Growing a System Economy


Looking for ideas and general discussion on this, since every system is different and narrowly prescriptive rules may not work well (or at all).

The situation - assuming things go the PCs’ way in an upcoming major space battle (Not A Given - the PCs can influence the results either way by their actions), my players may end up in a position of great influence with a local system government. The main world is non-aligned and TL 3 with a decrepit Class D starport (damaged during a recent people’s revolt), has a Pop of 6 (millions) and trade codes of Lo Tech and Agricultural. There is a ready market for ag goods via Jump-2 route in an Imperial system 5 parsecs away (Hi Pop) and a non-Imperial multistellar polity across a small rift at about the same distance. Relations with the Imperium are currently wary neutrality (general dislike of outsiders and mistrust of Imperial motives). With the other polity it will likely be active hostility (see upcoming major space battle).

The rest of the system has two gas giants, two asteroid belts and a pirate free port; other that the free port (Pop 4, TL 8) out system populations are isolated stations or roving belters. The new (post-revolution) main world government knows very little about the outer settlements but will want to do what it can to bring them under its control. They are still getting themselves organized a bit but economic development and defense are already high priorities. (Simply put they don’t like depending on hired outsiders to defend their planet but at TL 3 they don’t have much choice).

The players are largely focused on mercantile and exploration pursuits and realize there are opportunities to do both here. They have already done work for the revolutionary government and enjoy good relations with them. The space battle coming up would give them opportunities to improve those relationships. Assuming their side wins...

What I’m doing right now is gathering up some thoughts on what the players might do if the main world government looks to them for advice on improving the system economy. The main world government is keenly aware that they need to grow their economy to fund a decent system defense - or barter for protection with one of their neighbors, which would go over very badly with their citizens.

I’ve modeled the trade flows based on the system in GURPS Far Trader (which I like). Under those rules, economic development in terms of increasing off world trade would be driven by:
- upgrades to the starport (desired by the new government)
- raising the TL (likely controversial with elements within the current government)
- increasing the population (not on anyone’s radar but the Far Trader rules suggest it could help)
- signing free trade agreements with its neighbors (the players are well-suited to support, but not without challenges given the main world’s attitudes towards outsiders)

So - what other kinds of things could be on their list? All suggestions welcome. Trying to get a variety of thoughts together so as things evolve I can have some idea of what to say if they come up with something (or things that the main world government might think are really good ideas).

Thanks! (In advance)
Advancing their technology level is the key to the ability to control their own system. TL4 is about the minimum, as radio will allow the transmission of sensor alerts and allow a coordinated defense against any attacks. If they are truly xenophobic, most of the improvements can be restricted to the starport area and a few government installations scattered around the planet.

Improving medicine, germ theory, sanitation, antibiotics, etc. will have to be made available to the general public. With improvements in medicine and a good supply of food, the population will increase pretty quickly without requiring immigration.

Patrolling the system and exploiting the asteroid belts for raw materials is also essential. This can be done by selling mining rights for a share of the production but they cannot expect to get their fair share without a space force of their own. This force can be hired from another star system, but they should at least have an observer aboard each ship to ensure that everyone follows the rules. After cleaning out the pirates the former freeport could make a fine system patrol base. Manufacturing can be mostly kept off-world if they want, but turning those ores and raw materials into products to sell will be a major step forward.

Improving the starport is also important and it is lucky that the leaders are willing to do so. It might make sense to just refurbish the existing Class D port as a downport (also increase warehouse space) and build a new Class C or better high port to keep those pesky visitors off-planet. The docking fees and fuel sales, as well as a percentage of the trade/broker fees. will bring an influx of wealth to spend on infrastructure and security projects.

What might end up happening is that the system will end up with dual population centers; a high tech off world society and a low tech planetary population kept almost as a preserve or museum. The world government may have to change it's views on outside influence or have the planet and its people reduced to insignificance while the outer system thrives.
The new government needs to really focus on Ag exports but also developing natural resources from the asteroid belts. A handful of subsidized ships to work that 5 parsec route would be a serious leg up; high quality foodstuffs, fibers, animal products, etc along with (eventually) ores from the belts should provide quite lucrative trade runs.

And the planetary elites wouldn’t have to get their hands dirty dealing with offworlders - the subsidy holder gets their cut for that unpleasantness.

Now, who might have a handful of ships that could handle a route like that? As well as those dirty outsystem scum?... :p
- scour the planet for luxury goods: furs, honey(/equivalent), alcohol or drugs, gems/shells/wood unique to the planet, etc.
- increased education: TL 3 is already steam power/19th century, so they should be able to handle educators or at least material from offworld.
- gains from removing corruption, promoting honesty and neutrality in officials. May not apply at all, but can be significant if it does.
- Taxation policy, especially Laffer curve. Tax people, but not too much. As above, may not apply in the first place, but significant when it does. Present as general "galactic political science best practice" if you don't want to get too political at the table. May need gated behind PC or NPC Social Science skill - I normally lean towards player skill, but in this case it shouldn't be as simple as space truckers suggesting tax rates, especially if the GM rather than the players is the one thinking of it.
Taxation policy will certainly be a major concern for the PCs if they decide to start their own business or make some investments!

I agree with all of you that building on the world’s Ag advantages makes a lot of sense. Market prospecting and starting their own subsidized shipping line would both appeal to this bunch. There’s also great need to help build out infrastructure to help get goods to market quickly.

I think education will go hand-in-hand with self-defense. The locals will want ways to train their own citizens to man their system navy, conduct customs enforcement, etc.
Looking very good indeed

How about some ideas for using similiar methods to gain Drinax The Alliance of high population yet low wealth and low resource worlds in The Trojan Reach?. I do have ideas but I value others opinions, thoughts and advise. Thank you
If the players have that much potential influence, it becomes a political campaign, even if they use most of their goodwill to direct taxation policy and protect their economic investments in other ways.

On the dungeon master's side, he'll have to identify which factions are jockeying for position, and since the system is that close to Imperium space, you can bet a couple of those will be Imperium corporations of varying sizes.

Going by gold rushes, the guys that are guaranteed to benefit are usually the ones that provide goods and services.

A smart independent government must know that they want to avoid becoming protectorates, which means nukes.
I’m up to eight well-defined factions so far - four internal and four external. I agree, once things settle down a little there should be a couple of Imperial megacorps poking their heads in looking for profit opportunities. Since the campaign has already established the main world’s chief cash crop is a plant used in pharmaceutical manufacturing, SuSAG is top of my list there....
How about some ideas for using similiar methods to gain Drinax The Alliance of high population yet low wealth and low resource worlds in The Trojan Reach?. I do have ideas but I value others opinions, thoughts and advise. Thank you

I’m not familiar with the Drinax setting (I may be the only poster on the boards that hasn’t bought it yet). But with Hi Pop and low resources you’re probably looking at acquiring more resources (finding new sources or improving extraction methods for current ones - or finding ways to expand local industry to put all those people to work, depending on trade networks to bring the resources in to feed the factories.

For example - say someone turns up evidence (old legends, rumors, drunken ramblings from a retired scout) of a possible planetoid at the fringe of the system or just outside? This could be a short campaign as the players uncover the legend, investigate, and work to figure out where and what may be out there. And if that object turned out to be something like Psyche, there could be some serious competition for control.

Forced colonization to relieve population pressures is another way to go. That could be a campaign all to itself....
You have a planet that is basically empty (millions in population vs entire planet). You have a Hi Pop world 5 parsecs away. You could bring in colonists, offering a chance to build a world. Target engineers and resource extraction people. The colonists could become rich people with large land estates if they have the skills you need/want.

Depending on budget bring in higher tech goods and people to process your raw materials into higher quality goods for your own use or export.

Is your system on a trade route? If so buy a fueling drone setup and sell fuel. 500 credits per ton with a cost to you of less than that can bring in a lot of money.
AnotherDilbert has the Ocean fuel skimmer that has fuel costing your starport 9 credits per ton to make, selling for 500 credits.

So look at the trade route options for a starport. Set up a fuelling station where ships will pay for fuel to save refining time. Use the Far Trader charts to see how many tons of ships come through in a week and get a base income from fuel sales. The profit is used to invest in more TL 12 infrastructure. If you are using Gurps Far Trader look at the BTN chart on page 16. Calculate the tons / week travelling through the system. This tonnage needs to be carried by a ship and 10 percent of that tonnage * distance is how much fuel needs to be bought. :) There could be some pretty good money coming your way. The Gas giants can also be used as fuel supply.

Another possibility for gas giants that are methane based is an entire chemical industry. Your TL 3/4 planet could be supplied with liquid hydrocarbon fuel (gas, diesel) and plastics from a methane gas giant. No drilling on the planet surface, just a modification of a fuel processor to keep the carbon and hydrogen from a methane gas giant and then you start a chemical industry via the wonders of the carbon chain. Throw in some oxygen and you can make anything from poly ethylene plastics to Di methyl ether.

The asteroids can provide metal, fuel, oxygen, planetoid hulls (a cheap way to get into the patrolling your own system game), as well as Highports and obital refinery systems. Highguard is a good place to look for asteroid extraction. There is some serious money in the rules. It is tough to lose money on the system. Getting your own refinery will provide you with a solid income of export goods, or raw materials for your own growth.
Immigration may become a hot button issue, depending on style of governance.

You'd also have to worry about Fifth Colonists.