15
$\begingroup$

I got many little trading posts all over my worlds and orbiting around them. Everyone can trade in there, nice guys as well as scum of all kind. The trading posts are rich places.

How could a system be established that would make the posts safer against the scum traders and bandits/pirates? Or why would no pirate or bandit try to raid the posts? Basically how could such trading posts be a safe place to trade for all traders?

There is a law force but they are very corrupt. There are also gun towers and gunners paid by the trading posts, but they alone would not be able to hold against a full scaled raid - they're more for shoplifters and lower-level scum.

$\endgroup$
3
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ The wiki on Piracy has a nice section "Suppression of Piracy", as well as a large amount of examples of piracy stretching through the ages, far and beyond the 2 well known examples of Golden Age Caribbean and present-day Somali. Research on those examples and how they were combated will give you a great answer on both what works and what doesn't work but may be attempted. The exact measures available depend on both which government structures you have (Are the ports independent? Are they part of a far-away Empire? Are they part of a country that just doesn't care?) and the technological level. $\endgroup$
    – Ordous
    Oct 8, 2014 at 12:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Ordous Is there a link to that Wiki? I can't find it. Do you mean the Wikipedia page, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piracy#Anti-piracy_measures , or a separate Piracy Wiki? $\endgroup$
    – ohwilleke
    Nov 12, 2016 at 17:11
  • $\begingroup$ @ohwilleke I did mean that article, but the section I meant is no longer in existence. You can find it in the revision history. The part you linked to is modern anti-piracy, which is not as relevant. $\endgroup$
    – Ordous
    Nov 13, 2016 at 1:18

11 Answers 11

12
$\begingroup$

Traditionally pirates are cowards. They go for the easiest prey, for the most gain. In the few cases of where you hear of "daring" pirate attacks, it is because the pirates have a leader who either scares them more than the prospect of do a dangerous attack, or the leader convinces them that the loot will be worth the risk. Usually the former. But these leaders are few and far between, generally pirates parties are going to be unstable, criminals don't trust each other.

So the goal of a trading post would be to try and keep themselves stronger than other closer targets. There are multiple ways they could do this.

  1. Hide wealth. This would work because it would make them look less worthwhile than nearby stations. Unfortunately this would be hard to do, trading generally means wealth after all, and it could also reduce trade.
  2. Sabotage other nearby trading posts. This would be an interesting, and somewhat risky technique. If a station could make other nearby stations weaker, pirates would be more likely to attack the other stations.
  3. Rumors. If a trading post could manage to start a convincing rumor that it had some secret defense that will blow pirates out of the sky, then pirates may possible be tricked into believing it. Probably the best way to do this would be to hire an unfortunate pirate (who had got his ship blown up near the trading post), to spread the tale.
  4. Form a federation. Have several nearby trading posts from a collective army (of mercenaries). If a pirate should attack any of the stations, the entire army goes after the pirates. The army will also come from all the stations, and with the combined wealth of several station, would be quite powerful. This would be a major disincentive for pirates to attack. The disadvantage of this is that you pull yourself up to equal strong as nearby stations, which means you are all equal hard for pirates to loot. That means the pirates may just decide to have a go at the station, because they have no better chance anywhere else nearby.

Now, another interesting option would be that the pirates actually own the posts. So each pirate group will try to protect their post at all costs. After all it is the source of their wealth. Pirates who try and attack the post will know that their post will likely be counterattacked. Whatever authorities exist in the galaxy would probably be bribed to ignore pirate going-ons.

Trade posts could also have a group of pirates that associate with the post. These pirates would always trade at the post, as well as protect the post. In return they would get cheaper prices and possibly a share of profits. And local authorities would turn a blind-eye to anything the pirates did that, well "bent" the rules a little.

$\endgroup$
9
$\begingroup$

The thing about being a pirate is that you have a job to do, that being pirating stuff. There are two things that a successful pirate needs:

  • A place where marks are going with goods that could be successfully pirated.
  • A place where pirates can sell said goods without too many questions asked.

So for pirates to raid trading posts, they risk biting the hand that feeds them - I mean obviously we are dealing with scummy space bandits here who are out to steal everything that they can, but the smart pirate is going to want to have a sustainable business model that offers them the most possible profit for the least risk. That means that you pick up on shipping, but you probably leave trading ports well alone because you actually want to have agents in them telling you about shipments coming and going and helping you to fence goods that you have purloined. If you turn an entire station over, then you have a good chance of harming your own people or reducing a potential source of revenue.

The consequence is that pirates and shadow economy traders are going to need those trading posts as much as anybody else and they are going to benefit from a certain status-quo where no trading post gets too powerful or able to make stronger demands but in the case of an outside raid on a planet's periphery stations, you are likely to see an unlikely alliance of local criminals, local law makers and the stations themselves banding together to protect their local power base.

Criminal organisations' interests do not necessarily stand against everyone else's - look at the role of the Mafia in WW2 - and competent criminals, the ones sufficiently resourceful to have control of ships capable of causing serious trouble to a trading post, are likely to be rational about matters of business and income.

Edit: It occurs to me on rereading this that one of the important things for your trading posts is that they don't need to be objectively tough, they need to be relatively high risk targets. So if a potential raider looks at your trading post and the other trading posts and the traffic coming into and going out of the trading posts, they need to see that a raid on your trading post is going to be a bigger risk than a raid on others. It is less about being a hard target and more about being less of an easy target.

$\endgroup$
1
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This also suggests that trading-post operators might collectively sanction known post-raiders, refusing to deal with any who raid other trading posts. Booty that cannot be sold is not worth the effort to acquire. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Mar 18 at 3:31
1
$\begingroup$

Simple suggestions:

  1. Bounties as a deterrent.
  2. Private security/military.
  3. Paying protection money to local pirate group.
  4. Local militia.
  5. Societal viewpoints. Since scum use these places as trade, attacking them might be counter productive - at least in the eyes of some of the older, wiser and meaner 'scum'.
  6. Easier targets elsewhere.
$\endgroup$
2
  • $\begingroup$ I don't really disagree, but I can imagine bounties becoming a contest between pirates as well, sort of like how rep works xD $\endgroup$
    – mechalynx
    Oct 8, 2014 at 12:36
  • $\begingroup$ @ivy_lynx. True, some pirates might consider a rep. Of course, I'm not sure how successful it is. 'You think that's a bounty? This is a Bounty! Oh wait, whoa, put that knife down, let's talk this over boys'! $\endgroup$
    – NPSF3000
    Oct 8, 2014 at 21:23
1
$\begingroup$

Pirate ships probably don't want to destroy the only place where they can get wealthy. So, have one trading station for every planet. Alternatively, you could have an announcement on the PA system like "Alert! Alert incoming offensive ships, please evacuate, and if possible defend the station.", because it is in the interests of the peaceful (as well as the scum) traders to defend the trading post.

Another idea is that maybe normal spaceships can only go from one trading station to another, and not land. If you have special ships that can land more efficiently, they don't need to carry an extra ton or two of the equipment to so whatever you do to get to another planet. If you are going from planet to planet, you don't really need to carry an extra few tons of fuel, or a parachute, not to mention how dangerous it is to carry humans (pilots) up and down a gravity well.

$\endgroup$
2
  • $\begingroup$ So, to complete your thought, a planet surface trading post would be less vulnerable to pirates, and a space station that was merely a dock for orbit to surface shuttles would be less of an attractive target? $\endgroup$
    – ohwilleke
    Nov 12, 2016 at 17:08
  • $\begingroup$ @ohwilleke yes. the game Oolite(and it's predecessor, elite) uses this as an excuse to not let the players see the surface of the planets(true, it would also be hard to program). $\endgroup$ Nov 18, 2016 at 21:33
1
$\begingroup$

If the trading post itself is relatively cheap compared to the goods it contains, then a simple, "death before dishonor" mindset will do. If the pirates take the goods, they're lost anyway, so just make sure to always destroy them before the pirates can get their grubby mitts on them. Once it becomes known that prospective pirates not only must fly in under the station's guns, but also have to get out of the blast radius before the bombs go off, the risk/reward ratio becomes too unfavorable to bother with frontal assaults and thefts will be focused more around fraud or stealth.

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

The trading posts are just delivery endpoints, not storage locations.

Instead of a warehouse filled with goods, a trading post is a combination of a high-powered railgun that launches stealth-shielded shipping crates around the star system, and the inverse -- a magnetic funnel catcher. Even in a star system, space is really big. Out in the dark between planets and stuff, it's nearly impossible to find space-amazon's hidden delivery network.

So traders drop off their products to sell, and it all gets immediately shot off in seemingly random directions based on a patented secret algorithm. Then folks can use a kiosk to manage their credit or place orders. Due to the company's distributed shipping system, top-secret methods, and crates flying at relativistic speeds, traders will wait at most a few hours for deliveries. Just enough time for a shower and a visit to the saloon or arcade.

If you're on time to the funnel catcher, you'll make a quick exit less than a minute after your purchases get thrown into your cargo bay. But keep an eye out for foolish slowpokes asleep at the bar; you don't want to be around when pirates get too tempted by a huge score floating at the dock. So then, trading posts are safe because nothing sticks around long enough to get stolen. Usually.

$\endgroup$
1
+50
$\begingroup$

In the Caribbean, pirates had small, fast ships. The only perennial deterrents were shore batteries (most pirates wouldn't go near them), and more importantly, navy ships.

Navy ships were far stronger but also often faster than pirates, allowing them to eliminate piracy in an area.

Like in your scenario, local governors and garrisons were often corrupt, but the Royal Navy was not; where they showed up, piracy ceased (at least until they left).

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

Weapons check

They were not always trading posts. They are ancient strongpoints and they can be locked down. Persons entering a trading post go thru a checkpoint where they leave their weapons. Persons thinking they are going to shoot their way through the checkpoint find themselves in an empty metal hallway with their guns, where they stay until they become more reasonable.

Persons divested of weapons who think they will rob a checkpoint using only space kungfu skills will fight kungfu cyborgs with great awesomeness so that still might work.

Persons parking warships outside the trading post and threatening from outside will learn why these were called strongpoints. Posts are no longer heavily armed, but are still armored to resist the terrible weapons of a previous age. Weapons now available are no match. The pirates can waste their energy if they want.

Clarification: Most posts are no longer heavily armed. Or at least they have not tried those weapons in a long time. Some places still have stuff no-one is sure how to use. Except for that one kung fu cyborg because he is 700 years old. Yes, this anime pretty much writes itself.

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

The trading posts band together to hire mercenaries to kill anyone who raids them and their families.

From history, there are generally two ways to handle pirates. One way is to pay tribute. This often results in them attacking you to demand more tribute. The other, more successful way is to murder all of them.

Ships are extremely expensive purchases. It can be extraordinarily profitable pirating, but you need to spend a lot to make a ship. It's also hard to disguise a ship, short of rebuilding it- distinctive isotope signatures and marks of how it was built and engine signatures mean you can generally tell where it was from.

The trading posts have a group agreement to kill anyone who funds pirates. Mercenaries are hired and the bases and worlds that supported the pirates get bombarded with nuclear blasts. Any shipyards or complicated technology are smashed to rubble, and it can take centuries to rebuilt the tech base of a world back up.

Most worlds are terrified of this happening to them, and pirate crews will mutiny if pressed to attack a trading post, knowing that their loved ones will die in a nuclear flame if they do.

$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

Privateering? In the early days of Caribbean piracy, most pirates were British privateers with letters of marque raiding Spanish ships.

One consequence of the letter of marque system is that when the nations were at peace, it would become illegal to conduct piracy. This gives you a good excuse to 'switch' piracy on and (almost) off in any area; have the nation of pirates strike peace/declare war on the nation that runs the trading posts. Of course, a few desperate figures will keep pirating anyway...

$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

Well, it depends on just how smart your pirates are, and what technology they have at their disposal. You haven't specified either. I'll take an average intelligence, but due to the 'spaceships' tag I'll assume these are ultra-modern level pirates.

The question is simple: You have numerous really rich places where a absolute boatload of money needs to be kept safe. Some groups of people (pirates) want to get said money. They are crazy enough that anything we do does not prevent attack. Our job is to find a way to protect it.

The closest thing I can think of in our current world is Las Vegas. Of course, it's casinos and not trading posts, but it is still a large number of businesses, each with a lot of money that needs to be able to be accessed semi-regularly. And naturally, they have some of the greatest security systems. Researching modern casino security would be great option for you trying to figure out this.

$\endgroup$

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .