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Josemix

Dismantling a Smuggling Ring

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Hi everyone!

I need a bit of help making this plot coherent and for it to resemble how things are in the real World so everything seems logical:

 

My players are on the way to find the Big Bad Guy of the campaign who lives in jungle planet. There he has clandestine labs producing a crazy new drug.

He also 'inherited' a company that produces underground fuel. Sold in barrels, this source of energy is still in use although it's not the primary source in the sector. He killed the old owner (that's the PCs connexion) and then try to incriminate the PCs. PCs had to leave the sector and forge new identities, one day they'll take revenge. They also nearly killed the BBG during the first game so he was left disfigured and wanting absolute revenge on them too. This happened about 1 year ago in game time.

 

Meanwhile, the company was sold to the Empire but some Empire people in this sector have become corrupt so there's some sort of arrangement between BBG and Empire agents (maybe they get a direct commision from smuggling drugs). BBG has the know how of the jungle planet and has a big security team of natives and workers. However the Empire is really struggling with personel so I can see how they would absorbe the current structure of the company.

 

-> Ok, so I have a clandestine labs in the middle of the jungle producing crazy pink drug extracted from crazy pink plants.

-> Then, I have refineries/factories where underground fuel is extracted, refined and put into steel drums. Somehow in some of these factories operators are chucking the pink drug in floating containers, inside the steel drums and then filled with fuel. Someone from the Empire is allowing it.

-> Barrels get shipped I guess to a planetary warehouse/industrial states? Or maybe a few warehouses?

-> Then in the same sector there is a planet that is the equivalent of a logistic platform where barrels can be distributed to other systems within same sector or to even outside the sector.

 

 

So, any tips on how do I make this not so straight to the point? I wouldn't like my players sneaking into the logistic platform, finding barrels, go to jungle planet, kill BBG. That's great but it has to be a bit more indirect. I feel corruption has to be more spread, in every step someone is getting a bit of extra cash or it's being coerced to this. Any tips on this would be greatly appreciated.

 

So far my PCs have the BBG's name but he's gone ghost in their home planet, also uses a nickname so it's very hard to find. BBG has arranged a bounty on their heads so they know it's not wise to go there yet without more info.

They also have a name of a corrupted Imperial agent but this guy is sneaky himself. They don't even have a proper description and he might be using an alias.

By order of the Sector Moff, Imperial Security Bureau is actually investigating both the PCs (only have loose descriptions and they were in disguise so they don't have much) and also the Corrupted Imperial. But I don't know how to translate this proper into action. I want the Empire to be proactive and moving on with their investigations. It'd be nice a crazy scene where Corrupted Imperials + ISBureau agents + PCs fight.

 

Any tips/ideas would be greatly welcome!

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Have some innocent people/PCs friends benefit from the crime & corruption, perhaps? Some poor souls whose lives, and their families' lives, all depend on the smuggling operation? And of course, assuming you play EotE with criminal connections for Obligation, the PCs bosses could easily be involved at some level down the money trail and therefore have issues with the entire thing.

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Corruption is a culture in the empire military 

you can easily throw in a faction of navy officers abusing their power to transport the drug on imperial ships (the empire doesn’t do everything with its star destroyers, it has gozanti, shuttles, transports, etc...)

throw in the rebellion doing their thing unaware of the smuggling (or aware, they’re moral so they aren’t especially happy with spice trade unless they don’t have any other choice) and you can have a 4 sides battle and potential allies and story hooks (they prefer to use rebel converts but aren’t against using unaffiliated mercs if they have to, just mercs usually decline due to opposition being the empire)

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So you are looking for ways to stretch this out for multiple sessions, instead of just being a one-shot?

If BBG is coordinated and intelligent enough to take over an illegal operation of that magnitude, then BBG would be smart enough not to have it all in one location. You could have the party track down multiple locations, needing to constantly change their identities (and maybe ship) in order to dodge the ISB and bounty hunters.

Or have them start at the outlying locations, with the final goal of being the jungle planet. They could form alliances with people inside the organization that have become disillusioned, or maybe even too greedy for their own good and want BBG out of the way.

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Hey, @Josemix! Good to see you again.

My main suggestion echoes @SuperWookie. Form a chain of clues for them to follow. But I'll elaborate:

You'll need to work backwards, so here's a sample supply chain: end user-distributor-scatterpoint-storage-producer.

They'll probably start somewhere along that chain. From the item's perspective, it's produced and then sent to storage to be shipped offworld. Then it's taken to the logistics planet and dispersed among various ships to take it to various destinations. Once a barrel of the stuff arrives at the destination, it's given to the seller who then sells it to the end user.

If you've got No Disintegrations or Endless Vigil, they have good rules for investigations, but I'll simplify it here:

You make an "Investigation check." First you determine a "Big Question": "Where is the supply coming from?" To find that, you have to ask a series of smaller questions "Who sells the stuff?" "Who transports the stuff?" "What is the stuff?" "Where do the ingredients come from? Are they readily available, or particular to a location?" etc.

Then you make a Knowledge or Streetwise check to determine where to find an answer (substituting other skills at GM discretion).
Here's a difficulty chart:
Simple: Basic information that is required to operate within the field in question.
Easy: Standard information that is widely known in the field in question.
Average: Information that requires basic research or is common only to specialists within the field.
Hard: Moderately obscure information, requiring research or a dedicated specialist to discover.
Daunting: Obscure information, requiring significant research, even from a specialist.
Formidable: Rare information, which requires special permission to access or is kept secret by those who know it. In extreme cases, information of this rarity might involve one or more Difficulty dice upgraded to Challenge dice.

Then there is a table for Advantage/Triumph and Threat/Despair.

Here are some suggestions:

Tracking the ingredients:
Average Streetwise to buy a sample of the drug, then Hard (upgraded once) Knowledge (Xenology) check to find a specialist who can pin down the ingredients and tell them what it is and where it comes from (Despair means he sells them out or reports them to law enforcement for possessing illegal drugs).
Then they have to track down where on the world the lab is located. This depends on how populated the world is. If it is very populated, infiltration is easy but discovery is harder, requiring them to track down transport pilots or whatever. If it is very sparsely (or even almost completely not) populated, infiltration is much more difficult but discovery is easy as they just have to look for the traffic.
In the first case, this would probably be a Daunting Knowledge (Outer Rim) check to find someone on the planet who knows, and/or a series of checks and encounters as they try to find records or whatever to point them in the right direction. Or it may simply make the other way of doing this job easier.
In the second, the only necessary checks would probably be the ones to infiltrate the planet, whether through stealth or bluffing.
If they know the planet, have them make a Knowledge (Outer Rim) or Astrogation check (not an Investigation check) to see if they know the location of the supply way-point (the "scatterpoint" step).

Tracking the supply chain:
Average Streetwise to meet up with a dealer, then checks to convince him to tell them where he got it. If they know the scatterpoint, this step becomes less necessary as they can go directly to the spaceport and try to find out what ships came from the location, and then have a talk with the crews.
Once they've tracked it to the scatterpoint, then they need to find the transport that shuttles it from the planet. If they know the planet, this step becomes less necessary, though it is helpful for pinning down where on the planet they need to go.

Note: For all the above steps, it's important to know who knows what they're moving, and who is a patsy. Someone who doesn't know what they're transporting is much more likely to be cooperative.

Either way, they eventually reach the warehouse on the world. From here, it's a simple matter of tracking the vehicles delivering the supply, which probably simply means following a road through the jungle. Maybe a Survival check, but it's probably an obvious track and therefore a check would be unnecessary.

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Rival energy companies are good allies to have. I was thinking about this over lunch and remembering when playing through some planets on SWTOR MMO, there are loads of opportunities to form temporary alliances with a galactic corporation if it means they will gain exclusive control over a resource or customer base (I just reread your post and you do mention BBG isn't the only source).

I also forgot to mention that the party doesn't have to honor any commitments to getting the job done. After stopping BBG from the drug dealing and making sure BBG gets punished (or likely killed, it's Star Wars after all), the party still might blow up the resources and deny any other crime types the opportunity to fill in the blank afterwards. Which wouldn't make the Empire or corporation very happy with them, so the bounty hunter problem would never go away 😅

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Amazing replies everyone!!! Thank you so much, so many ideas I can incorporate.

This is a campaign by the way, we have been playing since January. Well, it's a sub-campaign part of a bigger one that came from d6.

I wanted my players to switch to this system which we all love now because it is quite free (even though some bits of the book are very granular). The main challenge of this campaign is that has to fit within the timeline the other one has (my players are cool with this).  BBG of this campaign was just a minor mob boss on the other one and the timelines are about to meet.  Basically I have used it to do the homework of translating the system to Edge of Empire FFG from d6 and will probably be back to the other one. It's quite good because the players are playing just  a bit more reckless which has given us lots of fun.

 

Anyway, thanks so much everybody! I have work to do now :D

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