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Old 03-26-2024, 12:38 PM   #801
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Astromancer View Post
The Table of Ranks

This is a simple computer program (simple by the standards of the 3I) that sorts out the relative standing of Nobles in the 3I. Example: Some Dukes that are Dukes on their world but not Imperial Dukes would be seen as minor figures from the boondocks whose standing is somewhere below a knight but above a commoner. However, certain worlds have either more clout or simply greater prestige in the 3I. A non-imperial Duke from a world like that might be the equal of an Imperial Baronet or even a Baron.

The Table of Ranks is an essential tool for merchants and diplomats.
Now that's one I'll take up.
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Old 03-26-2024, 01:27 PM   #802
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Eddystone Investments Corporation:

While most of it's commerce is in the sectors nearby, the Principality of Caledonia has a finger in the commercial interest far across Known Space. Eddystone Investments cultivates an air of deliberate blandness in it's aesthetic, perhaps taking it to far. The Chief Factor's headquarters at Mora is a grey stone edifice that one could not mistake for anything but the headquarters of an investment corporation and the workers there dress in a similarly bland fashion.

Those who dig a little deeper find that it is a little more interesting. One of it's chief businesses is financing Free Traders. Typically it gives a choice between a "share-contract" and a "'percentage contract". The later is an ordinary interest loan. The former promises a share of profits until the principal is paid. Oddly enough a number of conspiracy theories follow Eddystone but one is precisely true: that it makes up conspiracy theories about itself as disinformation.

For in fact the secret about Eddystone is that it is what is called a "Shetland" in the slang of the Caledonian Royal Intelligence service. A Shetland is a shell company attached to Caledonian secret services. Some "Shetlands" are merely notational: they exist only to annoy analysts from rival services. Some are for the purpose of providing fictive employment of operatives: as a bit of of a joke the Prince is written up as a warehouse janitor. Other's are operational and that is Eddystone's real purpose. As further disinformation it is common to change some active Shetlands to notational status and vice versa, and change names of Shetlands. Furthermore Shetlands are seldom given names which hint at their real purpose. Often the names will be picked out of an unrelated source like a map of ancient Britain (several old pub names have had the incongruous good fortune to win knighthoods for several members). Eddystone was picked by an act of nepotism seldom tolerated in the RIS; the first CEO just happened to be fond of maritime history of Ancient Terra.

The truth however is even more intriguing than just bankrolling ordinary Free Traders. Eddystone is in fact a merc broker. It hires mercenaries either directly or through a tertiary intermediary. It will also find letters of marque for privateers seeking employment, generally in the name of a belligerent friendly to the interests of Caledonia or at least hostile to a power hostile to said interests. Another service it provides is smuggling, to insert agents, and supplies for allied partisans.

Players who take Eddystone charters can find any number of adventures from taking part in adventures themselves to going about the normal business of a Free Trader deliberately looking suspicious to provide a distraction.

The inspiration for "Shetland" was the famous Shetland Bus which smuggled to the Norwegian Resistance. The inspiration for using Shetlands as a generic term came from the CIA slang "Delaware" (incorporation is easier in Delaware so CIA shell companies are all Delawares). The inspiration for the idea in general however was the famous Air America.
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Old 03-29-2024, 11:17 PM   #803
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Data jewelry: This is a practice of many cultures that I may have referenced earlier. It is the wearing of information as jewelry. There are various means of doing this. Some are the latest in datacrystal technology and some are merely memory sticks embedded in a semiprecious stone or even a precious one, natural or artificial. They are worn as necklaces, carried on weapons and holsters and all the normal ways of display.

What makes them different is the containing of information. This can take several forms. It can be a series of family memories, an Aslan saga, artwork, a music playlist, or so forth. One famous use mentioned before were the world gems made by different planets for PR which carry information about the planet.

What they all have in common is input, output as well as exterior decoration. Most look little different from an ancient gemstone: many actually come out of mines. Inside however is the data.
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Old 04-06-2024, 11:13 AM   #804
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Tow drones:

This is a type of vehicle of various sizes used to tow vehicles along their base course flying nap of the planet. They have varying propulsion mechanisms, some even have more than one (a common package in worlds with cumbersome power generation and/or sparse placement of charging stations is to use propellers as a power save for hovering and grav for work).

Tow drones are popular because they can jump start a pre-industrial or semi-industrial world, of which several were left from the Long Night particularly outside the borders of the Imperium or in worlds of chronic instability. A tow drone can replace a beast for a vehicle made for draft: can indeed be programed to steer like a beast and work in tandem with other drones. But it has considerably more power. A larger one can replace an old style locomotive on such worlds (usually colonized by Solomani who often used methods from their histories when forced by isolation to "build down").

A free trader may at any given time have a cargo of tow drones.
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Old 04-06-2024, 11:27 AM   #805
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Hobby Stores:

Spacers are famously known for entertaining themselves with drink, sex, and violence in varying proportions and such things can be found in startowns. However many spacers instead of, or as well as such things desire supplies for more sedate hobbies that they entertain themselves with in jump space.

Famously artificial scrimshaw and whittling handbooks are known. Hand books on martial arts are also known; it isn't just the Imperial Marines that use obsolete martial arts as a means to exercise crew in jump space. Other common hobbys are tabletop or electronic games.

Massive modelling projects are to big for a starship though those who have a home base as opposed to a nomadic ship, often do make elaborate miniature railroad networks, cities, military engagements, etc. What is more common is to prepare material for a project at home (carving a piece for instance) or preparing a virtual plan. To this end information is sold in dataholders. Smaller projects too are important.

The main use of all this is chrome. Any GM who can figure a plot use for it is welcome however.
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Old 04-09-2024, 03:02 PM   #806
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Heir-dice:

These are dice set aside as a representative of a small group of travellers: a squad or just half dozen who berth in the same place. They traditionally decide who will get the kit of another on death or retirement. They therefore have a sacred, in many case religious significance. In the Imperial Marines, traditionally each facet of a die has a number and the different facets have the Imperial Sunburst, regimental heraldry, squad name, individual name, as well as black and white respectively on the one and six sides. Two sets of dice are given: on retirement a marine takes one set home while the rest of the squad gambles for his kit, using their own dice. The winner gets the abandoned dice as well as the kit.

Heir-dice are seldom used for mundane purposes and this is often felt to be bad luck (some units defy this rule to emphasize a boast that they are dicing with death). However depending on the local customs, it can be used for such purposes as dividing plunder, paying for a new recruit's first drink, etc.

Heir dice are not only known in the Imperial Marines. Many planetary and space based forces use their own variety as does the IISS, and the merchant service.
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Old 04-11-2024, 01:33 PM   #807
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Vicars:

In the ISW soon after the Terrans began their policy of commerce destruction in peacetime and de facto economic warfare against the brittle Vilani system they began encouraging reflaggings. By protecting defecting Vilani and giving them a retrospective letter of marque dated to one day before they put into a Terran port or voluntarily surrendered to a Terran ship they ratified barratry and received the official prize terms (bounty according to priority tables plus the option of keeping or selling the ship at auction). This of course caused a shipping desert by enticing ships to leave Vilani for Terran space in areas close enough to the front for captains to regard an easy treason as preferable to facing the Terran commerce raiders.

There was another and unexpected phenomenon. While many ships were feeder-route frighters who had little loyalty to their liege and much to their self sufficient crew (often including family aboard), many powerful Vilani began playing both sides. They would cleverly gain control of assets from the Vilani side of the border which they sent, often via smuggler, to Terran space to trade for goods on the other side, as well as maintaining bank accounts on the Terran side where currency transfer is more flexible. Typical vicars have a diversified array of holdings as well as several boltholes on both sides should their schemes be discovered. Terran intelligence was of course quite well aware of them and referred to them by the title they are known in history referencing the poem about the infamously disloyal folk antihero, the Vicar of Bray. While they were never trusted it was generally believed that Terra got the better of the system, a judgement on which the majority of historians concur.

A Vicar would have the Crime Lord template. Obvious adventures include smuggling by ships either secretly loyal to Terra or loyal to the Vicar in preference to the Zira Sirka. Or of course loyal to the bottom line.
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Old 04-11-2024, 01:51 PM   #808
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Shugali Book of Poisons:

From ancient times it was customary for Vilani high nobles to have a shugali specializing in looking for poisons. This text compiled at an unknown date with an unknown author has a list of myriads of poisons, their symptoms, methods of presentation, as well as antidotes and methods of detection. Supposedly a counterasassination text, it can be used just as easily by assassins. For this reason it is on the Restricted Books Archive in the Imperium, though easily acquired by those who know where to look. Copies are found in private libraries.

A considerable amount of legend surrounds this book. Some say it is an actual grimoire with magical curses. One of the favorite legends deals with the "lost chapters." There are actually several lost chapters: not chapters in the Terran sense as classic Vilani literature uses different organization. But there are promised sections of the book which are not found in any copy respected by scholars. Several supposed findings of lost chapters were made but none came to anything.
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Old 04-15-2024, 10:24 AM   #809
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Guildbooks:

In the Principality of Caledonia it is common for private organizations to publish literature. For guilds this is especially important as it provides advertisement as well as instruction to consumers for the use of their product. These almost always include a periodical format but often include an encyclopedia as well as full sized books or book series. Trade secrets will of course be redacted, but information that will assist the customer (not to mention whetting his desire) will be given out.

Naturally similar institutions throughout Known Space use similar practices.
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Old 04-16-2024, 05:33 PM   #810
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Leviegris:

This is a substance found in the head of the Skye Levies. Similar to the spermaceti of the Terran Sperm Whale (dispite the misnomer confusing it with ambergris) it is used primarily for echolocation. Unlike true spermaceti it carries a sharp but not unpleasant smell during the levies mating season, presumably to attract others of it's kind. This makes it favored among perfumers, and in some places it carries a connotation of assertiveness; for instance being used in ceremonies awarding a military success or even simply the winner of a contest in martial games (or of course a noble who never went near a battlefield in his life but enjoys the pretense). Actual Leviegris is hard to obtain requiring considerable danger in hunting and expense in shipping.

The processing of Leviegris is restricted by the laws of Skye as with all other aspects of the hunting of Levies. Traditionally the right of harvest in a given area is sold at periodic times by candlelight auction. Any harvester can resell the produce of his catch as with Leviemeat.
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