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Selling Stolen Ships

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Hi fellow GM's! 

Not sure if this has been brought up before but how have you guys handled your PC's selling ships? Seems like getting a hold of new ships is relatively easy in this game. Just take the Intro Adventure in the core rulebook as an example. They go in an take out the Pirates and score themselves a YV-666 ship. Maybe they want to sell it.  It's worth 132k new, but it's used and they don't have the papers and so on. Still, even if you say, get 10% - that's still 13k, maybe 15 with some good Negotiation rolls. Not a bad haul for a party.  

What's your advice and experiences of this fellow GM's?

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Posted (edited)

So the biggest obstacle in selling a stolen ship is probably the transponder code. The transponder is built into the hyperdrive and transmits the ship's name, type, owner, etc. Records are kept by BOSS (Bureau of Ships and Services) and can only (legally) be changed by them.

Moving a "hot" ship quickly would require changing the transponder codes (which is equal parts difficult, expensive, and illegal), or sell it far below it's value on the black market to someone who can do so later. This would require knowing the right people, and lots of credits and favors being exchanged. A whole evening's play could concern the trouble PC's might have to go through to sell a stolen ship, and after the bribes, slicers, and infochants have been paid, they still have to find a buyer who doesn't ask too many questions, (or look too closely at the fresh paint over old hull markings). 

There are rules in Fly Casual that concern transponder codes and procedures for them to fly with false codes.

 

Edited by panpolyqueergeek

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29 minutes ago, panpolyqueergeek said:

So the biggest obstacle in selling a stolen ship is probably the transponder code. The transponder is built into the hyperdrive and transmits the ship's name, type, owner, etc. Records are kept by BOSS (Bureau of Ships and Services) and can only (legally) be changed by them.

Moving a "hot" ship quickly would require changing the transponder codes (which is equal parts difficult, expensive, and illegal), or sell it far below it's value on the black market to someone who can do so later. This would require knowing the right people, and lots of credits and favors being exchanged. A whole evening's play could concern the trouble PC's might have to go through to sell a stolen ship, and after the bribes, slicers, and infochants have been paid, they still have to find a buyer who doesn't ask too many questions, (or look too closely at the fresh paint over old hull markings). 

There are rules in Fly Casual that concern transponder codes and procedures for them to fly with false codes.

 

This pretty much covers it. Flying a stolen ship is a recipe for trouble, at least in Imperial space. As far as I can see, your PCs can fence the ship to three types of people:

1) Those who have the means to change the transponder code, either by adding a fake code or hacking the BoSS database.

2) Those who will be using the ship in places where it won't be seen by people who will check against the BoSS database. This could be because they're operating far enough out in the Rim that any Imperials they run into are likely to have more important things to worry about than a stolen ship, or because they're in a region such as Hutt space where Imperial rules aren't really observed, or because they'll be actively avoiding Imperial scrutiny anyway (e.g. the Rebellion).

3) Those who plan to strip the ship for parts.

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You can treat a ship like any other hot item in pre-database real life, if you're not interested in the techy and centralized fiction from the 90s. Treat a transponder like a set of plates, and pay to get one plus forged registration; then find a buyer who doesn't ask questions. Or hand it off to a broker for somewhat less who'll get the ship ready for sale himself.

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On 5/15/2018 at 8:49 AM, panpolyqueergeek said:

So the biggest obstacle in selling a stolen ship is probably the transponder code. The transponder is built into the hyperdrive and transmits the ship's name, type, owner, etc. Records are kept by BOSS (Bureau of Ships and Services) and can only (legally) be changed by them.

Moving a "hot" ship quickly would require changing the transponder codes (which is equal parts difficult, expensive, and illegal), or sell it far below it's value on the black market to someone who can do so later. This would require knowing the right people, and lots of credits and favors being exchanged. A whole evening's play could concern the trouble PC's might have to go through to sell a stolen ship, and after the bribes, slicers, and infochants have been paid, they still have to find a buyer who doesn't ask too many questions, (or look too closely at the fresh paint over old hull markings). 

There are rules in Fly Casual that concern transponder codes and procedures for them to fly with false codes.

 

      Can you remove the code by replacing the hyperdive? Can hyperdrives be bought in the game?

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Here's my take.

"All you need is a new name, new transponder, new registry . . . and you're good to go!"

The transponder is an electronic black box that can be switched out and reprogrammed.  Getting matching information into the BOSS database is the real trick.

If you know an Imperial Bureaucrat who can be bribed then . . . bribe them.

The black market will have interested parties who can "Quiet the Title" on a hot ship.

Another option would be if the ship can be legitimately claimed as salvage.  Fees and Bribes may be needed.

 

In the campaign that I'm running (AoR w/ FnD), if the PC's pick up a new ship that they want to keep, they need to check in with their SOG supervisor, who will fill out a new registry.  The Alliance has "contacts" who then quiet the title, but it takes 6-8 weeks for the paperwork to process.

The PC's did just acquire a new ship in this manner and the title just cleared on their new VCX-100.

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2 hours ago, Jmanawesmazing said:

      Can you remove the code by replacing the hyperdive? Can hyperdrives be bought in the game?

This might be covered in EU/Legends material. Maybe even the WEG books. I'll have to have a look this weekend. But I say whatever works best for the story/group. If you put a used hyperdrive in with a BOSS tag that doesn't match the make of the ship, that could cause problems. Fly Casual actually has rules for tampering with your hyperdrive's energy signature to make it closer match energy profiles of other ships, so a casual long range sensor sweep wouldn't turn up anything too unusual.

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I wouldn't worry too much about this happening.  If players want to keep the ship and repurpose it for their own use, I would say it's just a matter of getting new ID permits for it, which can lead to a whole underworld scenario in itself but at a minimum, Underworld and streetwise checks to locate the right place and people to purchase permits from.

If you are worried about the money I would say fencing a stolen ship would start at about 10% of cost and increase / decrease by 1% on a negotiation test. In the grand scheme of things 15 - 30k is not a great deal of cash for a party and a good DM gives with one hand and takes with the other.

The secret is, allowing players to have fun making money and then feel like the outrageous speed they lose that money is their idea and enjoy themselves spending it without having anything to show for it at the end...

Always justify why it costs so much to achieve goals that they have to achieve. 

Easy come, Easy go.

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On 5/17/2018 at 12:16 PM, panpolyqueergeek said:

This might be covered in EU/Legends material. Maybe even the WEG books. I'll have to have a look this weekend. But I say whatever works best for the story/group. If you put a used hyperdrive in with a BOSS tag that doesn't match the make of the ship, that could cause problems. Fly Casual actually has rules for tampering with your hyperdrive's energy signature to make it closer match energy profiles of other ships, so a casual long range sensor sweep wouldn't turn up anything too unusual.

A hyperdrive is a 1 hp attachment available in fully operational, but my hazy recollection is it was sublight drives that had the transponder built in, because all ships have sublight drives but not all have hyperdrives.   But fully operational also has rules for replacing the hull and or engine/sublight drive.

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Fake the papers, then register the ship under a decent cover ID (might need some underworld and bribery), and then sell it before the scam gets discovered!

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Because this setting deals with a lot of money issues, I think that Ownership of Stuff is very important. Players will inevitably pick up stuff from around them, and I always try to be somewhat conscious of the ownership of the thing.

Ships in particular can be something that someone would stop at next to nothing to recover, and the transponder Is an issue. I make it a process to get the Transponder out and changed. I have most Transponders on anything the size of YT-1300 or smaller installed in some terribly cramped location and the access panel for it is usually welded shut and that side of the casing welded to the far side of the enclosure. It's a Mechanics check to get it out without breaking something, and a Computers check to slice the thing. The bigger the ship, the bigger the pain in the butt to get the thing changed. On larger ships I tend to have the transponder unit redundantly backed up with extra units so that is part of the hull gets demolished there are other transponders that can still send the SOS. 

 

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, Archlyte said:

Because this setting deals with a lot of money issues, I think that Ownership of Stuff is very important. Players will inevitably pick up stuff from around them, and I always try to be somewhat conscious of the ownership of the thing.

Ships in particular can be something that someone would stop at next to nothing to recover, and the transponder Is an issue. I make it a process to get the Transponder out and changed. I have most Transponders on anything the size of YT-1300 or smaller installed in some terribly cramped location and the access panel for it is usually welded shut and that side of the casing welded to the far side of the enclosure. It's a Mechanics check to get it out without breaking something, and a Computers check to slice the thing. The bigger the ship, the bigger the pain in the butt to get the thing changed. On larger ships I tend to have the transponder unit redundantly backed up with extra units so that is part of the hull gets demolished there are other transponders that can still send the SOS. 

 

I believe Fly Casual has rules similar to this (Hard mechanics to access it, daunting computer to slice it), and I like your idea of redundant backups. Most ships larger than snubs have a primary hyperdrive AND a backup, so why not make players have to change a transponder on both? And someone else in the thread mentioned that the transponder could be on sublight engines, since not all craft have hyperdrives, so put a third one there, too :)

(although ships without hyperdrives probably don't need to be registered with BOSS since they will probably never leave their home system, and only need to be registered with local authorities)

Edited by panpolyqueergeek

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Just now, panpolyqueergeek said:

I believe Fly Casual has rules similar to this (Hard mechanics to access it, daunting computer to slice it), and I like your idea of redundant backups. Most ships larger than snubs have a primary hyperdrive AND a backup, so why not make players have to change a transponder on both? And someone else in the thread mentioned that the transponder could be on sublight engines, since not all craft have hyperdrives, so put a third one there, too :)

Oh thank you for pointing that out I will look it up :) If there is an existing rule for it I think I would want to at least adapt to it if it keeps the spirit of what I was going for. Does the book have the Transponder on the Hyperdrives? How cool, I never thought about it that way. Thanks again  

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3 minutes ago, Archlyte said:

Oh thank you for pointing that out I will look it up :) If there is an existing rule for it I think I would want to at least adapt to it if it keeps the spirit of what I was going for. Does the book have the Transponder on the Hyperdrives? How cool, I never thought about it that way. Thanks again  

I double-checked my copy of FC, and they put it on the sublights.

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Just now, panpolyqueergeek said:

I double-checked my copy of FC, and they put it on the sublights.

Hmm. I think I like your idea better :) If the manufacturers and authorities wanted interstellar vehicles to be tracked the way to do it would be to intertwine that tracker with the Hyperdrive. 

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New hypderdrives are fairly cheap now that Fully Operational is out.  Sublights however require the ship to be rebuilt and can cost hard points so they're very expensive in several ways.

 

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On 5/16/2018 at 7:36 PM, HappyDaze said:

If you're willing to sell low, like 25% of price, it should be easy to offload a ship. For the cost savings, let the buyer deal with all of the crap.

Depending on the ship, it might be even less than 25%. New Transponder codes are expensive. The skills required to do it reliable do place the technician into top 5% or so in the galaxy, which translates into expensive. Cheap ships simply might not be worth the trouble, while really expensive ships ... 25% sounds more realistic for those.

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Posted (edited)

We took a page from Gone in 60 Seconds (the original), and when we replaced the sublight drives on our Ghtroc (which had attracted some imperial attention) we tracked down a decomissioned Ghtroc of the same type on a junkyard, bought it's transponder under the table, then sent a crewmember to BoSS re-register our ship as the junked ship, with the explanation that we salvaged a junked ship and rebuilt it, including the engines, thus getting our new signature registrered on a what is officially a clean "new" ship.

Edited by penpenpen

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8 hours ago, SEApocalypse said:

Depending on the ship, it might be even less than 25%. New Transponder codes are expensive. The skills required to do it reliable do place the technician into top 5% or so in the galaxy, which translates into expensive. Cheap ships simply might not be worth the trouble, while really expensive ships ... 25% sounds more realistic for those.

Well, 25% of a cheap ship is still very cheap. Someone that only intends to use that ship somewhere where a hot transponder code doesn't matter will still pay to have a ship. I said that the buyer had to deal with that crap, but that doesn't mean they have to deal with it by playing with the transponders.

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Transponders schmansponders.  I'm buying perfectly good ships ten cents on the dollar? I'm gonna part those babies out, put the non transponder parts, ie 99% of the ship, onto other mothballed hulls with clean transponders to sell, or use the parts for fixing/upgrading existing ships with rebuilt parts from the stolen ships. I am gonna make a killing profit margin wise, and all without monkey F-ing with transponders at all

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I'll throw in my +1 to the observation that how you handle it depends a lot on your group.

If your group likes playing criminal masterminds, slicers, and more cerebral ne'er-do-wells, laundering a ship can be an adventure in itself, up to hacking the BoSS database. Let them flex those giant Computer, Deception, and Skulduggery dice pools.

If they just want to quickly get a pile of credits, let them fence it at severe markdown.

---

My current group got a former pirate ship with a false transponder, but we went through a lot of laundering, aided by the fact that the ship had been sitting in a hangar bay for a few years so we could "salvage" it. We got it so clean, the only problem with getting inspected is if customs notices the cloaked smuggling compartments.

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On ‎5‎/‎24‎/‎2018 at 3:03 PM, 2P51 said:

Transponders schmansponders.  I'm buying perfectly good ships ten cents on the dollar? I'm gonna part those babies out, put the non transponder parts, ie 99% of the ship, onto other mothballed hulls with clean transponders to sell, or use the parts for fixing/upgrading existing ships with rebuilt parts from the stolen ships. I am gonna make a killing profit margin wise, and all without monkey F-ing with transponders at all

lol yeah they put that bit about transponders in the book and like typical Star Wars fans any little detail gets blown up into as much exposition as possible. I can also see that the drive to build a better mousetrap is alive and well. 

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Page 75 of Fly Casual,"Adding Transponder Codes", reads as a great scene in a game!

My players currently want to change their transponder code, so I will add this to the next session :)

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