Citizens of the Imperium

Citizens of the Imperium (
-   timerover51 (
-   -   T51:1889 IC Game 01: Washington, DC (

timerover51 February 22nd, 2014 08:02 PM

T51:1889 IC Game 01: Washington, DC
Greetings all. SpaceBadger's merchant character will be soon making a presentation to the Secretary of the Navy regarding possible trade goods for use with the Martians for liftwood. All PC will meet in Washington, D.C. prior to departure, so you can work out details as to who is doing what. I will be posting information regarding caravan travel on the Precis site. Continue to watch for News Flashes prior to leaving and when you get to Mars. The US Trading Community publishes its own Newsletter.

Note, if you look at the map in Conklin's Atlas of the Worlds on the Dead Canal route from Thymiamata to Oxia, you will notice highlands with High Martians on BOTH sides. They have been known to visit caravans looking for goodies. You will have a couple of wagons, pulled by ruumet breehrs, so not exactly light ones either, full of goodies. Hill Martians have also been known to visit caravans looking to see what is not thoroughly nailed down. (If they can pry it up, it is not nailed down.)

Your party will need to determine if they are going to carry most or all of their food with them on the caravan. Remember, Martian food is renown for its spiciness. You have been warned. Hunting will be possible, if you are nice to the caravan master.

One other comment, you might want to pay some attention to your fellow passengers on the USEF Columbia.

SpaceBadger February 23rd, 2014 03:52 AM

Before the meeting, depending on how much time he has from arrival in Washington to the actual
scheduled meeting, James Laclede will attempt to accomplish the following preparatory tasks:

1) Find a good tailor and have a good quality suit made for him (or altered from stock, only if
there is not enough time for a custom suit). He is ten years behind on appropriate fashions, so
will ask and take the tailor's advice as to what is appropriate for a successful businessman to
wear - not the suit of a millionaire mogul or wealthy politician, but of a successful self-made
man of business. He will also buy a new shirt and shoes and socks to go with the suit.

2) Locate a globe of Mars that he can use in his presentation. I don't know how common these
would be; if possible, he will buy a cheap one so that he can dab it with green paint; if that is
not possible, he will go up as high as necessary within the heirarchy of his hosts1 to find one
that he can use, and will very carefully apply bits of green modeling clay that should be
removable so as to leave no mark on the borrowed globe (however, he will not mention this plan
when borrowing, following the maxim that in times of dire necessity it is better to ask
forgiveness later than permission before time).

3) Organize the notes that he has prepared during his journey from Mars to Earth, making a final
list of suggested trade items. When his list is complete, he will find a printing shop and
arrange for typesetting and printing of the list in quantity sufficient for 200% of the number he
is expecting to address (better too many than too few). He will arrange for delivery to his
hotel, stressing (and if necessary, paying extra to assure) the need to have them before the
scheduled meeting.

4) Visit a few shops near his hotel, picking up a few sacks of raisins, dates, prunes, dried
apricots, lemon drops, hard candy, stick candy, and Luden's cough drops.

FN 1: If necessary, he will go to the Smithsonian
Institution for the globe of Mars; they are sure to have something that will suffice.
He has various trinkets from Mars with him that can probably influence someone
in the Martian Studies department to loan him the globe.


SpaceBadger February 23rd, 2014 04:00 AM

When all of his preparations are complete, Laclede relaxes at his hotel until it is time to go to
the meeting; if it is within a few blocks he will walk, if further he will hail a cab. At the
meeting place, he introduces himself to whomever seems to be looking to greet him, then follows
directions to the conference room.

When introduced, Laclede goes to the podium and arranges his notes in front of him, lays out a
stack of information sheets that he has had printed, and stoops to place his other items (bags of
goods, and the globe of Mars) under the table within easy reach.

Then he clears his throat and begins to speak: "First, let me state what an honor it is for me, a
travelling merchant, to be here addressing The Honorable Benjamin Tracy and you other
distinguished gentlemen of the government. For those of you that I have not met, my name is James
Laclede and I am a native of the great State of Missouri. However, I am not here to address you
on my personal history, but to advise you gentlemen on the best goods and methods of trade to
improve the results of purchasing of Martian liftwood for the United States Navy. My
qualifications for advising you on this topic are that I have been a successful travelling
merchant on the planet Mars, over a reasonable portion of its settled and wild areas, for the
past ten years."

Before going on, Laclede reaches under the table and sets out the globe of Mars in front of him,
where his listeners can see it.

"I will attempt not to insult anyone's intelligence by going over too much information that you
already know, but I have been away from Earth for ten years and am not entirely familiar with how
much knowledge of Mars you gentlemen may have, so I will go over some basics and will be open for
questions after my presentation if I have omitted some important fact."

He taps the globe. "This is a globe of Mars. The most advanced civilization of Mars, the Canal
Martians, live in individual city-states and a few larger nations centered around the canals and
the ancient cities at the junctions of canals. Overall, we Earthmen have found the Canal Martians
the easiest to deal with, as they understand civilization and commerce. Unfortunately, the Canal
Martians have no liftwood of their own, but must purchase it from others, the same as we do. In
that sense, they are our competitors in the market for buying liftwood from those who have it."

"So who does have the liftwood? All of our purchases, and those of the Canal Martians, are from
the second breed of Martians, the Hill Martians. I have spent a great deal of time with the Hill
Martians myself, and could lecture you about them at length, but that is not the purpose of this
meeting, so I have sought an easy comparison to civilizations that you are all familiar with: the
American Indians. Now I understand that much has changed in the ten years that I have been gone,
but the comparison I wish to make would be to the tribes as encountered in the areas between the
Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains, say fifty years ago. Some tribes were more civilized
than others, but when not actively at war with us, most could be communicated with and traded
with. Unfortunately, one never knew when approaching a particular encampment whether they would
be reasonable in trading, or angry over some recent incident and looking for a white man to
scalp. That is what most of the Hill Martians are like; they may be ready to trade and share
hospitality, or they may be looking to kill you and take whatever they find of value. However, in
the market for liftwood, their role is simple: they are the middlemen, trading with the High
Martians who control the liftwood, and selling it, often through repeated sales from which each
seller extracts as much profit as he can, eventually to the Canal Martians, or in more recent
years to us Earthmen."

"There, you see that I finally mentioned the actual source of the liftwood: the High Martians.
Contrary to their name, these are the lowest of the Martian breeds in terms of civilization; the
name comes because, unlike the other Martian breeds, the High Martians have the ability to fly,
and they live in high places, difficult to access. It is in these high places that the liftwood
natually grows, and despite centuries of trying, the Canal Martians have been unable to get it to
grow anywhere else. And to extend my analogy of Martian breeds to the American Indians with which
you are more familiar, these High Martians are the wildest barbarians of the bunch, analogous to
the wildest Apaches and Comanches of Texas and New Mexico. They would as soon kill you as look at
you, and are much more likely to try to take what they want by raiding than by trading. It was a
tribe of these High Martians that recently captured the American Ambassador and his daughter, and
if not for the gallant raid by the United States Marines, aided by British naval vessels, I'm
sure they would have met a grisly end. The High Martians are not to be trifled with, yet I am
about to suggest to you that the first goal of this expedition must be to establish trade
directly with them, cutting out the Hill Martian and Canal Martian middlemen who raise the prices
at each stage of the liftwood trade."

Laclede takes a sip from his water glass and waits for the commotion to die down.

"Yes, as many of you are no doubt aware, if we are able to establish direct and continuing trade
with the High Martians, we will be the first Earthmen to do so, despite two decades of trying,
since the value of liftwood was discovered. But note that I said that should be our first goal,
not our only goal. If direct trade with the High Martians proves impossible, as it has for all
other Earthmen on any regular and sustained basis, then our secondary goal must be to establish
trade with Hill Martians as close to the source as possible, to remove as many middlemen as
possible from the stream of trade and thus obtain lower prices and greater quantity of liftwood
for the Navy's needs, both on Mars and here on Earth."

"Naturally, those who are being cut out of the process will be hostile; we may be able to mollify
them by establishing trade in other goods for mutual profit, but to begin with, any transport of
liftwood will need military protection. I leave the details of that to you military men who no
doubt know much more than I of strategy and tactics, but would offer as suggestions the
establishment of a strongly defended and fortified trading post as near as possible to where we
would be taking possession of the liftwood, and either direct transfer to ether ships there at
the trading post for transport to Earth, or else either strongly defended caravans or armed
airship tranport to Thymiamata, to be loaded there into ether ships for transport. Eventually our
works in the area should have a civilizing influence at least on the Hill Martians, and perhaps
even on the wild High Martians, as they all realize the benefits of trade with us and the high
risk of trying to take what we have by force, but to begin with we must be prepared to defend
ourselves at every step of the process, as we shall be stepping on a lot of toes by changing the
liftwood trade in this area to our own advantage."

SpaceBadger February 23rd, 2014 04:07 AM

Laclede takes another sip of water and puts his hand on the globe again, idly turning it. "Now I
have mentioned Thymiamata; it is my understanding that this city has been chosen as our base for
this expedition and for the export of liftwood which we hope to obtain. I had no part in the
choice of this city, and in fact it lies in one of the few areas of Mars that I have not yet
visited in my travels, but upon consideration I applaud the work of whoever made this decision.
Thymiamata is here," he indicates on the globe, "the northernmost city of the Tossian Empire,
which lies generally in this area," again indicating on the globe. "The green spots are my own
inexpert addition to this fine globe, but each indicates known sources of liftwood, or at least
highlands that are prime areas where liftwood can be expected to grow. As you can see, there are
two such areas to the north of Thymiamata, which I recommend as our initial goals in trying to
establish direct or at least nearly direct trade for the liftwood." He turns the globe slowly as
he indicates further areas of importance. "Way over here is the British area of influence, which
as you can see is rather large and centered on their possessions in Parhoon and in particular the
great city of Syrtis Major. By distance alone, we will not have to be in competition with the
British in establishing this trade. Now over here, much closer and to the north of Thymiamata, is
the French area of influence, but I must tell you that I do not consider them to be serious
competition either. Way down here to the south is the Coprates Valley, which I must tell you
frankly has been ruthlessly conquered and enslaved by the Belgians, who abuse the natives
abominably on their plantations. The Belgians are opposed to almost anything we Americans do on
Mars, but fortunately are unable to do much more than bluster. Between the Belgians and
Thymiamata lies the bulk of the Tossian Empire, with which I understand that you gentlemen, or at
least our State Department, are establishing a favorable diplomatic relationship, as the Tossians
are quite nervous about Belgian aggression against them."

Laclede shuffles his notes, bringing the list of proposed trade goods to the top. "So far I have
been speaking primarily of geography, anthropology, and strategy, all areas with which I am sure
there are men in this room more informed than myself. In fact, whichever of you were involved in
conceiving this expedition and arranging to bring me here probably already know everything that I
have told you so far, if not precisely from a trade viewpoint as I have attempted to provide. Now
let us get down to brass tacks, the advice for which the Navy brought me here from distant Mars,
to share with you my experience and suggestions on trade goods for obtaining the best results
from this undertaking."

"One thing that you must understand is that essentially all trade between Earth and Mars is
barter in exchange of goods. We Earthmen on Mars, ourselves and the Europeans, still use our
dollars and pounds and livres and whatnot for bookkeeping even on Mars, but a merchant shipping
goods to Mars is truly engaging in barter, regardless of whether he first sells his cargo for
Earth money and then uses that Earth money to buy Martian cargo to bring home, or skips the
middle step and directly trades one cargo for another. It will be the same with our trade that we
hope to establish in liftwood in the area around Thymiamata; the dollars will not matter except
as a means of bookkeeping. It is my understanding that the United States Navy is currently
purchasing liftwood in that area for $7500 per lot. I want to explain that as a result of our
negotiations and work on this expedition, it will not matter if the end result is paying $10,000 per
lot for the liftwood," he pauses and raises his hands to quiet the muttering, "so long as we
find other goods to trade with them for a greater value. This is bartering; the dollars are only
for bookkeeping."

"For example, and please forgive some exaggeration to make the point, but suppose our final deal
has us paying $15,000 per lot for the liftwood? I'm sure your first reaction would be that
doubling the price paid would be a total failure for this expedition. BUT..." Laclede takes a box
of raisins out of one of his bags and lays it on the table where all can see. "Suppose that at
the same time we establish a trade in these raisins for $15,000 per box. Now if you consider it as
exchanging this box of raisins, which I purchased earlier today for 3 cents, for one lot of
liftwood... then that suddenly sounds like a very good deal, does it not?"

"Thus, another goal for this expedition... not only to shorten the links in the trade chain for
the liftwood we buy, and to obtain the best price possible, but also to establish trade in other
items so that we come out ahead in the barter of these goods for the liftwood. And by the way,
this may be the hardest concept to explain to the general public here in America, so I am glad
this is not my job, but it matters not one whit whether we are selling the trade goods for dollars
and using those dollars to buy the liftwood, or trading the goods directly for the liftwood;
economically, if we can exchange goods that are of lesser value to us for a greater quantity of
liftwood, that is a success for the Navy, obtaining more liftwood for less real cost."

SpaceBadger February 23rd, 2014 04:10 AM

Laclede takes the stacks of pre-printed lists of proposed trade goods and passes them to be
distributed to everyone in the room. "Some of these items may surprise you, and I expect to hear
some laughter and perhaps disbelief as you peruse these lists that I have prepared, setting out
what I propose as some ideal potential trade goods. Since the initial expedition will be
travelling to Mars by ether ship and then out to the hills and highlands by caravan and pack
animals, I have concentrated on items that I believe will have the best ratio of value to burden
(which is not only weight but also bulk). This is to maximize the trade value of what we will
have with us as we establish this new trade system, the better to impress those with whom we will
be dealing. Trust me, with the state of trade in the wild areas of Mars, actual goods on the
table or carpet carry MUCH more impressive value than promises of goods to be delivered at a
later date."

Laclede smiles out at his audience. "I can hear from some of the comments the general reactions
that I expected, so let me explain a few of these items that may seem the most odd to you. Miss
Boynton, the American Ambassador's daughter who was kidnapped and imprisoned by a tribe of High
Martians, has assured me that they were utterly delighted with the small quantity of Graham
Crackers that she happened to have among her rations, so those go right on the list. It is well
established that both Canal Martians and Hill Martians are absolutely besotted with this simple
candy," he produces a box of lemon drops, " so I propose bringing not only a large supply of
these, but also similar sweets, my selective criteria being similarity to the lemon drops in
either consistency, sweetness, or sourness." He dumps out the bag to reveal a variety of hard
candies, stick candy, and boxes of Luden's cough-drops. His next bag has another box of raisins,
a sack of dates, and a sack of prunes. "Dried fruit preserves well for travelling in dry
climates, and except for the Swamps of Gorklimsk, everywhere on Mars is a dry climate. All of these
examples also retain their taste very well in drying; before we leave, I intend to inquire as to
the possibility of drying citrus fruits, as I know nothing about that, but believe that if such
can be prepared they would appeal to Martian tastes."

"I have other items on the list, trade goods in metals which are in poor supply on Mars, or goods
that have evidently not yet been invented," (or have been invented and forgotten, he thinks to
himself, but does not say aloud so as not to distract his audience), "such as field glasses,
telescopes, small signalling mirrors, and the like. But I want to emphasize these foodstuffs that
I have here on the table before me. I believe that these are the most important items for us to
obtain favorable exchange in barter, for two reasons: first, that they are consumables, so that
if we establish a demand for them we can continue to trade in them to supply that demand; second,
that to the Martians they are exotic luxuries. Here on Earth most food is not traded over long
distances because it is simply not worth the transport expense. But imagine this box of raisins
as a tin of Beluga caviar, or of French truffles, or of the finest Swiss chocolates. For such
goods, distance is not an issue, because there are those who crave such delicacies and will pay
enough for them to make the trade profitable even over long distances. That is what we have here,
if we can guess intelligently and experiment with our proposed customers and establish those
tastes for these items as luxury goods. We will not be hawking these in a marketplace to such
humble Martians as may wander past seeking lunch or dinner; no, we will be giving these as gifts
to the highest decision-makers of whatever groups we are dealing with, and then establishing our
trade with them, in exchange for the liftwood."

"Those are my ideas and the principles underlying my reasoning, gentlemen. You can see I have
many more possible items on the lists that I have handed out; the choosing of amounts of each
good will be a balancing act attempting to achieve the best value for burden, as I commented
earlier. Now, gentlemen, if you have any questions, I will do my best to satisfy them."

timerover51 February 23rd, 2014 12:50 PM

SpaceBadger, I will go through this later tonight, but it looks good. You can get a nice globe of Mars readily in Washington, as it is of great interest to people.

Gold is $20.67 cents per ounce .999 fine, but I round to $20 per ounce. I need to find the price of liftwood for aerial flyers, as I am not finding it in the basic rule book. Only price given is 200 per ton of lifted mass for an Ether Flyer, but that gets it to near orbit. Figure that the US is paying 150% of the British price, and some liftwood is available to civilians at 200% of British price.

timerover51 February 24th, 2014 12:22 AM

Update on Liftwood Costs. In the basic rule book, there are TWO mentions of liftwood costs. One is under "Synthetic Liftwood" on 67, which gives a cost of 150 per ton of lifted mass or 7500 per hull size if using the Sky Galleons of Mars ship-building rules. The other is on page 82, where it is stated that liftwood costs 200 per ton of lifted mass for Ether Flyers.

Sky Galleons of Mars does not show ANY cost for liftwood in its ship design sequence. Cloudships and Gunboats simply repeats the design rules for Sky Galleons. However, when you look at the ship costs shown in Cloudships, there is no way that a 7500 per hull size in included in the cost of the ship. Example, the HMS Aphid, hull size 2, cost 23,220. Per the design sequence, the steel hull would cost 10,000 per hull size, and another 7500 per hull size for liftwood, so 17,500 per hull size, so for a ship of hull size 2, the base cost for hull and liftwood would be 35,000. Looking at the rest of the ships, there is no factor for liftwood costs in the construction cost.

Cloud Captains of Mars has a 20-ton Aerial Scout, powered by a petrol boiler, and costing 2000. No liftwood cost in that one either.

As for Ironclads and Ether Flyers, the costs for Aerial vessels is $10,000 per hull size, rams cost $1000 per hull size, engines cost $1000 per engine size, and armor is $10 per ton. For surface naval vessels, the costs are in British pounds. For Ether Flyers, Liftwood hulls cost 20,000 per hull size (includes hull structure and liftwood), steam engines cost 2000 per engine size, and armor costs 100 per ton. I assume that the Aerial Vessel costs should be in Pounds Sterling, not Dollars, but why the doubling in cost of steam power plants and increase in armor cost by a factor of 10 for Ether Flyers is beyond me.

So, based on all of that, what is the cost of liftwood? For Ether Flyers, it is either 200 per lifted ton or 10,000 per hull size (100 per lifted ton). From Sky Galleons of Mars, Cloudships and Gunboats, and Cloud Captains of Mars, cost is Zero. From Ironclads and Ether Flyers, the cost for Aerial Vessels is Zero. Base rule book, under "Synthetic Liftwood Cost" is 7500 per hull size, or 150 per lifted ton. Given the range of costs, the only option I see is make a house rule for cost while trying to keep the costs of Aerial Vessels within the range of the existing ship design sequence in Sky Galleons, which appears to be the basis for the other rules.

Therefore, the cost to the British of Liftwood on Mars is 1000 per hull size of 100 tons, with ships of less than 50 tons costing 20 per lifted ton. The British government sells liftwood to private individuals on Earth for 1500 per hull size of 100 tons, or 50 per ton of lifted mass for vessels of less than 50 tons. Liftwood is normally shipped from Mars in lots sufficient for 5 to 10 hull sizes.

That would mean the costs to the U. S. of liftwood at Thymiamata would be $5000 times 1.5, so $7500 for liftwood for a 100-ton hull. That reflects the following supply chain: High Martians sell to Hill Martian traders, Hill Martian traders sell to caravan traders, traders sell to brokers in Thymiamata, brokers sell to the U. S. Thymiamata receives $250 export duty on every hull-size lot of liftwood. The U.S. Liftwood Consortium will sell to private individuals in the U.S. lots of liftwood for $12,500 per lot, with the U.S. receiving an import duty of $2500 per lot, duty going to fund to purchase additional liftwood. A "lot" of liftwood is defined as the quantity of liftwood needed for a ship of 100-ton hull size.

Your party's objective is to establish trading connections directly with the Hill Martian traders at the least, and the High Martians if possible, to reduce the cost to the U.S. to close to that of Britain.

Note: To get an Ether Flyer to at least 24,000 feet requires twice as much liftwood as is needed to reach Very High Altitude. As the Aerial Flyers are not carrying oxygen, and their steam engines are operating at atmospheric pressure, unless of forced draft design, that would put an operating limit of between 8,000 and 12,000 feet on the Aerial Flyers.

timerover51 February 24th, 2014 12:24 AM

SpaceBadger, I forgot to tell you that the meeting will be at the Washington Navy Yard. Sorry about that. Figure on taking a cab.

SpaceBadger February 24th, 2014 10:33 AM

[OOC: Thank. I did not see a price anywhere, and thought that this would be the sort of thing you are good at figuring out. Liftwood prices per lot now edited in place of $xxx in Laclede's speech.]

James Laclede looks around at his audience as he prepares to take questions regarding his presentation.

timerover51 February 25th, 2014 10:39 PM

Secretary Tracy:

Thank you very much, Mr. Laclede for your detailed and informative presentation. I believe that we have some questions for you, and may wish to meet with you again if necessary for additional discussion. We will, of course, meet with your entire party before leaving.

As you know, the acquisition of additional liftwood is of great importance to the United States and the Navy in particular, given the extensive coastline of the country and the great distance between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Capt. Mahan (gesturing at him) views the use of Aerial Flyers as vital to a successful defense of our coasts. Gen. Miles (gesturing at him) regards liftwood flyers as being of great assistance in rapidly transporting troops to vital areas, and also for extending the vision of our coast defenses, on which great sums are being spent, further out to sea. Capt. Zalinski (gesturing at him) has proposed the concept of dropping the projectiles fired by his "dynamite gun" from aerial vessels on attacking warships, which is something that both the Navy and the Army are quite interested in, while the potential for dropping these missiles on army units is also quite intriguing. The State Department (gesturing at another gentleman) has requested that a Royal Naval officer accompany you on your expedition and we have agreed to allow this as the area where the British purchase their liftwood, as you said, is a considerable distance away. We greatly appreciated the assistance of the British in the rescue of Ambassador Boynton and his daughter. In order to increase our knowledge of the people with whom we will be, hopefully, trading, we have also granted the request of the Canadian government for an anthropologist to accompany your party. We understand that you will have some additional associates accompanying you on the trip, in addition to Capt. Cochrane's Marine detachment.

Now, on to some questions.

First, what is your view of the use of hand weapons and implements made of the special bronze alloy of the Sharps' Company in trading with either the Hill Martian middlemen or the High Martians?

Based on your experience on Mars, how violent a reaction might some of the current liftwood traders have?

How large a quantity of the various goods would you anticipate taking? There is limited cargo space on the Either Flyers, and we appreciate your focus on selecting goods that you believe will have the highest return for their weight and bulk.

We do wish to maintain good relations with both the government of Thymiamata and the Empire of Tossia, so are you anticipating supplying the Prince of Thymiamata and the Emperor of Tossia with some samples of your goods?

Also, we have just supplied the city of Thymiamata with an advanced solar boiler powering an irrigation pump. In your view, would material such as this encourage Thymiamata and the Tossian Empire to assist us in acquiring liftwood?

Lastly, based on information furnished by Lt. Edward Very and confirmed by the Office of Naval Intelligence, the French are apparently paying even more than the United States for liftwood, although that is coming from a different area. It is understood that they wish to gain an advantage over the German Empire in the use and deployment of aerial flyers. How may this influence your trip?

Lastly, and this question is more for Gen. Miles to research, what would be the cost of establishing and maintaining such a fortified trading post as you propose somewhere nearer to the source of supply?

(Note to SpaceBadger: You might want to check with Vladika on the idea of trading technology with the Martians. Also, watch the News Flashes. They are not just for color.)

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