Marauders are a class of battleship designed for long term deployment in hostile environments without logistical support. Equipped with Bastion deployment and advanced dual-hardpoint technology, Marauders boast devastating firepower and enhanced defensive systems and are almost completely self sufficient. They further sport an enhanced Micro Jump Drive array, a large cargo bay and augmented tractor beam subsystems.
Battleship class starships have fulfilled various roles throughout the centuries, from interplanetary colonial transports used by the Amarr Empire during their first expansions traversing the cluster, to behemoths capable of unleashing colossal destruction for the duration of the Gallente-Caldari War. Since contact between the four empires was established, these starships have evolved into the role of engaging similar sized vessels, while providing logistical support in fleet formations. Whether on patrol in friendly territory or deep behind enemy lines, battleships have become the backbone of most mid to large size fleets and the Marauder class battleship enhances these key attributes, while providing extra utility to veteran pilots.
The concept of the Marauder was first unveiled during the final months of YC109, during a Duvolle Laboratories press conference to showcase revolutionary hardpoint technology. Duvolle Laboratories streamed a live broadcast of four prototype battleships demonstrating the new hardpoint system integral to the Marauder design. Shortly after the exhibit, leading research and development corporations from across the four empires were invited to bid on exclusive rights to the technology and the experimental hulls on display. The successful participants of the auction were , and , who, with the help of Duvolle Laboratories, developed the specifications of the technology to their personal requirements. The public release of the first-generation Marauders appeared several weeks later on the eve of YC110.
Since their inception, Marauders have enjoyed substantial popularity amongst experienced capsuleers and empire navies alike, primarily due to their high damage resistance, uncompromising firepower and battlefield versatility. It is fairly common to witness Marauders being deployed to combat against hostile pirate factions operating in hidden deadspace complexes or as vanguards in a military taskforce.
In YC115, Lai Dai Corporation unveiled their second generation Golem class Marauder during a comparatively low-key press conference. The next day, broadcast live across all four empires, Lai Dai showcased their refit Marauder with the Bastion module. A single Golem was parked before their headquarters in Airkio, facing off against an entiresquadron. Before an audience of millions, the Golem and its new defenses survived a withering assault from the collected police squadron. Following the resounding success of their public demonstration, Lai Dai quickly filled its maximum legal limit of orders before it was forced to share the technology with its competitors. In the following months, Duvolle Laboratories, Carthum Conglomerate, and Boundless Creation had all developed working retrofits of the module on their existing Marauder hulls. By early November, the new hulls had hit capsuleer markets, with older models receiving a free retrofit as well.
Marauders benefit from two groundbreaking innovations, pioneered by Caldari and Gallente engineering prowess. The first is the Lai-Dai Corporation developed "Bastion" retrofit module, often considered similar to the Siege modules utilized by larger dreadnought type vessels. As with the Siege module, the Bastion module redirects power from the ships warp core and propulsion toward defenses and weaponry. As with the Siege module, this leaves the ship incapable of moving, navigating traffic queues, or entering warp. Unlike the warp and engine systems which are always active, the on/off nature of regenerative defenses and weapons combined with the lack of hull space to fit onboard neutralizers meant the Marauder class needed a way to safely dispose of extra power. This necessitated a complete redesign of the vessels structure and power networking for the inclusion of so called 'Bastion-gates', vast moving parts of the hull that open to expose release vents directly into space. Such operations require a pilot with an advanced knowledge of High Energy Physics to direct the flow of raw power throughout and sometimes out of the ship.
The Bastion-gates' venting of extra power from the ship has the ancillary effect of creating a vast ionic field of interference that prevents any remote effects from reaching the ship. Unfortunately, an unavoidable and distinctly negative side effect of the Bastion-gate is the interference with the ship's sensors even when closed, which leaves the Marauder vulnerable to electronic warfare under normal operation.
The second crucial technology that puts the Marauder into a class of its own is the Duvolle Laboratories' development of a dual-hardpoint system, over the traditional singular hardpoints present on other battleship and starship hulls. Using both hardware and software modifications, the combined hardpoints can replicate the combat effectiveness of two individual weapon hardpoints triggered simultaneously. This is achieved by modifying the primary hardpoint weapon mounts with the components from a secondary hardpoint, which are used to regulate the power routing, tracking and targeting subsystems. This provides increased target acquisition and accuracy enhancements, while an advanced power management system in conjunction with updated control software, allows the dual-hardpoint to operate in parameters which effectively double the damage potential of its assigned weapon system. Due to the high power requirements of a dual-hardpoint, it is currently only possible to operate four of these dual-hardpoints while still providing enough energy for the rest of the ship, its fitted modules and the four traditional, singular hardpoints configured for utilitarian functions. This also means that the weapon systems attached to dual-hardpoints are almost fully automated, as the highly unstable and intense power draw of these systems could prove disastrous to ship and crew if human error caused a malfunction.
A resulting benefit of the dual-hardpoint technology is that four weapon systems take up approximately half the space of eight, which translates to a large portion of internal areas of the ship freed up for other purposes. In the case of Marauders, this means the Bastion systems embedded throughout the hull and a substantially larger cargo bay than other battleships. To supplement the large cargo bay, the four utilitarian hardpoints were improved with intricate gravity manipulation and alignment subsystems which, when synced with tractor beam modules, greatly improve the reach and speed of the directed gravitational field. Finally, the Marauder is equipped with an improved pre-spooling array for Micro-Jump Drives, reducing the effective cool down time between jumps.
Marauders are often more cramped than their basic counterparts due to the interior space devoted to Bastion operations. The crew of a Marauder is typically a little less than that of other battleships, ranging from a little over a hundred essential personnel to nearly a thousand crew members and their families. This is usually dependent on the nature and location of deployment. However, due to Marauders being especially utilized for lengthy tours of duty, the latter is more common. Despite the risks, a space faring family can etch out a rigid but reasonable life aboard a Marauder, having access to basic services and commodities, employment opportunities for menial tasks, living quarters only marginally smaller than on some stations, and in the event of a Marauder's armor and shields being neutralized, priority to escape pods which launch long before the danger of a catastrophic hull breach.
A more significant difference between the crew complement of a Marauder and that of other battleship class starships is the distribution of crew members in the gunnery and engineering sections. A Marauder's dual-hardpoint weapon systems utilize advanced automation, which means only a handful of seasoned and skilled gunnery personnel are needed to monitor the dual-hardpoint subsystems and oversee their operation. This makes a large, dedicated gunnery crew unnecessary. Due to the presence of the Bastion system, a Marauder generally possesses an enhanced engineering contingent that carefully monitor the flow of power. Alongside these crew members are assorted groups of technicians, mechanics, and wreckage retrieval specialists that are essential to the self sufficiency of a Marauder. They are able to make use of most salvage recovered whether it be to to perform repairs, enhance ship systems, replenish supplies or even for use in trade.
Generally, the experience and service records of crew assigned to Marauders vary greatly; the one exception of course being the gunnery and engineering crew. Nevertheless, serving aboard a Marauder is usually considered a prestigious opportunity, and as such any inexperienced or rookie crew members assigned to the core ship systems tend to be either naturally skillful or intellectually superior to their peers.