Pirate Island Threshold

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The idea of the Pirate Island Threshold (or P.I.T - the sort you might bury treasure in, haha), is that in the eternal duel between Ninjas and Pirates, that Pirates win in sea-based battles, whilst Ninjas win land-based battles.

However, it is clear that Pirates do control some land - island upon which their treasure is buried, or ports with appropriate taverns.

A matter of size

So which islands to the pirates control?

Key islands are:?

  • Indonesian islands
  • Caribbean islands
  • Kinmen (between Taiwan and China)

In addition, I think it's fair to consider the Malay peninsula to be pretty solid pirate territory?

On the other hand, Ninjas obviously control the island of Japan.

So what is the threshold of island size beyond which it is too big for pirates to control as a 'treasure island'?

Consider that in Pompeius Magnus' Campaign against the pirates, he requested (and got) control of 50miles inland from the shore to ensure he could flush pirates out. If this his used as a basis, then any island smaller than, approximately, Ireland (approx 100miles across) is valid pirate land!

See also: wikipedia:List of islands by size

Potential systems

Static Threshold?
There may be a simple island surface area beyond which pirate control is unsustainable, and ninja control is inevitable?
Variable Threshold (Tropical)
Pirates are able to control larger islands the closer they are to the equator. This is due to loose/open pirate garb being more suited to warmer climates than enclosed black ninja garb.
Variable Threshold (island topology)
Land area may not be as relevant as distance to shore... a long thin island (or peninsula - eg Malay) can be pirate controlled, whilst a smaller rounder island may still be viable Ninja land.

Other Pirate vs Ninja issues

Some points to ponder as to why are Pirates and Ninjas so evenly matched?

  • Ninjas excel in stealth and infiltration - however this instinctual stealthiness works against them when infiltrating Pirates - as Pirates' zen raucus nature is naturally suspiscious of any stealth. Thus Ninjas-as-Pirates is never effective. Pirates never infiltrate as Ninjas as it is outside their code of honour.
  • Pirates battle as groups all the time, and their while is greater than the sum of their parts (eg: a single pirate cannot man a ship, whilst a crew of pirates can). Conversely, Ninja's are stealthy, but a group of ninjas a less than the sum of their parts, for cumulative stealth failures work against a group. A ninja is at his most powerful when working alone
    • A Ninjas code of honour will require him to assist any nearby ninja under attack, this limiting the ability for a large group of ninjas to attack in sequence to enhance their solo power.
    • A pirate crew that is TOO large will split (mutiny?) and diverge into two smaller groups, thus limiting the effects of exponential pirates-in-groups power. Q: What is the optimal size of a pirate crew?


I imagine a Conways-game-of-life -alike system with a map showing land and water. Some key land areas would be also designated as spawning grounds for ninjas and pirates respectively.


  • Spawning grounds would be the key Pirate islands (see above).
  • Pirates would be near invulnerable in training ground areas, and quite weak should they venture onto land.
  • Pirates would be attracted to each other in small groups (fleets). Larger fleets would naturally split, and fleets would more or less avoid each other.
  • In groups, pirates strength is enhanced by being part of the group, and grows to a limit (see previous point re: splitting)
    • Say: 1pirate is 1/3 unit of strength. But 9 pirates is a crew, and a crew implies a ship, and 9 pirates and a ship is greater than 9x 1 pirate. ie, their strength would be greater than 3.
      • Should pirate strength be a simple integer, but with a multiplying factor (or bonus additive factor) for every 'n' pirates to signify having a ship? (eg: 4 pirates = a crew with ship. Does ship turn each pirate strength to 1/2, or does it add a siomple +1 to cumulative?)
    • Pirates would move by 'brownian' motion but as a fleet, after all pirates have 'voted' for their motion, the dominant motion (mean? median? mode?) would apply to all in the fleet. Except as a fleet, multiple pirates cannot occupy one location.


  • Spawning grounds would be certain lands: Japan, Maccu Piccu, etc)
  • Ninjas would be near invulnerable in training grounds, but quite weak on water.
  • In groups ninja power grows logarithmically: If we take a baseline of "power" as 1ninja = 1 unit of strength, then a second ninja only adds strength of 1/2. Third ninja only adds strength of 1/3. 10th ninja adds 1/10th, etc. At 30 ninjas, this is a strength of just under 4 (!)
  • Ninjas move independantly to each other, neither favouring the company of other ninjas, nor avoiding them. However, in a battle, all nearby ninjas will aide existing ninjas - to their detriment - The Ninja group effect in play.
    • Ninjas move by brownian motion, and multiple ninjas can occupy one location without interference. (ninjas are quantum?)


Balancing the lone-ninja factor with the pirate-fleet factor, along with the ideal size of pirate fleets, and relative effects on both land and water... is a matter for play testing. Ditto spawn rate and movements.


Notes which need refactoring into the above document

  • Two character types, each with two subtypes:
    • Two forms of pirates: solo, and part of a crew. Solo pirates are weaker
    • Two forms of Ninja: stealth and revealed. Revealed Ninja are weaker
    • What is the stealth balance point?
  • A ninja unstealthed automatically unstealths all ninja in the area
  • A stealth ninja in the vicinity of a pirate will automatically risk chance of discovery
  • Three types of area: ocean (pirate bias), land (ninja bias), shore (neutral bias).
    • How far into land/ocean does "shore" go for. Does it depend on the next point:
  • Three types of area: tropical (pirate bias), temperate (ninja bias), polar (out of bounds)
    • This roughly matches the literature, and means a grid mapping can be handled without needing to worry about the grid failing at the poles). It could also mean that the 'shore' distance expands into land/ocean at different rates according to the latitude bias
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