Saturday, April 28, 2012
Brokers Do Speculative Trade; Spacers Move Freight
I've divorced speculative trade and shipping. It kinda defeates the Terran Free Traders wording but it makes sounder business sense. Speculative Trade is time consuming, requires a whole different set of skills and equipment, a different time line.
Doing speculative trade while having to keep a ship is very difficult, as we can see with the costs and even with the cost adjustments cheapening the ship and reducing the $ to MW ratio a ship requires a lot of attention to manage.
Those who deal with speculative trade are Brokers. They are a diifferent sort of people from shipmen. Their trade is irregular and very very flexible. Their fortunes rise as quickly as they can fall, and they work with the least possible overhead as possible given how easily their luck can crap-out.
IMTU a broker is accompanied by a business partner, typically another broker, and their staff are mostly robots or very loyal and flexible personnel. Their trade is very risky and their staffing cannot guarantee a steady income to any of their own people, hence the robots.
Brokers Professional Background 5cp
Merchant or Streetwise (A) IQ 
Area Knowledge: (Specialty Region) (E) IQ 
Savoir Faire: Business or Criminals (E) IQ 
Contact: Crime or Business Freq. of App. (9) (Somewhat Reliable) Skill-12 
Brokers Professional Background 10cp (+5cp)
Merchant or Streetwise (A) IQ+1 [+2]
Merchant or Streetwise, the one the character doesn't have yet (A) IQ 
Contact: Crime or Business Freq. of App. (12) (Somewhat Reliable) Skill-12 [+1]
Broker Professional Background 20cp (+10cp)
Merchant or Streetwise (A) IQ+2 [+8cp]
Contact: Crime or Business Freq. of App. (12) (Usually Reliable) Skill-12 [+2]
There are two specialties for brokers: Streetwise and Merchant. Streetwise is to find out illicit leads, opportunities to make a lot of money, and Merchant are for business leads, those open to the public or can be gleaned from market trends.
The Merchant Skill come with the expertise of knowing how margins are made and a basic idea of how distribution and logistics work. The skill has all the basics: an idea how to present a business plan, how to make the margins, and all the indirect and direct costs involved. There are always opportunities in the leads merchant skill can dig up, the problem is the amount of work you have to make and the tight deadlines.
The Streetwise Skill is where to get at underground and illegal markets. The skill provides idea of who are the gate keepers and the protocol for identifying and verifying intent, identities and capabilities. This is mostly a networking skill and understanding of protocol. There are always a lot of opportunities in streetwise... the problem is the amount of risk and the level of danger.
Brokers specialize in exploiting leads, exchanging goods and services, and moving to the next opportunity. They are very flexible and move very quickly; although sometimes they have to stay in one place for months and a year or two. Sometimes they need some prep time for a bidding.
Brokers should be a separate business from the ship, because the ship is just too inflexible in terms of costs. They can make a whole lot of money because of their flexibility. Some brokers come onto opportunities that they can afford to pay 1-6 jumps of costs of a ship. This cost is figured into their expenses, and they can afford this... but there are risks.
Many honest Brokers working their way up have crap for cashflow, they cannot get money upfront. They make use of X-deals and promises. You may have to rely on their word, and there is a chance for them to default... then there are those who are not so honest, they are those who willfully default (meaning they intentionally wanted to screw you over).
In order for free trade to exist, some laws are regulations are loose. Gov't is not expected to take care of every infraction, there is an expectation that businesses do their own due diligence, Gov't helps a little but they mostly get out of the way. Even there are violations of the law and deals, there are many direct and indirect costs for justice.
The Broker Campaign.
The Broker's campaign is very similar to a Rogues campaign. It fits the default ISW campaign except that its in one location and the brokers is after this one big lead. In the center is some big prize to be one: bidding for a big project, courting a potential powerful client, getting the funds to go after a "sure thing". The story can pretty much follow the Adventure Structure, except that there all this business language used in the telling.
The pot of gold in the end of the broker's adventure is a big game change... BUT there are a lot of costs. A broker moves forward, sometimes realizing the cost is much greater than reward, they credit it to experience and move on.
Brokers are an interesting bunch of characters for a spacer to deal with. Brokers live on the extreme and the risks and opportunities invite a lot of interesting characters. Spacers obviously grow to be very very careful of brokers, and consider them one of the risks that come with the job. Often enough brokers are the great pains and pleasures of a spacers businesses, some can make you very rich with their special deals others can get you into serious Imperial trouble.