Thursday, March 31, 2011

Gritty Finances in Traveller Part 1: Starting Out

I've resolved to try to create a template of process of character creation for traveller where he uses real world present day financial instruments and tools to purchase his first ship and get his first job, to begin his campaign.

It is a great exercise to practice my accounting and writing about it helps me better remember, see how well I understand the topic, visualize and find deficiencies in my understanding of the concept.

Financing. Financing is the skill of managing cash or cash-like resources, knowledge of financial instruments and tools, where to get financing and how to get and meet requirements, as well as the some methods used to hold, move, protect, and appreciate cash. It can be said that a character with Financing (better with Market Analysis) can invest his/her money in stocks instead of leaving the banks to try to appreciate their cash assets.

Financing in IMTU. In ISW174, there is that unusual financial set up where backers just throw money at the character. It may sound like I'm exaggerating but I'm aware of accounting practices that make even non-munchkins drop their jaws in rules abuse. Share-holders are the first to pay and last to collect. So any creative accountant can just make-up frivolous expenses (like a brand spanking new $150k battle suit as a "necessary" defense measure on a Tramp merchant, a team building exercise in a pleasure dome, a "subcontractor", etc.).

Backers will always have stiff requirements, the most common sense approach is to micro-manage. They will require "touching-base" after a period of time augmented by a fail-safe or some collateral. They will want the returns at their soonest, even if it is in relatively small increments. It can also be having someone of absolute sure loyalty and a shared-stake be on that enterprise (but that is an added expense, unless as an asset to the mission the oversee-er more than takes care of the situation).

The Agent. The micromanager is a BIG role-playing challenge. Some are Assets and others are Burdens, or worse: liabilities to the mission. They are the ACE of the GM's sleeve, and managing them is more of a roleplaying and process-organizational challenge. It is the annoying thorn on the PC's side, or the hidden asset they take for-granted, or worse fight against.

Collateral. Another common method of securing such great investment and risk is by giving a collateral. Collateral is rarely equal or greater than loan for a business, this is because if one has assets equal to that of their New business (the starship), then what is the point on taking a risk on something new. if you have a pretty good business to use as collateral, auditors will be scouring the finances and hedging their bets (asking more in returns) at such a "irrational" financial decision.

So the GM can best assign collateral costs as equal to the cost of chasing after the characters and allowing the backers/financiers to recoup their cost or the possibility to earn better plus lost revenue during the time of the action. Heck thats even a adventure Hook: the players are the collection team and their first mission is bringing back that $170M armed Qian/Akkigish class ship. Its like Bail jumping.

Fate and Finances. The best kind of financial backgrounds are those handed by fate, instead of planned and bought, particularly rolling with the good and the bad. The truth about every individuals Finances is that there is a huge amount of chance, that points should not try to balance. It is these kinds of twists is where creative Acquisitions come from, particularly the trade-offs that blind-side the character.

So if ever, the use of chance through Life-path tables or story telling with dice are always useful in such game beginnings.

Part II. To be continued, still working on the Annual expense sheets for Hero, Beowulf, Marava, Qian, and Akkigish. There are just so many variable expenses and I'm still sorting through the static costs. I'm using as a baseline Uncertain markets that need plans to mature in 2-3 years (8mo-12mo in planning).
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