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Author Topic: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)  (Read 19353 times)

Daryk

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)
« Reply #60 on: 23 November 2022, 16:37:44 »
Are you familiar with the https://www.gruese.de/innersphere/ site?  They might give you a way to display those routes graphically...  ^-^

AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)
« Reply #61 on: 21 January 2023, 00:08:05 »
Piracy and Privateering in the Age of the Jump Sail
‘Space Pirates’ these words evoke a series of emotional reactions in the hearts of the space going public of the Inner Sphere. The reality is far more banal, during the First Star League era the Terran Hegemony’s Fleet ensured that piracy was little more than a fanciful idea fit only for speculative fiction. During the Succession Wars things took a turn for the worse as Hegemony warship fleets faded into distant memories. During this scavenger age everything was up for grabs and pirates flourished seeking out enemy jumpships for the prize money or ‘recovering’ lost technology from ill-defended lost colonies.

The Free World’s League was infamous for the skill of their privateers which exacted a heavy toll on the Lyran Commonwealth and a Capellan Confederation otherwise distracted by their better equipped adversaries, the Federated Suns and Draconis Combine. Until the 30th century the only protection free traders could obtain was operating under COMSTAR’s Aegis. Piracy tapered off until it mostly ended in the 30th Century as the Third Succession War dragged on and what little interstellar trade was conducted occurred mostly on COMSTAR vessels or with a military escort. There were still pirates but for the most part they operated as bandits attacking settlements with their jury-rigged gear and robbing them rather than taking Jumpships.

Before we continue the terms ‘pirate’ and ‘privateer’ need to be more thoroughly defined. A ‘pirate’ is a space combatant operating unofficially as a criminal while a ‘privateer’ is a mercenary operating under a Letter of Marque with defined targets and prize terms however we will stick with ‘pirate’ for this essay. This duty is often not the vessel’s primary business with many operating as independent cargo, mining, or salvage vessels. Due to this, detection of pirates is difficult as the crews operate opportunistically and have contacts capable of laundering the loot alongside legitimate or smuggled cargoes.

Now your next question is likely when and how do pirates operate? Due to the extraordinary velocity of a system transit it is almost impossible to intercept except at the very beginning or end of a the trip. Thus there are three targets favored by pirates that move slow enough. Ground attack will not be discussed as these are basically smash and grab raids.

First, asteroid or dropship based mines and isolated space stations orbiting outer planets are relatively stationary and filled with either valuable refined minerals or difficult to source and expensive tech. A single platoon of skilled Espatiers and some armed dropships can subdue the crew and security teams long enough to loot their cargo and escape.

Mothballed fleets of Jumpships also pose a tempting target for ‘scrappers’ and thus were often protected by civilian law enforcement or military patrols. Any flotilla left unguarded was rapidly stripped of anything valuable and often sold back to the original power or their rivals at a tidy profit.

Secondly, shuttles and dropships traveling to moon bases or around orbital space are lucrative targets with a low startup cost. Orbiting space stations are as protected as terrestrial starports and moon bases have all the disadvantages of attacking a spaceship added to taking a terrestrial fortress. These pirates are often based on the world they are victimizing, and their activities benefit rebels or criminal elements on world. This method of piracy is the most common type as it only requires armed shuttlecraft, small teams, and some decent intelligence.

This is also going to be the only mention of waterborne piracy we will discuss. Inexpensive fast boats, hovercraft, or helicopters give a daring force the ability to rapidly overwhelm the ship’s crew and take control of it. Typically, the crew is ransomed or some cargo is stolen by pirate vessels as large freighters are difficult to protect from planetary authorities constantly trying to snuff out this type of piracy. Nevertheless, it is lucrative enough and there is almost always enough corruption or isolation to protect the perpetrators.

Finally, the most impactful form of piracy occurs at the Zenith and Nadir Jump Points, here Jumpships and Transshipment space stations are the preferred target as they are large, slow, and valuable. Since most ‘pirates’ are only part-times they don’t typically want to kill people they might do business with or who might come to their rescue in the future.

Due to this understanding most of these encounters result in an extortion payment in the form of spare parts or precious metals, the most valuable and fungible trade goods among Void-dwellers already stocked in high volumes. Some choice cargo containers typically carrying high tech goods are also transferred to the ‘pirate’ vessel as well.

This will ultimately translate into slightly higher operating costs for dropship cargoes and jumpship insurance. Sometimes Jumpships, never personal legacy vessels, are seized but the prize crew will transfer the previous crew to a neutral port in the future and treat them decently in the interim. Most will also give the crew enough money to make it home or find a new job prior to being dropped off.

The fragile and fast nature of spacecraft complicates the pirates task in taking control of it. While each pirate vessel might use a different method two have risen to prominence with two more for those less scrupulous outlaws. Preferred pirate vessels are those under 5 kilotons and mounting a tug adaptor as these are handier at the helm. Most are modified versions of the Unity or Trojan craft with additional quarters for their Espatiers (‘For paying passengers’) and armed with weapons (for self-defense). Pirate ships still must maintain large cargo volumes for their principal role as freighter and to transport their loot they are unable to pose any real threat to anything more than a few fighters or assault shuttles and must flee if a real system patrol vessel threatens.

‘Tamer’ pirates utilize armed spacecraft, either a small flight of fighters or assault shuttles to threaten the thrusters of a target vessel, this is an expensive and time-consuming repair but not typically life threatening although there are exceptions. This coercion is often enough to force a target to ‘heave to’ and subject themselves to boarding.

A more daring option is to directly or through deception force a boarding action with Espatiers against a Jumpship, Space Station, or immobilized Dropship. These Espatiers are often equipped with reinforced space suits and lightweight weapons ranging from micro grenade launchers and automatic shotguns to ‘Buster’ forced entry tools. Unless there is a similarly equipped force on the target vessel a platoon is sufficient to seize the flight and engineering decks.

For the more unscrupulous Pirates such as those that operate out of the Marian Hegemony and Circinus Federation additional options are available. The most sinister is the use of an emergency broadcast beacon to lure in prey before pouncing. Standard procedure for any recovery operation leads with a security team in an independent shuttle. Bloodthirsty pirates can overpower these individuals holding them for ransom back to their home vessel on threat of execution or enslavement.

The other option is to lay remote controlled traps, these will broadcast irregular radio signals mimicking a defective locator beacon loud enough that they can be detected at a distance. These come in two forms, an attack satellite that will automatically engage curious vessels with heavy weapons at point blank range inflicting serious damage or damaging the vessel bad enough that it needs to be abandoned. Then the pirates come in to ‘rescue’ the survivors to the nearest slave market and claim the damaged vessel as their prize.

Another option is that a bomb is attached to the inside of a container which broadcasts either an old spoofed SLDF signal or easily decrypted signal stating that it contains something valuable. Once the bomb is taken onboard the trap is sprung and the pirates make it clear that they control the device and will detonate it unless the vessel stops moving and allows itself to be boarded.

Due to this distasteful behavior the Outworlds Alliance and Magistracy of Canopus maintain an ongoing ‘dead or alive’ bounty on Marian and Circinian pirates. Planetary governments will also reward bounty hunters for the verifiable destruction or capture of pirates or information regarding their hiding places.

AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)
« Reply #62 on: 24 September 2023, 18:49:54 »
Colony in a CONEX
The starter home of former space dwellers or military personnel


Ever since the Age of Exploration humanity has continued the development of their colonies. Initial settlement has colonists living on their landed spaceships and indeed this continues to be the norm for resource colonies or nomadic factory ships. The next step toward colonization requires prefabricated buildings built into EU containers. These semi-permanent facilities provide expanded capabilities and more comfortable living beyond what a normal spacecraft could offer.

The three types of Colony Ergonomic units (CEU or ‘Coos’) are used for a variety of purposes. They consist of a number of prefabricated and flat packed components combined with inflatable or tent like panels. MCEUs (30 ton cap) are often used as workspaces/garages, the largest (60 ton cap) as housing, while the smallest (10 ton cap) are typically utilities.

We will start with the utilities. When applicable Solar Power is preferred with the day’s production stored in large external batteries to provide uninterrupted power. While uncommon throughout the Inner Sphere and unheard of for new colonies solar power satellites can transmit power via microwaves.

On oxygen rich worlds internal combustion power plants (with either electric generators or steam boilers) are used as they are cheap, easily serviced, and effective. These are powered by liquid (oil, alcohol, ammonia, natural gas) or solid (biomass and coal) fuels that must be regularly resupplied. Transporting these commodities interplanetary is expensive so they are sourced locally when possible.

Higher tech colonies without access to these sources or who are pollution averse use high temperature fuel cells (alcohol or hydrogen). Remote, barren colonies or those on airless worlds use fission or fusion power plants despite the higher acquisition and maintenance cost.

Fuel Storage is achieved by putting the LCEU vertical and this is typically true for Water and Granaries as well. These cylindrical silos and tanks require some assembly compared to the more common horizonal towed liquid or bulk storage tanks towed by trucks. However, this assembly enables triple the capacity giving it the same storage capacity as a MEU of that type. Just as often though water is stored in lined ponds or impounded lakes when possible. LCEU’s frequently also nicely serve as independent shops with the shopkeeper living in the back or above.

MCEU’s can also be used for this type of storage but are more commonly used for workspaces and garages. Common Medium Prefabricated (CoMPs) structures can be built with a light vehicle bay and some extra storage capacity for its crew, spare parts, and maintenance facilities. Often, they serve more general functions, such as smaller dormitories, livestock barns, workshops, and form the core working parts of many settlements.

HCEUs can be expanded out to serve as berthing for colonists although the number they can berth depends on the life support needs of the colony. Temperate breathable worlds just need shelter and supplemental heating or cooling. A more hostile world will require substantial investment in Closed Ecological Life Support more like Ship’s Quarters.

Tent tunnels will sometimes be erected between these structures for weather protection. On more hostile environments these will be reinforced with more resilient textiles capable of withstanding the environment.

Once colonies establish themselves or the campaign is over these CONEX colonies will transform these old containers into warehouses or storage. Although they are weather resistant these are not meant to be permanent settlements, merely a transitory step to a full colony.

You can judge a colony’s success on whether they are digging firm foundations or living out of a fancy box with some brand name emblazoned on it. Its tough work being a pioneer but fortunately the human spirit is inexhaustible in its quest to leave a legacy on the Universe. Dedicating a bronze statue or plague memorializing you, that your great-grandchildren will be proud of is just a nice bonus.

Daryk

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)
« Reply #63 on: 24 September 2023, 19:16:49 »
Interesting idea, but the minimal tonnage of Fusion Rechargers and the infamous 25-rated Fusion Engine would seem to tilt more towards fusion power for the majority of these...

AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)
« Reply #64 on: 24 September 2023, 19:26:34 »
Interesting idea, but the minimal tonnage of Fusion Rechargers and the infamous 25-rated Fusion Engine would seem to tilt more towards fusion power for the majority of these...

Perhaps but all of these are made according to the construction rules for buildings (with some modifications, mostly presuming CF=tonnage and some cribbed numbers for sustainment). Vehicular power plants and small rechargers (with solar and fusion being explicitly uncommon or rare) apparently aren't rated for utility grade power since the generator building's mass apparently includes all transformers and other infrastructure for transmission.

Daryk

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)
« Reply #65 on: 24 September 2023, 19:42:10 »
I'm looking at page 132 of TO:AR, and Fusion seems to have the smallest multiplier of all self-contained generators.  What am I missing? ???

AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)
« Reply #66 on: 24 September 2023, 19:52:44 »
I'm looking at page 132 of TO:AR, and Fusion seems to have the smallest multiplier of all self-contained generators.  What am I missing? ???

It can support 10 (hex*levels) without a fuel supply. The others cannot, except solar but that is a hanger built structure so it can support 30t of Solar and it costs it. That said you need someone capable of maintaining a fusion reactor.

Daryk

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)
« Reply #67 on: 24 September 2023, 19:55:30 »
Isn't a Tech Team a Tech Team?  It seems if you're supporting 7 people for your power generation anyway, why not fusion? ???

AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)
« Reply #68 on: 24 September 2023, 20:20:49 »
Isn't a Tech Team a Tech Team?  It seems if you're supporting 7 people for your power generation anyway, why not fusion? ???

Because it might make you a target for some raiders (its basically a 220/225 Fusion engine plus structure) or they are difficult to find. Also Fusion, Fission, and Solar are C class technologies while Steam and ICE are A and B respectively (for some reason batteries are C as well although I think for the mass it should be B) and thus can be maintained by some local mechanics familiar with industrial equipment.

Fusion rated techs I imagine would prefer to make more money elsewhere than some starter colony (say ever eager Mercenaries or shanghaied by Pirates). Maybe when they get more established they could draw or train some up. That said there is nothing rules-wise on building maintenance in the rules so how often techs need to visit or if there needs to be operators on site. Presumably one *could* hire in some dropship or shuttle crew to service them, but that vessel would have to be present in system.

Wrangler

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)
« Reply #69 on: 24 September 2023, 21:58:21 »
Better Late than Never, I've added the missing section of this publication to the wiki.
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truetanker

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)
« Reply #70 on: 24 September 2023, 22:46:12 »
Wouldn't wind be a better ergonomic solution if wind power was available? Back it up with waterpower?

TT
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That is, if true tanker doesn't beat me to it. He makes truly evil units.Col.Hengist on 31 May 2013
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AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)
« Reply #71 on: 25 September 2023, 03:46:08 »
Wouldn't wind be a better ergonomic solution if wind power was available? Back it up with waterpower?

TT

Perhaps but both of those types 1. Have no rules associated with them, 2. Require specific site placement, and 3. Are the next step after the CONEX colony. I imagine that once the little semi-permanent colony grows up it will start to build dams and windmills in addition to highways and starports.

truetanker

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)
« Reply #72 on: 25 September 2023, 10:07:40 »
So a stationary bike is prebuilt into every unit along with a set of batteries.

Gotcha...  :wink:

TT
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That is, if true tanker doesn't beat me to it. He makes truly evil units.Col.Hengist on 31 May 2013
TT, we know you are the master of nasty  O0 ~ Fletch on 22 June 2013
If I'm attacking you, conventional wisom says to bring 3x your force.  I want extra insurance, so I'll bring 4 for every 1 of what you have :D ~ Tai Dai Cultist on 21 April 2016
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idea weenie

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)
« Reply #73 on: 25 September 2023, 21:52:10 »
Isn't a Tech Team a Tech Team?  It seems if you're supporting 7 people for your power generation anyway, why not fusion? ???

It is a Tech Team specializing in industrial fusion reactors vs military-grade reactors, Solar, large ICE, hydroelectric, wind power, Fuel Cell, or something else?

Similar to a mainframe programmer not providing PC support for family & friends:
"Sure I'll look at your computer.  For the operating system do you use VSE, z/OS, z/VM, z/TPF, or?"
"Um, Windows."
"Sorry, for that I call tech support."

truetanker

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)
« Reply #74 on: 26 September 2023, 13:20:07 »
It is a Tech Team specializing in industrial fusion reactors vs military-grade reactors, Solar, large ICE, hydroelectric, wind power, Fuel Cell, or something else?

Similar to a mainframe programmer not providing PC support for family & friends:
"Sure I'll look at your computer.  For the operating system do you use VSE, z/OS, z/VM, z/TPF, or?"
"Um, Windows."
"Sorry, for that I call tech support."

You sound like Knightmare... Narf! Squad...

TT
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That is, if true tanker doesn't beat me to it. He makes truly evil units.Col.Hengist on 31 May 2013
TT, we know you are the master of nasty  O0 ~ Fletch on 22 June 2013
If I'm attacking you, conventional wisom says to bring 3x your force.  I want extra insurance, so I'll bring 4 for every 1 of what you have :D ~ Tai Dai Cultist on 21 April 2016
Me: Would you rather fight my Epithymía Thanátou from the Whispers of Blake?
Nav_Alpha: That THING... that is horrid
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AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)
« Reply #75 on: 30 November 2023, 14:06:23 »
Monetary Theory and Interstellar Markets

We have discussed many topics of interest to Free Traders and have moved onto one of the most important ones.

Money

Specifically, what it is, who uses it, and why?

Since the first formal markets were invented in pre-history humanity has been exchanging something for something else. Typically, this revolved around some kind of standard that could be set to a commodity, ancient civilizations used grain and more advanced ones used precious metals. This caused no end of trouble and wars. These types of commodities backed currencies still exist on many underdeveloped planets within the Inner Sphere. It wasn’t until the 20th Century that monetary theory, global trade, and international services really took off and consumed humanity’s attention.

Throughout humanity’s early days of spaceflight and planetary governments this trend continued starting with the Terran Alliance, humanity’s first planetary government. With the Outer Reaches Rebellion, subsequent coup by James McKenna and foundation of the Terran Hegemony, then subsequent Star League, many of the foundations for the Inner Sphere’s modern economies were formalized.

The modern interstellar standard exchange truly crystallized with the first Hyperpulse Generator signal in 2630. Finally, there was a low cost, high throughput manner of transmitting information between inhabited planets. The Great Houses rejoiced because they had been reliant on courier ships jumping between far flung worlds within their empires for almost 300 years. A process that took a very long time and made interstellar trade difficult. Interstellar trade is still difficult but for different reasons now.

First Lord of the Star League, Nicholas Cameron, thus created the first C(ameron)-Bill which would be used for accessing this HPG technology and upon which all other currencies within the Star League could be exchanged. As the HPG system began to develop and more systems were deployed throughout the Inner Sphere ground rules and its rate were established by the Ministry of Communication.

It’s successor COMSTAR retained most of these and added a few of their own. Phi Branch refusing to wire any money but the C(OMSTAR)-bill through their network was the most contentious. This meant that interstellar trade was easiest to conduct in C-bills as House Bills required a fee to be turned into and returned as House Bills.

However, Imperial Authorities would only accept their taxes in House Bills thus they had to pay COMSTAR to get access to their own taxes in their own bills. The only other option was transferring physical bills or commodities across the stars. That however still would have earned COMSTAR money as they owned the largest interstellar shipping fleet in the Inner Sphere and were the financier for almost every jumpship in existence. As a supposed infringement on Imperial Sovereignty this earned COMSTAR the ire of the Great Houses, but what else could they do but accept it?

Having a standard exchange to all currencies and ample physical currency/commodities on hand COMSTAR’s C-bill was an incredibly soft power advantage for the Order. While they could manipulate markets that would damage their trustworthiness and neutrality making them less desirable partners. Thus, the Order mostly preferred arbitrage, buying low and selling high. By doing this COMSTAR provided a massive buffering effect on interstellar trade while helping stabilize planetary markets. With local information on planetary conditions and close relationships with leaders the Precentors could leverage the futures markets of a thousand worlds and redistribute commodities where they were needed most, at a profit. Holding onto warehouses of goods also kept their (or friendly) freighter holds as full as possible plus the fact that they could do so without being taxed on their property and capital gains helped as well.

Although the C-Bill [now (Clan) Council] is the gold standard of exchange there are numerous other types of money in circulation throughout the Inner Sphere. House Bills are commonly used for interplanetary or internal trade within an empire with many people never even seeing a ‘blueback’ as the C-bill is known. For this they serve perfectly well as regional (in the several planet sense) or planetary banks can operate where COMSTAR choses not to, at a consumer level as their fees are high and terms onerous.

Keeping a world in even Imperial currency is sometimes difficult though unless you have regular interstellar trade coming to your world. Planetary governments will issue their own currency (P-bills) for internal trade if they have a shortage of off-world currency coming in or would prefer to incentivize (or trap) local spending. COMSTAR does not normally accept P-bills beyond what it can use locally so these worlds must sell commodities to them or acquire House bills to transmit their taxes or pay for imports that are priced in C-bill equivalents. P-bills can only be used on that world or for things from it while having a typically unfavorable exchange rate set by agreement between Treasuries. These are rated from D to AAA based on how well the planetary economy is doing and whether they are paying their debts to off-world bankers.

Major corporations do the same in the places they have authority, circulating something known as ‘scrip’ which can only be used internally within that company to purchase goods or services they provide. Scrip is normally distributed in company towns and is a sort of non-voting stock coupon/credit. Some of the larger interstellar corporate scrip such as Irian, LAW, or Nashan can even draw a favorable exchange rate on par with AAA P-bills.

The Clans utilize the Purchase of Goods and Services (POGS) voucher which also acted as a type of scrip. Commonly known as ‘Work Credits’ this standardized, time-dependent, and codex linked, credit entitled the individual access to a certain value of goods produced by the centrally planned economy and available from a central exchange.

However, the value of these goods was never truly fixed and often subject to wild fluctuations within the Enclave or over time. Meanwhile an individual’s ‘work credit’ remained consistent and non-transferable outside the issuing Clan Enclave and subject to review for any reason. Thus, commodity and inter-Clan trading was conducted ‘awkwardly’ by an abstract ‘K’ (for Kerensky) value agreed upon by both parties.

While it was not discovered until the Wars of Reaving the Merchant Caste of several Homeworld Clans had been engaged in market manipulation and ‘cooking the books.’ Slight imbalances put supply and demand out of balance to maximize an enclave’s economic output while concealing this fact from Warrior oversight through arcane accounting practices. This unfortunately left most Clanners short of some less ‘profitable’ goods such as food or clothing, while more ‘profitable’ ones such as refined metals or complex manufactured goods were incentivized.

Any created beyond the centrally planned (and often very manipulated) allotment or which ‘failed’ quality control remained with the Merchants. These were in turn exchanged through Dark Caste or Society contacts with Deep Periphery groups such as the Hanseatic League and Jarnfolk or with the Second SLDF’s Huntress garrison for luxury goods or other contraband. Lootera quickly became a major smuggler’s port as Great House and other well-heeled enterprises were willing to pay big money for Clan manufactured goods even if they had to wait a long time for shipment. Some of the product was also used to pay Dark Caste to silence opposition from the Scientists and Technicians who could bring this manipulation to their Warrior superiors while rewarding those that cooperated.

When this was discovered, there was a massive purge in the Homeworlds that exacerbated the already fragile post-Reaving economy. To this day almost ten years after those events they have still not recovered while the Sphere Clans are thriving despite suffering massive damage during the Jihad after abandoning the ‘old ways’ in favor of greater integration with the Second Star League and Inner Sphere.