During the meet, I suggested the possibility of a sort of side conflict for the player in the mid of his regency of the stronghold, however do to the somewhat tangential nature of the meet, my general inability to explain things well on the fly out of general nervousness, and the youth of the idea’s development, one wise forumer said there would be problems with the conflict, problems that I had actually thought of, that were actually a part of the intention, unfortunately I do not think i was able to convey this for the aforementioned reasons. I have decided that after some more thinking on the idea, I would write it here with some explanation and additions.
The reasons for this are as follows
- Patrols, despite their efforts, are unable to find the criminals. Historically pirates have always been the ones to avoid fights they can’t win when possible, instead striking and robbing hard and then hiding either in some kind of port, tributaries, or clusters of islands. Their ability to avoid patrol routes and law enforcement suggests that they have an informant. (Note: in real life piracy, this is indeed a common thing, pirates getting their targets straight from informants within the businesses sending the ships out, or some other kind of informant.)
- The timing of the pirate problem could coincide with the timing of the recent increased Hlaalu presence at the lake. This would imply that someone within Hlaalu brought the problem.
- This depends on if there are survivors or not, or if they are sold into slavery or ransomed, (very rarely are pirates eager to kill captured hostages, more money to be made selling them for ransom,) but the idea is that the player one way or another learns of the style and method of the robberies and of the pirates a little bit. What he may learn is that they are unusually well armed and well maintained, with fast, small, and efficient ships holding groups of armed pirates who hijack the target vessel, and from there on take it to an unknown location. The organization and efficiency of the operations suggest these men are not common Bitter Coast Smuggler types, but are well trained sailors, and possibly veterens. The implication here is that these men may have been hired by some sort of outside party, or for more intensity, they may be Hlaalu soldiers in on the job, I do not know however if House Hlaalu has any kind of navy, or if they leave that job to the empire or another house.
Deeper into the conflict, the player might even have multiple ways of going about the issue. Perhaps he is advised that he might find some info at the local docks and ports around the waters, and through them (and maybe some persuasion) can learn that some of them have been getting strange people, but were paid well to be silent for the time being by a strange benefactor? Maybe the player searches the last known locations of some of the ships, finds the pirates, slaughters them like cattle, and on their corpses, he finds a letter, and learns they have been recieving orders from, again, a strange benefactor.
The investigation continues on from there. He may also learn there that the men use Hlaalu equipment (assuming the traitor is from Hlaalu and not some third party or someone from one of the other houses acting in a similar manner.) It can also be revealed, if one wants to go in an even more conspiritorial path, that they were Hlaalu men using the Hlaalu sigil and equipment to carry out their crimes, hence their inability to be captured as effectively, as one is not as likely think them to be the criminals when passing them by on the seas, for they looked just like Hlaalu.
The player may eventually track the paper trail back to the corrupt individual, and expose him to the house (or if you wanted to be counterproductive, the Dres, the primary victims of the pirates, more on that later.) Primarily, it may be learned that the plan of the culprit was such: commit the robberies with either subordinate or paid off soldiers and sailors, then steal some ships using a mix of House position and coin. From there on, rob Dres trade ships, and sell the slaves and hostages, as well as the ships and cargo; he would use his position to gain information on security routes when possible, and if that failed, use his position to feign authentification for the ships somehow so as to avoid suspicion, maybe through papers of some kind. If the pirates were caught by the Dres, it would cause confusion and conflict between the two Houses long enough for him to grab as much money as he can, and make like the wind while they go at each other, blaming the house if need be, making the situation worse and giving him more time to escape, as the house would be too busy with the Dres to go for him.
Now on to the largest and most important question regarding this idea in my opinion: why? What would this add? I feel it would add to the feeling that the player is in the middle of a powder kegged situation, that he is in the middle of a losing battle, and that forces all around him conspire to his failure. The Hlaalu, upon learning there is a possibility that one of their own is behind the attacks, want the problem solved swiftly, and discreetly, and since the stronghold of the player is at the center of the pirate activity in terms of timing and location, they want the player to solve the issue. If the pirates were to be caught robbing Dres ships looking like Hlaalu soldiers following orders, it would certainly jeopardize any chance at peace, they would assume the Hlaalu were behind it all along. If the Dres learn it was a corrupt membor of the Hlaalu, but not the house itself, that would also probably damage their relations severely because Hlaalu should have a better handle on its own people. The player needs to end the pirate problem before it gets discovered by the Dres, and before news gets out by even mere hearsay that Hlaalu ships are attacking trade vessels belonging to them. Add the fact that the culprit could be anybody within the stronghold that the player has gotten previously aquainted with, and you have a well off recipe for tension, paranoia, and best of all, suspense.