for them, especially among the less savory elements of society.
What to Name Your Privateer Ship
Here are some names of real privateer ships to help you out:
Thinks I To Myself Castine
The Letter of Marque
A Letter of Marque is the document that makes the distinction between the pirate and the privateer, and therefore is absolutely essential. These are traditionally for purchase during times of emergency, but the Rebellion is so desperate for fighting ships, it often grants them for free. The Alliance does, however, require that you keep a log of your cruises, and log down every capture, and it's estimated worth. The Alliance doesn't generally take a cut, unless you wish to donate to the cause, but if you find a piece of valuable information or technology, they will often reward the privateer handsomely. If they are in need of supplies, they will also pay well for those, upon safe delivery.