The factors known to affect how steep the booty ramp is are:
- Puzzle standing in piracy puzzles of the crew aboard
- The crew rank of the brigand/barbarian ship that players fought against in the last battle (sailor -> imperial)
- The route difficulty
- Number of pirates aboard (note this does not signify those who hold the rank of pirate)
- Crew changes
- Amount of Pieces of Eight in the booty chest that has been won from brigands
- How decisive the win was in the last battle
- The vessel configuration and the last duty report in Navigation (if any)
- Size of the opponent's ship
Note: duty reports have no effect on the booty payout. It is worthwhile to note that each of these factors have their own caveats.
Once again, this does not refer to the duty report. It refers to each player's skill in puzzling, specifically the piracy puzzles. A sloop with a crew of six that are renowned in every piracy stat would weigh less towards the booty ramp than if all six crew members were are grand-master or legendary in every piracy skill. The Swordfight and Rumble rankings are given a heavier weighting towards this factor than those of other puzzles, meaning the ability of the crew in melee is more important individually than their ability to perform, say, Carpentry.
Enemy crew rank
As one would expect, the harder a brigand/barbarian is, the more money on average they will pay out in booty when defeated. This also accounts for the type of ship itself; clearly a longship will net more booty (on average) than a cutter.
Different routes spawn harder or easier brigands/barbarians naturally. These are shaded on Yer known world from light to dark. The darker the shade of the league points, the harder the spawned brigands will be. The lighter the shade of the league points, the easier they'll be. Take a look at some of the YPPedia maps below for route difficulty.
Number of crewmates
This does not mean that it accounts for how many people in the crew are aboard, but simply how many people are aboard that vessel. As one might assume, more is better in this case, which is Puzzle Pirates's way of counter-balancing the fact that the booty will have to be split between more people. Greenies are included in the count, but swabbies are not.
The might of the vessel is recalculated each time a pirate hops on or off the vessel. A side effect of the recalculations is that the vessel loses part of the booty ramp gained in the earlier part of the voyage. OOO has confirmed that crew changes were not intended to have this effect on the booty ramp. Generally, a crew change of one on a sloop or two to three on a war brig will produce a noticeable effect on the booty ramp.
The effect of crew changes can be partly reduced by having the pirates remain aboard until the next target ship spawn is sighted, and then by switching out the leaving pirate for the one taking their place.
Amount of booty in chest
The more money there is in the chest already, the more the ship stands to lose should it be defeated in battle. With this in mind, the higher the risk, the higher the reward, and the more money there is in the chest the higher the Booty Ramp will go. Note that only PoE that has been won will count towards the booty total; pirates cannot simply place PoE in the booty to jump-start the Booty Ramp.
It is not known whether this factor survived the most recent iteration of game design changes.
This is also fairly intuitive. If the last battle was a clear victory (losing only one or two crew members in the melee on a war brig or otherwise completely defeating the opponents), then the next spawn will be tougher to try to gauge how powerful the player ship's crew is. Likewise, a resounding loss, such as losing all crew aboard without killing an opponent, will drop the booty ramp significantly. Barely winning, for instance dropping to 2 or 3 pirates left standing at the end of the melee, keeps the ramp roughly static.
As explained on the Navigation page, when pillaging, the score obtained for Duty Navigation causes the ship spawn to be closer to the range that was specified in the Configure voyage menu. The better a navigator performs, the closer the actual ship spawn will be to the desired one. As navigation also increases the frequency of ship spawns, it can often be in the pillagers' best interests to have a talented navigator. The voyage will have the highest income if the Configure Voyage slider is set to the hardest difficulty that the crew can reliably beat. Note that the Configure Voyage slider works best when the difficulty selected is similar to the difficulty of the route along which the ship is sailing. Selecting a very hard setting while sailing a very easy route has the unintended effect of reducing the number of spawns received.
Like it or not, this is all connected to the universal random number generator known as luck. There are some brigands that will net a player ship far more than expected, and others that will net much less than expected. This is the one factor which cannot be controlled or affected in any way by players.
Size of the opponent's ship
With the release of new ship types of varying difficulties to fight, a modifier to payout was added to account for the added difficulty of fighting certain ship types. The full details of the modifier are not yet known.
- Prior to March 30, 2006, greenies were not counted in the number of crew aboard.
- The old Sea Battle stat of each person aboard used to weigh in to booty ramp