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Sweet SSUITE

This article originally appeared in the December 2014 issue.

This adventure uses Fuzzy Lawless as a patron NPC.

One of Fuzzy’s projects, that is most promising, is an integrated suite for partial automation of ships systems for IISS personnel, which he calls SSUITE. While the ship’s computer is involved in everything from jump to life support, navigation, and sensor operations (to name just a few), the interfaces on the TL9 “base model” Type S’s are somewhat byzantine. Part of this is the necessity for safeguards built into ship’s systems. Part of it also is that the systems were designed at TL9 by those who did not spend over three decades in the black, operating them at all hours, under all conditions. Fuzzy’s idea is to take TL13 expert system software, running off hand computers, to interface more intuitively with the ship’s systems—without altering the ship’s software.

This is a programming, testing, and refining problem that has taken years so far. The IISS has expressed theoretical interest in the idea, but Fuzzy is outside the R&D bureaucracy and administratively inept. His personality makes him the wrong person to sell the system. The SSUITE has the same problems and characteristics that all his programming packages do.

Fuzzy is looking, though not actively, for one or more people to finish the SSUITE project. Of particular use would be a team with Admin, Tactical, high intelligence and education, Liaison, Carousing, Computer, Mechanical, Electrical, Engineering, and even Bribery. Of particular use would be each person on the team who has Computer and one of the other skills. The SSUITE project will take 12D6 person-months to complete, reduced for skill as follows:

In all cases, Fuzzy’s work counts in the months required, but his skills do not gain him any bonuses. Every additional Type-S ship that can be devoted to the project will subtract 3 months from the completion time. Having members of the team with Engineering, Mechanical, and Electrical will reduce the time by one month, if they are able to look after the Worm’s systems for Fuzzy.

Example: The following team is hired to complete the project:

Bill 777777 Computer-1, Electrical-4
Bob 7777D7 Mechanical-4
Sue 777CC7 Engineering-2, Carousing-2, Computer-1 (She also has a Type-S, the Cherry Blossom)

Bill will reduce the time on his own by 8 months; as he has Computer skill, each of his 4 levels of Electrical reduces the time by two months.

Bob will reduce the time by 4 months; although he has EDU D (13), he does not have Computer skill, so each of his levels of Mechanical reduces the time by one month.

Sue will reduce the time by a full 12 months; with both INT and EDU C (12), plus Computer skill, each of her levels of Carousing (2) and Engineering (2) reduces the time by three months.

In addition, the three have Mechanical, Electrical, and Engineering, so if they are willing to work on maintaining the Worm, they will reduce the total by another month. Sue’s ship, if there is someone to operate it, will reduce the total by another 3 months. So these three will reduce the time by (8 + 4 + 12 + 1 + 3) 28 months. If the Referee rolls 12D6 for a total of 48 (48 months), the team will need 20 person-months to complete it. As 4 persons are on the team, they will have a completed project in 5 months.

Fuzzy will be generous about apportioning shares of the finished product, up to a point. No matter how many helpers are on the team, and how much they accelerate the project, he will not give all of them more than a total of 40% of the gross, plus reasonable expenses. If expenses involved hiring others on salary, that reimbursement will be capped at another 10% of gross. Fuzzy will be happy to explain these rules he has made to the party ahead of time, if they ask; he will even be happy to sign a contract to this effect. What he will not do is advance any money; the party will need to cover their own expenses up front.

There are various places that the finished software can be sold, though the IISS is the ultimate customer. It can be sold to the IISS or myriad computer software firms that will resell and support it.

Possible directions to take this adventure:

  1. The IISS offers 2D6 MCr after a period of 6 months for trials, tweaking, and debugging. They insist on exclusivity.
  2. The IISS offers 1D6 MCr after a period of 6 + 1D6 months for trials, tweaking, and debugging. They do not require exclusivity; Fuzzy and the party may attempt to sell it elsewhere as well.
  3. The IISS spends a period of 6 months for trials, tweaking, and debugging, at the end of which time a competitor sells the Service a similar product. The party gets nothing, but may attempt to sell it elsewhere.
  4. The IISS spends a period of 6 + 1D6 months for trials, tweaking, and debugging, at the end of which time a competitor sells the Service a similar product. The party gets nothing. If they attempt to sell it elsewhere, the competitor will sue, claiming intellectual property infringement.
  5. As with 4, but an investigation by the party will, on an 8+ (+ the highest of either Streetwise, Admin, or Legal in the party), detect that they have been subjected to industrial espionage by the competitor, which stole the SSUITE and made minor changes. A lawsuit will cost 2D6100 kCr upfront, and win (1D6-2) MCr. A negative “win” is, of course, a loss in a countersuit. Bribery is possible, on a 10+ (+ Bribery), but on 5- will result in criminal charges and negatively affect the cost and returns on the lawsuit.
  6. As with 5, but the espionage may be detected by the party prior to the sale by the competitor. The referee should announce who the competitor is, but only check for detection if the party is actively looking or is using robust security.

If the party is permitted to sell SSUITE elsewhere, or if they get involved in investigations and lawsuits, the referee should determine further happenings and outcomes.