Citizens of the Imperium

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kilmore August 23rd, 2011 12:27 PM

Bad Free Trader
 
It seems to me that there aren't many legal boundaries to the behavior of civilian starship crews aside from smuggling, piracy, and stealing the ship. As far as I can see, even murder on board the ship isn't against the law.

By and large, most traders try to keep a good reputation, as a bad reputation can travel faster than Jump-1. But in frontier zones, there may be more travellers than ships to carry them and some ships may profit by exploiting their passengers.

Some things I can think of...
1. Skimping on life support: feeding the passengers crappy food, not recharging the atmosphere enough, saves a couple hundred credits per passenger.

2. Indiscriminate double berthing: without regard to species and sex.

3. Secretly recording within staterooms: possibly for sale to shady a/v producers at starports.

4. Hidden fees: for debarkation, retrieval of passenger's cargo, etc.

None of these are activities recommended for a ship that still needs to make monthly payments. But for a scuzzy old trader on the fringes that rarely makes the same port twice and can sell middle passage for less than five grand, it may be viable.

Do the passengers have any legal recourse at all? Or do they just post a hot little note on the local Angie's List?

atpollard August 23rd, 2011 03:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kilmore (Post 379800)
Do the passengers have any legal recourse at all? Or do they just post a hot little note on the local Angie's List?

They can hire Mercs to settle the problem ... I smell an adventure. ;)

aramis August 23rd, 2011 03:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kilmore (Post 379800)
It seems to me that there aren't many legal boundaries to the behavior of civilian starship crews aside from smuggling, piracy, and stealing the ship. As far as I can see, even murder on board the ship isn't against the law.
[...]
Do the passengers have any legal recourse at all? Or do they just post a hot little note on the local Angie's List?

From various sources in CT/MT/T20:
We know there is an "Imperial Ministry of Trade".
We know that prices are fixed at a barely profitable rate for a pure-hauler J1 design. Including some expenses (Fuel, LS).
We know that there are inspections.
We know that local laws of the world of registry apply on ship.

These imply some form of regulation not explicitly shown.

indiscriminate double berthing: get what you pay for... caveat emptor.

Skimping on LS: requires RP-mode handling... once the rep is out, I'd hit 'em with a penalty for finding passengers...

Vid recording: only a problem if unlawful on a given ship's homeworld, or if they're an imperial noble... the former, you sue them or press charges on their homeworld's legal basis. The latter, well, a few quick complaints and the harassment ensues: last in the repair cues, deliveries a day later than rolled, etc., as a favor to the local noble.

Hidden fees: subsumed in the same authority that price fixes passage, fuel, LS, and maintenance costs. REAL quick way to get your commercial tags pulled IMTU...

samuelvss August 23rd, 2011 04:23 PM

IIRC, there are scattered references to Imperial regulations in canon.

I agree with Aramis that clearly there IS a body of regulations assumed, and as facilitating interstellar trade is one of the Imperium's most important functions, they are probably comprehensive. They are probably not oppressive enough to restrict trade, but enough to make it a mutually attractive proposition.

As to the passengers having no recourse, IMTU at an A or B starport, there would likely be some pointy-headed imperial bureaucrat to complain to, who could take swift action.

I guess the real issue is some poor slob be hauled from a Class C to a Class E starport. Now here is where a trader's reputation would be important, and one can assume that some sort of rating systems would exist. This would be an excellent function that the TAS could also fulfil. 1 Cr paid to each passenger who fills out a survey, and a fee of 5Cr to check out up to 5 traders. This would not keep some traders from trying to outrun the bad reports, but it would give potential passengers some options to try to avoid such riff-raff.

whartung August 23rd, 2011 05:16 PM

Well, here on Planet Dirt, ships are under the jurisdiction of the flag that they sail under. They're never in an extra-legal state. Dunno if traders fly a particular planets flag, or an Imperial flag, or what. But I think that's a good start.

I do not believe that passengers are at the legal whim of the commander and crew of the ship with no civil or criminal recourse. Sure there are outback, frontier areas, but there's a lot more area that aren't. Pretty sure a ship can't simply show up at a destination with a passenger missing from the manifest without someone taking notice.

rancke August 23rd, 2011 05:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by aramis (Post 379808)
From various sources in CT/MT/T20:
We know there is an "Imperial Ministry of Trade".
We know that prices are fixed at a barely profitable rate for a pure-hauler J1 design. Including some expenses (Fuel, LS).
We know that there are inspections.
We know that local laws of the world of registry apply on ship.

These imply some form of regulation not explicitly shown.

We don't know that the fixed prices is anything but a game artifact. Common sense and various canonical facts (such as the existence of jump-3 and jump-4 merchant shipping) argues that the price fixing is not real. But other than that, you're right. Imperial law does apply to starships.

It's also quite possible that the law of the world where the ship is registered likewise apply.


Hans

Rigel Stardin August 23rd, 2011 05:29 PM

Traveller Aid Society would also be able tell you which trader have a less than stellar rating.

sabredog August 23rd, 2011 05:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by atpollard (Post 379803)
They can hire Mercs to settle the problem ... I smell an adventure. ;)

I concur..its at least a good excuse for a fistfight and maybe change of ownership if the players are getting cheated. But that depends on how far on the raggedy edge you are. But I doubt that its easy to get legal remedies to apply to Free Traders unless they jump along a short string of worlds and you knew for certain they would be cruising back that way so you could sue them or something.

In Vance's book, The Face, (the first of the Demon Princes stories) the protagonist draws he attention of the bad guy by seizing what is ostensibly a Free Trader of sorts because as the protagonist's lawyers points out, "Such ships inevitably trail a myriad petty and minor charges and infractions behind them as they move from world to world that no one wants to bother with the expense and trouble to pursue." Gersen lays liens on one of those - some minor fee unpaid and the tale goes from there.

IMTU its the same story: and the players almost always have little things like that following them around that sometimes cause minor trouble (read: empty their pockets at the most inconvenient time) but the above example shows how hard it would be to go after an entity that is always on the move. Its not like you can just zip out after it in a zodiac when it left port.

shield August 23rd, 2011 06:27 PM

One of the old white dwarf adventures had an imperial office responsible for sapceworthiness of vessels and ensuring they had the correct number of lifeboats etc.

Challange Mag also mentioned Imperial Design Packages for common designs to ensure common standards for equipment / interfaces across the empire so that an item built at Vland works at Terra.

This would imply the 3I has sometimes quite extensive regulations on trade (SPA springs to mind) so various safety inspections would pick up the poor food, inadequate life-support etc.

Imperial Ministry of Justice + local police forces and the marines will do law enforcement. I think I remember somewhere that the planet has juridiction up to 100D, everything else is Imperial domain.

I imagine that passengers complaining of inadequate lifesupport and very dubious food are the bread and butter of all those SDB and patrol cruiser inspections.

sabredog August 23rd, 2011 06:56 PM

It good fodder for having a few corrupt officials who look for bribes to allow shady cargo or minor violations pass in exchange for a "donation" to the Widows and Orphans Fund. And for the space cops in the equivalent of speed traps who might bust out a tail light (er, nav beacon) to write a crooked ticket so the locals can make some extra revenue.


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