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GM_loke

Selling Stolen Ships

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Cogent and from last night . . .

We have a slicer in the group and the PC's found themselves in possession of a smaller shuttle & their prized ship.

The PC's had established an uneasy truce with the BBEG and in order to sneak their ship from one location to another, the PC slicer copied the transponder code of their ship and placed it onto the shuttle.  They then had the shuttle fly off on a standard departure course (on autopilot), while they flew elsewhere in their ship.

That way the bad guys would watch "their" ship head off planet, while they positioned themselves to complete another mission objective, while keeping the BBEG in the dark.

From the perspective of the PC's narrative they pulled off the mission well enough.  However (and unknown to the players) their Ruse de Guerre actually failed.

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I find it kind of funny that this thread mostly turned out to be talking about transponder codes when that is perfectly well covered in the Fly Casual rules and not at all what I was asking for advice on.

I was more concerned that a ship is worth a massive amount of money if you just look at its base stats. So I was trying to probe you guys about how you can allow players to steal ships, allow them to monetize that action without it becoming an arbitrary anti-climax (as in they only get a pittance) , nor becoming crazy unbalanced. (why work for the Hutt for 2000c, when you can steal a random ship and earn 10 or 30 times that?).

Yes, I know Obligation is a factor here but i'm trying to keep it out of the argument or it risks being a lazy "get out of jail" card to avoid a potentially better solution.      

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40 minutes ago, GM_loke said:

I find it kind of funny that this thread mostly turned out to be talking about transponder codes when that is perfectly well covered in the Fly Casual rules and not at all what I was asking for advice on.

I was more concerned that a ship is worth a massive amount of money if you just look at its base stats. So I was trying to probe you guys about how you can allow players to steal ships, allow them to monetize that action without it becoming an arbitrary anti-climax (as in they only get a pittance) , nor becoming crazy unbalanced. (why work for the Hutt for 2000c, when you can steal a random ship and earn 10 or 30 times that?).

Yes, I know Obligation is a factor here but i'm trying to keep it out of the argument or it risks being a lazy "get out of jail" card to avoid a potentially better solution.      

Stealing something worth a massive amount of money gets the real owner massively pissed at you. And the higher the value of the ship, the more money it’ll be worth to that person to recover it and make sure the thieves are really, really sorry. 

This doesn’t apply to just ships. If your players think they can make a quick score doing something that hurts others, they should be prepared for the consequences.

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2 hours ago, nameless ronin said:

Stealing something worth a massive amount of money gets the real owner massively pissed at you. And the higher the value of the ship, the more money it’ll be worth to that person to recover it and make sure the thieves are really, really sorry. 

This doesn’t apply to just ships. If your players think they can make a quick score doing something that hurts others, they should be prepared for the consequences.

This all the way...

I am really big on consequences for actions. Players must think through to the bitter end, the course that their action will take.

If they want to make 'big scores' then the fallout will be equally large.

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3 hours ago, nameless ronin said:

Stealing something worth a massive amount of money gets the real owner massively pissed at you. And the higher the value of the ship, the more money it’ll be worth to that person to recover it and make sure the thieves are really, really sorry. 

This doesn’t apply to just ships. If your players think they can make a quick score doing something that hurts others, they should be prepared for the consequences.

I still feel like you are missing the intent of the question. It's not really about consequences, it's more about Starship value out scaling other rewards. Take my previous example from the core rule book adventure - Trouble Brewing. The PC's  defeat the pirate crew/captain and lo and behold, there's a YV-666 parked right there. The 5000c or whatever you can get for the bounty pales in comparison to what the ship's worth. Sure, you can put all kinds of Arbitrary "Consequences" in front of your players to stop them from monetizing that ship but would that be Fair? Would it be Fun? What's the right approach to make it work?

Edited by GM_loke

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The point several people are driving at is, i think, that doing jobs for the reward vs stealing stuff and selling it for more credits, is that stealing large expensive items is not as easy as walking on board, flying a ship to the local second had lot and handing it over for vast sums of cash. Unless you are a member of a booster ring... normal thieves will have to spend time and effort and possibly creds to locate someone that will trust you enough to buy a high value item from strangers. This could be a whole session or more in itself. That is after you have defeated the on board security software or hardware possibly both... after all of that you then have the backlash which can and eventually will cause the party all kind of headaches.... This is the reality of thievery. It is not just as simple as you may think, after all if it was, everybody would just do it instead of working for the Hutts.... btw, why do you think the Hutt has you hunting down the bounty you are after? Did he steal a ship from someone that pays protection to prevent this exact thing.... consequences,  man... consequences. 

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10 hours ago, GM_loke said:

I still feel like you are missing the intent of the question. It's not really about consequences, it's more about Starship value out scaling other rewards. Take my previous example from the core rule book adventure - Trouble Brewing. The PC's  defeat the pirate crew/captain and lo and behold, there's a YV-666 parked right there. The 5000c or whatever you can get for the bounty pales in comparison to what the ship's worth. Sure, you can put all kinds of Arbitrary "Consequences" in front of your players to stop them from monetizing that ship but would that be Fair? Would it be Fun? What's the right approach to make it work?

First, I wouldn’t stop them from monetizing their ill-gotten gains. I would definitely show them there is going to be a cost that follows though - paying off sources, bribing lawmen, laying low without income for a while, anything to make as certain as possible to be in the clear. If they take it easy on personal security, they’ll be inviting trouble. If they don’t, that’s going to cost time and money.

Second, your low XP party getting their hands on 50-100K credits is not the end of the world. So they get some better stuff than they’d otherwise have, maybe get some cyber stuff so their stats get a boost, so what? Make their opponents a bit better too, Bob’s your uncle. Also, if they choose to flaunt their wealth they will make targets of themselves too. Not something to do every two weeks, but if they steal from others others might try to steal from them.

Fair and fun and right all come down to the same thing for me: is everyone having a good game? Then all is well. Actions having consequences is necessary to have a good game, at least in my book. This may be make believe, but it still has to be believable. Han becoming a wall ornament for Jabba is exactly that: actions having consequences.

Lastly, heist games are great fun. Pulling off the SW equivalent of an Italian job or an Ocean’s eleven is a fantastic way to spend a couple of sessions roleplaying. I realize your players may only have armed robbery in mind, but I had to point this out. This can be fun. It can be something to plan an entire campaign around. Just go with it.

Edited by nameless ronin

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9 hours ago, GM_loke said:

I still feel like you are missing the intent of the question. It's not really about consequences, it's more about Starship value out scaling other rewards. Take my previous example from the core rule book adventure - Trouble Brewing. The PC's  defeat the pirate crew/captain and lo and behold, there's a YV-666 parked right there. The 5000c or whatever you can get for the bounty pales in comparison to what the ship's worth. Sure, you can put all kinds of Arbitrary "Consequences" in front of your players to stop them from monetizing that ship but would that be Fair? Would it be Fun? What's the right approach to make it work?

This particular adventure is very irritating for a couple of reasons along this line:

  • You can apparently just take the pirate ship
    • You already defeated it's owner and will turn him in for a bounty, so it's not like taking the ship will make you any extra enemies (unlike, say, stealing a random ship from a spaceport).
    • The 'Secondary Transponder' mod indicates getting a 'False Record' added to the BOSS registry isn't really hard if you just want to sell it (or at least, isn't a problem for a fence who will buy the ship from you at a discount).
  • The ship's primary hyperdrive is broken (though the backup is working), but they don't mention how much this might cost to repair or reduce the resale price.
  • At the time the core rulebook was published, this model of ship wasn't 'stated up' yet
    • The full write-up finally appeared in the Bounty Hunter sourcebook.
  • In addition to the freighter, it is quite possible to recover the Ugly and the guard droid, but no sale values are provided for either.
    • Granted, I'm guessing you just want to strip the weapons from the Ugly and leave the rest to rot, and the droid would be handy to keep.

Honestly, given the existence of a 'keeping the PCs poor' sidebar, the potential rewards from this adventure seems a little silly.

Now, a lot of this can fall into the 'GM can make it up' category, but this is a sample adventure in the core rulebook:  It really should provide a better guideline for people who just picked up the game.

 

On a sidenote, I didn't like the whole 'collecting the bounty from Kessel' section, but the more I think about it, it is the perfect moral for an EotE adventure:  You are really much better off doing business with Hutt Gangsters than Imperial Bureaucrats...

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18 hours ago, GM_loke said:

I find it kind of funny that this thread mostly turned out to be talking about transponder codes when that is perfectly well covered in the Fly Casual rules and not at all what I was asking for advice on.

I mean, you asked for non-specific "advice" and "experience". I brought up transponders by way of advice. I'm sorry for not being more specific. My "advice" would be putting as many steps and risks between the PC's and the payoff of selling hot starships. My "experience" is that if you don't, then it could become their go-to move. To be specific, I experienced this in the same back-of-book adventure as you. As soon as the players saw the YV-666, two of them basically said "oh yeah, we're totally murdering this guy for his ship."

 

14 hours ago, GM_loke said:

I still feel like you are missing the intent of the question. It's not really about consequences, it's more about Starship value out scaling other rewards. Take my previous example from the core rule book adventure - Trouble Brewing. The PC's  defeat the pirate crew/captain and lo and behold, there's a YV-666 parked right there. The 5000c or whatever you can get for the bounty pales in comparison to what the ship's worth.

But the 5000c is cleaner and easier to collect than moving a stolen ship, depending on how many hoops you want your players to jump through. If you think they bounties are too low, you can make them higher and add another zero (or more). If you think ships are too valuable, you can make stolen ships harder to sell or even harder to steal. Maybe the ship is actually owned by one of the Hutt cartels, or there is a lien on it. Maybe it won't even start up without the murdered owner's voice-verification. 

If you think it's fine as-is and are okay with the chance your players might become space pirates because they see more profit in it than bounty-hunting, then you can leave it as-is (I honestly believe this is the direction my last group was going, even with all the obstacles and hoops of dealing with stolen ships).

 

14 hours ago, GM_loke said:

Sure, you can put all kinds of Arbitrary "Consequences" in front of your players to stop them from monetizing that ship but would that be Fair? Would it be Fun? What's the right approach to make it work?

I personally would not call the laws, systems, and "consequences" dealing with stolen property "arbitrary". Whether it's fair or fun and what approach you use to "make it work" will be different for every table. You don't seem satisfied with the advice or suggestions being given, but I think we need more information about you and your players. What kind of game are you trying to run? What kind of game do the players want to play? What do you/they think is fair and fun? What is your intended experience for the players?

 

Edited by panpolyqueergeek
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Cars are worth a lot of money, and not terribly hard to steal. You could probably find a small airfield where it wouldn't be to hard to get to a small plane, or a small boat in harbor. Who would you sell it to? Would you buy a car/plane/boat with no registration whatsoever?

I think the best answer to "why don't we steal a ship?" is because it's hard to sell. Sure, you could probably strip it for parts and start selling those off a lot easier, but you'd be getting a lot less than the hundred thousand credits or so a ship sells for, plus you need to put all the work dismantling it, assuming you have the tools and facilities to do that...

You could, of course, sell it to someone who doesn't care if they're flying around in a stolen ship, but then again, if ships are so easy to steal, why would they pay for more than the inconvenience of having to steal one themselves?

As it turns out, your time and effort might be better spent smuggling spice, robbing a shipment of hyperfuel or going after a bounty.

14 hours ago, Ominovin said:

The 'Secondary Transponder' mod indicates getting a 'False Record' added to the BOSS registry isn't really hard if you just want to sell it (or at least, isn't a problem for a fence who will buy the ship from you at a discount).

The secondary transponder is also a highly illegal piece of gear. If customs board your ship and look around a bit, you don't want them to find one. A ship fitted with one would probably not be that attractive to buy for most people.

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I think this comes down to how do you want to spend your game time. If it's something that you want, then Transponders are no obstacle of note. If it's not something you want, then maybe you make it hard to do or just tell the players to stop chasing their tails because it's not a focus you are interested in following. 

I liken this somewhat to the Magic Item economy of D&D (which I hate) because the players are just looking to video game and progress in equipment--often at the expense of being interested in what else might be going on. I have seen players stop doing something that would be vitally important to their character in order to trade up a piece of equipment. 

So it's about the content of your game really, and how you want to deal with your players. 

 

Edited by Archlyte

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On 5/31/2018 at 11:48 AM, GM_loke said:

I was more concerned that a ship is worth a massive amount of money if you just look at its base stats. 

Now is it?
Stealing a car takes a few minutes. Plenty of those around. Do you think I would be able to just sell the thing easily for something even close to it's legit market value? 

If I strip it down for parts than I am throwing away stuff, I am paying the mechanic to disassemble the ship, I am sharing the profit with the fence, paying my tribute to the local crime lords and deducting half the value of the thing because it's used not new before I even start to paying all those other people. And than it is still a hot commodity, so am certainly not getting full market value in the first place and that mechanic and fence will charge extra, because they are risking their necks as well. 
Just as penpenpen says. It does not sound like a really worthwhile endeavor if you can actually do proper jobs instead. Especially as BoSS transponder codes are lot tougher to deal with than vehicle identification numbers, with them being part of the ships engine signature, linked to the ships systems. 

Do you have the same issue in other games with cars? Oh, look a 100k Tesla, let's steal it! At least that Tesla can not be full of tracking systems, mandatory telemetry senders and potentially booby traps on top. It sure must be easy to sell a stolen car, right? ?

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On 6/2/2018 at 12:44 AM, SEApocalypse said:

Now is it?
Stealing a car takes a few minutes. Plenty of those around. Do you think I would be able to just sell the thing easily for something even close to it's legit market value? 

If I strip it down for parts than I am throwing away stuff, I am paying the mechanic to disassemble the ship, I am sharing the profit with the fence, paying my tribute to the local crime lords and deducting half the value of the thing because it's used not new before I even start to paying all those other people. And than it is still a hot commodity, so am certainly not getting full market value in the first place and that mechanic and fence will charge extra, because they are risking their necks as well. 
Just as penpenpen says. It does not sound like a really worthwhile endeavor if you can actually do proper jobs instead. Especially as BoSS transponder codes are lot tougher to deal with than vehicle identification numbers, with them being part of the ships engine signature, linked to the ships systems. 

Do you have the same issue in other games with cars? Oh, look a 100k Tesla, let's steal it! At least that Tesla can not be full of tracking systems, mandatory telemetry senders and potentially booby traps on top. It sure must be easy to sell a stolen car, right? ?

Oh boy. Well I don't know about your groups but I'm GM'ing Edge of the Empire and all my players are more or less Criminals. They steal ****. If I was playing a modern type RPG with Criminal PC's I'm sure they wouldn't balk at stealing cars. Are you saying that your players wouldn't do that? Very strange. 

In my very first post in this thread, I brought up the opinion that a stolen ship would probably not give the players more than maybe 10% of it's market value, perhaps even less. Still, that's more creds than many jobs will pay out. And in many cases, stealing and selling the ship will take your story in a very different direction than maybe you'd planned. 

EotE characters are motivated by Money to a large degree, much more so than in AoR or FaD. Ships seem to be very valuable. As a GM who cares about my players enjoyment I'd try to make stealing ships challenging, dangerous and fun. Ergo, this thread. I was hoping for some anecdotes or advice how to make it fun for the players yet still not broken from a resource point of view. I got some advice but not as much as I hoped. I'm out. 

Edited by GM_loke

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No, we steal ships all the time, we have the technical background the fake transponder codes and as well to completely strip them for parts, we do need getaway ships, and we have a practical use for that Imperial Raider Star Destroyer we stole for example. What we still don't do is playing small-fries who steal ships for a living, because this pays **** … well, I guess it pays **** unless you are actually going for the expensive stuff, 10% of 5 million credits is still a huge pay check, meanwhile the logistics and playing involved to actually steal a corvette or destroyer … well, it certainly is an interesting heist AND the rebellion or pirates are buying. On top might something this special actually a contract work and paying better, because someone really needs that star destroyer or whatever. 

But this is a whole different concept and topic than stealing some crappy freighter at the local space port, which would be a job for petty criminals … now if that is the theme of the group, go for it, but in that case low payouts are not a problem either, you are right in territory of the Corellia part of the Solo movie, when 500 credits are a super big deal. That's as well a fun setting, even when it might not be appropriate once the group reaches expertise levels rivaling Clone Wars era Cad Bane.

 

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Others have addressed the issue of transponder codes, false registrations, etc. I will simply say its a big galaxy, even the Empire can't be everywhere at once, and most law enforcement will be local, planetary, or at most sector-wide. Insofar as the sale happens 1) away from a major Imperial world, and 2) in a different system / sector you will probably be able to find an unscrupulous buyer. If you have dealt with the transponder and registry issues, then you should also be able to demand a fair price. As a result, unless the wronged party is so furious that they hire bounty-hunters it would be easy for a stolen ship to disappear and never be seen again. On the other hand, players who do this a lot should feel some heat for stealing ships every so often (not all the time). That can make for a great plot hook:

  • Finding an unexpected cargo in the hold of a crappy stolen freighter that clearly belongs to some very unsavory and scary people.
  • Alternatively, finding the cargo was humanitarian supplies like medicines or food for some impoverished suffering world.
  • Ending up with a stow-away with some dangerous people in hot pursuit (presuming the players won't space them).
  • Stealing the luxury ship of a wealthy noble with some highly placed imperial or criminal contacts who wants to punish them. 
  • Have the ISB take notice of them because they unwittingly sold the ship to rebel operatives and assume they are also rebels or use them to find said rebels at a future sale. 
  • By that token, unwittingly stealing a ship being used by an undercover ISB unit or... an Inquisitor.
Edited by Vondy

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Perhaps we should get back to the specific example the OP was using:

Trouble Brewing (EotE Core Rulebook)

  • After defeating the pirates, you are left in possession of a YV-666 freighter
    • General condition of the ship is 'filthy' and the primary hyperdrive needs to be repaired, but the backup hyperdrive is operational.
    • The owner of the ship is either dead or your prisoner, and if you hand him over to the Hutts alive for the bounty, he dies very publicly very shortly afterword (I don't think his fate is spelled out if you turn him over to the empire alive).
  • The ship is officially worth 132,000 credits 'new'
    • Per the 'guidelines', this makes the 'resale' value 33,000 credits per success (up to 99,000 credits) on your Streetwise check.
    • Note that you probably would have to fix the primary hyperdrive to get the 'full resale value.'

I should stress:

  • This isn't the PCs going out and stealing a ship at random:  This is an actual published adventure where you end up in possession of a freighter.
  • Anyone who comes after the PCs for stealing the ship with vengeance in mind are probably going to come after them for breaking up the pirate ring anyway, and selling the ship probably isn't going to leave a larger trail than collecting the bounty in the adventure.

So, if the PCs try to sell this specific ship, how many credits do you think they should get for it?

  • Personally, I was thinking along the lines of selling it to the Hutts for 'store credit' at their shipyards for future repairs or upgrades: 
    • Players would get 'something' out of it without flooding the game with cash.
    • Probably a decent deal for the Hutts, as they can probably 'move' the ship fairly easily and most 'store credits' are never fully redeemed anyway.
    • Any spice you recover during the adventure can be sold to the Hutts for half-price, so maybe 66,000 in 'store credits' with a limitation on how quickly you can spend it (maybe 5,000 credits per month)???

 

 

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On 6/9/2018 at 11:00 PM, Scotboyd said:

Just because you grab somebody for a bounty doesn't mean all their possessions become yours to sell.  Even if the Hutts kill him.  Even if YOU kill him.

The PCs are not the legal owners of the ship, but they are in possession of it, and since this is an Edge of the Empire game, little things like 'legality' are unlikely to stop them.

Honestly, the entire question of how to handle ships like this is a gap in the rules/guidelines that makes me scratch my head a bit:  It's a pretty obvious issue with a long history (anything the NPCs possess can end up in the PCs' hands).  As it is, the only guidelines I could see are the 'black market' rules (which are pretty much the same as the 'non-black market' rules except using streetwise), but this definitely seems 'off' for something as large as a freighter.

 

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At which point you circle back to 'the ship is hot and not worth much unless you reregister it'.  Plus, if they REALLY want to steal it, first they have to move it somewhere.  Do they have a dock ready that's secure or obscure enough that somebody isn't going to just steal the ship from them?

For instance, whoever put out the bounty will also know there's a ship up for grabs as soon as the bounty is claimed.

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A simple way to alleviate this issue is to include the ship in the bounty.  Have the interested party say that they also want the ship because it previously belonged to them or will be used to pay off some of the debt.  After all, it's normal habit IRL to repossess items of value.  Even Jabba considered taking the Millennium Falcon.  The way I got around it while running this campaign was to tell my PC's that the ship was in a really bad state of disrepair.  It would have cost them some money to fix the ship enough to take it.  Since they already had the Krayt Fang, and only one pilot, there was absolutely no interest in trying to hock a busted up rig at a potential loss.  Instead, they tipped off a contact to its location, gaining a favor for later on and setting up more plot hooks for the future.  Winners all around.

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Totally offtopic/ontopic.... my group acquired a Firespray and six B1 battle droids complete with control console at the end of an adventure.... we were so happy about getting six (crappy/incompetent/useless/comedyrelief) guards we sold the Firespray for about 15K... Roger, roger!! and kept the credits in a pot to repair the droids after every shootout.... each to their own :D

we named the droids Pewpew, Barley, McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble, Grubb after this:

 

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1 hour ago, ExpandingUniverse said:

Totally offtopic/ontopic.... my group acquired a Firespray and six B1 battle droids complete with control console at the end of an adventure.... we were so happy about getting six (crappy/incompetent/useless/comedyrelief) guards we sold the Firespray for about 15K... Roger, roger!! and kept the credits in a pot to repair the droids after every shootout.... each to their own :D

we named the droids Pewpew, Barley, McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble, Grubb after this:

 

This is fantastic! Great job guys. That 15k isn't going to last long rebuilding those B1's though. Hehe.

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5 hours ago, crashnburninc said:

A simple way to alleviate this issue is to include the ship in the bounty.  Have the interested party say that they also want the ship because it previously belonged to them or will be used to pay off some of the debt.  After all, it's normal habit IRL to repossess items of value.  Even Jabba considered taking the Millennium Falcon.  The way I got around it while running this campaign was to tell my PC's that the ship was in a really bad state of disrepair.  It would have cost them some money to fix the ship enough to take it.  Since they already had the Krayt Fang, and only one pilot, there was absolutely no interest in trying to hock a busted up rig at a potential loss.  Instead, they tipped off a contact to its location, gaining a favor for later on and setting up more plot hooks for the future.  Winners all around.

Neither bounty poster is really interested in the ship:  Both are only interested in 'public relations' of getting rid of a troublesome pirate (granted, the imperials would probably seize the ship if you fly it to Kessel).  If they did include the ship in the bounty, they'd really need to increase the payment significantly, as you could probably make more credits stripping the more interesting components off then turning in the pirate.

Jabba was specifically interested in the Falcon for two reasons:

  • Han owed Jabba a lot of money (well, presumably less than the 17,000 credits Luke and Ben were supposed to pay him), so grabbing the ship to cover the debt is a reasonable motivation (either to sell it or to have his own people fly on smuggling missions).
  • The Falcon was a infamously fast ship outfitted for smuggling, so seizing it would send a message to the smuggling community.  The vagrant is apparently just a stock freighter with a broken primary hyperdrive (they didn't bother providing any actual stats for it).

The 'too expensive to repair' goes against the module text, but seems to be one of the more popular options.  My GM just ruled both hyperdrives were busted, but I'm not certain if he misread the adventure or just didn't want to bother with it when we couldn't find the stats for it (turned out to be listed under 'light freighters' instead of 'freighters'):  Of course, this is kinda punting on the underlying question until the next adventure in which the PCs end up in possession of a ship that isn't legally theirs...

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On 6/18/2018 at 7:22 PM, Ominovin said:

The 'too expensive to repair' goes against the module text, but seems to be one of the more popular options.  My GM just ruled both hyperdrives were busted, but I'm not certain if he misread the adventure or just didn't want to bother with it when we couldn't find the stats for it (turned out to be listed under 'light freighters' instead of 'freighters'):  Of course, this is kinda punting on the underlying question until the next adventure in which the PCs end up in possession of a ship that isn't legally theirs...

The adventure built in the perfect explanation for me when I ran it, and I used that for my players. "The other ship (Z95) you found earlier that was all corroded in black goo and therefore worth nothing? Oh yup looks like the YV-666 is also corroded. But you can salvage the Quad laser canon and the backup hyperdrive." 

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