A few years ago I suggested
a system regarding conflict at Sea with the ability to post and undertake official bounties for vessels of notoriety. Rather than revive that thread, which was just a quickly thrown together concept, I wanted to take the time to offer a more detailed summary for such an idea.
While I understand that this is something that -could- in part be facilitated by city-states, I've noticed over the years that these efforts seem to be more reactionary in the moments following a reported attack, as there is often no actually monetary incentive for patrolling the seas for those who are not actively Pirating for plunder and profit.
Additionally, I understand how old and complex the Seafaring system is to where many a direct change or tweak might not be possible, so a part of this I will separate regarding the idea surrounding Notoriety/Infamy.
Proposed Conflict and Resolution Updates
Even in historical times, vessels at sea which made it their profession to harass, attack, and plunder ships for profit or disruption of enterprise developed reputations and a level of notoriety which put a target on their head. In Achaea vessels and those who captain and crew them have much the same impact when choosing to attack, sink, and/or plunder another vessel, often at significant cost and inconvenience to the vessel owner whether they be an individual or an organisation. Unfortunately the current system allows for little in way of seeking retribution, usually requiring immediate and coordinated reaction to assemble, set out, and hunt down the offending party which in most cases has already cleared the area and made sure to safely dock.
While constant patrols are always and option, and undertaken in many cases, the only other impact or punishment for such actions is typically an enemy status or updated charge from an organisation that might have been affected. This puts the aggressor in a position where they can easily skirt nearly all attempts at retribution, especially since attacks at sea do not translate onto land, where the individuals involved could be personally sought out or hired upon.(a) Retribution (Personal, Hiring, Bounties)
Part of my proposed solution to this is to update the terms in regards to conflict to include attacks at sea in the current set of conditions which allow individuals and organisations to seek retribution against individuals who were involved in the attack. Not only would this allow for the affected party some sense of justice, but I believe it would also add a level of immersive danger to choosing to be an aggressor at sea, following with the RP backed notion that actions have consequences. The ability for organisations to issue Bounties on individuals for their transgressions at Seas would also allow for the opportunity for an attempt at a satisfactory resolution.(b) Infamy
In addition to the captain and crew of a vessel being open to retribution on land as well as at sea, I propose (if possible) to update the conditions for Infamy to be gained for instances of attacks at sea, by all parties involved. As forceboarding was changed some time ago, I am uncertain as to whether or not general attacks between vessels (including plundering) contributes to one's Infamy level. If not, then I think updating this to include these aggressive actions by anyone actively firing a ship weapon on another vessel, or ordering the plundering of a vessel, to gain Infamy appropriate to the action(s) taken.
Proposal for Ship Bounties
Conflict at sea is in some ways similar and different from that on land, chiefly as it implements the use of a vessel outfitted with weapons to inflict sustained damage to other vessels as well as those on board, at the risk of life to both crew (Player and NPC), monetary value in cargo (both stores and cargo), as well as monetary loss incurred for vessel recovery, restock, and reoutfitting (salvage, stores, crew replacement when applicable).
Best case scenario, the offending vessel is able to be hunted down and sunk in retaliation, but this seems increasingly unlikely as it depends largely on large scale, organised and sustained efforts to patrol the seas with little incentive of the time and effort invested other than the slim potential of catching and then -maybe- sinking said vessel. To this end I offer two suggestions which I think will work to both deliver incentive for hunting down such aggressors and offering a subtle but much needed sense of consequence and danger.(a) Ship Bounties
While bounties can currently be placed on individuals for their aggression on land, and part of the above propose suggests offering these for individuals who act aggressively at sea, the concept for bounties in relation to specific vessels as a result of their aggression could offer considerable motivation and incentive for individuals to form a crew and set out to sea with more frequency and purpose. Organisations (Cities, Orders, Houses, High-Clans) could post bounties for specific ships towards the effort to hunt down and deliver retribution against the vessel in question. Ideally, bounties against ships would operate separately from bounties against individuals, where the bounty is completed when the target vessel is successfully sunk. Upon completion of a Ship Bounty the Captain of the vessel whom undertook the bounty would be able to turn it in for completion for the monetary prize offered, and would then be responsible for distributing it among any other crew involved as they agree to.
Bounties at sea should be given a period of acceptable completion time in relation to Seafaring with consideration to the vastness of the Seas and typical time investment required for navigating them. Ship Bounties would be possible to be accepted by more than one captain, registered to the vessel and captain whom will be undertaking them (e.g. SHIP BOUNTY ACCEPT <bounty #> WITH <ship id/alias>). The first captain and vessel to successfully hunt down and sink the bounty target will be able to turn in the bounty for collection of the reward posted.(b) Ship Notoriety
It stands that vessels which for frequent acts of aggression would carry with them a sort of reputation, and often be perceived with a sense of foreboding. To this end, I would like to suggest that Ships carry with them a level of Notoriety that works in the same sense that Infamy does for players. Attacked rendered by any particular vessel upon another, regardless of circumstance, would generate Notoriety for the vessel directly for each attack, continuing to increase under periods of prolonged and continued aggression over a period of time. Likewise, vessels with Notoriety would have the opportunity to cease aggression and allow the vessel Notoriety to fade over time. Ideally, Notoriety would not fade while a vessel is actively Docked or Dry-docked.
To this end, vessels with considerable Notoriety would be shunned from major ports, and unable to dock in order to partake of both the security the port offers, as well as the major services, as this would (in an RP and economical sense) be bad for business. Instead, ships with Notoriety past a certain threshold would be required to seek port at a natural harbour or in places like Mysia where such characters are welcomed with open solicitation and watered down ale. This would add both a level of consequence and a level of immersive RP for the role pursued.
Those who wish to develop their reputations at sea in order to confirm their status and place as villainous would be able to continue playing out their role and driving their vessels' Notoriety level up to increasing levels, which will continue to drive conflict their way in the form of bounties being pursued, and having to operate outside the lawful standards of society in a more lawless role.
I think the above proposals, whether implemented as a whole or in part, or modified towards a similar overall goal of bringing life and conflict at Sea more in line with the ability to pursue retribution that land conflict has, would be a welcome and healthy addition. I believe it would offer a much needed motivating factor for all avenues of conflict roleplay at sea and set a standard for how these interactions can be approached and reasonably resolved.