Tuesday, July 01, 2008

So Why Is Your Beezle Cheese So Cheap?

The Trading Game. Ah, how we love it so. Captain A. L. Jamison and his intrepid crew hit system, mosey over to the highport, get assigned a dock, and get down to business. They get their passengers aboard the shuttle, and get their paid cargo unloaded. They start the wheels in motion to get their ship fueled and resupplied. And Cap'n Al, or his purser if he's got one, heads over to the brokerage to see what their spec cargo will sell for. If he's smart, he'll pay for a top-notch broker. If he's got any skill of his own, there's no reason for him to sell, ever, at less than list: most of the time, he'll be selling at the big markups. And a lot of folks will be selling like that, too.

So when he hunts around for something new to buy, and he finds a cargo available at 40% list, the question is: why?

We have so much of this stuff, we can't give it away. This fits if the goods are locally produced - your raw materials on a NI world, your grain on an Ag world. No muss, no fuss, just supply overwhelming demand.

Nobody around here has any use for these things, and I need them out of my hold/warehouse. A lot of this sort of trade will be merchant to merchant: a ship has a hold full of mid-tech equipment that isn't selling on a higher tech world: or high tech gear that won't sell on a low-tech world. Maybe a broker bought them, found they won't sell, and is trying to cut a loss. Maybe the seller has been offered a deal on something else, but hasn't the capital or the hold space free.

It's cheap because it's not here... you have to go get it. Maybe the shipment of metals you just bought is available for pickup - at the refinery station in the asteroid belt surrounding the eighth planet out from the mainworld. Maybe the Air/rafts need to be picked up from the manufacturer's lot, and what you've saved on the purchase price you're going to have to pay in customs getting the things aboard your ship. Maybe you're going to have to go downworld, hire a few trucks and haul that load of spice to the downport, and pay to have it shuttled up. Maybe the reason the seller can't get the goods to port is that they're not supposed to be exported. Maybe the reason is that there's pirates/a war/aliens/radiation storms between the port and the product. All good fun.

It's cheap because it's stolen. Anybody know how to forge papers? This option might well coincide with the last one.

It's cheap because it doesn't actually exist. It might just be a really good way to con you into taking your free trader out away from the mainworld where there's fewer patrols...


Blogger Omer Golan said...

There are two more options here you might also consider:

1) "It's cheap because someone needs to get rid of it FAST". This could be something as innocent as radioactive waste from the local fission reactor (which would be useful for industrial production on a higher-tech world) that, according to local regulations, must be transported offworld to prevent environmental contamination. But this could also be a mercenary leader selling a few of his AFVs in order to get rid of them as they were used to commit a war crime.

2) "Its cheap because we want money sharpish". The selling merchant is either in debt to someone and has to convert goods to cash ASAP, or is going bankrupt.


The flip side of selling something at a 400% markup is also interesting:

1) "We need lots of this and NOW". This is a simple matter of demand far outweighing supply. It could be anything from food during a severe shortage to weapons to the almost-losing side of a war.

2) "We need to get rid of our money anyway we could". In other words, money-laundering schemes of various kinds.

3) "We couldn't buy it from larger businesses so we're buying it from YOU". Someone wants to get hold of goods not regularly available through the normal channels, and is willing to pay huge amounts of money to get it with no questions asked. Just watch out for that guy buying 4 tons of radioactives at 400%...

4) "You'll have to deliver it somewhere for us". For the very least you'll have to go planetside; at worst, you'll have to deliver a load of weapons to a besieged military unit.

5) The money doesn't really exist - its a scam!

5:52 AM  
Blogger Festeria said...

Since a good deal of my play these days is actually solitaire Merchanting, having ideas in the background like this helps liven things up.

It occurs to me that situations like this - and cargos with bad paper - would lead to a fair bit of trade "In the Dark" - a couple of merchants out away from the mainworld coming together and swapping cargo & credits to avoid local tariffs and the like. Of course, when deals go awry, that's all kinds of fun.

7:47 AM  
Blogger Festeria said...

About that... How would you have something like that go down, or would you at all?

Say you've got an encounter between Captain Al and Captain Tichy on the approach to Vibulenis. The reactions are positive, so they can maybe do business. Captain Al hasn't made planetfall yet, but knows that some of his cargo won't necessarily sell well here, and if he can unload it now he might have a little more capital to play with onworld. It's also possible that Captain Tichy will have something to sell.

I'm inclined to run it this way: roll for the sale price as usual, with the mainworld's and the player's skill modifiers in play. Subtract the purchasers's skill modifiers: he's bargaining against you!

I'd deal with purchasing the same way - assume there's one cargo that the other guy is selling, and roll normally with the other' fella's mods against yours.

In either case, if you don't like the price, you can reject the sale.

In any case, roll reaction again. Because the other fellow might not like the deal: It's even possible that a deal could break down into a fight.

So it's good to go into this sort of thing with weapons systems up and running.


So why do it? On Vibulenis, a low-law world, there's not much reason to unless you just want an extra opportunity to do business. But neighboring Euskara's got a very high law level: practically everything you do there has tariffs and fines and baksheesh up to *here*. If you can take care of business before you hit port, and show up with nothing to do but refuel and resupply, that can make life a little easier...

8:44 AM  

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