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Author Topic: Pirates as Remnants  (Read 664 times)

Wyvern

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Pirates as Remnants
« on: November 20, 2020, 08:56:36 AM »

Not as in [REDACTED], but as in remnants of various collapsed planets.
New player here and I too have some niggles on the subject of pirates and piracy in general. I may have missed details or simply failed to properly expose my thoughts, and so, dear reader, I invite you to raise any weakness from the following text so I can happily address them.

The problem.

The existence of pirates in the context of the sector is hard to be believable considering the high overhead in supplies and fuel. I suspect that the IA isn't bottlenecked by those two parameters though, and I understand the reason. However from a lore point of view, pirates shouldn't be able to function as they are now.

I've seen this issue being raised on these forums every now and then, but without any realistic proposition to have the whole piracy make sense. This message as for object to do just that: I aim to suggest a different approach.

What needs to said before anything is this: if pirates can successfully create an outpost days away from any civilized world, why would they bother traveling to harass so called civilized worlds? It is simply not practical, and such groups should really not be referred to as pirates. More on that later.

How pirates comes into and out of existence.

Pirates are not a faction, but rather an assembly of misfits and/or outlaws.They inherently exists wherever and whenever civilization occurs. As such, any system with a colony will inevitably generate a local populace of outlaws. That being said, piracy only matters in the void and not in the ports and local pirate gangs could be allowed to dock so long their status aren't well known.After all, where would they sell their ill gotten gains?

However it stops once the gang becomes famous, do too much piracy and see yourself blacklisted from local ports. The denial would possibly generate three outcomes:

  • The local gang stocks up on fuel and supplies then move to another system, to either continue their piracy or simply settle down with their ill gotten gains.
  • The local gang, if successful enough, creates an outpost somewhere in the system. This outcome would realistically happens only if either the system's stability is low or if there is no law enforcement around to make an outlaw's life harder.
  • The gang dissolve as the group can no longer hide from authorities.
What current pirates ought to be.

I drive this section from the Belter, from the show and novels The Expanse. If you haven't already seen the show, I would vigorously invite you to do so. It is expertly made and relatively realistic on how politics and culture would evolve within an interplanetary solar system.

Following the lore, and if I understand it correctly, the sector got cut off from the rest of the galaxy leaving a core of well developed worlds amidst a group of partially colonized worlds. We can see the outcome by exploring and finding both remnants drones and worlds in ruins. However ruination isn't the only end that could befall previous colonization efforts. Indeed, the sector dynamics could find a real life parallel with the European efforts of exploration and colonization. As such, a well off civilization can support upstart groups, which historically found their own independence either brutally or peacefully. The sector, though, got its independence by being cut off brutally from their support, with the most developed worlds unable to sustain ongoing colonization efforts. Which cascaded into the dramatic outcome of remote worlds being lost.

However some worlds might have survived the brutal event, managing to centralize efforts into an eventual space-faring civilization. With the memory of being abandoned still burning within the populace's mind, they would see the core worlds with nothing but scorn. Still, unable to be outspoken and brazen about their feeling, their stance if they want to remain independent from any interference it to be politically neutral. Being too far away to be lorded over,destruction would be the only outcome if they were to be made into a enemy of a core faction.

Thus being unaffiliated would be the official stance of those previously lost worlds. However, being so far away, scarcity of resources would drive people into expeditions to "acquire" those needed resources from the core worlds,usually in an illegal way. Those groups would be officially denounced by the lost worlds, and unofficially welcomed.

More over, any independent faction within the core worlds would have quickly been absorbed by a major power. There is no reason to leave resources to unaligned forces.
I thought this was a good enough idea to deserve its own thread.

And all it'd really take to sell this notion is a minor change to make 'pirate' stations prefer to spawn around planets with the decivilized population trait.
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Wyvern is 100% correct about the math.

Scorpixel

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Re: Pirates as Remnants
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2020, 09:53:16 AM »

Pirates coming from somewhere other than the void would most likely be present in the final product. Decivilized worlds could get an active role in the sector's dynamic as hideout spawners, and maybe basic interactions available like trade (in lieu of current pirate stations) or forced evacuation from the condition known as breathing air under five thousand degrees.

The "independents shouldn't exist" however is a tough subject, along with pirate markets in the core. On the gameplay side it is necessary to have places that won't shoot the player on sight if they are in bad term with the faction ruling that side of the sector, along with some enemies to shoot at so we don't get bored in 2x speed doing fetch quests.

On the other even those independents must lean in some way toward the major power(s) closest to them (see sphere of influence, or minors in Vicky2). As for pirates their very existence defy reality, as anyone can raze every pirate world to the ground (minus Kaptain Starworks) in a year from game start.

But again this may be going too deep in a mechanic that belong in 4x games rather than what SS strives to be. We don't really question why there is a merchant selling stuff next to the entrance of hell, or why there's giant rats under the town that definitely would have been dealt wi- i was mistaken. Giants rats don't exist, those are obvious fables, yes yes.
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xrogaan

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Re: Pirates as Remnants
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2020, 10:16:08 AM »

Edit: I may have been confused by the title and misunderstood OP's observation. I refer here to pirates as pirates and not decivilized worlds.

And all it'd really take to sell this notion is a minor change to make 'pirate' stations prefer to spawn around planets with the decivilized population trait.

I don't think pirates deserve a presence outside of the core systems and possibly the player's own colonized systems. That's my personal nitpick, as pirates require civilization in order to exists and have purpose. If they live off a system without any authority, they then become the de-facto authority and, as such, generate their own group of local outlaws.

i'd prefer if pirate stations or outpost to spawn within the systems, either in "deep" space or somewhat hidden.
Pirates coming from somewhere other than the void would most likely be present in the final product. Decivilized worlds could get an active role in the sector's dynamic as hideout spawners, and maybe basic interactions available like trade (in lieu of current pirate stations) or forced evacuation from the condition known as breathing air under five thousand degrees.

The "independents shouldn't exist" however is a tough subject, along with pirate markets in the core. On the gameplay side it is necessary to have places that won't shoot the player on sight if they are in bad term with the faction ruling that side of the sector, along with some enemies to shoot at so we don't get bored in 2x speed doing fetch quests.

On the other even those independents must lean in some way toward the major power(s) closest to them (see sphere of influence, or minors in Vicky2). As for pirates their very existence defy reality, as anyone can raze every pirate world to the ground (minus Kaptain Starworks) in a year from game start.

But again this may be going too deep in a mechanic that belong in 4x games rather than what SS strives to be. We don't really question why there is a merchant selling stuff next to the entrance of hell, or why there's giant rats under the town that definitely would have been dealt wi- i was mistaken. Giants rats don't exist, those are obvious fables, yes yes.
As highlighted in my original message, independents would be so of necessity: unable to be ruled over due to distance and unwilling to align themselves. It would also create a kind of outer belt of barely civilized and highly dangerous worlds and systems. Anything beyond that would be too far away to any developed world to have survived to abrupt end of the gates.

Realistically speaking, big power blobs tends to assimilate what they can until it becomes impractical. Then they becomes somewhat mercantile (see European Union).

Anyhow, thanks for the feedback.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2020, 10:25:01 AM by xrogaan »
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Megas

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Re: Pirates as Remnants
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2020, 10:30:48 AM »

Re: Indies
Just sat bomb any world that is not theirs (i.e., they are not the target of an attack).  They all get angry like most major factions.  It is a pain when player wants to fight a total war against major factions that just would not leave the player alone.  When Indies get angry at a sat bomb, they effectively join with the major factions and become targets for elimination for simply getting in the way.

Independents are too unified or monolithic to feel like independents.  They feel like a major faction that is named "the independents".
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intrinsic_parity

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Re: Pirates as Remnants
« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2020, 11:54:27 AM »

I think independents can be swayed with AI cores right? If so, the obvious solution is to stockpile a ton of gamma cores and some beta cores, then destroy whichever factions you want, then instantly repair your reputation with you core stockpile. I don't see why a faction going hostile is a reason to destroy it when you can so easily repair reputation (I assume that if you can sat bomb a faction out of existence, you have a late game fleet with the ability to farm cores easily).
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Megas

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Re: Pirates as Remnants
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2020, 12:55:38 PM »

I think independents can be swayed with AI cores right? If so, the obvious solution is to stockpile a ton of gamma cores and some beta cores, then destroy whichever factions you want, then instantly repair your reputation with you core stockpile. I don't see why a faction going hostile is a reason to destroy it when you can so easily repair reputation (I assume that if you can sat bomb a faction out of existence, you have a late game fleet with the ability to farm cores easily).
Yes they can, same with a good system bounty.  At least if they have a planet left.
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pairedeciseaux

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Re: Pirates as Remnants
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2020, 07:25:46 PM »

This is a very well written rational by xrogaan.

Let me put a few comments and ideas below, wall of text warning.

Generally speaking I feel like pirates fill a gameplay role much more than a fiction/lore role. But I still find the fiction/lore discussion interesting, especially if it leads to improved mechanics and gameplay.

Pirates are not a faction, but rather an assembly of misfits and/or outlaws.They inherently exists wherever and whenever civilization occurs. As such, any system with a colony will inevitably generate a local populace of outlaws. That being said, piracy only matters in the void and not in the ports and local pirate gangs could be allowed to dock so long their status aren't well known.After all, where would they sell their ill gotten gains?

I agree piracy can be considered as a by-product of civilisation. But, I disagree with the notion that pirates would be disallowed to settle/operate close to or within civilisation.

IRL:
  • Pirates on fast sea ship with some military equipment would board civilian ship on known routes and steal cargo. Those pirates have access to their own rogue ports, and some “official” ports.
  • Mafia-type organisations would, hmmm, let’s just say, be involved all sorts of parasitic activities at the edge of or within civilisations.
  • State backed groups would pressure / threaten / damage in various ways other states, governments and economic activities.
  • Corporate (and other orgs) backed groups are also a thing, with goals such as weakening / destroying competition … or “convincing” to become “friend”.
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Privateer

Currently in the game:
  • Pather fleets do play the role of pirates/spacemafia preying on civilians.
  • Pather cells do play the role of pirates/rebels/terrorists/bully threatening colony/planet/market population, governments and infrastructures from within. In my mind: whether backed by a foreign power or just being some independent local mafia.
  • Big “factions” send expeditions to weaken competition.
  • Various lurking fleets jump on player fleet if it is weak.

This is actual piracy.

Pather stations outside of the core, on the other hand, do not make sense to me. They feel gamey and a quite naive “these are the bad guys from the outside threatening us the good guys on the inside” and even worse “these are the crazy technological averse religious guys having established bases far outside threatening the righteous modern technological societies”. Ahem.

Pirate raids are a borderline thing. The idea of raids is OK. The idea that pirates would perform raid across core star systems is not really OK if they are truly independent, but acceptable with some of the IRL tint mentioned above. Launching raids from the fringe? Totally unbelievable in my opinion.

Pirate stations outside of the core also feels like “these are the bad guys from the outside threatening us the good guys on the inside”.

It doesn’t make sense mainly because:

What needs to said before anything is this: if pirates can successfully create an outpost days away from any civilized world, why would they bother traveling to harass so called civilized worlds? It is simply not practical, and such groups should really not be referred to as pirates. More on that later.

Right.

Then I don’t understand why you would suggest this:

Thus being unaffiliated would be the official stance of those previously lost worlds. However, being so far away, scarcity of resources would drive people into expeditions to "acquire" those needed resources from the core worlds,usually in an illegal way. Those groups would be officially denounced by the lost worlds, and unofficially welcomed.

Maybe it's just me, I feel like there is a contradiction. This is civilisation on the fringe with limited resources, yet full autonomy including ability to do space travel. So these are independents, or a sub-group of those independents you say. Why would they harass others? Looks like they already have everything they need … if they don’t, then they simply can’t harass others abroad.

Though I find the “Those groups would be officially denounced by the lost worlds, and unofficially welcomed” part relevant.

Then,

More over, any independent faction within the core worlds would have quickly been absorbed by a major power. There is no reason to leave resources to unaligned forces.

In my opinion this is a highly naive imperialistic point of view.

Independent areas can be useful to major powers:
  • To do things they can’t do at home. In game: buy/sell some rare/precious/illegal-at-home commodities. Could partly or completely replace the whole “black market within a legitimate market” concept.
  • To provide a(n hopefully) neutral ground for some diplomacy activities. In game: special personal contacts?
  • To trick competition into making deals with false independents while controlling the terms of the deals. In game: higher prices in markets? damaged ships in markets? bugged equipment so player fleet could then be tracked by an NPC bounty hunter / privateer fleet?

Also if the core sector civilisation is itself a decaying remnant of the Domain, then major powers shall not necessarily have the strength to bully every independents. Admittedly I’m not really into the lore thing so I may be missing something.

The summary of my partially confused thinking on "pirates" and "independents" is:
  • Piracy as an in-game concept and force should not originate from dedicated fringe pirate/pather stations.
  • Piracy could well originate from major powers and even independents, with actual pirates being backed by those orgs. Call them pirates or privateers, they raid/bombard/harass on behalf of major powers.
  • Having non affiliated pirates is still useful, but at a lower scale. Like some fleets lurking near jump points and those opportunist travelling fleets that change back and forth from neutral to hostile.
  • Having a few outside of core permanent independent colonies (I understand this would be procgen based) could make sense and provide gameplay opportunities, whether there is local piracy or not on these worlds.
  • NPC colony stations could be seized by pirates, this would lead to a bounty from the “rightful owner” to defeat those pirates. Hmm maybe player colony stations could also be seized by pirates (as in taken by a group backed by competition)? This mechanic could then replace the silly popup fringe pirate/pather bases.
  • There should not be any reputation between player and pirates, or between player and independents. Maybe pirates and independents should not be “factions” anymore.
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xrogaan

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Re: Pirates as Remnants
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2020, 08:38:16 PM »

It doesn’t make sense mainly because:

What needs to said before anything is this: if pirates can successfully create an outpost days away from any civilized world, why would they bother traveling to harass so called civilized worlds? It is simply not practical, and such groups should really not be referred to as pirates. More on that later.

Right.

Then I don’t understand why you would suggest this:

Thus being unaffiliated would be the official stance of those previously lost worlds. However, being so far away, scarcity of resources would drive people into expeditions to "acquire" those needed resources from the core worlds,usually in an illegal way. Those groups would be officially denounced by the lost worlds, and unofficially welcomed.

Maybe it's just me, I feel like there is a contradiction. This is civilisation on the fringe with limited resources, yet full autonomy including ability to do space travel. So these are independents, or a sub-group of those independents you say. Why would they harass others? Looks like they already have everything they need … if they don’t, then they simply can’t harass others abroad.

Two different contexts. The first is from a group originating from the core world, that somehow manage to get enough resources and fuel to fly far off away any civilized world in order to create a base of operations in order to come back to the civilized worlds... To do what exactly? Do they go back to their far away base with their ill gotten gains?! I don't see the point.

The second group not only already have a world to go back to, but the survival of their world depends on resources too scarce in their local system and/or surroundings. They comes from worlds forgotten by the core. They can build a fleet based off civilian hulls, patchup together and whatnot, that's doable. And fuel seems to be trivially mined once you have a colony running. The point I'm making is that they were world developed enough to have the capability to survive the collapse, but not enough to be fully self sustainable.

Though I find the “Those groups would be officially denounced by the lost worlds, and unofficially welcomed” part relevant.

Then,

More over, any independent faction within the core worlds would have quickly been absorbed by a major power. There is no reason to leave resources to unaligned forces.

In my opinion this is a highly naive imperialistic point of view.

Independent areas can be useful to major powers:
  • To do things they can’t do at home. In game: buy/sell some rare/precious/illegal-at-home commodities. Could partly or completely replace the whole “black market within a legitimate market” concept.
  • To provide a(n hopefully) neutral ground for some diplomacy activities. In game: special personal contacts?
  • To trick competition into making deals with false independents while controlling the terms of the deals. In game: higher prices in markets? damaged ships in markets? bugged equipment so player fleet could then be tracked by an NPC bounty hunter / privateer fleet?

Right, which means the status of independence would be a nothing but a lie. The neutral status would only be of value if a major power back them up, which simply means they're a puppet state: « You wouldn't want anything scary to happen to that independence, would you? What would you do if all your fleets were to be met with increased customs check? »

What actually happened to neutral states in Europe? Well, Belgium got invaded. Twice.

I see the role of independents to be filled by the forgotten world. Independent by necessity, and fulfilling the role of providing safe haven to a naughty player.

Also if the core sector civilisation is itself a decaying remnant of the Domain, then major powers shall not necessarily have the strength to bully every independents. Admittedly I’m not really into the lore thing so I may be missing something.

The summary of my partially confused thinking on "pirates" and "independents" is:
  • Piracy as an in-game concept and force should not originate from dedicated fringe pirate/pather stations.
  • Piracy could well originate from major powers and even independents, with actual pirates being backed by those orgs. Call them pirates or privateers, they raid/bombard/harass on behalf of major powers.
  • Having non affiliated pirates is still useful, but at a lower scale. Like some fleets lurking near jump points and those opportunist travelling fleets that change back and forth from neutral to hostile.
  • Having a few outside of core permanent independent colonies (I understand this would be procgen based) could make sense and provide gameplay opportunities, whether there is local piracy or not on these worlds.
  • NPC colony stations could be seized by pirates, this would lead to a bounty from the “rightful owner” to defeat those pirates. Hmm maybe player colony stations could also be seized by pirates (as in taken by a group backed by competition)? This mechanic could then replace the silly popup fringe pirate/pather bases.
  • There should not be any reputation between player and pirates, or between player and independents. Maybe pirates and independents should not be “factions” anymore.

If a group of thugs takes over a colony, and miraculously manage to not run it into the ground (by being responsible), then they are no longer pirates. At best they would try to align themselves with an understanding power, thus getting protections from reprisals. At worse try the independent gambit. Either way, their act of piracy would stop as that would only invite the wrath of every of their neighbors.

Pirates, as I propose it, wouldn't be faction but an act of hostility. As such, there should be no reputation to gain or lose. It is incredibly hard to figure out who is who in the void of space, I mean space is huge and nobody will hear you scream ;-). Anyhow, it would be trivial to be a ghost and that is why pirates would usually not be bothered by their local ports. Up until the crew and ship(s) becomes known, that rumors starts spreading, then it's the cue to either lay low for a while or get the hell out of the system.

Usually, piracy does not involve absolute destruction of the opponent. Pirates would present an offer of surrender: your goods for your life (or something like that). Merchants would likely take the offer, and in the process see the face of their tormentors.

Thanks for the feedback!
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DatonKallandor

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Re: Pirates as Remnants
« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2020, 05:05:13 AM »

Pirates *want* to be well known. That's how they'd get what they want.

The Pirate "gameplay loop" is this:
Find fleet that looks like they're easy pickings -> intercept -> open comms and demand money/cargo.
If they agree to pay up, the pirates leave them alone.
If they don't agree to pay up, the pirates blow them up.

The optimal situation is never fighting and the way they get to that point is by always blowing up people that don't pay and never blowing up people that do.

The moment a pirate starts to kill people for no reason or even when they paid the ransom, people will stop surrendering. But a pirate known for leaving when paid will simply get their spoils without ever having to fire a shot. A bloodthirsty pirate is an ineffective pirate is a dead pirate.
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FooF

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Re: Pirates as Remnants
« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2020, 12:22:44 PM »

I won't go into the merits of re-defining pirates but I really like the idea of the Independent faction being a string of Outer Rim worlds not under the sway of any of the major factions due to lack of proximity/logistics to rule them. That makes way more sense to me than having Independents in the Core Worlds.

If I were to re-design the hand-placed Core Worlds, Independent worlds would, by and large, be on the outskirts and not within any star system with a major faction. However, you might have 2-3 systems solely comprised of Independent worlds and a smattering of Independent planets in random systems within X radius of the Core Worlds. Anything beyond those two inner spheres is "pirate territory" and a loose collection of brigands, warlords, and dictators that rule petty systems of little consequence. For pirate bands to unite and attack the Independent worlds, though, that makes a lot of sense. To attack the major factions should be suicide for them.

Likewise, major factions using the Independent worlds to fight proxy wars would also seem to fit. No, Tri-Tach and the Hegemony may not directly attack each other but they might send fleets in "police actions" or to "defend corporate assets" among Independent worlds so as to have a measure of deniability. This is where the player character's commission would come in handy or the new Contact system would tie-in to sabotaging or stopping the other factions from gaining an upper-hand.

As for Pirates, from a realism standpoint, the OP (and subsequent explaining) has a point but I don't know if we'll ever have a Pirate faction that truly "makes sense." Pirates exist to have chaff to fight, ever-present chaff mind you, and making pirate bases "out there" is part and parcel with the genre. That they are always hostile and external does give the "good guy/bad guy" vibe but if you make pirates behave intelligently, you would never fight them.

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Scorpixel

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Re: Pirates as Remnants
« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2020, 08:45:27 AM »

I won't go into the merits of re-defining pirates but I really like the idea of the Independent faction being a string of Outer Rim worlds not under the sway of any of the major factions due to lack of proximity/logistics to rule them. That makes way more sense to me than having Independents in the Core Worlds.

If I were to re-design the hand-placed Core Worlds, Independent worlds would, by and large, be on the outskirts and not within any star system with a major faction. However, you might have 2-3 systems solely comprised of Independent worlds and a smattering of Independent planets in random systems within X radius of the Core Worlds. Anything beyond those two inner spheres is "pirate territory" and a loose collection of brigands, warlords, and dictators that rule petty systems of little consequence. For pirate bands to unite and attack the Independent worlds, though, that makes a lot of sense. To attack the major factions should be suicide for them.
For the "independents in core worlds" there is still the solution of buffer state/system, an area that is either too valuable to let the enemy have or not worth the ressources to take/keep, ending with both involved factions and/or other powers agreeing to let someone else have it.
Similar case would be an independent world that has a strong enough military/economy to not get easily swayed, and threaten both sides to join the enemy if attacked (can also be guaranteed by another power).
« Last Edit: November 22, 2020, 08:48:13 AM by Scorpixel »
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Megas

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Re: Pirates as Remnants
« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2020, 12:43:08 PM »

Pirates might be received better if they were renamed zombies or demons and their monologues changed to monster roars and their portraits made messier and gorier.

Pirates are a better demon faction than the Remnants, while Pathers are better pirates than pirates.
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