This article was originally posted to the pre-magazine Freelance Traveller website in 1997, and reprinted in the March 2014 issue.
Lyons Carlton 868744 Age 48 Cr(Negligible)
3 terms Free Trader
Streetwise-2, Liaison-3, Brawling-1, Pilot-1, Legal-1, Navigator-1, Broker-1, Engineering-2
A likeable but disorganized rogue, Carlton (who calls himself Captain Carlton, although he has never actually held that rank) is involved in a complicated scheme to start up a passenger liner between several worlds in the subsector. The complications involve his attempted exploitation of a recent policy of encouraging development of underdeveloped worlds.
(The policy in question may be official or unofficial at the referee’s discretion. If it is unofficial, an influential noble at the subsector level is quietly encouraging projects like this, suggesting that they would be well-received at court. In such an event, Carlton will have a nice letter from the noble’s aide-de-camp, senseschal, privy advisor, etc., who likes the idea as explained to him.)
Carlton’s plan involves gaining start-up funding from several different Imperial authorities for a passenger line between several moderate-population, low-starport worlds. Needless to say, each of the Imperial departments thinks it is the only one supporting the otherwise-commercially sound project.
(Possible sponsors may include the Bureau of Colonization, the Bureau of Trade, the Imperial Interstellar Scout Service, individual wealthy nobles, or any Imperial agency or armed service through its Pension Fund).
Carlton claims to be an Imperially Qualified pilot, engineer and navigator, but his claims are supported by copied documentation—the orginals have been forwarded to him from the Sector Capital, but are apparently stuck in Imperial paperwork. In reality, he has been struck off the register pending his provision of documentation from a badly-failed safety inspection.
Similarly, his commercial references are from a couple of subsectors away, and do not stand up to intense scrutiny (he has actually spent most of the last 15 years doing salvage of small caches of old IN gear, via a fifty-year-old datatape of locations of Imperial Reserve Caches. The gear dates back several hundred years to the war scares accompanying the Solomani Rim War, when the Imperium feared other attempts at seccession. The equipment was obsolete when cached, and in most cases is now valuable only as scrap).
His cash position is incredibly poor—in fact, he is broke, and his administrative and financial skills are clearly not up to scratch for organizing such a project. To his credit, he has arranged several contracts for tens of people and hundreds of tons of cargo to and from each planet—but these plans are contingent on getting a brand new 2G jump-3 freighter to run the routes. He has also lined up local governmental permission at some (but not all) of the worlds. Closer examination may reveal that grandiose promises have been made to the local authorities on each.
Carlton is currently seeking crews and trainers for the project. Part of what has been promised is that the new line will take on a particular number of trainees, who will be trained to Imperial standards—training that is usually not available for citizens of dirtball worlds in the boondocks. Unfortunatly, the plans as written will require too many trainees for the number of skilled crew on the ship for either safety or proper training of the trainees …
The PCs may find themselves chasing around the subsector doing financial viability on the project for an interested patron (who almost certainly doesn’t want to be told ‘No’), being recruited by Carlton to help run the project, cleaning up the mess afterwards when failure is finally declared, being a creditor’s representative trying to get money for unpaid bills out of Carlton, or being contracted to actually find and negotiate for a suitable ship.
Another adventure hook is to have the company go under, and a dozen people turn up at the now-closed headquarters, broke and clutching Middle Passage receipts from their homeworld to the world of the company HQ. Especially if these people were selected for this wonderful future after getting the rough end of the pineapple when another Imperial-sponsored scheme went under in spectacular fashion. Being sent to bail these employees out after they present rubber cheques from Mr Carlton is a fun little excursion for a party.