Unlike other factions in the game, the Pirate Guild has its own economic system. However, to keep the plugin CPU friendly, calculations have been simplified. So instead of using real credits, PG uses virtual money. As an example buying a M3 will cost 500 credits to a base, a M4 400, and an upgraded lasertower about 1000 credits. The pirate bases will earn money in different ways. When they successfully raid a trading vessel, the pirates will collect some wares and get a proportional amount of virtual credits. Also, transport ships are used to buy and sell the goods. Moreover, pirate bases now deals in more products including weapons, missiles and shields. And jumpdrive fitted trading ships are used by the bases to buy the products when they are available in other stations.
Also notice that you will find pirate Spacefly Hunters across the galaxy who are hunting and selling the spaceflies to the pirate bases.
The PB are running 2 scripts. One is dedicated to the “fighting” part, and the other one to the “trading” part. The trade script will use transport ships under cover to buy & sell goods for the PB. The fight script is far more complex. Periodically this script will buy some ships and launch attacks. If the funds are high the PB can also decide to buy some upgraded lasertowers to defend itself. The kind of the attack will depend on the HQ orders, the available targets, and the amount of docked fighters. Basically the PB with less than 25 docked ships are known as 'Minor PB' and those with more are known as 'Major PB'.
A minor PB has a limited amount of possible behaviors. They can raid trading ships, send some ships on patrol, try to capture an enemy fighter, or buy one through a nearby shipyard. A major PB has the same possible actions as their little sisters, they can also attack police/military fighters and capital ships and invade a sector during a given amount of time.
Also notice that the PBs have a limit to the amount of ships they can own. This limit - made to prevent the Pirate Guild from going out of control - has been set to 50 ships per Pirate Base.
When the plugin starts, a HQ is randomly selected. This HQ will always act as a minor pirate base even if it has more than 25 docked ships. The HQ script's goal is to select the race who killed the most pirates from the guild as a target and select a nearby sector owned by this race. PBs near the targeted race's sectors will concentrate the attacks on the assets of this race.
When the HQ will have enough docked ships (40, atm) it will send a massive invasion force against the selected enemy sector for a long duration. Without the RRF plugin, stations may be destroyed (don't forget that they will respawn later anyway). When the invasion is over the “kill counter” of the targeted race is reset to 0 and a new HQ is randomly selected. If the HQ is destroyed, the assault will be canceled, a new HQ will be randomly chosen, and “kill counters” will be reset for every race except the killer (meaning that this race will be targeted next).
Notice that this system will work for every race your game can have. Including Xenons, yourself, Yakis or even new races from custom mods. If the targeted race doesn't own sectors (like the player by example), the HQ will target the sector with the most factories of this race in a given radius.
There is 3 ways for the pirate guild to get new ships. They can be captured during a raid. They can be bought at a nearby shipyard (including custom ships) and they can be built directly in pirate stations for an increased cost. So expect to find any kind of ships, even captured Xenon/Khaak fighters or ships from whatever mod you're playing with. Pirate ships are equipped with a jumpdrive and they know how to use it. They usually have improved weaponry and are sometimes overtuned. Moreover, pirate ships stay under cover until they reach their target (looking like standard argon or whatever ships).
Ships owned by the Guild have an homebase set. Attacking a ship with an homebase is the same as declaring war at his homebase. If you're a member of the Pirate Guild, do not attack fellow members or you'll get kicked out. However you'll be allowed to join again and repair your relationship for a given amount of money. Pirate ships without homebase are 'independent' pirates. Attacking them won't have a bad impact on your guild ranking (but you'll still loose reputation points).
In pirate sectors (or other sector with a pirate base inside) you will find Pirate Guild Patrol ships. They act very differently from standard patrol ships you can see in-game. In fact, they are looking for pirate ships being attacked by ships from other factions (including yours) around them. When such a ship is found, all pirate ships patrolling the sector will attack the enemy vessel. When the enemy has been vaporized, they will resume the patrol. If you are a guild member, they will also protect your own ships.