Business Name: Public Library
Frontier Date 14.112
ALTERNATE MEANS OF ACQUIRING STARSHIPS
If players are unable or reluctant to get a bank loan for a starship, the referee should consider the possibilities listed below. These are ideas only, not rules. The referee must make his own rules based on common sense in these situations.
Government Subsidies: Some planetary governments will subsidize the purchase of a starship if the characters being subsidized have demonstrated that they can be trusted, and have agreed to use the ship in a way that benefits the subsidizing agency. Basically, the government loans money to the characters (at a low rate of interest) so they can purchase a starship that fits the government's specifications. The characters then must use the ship in government service until the loan is paid off. Examples of areas a government might subsidize are long passenger or freight lines to remote worlds, transport of dangerous materials or desperately needed high-overhead cargos, privateering, or a government courier service.
Crime Organizations: Characters who are unable to secure bank loans, either because of their unsavory reputations or because they lack collateral, may be able to get a loan from a large criminal organization. In return, the criminals may demand very high interest (60 to 100 percent per year is not unusual) and will hold the title to the ship until the loan is paid off. They may also demand that the characters use the ship to do "favors" for the organization, such as smuggling illegal cargos, helping fugitives escape the police, or using the characters' business as a legitimate front for criminal activity, In some rare instances, criminals may allow characters to put themselves up as collateral for a loan. If the characters default on the loan, the criminals will track them down and either sell them as slaves or kill them and sell their body parts on the black market, using their brains to build cybernetic robots. In all cases, characters looking for criminal backing must make their own contacts and arrangements. The referee must remember that only the largest criminal organizations have the resources to make these types of deals, and criminals do not become powerful in the Frontier without being ruthless and aggressive.
Corporate Lease: A corporate lease is similar to a charter (see Business Ventures), except the company owns the starship. The characters agree to take a smaller percentage of the profits in return for use of the ship. The characters usually have the option to buy the ship, applying their lease payments to the purchase.
Joint Ventures: Characters can raise cash to purchase a starship by selling stock in their business. Persons who buy the stock are buying a percentage of the prof it earned by that ship, and gambling that their share of the profit will be more than the cost of their shares. Characters can sell whatever percentage of their profits that they wish, but should be sure to keep enough for themselves to assure they can stay in business. At the end of each fiscal period (200 or 400 days are common), the business must deliver dividends to its shareholders. Share holders who feel they have been defrauded or ripped offwill almost certainly complain to the authorities.
Used Ships: Corporations (and occasionally governments) sometimes sell old ships. These ships typically are sold for 40 to 80 percent of their new value. The disadvantage to buying a used ship is that characters must take it as it is, and must pay a starship construction center to make any modifications they want. Used ships may be damaged when they are sold (nonfunctioning drives, defective computer, etc.) and are more prone to breakdowns and malfunctions than new ships. The referee should feel free to let the life support or some other system break down right after characters take possession of the ship, just to let them know what they can expect in the future.
Payment: A corporation or research group may be willing to sign over a ship's title to characters who use the ship on an extremely dangerous and important mission. Such ships usually are very old, however, and subject to the same disadvantages as used ships. Players must negotiate such arrangements themselves.
Patron's Ships: Characters may be able to find a ship owner who has no crew. If the patron is willing, the characters can agree to serve as the ship's crew, using it in the patron's service. Characters may even agree to work free, letting the ship owner keep their wages as a down payment against eventual purchase of the ship.
Salvage: According to interstellar law, any ship that is found abandoned and adrift in open space is the property of whoever salvages it. This can lead to interesting adventures, especially if the previous owner decides to reclaim the ship or a lost cargo hidden in a secret hold.
Hijacking: While it is extremely risky, it is not unknown for pirates to hijack a commercial or military starship and divert it to their own use in a remote corner of the Frontier. Any characters trying this should meet a lot of resistance, both from the ship's crew during the hijacking and from port authorities and the Star Law Rangers after the hijacking.
Deus ex Machina: As a last resort, the referee can intervene in the players' behalf with some miraculous event ("Your rich great-aunt just died and left her mining ship to you. After all, it is a family heirloom.")
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