In the article High Finance by Terry McInnes from JTAS #13
"After a character has reached his late 50's or early 60s - an age when rough and tumble adventuring loses its appeal, he may wish to . . . settle into the brokerage business. Cargo brokers help ship captains get increased prices for their goods and charge a percentage of the final price for their services. Brokers also arrange the sale of goods by planetside farmers and manufacturers to ship captains who invest in these cargoes for resale to another world."
Cargo Brokering. Wow. You can make an absurd amount of money with this little technique, all without the wear and tear of adventuring. I ran the numbers, keep reading and you'll see.
|So you're sure this cargo isn't illegal on this world, right? Ohhh-kay.|
Each captain presents the good they want to move. Of course, the PC has the option to pass on any deal if they don't think it will be profitable.
The PC and NPC negotiate a percentage of sale price for the service. While the article does not state this, I assume that the PC's Admin or Bribery skill [Book 7, which introduced Broker skill, did not drop until 3 years after this artice's publication date] acts as a +DM on the throw to seal the deal.
The first round of negotiations is for a 20% cut of the sale price. If that is not acceptable, the PC incurs a -DM and can try again for 15%, then 10%, then 5%. It is possible for the deal to fall apart and the PC gets no contract. Time to move on to the next customer.
The -DMs stack up with each failed round of negotiation. If your PC skill is only skill-1, you'll get either the 20% or 15%, or fail. The -DMs make the other two cuts difficult, then impossible to get. That seems backward to me.
I rolled 10 sets of contract negotiation, assuming a Broker of Admin-1.
Deal % Cut Result
1 20% sold Body Armor at a loss of 140,000
2 15% Sold Radioactive for 1.6 Mcr, earned 900,000
3 15% Sold Farm Machinery at a loss of 270,000
4 Lost No contract
5 15% Sold Tin for 1.18 Mcr, earned 178,200
6 Lost No contract
7 Lost No contract
8 Lost No contract
9 20% Sold Grain for 85,000, earned 17,000
10 Lost No contract
The article does not elaborate on what happens when the Broker fails to make bank for the client. Does the Broker get his contract percentage regardless? This does not sound right to me.
As given in the article, and no offence to Mr. McInnes, there is literally no down-side to being a Broker. In two weeks, more or less, the PC made 1,365,200 Credits without breaking a sweat, and with no risk to himself.
That's it, I'm retiring from adventuring and becoming a Broker!
A PC with skill-2 or skill-3 would make even more, surely. Fewer lost contracts, and greater likelihood of pushing the sale price above the purchase cost.
How to balance this?
Without some risk of loss to the PC, this mechanism becomes a bottomless ATM. Here are a few ideas I had about introducing some uncertainty and risk into the Brokerage business:
- If a Broker loses say half of the contract offers in a week, the next week's throw for number of contracts is decreased by -1 or -2. This DM stays until the Broker lands all their contracts in a week.
- If a Broker loses money for two of their clients in a week, the next week's contract negotiations face an additional -DM. Word's gotten around, and the Brokers reputation takes a hit.
- If a Broker loses money for the client, their fee is reduced, or the Broker is forced to pay the client for the difference!
- If a Broker loses money, an angry Captain may take direct action against the Broker (Mugging, robbery, forcing Legal Encounters with accusations of fraud, etc.)