The long strange trip
1. A fast ship used for piracy
2. A pirate. esp. Vargr
THE BUCCANEER CLASS CORSAIR
Although any starship can be used for piracy, a standard design has evolved over the centuries which has become the starship of choice for corsairs and privateers. The standard Buccaneer class 400 ton corsair can be encountered throughout the Imperium and beyond, although most 400 ton corsairs encountered within Imperial borders are owned by mercenary groups, as a corsair makes an excellent mercenary cruiser.
Without a merc license it is almost impossible to obtain legal funding to build a corsair within the Imperium. Likewise, without such a license it is virtually impossible to convince a starship manufacturer within Imperial borders to build one. So most Buccaneer class corsairs are built outside Imperial borders. There is little the Imperial authorities can do to prevent such shipbuilding, although the Imperium has been known to apply economic pressure to certain pocket empires and independent worlds to discourage corsair building. There is only one shipbuilder in the entire Spinward Marches which will build a corsair without a merc license: the Quare system shipyards (Vilis Subsector). The Quare government is part of the Federation of Arden, and manufactures vessels for the Arden Navy. However, the Quare government’s attitude to shipbuilding is motivated only by profit, so will build any type of ship if the client is willing to pay. The Imperial Navy has protested to the Federation many times, but the protests have been tempered with the desire to bring the Federation to a more anti-Zhodani stance, so punitive action against Quare has not occurred – yet.
Because only a handful of shipyards will build a corsair, many that operate are old, some over a century old. New-build models are rare. Buying a second-hand ship is therefore easier and cheaper than building one. There are four primary systems in the Marches where no questions asked attitudes to piracy, smuggling, gunrunning and privateer activity prevail, and where a second hand corsair can probably be purchased. They are Condyole (Jewell), Puparkin (Jewell), 899-076 (Vilis) and Jinx (Five Sisters). You can purchase almost any illegal item at these freeports, illegal starships included.
Corsairs are inevitably customized by their owners, particularly the use of sometimes gaudy paint schemes. Since starship combat usually takes place outside visual range, a 10 meter tall jolly roger on a corsair’s stabilizer is more for the edification of the corsair band than to scare potential victims. Like any criminal grouping in society, corsair bands operate under wildly differing rules of engagement. A few corsairs operate in groups, hunting like pack wolves. Most are “lone wolves”, whose ethics range from amazingly chivalrous to barbaric and cruel. It is certain however that chivalrous corsair operators last longer than barbaric ones. The reputation of cruel corsair groups spreads quickly, and no quarter will be given if a merchant crew are defending themselves against such groups, as their very lives are in danger. If however, a merchant is attacked by a “chivalrous” corsair, it is more likely the merchant crew will obey instructions and give up their cargo, knowing they will not be slaughtered. Thus, chivalrous corsairs can usually get away with little or no battle damage, and are generally more successful.
The standard Buccaneer class corsair is built to a partially streamlined cylinder configuration, with small winglets at the rear with vertical stabilizers for gas giant skimming. The fuel scoop intakes are located at the base of the winglets. Large clamshell doors are situated at the rear of the ship, which provide egress into the huge cargo bay. The bay can hold up to 154.4 tons of cargo or small craft. Drive machinery occupies each side of the cargo bay and the forward part of B deck.
A 1 ton missile magazine holds 20 missiles and is located on B deck. The ship is capable of Jump-2 and a good turn of speed: 3-G, enough to overtake virtually all merchants and freighters in service. Although the corsair is not particularly agile, the main advantage of such a ship is its modus operandi – it will wait until the most opportune time to strike, when there is little or no chance of being challenged by patrol ships or system defense boats.
Crew quarters and bridge occupy the front module of the corsair. There are 10 staterooms, a model-2 computer and 20 low berths also located in this module. Two dorsal and two ventral triple turrets provide 360˚ firepower with few blind spots.
Because the ship is only partially streamlined its owners usually have one or more small craft stowed in the cargo bay. The most common lighters are Launches and 30 ton Boats.