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Fluff - Galactic Tramp Freighter Trading

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Hello fellow roleplayers of the Progenitor Server!

Following my previous thread - Drinking in the Star Wars Universe - I once again dug deep into my tabletop accessories to put together a little reference Guide regarding Trading.

The aim of this thread is not to dictate how trade RP “should” happen, but instead to offer insight on how a series of gaming accessories, with a large amount of material treated the subject. This kind of information can help players that may want to RP traders and tramp freighter captains, by providing information and simple formulas that were used by the West End tabletop RPG series to explain trade and to calculate appropriate contract rewards.

For ease of reading, I’ve broken down the entire text in the following parts. They are broken down to individual posts (which I will link) - after Disclaimer and Introduction.

Disclaimer
Introduction - A brief word on Galactic Trading
1. Fluff - The Life of a Tramp
2. Types of Trade

3. Drop Point Delivery
4. Speculative Trading
5. Black Market
6. Loan Sharks and Loans


Disclaimer
As always, three very major rules apply:
Use or ignore this document as you see fit. Utilize anything you like, discard anything you don’t like.
The prices mentioned below take into account the basic Galactic Citizen, as described in a gaming supplement that was printed in 1994. Yes, you might be able to make totally different deals with totally higher prices, based on your character’s background.
I’m intentionally cutting or paraphrasing some content, since this comes from a printed product (even if it’s currently out of print). Wherever the text is in direct quote of the book, I will make sure to signify it.

All information below has been found in (or adapted from) the book Galactic Guide 6: Tramp Freighters, Second Edition [isbn: 0874312124]

Introduction - A brief word on Galactic Trading

In the Galaxy of Star Wars the main bulk of all trading happens from large, galaxy spanning corporations that have entire fleets of Capital-scale bulk trading vessels in their employ. Vessels like the later-day Action IV transport (which, granted was around during the Rebellion era) were the bread and butter of large trading houses and corporations, because of their cavernous cargo holds and ease of use. As such, the vast majority of trade between important systems and trade hubs (like Byblos or Kuat) was almost exclusively the purview of these companies and these ships. Likewise, these ships also made the most lucrative targets for pirates - but that is a subject for another thread.

What the above means, is that trading usually follows specific routes and specific stops - or hubs. It also means that most of these fleets and their owners are occupied in ferrying cargo that will sell in bulk - hence the bulk in Bulk Trading. So, luxury goods, rare items, items with very little demand or items with very high demand but in very remote systems almost never found their ways in a bulk transport’s cargo hold as the main commodity. And the Bulk Transport almost never finds itself in a remote system. The cost of taking that kind of trip is simply too large compared with the profit to be made from the very limited quantity or the wares it will be called to ferry.

This is where Tramp Freighters and their rogish captains come in! Tramp Freighter Captains fill the niche that their larger counterparts create by sticking to their predetermined routes and hubs. A Freighter Captain is more than willing to fill his ship’s cargo hold with small quantities of select goods, fly out to whatever remote system these goods might sell well and come back with an equal small amount of goods. At this scale, the profit margin makes such a trip not only affordable but also very lucrative.

Also, the Tramp Freighter Captain uses smaller, easier to handle and cheaper to maintain ships (that usually double as fast and heavily modified smuggling vessels).

This text will deal exclusively with this category of captains and pilots - the Freighter Captains, the Smugglers and the Rogues that see their ships as their livelihood instead of their day job.
Kraethas Nova
Crimson Falcon Courier Service
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If you like my writing style, check out the following guides:
Drinks | Tramp Freighter Trading | The Galactic Spaceport | Space travel and regulations
Posted Sep 11, 17 · OP · Last edited Sep 11, 17
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1. The Life of a Tramp (Fluff text)
[original text from Galaxy Guide 6: Tramp Freighters. Adapted slightly to TOR’s timeline]
Spoiler: Fluff textShow

2. Types of Trading

There are three major types of trading available to a Tramp Freighter captain. These are:


  1. Drop Point Delivery - Where a captain strikes a deal to pick up something from point A and deliver it to point B in a specified amount of time and for a specified fee.

  2. Speculative Trading - Where a captain scans the markets and speculates what to buy in one place and where to sell it, aiming to buy low and sell high.

  3. Black Marketeering - Where a captain focuses in buying and selling either illegal goods or legal goods in an illegal way (e.g. bypassing tariffs, permits and / or regulations)
Each of the following threads will deal with a separate kind of trading, providing information on each (as much as is available and not too much to become restrictive).

I believe that in our setting in SWTOR, the information of Drop Point deliveries and the Black Market will be far more useful than the information about speculative trading. A trading oriented guild, however, can probably find ideas for trading events or meta-rules inspired by speculative trading.
Kraethas Nova
Crimson Falcon Courier Service
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If you like my writing style, check out the following guides:
Drinks | Tramp Freighter Trading | The Galactic Spaceport | Space travel and regulations
Posted Sep 11, 17 · OP
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3. Drop Point Delivery

When a freighter is hired to carry cargo from one place to another in a specified amount of time and for a specified fee, we refer to it as undertaking a Drop Point Delivery contract.

This is the standard way in which tramp freighters earn their living. The profits are not tremendous but often it is the only legitimate way open to a tramp to make money.
It’s also the easiest way to create interaction with other players - hiring them to go wherever you want, pick up whatever you need, bring it back - simply by advertising you’re looking for a Captain to undertake a Drop Point Delivery.

The steps included in a drop point delivery, are generally the following

1. Finding a Customer

The difficulty of finding a Customer is directly tied to the kind of ship you have, the kind of cargo you’re willing to carry and the port you find yourself in. For example, a freighter without any extra cabin space would be very hard pressed to carry passengers. Likewise, a ship without atmospheric controls over its cargo hold would be unable to carry some kinds of cargo that require specific conditions in order not to spoil.

The Goal for a Captain here is to locate as many contacts as possible that might be willing to offer a job, and arrange as many meetings as possible with those contacts. Many meetings = Many opportunities to seal a deal!

2. Determine Fees

Once a customer has been located and a meeting arranged, the Captain and the Customer discuss specifics. These specifics include delivery fees, time to delivery, insurance, danger pay and - last but not least - method of payment.

Standard Fees for Drop Point Delivery are between five to ten credits per ton, per day, calculated using a Class 2 hyperdrive (standard for tramp freighters), plus one day to load cargo and get out-system and one day to get in-system at the destination and offload the cargo.

Spoiler: Example Fee CalculationShow

In addition to the Standard Fee, shippers might offer bonuses for quick delivery. Be assured that penalties for slow deliveries are almost always charged! Additionally, if a shipper has a smaller load but wants to utilize the captain’s ship entirely, they may pay per ton of cargo the ship can carry, rather than per ton of cargo they want to carry - effectively hiring the entire ship. In this case, they usually pay around 300 to 600 credits per day, depending on the ship cargo hold’s capacity, the senstivity of the cargo, etc.

Typically, shippers pay half the agreed fee up front and give a voucher to the Captain for the other half, upon delivery. The voucher also lists any bonuses / penalties for early/late delivery and so forth. The freighter captain is responsible for the condition of the goods: if they’re damaged, the receiver may refuse to accept them, or pay less for them.

The Core Idea that each Captain likes to achieve in this step is to find one or more jobs that will come as close as possible to filling his cargo hold, will require as little time as possible to travel but give him as large a time window as possible to complete the trip in and pay as much as possible per job.

So, to simplify: You want many jobs, that you -can- complete quickly, with enough time to complete them all and enough money to cover all costs of travelling, docking, insurance and even make a profit.

Spoiler: Note On HyperdrivesShow

3. Determine Insurance

The Shipper might (and most larger shippers do) demand that the hauler take out insurance on the cargo; this usually runs between 1% and 10% of the cargo’s total value, depending upon the Captain’s reputation, the riskiness of the trip, the fragility of the cargo, and so forth. If the trader can’t get a reputable agent to cover it, he can turn to a loan shark, or he can post his ship as collateral against the cargo. Both of these last two are quite risky, as you might imagine.

4. Complete the Contract

This is the step where the Captain (and his crew, if any) get on the ship, take off, fly around spaaaaaace(™) and hopefully, land and deliver the goods on time, take the other half of their payments and resist the urge to drink them all away before they complete their entire haul.

5. Repeat Business

It is possible for a Captain to make contact with a shipper who needs a lot of repeat business. The only way a captain can assure themselves of gaining such a job is by being cheap and reliable. Though they will tend not to make as much money on individual runs, over the long term their income will be higher. Generally, if the characters get a long-term contract with - for example - a trading house, they’ll have to accept a fee perhaps as much as 5% or 10% below standard. But they will get steady work, and there’s a pretty good chance they’ll also get bonuses for on-time delivery as well as breaks on ship repair and upgrade fees.
Kraethas Nova
Crimson Falcon Courier Service
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If you like my writing style, check out the following guides:
Drinks | Tramp Freighter Trading | The Galactic Spaceport | Space travel and regulations
Posted Sep 11, 17 · OP
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4. Speculative Trading

One of the ways a Captain can earn a living is through speculative trading: that is, puchasing a cargo out of his/her own pocket, taking it to another planet and attempting to sell it there for a profit. This is fairly risky and requires a large investment of initial capital and time, so most new captains avoid it unless presented with an especially good deal.

When involved in speculative trading, the tramp is up against the established trading houses, people with contacts among the producers and consumers in their system, years of experience in buying and selling items, the capital to be able to afford to hold onto items until it is profitable to sell them, and the warehouse space to hold them until they are sold. Freighter Captains don’t have many of these things.

Additionally, it must be noted that, when engaged in speculative trading, the tramps are competing with the people who normally provide them with the cargo to haul in drop-point delivery: they had better hope that they don’t annoy their best customers, or the freighter’s other sources of income will simply dry up. Further, if they begin to cut seriously into the trading houses’ profits, the houses may in retaliation start up a price war against the freighters, deliberately selling goods below cost to steal the freighter’s customers. In this kind of battle, the freighter captain is almost certain to lose: the houses have the capital to survive a long time without making a profit; the captains don’t.

Still, this is where the big money is to be made. If the tramp freighter captain is sucessfull, he may be able to work his way into the lucrative buying and selling business full-time - becoming a trading house himself and employing other freighters to carry his loads.
But he certainly shouldn’t attempt this until he knows his sector inside and out; as an old saying goes “It’s much easier to get skinned than it is to sell skins for a profit”.

Buying and Selling Goods

This speculative trading system assumes that the tramp freighter is purchasing cargo at one point and travelling to another point to sell the cargo (hopefully) for a profit. Note that traders should not buy and sell items on the same planet. There are wholesale companies which handle the relocation of goods from one part of a world to another, and these companies do not look kindly upon those who try to muscle in on their business. Since they have the political and economic clout to stomp any small-time interlopers, characters should be warned not to attempt to sneak a deal past the planetary business networks (although, sometimes a deal comes along that’s looks so sweet it can’t be ignored…)

The system which follows does not take into account other expenses which the tramp freighter might have - docking costs, ship repairs and so forth. Rules on these operating costs may be supplied at later threads.

Technology Levels

The main factor that determines availability of goods on a planet, is the planet’s Technology Level. There are six classifications that are used to identify the level of technology on a particular planet. Realistically, planets will not fall directly into one of these categories, but will be characterized by the category the planet most closely resembles.

Technology levens are used in the buying and selling procedure, to determine availability and demand of goods. These are:

Stone
Spoiler: DescriptionShow
Risks: Traders are sometimes mistaken for demons or other mythic beasts and attacked accordingly. And the tribes are likely to be migratory: a trader who has established good relations with one tribe may return during a later journey to discover that it has up and vanished on him, never to be seen again.
Examples of Stone Level planets: Endor.

Feudal
Spoiler: DescriptionShow
Risks: Just because people are feudal does not make them stupid, and their culture has probably got a good deal of violence in it. Traders who attempt to rob these people may find themselves attacked by screaming hordes of armor-clad beings wielding pointy swords, or by even more insidious means, say poisoned mead at the king’s party.
Example: Gamorr, the Gamorrean homeworld.

Industrial
Spoiler: DescriptionShow
Risks: These planets often have weaponry which could seriously threaten a trader (slugthrowers can be, in the right circumstances, just as lethal as a blaster), and a couple of cannon shots could conceivably put a hole in a grounded ship (though the odds of a cannon hitting a moving ship would be astronomical). The industrial planets are likely to attack traders whom they suspect of cheating them, or they might attack if they thought that doing so would earn them cheap information about high technology (“Please to telling me how make metal so strong as your ship’s skin or i will pulling your friend’s eye out, yah?”)
Examples: Ryloth, principal world of the Twi’leks.

Atomic
Spoiler: DescriptionShow
Risks: Similar to those of an industrial civilization, except that their weaponry is better. Also, atomic-level planets sometimes have a militaristic mindset and contact with offworlders is often met with suspicion, fear and paranoia (pity the freighter captain that inadvertently sets down near a planetary military installation).

Information
Spoiler: DescriptionShow
Risks: Once again, the same as industrial- and atomic-level civilizations, but the weapons are better still. an information-age planet may have sophisticated space-based weaponry. Its subspace fighters may go almost as fast as a freighter in atmosphere. In a dogfight, the freighter would almost certainly defeat one or two enemy fighters but a dozen could give it problems. Ground-based lasers and atomic missiles would definitely give it problems.
Example: Kubindi, the Kubas homeworld.

Space
Spoiler: DescriptionShow
Risks: Like before, except that these folks may have their own versions of starfighters, frigates, cruisers and the like.
Example: Calamari, the Mon Calamari and Quarren homeworld.

Trade Good Categories

The next important item to consider, after a planet’s tech level, is the trade good categories it offers. To make things simpler, trade goods have been broken down into the following categories:

Low Technology: Simple manufactured items like handiworks, native crafts, furniture and woven cloth.

Mid Technology: Devices that result from semi-complex manufacture. Textiles, mechanical weaponry (projectile weapons, slugthrowers, anything without “tech” on it), paper goods and elaborate craft items are examples.

High Technology: Very advanced products such as computers, lasers, plastics, polymers and such.

Metals: All manners of formed metals. Steel, copper, iron, hfrendium are examples.

Minerals: Ores required to produce any number of items. Iron Ores (hematite and magnetite), copper ores (chalcopyrite and malachite), and ores used for other purposes such as mixing cement (calcite), common salt (halite)

Luxury goods: A multitude of expensive items are classified as luxury goods. Spices, works of art, precious metals, gems and liquor are examples of items which may be purchased without any actual need of an item. Also, certain items from other categories might be considered luxury items in some worlds (or due to rarity). For example, salt is a mineral but Arcona salt is a luxury item. Iron and Steel are Metals, Copper is ore, but Mandalorian Iron, Phrik and Cortosis (because we -have- to mention them somewhere) are Luxury items due to rarity and price.

Foodstuffs: Any meat, vegetable or protein but primarily denotes grain and other bulk food products.

Medicines / Medicinal Goods: Drugs and herbs of all kinds are classified as medicinal goods. Such items are especially useful on the worlds of moderate technological level, where over-populated, unsanitized cities have bred diseases which the civilization has yet to find cures for.

Supply and Demand

Each of these categories has a level of supply and a level of demand for each world. The levels of Supply and Demand begin at Very Low (VL) to Low (L), Moderate (M), High (H) and Very High (H). A speculative trader’s goal is to find a world that has a very high supply of one commodity - so he can buy cheap and in bulk and then a world that has a very high demand of the same commodity - so he can sell expensive and in bulk. This combination - high supply to high demand - has the biggest profit margin.

So, for each world - or if you want to be generic, for each tech level - you make up a table of supply and demand for each Trade Good along with a supply price per ton and demand price per ton for each trade good. A totally random table, for the sake of examples, can be found below:
Spoiler: Example TableShow

So, the aspiring speculative trader, or trading mongul wants to find worlds and slowly compile tables like the one above. Then, he finds what goods can he carry, with the highest supply and lowest price and where can he sell them, with the highest demand and highest price. This, by itself, tells him how much it will cost him (cargo hold capacity x supply price per ton) to haul a full cargo and how much profit he will make (cargo hold capacity x demand price per ton - cost).

Again, while this system has little to almost NO value to a single character that roleplays alone, it helps to explain how major trading houses and companies handle Trade.

Likewise, it can help a Trading Guild, if interested, to set up random numbers for their trading posts and thus provide a few numbers for trading events :)

Like it, use it, hate it… I bet the next part will be more Interesting! Stay tuned for… The Black Market!
Kraethas Nova
Crimson Falcon Courier Service
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If you like my writing style, check out the following guides:
Drinks | Tramp Freighter Trading | The Galactic Spaceport | Space travel and regulations
Posted Sep 11, 17 · OP
Posts:
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5. The Black Market

The Black Market is an illegal economic system outside of the normal galactic economy. Almost anything - weapons, spice, food, “contraband entertainment” - can be purchased or sold through these illicit channels. The goods and services available through the black market range from the mildly illegal (bootleg holos) to the morally repulsive (Twi’lek slave girls).

Virtually every planet in the galaxy has some kind of black market, and in the Outer Rim Territories, these underground networks tend to thrive, since there are usually people willing to buy goods which are unavailble through normal channels. On Imperial or Republic planets, the black market may be a highly efficient system offering all the goods described above, and more. On repressive or deeply religious planets, simple mind-altering substances such as alcohol or stimpills may be available only through the black market. On some planets, it may be illegal to trade in animal skins; there they would only be available through the black market.

Planets that are near military installations - especially close to the frontlines - will often have some kind of a black market, possibly selling pronographic holograms, booze, or even expensive clothing not available to the common soldier through “Official channels”.

A good does not necessarily have to be illegal or restricted to be sold in the black market, either. People buy and sell through the black market sometimes simply to avoid paying taxes or to avoid having to notify the authorities that one has purchased a certain good.

Finding the Black Market

The first time someone attempts to contact the black market on a planet, they’re asking for difficulties. Black-marketeering is inherently illegal; there’s no sign posted saying “This way to the black market”. Some kind of contact must be made with someone who is involved with the network, and after this contact and a “routine check of references” by the marketeers, it is possible the traders may be allowed access to the operation. Often black-marketeers know the contents of a freighter in their sphere of influence better than the vessel’s crew, and will often make first contact if the cargo is of sufficient value.

After the traders have made contact on a planet, they will know who to talk to in the future and should have no further troubles, but the first contact can be difficult and risky. Fortunately, shrewd Captains are in a good position to get in contact with the black market. Elements of it can almost always be found in and around a spaceport: purchasing agents, shippers and warehouse managers form an essential link in the underground economy, buying, selling, storing and transporting the contraband goods. In fact, the local customs agents may be intimately involved as well. A keen-eyed, streetwise traders should not have too much difficulty determining who to talk to (Determining what to say, and if the potential contact will listen - that’s the tough bit).

Most free traders have done some business with the black market at some point in their checkered careers. If a player character merely asks politely at the local spacer’s bar, he’s likely to find someone with the right connections (for a small fee of course). [Poster’s note: Politely here, doesn’t refer 100% to being polite and saying please. It refers to have the proper etiquette for the setting you are in, knowing how not to insult your host and generally, having a good attitude towards the underworld elements you want to get in contact with.]

As long as a captain doesn’t give the impression that they are informing for the Empire/Republic/Rival Hutts/Law Enforcement, they should be fine (if not, well… the situation will probably become fairly hostile, fairly quickly).

Generally, a captain that wishes to contact the black market should be ready to invest in good streetwise skills and patience. The risks of failing such an endeavour tend to fall in one of the following three categories, or even worse a combination of the three.

  • Either there is no black market on the planet, so there is nothing to find or noone to contact
  • Or the authorities take notice of the Captain’s insistence of contacting the local underworld
  • Or the black market itself takes notice of the Captain’s amateurish approach and they believe that he is an informant or undercover law enforcement agent, attempting to infiltrate their network.At best, the captain will be unsuccessful in any attempt to locate the black market in that region. At worst, a death mark may be placed or them.

If alerted, the authorities may simply give traders a warning to keep their noses clean. In more extreme cases, they may search a ship, fine them, impound their ship and hold them for questioning, or boot them off-planet.

It is also entirely possible that a member of the local authorities or a Republic or Imperial Officer on-planet -are- the black market contact on the planet. A trader may find himself/herself “taken in for questioning”, but when brought before the officer the only question asked is “what are you looking for, bub, and how much you willing to pay?” This is risky, of course: the official may simply be lying and hoping to get the trader to implicate himself further. On the other hand… He may be genuine.

Black Market Settings

As mentioned above, the black market is rarely obvious or easy to locate; subtlety is what allows it to function. Typically, the black market consists of a number of loosely-linked merchants, shopkeepers, warehouse agents and other diverse beings in the business of buying, selling, storing or transporting goods. A trader would meet one of these beings under the guise of a legitimate business, describe what he or she needs or what the trader has available for sale, whereupon the black marketeer would name a price. The actual exchange of goods-for-credits would likely take place somewhere else entirely.

It is unlikely that the black-marketeer will have many of the contraband goods right there at his normal place of business; he may, however, have samples or holos of the items he has for sale. If the traders are not known to the black marketeer, he may require a deposit of half of the selling price (or higher) before he arranges the drop-off of the merchandise.

If the Traders are selling to the black market, on the other hand, the buyers may demand that one of them accompany his goons as a hostage before the marketeer goes to pick up the goods: this ensures against double crosses or last minute changes of plan. Conversely, depending upon the value of the merchandise they are offering, the traders may also ask for hostages and up-front money; in these cases the better Negotiator or Con artist tends to sway the situation in their favor - depending on whether either side is honest or trying to scam the rest..

References are always useful when dealing with illegal enterprises. [Poster’s note: References are your one and only lifeline when it comes to some of the most dangerous black markets. Who you know, who vouched for you and who will get angry if we ice you, might be the only thing keeping your trader alive when you talk with these people!] If the trader - or traders - can get a mutually-trusted third party to vouch for them (another trader who has done business with the market on the planet, for instance), the black marketeer is much more likely to trust (and not scam) the traders.

The actual locations where the black market “sets up shop” vary, often on a daily basis. A black-marketeer will probably rotate his base of operations from place to place, trusting word of mouth to spread far enough to ensure steady business. Warehouses, underground caves, abandoned communication satellites - any remote, fairly isolated location within easy travelling distance of the black marketeer’s home base can become a veritable illicit bazaar. In some of the Outer Rim systems, a travelling “caravan” of freighters and star-yachts travels from backwater world to backwater world, acting like an interstellar circus; From the Rebellion Era, Zaprid’s Caravan is a famous example of bilking small-time hustlers and local peasants in the Tion Hegemony, though Zaprid prefers to steer clear of the complications of operating in Imperial Space.

Goods to Buy or Sell on the Market

Items to be traded in the Black Market are affected by their legality and their availability. The more rare an item is, the more expensive it will certainly be. Additionally, the more illegal an item is, the harder it will be to find it and buy it. Availability is a simple concept which I won’t analyze further, here. But I will add a few words on Legality.

In the Star Wars universe there are - essentially - four types of “Legality” codes for each item. These are “Legal”, “Fee”, “Restricted” and “Illegal”.

Legal items are common, everyday items (for the location you are in) that require no special permit to own or use.

Items that have a “Fee” can still be used openly, as long as the wearer/user/wielder/owner has paid a fee and procured a permit to use them. This fee generally runs from 5% to 50% of the item’s costs with an average around 10%. Regardless of the fee’s actual amount, each legal transaction of these items is filed with the authorities so that they can keep track of who owns such items. If a Character doesn’t want this kind of record, they can purchase the item through the black market. Hunting Weapons and most armors require a fee and a permit on many Republic or Imperial worlds.

Restricted” items may not be sold or purchased without a local, Imperial (in the Empire) or Republic (in the Republic) license. In order to obtain such a license, the petitioner must usually undergo a background check and perhaps pay a high fee (100% of the item’s cost or higher). The background check and any fees, of course, are avoided by using the black market.
Most weapons useful in combat - blaster pistols, blaster carbines, ship-mounted weapons, grenades and so forth - are restricted items.

X (Illegal): Items with this descriptor are illegal to posses in the area. Possession may violate local law, Imperial or Republic law, all three or any combination of them. Illegal goods are available only through the black market. Thermal Detonators, Republic or Imperial Trooper armor, Spice, anti-Imperial / anti-Republic holos, assorted types of military hardware, lightsabers (unless you are a jedi or a sith) and so forth, are illegal.

In many Imperial held areas, possession of an illegal item (such as military hardware) is often met with severe punishment, on the spot. In-the-field execution is within Imperial Customs’ purview. Accordingly, in Republic space, immediate arrest and facing prison sentences is common.

Buying Black Market Items

Once a contact has been located, the trader must request the goods he desires and then the two sides must agree on a price. Once all negotiations are said and done, the buyer may either agree or not with the asking price. Assuming they reach an agreement, buyer and seller then determine how and where the goods will be transported and how and where the credits will change hands.

Generally, the seller is responsible for transporting the goods to the agreed-upon drop-point - since he will not usually want the buyer to know the location of his warehouse - but this varies according to specific circumstances (though warehouse pick-ups may be a setup; black-marketeers arranging for free-traders to be in the warehouse the moment customs troops raid it, is not an uncommon occurrence).

Selling to the Black Market

After a Captain has made a few black market purchases and have first-hand experience with the sometimes outrageous prices charged, they may want a cut of the action. There is indeed money to be made selling goods to the market, but it is not easily acquired. Captains who choose to sell to the black market tempt not only the laws and officials of the Republic / the Empire, but they also involve themselves with some very dangerous and generally untrustworthy elements and puts them in danger in getting into a lot of trouble - remember, you’re dealing with criminals here, typically not people rebelling against the system because they want to fight tyranny, or oppression but folks that go outside the system because they want to make a lot of money and they don’t care how they do it.

Having said that, there are honorable black-marketeers, but it’s kind of hard to tell them from the dishonorable ones at first glance, and even then, often a black-marketeer’s idea of honor is far different from a trader’s. In other words, traders are advised to be very careful with individuals in the black market, or they may find themselves trying to swim with a pair of synthecrete overshoes on.

Selling to the black market follows more or less the steps above - locate a contact, arrange a meeting, display a sample of the goods and then bargain for the price. Again, typically, the seller is responsible for transporting the goods to a location specified by the purchaser as well as being responsible for any bribes necessary to get the items off-planet. It is possible that the purchaser has better contacts at the spaceport and can transport it easier than the seller; if so, his offering price will be correspondingly lower, to cover his extra risks and expenses.

To get an idea on how an item’s price is modified in the black market, based on the two sections you just read above, see below:

Spoiler: Black Market base pricingShow
Kraethas Nova
Crimson Falcon Courier Service
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If you like my writing style, check out the following guides:
Drinks | Tramp Freighter Trading | The Galactic Spaceport | Space travel and regulations
Posted Sep 11, 17 · OP
Posts:
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6. Loan Sharks and Loans

Purchasing and outfitting a freighter costs a great deal of money. The light cargo-hauling business is highly speculative; operating a ship so it sees a profit takes hard work, dedication and more than a little luck. The typical tramp freighter captain does not have much capital against which to secure a loan, and what capital he does have - his ship - is highly mobile, able to be whisked to the other side of the galaxy, given forged registration papers and renamed in a matter of weeks (a risk that even the most solvent and audacious of financial officers will refrain from taking).

Even if the trader is honest, the chances of staying in business are depressingly low: over 60% of one-ship operations fail within their first year [Statistics as presented by the imperial statistics bureau for the Rebellion era. They do not apply to TOR. Deemed even higher]. For these reasons, most legitimate financial institutions will not loan tramp freighter captains money, at any price. The risks are too high; the returns are too low.

Loan sharks on the other hand - individuals who will loan money to almost anyone - are the lifeblood of the independent trading community, as traders who need money do not need to provide a great deal of collateral; usually their lives and their ships are all that keep most traders one step ahead of bankruptcy. Loan sharks offset the risks of loaning money in such a volatile industry by charging a grossly high interest rate. Unlike most banks, loan sharks have no qualms about using force to remind the customers when payment is due, and they will not hesitate to hunt down and terminate anyone who dares to skip out on a debt. This naturally tends to cut down on the number of defaulters (and deadbeat star traders as well).

Rates

Loan sharks charge almost obscenely high interest for the money they loan. The typical rate is 300% spread over 30 months, at 10% per month (though traders who are considered a bad risk by the loan sharks can pay almost 900% in interest!).

If a Captain borrows 20,000 credits from a loan shark, at 300% interest, the trader pays back the loan shark 2,000 credits (10%) each standard month for 30 months. At the end of that time he has paid the loan shark 60,000 credits and the debt is settled.

Typically, there is no rate reduction for early repayment; once someone borrows from a loan shark, that individual owes 300% of the amount borrowed - whether the money is repaid in 30 months or in 3 days.

Late Payments

It is not unusual for careless star traders to miss a payment. It is extremely unwise, foolish and dangerous, but it is not uncommon. Loan sharks are often tied to criminal syndicates and a trader who makes a loan shark look ineffectual by failing to pay in a timely manner, is dealt with harshly.

The first missed payment

If a Captain misses a month, he/she must pay it next month. In addition, he is charged a penalty of one month’s payment. (In our example above, if our captain misses a 2,000 credits payment, he’ll have to pay 6,000 next month: 2,000 for the month he missed, 2,000 penalty and 2,000 - the payment due that month).

The second missed payment

A Captain who misses two months in a row is courting danger. The trader will almost certainly be paid a visit by the loan shark’s goons, who will suggest that the trader pay up immediately, and will probably make some kind of violent demonstration (to make sure that the captain is giving them his/her undivided attention). At this stage, violence will probably be of the broken-finger variety, minor wounding the Captain at most (unless he/she resists, in which case… A normal fight ensues).

It is common for loan sharks to employ enforcers that can shred a penniless freighter captain to pieces and not just random muscle out of a street; resistance to a loan shark’s goons is not generally a prudent course of action.

The Captain that has missed two months in a row is charged a penalty payment for -each- missed month. Therefore, to get up to date, in the third month the Captain would have to pay five payments in all - two for each missed month, plus the two he missed, plus the current payment for the third month. Also, loan sharks often demand that a debtor pay ahead on their loan if they have missed more than one or two payments.

Three or More missed payments

Missing three or more payments to a loan shark is one of the more spectacularly stupid things a star trader can do. At this point, it is probably time for the Captain to start thinking about skipping the galaxy (or finalizing their own funeral arrangements). Traders who miss three months in a row are “invited” (at blaster-point, usually) to visit the loan shark and explain their delinquency. If the Captain’s story is not stellar (and it should be very very stellar!) the debtor is beaten up… badly. Debtors with particularly poor excuses for their delinquency are usually killed outright.

The captain must explain to the loan shark why the payment is late, and how he trader intends to repay the balance owed. The Captain’s skill in negotiation - or his ability to con the Loan shark - will determine the amount of physical punishment he will receive at this point. From a stern warning and expectation for the owed amount to be paid up, to a beating varying in intencity (anywhere from lightly wounded to incapacitated), to a violent beating and been thrown in the gutter, left to die, or simply death - usually slowly and painfully - and his body disposed of in a particularly humiliating and public fashion so as the other debtors won’t get any ideas.

Assuming the Captain escapes with his life (and a beating of varying degree) he will be expected to pay the amount owed thus far, plus one penalty payment for the first and second missed month and TWO penalty payments for the third and each additional month missed so far. A Loan shark might be inclined to treat the Captain less harshly if the captain shows up and says he’s able to repay all or most of his remaining debt. With the penalties, of course.

If, for whatever reason, the Captain attempts to resist the above mentioned punishment, a normal fight breaks out and - assuming the Captain somehow makes it out alive - the Loan shark or the Syndicate he represents, will now post a bounty on the Captain’s head.

Goods and Services

A Loan shark is an excellent tool for obtaining access to places, or to equipment you would normally not be able to. His contacts and wealth can be made available to debtors that are always on time with their payments, especially if they treat the loan shark with respect.
Additionally, a particularly satisfied loan shark might even be a source of employment for the Captain and his ship in exchange for part of his debt cleared off.

These jobs, however, are rarely of the legal kind and will pit the Captain against all sorts of authorities and customs. In these cases, the Captain is better off not knowing what is the contents of his cargo - as they almost always involve the transportation of contraband and illegal goods that would result in a death sentence if caught.

Jettisoning the loan shark’s cargo because they are approached by an Customs Frigate is a sure-fire way for the Captain to find himself/herself in a potentially lethal situation; failure to repay the loan shark’s losses immediately will almost certainly lead to a huge bounty being placed on their heads.
Kraethas Nova
Crimson Falcon Courier Service
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If you like my writing style, check out the following guides:
Drinks | Tramp Freighter Trading | The Galactic Spaceport | Space travel and regulations
Posted Sep 11, 17 · OP
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