Date: Sun, 11 Apr 1999 12:02:35 -0400
From: "alvin plummer"
Subject: Campaign: Navy Blood
Years of work, years of planning, years of saving. All for naught.
Off went the holoscreen. In three days, the bank will try to deduct 300 credits from his account, but fail. Then the notices, first electronic, then hardcopy, then in person. With his old employment record, he might convince them to hold off for a month or two, but no more. Like most families in the Nausicaa-Brasil metropolitan region, Masahuru school's his children at home with government issued software, but Children's Affairs will soon come in to physically check on their health. If they decide that he can no longer fill his parental responsibilities... well, he'll cross that bridge when he get's there.
Oh, Master of the Stars, I'd rather be playing Flashing Flares with Nobu and Reni, Masahuru prayed silently.
That's the spot, next to the completely incongruous formal portrait of Emperor Strephon. Pushing against the mass of humaniti, Masahuru spotted some hard-eyed characters there, three men which looked at the crowd like rave's studying gheer herds. Knowing he's going to regret this, Masahuru put on his "Happy to See You!" face and went up to introduce himself.
Right now, the vet's are working out a deal with Naval Logistics, putting out a tender for an Imperial contract to supplement the major lines in this business. The financial squeeze that Logistic's is using is very, very tight, and so far there just doesn't seem to be a way to make the number's work. Moreover, the cost of upgrading their ship, The Wings of Honneanise, to Imperial Contract spec's continues to just eat the budget and could scuttle the project all by itself. Finally, NRVA, the subsector-wide bank who has provided the venture capital, is getting nervous and is insisting that new, updated numbers be provided.
To try to resolve these problems, the PC's have decided to contact Masahuru. They will provide a regular paycheck, but in return they want his expertise to clean up the mess and get the business moving. Also, he is to provide 'advanced classes' in starship economics to these ex-warrior's: they have gotten this far on their own (thanks to determination, contacts and common sense), but need a boost to get a deep understanding on the financial subtlety's of their business.
I don't have a copy of Far Trader, so the Referee will have to settle the important details on his own. Still, some points can be made to guide this campaign:
It's best if all this is negotiated, rather than dice-rolled. If a little light violence is considered desirable, illegal societies are probably available to help out, but check out the interest rate (and the collection agency, run of course by guy's named Vito). Also, the ex-Navy guy's could hire out their services for a run or two with local StarMerc's, but they will need to get this OK'ed by NERV and the Imperial Navy's Logistic's office. It wouldn't do to run an Imperial Contractor as your day job, and a pirate group on the side....
More peaceably, additional financing could be raised up with more partner's, but more partner's mean less control over the business, and NERV/Logistics may not like this. If the money situation doesn't improve, NERV or the Imperial Government will press the PC's to sell more control to themselves, or even force them out of the business due to debt. Afterward's, they could be hired on by NERV/the Imperium, and possibly forced out (Simply fired, or given an empty desk with an empty job to do).
The 1200-disp ship is designed for a crew of 13, with 40 high passengers and 40 low passengers. The hold is being shrunk, it's space being used for an additional 42 staterooms, another 40 low berths and three special rooms: a parlor, a public kitchenette (so the passengers can cook their own family's food if so desired), and a rec room for the kids. The high passenger space is being largely reclassified for middle passage, with three rooms being merged for the wives of flag-ranked officers, or other "special needs" passengers. Probably an additional steward or two will be hired.
Currently, it's assumed that each middle-passenger will have two children under 13 in the same room, and the high-passage ticket will have a servant as well. This requirement means that life support need's to be strengthened to handle the load, yet another cost.
Negotiating all this will take time. The PC's will probably have to separate, some to continually supervise the upgrade of The Wings of Honneanise on Regina and insure that they aren't being cheated, and the other to Mora, capital of the sector (as well as the entire Domain of Deneb) to personally jump through the hoops and get some face time with the Naval Officer in charge of this project. Just the transport to and from Mora can take one-to-two months.
Also, someone can go to NERV headquarters at nearby Alell (Regina/Spinward Marches 1706 B46789C-A) to try to ease the terms of the loan; this is rather unlikely according to their loan manager, however. The world is quite pleasant for a low-G world, but the law level is intrusive and highly bureaucratic (more Japanese-style ultra-polite, "Yes Means Maybe" bureaucracy than "This is the Way We ALWAYS Do It!" Vilani-style red tape). The astute visitor may notice rare glimpses of apparent 'mysticism' in NERV: investigating further, while probably quite interesting, is outside of this document and will have to be left to the discretion of the referee.
[Hint to referee: consider the company's motto, "GOD'S IN HIS HEAVEN. ALL'S RIGHT WITH THE WORLD". Don't be trite: What is it that NERV is really driving at?]
The campagn need never expand past this level: there's more than enough excitement in a single subsector for the creative referee to keep the PC's hopping for as long as they play Traveller. If the PC's do get bored, have them sell off their Contract and the ship, use the funds for a brand-new venture.
Also quite likely is failure. IF so, then the PC's are out on the street again. They may have made several new contacts, and quite possibly sone new enemies also. They may have been driven to bankruptcy, which has it's own adventuring possibilities.
Most unlikely, but not outside the realm of reality, is the PC's becoming wildly successful. The demand for transportation of Imperial-service families grows as a distinct part of the liner industry, and the PC's start running their own specialized subsector line. Demand grows to include Imperial Army, Imperial Marine, and even some Imperial Civil Service families. Hiring the right people and getting better ship's becomes a priority:and with an expansion of operations is a greater need for quality control. The young company strains to keep up with demand as it grows past subsector borders, encompassing the Spinward Marches and possibly the entire Domain.
Infrastructure demands - the need for more berths, or even a company-owned starport on certain worlds -taking the PC's away from their ship. Local planetary politicians and low-ranking nobles begin to "just drop by", trying to get their worlds on the PC's route (regardless if it's possible, or even desireable). Vendor's start bothering the PC's, promising everything from toys to stardrive repairs "at prices you can afford". Moreover, pressure to "flex the rules" appear's from criminal organizations, or substantial bribes and kick-backs ("around here, you get either the gold or the lead...").
Labour starts to act up, asking for more salaries, an easier operations tempo, and more time with their families: they may unionise. At least one scandal erupts, which the PC's will have to resolve while conducting operatons. And here comes the press, asking all sorts of questions about this company that came from nowhere. Did I mention the Imperial Revenue cutter that just arrived from Mora? It seems that there have been certain anonymous allegations of tax evation: we're sure that everything is above board, and since you have nothing to hide, you will be more than happy to open your books for an Imperial Audit...
Meantime, a ton of copycat lines spring up, and the big boys (including Tukera Lines and it's affiliates) start showing up to grab your lunch. Besides the usual dirty tricks that will keep the PC's lawyers busy for years, evidence grows that there is a high-level leak in the PC's business: is Masahuru Kawamori, the ex-Tukera man, the traitor? Or is it someone else?
As the possibility of a Corporate War grows, the PC's will need to call in their old Navy buddies as they gear up. The Navy itself get's real pissed when attacks are made against ship's carrying Navy and Marine families, while competing companies start a) insisting how innocent they are b) how the PC's alone are at fault - see how slack their security is c) see how perfectly clean the competitor's record is.
This entire situation can turn real, real ugly.
Especially if the Navy start doing reprisals, in kind.
And assuming the PC's actually survive Armageddon?
They will need to rebuild from their losses, regain the favour of Imperial Logistics, and figure out "what now?". This depends on how badly things turned out: they might all be in small sub-atomic particles, or in prison awaiting execution, or hiding out in Zhodani space.
Also possible is that a deal was somehow worked out that averted/ended the Corporate War. The Imperium would be most pleased if no harm fell on the military families, and grow in anger the more pain and suffering fell on those wives and kids. Note that the security of those people is far more important to the Imperium (especially the Imperial Navy ) than any financial or personnel losses the PC's may suffer.
[Aside: one of the reasons for the Contract in the first place was the IN's trust in fellow ex-Navy vet's to take care of their families, rather than some money-grubbing MegaCorp out for the fastest credit. Breaking that trust will have Regrettable Consequeces.]
Well, even if by extraordinary hard work, outrageous luck and unflinching courage against Real Bad Odds they get to the Domain-level of businesses, they will still need to expand their business niche from transporting the families of Imperial servants if they want to compete head-to-head against Tukera Lines, rather then remaining within a niche market.
This probably will NOT be allowed by the Archduke, unless the PC's are really, really serious, with big-time financing, major noble support (meaning several ruling nobles at the major world/subsector level with at least one Sector Duke on their side), and substantial evidence that their business will provide major benefits to the Imperium, as a whole.
At this level, the PC's aren't really in it for the money anymore, except as a way to keep score. They can just as easily work out a 'mutually beneficial deal' with Tukera Lines, selling the company to Tukera at a very nice price, becoming a independent subsidiary, linked by cross-owned shares, or by simply remaining in their niche, leaving most of the pie to Tukera while protecting their turf with low contract prices, high service, and a system of mutual favours with the Navy.
If the PC's decide that they really want to build a genuine, for real MegaCorporation across the entire Imperium, well, my imagination stalls at this point, so I will give the floor to others. I'll only note that timespan needed is probably in the two century plus range, assuming everything works out (a near impossibility). Relationships with the other MegaCorporations need to be worked out, as well as relations with the Nobility, the Emperor/Empress, and the Navy. The culture of the MegaCorp also need's to be built (expect heavy Navy influence). Finally, the PC's will have to decide who will be their major shareholders: it will prove impossible to avoid selling ownership to at least some senior nobles (they'll expect good prices!): the Imperial family, and any allied MegaCorporations will look kindly on you if you sell them a cut, too.
(PS: This adventure was inspired by Federal Express, founded and staffed in the early years by ex-US Air Force personnel. Call it a "sector-level" corporation....)
"I'm fighting for God and for truth and for morality and for decency. When we quit doing these things we might as well lay down and die."
- Winston Churchill