9.16.0 Commerce Raiding


9.16.0 Commerce Raiding Rules

9.16.1 The Basics:

Fundamental purposes of a navy are to secure friendly use of space for commerce, and to deny the use of space to an enemy’s commerce. Commerce raiding is the practice of attacking, for seizure or destruction, an enemy’s interstellar economic transactions.


Commerce raiding has a number of targets. Depending on where it is conducted, it can harm the ability of a sector to provide income to the target’s government, or it can harm the income in trade that state has with other states. The first form of commerce raiding is termed sector commerce raiding; the second, trade commerce raiding. The actual commerce raiders and their orders do not distinguish between these two; the difference is made solely by where the raiders operate. (For that matter, forces can have commerce raiding orders and not actually raid any commerce if they’re operating, presumably mistakenly, outside any vulnerable area.) Raiders might be engaged in both forms of commerce raiding if they operate in the overlap zones of sector and trade commerce raiding. Sector commerce raiding in any given sector forces the base loss of d100% of that sector’s income. Trade commerce raiding in the area of vulnerability for any given trade relationship forces the loss of d100% of that trade relation’s income. These costs are sliced off the state’s treasury, which will often mean unintended deficit spending unless the victim is keeping an ample treasury turn to turn. The die roll has a number of modifiers in either case.


Commerce raiding can be directed at the destruction of resources or at the seizure of them, also known as piracy. Commerce raiders acting as pirates generally have far less effect on target income, but the pirates gain a portion of the resources the target loses. This portion is d100%, with modifiers.


Commerce raiding for the purpose of theft of resources – piracy – rather than simple destruction of them has a base income value for the pirates of d100% of the amount of RP’s lost to the victim.

Commerce raiders will attack not only the invisible infrastructure but also “real” freighters of the target state. Orders to raid commerce automatically commit the raiders to intercept freighter forces when they are detected; the commerce raiders, not being players, aren’t privy to the difference between “real” freighters and those of the invisible infrastructure. Many such freighters, such as dirt cheap defenseless colonization transports, garrison troop transports, and munitions ships, will represent targets most commerce raiding players will welcome. On the other hand, the raiders generally can’t tell the difference between “real” unarmed freighters and “real” armed freighters. These armed freighters represent an excellent weapon in the defense against commerce raiders, since the raiders themselves generate the interceptions.


Destroying the raiders, of course, is one way to disrupt commerce raiding. It can also be disrupted simply by forcing the commerce raiders away from targets by forcing them to break off in combat (against armed freighters or genuine warships, for instance) or forcing them to avoid interceptions of warships. Players should regard this sort of activity by warships as a form of convoy escort duty. Commerce raiding victim RP loss is prorated by the week in a turn. During weeks in which the raiding forces aren’t in the target area, there isn’t an RP loss. In addition, if the commerce raiders break off from any combat or decline to attack any group of ships, their raiding for that week is considered interrupted.


When commerce raiders intercept groups of freighters or warships, battles are conducted normally through the BE. The commerce raiders and defending ships move about the map normally. Commerce raiding orders are a bit like orders to survey or to drill; they produce an additional effect – enemy RP loss – given their orders while still moving around and possibly fighting as any other force does


Concealment is not directly required for commerce raiding under these rules. However, it may well be required in practice, as it depends on operating many forces in enemy territory. Many forces mean individually small forces, which, inside enemy territory, are naturally vulnerable to defeat in detail by defending fleets that can remain fairly concentrated. Concealment will also assist penetration into the enemy’s rear areas. In addition, effective commerce raiding depends on knowing where the enemy’s sector interiors or trade frontiers are, information that is far easier to gain with cloaked scouts.


9.16.2 Qualifications for Commerce Raiding Groups

Units to be used for commerce raiding must operate in groups that satisfy certain conditions. Any commerce raiding group requires one or more long-range sensors and some spacecraft with some weapons that do not require ammunition re-supply. In addition, the group as a whole has to be capable of FTL movement. The break off and damage ratings of the group must exceed 0% in any combat against freighters.


9.16.3 Where to Raid Commerce

Commerce raiders operating as deep into the target’s comm/scan grid as the outermost colony in that area achieve sector commerce raiding. For instance, if the enemy has a 2 section comm/scan reach, the commerce raiders need to be 2 sections or more inside the comm/scan network to raid that sector’s commerce.


Raiders inside the comm/scan grid of either trade partner but as far or farther out than any colony, in the direction through which that trade flows achieve trade commerce raiding. Roughly, you have to be between that trade and the nearest colony but inside the comm/scan network. If you’re raiding trade income in an area, you’re raiding all the trade going through that area; trade commerce raiding can be selective only if you avoid the area through which a given trade relationship’s trade goes. If all of a state’s trade comes through a small region of space, it can be a critical region for commerce raiding – and an obvious place to defend against raiders.


Regions vulnerable to sector commerce raiding and trade commerce raiding will overlap. Any raiding group raids all the commerce of any type in whatever regions it raids. The overlapping territory is therefore especially rich, but it is also thin, an obvious place to defend (even apart from commerce raiding – it’s one’s frontier and near colonies, after all), and may cause diplomatic problems as it affects various trade partners of the target as well.


A state with Saurian trade advantages does not lose its trade income if its trade with any given state is raided in that trade partner’s territory. The trade partner still loses their portion of the income.


9.16.4 Modifiers to Victim RP Loss Roll

The loss roll cannot exceed 100%; modified rolls less than 0% are treated as 0%. Any bonus applies only if the worst raider group for that has that advantage. For instance, four raider groups with three at WF 7 and one at WF 5 use WF 5 for speed bonus/penalty determination. Die rolls are based on the raiders’ status at the end of the turn.


Sensors: each section of LRS range provides a +10% modifier

Speed: each cruising WF factor advantage the raiders have over the target state provides a +10% modifier; each cruising WF disadvantage they have provides a –20% modifier

Concealment: if the raiders are not generally detectable by enemy units in the same section they receive a +20% modifier

Numbers of raiding groups: one group of raiders have a –40% modifier; two or three groups of raiders have a +20% modifier; each doubling of groups of raiders over 4 gives a +20% modifier. A quantity of 4-7 groups of raiders is the standard and carries no modifier. Raiding groups must each include an LRS and weaponry. Groups tend to operate in different sections but GM’s needn’t strictly enforce this for each and every raider group. They do, in any case, fight battles on their own.

Piracy: if the raiders are out to seize RP’s rather than simply destroy them, the victim loss roll suffers a –50% penalty; many things will get away


9.16.5 Modifiers to Piracy Take Roll

The piracy take roll cannot exceed 100%; modified rolls less than 0% are treated as 0%.


Boarders: the piracy take roll receives a +10% bonus for every 4 AR of boarding parties the weakest raiding group has


9.16.6 Closing Colonies to Interstellar Trade

States may voluntarily blockade their own colonies. These colonies do not count in the sector income when the loss to raiders is calculated. However, they do suffer the normal blockade limitations on what can be done with those RP’s, and SR penalties for this sort of thing should be at least as bad as for losing RP’s to raiders. Voluntary self-blockade amounts to a glaring admission to an inability to stop raiders.


Players may, if they have the forces and the urge, voluntarily self-blockade all their colonies in the sector, use the RP’s locally to generate supply depots, load those depots into freighters, and move those freighters in groups with whatever protection they care to devote to other colonies for expenditure. In effect, the player takes all the sector’s RP’s out of the vulnerable invisible infrastructure and into a presumably safer “real” freighter network. Whether this is more effective than just stopping or disrupting commerce raiders with those ample fleet resources is questionable.


9.16.7 Example of Commerce Raiding

The Jural Combine is at war with the Grand Star Republic. Part of the Combine war effort is commerce raiding. This should at least draw off GSR fleets, and at most harm their economy. The Combine uses specialized commerce raiding corvettes:


Corsair-class corvette: Hull: 3; Equipment: 6 (1 LR scanner, 1x1-pt beam weapon, 2 cargo bays, 1 crew quarters, 1 life support bay, 2 military engines, 2x1-pt armor); Stats: 1,0,0,5; Tactical Spd: 8 (26.67% c); Strategic Spd: WF 5; Max Strategic Spd: WF 6; Mass: 60 thousand tons; Volume: 138 thousand m^3; Crew: 120; Cost: 24 RP's


Ten Corsairs are deployed to the GSR sector 700x402 in T7. They reach the interior of it during week 2 of the turn. The Corsairs break up into 7 groups of 1 Corsair each and one of 3 Corsairs.


The GSR has 3204 RP's of production in sector 700x402. Assuming the Combine commerce raiders have no interruptions in T7, 7/8ths of this is the base amount of RP's the GSR may lose to the raiders. This is because the raiders do not disrupt the economy during the first of eight weeks of the turn.


The raider's take roll is d100% plus or minus the following modifiers:


+10% for range 1 LRS

+10% for WF 6/8 drives over the GSR's WF 5/7 drives

no concealment bonus

+20% for 8-15 raider groups (4 groups doubled or more), 8 groups in this case (The 9th and 10th Corsairs are there to allow the Combine to lose two raiders and still field 8 groups in this sector.)

no piracy penalty – the Combine isn’t trying to steal anything, just destroy it


Thus, the roll will be d100% plus 40. The GM rolls a 65 for the Combine. Adding 40 gives 105%, reduced to the maximum of 100%. The GSR loses 100% of 7/8ths of 3204 RP's production in this sector. 2804 RP's are subtracted from their treasury during T7 for spending in T8.


During T8, the GSR takes sector defense far more seriously. Armed freighters are mixed into the freighter traffic in the sector. These manage to drive off various attacking raider groups during weeks 4, 7 and 8 of T8. Meanwhile, defending ships manage to destroy 3 raider groups during weeks 6 and 8. Thus, the raiders are interrupted during weeks 4, 6, 7, and 8 of T8. By the end of the turn, they are operating only 5 raider groups. (The Combine player notes that the last two Corsairs might have been better deployed as spare groups rather than as spare ships.) The T8 roll has the following modifiers:


+10% for range 1 LRS

+10% for WF 6/8 drives over the GSR's WF 5/7 drives

no concealment bonus

no modifier for 5 raider groups

no piracy penalty


The roll is a 75, plus 20% this turn for 95%. The GSR loses 95% times 3204 RP's times 4/8's (for the mere four uninterrupted weeks of commerce raiding). Thus, the T8 treasury is reduced by 1522 RP's.


T9 sees an escalation of the commerce war on both sides. The Combine player has an infusion of fresh raiders into the area. The surviving seven Corsairs get eleven Corsairs in reinforcement. (Many other Corsairs were lost to drive failure tearing into Republican space or to the border patrols. The GSR isn’t eager to let anyone else in.) These Corsairs arrived in-sector late in T8, and so will be available starting in week 1 of T9. With this increase in raider groups, and two turns of good die rolls, the Combine player opts to go for piracy in this turn and make a few RP’s out of the war. The GSR voluntarily self-blockades a large SRP colony in this sector. It is a colony with heavy industry and a major shipyard; the GSR player is putting those local RP’s to fine use building armed freighters. More armed freighters have been rushed into the sector, but the warships have been deployed to defend the border and the SRP shipyard world.


During the turn, 10 of 18 raider groups are destroyed in combat with armed freighters. Only weeks 3 and 8 feature no interruptions of raiding activity.


The T9 roll has the following modifiers:


+10% for range 1 LRS

+10% for WF 6/8 drives over the GSR's WF 5/7 drives

no concealment bonus

+20% for 8+ raider groups by the end of the turn (8 in this case)

-50% piracy penalty


The Combine player rolls a 17 this turn, or 7% after modifiers. The sector income vulnerable to sector commerce raiding in T9 is only 2485 RP’s given the removal of that SRP world from the figure. Thus, the GSR player loses only 174 RP’s this turn. Since the Combine was engaged in piracy this turn – and paid that awful roll modifier for it – they receive a piracy take income in T9. The amount of take is an unmodified d100% roll times the RP’s lost this turn by the target. The Combine player’s luck returns; the piracy take roll is an 87. 87% of 174 RP’s is 151 RP’s, or enough RP’s to replace almost 8 Corsairs – assuming the Combine can get those RP’s safely back to their own comm/scan grid.



9.17.1 Flag Officers

Flag Officers are responsible for the command, control & communications (C3) within a fleet. Outside of direct command authority, flag officers are the ones who provide fleets with the ability to operate independently (i.e. flag officers can issue orders to the fleet independent of the central authority). Flag officers issue and are responsible for the orders governing the tactics, strategies, doctrine, training, mission assignments, supply, and other factors which effect a fleet during the game. Flag officers should all be "named" as they are probably the closest thing to "personalities" aside from the government's leadership that a player is going to encounter in FOTS.


Flag officers come primarily in varieties designated as follows,


Fleet Admiral - Politically-appointed shore commanders with the rank of Admiral assigned to command several or all of the fleets in a player's navy, but still classed as an experienced officer; while aboard ship, a Fleet Admiral can provide independent fleet command, control & communications factors (C3) (Note: The ground forces version of a Fleet Admiral would be a 5-star General (simply "General")). The standard span of command of a Fleet Admiral is 65 or more starships or starship equivalents. A ground force General’s span of command is 385 or more hull size points of ground units, 513 or more OAC’s or aircraft, or 65 or more wet naval ships.

Admiral - Usually a shore command rank in charge of a single fleet of ships; has much the same ability as a Fleet Admiral (without all the political attachments); the ground forces version would be a 4-star General (usually Major General). The standard span of command of an Admiral is 33 to 64 starships or starship equivalents. A ground force Major General’s span of command is 193 to 384 hull size points of ground units, 257 to 512 OAC’s or aircraft, or 33 to 64 wet naval ships.

Vice Admiral - Usually a fleet assignment rank in charge of a single fleet of ships; has much the same ability as an Admiral (without all the political attachments), but with slightly less time in grade; the ground forces version would be a 3-star General (usually Lieutenant General). The standard span of command of a Vice Admiral is 17 to 32 starships or starship equivalents. A ground force Lieutenant General’s span of command is 97 to 192 hull size points of ground units, 129 to 256 OAC’s or aircraft, or 17 to 32 wet naval ships.

Rear Admiral - Usually a fleet assignment rank in charge of a single task force or fleet of ships; has much the same ability as a Vice Admiral (without all the political attachments), but with slightly less time in grade; the ground forces version would be a 2-star General (usually Brigadier General). The standard span of command of a Rear Admiral is 9 to 16 starships or starship equivalents. A ground force Brigadier General’s span of command is 49 to 96 hull size points of ground units, 65 to 128 OAC’s or aircraft, or 9 to 16 wet naval ships.

Commodore - Usually a task force assignment rank in charge of a small task force or group of ships; has much the same ability as a Captain, but with slightly more time in grade (Commodore is often an "honorary” rank given any visiting Captain onboard a ship as there can be only one Captain of a ship); the ground forces version would be a regimental commander, usually a Colonel. The standard span of command of a Commodore is 5 to 8 starships or starship equivalents. A ground force Colonel’s span of command is 25 to 48 hull size points of ground units, 33 to 64 OAC’s or aircraft, or 5 to 8 wet naval ships.

Captain - Usually a ship assignment rank in charge of a single ship; the ground forces version would be a regimental or battalion commander (usually a Colonel). The standard span of command of a Captain is 3 to 4 starships or starship equivalents. (Captains will often occupy posts one span below the game-mechanical standard.) A ground force Lt. Colonel’s span of command is 13 to 24 hull size points of ground units, 17 to 32 OAC’s or aircraft, or 3 to 4 wet naval ships.

Commander - Usually a ship assignment rank in charge of a single light ship such as a destroyer or light cruiser; the ground forces version would be a regimental or battalion commander's subordinate (usually a Major). The standard span of command of a Commander is 1 to 2 starships or starship equivalents. A ground force Major’s span of command is 4 to 12 hull size points of ground units, 5 to 16 OAC’s or aircraft, or 1 to 2 wet naval ships.

Lieutenant Commander - Usually a ship assignment rank in charge of a single gunboat or fighter squadron; the ground forces version would be a company commander (usually a Captain). The standard span of command of a Lieutenant Commander is 0 to .5 starships or starship equivalents. A ground force Captain’s span of command is 0 to 3 hull size points of ground units or 0 to 4 OAC’s or aircraft.


Flag officers are "purchased" in much the same manner as ground forces are purchased. The cost of a flag officer represents his training, experience, background, and ability to a certain extent – specifically the range of units which he is optimally able to command. The GM also applies a random roll to determine the actual ability of a flag officer. Span of command and skill vary independently; there will be great and good Fleet Admirals, great and good Lt. Commanders, and everything in between. No graded officer will be without some benefit to his command.


The costs for flag officers are as follows,


Fleet Admiral     128 RPs

Admiral              64 RPs

Vice Admiral      32 RPs

Rear Admiral      16 RPs

Commodore        8 RPs

Captain               4 RPs

Commander        2 RPs

Lt. Commander   1 RP


Flag officers have various abilities and effects based upon their rank and cost as follows. First, any graded officer may issue orders independent of imperial command. Second, each flag officer will also have a skill ranking from 1-10. Based upon this skill ranking, his abilities are as follows,


1) +1% targeting, Cloaks are +1% effective, 1 point bonus to break off value in case of ground troops

2) +2% targeting, Cloaks are +2% effective, 2 point bonus to break off value in case of ground troops

3) +3% targeting, Cloaks are +3% effective, 3 point bonus to break off value in case of ground troops

4) +4% targeting, Cloaks are +4% effective, 4 point bonus to break off value in case of ground troops

5) +5% targeting, Cloaks are +5% effective, 5 point bonus to break off value in case of ground troops

6) +6% targeting, Cloaks are +6% effective, 6 point bonus to break off value in case of ground troops

7) +7% targeting, Cloaks are +7% effective, 7 point bonus to break off value in case of ground troops

8) +8% targeting, Cloaks are +8% effective, 8 point bonus to break off value in case of ground troops

9) +9% targeting, Cloaks are +9% effective, 9 point bonus to break off value in case of ground troops

10) +10% targeting, Cloaks are +10% effective, 10 point bonus to break off value in case of ground troops


Skill level is determined for an officer by a d10 roll when raised. Skill level can increase with experience. Skill level increases by one with two turns spent in command in an appropriate billet. Skill level increases by one more with four more turns spent in command in an appropriate billet and at least one battle survived. Skill level increases by a third point total with another 8 turns in command in an appropriate billet and at least two more battles survived.


Bases count as starships. FTL gunboats count as .5 starship. 8 FTL fighters count as one starship. Boarding parties count as full single hull point units, as they are a special, elite cadre. STL small craft or battle riders are included free of command requirements over and above their carrier or battle tender. STL starships other than battle riders still count as starships for command span. Units under another officer’s span of command that would not require an officer – e.g., STL fighters operating from a carrier - may still have officers assigned to command them, so long as the commanding officer is lower in rank than the officer commanding the next higher rung on the span of command. For example, 4 STL fighters may be under a lt. commander, in a group of 16 under a commander, flying from a carrier with a captain in command.


Ground officers are used to command ground units, including boarding parties. They may not command spacecraft, and naval officers may not command ground units. Ground officer span of command is as for equivalent naval officers, with 6 hull points of ground unit treated as a starship equivalent. Graded officers commanding boarding parties provide them a bonus to AR equal to their targeting bonus, rounded mathematically. For instance, a boarding party commanded by an officer with a skill level 8 would receive an 8% bonus to AR.

Officers are normally assigned a billet within their command span. They suffer no skill penalties with a command in the rank just below them, but professional upset is possible. Professional upset is also possible if billets are available appropriate to the officer's rank that are unfilled. Repercussions of professional upset are at GM's discretion.

Officers offer no bonuses assigned to any other billet more than one rank below normal or any above. For example, a Captain may be assigned to a Commander’s billet of 1-2 ships or the standard 3-4 ships of the Captain’s billet, but not less than 1 starship equivalent or more than 4.


Officers may be promoted to higher ranks, by one rank per turn. This is normally to get those with higher skill levels into greater spans of command. The full cost of the new rank must be paid, and the officer retains his previous skill roll. Officer promotion in this manner requires that the officer see combat that turn, or be at an appropriate training academy.

Officer bonuses stack, so long as the officers are of different ranks and each with a span of command entirely within that of the next highest officer. For instance, in case of a Lt. Commander commanding a gunboat in a squadron commanded by a Commodore in a fleet commanded by an Admiral, that gunboat could receive a target bonus equal to the total of those three officers' bonus. Target bonuses from command alone may not exceed 40 points without additional research.


Officers commanding a single unit require a CIC for full effect; bonus is halved otherwise. Officers serving in a billet above that of Captain and commanding multiple units require a flag bridge for full effect; bonus is halved otherwise.


9.17.2 Crew Grade

Crews can be "trained" to perform better under combat conditions. The grades to which a crew can be trained are as follows,







All crews begin as "green". Green crews must be drilled to become regular. It requires 1 turn of drilling (usually accomplished during a ship's "shakedown" cruise) for a Green crew to become Regular.


It requires 2 more turns of drilling for a Regular crew to become Crack.


It requires 4 more turns of drilling and at least one battle survived for a crew to become Elite.


It requires 8 more turns of drilling and at least 2 battles survived for a crew to become Guard. Thus, for a Green crew to become a Guard crew requires 15 turns of drilling and the survival of at least 3 battles.


Crew grade effects the performance of a ship in combat as follows,


Green                  -10% targeting

Regular               No effect upon targeting

Crack                  +5% targeting

Elite                    +10% targeting

Guard                 +20% targeting


As can be seen, losing a ship with a Guard crew can be a devastating loss considering their potential value in combat and the slim chances of getting a crew to such a status.


Grade based targeting bonuses provide the same percentage bonus to boarding party Attack Rating (AR), rounding mathematically. For instance, an Elite BP would enjoy a 10% increase in AR.



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