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So, people were discussing the NPC capture issue, with one side saying it created less demand for crafters and encouraged a suicidal playstyle, while the other side made the argument that capturing ships is what this game is all about for a lot of people, crafting wasn't impacted THAT much, cheaper ships means people would be willing to stay and fight more often, etc. What came into my head while reading this is that both sides have legitimate points, and that if AI capture was disallowed again, it would make the AI fleets like robots in a disney boat ride....pretty to look at but not something you wanna go up and interact with. So...how can we have the best of both worlds? How can we let people have the satisfaction of going out and capturing NPCs for a purpose OTHER than gold, while satisfying the #crafterslivesmatter crowd? (joke, I craft). Also, how do we make NPC fleets still relevant if NPC ships cannot be owned by players? Oh, and what about that admiralty thing? Thus the (somewhat poorly written) idea above. Let's expand and improve upon that. Feel free to expand upon, modify, disagree with, etc, anything here. As I delve into and combine several different topics and mechanics into one working idea, there wasn't a good place to put this and it was suggested I make it its own thread. Correct me if I am wrong. What is the Admiralty? The Admiralty is made up of and controlled by all of the Lord Protectors of a nation. (To see more about Lord Protectors, see the Developer's "Such is a lord" thread) Each Lord Protector can control AI fleets based out of his port, as described in the quote above. AI fleets are built out of the ships that players sell to the admiralty at that port. Player captured or crafted ships sold to the Admiralty retain their upgrades, quality, stats, etc. This would create another demand source for player crafted ships, and allow players who aren't Lord Protector's a way to support the people they agree with and reasons not to sell to the admiralty in ports ruled by people they disagree with. CAPTURED NPC SHIPS CAN NEVER BE KEPT BY A PLAYER, as was done historically, they are sold to the Admiralty for prize money at a port, or they are sunk for significantly less prize money at sea. Lord Protectors also have most of the control over port defenses, public buildings, port resources, etc, etc, while keeping his character's money and assets separate from the port's assets. Thus, I will sometimes refer to the Lord Protector of a port as the Admiralty as to distinguish between Player assets and Port assets. (I will almost exclusively be talking about Lord Protector controlled port assets throughout this discussion. If my nouns and proper nouns are ever unclear, please let me know so I can fix it) If there are more levels to the hierarchy, (Lords Protector of Shallow Ports, Deep Ports, Regional Capitals, and Capitals, as an example), then Lords Protector higher up in the chain could give instruction to Lords Protector below them. These would not be mandatory, but perhaps there could be incentives provided to encourage people to follow the instructions, perhaps in the way of more money for harbor defenses, fleets, trade, public building improvements, etc. These incentives could be automatic game rewards for following an order given by a Regional Lord, or perhaps the Regional Lord has control over an automatically generated source of desirable port improvements that he can distribute as he sees fit If a Lord Protector does not agree with what his chain of command is telling him to do with his AI fleets, he could simply not do it, which means he wouldn't get the incentives for doing it either. These incentives aren't personal to the Lord Protector, they are benefits to the port he rules. These incentives would be credited to the "Admiralty Account," "Admiralty Warehouse," or "Admiralty Docks" of the port, depending on what they are. This would provide interesting options in a Civil War scenario, as 2 different sides fight for control of a faction. Perhaps there could be an option for a Lord Protector to change allegiance to a different Regional Lord in his area, bringing all his assets with him to the other side (AI fleets, public buildings, strategic harbor defenses, etc) How are AI fleets generated? The main way AI fleets are constructed is through players capturing enemy NPCs and player ships, and selling them to the admiralty, as well as any ship that a player decides to sell to the admiralty/port. These ships would be added to the available ship pool in the port in which they were sold. The Lord Protector then assembles a fleet with the available ships in his pool. Fleets can be specialized for specific purposes by the Lord. The Lord selects the ships he wants, makes them a fleet, then chooses a role, an area of operations, and ensures the fleet is provisioned. Depending on fleet size and mission duration, fleets require provisions, repair materials, and crew. The Lord Protector would have to have available AI crew, repair materials, and enough provisions for that crew to last for the duration of the mission. These provisions and repair materials can be crafted, traded, and captured, and could be the exact same provisions players use. People would have an option to sell their provisions to the Admiralty, which means that if the Lord Protector wants to send out lots of fleets for really long periods of time, he needs to be able to afford all the provisions necessary to do so. The Lord Protector can buy ships for the Admiralty through the current Player ship market as well. Again, these ships would retain their upgrades and quality. The AI crew comes from player captured and AI captured AI or Player ships. When a player captures a ship, they assign a prize crew to sail it back, This prize crew historically also guarded prisoners on the trip back to port. The player can impress as many crew as he can, then sell the ship to the admiralty. The remaining prisoners that were not impressed would go with the ship to the admiralty. These prisoners would then be impressed by the Admiralty and put into the respective Lord Protector's available crew pool. The Admiralty can only get crew through this method, and cannot access the same crew hire pools as players can. Perhaps Lord Protectors can trade crew, moving crew on "Prisoner Transports" to newer ports on the front lines, as the cost of sending a fleet from Puerto de Espania to attack fleets near Pedro Cay would be prohibitive (provisions, maintenance requirements, crew readiness, etc) compared to a fleet sent from Tiburon or Jacmel. Boarding and capturing usually involves the loss of crew. Historically, the majority of crew loss was from incapacitating injury, rather than death, so, having a good amount of medical equipment, a good surgeon as an officer, crew recovery upgrades, etc, can be used to simulate the treatment of these wounds and enable the restoration of a large portion of the lost crew on both sides of the engagement. What can AI fleets be ordered to do? Basic options are Defense (stay in port, exit port to attack enemy fleet that sails past) and Patrol (Go from point A , to point B, to point C, D, then A, engage X type of target). They can be directed to attack/hunt NPCs, and, with certain restrictions, players. A fleet that hunts players will attack players on the open ocean, but only if their BR is comparable. The logic behind this is that the Lord built the fleet a certain size for a reason, and the AI commanders will not waste themselves attacking a player fleet that is too powerful or waste time attacking small fleets and single ships. This would prevent massive amounts of AI ganking a smaller group of players. Fleets can be directed to operate in certain areas at certain times to raise or lower hostility. (see updated port battle mechanics thread) For example, a nation that isn't online during the time an enemy is trying to raise hostility in an area can attempt to reduce the possibility of a port battle at that time by sending a fleet to do things to lower hostility. The attacker can respond by having their fleets go hunt the defender's fleets, or go hunt them themselves to sink them. Where does the Admiralty's money come from? Ports as they stand today already buy ships (in the form of players selling ships on the homepage), albeit at noncompetitive prices. These prices will remain unchanged and will not draw on the admiralty account directly. Similar NPC money dumps within the scope of the Admiralty will remain unchanged. One way the Admiralty account can make money is through commissions on buy/sell contracts. The Lord Protector can set the commission percentage required. This will provide interesting options for traders and will encourage players to explore other possibilities besides buying/selling everything at the nation's capital. Again, none of this money can be used for the Lord Protector's personal account, however, the Admiralty (controlled by Lord Protector) can buy and place buy contracts for the materials and resources it uses, and only those. The rules for buy/sell contracts remain unchanged, which means that the Lord Protector has to be competitive. Players will always have the option to sell to the Admiralty's contract if they want to, to support the Lord Protector's efforts. Allowing the Admiralty (Controlled by Lord Protector) to place sell contracts is something I am not so sure about. Another source of the Admiralty's money can be a from "European" sources, and based on the Lord Protector's management. If the Lord Protector does well, the Admiralty coffers receive a bonus. If he is doing poorly, the income is reduced. AI trade fleets to friendly, neutral, and allied ports would work as they do today, with a trade ship escorted by Warships or sailing alone. They would be filled with similar amounts of resources as the ones currently on the OW today. They would be assembled and supplied the same way as warship fleets are, with the same requirements scaled down appropriately to account for less crew. No resources are actually being taken or delivered to any port, these resources are randomly generated in the hold and only affect the economy if a player captures the ship and keeps the goods. If these trade ships reach their destination, the goods are "sold," and in order for the Lord Protector's admiralty coffers to receive money, the ships now have to successfully return to home port. Knowing that all those enemy trade ships are making money for enemy ports will encourage people to hunt them, and others to defend them. AI Trade Convoys to Europe is another option. These convoys would be constructed by the Lord Protector on the same principle as the other AI fleet, in that they would require provisions, repair materials, and crew sufficient for their trip across the Atlantic. They would be expensive to build, but if they successfully "reach Europe" the Admiralty account is richly rewarded well beyond what it cost to assemble the convoy. Convoys would be assembled from the trade ships sold to the Admiralty in the port. Once they leave port, a message would be broadcast to all players of its approximate location and route. These AI fleets would automatically be filled with full holds of each of the goods a port produces, and would not be attackable by the players of the same nation as the convoy, or the allies of the nation, unless a civil war exists. These convoys would generate lots of combat as players escort them and other players come to capture all those resources...an indiaman full of Silver, for example, would be hard to resist. If desired, instead of the Admiralty Coffers automatically receiving the money, in an appropriate span of in game days, Europe could send an escorted courier ship back with the money. The Lord Protector of the port would have an "estimate" of when the courier ship is showing up, so he can plan to have players escort it, and when it arrives, all players would be notified of its approximate location and destination to allow them the chance to intercept it and get all that cash for themselves. Questions? Important details I failed to explain? Bits that I missed? Suggestions? Comments? Please post them!