Falling Fire

The Phoenix Ship Rutter for Privateer, Part 6 -- Copyright 1994 Stephen R. Marsh

Comments on Gemini Sector

One problem many players of Righteous Fire have is that they have "too much" money and buy too much equipment early on. As a result, the game is too easy, with the missions seeming to slow down the plot rather than help it.

There are two ways to allow an open world and open plot without this problem. The first is the old fashioned solution of a game clock. Players never have time to "load up."

The alternative, and one I prefer, is to limit access to upgraded equipment except through plot devices.

The other alternative is to make all plot missions require the outer limit of available equipment.

This worked well for Privateer, but not so well for future products (because it forces the player to engage in lots of make work). The following illustrates some of the points I would like to see.

Hunter, an alternate expansion for Privateer (This is a "Privateer II" sort of expansion -- requires an evolved game engine rather than using the same one as Privateer uses).



Sold into slavery.

Abused, her identity taken and sold to another.

Ever wonder what happened to Taryn Cross, the only character to give any positive response to the Privateer's flirting in Privateer?

Hotshot recreational pilot, her family insisted she take "safe" work for a government agency. Kept her grounded. Thought they kept her safe.

Well, it is three years down the road. The Steltek Drone is old history. The Retros and the Church of Man are back to a political force. Peace has even broken out with the Kilrathi.

But for Taryn Cross, the story is just beginning. Because one day they let her too close to the shipyard.

She escaped in a Tarsus that was in the recycling yard. They'll never bring her back, but she will be back.


Hunter is set in the world of the unlicensed and bounty hunters. Your ships are landed at the "class two" bays, you deal with grease monkeys instead of ship's dealers, and the only fixers who talk with you sit in the back of bars.


(Not always available)


Talon2 (a Talon that can be upgraded).

Frog (the Kilrathi/Retro medium fighter from Righteous Fire).


Rebuilt/Refitted Demon (called a Dragon, but really just a wide Demon).

"Normal" ships.

Note that you generally don't have the papers or credentials to deal in "normal" ships.

Mission Sources

Back table fixers (alternate bar location).

Grease Monkeys (to the left of the landing pad, in the "machinery bay" -- main concourse is to the right when a character lands, machinery bay is to the left. Some base types do not have Grease Monkeys, e.g. Perry, New Constantinople).

Bounty Hunter's League (the back room in some bars).

Free Lancer's Association (Merchant Pirates, back room in machinery bay).

Goals to meet in Plot

1) Gain a legal identity and papers, a bank account and a class II license. Each can be good for a planet, a system, a sector or a quadrant.

2) Join the league (may not join guild if league joined. Only Merchant's guild members may now buy Galaxy craft, Only Mercenary guild members, with military licenses, may buy Centurion or Orion).

3) Regain your own identity.

4) Stop Dream Dust trade (Dream Dust is a nasty and expensive form of Ultimate). Linked to slave trade.

5) Stop Slave Trade.

6) Always and ever, revenge.

New Equipment for Ships

Most special equipment takes space. Talons, Demons and Dragons all have a limit of 15, 25 and 35 space units for cargo and special equipment expansions combined.


ARMORED GUNS (x1.5 price, resist damage better).

ENGINE BOOSTER (+½ level to engines, x2 cost. Used to extend engines past maximum current level available for that ship type.)



HARD POINTS (like a turret, only smaller. Basically a reinforced hull or wing section that supports a single item. Guns, launchers, etc. all attach to hard points on wings.).

INTERNAL SHIELD SHUNTS (in a collision, treat as one size heavier for determining survival of your ship (other ship treats it as "normally sized") -- in a "same size collision" shunts all power from shields and damages systems, e.g. shields to zero, all systems take one damage level -- thus a Dragon Medium Fighter could survive a head-on collision with a Centurion. The Centurion would be fine, the Dragon rather damaged -- but not completely destroyed).

INTERNAL BUTTRESSES (adds ½ level to size. Thus a buttressed light fighter becomes a heavy light fighter or a light medium fighter for collisions).


LAUNCHERS, CIVILIAN Military craft can use the ten round torpedo and missile launchers. Civilian Craft are now limited to launchers that take a maximum of five rounds. A special Privateer's license is required for the larger magazines. (Letters of Reprisal and Marque).

MINIATURE REPAIR DROIDS (each takes less space than a normal droid, but slower. One quarter the space, one sixth the speed, half the cost).

MISSILE PYLONS (most civilian ships and some military use pylons, not launchers. Each pylon can launch up to two missiles, but the fire rate is faster from a pylon [which is why military ships would chose to use them]. Each pylon takes up a hard point. Pylons are not compatible with missile launchers.).

NODE JUMP NET (node jumps are "secret jumps" that take only medium or smaller size ships and only if they have a node jump net and a node capable jump drive).


NODE KEYS (nav. map add-ons for nodes).

PENETRATING SENSORS (Iris 4). (View through asteroid belts, etc.).

SCANNING SENSORS (B&S 4). (Locate contraband)

SHIELD BOOSTER (+½ level to shields, x2 cost. Used to extend shields past maximum current level available for that ship type.)

SLIDE FIELD (allows one to slide off of asteroids, reduces collisions with other ships. Not compatible with ramming as a method of dogfighting as a ship does collision damage as a ship one size smaller).

TARGETING ENHANCEMENT (increases the "hit zone" on targets).

TORPEDO CO-ORDINATOR (allows firing two torpedoes at once, one from each launcher if you have two).

TRACKING SENSORS (Hunter 4). (Follow the energy signature of a particular craft's engine).

TRACTOR NET (only pulls in one or two cargo units, shorter range, mounts on a hard point. Not useful for piracy, great for grabbing a single ejected pilot).

WEAPON DROID (repairs external weapons).

Ships & Notes

A Talon uses hard points for missile pylons rather than a mission launcher.

Demon has one torpedo launcher "hard installed" (It is built into the ship. Cheaper, but cannot be sold or replaced. Can be connected to an internal magazine.).

League offers refitting/rebuilding of Demons as a Medium Fighter (the Dragon), that is very similar (+20 to cargo space, accepts internal magazines and repair droids). Dragons allow a size larger engines, level two shields (instead of level 1), replacement of built-in torpedo launcher, mounting a tractor beam instead of a tractor net. Still, not a heavy fighter.

Most have twin torpedo launchers.


Papers, pilot's license, league status, regain own identity, refit demon to dragon, terminate the five guys who kidnaped, kill dream dust refinery, end slave trade.

Game Ships


Salthi / Kilrathi Freelancers. (missiles on pylons).

Dralthi (but two lasers, one neutron gun) Kilrathi Light Bounty Hunter.

Jalthi/ Kilrathi Heavy Bounty Hunter.

Kamekh Commerce Raider (Kilrathi Heavy Pirate).

Freelancer (Pirate Merchants):



OrionA (with new cargo expansion capability).



Drayman. (with three pivoting turrets, each with two ionic pulse cannon and one missile launcher).


Licensed Mercenary:


OrionB (with four swiveling turrets instead of two fixed ones, mounts particle cannon, two missile launchers).

Centurion (with neutron guns & lasers or ionic pulse cannon and mass drivers, two missile launchers).

Bounty Hunter


Talon2 (a Talon that can be upgraded).






Military, Militia



Colonial Rapier



Plot Outline

Escape from pirate base Hyades to Agriculture Planet in Sumn-Kp'ta. Jump drive disintegrates.

"Private payee" missions between Agriculture Planet and Asteroid Refinery. (light cargo, passenger and confidential courier missions).

Greasy Paws Sequence (Grease Monkey/Fixer)

a) run mild contraband across system to miner.

b) track down contract breaker.

c) hit vagrant Retro (Retros are rare, plot only creatures), blocking contraband route, lurking in asteroids.

d) hit vagrant Kilrathi in Salthi (hunting smugglers) (Unlicenced young Kilrathi often pilot Salthi and like to hunt smugglers as there is little police retribution).

e) get papers good for quadrant. (Necessary to take mission computer missions, upgrade ship, go out of system, open bank account). Requires three missions flying an OrionA (with extra cargo space).

Drinking Harry Sequence

a) will process papers for bank (so you can open a bank account) for three missions. Each hunts down a criminal who took off without paying. (Go to Nav x, demand surrender, followed by combat).

b) will process papers for flight license (so you can buy repairs and equipment at Ship Dealers) for three missions. Each hunts down a "freelancer" (pirate) who is interdicting his contraband routes.

c) wants you to hit "Foul Breath" (revenge target 1) at his base in the asteroids (Nav 7a). Two talons defend base. 20k credit bonus. Intro to Lean Sally.

Lean Sally Sequence

a) will process papers for use out of system and to rest of quadrant. Temporary pass issued, take a shipment in a Galaxy to Niter and return for papers.

b) Track pirates to neighboring system. In each case intercept in Sumn-Kp'ta, chase to Hyades. Six missions, each a little tougher. Each pays a little more. Last hit is Evil Eye (revenge target 2).

Round Jake Sequence

Offers to sponsor in League if you handle missions for him. Also will process papers for entire Gemini. Has some leads on your revenge. Introduces you to a seller for a used Demon, helps you join league.

Bounty Hunter missions taken for experience and improvement. Every "weight point," Jake shows up and has another mission that brings you closer to One Hand, a slave dealer (revenge 3).

Crooked Hank Sequence.

League fixer. Offers choices of missions. Operates out of Nexus. Every-so-often has special League mission (seven successful ones necessary to qualify for refitting to Dragon).

(Note, a Dragon is actually a Demon that is a medium fighter with most of the upgrades. 75% of the refit is making certain that the upgrades work properly and will not fail, 25% is a small expansion of the frame. It looks just like a wider Demon with a seat for a co-pilot. It handles just a touch slower. With buttresses and shunts and a slide field, it hits other ships as if it were between a light fighter and a medium fighter in size, resists being destroyed by ramming like a very heavy fighter).

Every-so-often a lead to Suit, dream dust dealer (revenge 4).

Sylvia Sequence.

Front table fixer. Looking for someone to finish Suit off. If you will do it, she will provide lead to Scar Face (revenge 5). Suit is finished off at other end of node in a dream dust refinery base. Sylvia procures the slide field for you.

Sylvia and Henry (Confed undercover man, triggered by successful seventh mission for league). Offers you a lead to Scar Face when you have a Dragon. Sends you on intermediate missions until you can pay for the Dragon refit (which you otherwise qualify for as soon as you have the slide field from her).

Chase down the path of the slave trade. Hit and kill several pirate bases in Fariss. Kill several Kilrathi bounty hunters who seem to be important in slave trade (import route through Gamma). Gain key to Kilrathi jump fuel drones (refuel in space for free, in places jumps strung together without planets).

Destroy Kilrah link, kill Kilrathi renegade baron.

Chase down to the heart of the slave trade, if you can destroy base, Federation Medical Services ship can tractor in the slave capsules. (If you wait, pirates will run, FMS can't come in without all pirate ships gone). Several "freelancer" waves, Scar Face in a retrofit Jalthi (Tachyon Cannon and Plasma Guns instead of lasers & neutrons). Recover data capsule with material necessary to regain "real identity." Clues for next game.


This scenario series generally has you in a light or medium fighter stalking down enemies in medium, heavy and super-heavy ships. Rather than one on a hoard of enemies, you may have one or two wingmen to finish off, or an escort, and then a dangerous dance with an enemy who is trying to ram you and blow you down.

Sometimes it is you who have a wingman (or two) and that go after a single target (or two). Three Demons vs a Centurion with extended missile magazines. Two Demons vs. a Jalthi (with Tachyon and Plasma weapons) and a Salthi.

Hard fights against tough ships. But ones where some sharp flying and a brace of photon torpedoes at the right place is all it takes.

Quite the change from the Centurion flying hero of Privateer and Righteous Fire.

Also, while you can engage the plot when you feel like it, and explore, etc. otherwise, the equipment necessary to win the plot scenarios is made available as a part of the plot's progress. Most other equipment upgrades are limited or restricted in access (as makes sense in a system just rocked by the devastation of Retros and now overrun by pirates and freelancers) or are required just to get to the heart of the plot.

Reprise on Changes.

Some Privateer and all Righetous Fire new equipment requires military licenses to purchase. (Harry will issue some temporary ones). So will Missile launchers (pylons do not). Missiles cost x15 in price, do x1.5 the damage. Photon torpedoes cost x2 the price, do x1.75 the damage.


Beyond the frontier in mixed Kilrathi, Human border space, where no man rules and no man makes the rules. Leads indicate your family disappeared there when you were kidnaped.

Recover your family members who have disappeared into the Kilrathi slave trade. Chase down even tougher and more lucrative prey.

Accept missions from Confed undercover men, Kilrathi sponsors and private citizens.

The hunt goes on.