Evidence of Identity
Worlds in the interstellar community need trade in order to support their own economies. Trade provides goods the population may not otherwise have access to, and provides valuable foreign exchange. Interstellar trade is dependent on the transport companies which carry cargo and passengers between systems. Worlds along the major trade and express boat routes are fortunate. in that they are served as a matter of course by large, scheduled freighters and liners. Off the major trade routes, worlds are served by the smaller feeder transport lines.
Worlds off the major routes have found that ship subsidies can be used to establish dependable trade service. The concept of a ship subsidy involves second-order trade policies. A first-order trade policy is followed by a trading company intent on making a profit; second-order trade policies involve making trade possible without necessarily generating a visible profit. Governments can often be content to have the fringe benefits of trade – such as the higher tax incomes which result when trade increases the local standard of living.
The “March” class subsidized merchant is an example of a merchant ship intended to fill otherwise vacant trade channels for worlds which feel they need commerce. Its large cargo capacity makes it reasonably efficient, although its small jump drives restrict it to jump.1 and thus to worlds which lie within one parsec of each other. March class merchants are produced throughout the Spinward Marches, and have an excellent service record. Available from a variety of shipbuilders. the most notable producers in the Spinward Marches include General Shipyards, Ling Standard Products, GSbAG, and Clan Severn. Subsidized Merchant type R): Using a 400-ton hull, the subsidized merchant often called the fat trader! is a trading vessel intended to meet the trading needs of clusters of worlds, usually under a subsidy.It has
- Jump drive-C
- Maneuver drive-C
- Power plant-C
- Giving performance of jump-1 and 1-G acceleration.
- Fuel tankage for 50 tons supports the power plant and allows one jump-1.
- Adjacent to the bridge is a computer Model/1.
- There are thirteen staterooms and nine low berths. The ship has two hard-points and two tons set aside for fire control. No weapons are normally mounted.
- There is one ship’s vehicle: a 20-ton launch.
- Cargo capacity is 200 tons.
- The ship is streamlined.
- 1 pilot,
- 1 navigator,
- 1 engineer,
- 1 computer technician,
- 1 medic,
- and up to 2 stewards or cargo hands.
Up to two gunners may be added to replace stewards or cargo hands. The pilot also normally operates the launch. The ship can carry eight high or middle passengers and thirteen low passengers. The ship costs CrM101.03 (including 10% discount for standard designs) and takes 14 months to build in a space dock or dry dock.
NOTE The Ugly Bastard is non-standard in one respect: over the years, the crew have been able to find weapons for her, and the ship now mounts two turrets, each with dual beam lasers.
Subsidy Agreement: The usual text of a subsidy agreement calls for a ship to service an agreed-upon route for at least 70% of each year; for the remainder of the year, the ship can undertake charters or service routes to other worlds. In all cases, however, the subsidy holder receives 50% of gross revenues. At times unscrupulous ship captains circumvent these provisions by smuggling.
The subsidized merchant makes money by carrying passengers and freight for a fee, and spending less than the received amount in fees for ship upkeep and operation. By examining the potential revenues and costs, it is possible to ascertain how much money the ship can expect to make in transport operations. The information below is computed on the basis of one trip per two weeks, and is for one trip.
Revenue: The fat trader can expect to make income from four sources: high passengers, middle passengers. low passengers, and cargo. The ship has eight staterooms available for passengers, and nine low berths for low passengers. Cargo hold capacity is 200 tons.
“Passengers: With the staterooms full, the ship can carry 8 passengers and expect an income of Cr80,000 for one trip. If all are middle passengers, this Income can reach as low as Cr64,000. Vacancies can reduce this income still further.Low Passengers: The low berths can return Cr1,000 per passenger, or Cr9,000 if the berths are full.
Cargo: The ship can carry up to 200 tons of cargo, and return Cr200,000 per trip if the hold is filled.
“Costs: The ship has a series of continuing expenses to be met as it operates. These include fuel, ship payment (or subsidy payment), life support, maintenance, salaries, and berthing costs.
Fuel: The ship requires 50 tons of fuel for each trip. Refined fuel is preferred, at a cost of Cr25,000 (Cr500 per ton). Unrefined fuel can be purchased (Cr5,000) Cr100 per ton at starports, or is available free from gas giants or oceans. Unrefined fuel creates a possibility of drive failure or misjump.
Ship Payment: The Ugly Bastard is a subsidized vessel, and 50% of its gross income must be paid to the subsidy agent “Caldel Vagrianaii” (prick, makes sure he gets the payments “On Time”). Payments may be made at any class A, B, C, or 0 starport. Or contingently efficient repo agents. Although the amount due is a large fraction of the total income the ship produces, a standard ship payment would be more: Cr211,000 per trip.
Life Support: life support costs amount to Cr2,000 per passenger or crew-member and Cr100 per low berth. Assuming a full ship, the fat trader would pay Cr26,900 per trip for life support.
Maintenance: In anticipation of annual overhaul, the ship should allocate a portion of each trip’s income for maintenance. This amounts to Cr4,042 per trip.
Salaries: The crew is paid according to a standard monthly salary scale with bonuses based on skill levels. This amounts to Cr12,500 per trip (half month).
Berthing Costs: Berthing costs are unpredictable, but can be approximated at Cr100 per trip.
Revenue and Expenditure: Assuming a full ship (passengers and cargo) the fat trader can expect revenues of Cr289,000 per trip. Costs associated with that trip amount to Cr215,842 (including the 50% subsidy payment). Net return after costs for the trip is Cr73,158. However, real events do not often run that way. Cargo holds are rarely full; passenger staterooms often carry middle rather than high passengers. The actual business of turning a profit using the fat trader requires careful attention to detail.
Ship’s Operating Fund: The Ugly Bastard’s income and expenses pass through a fund managed by the owners of the ship (the captain, the pilot, and the engineer). All salaries, fuel and maintenance costs, and other expenses are paid from the fund. and all income generated by the ship goes into it. The fund is managed by a board of three. The captain has five shares, the pilot two, and the engineer three. The board votes to decide how money is to be used. Payments to the subsidy holder are the fund’s first requirement, followed by other expenses. If there is excess money, the board may vote dividends to the shareholders.
NOTE When the The Ugly Bastard comes out of the shipyard from its annual maintenance, at the beginning of the campaign the operating fund totals Cr112,816.
The Ugly Truth: this is a euphemism for The ship’s sources of income which do not, strictly speaking, depend on the operation of the The Ugly Bastard. The subsidy holder does not receive 50% of the income from these operations, which must therefore be kept separate from the operating fund. This separate fund is called the Ugly Truth/The Truth/or the Trust. Most often, this fund is used to purchase cargos for speculation and to buy cargo space for them on the The Ugly Bastard (paying standard rates to the operating fund). This is normally managed by one of the Cargo handlers. When the goods are sold, the income is placed in the shadow fund. The shadow fund is also run on the basis of shares. At the beginning of the adventure, there are 100 shares, of which the captain has 20, the cargo hand 40, the engineer 10, the medic 20, and the pilot 10. The fund’s total assets at the beginning of the game is Cr23,660. Any shareholder may sell shares to any crew-member, and the shareholders may vote to issue new shares to anyone in return for cash placed in the fund.
Dividends can also be issued by vote. Each share currently has a theoretical value of Cr232.66. The shadow fund has sometimes loaned money to the operating fund.
STARSHIP DETAILSFrom the exterior, the The Ugly Bastard is a streamlined, somewhat chunky starship with a modified delta swept wing. Huge cargo doors break the lines of the nose, and form the rear tail area. Smaller loading doors are visible on both sides of the ship, and control room windows on the upper surfaces.
Riding piggyback on the upper surface of the ship is its 20-ton launch. The ship itself rests on large landing gear pylons which hold the ship at a standard height above the ground. These pylons are capable of “kneeling” to change height and place the cargo deck and bow doors at a better level for cargo loading and unloading.
Interior Walls: Interior walls are partitions; they are non-load-bearing panels firmly fixed in place. They are not pressure tight, and cannot withstand a concerted assault. Inflicting damage on such a wall with a weapon will destroy a hole large enough for one person per turn to pass through.
Sliding Doors: Set in interior walls are sliding doors. Such doors save space over conventional swinging doors, and so are standard on most starships. They are not air-tight, and serve merely as privacy screens. They may be broken down in the same manner as interior walls. Sliding doors are powered and open completely (assuming ship power is on) when approached if set to automatic by the nearby wall mounted stud panel. Sliding doors may be set to manual or locked (from the other side, from both sides, or by the computer) and an amber or red light shows on the stud panel to indicate a manual or locked condition. When ship power is off, sliding doors will no longer operate automatically; they may be overridden by brute force.
Bulkheads: The major structural components of the ship are the bulkheads, and they represent the compartmentalization of the ship for damage control and environment maintenance as well as the outer hull of the ship. Bulkheads are very difficult to destroy; an energy weapon or explosion must produce 1000 hit points in order to breach a bulkhead; bullet-firing weapons are ineffective against them. All deck floors and ceilings are assumed to be bulkheads. Hatches: Hinged pressure doors secured by a hand-wheel and extending bar. They are not automatic, and are not controlled by the ship’s computer; simple sensors will indicate to the bridge if the hatch is open or closed.
Cargo Doors: Large hinged doors which fit snugly and pressure-tight. They allow access to cargo areas. Generally powered, and often with extensible ramps, they allow large cargo items to be loaded easily.