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Need Advice/Ideas for Trader Campaign


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#1 Bronski

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Posted 27 April 2014 - 01:48 AM

I recently had a player tell me that he would like to do a campaign where the PCs were traders, where the focus of the adventure was making money by trading. I told him I'd be up for it if I could figure out how do it well. So here I am.

 

I've read through the core book section about trading. Using that and wookieepedia I imagine I'll be able to give them destinations to go and have some idea of what trade goods they can buy. However I would like to expand beyond just that stuff and after searching the forums a bit I haven't come across anything I could use.

 

Since traveling will be a big part of the experience I want to make the cost of travel a bigger deal than I usually make it. I want them to have to pay upkeep on the ship beyond repair of battle damage. I'd also like have some type of system that simulates parts on the ship breaking. Parts failing due to normal wear and tear. At the beginning I want it to feel like things are held together by duct tape and bailing wire. Fuel may also play a bigger role.

 

Overall I want to give the players a lot of freedom of where they go and what they do. I'll have npcs that may become allies, rivals, or enemies. I want to create those in response to what the players do. 

 

I'm open to any and all suggestions. I'm sure there is stuff i'm not thinking of that would add a lot to things.



#2 DoctorWhat

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Posted 27 April 2014 - 02:52 AM

WEG had a book called Tramp Freighters, if you can find a copy, it had lots of the stuff about fuel etc.

When I first started role playing, we called this sort of campaign an "Elite campaign" after the computer game.
They never lasted long because they became monotonous. Looking back, we should have mixed in other types of adventures between the trading to keep it exciting.

A system for parts breaking down could use the threat/ dispair (how do you spell it?) results on piloting checks.
You rolled 3 threat! Ooooh the secondary manifold on the starboard lateral thrusters burns outs. That's gonna cost you a fair chunk of your profits when you sell those jubjub beans.
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#3 copperbell

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Posted 27 April 2014 - 04:12 AM

Well first off have you read any science fiction novels based around that concept?

 

Might want to try some Elizabeth Moon books or watch Firefly since technically that is somewhat of a traders game albeit more edge inclined than Lando Calrisssian's latest gambit...

 

Secondly have your players designg their characters and spend the first session (or two) dealing with their background explaining how they met whose ship is it anyway and why they're working aboard her.

 

The trading part can serve as an ongoing subplot but if you're using Edge thats all it should be it serves to keep the story going not the whole point of your campaign.

 

For example we have the ship captain a former Marine who mustered out following a cataclysmic battle where the Empire overwhelmed his home. Unwilling to stick around and play ball with those who killed and maybe murdered practically everyone he grew up with he chose the life of a trader to try and make ends meet and hopefully one day come to terms with the dreadful memories of his past.

 

His second in command is also another veteran and served as his second during the war and was able to remain sane because she relied on her co whose now the ship captain... she operates as head of security aboard the ship making sure everyone's safe and the ship's crew out of trouble.

 

She married the ship's pilot who joined shortly after they bought the ship he married the security officer and stayed simply because he liked the ship and most of the crew... not all mind you but the ship's captain is a good man and in a universe where there's either the Hutts, Black Sun or doublecrossing thugs all looking for their chance thats a rare quality indeed!

 

The baby of the crew is also the ship's engineer, she's the product of generations of spaceship crews as well as traders and has works miracles with the ship having replaced the original engineer who turned out to be disinclined towards the ship's wellbeing.

Pretty much treated as the daughter of most of the rest of the crew she has a crush on one of the two new crew members' even though he held her life as hostage to protect his sister a force sensitive being hunted by the Empire.

 

The muscle of the crew is a former bounty hunter who changed sides because the ship's captain realised his self interest was mixed with a similar need for stability and security he could provide (read decent food, a room of his own and decent pay for usually alot less danger than he was accustomed to) he's actually better natured but still a little too mercenary for his own good used on a couple of occasions to put the crew in danger albeit he balked at outright betraying them so far.

It also helps he has a crush on the engineer, but is genuinely scared of the doctor's sister for good reason!

 

The diplomat is ahem using the ship as her personal ship so she can complete tasks assigned to her since she's often called a companion and other very rude things but out here in the Rim she represents one of the few forms of stable organisations everyone respects. The fact she is secretly a member of the Rebel Alliance and using her feminine charms to accomplish her intelligence missions is something the rest of the crew are totally unaware of...

 

The three newest members of the crew include two siblings one a practitioning doctor and his sister whose on the run from the Empire after he broke her out of their Rehabilitation Camps where they were training her as some kind of Emperor's Hand so keeping a low profile on a ship out in the Outer Rim sounds like a good plan until they can find a safe world to disembark the ship and disappear... the good doctor isn't a problem he's actually very useful and as long as his sister isn't threatened is a good influence...

His sister how is force sensitive and unstable thanks to the Empire's tender mercies and apt to demonstrating that she can read minds and people demonstrating alarming combat skills and a habit of threatening the mercenary for kicks... well okay that was after he tried to sell her out to the Empire and they tried to doublecross him as a result but still he was provoked!

 

The third is an aging preacher belonging to an obscure order of monks that grew up after the Clone Wars.

He's former Imperial but of a good sort apparently seeking to do good work before he passes on and signed on with this ship after talking with the engineer and continued after the debacle with the doctor's sister apparently having experience dealing with force sensitive people and evidence suggests he killed a few of them himself...

Spoiler

 

Maybe I ought to have focused on the trading side but i hope this helped!


Edited by copperbell, 27 April 2014 - 04:24 AM.

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#4 Bronski

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Posted 27 April 2014 - 05:46 AM

I actually have been thinking of firefly when reading up on this. 

 

We haven't made characters yet but I do plan for them to fully flesh out their backgrounds and how they relate to each other before we start. I will only be playing with 2 to 3 players so I won't have to worry too much about people pulling the story in all directions. Also, knowing my players they will get their characters into trouble so I won't have to worry too much about it becoming boring.

 

Mainly I want to use the trading as the reason for them to be moving around and their main way to make money. I imagine they will run afoul of customs agents, law enforcement and other government types as well as the underworld during their travels. Hopefully that will help it not become boring. 

 

I do like the idea of using threat and despair to add in the element of parts breaking. I guess I could tie in astrogation to determine when those checks would need to be made and how many in some cases. Maybe create a list of parts of the ship that could be broken, and roll to see what breaks.


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#5 2P51

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Posted 27 April 2014 - 10:56 AM

When you think about it, anytime you are making a Piloting/Astrogation check you are generally putting strain on the system in some fashion, as routine point A to B does not require a check.  When there are leftover Threats or a Despair pops up, that's your queue to check off the 'somethin broke' box.

 

You could keep a list of parts on the ship to put a name to the item if you want it to be more immersive for the players.


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#6 Ghostofman

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Posted 27 April 2014 - 06:50 PM

Galaxy guide 6: Tramp Freighters, Platts Smuggling Guide, Platts Starport guide.

All old D6 stuff, but also contains piles of fluff, story ideas, mini campaigns, and other useful info.
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#7 HappyDaze

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Posted 27 April 2014 - 07:06 PM

 

We haven't made characters yet but I do plan for them to fully flesh out their backgrounds and how they relate to each other before we start. I will only be playing with 2 to 3 players so I won't have to worry too much about people pulling the story in all directions. Also, knowing my players they will get their characters into trouble so I won't have to worry too much about it becoming boring.

 

Mainly I want to use the trading as the reason for them to be moving around and their main way to make money. I imagine they will run afoul of customs agents, law enforcement and other government types as well as the underworld during their travels. Hopefully that will help it not become boring. 

My first Edge campaign was very much about a group of misfits on a tramp freighter trading their way through the galaxy. Despite my best efforts, it became boring to me (the GM) even though the players were loving it. I'm not saying that your experience will be the same, but I do caution you to look ahead and see if delving into the minutia of trade will be fun months down the line. My outlook for this game is now, "Would I watch this if it were a TV show or film?"


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#8 Doc, the Weasel

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Posted 27 April 2014 - 09:30 PM

You will need more robust trading rules, probably based on a planet's haves/needs rather than how far from core they are. 


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#9 Bronski

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Posted 27 April 2014 - 11:36 PM

You will need more robust trading rules, probably based on a planet's haves/needs rather than how far from core they are. 

That is what i'm trying to find and come up with right now. I'm hoping to scrounge up info on what different planets make. At the very least just guess on what kind of goods they'd import and export. I'd also try to factor in outside reasons for why the need certain goods. Stuff like a rise in pirate attacks making a planet or system want more starship parts and weapons.



#10 2P51

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Posted 27 April 2014 - 11:44 PM

If you want specifics a chart or whatever is fine, but honestly I think I would just have the players do an appropriate Knowledge check for the region to do research to learn what the hot commodities are on a given world.


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#11 Desslok

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Posted 28 April 2014 - 01:00 AM

I'm open to any and all suggestions. I'm sure there is stuff i'm not thinking of that would add a lot to things.

 

Since I see that the usual suggestions of Tramp Freighters and Platt's Spaceport Guide have already been covered, I'm going in another direction: go get yourself the DVD sets of Talespin and Tales of the Gold Monkey. Both series cover the adventures of a Bush Pilot serving as an operator of an air cargo delivery service. There are air pirates and nazis (well, not so much in the Disney cartoon) and spies and lost treasures and all sorts of 1930's pulp daring do. File the serial numbers off and you've got a whole bunch of Tramp Freighter adventures just waiting to be plucked!


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#12 Bronski

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Posted 28 April 2014 - 02:56 AM

Definitely been a while since i've seen Talespin. I had forgotten about that. Haven't seen Tales of the Gold Monkey though. I'll have to check it out. I'll definitely have to lift some stuff from those.

 

Ideally with all the trade goods and what not I won't be using any specific charts. Mostly what I hope to have is info that I can draw upon to give to them when they do knowledge checks. 

 

Speaking of charts, I was thinking of creating some encounters that I could toss at them on occasion. While traveling in space they might get attacked by pirates or run into some type of space hazard they didn't expect. I could roll and see what pops up when certain criteria is met on their travels. I was also considering making some of them have a bit more weight to them. Create a few that give them a chance to make new friends and enemies. For example they might make some good contacts if they decide to help a disable freighter.

 

I've done a bit of the random encounter stuff in D&D in the past but really haven't messed with it in EotE. Mostly i've run published stuff from FF supplemented by a bit of my own. 

 

Hopefully tonight our group will be able to get together and I can pick their brains before we start our current adventure.


Edited by Bronski, 28 April 2014 - 02:57 AM.


#13 Plagius523

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Posted 28 April 2014 - 11:03 AM

Once your players reach a level of proficiency and their business is thriving its your job as the GM to throw a monkey wrench into their organization and up the difficulty and give them something to work against. 

 

The players are sitting around one day when all sorts of alarms start going off alerting that someone is slicing into their systems. Let the players try to stop the hack but make it mostly impossible since this is for continueing the story along.

 

After they fail to stop the slice more alarms start going off alerting that their defensive and security systems are shutting off.

 

( now you could use this to suggest to the players that in their organization is a mole or traitor of some sort they have to deal with )

 

Seconds later out of hyperspace come several ships.

 

And these ships belong to a pirate organization led by the players new Nemesis or Rival that they are going to have to stand against.



#14 swheelock

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Posted 29 April 2014 - 05:21 PM

For my money, a campaign about trading would be boring. A campaign where loads of exciting stuff happened to traders despite (or because of) their best efforts would be fun.

 

Put the trading in the background; make it the scaffold that you hang the dazzling adventure on. Don't get caught up in the minutiae of how much they're earning and how much fuel is going to cost this month. Just start each adventure off with some motivation based on trading: a broken backup hyperdrive that needs to be replaced and a load of bantha young that are eating way more than the seller said they would; or a hold full of medical supplies that are legal where they bought 'em, and legal where they're selling 'em, but illegal in that sector they have to go through... and that Sector Ranger that the captain has a history with is inspecting every ship that passes through.

 

Also, remember that even though there are plenty of traders making a legal living, there are lots that walk the line. A trading campaign can very easily also be a smuggling campaign. Maybe the Empire is taxing traders so highly that they can't turn a profit on legal goods. Maybe holovids are illegal on four planets due to Neimodian propaganda laws, but they can make the crew a lot of credits, and it's not like it's weapons or spice, so it's barely even naughty.

 

Whatever you do for an adventure hook, though, the real action should revolve around Obligations and character relationships. Then it'll stay fun, IMO.


Edited by swheelock, 29 April 2014 - 05:22 PM.





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