Ship inspection time for the Broadsword, or why you're late to the party.

A

Anonymous

Guest
Ship inspection time for the Broadsword, or why you're late to the party.

A Broadsword, carrying a mercenary unit. Outside the Imperium, transiting through a system en route to the destination.

Space customs fly up as they're refuelling.

"Do you have any weapons to declare?"

(a) pew pew! ... It might work if they're small and don't get a lucky hit. Don't come back the same way, and you're probably registered as a pirate now.

(b) Yes, we have (long list of mercenary unit weapons) - I'll need to see those weapons. (1 day later after counting every weapon and round). Why are you one pistol short and 14 rounds over? - Are you serious? - What's in these gas grenades? Nerve gas? - Smoke - Can you demonstrate? - Are you serious? - There's a discrepancy in your records. Your ship and behavior are highly irregular and we're going to have to have to do a full inspection. It may take days.

(c) Yes, of course. But we're not allowed to tell you what they are - On who's authority? - The Emperor - Who? - Err ... would you like 10,000 credits? - Your ship and behavior are highly irregular and we're going to have to have to do a full inspection. It may take days.

(d) No - Are you sure? - Yes we have no weapons - I know you're lying. Your ship and behavior are highly irregular and we're going to have to have to do a full inspection. It may take days.

(e) All our gear is being provided for us when we land. We've only got a few accelerator shotguns to repel boarders ... I'm going to need to see those. OK that looks legit. Now what are you REALLY carrying? Your ship and behavior are highly irregular and we're going to have to have to do a full inspection. It may take days.

...?

Some nice potential for roleplaying here.

What actually happens in universe? If you have to phone ahead for every trip, it'll take 3 weeks per jump. Better check the employer covers it!
 

phavoc

Cosmic Mongoose
A couple of questions for the group. First, imperial law allows for a planet to claim control at 100d. Gas giants would be outside, thus would they be governed by imperial law? A local planet could provide customs enforcement, but only to imperial law. The corollary to this would be if the planet had a colony or station in orbit and thus claimed ownership (but does that violate the law against a multi planet entity?)

Second, mercenary work is considered legal. Thus would a local planet be interfering with imperial trade?

And sure, the merc ship could scare off a small systems custom boat, but what if their bigger brother (a frigate or destroyer) was stooging around nearby? Would a premature pew-pew turn out disastrous for our intrepid players?
 

Old School

Mongoose
You missed the part about it being outside the Imperium. Imperial rules do not apply. If the local gov’t claims the whole system as their sovereign territory, you’d better have overwhelming firepower relative to local forces if you want to claim otherwise. And if you want to buy their fuel, its their rules.
 

Reynard

Cosmic Mongoose
I thought the rule was the Imperium controls space between a system's bodies. I'm also sure local systems have the right to protect between the planets too since the Imperium doesn't always keep military assets patrolling them all. When you review what forces exist in the Imperium, colonial assets are the bottom of the pyramid making the majority of security freeing subsector and sector fleets and squadrons to do more important functions than garrisoning.

As to a merc ship 'scaring' off a custom boat, if it's a system of any importance especially with shipyards, they just stirred the hornet's nest and they're coming.

If a merc ship enters a system with Imperial connection, they better identify themselves and state their intensions. If they have clearance then be on your way.

Otherwise, fly casually.
 

Linwood

Mongoose
They may be able to get permission to transit thru the system under escort with weapons and cargo holds under seal. So, maybe buying fuel from shuttles but no landing/docking at the starport and no shore leave for the crew.

Docking fees still apply, of course. Maybe an additional one-time licensing fee allowing one system transit.
 

phavoc

Cosmic Mongoose
Yup, I missed the outside the Imperium part.

The federation of arden is like that, small and outside, nestled between zho and imp space. It's far too small to mount much of a navy,. It would be possible, though odd, for a significant system near imp space that had regular traffic through it to get to other imp controlled space. Systems like that would not do a lot to cause the imps to ha e to patrol their space for the safety of their own shipping. It would also mean imp space is probably the most lucrative market for trade and tech transfers.

Not impossible, that's for sure. I guess it would be much more like what Europe would do in late 1800s and early 1900s.
 

Saladman

Banded Mongoose
Moppy said:
Some nice potential for roleplaying here.

A-E, all options involve time spent roleplaying for no other reward than being allowed to proceed with the adventure, putting the characters in a position of powerlessness, and being allowed to roleplay kissing the GM's NPCs' asses. There is potential for roleplay there, but I wouldn't call it "nice."

Moppy said:
What actually happens in universe?

Transit agreements between systems and either employers or mercenary companies directly, arranged ahead of time.

At a meta-game level, just drilling down to a level of detail that players hadn't known the game was operating at is not a meaningful challenge, it's a gotcha. If you do want transit authorization to be a feature of the game (and I can imagine settings where it should matter), then the thing to do is just say out of character, "hey, you're going to need local authorization from time to time, Admin or Advocate will be useful, you can set some up of that up ahead of time at consulates if you can reach them."

Reynard said:
As to a merc ship 'scaring' off a custom boat, if it's a system of any importance especially with shipyards, they just stirred the hornet's nest and they're coming.

Yet another reason I prefer a small ship universe. The merc ship is still well advised not to piss off fleets, but at least they're a factor, and the players have a choice to make. Patrol boat backed by a cruiser is no choice at all, and without any play decision to make you're not (at that moment) playing an rpg to it's fullest extent.
 

Reynard

Cosmic Mongoose
Encountering a customs boat or other space security vessel will either be a random roll or a referee choice both under referee control. Such encounters are meant to be interesting and possibly useful to the flow of the adventure. The only reason it turns deadly is because the players decide the characters are looking for trouble for whatever insane reason. Merc cruisers are part of the wildlife in trade routes so there should be no real friction just because it's a merc ship. Biz is biz. Thank you for your cooperation, Continue on your way citizens.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Saladman said:
At a meta-game level, just drilling down to a level of detail that players hadn't known the game was operating at is not a meaningful challenge, it's a gotcha. If you do want transit authorization to be a feature of the game (and I can imagine settings where it should matter), then the thing to do is just say out of character, "hey, you're going to need local authorization from time to time, Admin or Advocate will be useful, you can set some up of that up ahead of time at consulates if you can reach them."

I can understand why some people won't like this kind of situation, but there's some that do.

In reality the situation posited (always inspection) isn't going to happen 100% of the time, and even if it does, Han Solo makes it anyway.

If you're playing a merc game, you do need to find some way of getting your mercs to a planet.

This becomes as much a part of the campaign as "lawyering" your contract to know when you're allowed to ignore your employer's requests or need to act against them to preserve your regiment and still get paid/not declared rogue.

The problem with starmerc games is that they can rapidly become a mess run by lawyers and accountants. :-(

Saladman said:
Yet another reason I prefer a small ship universe. The merc ship is still well advised not to piss off fleets, but at least they're a factor, and the players have a choice to make. Patrol boat backed by a cruiser is no choice at all, and without any play decision to make you're not (at that moment) playing an rpg to it's fullest extent.

a) What's the problem? Han Solo always escapes from the Imperial Cruiser.

b) Small ships in Mongoose 2 can carry weapon bays. An optimised design 200-ton SDB has more firepower than a Broadsword. A question of whether such a ship would be used for customs due to not being able to fit an inspection boat and a team of constables, but it's certainly possible at 400.
 

phavoc

Cosmic Mongoose
It would seem that if the norm where a hand-off approach, then role-playing the customs officer demanding to board and inspect the merc cruiser might just be part of the plot. Say the mercs had been hired by Party A to go up against Party B. And Party B found out about it and made some judicious bribes to System A in an attempt to slow down or disrupt the mercs from fulfilling their contract to Party A. And being oblivious to all the back story (or perhaps it's like peeling an onion, and that's part of the adventure) makes it more easy to be pissed about things.
 

paltrysum

Cosmic Mongoose
A big part of mercenary operations is the use of a repatriation bond, which is supposed to be used to grant the mercs safe passage back home after a failed ticket. Perhaps there is similar legal documentation that grants the mercenary cruiser the right to carry weaponry provided that it is stowed and locked away based on certain regulations. Not that every polity in unincorporated space has to accept those regulations, but it would give the Broadsword commander some legal recourse should he run into trouble.
 

Condottiere

Cosmic Mongoose
1. Star Destroyers accelerate and manoeuvre like pigs; also, not optimized for close in combat or with aerospace defence systems.

2. End user certification.

3. Transit or terminus; transit becomes an issue where refuelling takes place and claimed sovereignty.

4. Broadswords are legendary paramilitary role ships, so red flagged.

5. The crew may have contacted the embassy and received a permit to transit, beforehand.

6. If terminus, should have gotten license/ticket from a recognized and authorized dirtside entity.
 

Old School

Mongoose
The problem with starmerc games is that they can rapidly become a mess run by lawyers and accountants.
That’s true of merchant campaigns, even of pirate campaigns and others. The challenge is to find the right balance between bookkeeping and gameplay to keep the game fun.

What I dislike is the written adventures that instruct the GM to have several routine ship encounters or inspections ahead of the one with the action, so the players have to stay alert or risk getting lulled into disaster. I understand the logic: if you don't do this, the players will know something is up every encounter. But role playing routine life is boring as hell. You have to have something to make it interesting even if it just a set up for later, such as introducing an NPC who will reappear later in the campaign, or one that they players might use as a resource now or later.
 

Linwood

Mongoose
I’ll do a small number of routine encounters early on in a campaign to show ”this what a typical customs inspection is like” or “this is what it’s like to go thru starport security.”

Then I move on. Encounters after that exist either to serve a plot arc or introduce an interesting one-off side adventure.
 

paltrysum

Cosmic Mongoose
Old School said:
What I dislike is the written adventures that instruct the GM to have several routine ship encounters or inspections ahead of the one with the action, so the players have to stay alert or risk getting lulled into disaster. I understand the logic: if you don't do this, the players will know something is up every encounter.

That is a tricky business. I've noticed my players are like that, so I do have to insert a few bland encounters here and there so that they aren't constantly on high alert. In the Pirates campaign, I've used some of the encounters in the Ship Encounters booklet, some of which are fairly benign. The players approached one of the ships as if they were coming up to a bomb they had to defuse. The encounter could have taken 15 minutes, but ended up consuming about 45 because the players have assumed that every encounter is a trap. It was a necessary use of time so that going forward they won't be in a constant state of panic with every little ship encounter.

But you're right: no need for written adventures to insert such things. Leave that up to the referee.
 

ChalkLine

Mongoose
I think it might be a good idea for GMs to decide whether the Imperial Navy polices all systems. I would think that this would not be an even rule and that many powerful systems maintain control of their in-system space, or even have a power-sharing agreement.
 

Condottiere

Cosmic Mongoose
The norms tend to alter at this scale and time frame.

You can have an automatic drone do a cursory scan every month or so, have a colonial/protected/light cruiser do a port visit, or drop in with a capital ship.
 

Linwood

Mongoose
Or maybe pay a couple of ex-scouts fly thru every so often on a “courier contract” and dump their data at the first opportunity?
 
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