Subsidized Merchant Fiances

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
Old School
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Re: Subsidized Merchant Fiances

Postby Old School » Mon Oct 28, 2019 11:26 pm

phavoc wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 12:49 pm

You haven't met the accountants that I work with... :)

But more seriously, if you are a merchant working for someone, missing a few thousand credits is going to cause an investigation by accounting. It's not that you couldn't figure out a way, but you'll need receipts, justification, etc. Accounting in the 52nd century is no different than the 1st century - except maybe there is more paperwork.

A subsidized ship would, most likely, still have to open their books to whomever is subsidizing them - especially if it's a governmental entity. That's just how those kinds of things work. A depotic government, a democracy, a feudal one, any sort of organization will want to know how their money is being used. The only way that wouldn't work out would be if the subsidized ship was given a block grant of funds for X tons of cargo for Y period. And if the subsidizing entity didn't use their pre-paid allocation then they could potentially lose it for that period.
You’re entirely missing the point. The people you’d be working for are the ones who want people and things moved, while remaining off the books. They aren’t going to audit you to the point of exposing their own con. This of course means that the captain and crew can also rip off their sponsors, but such is life once a little corruption takes hold. Don't get too greedy, though. . .

Take a look around at any of the various less industrialized nations on earth. Corruption and graft are everywhere. Much of it government sponsored. In some places the whole point of being an bureaucrat is the bribes that come with the job. Many a wayward child of a dictator has profited into the hundreds of millions of dollars from government contracts, and taken many a friend on the ride with them.

Would this work in the US or EU with a federal government sponsored program being audited by Ernst & Young? Probably not. But the Imperium equivalent of the Boston - London Route is not the realm of the subsidized merchant. Think more the Muscat - Mogadishu route.
Moppy
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Re: Subsidized Merchant Fiances

Postby Moppy » Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:55 am

I don’t think the subsidised merchant only operates in underdeveloped or corrupt regions - I think you are both right, depending on where and how it’s operating.

Also, I think the imperium only governs space? So planet-to-planet will be policed by the planets themselves, all of which likely have different rules, corruption and law levels even in a developed sector.

I suppose the subsidy could also be from a criminal group.
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Re: Subsidized Merchant Fiances

Postby Condottiere » Tue Oct 29, 2019 2:58 am

AnotherDilbert
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Re: Subsidized Merchant Fiances

Postby AnotherDilbert » Tue Oct 29, 2019 3:02 am

Moppy wrote: Also, I think the imperium only governs space? So planet-to-planet will be policed by the planets themselves, all of which likely have different rules, corruption and law levels even in a developed sector.
Interstellar trade is regulated by the Imperium, in fact I believe it is one of it's main preoccupations.

Planets only rule local space, and presumably the local system real-estate. Anything moving from system to system (except perhaps if one system is a captured government?) is regulated by the Imperium.
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Re: Subsidized Merchant Fiances

Postby Linwood » Tue Oct 29, 2019 10:26 am

I like the “bump” idea a lot. It may give the players a dilemma to resolve. Their patron shows up at the last minute needing three staterooms after they’ve already sold all their cabins out - how do they handle that? Do they bump passengers and risk losing future business? Do they give up crew staterooms and force their engineers to bunk over the jump drive?
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Re: Subsidized Merchant Fiances

Postby AnotherDilbert » Tue Oct 29, 2019 11:29 am

Linwood wrote: I like the “bump” idea a lot. It may give the players a dilemma to resolve.
Routine problem (Core, p149, Spacecraft Operations, Passengers):
Middle Passage: Middle passage is generally sold on a stand-by basis (so middle passengers can be ‘bumped’ by high passengers who arrive later – many ships will only take middle passengers if they cannot fill staterooms with high passage clients or lack enough stewards).
phavoc
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Re: Subsidized Merchant Fiances

Postby phavoc » Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:39 pm

Old School wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 11:26 pm
You’re entirely missing the point. The people you’d be working for are the ones who want people and things moved, while remaining off the books. They aren’t going to audit you to the point of exposing their own con. This of course means that the captain and crew can also rip off their sponsors, but such is life once a little corruption takes hold. Don't get too greedy, though. . .
That would be organizied criminal behavior or some governmental discreet/black ops. It's not the captain and crew trying to make a few extra credits. If the captain/crew aren't the owners then yeah, in an advanced society they are going to get audited by the owners who are looking to make sure they are squeezing every credit they can out of things. It's a trust issue, and also a financial one. Your point about auditing to expose the con assumes people in the financial department are in on the con - which makes it that much more likely to be exposed. It's possible, just not probable. Entirely possible within the game setting if it's set up correctly - but also entirely possible for it to all come crashing down and the PC's have to pick up stakes and move to a different sector.
Old School wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 11:26 pm
Take a look around at any of the various less industrialized nations on earth. Corruption and graft are everywhere. Much of it government sponsored. In some places the whole point of being an bureaucrat is the bribes that come with the job. Many a wayward child of a dictator has profited into the hundreds of millions of dollars from government contracts, and taken many a friend on the ride with them.

Would this work in the US or EU with a federal government sponsored program being audited by Ernst & Young? Probably not. But the Imperium equivalent of the Boston - London Route is not the realm of the subsidized merchant. Think more the Muscat - Mogadishu route.
Indeed, there is graft and corruption abounding everywhere in the world. And many of these people lose it all when it's found out and exposed. The more people involved in the issue, the more likely it's going to be exposed. As the old saying goes, there is no honor among thieves. And it was the IRS who finally brought down Al Capone, not the cops. So the tax man and auditors are sometimes a criminals worst enemy. :)
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Re: Subsidized Merchant Fiances

Postby phavoc » Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:51 pm

Linwood wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 10:26 am
I like the “bump” idea a lot. It may give the players a dilemma to resolve. Their patron shows up at the last minute needing three staterooms after they’ve already sold all their cabins out - how do they handle that? Do they bump passengers and risk losing future business? Do they give up crew staterooms and force their engineers to bunk over the jump drive?
Per the rules you can sell High passage on a free trader or subsidized liner. But in reality that wouldn't happen. Ships of that type do not have the amenities to sell high passage. High passage is 1st class travel with excellent food, alcohol, really nice cabins and service.

Airlines bump all the time, but they also have to offer something to the person being bumped. EU rules are even more generous than the US (I'm not sure what rules govern bumping in Asia). So assuming people showed up and a ship 'bumped' pre-existing ticketed passengers, I would expect they would pay a fine and/or additional credits in addition to bumping someone from their cabin. Since the Imperium is very trade focused, the movement of goods and people between systems would have some sort of governance rules in place.

The ship would have to probably register with the port that it was bumping passengers, as tickets were purchased and there would be a record - not to mention some vocal complaints to the local port authority over such behavior. While it might happen once and a warning given, any ship with a reputation of not honoring tickets would most likely get blacklisted or perhaps even prohibited from selling passage in some places.

It's possible that a ship might be down on it's luck and sell crew quarter space as passenger space - though the crew would most likely not be happy, and the passengers might not be happy either. I'm betting crew quarters get personalized a tad. :) It does work for AirBnB, so I would assume there would always be takers for someone looking for cheap passage. So cost would be life support + something extra to be negotiated.
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Re: Subsidized Merchant Fiances

Postby AnotherDilbert » Tue Oct 29, 2019 2:09 pm

phavoc wrote: Per the rules you can sell High passage on a free trader or subsidized liner. But in reality that wouldn't happen. Ships of that type do not have the amenities to sell high passage. High passage is 1st class travel with excellent food, alcohol, really nice cabins and service.
High Passage is just slightly more expensive than Mid Passage, barely enough to pay for the extra Steward attention. Definitely not enough to pay for better/larger accommodations.

Real luxury class would be something much more expensive...


Edit:
The rules, High Passage an all, are written for ACSs, not luxury liners on the major trade routes.


With a quick check a single cruise ship ticket across the Atlantic would cost something like from €1100 up to €4800 for a better suite (Norwegian Encore), I believe without meals.

Like airlines First Class seems to start at about five times economy class, that would make a Traveller First Class passage cost about kCr 40-50...
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Re: Subsidized Merchant Fiances

Postby Moppy » Tue Oct 29, 2019 3:25 pm

I don’t know what an ACS is and we can argue about whether a x5 plane seat is more appropriate to business class than first class, but AnotherDilbert is basically correct. Traveller High passage is not up to the standards that we would call first class today. They are more like different grades of economy, or a bad business class.

Edit: Oh ACS would be Adventure Class Ship.
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Re: Subsidized Merchant Fiances

Postby AnotherDilbert » Tue Oct 29, 2019 4:49 pm

Moppy wrote: I don’t know what an ACS is

Edit: Oh ACS would be Adventure Class Ship.
Sorry, that is a bit of T5 leakage...
Old School
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Re: Subsidized Merchant Fiances

Postby Old School » Tue Oct 29, 2019 5:01 pm

All this talk of rules, regulations, and audits are reinforcing two points:

1) merchant campaigns are boring. Who walks to role play haggling over passengers and air filters?
2) the overarching 3rd Imperium setting just exacerbates point 1. If you’re gonna operate a tramp, do it outside the Imperium where some fun can be had.
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Re: Subsidized Merchant Fiances

Postby GamingGlen » Wed Oct 30, 2019 2:54 am

AnotherDilbert wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 4:49 pm
Moppy wrote: I don’t know what an ACS is

Edit: Oh ACS would be Adventure Class Ship.
Sorry, that is a bit of T5 leakage...
ACS predates T5 by a considerable margin. It's used by the Freedonian Aeronautics and Space Administration (FASA) for their product "Adventure Class Ships Vol. 1", published in 1981 hence CT2.
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Re: Subsidized Merchant Fiances

Postby Condottiere » Thu Oct 31, 2019 6:48 am

Airlines overbook based on statistic probability; they also have more seats and flights to shuffle around passengers, as well as upgrades into premium classes that due to their cost might not be filled.

A more modular spacecraft could substitute berths for cargo, at the last minute.
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Re: Subsidized Merchant Fiances

Postby Linwood » Thu Oct 31, 2019 10:35 am

That would be an interesting way to handle a subsidy commitment - “every other flight you’ll need to accept a 10-dton module. It may be cargo, it may be low berths, it may be staterooms. Appropriate paperwork will be provided. But whatever it is, it belongs to The Organization and you are not to interfere or interact with it in any way.”

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