Traders
TRADERS.png

Nicknames: Klickers, Squeakers, Skinnies, the Bugs, the Kireithim (Wanderers)

Homeworld: Nexus; destroyed

Other Worlds: Jubilee Station; they can often be found in the Trader Belt, and scattered in their guild fleets across the Galaxy.

After the first cycle of empires rose and fell, humanity warred with the Traders (called so by others, unable to pronounce the true name of this race) for dominance over the Galactic Core. When compared to the slower empires that preceded them, the Traders developed a superior hyperspace technology and navigational techniques, the basis for the modern hyperdrive of today, and used them for commerce. When humanity finally defeated them and destroyed their homeworld, the remaining Traders boarded the vast arks of their guild fleets and took to the stars. They travel the galaxy still, peddle their wares, and remain carefully neutral from all other political conflicts.

Traders blend humanoid features with strange and alien traits to create an alluringly exotic combination that many other aliens find both intriguing and repulsive. They mostly resemble hairless, green-skinned humans with liquid black eyes, and wear appealingly tight skin-suits that underline just how feminine or masculine the more attractive members of the species might be. Most traders lack any hair (though some males have a sturdy crest on their brow), and their fibrous skin usually has a deep, green hue. Beneath and along their supple, dark-green lips lie the tell-tale signs of the “Trader grin:” a thin black line that goes from their mouth down their chin and deep into their cheeks. When a Trader isn’t politely offering another alien a thin-lipped smile, their faces split open to reveal a split pair of mandibles lined with rows of teeth; their unhinged jaws allow the to gulp down slithering, still-living prey, like leather eels. Self-conscious Traders hide this feature behind a face mask or filter mask.

A Trader’s intellect truly sets him apart from other species. While no smarter than other species, they think faster than everyone else. For them, seconds drift by as slowly as minutes do for others. They read a page at a glance, and they speak a language called Klik, which allows them to convey a minute’s worth of conversation in a mere second, and at an exceptionally high pitch that’s barely audible to normal species. Most Traders master Galactic Common at a young age, and even prefer its poetry to the dry logic of Klik, but they’ll sprinkle Klik into their conversations in a series of seemingly unimportant clicks or short, high-pitched, stuttered whines that seem nothing more than an odd affectation to other species but is, in fact, an entire second layer to a conversation mostly incomprehensible to anyone but a fellow Trader.

Traders suffer from frailty. They have delicate physiques and their life aboard starships make them prone to disease. Traders are smaller than humans; they’re much thinner, averaging around 120 lbs (90-150 lbs), but tend to be tall for their weight (though still shorter than humans), ranging from about 5’2” to 6’. To compensate for this slender frailty, Traders have mastered the arts of cybernetics and robotics. They often sport spidery and baroque cybernetics, and rather than battle their foes directly, they make heavy use of robotic assistance.

Trader Racial Template

35 points

Try to keep up, Human!

Enhanced Time Sense, more than anything else, sets Traders apart. A lot of their technology and their games and form of speech makes use of it, but Trader players will certainly want to do as much with it as they can. Enhanced Time Sense is covered in more detail in GURPS Gun Fu, GURPS Monster Hunters 5: Applied Xenology, and GURPS Powers: Enhanced Senses. The following distills some of these expansions for Psi-Wars.

  • Enhanced Time Sense includes all the benefits of Combat Reflexes. The cost of a template that already includes Combat Reflexes can be reduced by 15 points.
  • Characters with Enhanced Time Sense always go first in turn order, and automatically win any "cascading wait" contests or fast-draw contests (except precognitive fast-draw constests; they oppose those as normal).
  • Characters with Enhanced Time Sense always get a chance to defend against any ranged attack they could reasonably detect, even if surprised (or any attack, if they have Danger Sense). They may learn Precognitive Parry!
  • Characters with Enhanced Time Sense can read as much in a second as most characters can read in a minute.
  • Characters with Enhanced Time Sense may always roll Perception to notice things that normally pass by "too quickly to see," such as a blaster shot from a sniper.
  • Characters with Enhanced Time Sense may ignore penalties for shooting between moving obstacles, such as shooting through a crowd without hitting any intervening people.
  • They also gain benefits when using certain "Gun Fu" techniques: they may ignore "Pop-Up Attack" penalties, they gain +5 to Area Defense (such as Vector Cancellation in Combat Geometrics, though this cannot improve the technique past its default limits), and they have a reduced penalty to Coordinated Attacks. They also halve the penalty for defending against Coordinated attacks!
  • Characters with Enhanced Time Sense may claim the maximum "Time Taken" modifier for perception rolls on any perception roll that might be time sensitive. This includes:
    • Almost any Observation roll, including Spotting Trouble, Spotting rolls, rolls to notice a tail, or rolls to oppose a Filch, Pickpocket or Sleight of Hand roll.
    • All Lip-Reading rolls
    • Per-based Tactics to size-up an opponent
    • Per-based Connoisseur to recognize the make of a weapon or to taste something off in your drink
    • Per-based Poison to taste poison before it's "too late"
    • Per-based Traps to notice a trap as it's in the midst of springing
    • Most Per-based Body Language rolls, but especially those to notice impending aggression

Note that Enhanced Time Sense does not benefit anything that requires physical action (Search) or interaction (Body Language rolls to see if someone can be bribed or to build a psychological profile on them). It only benefits perception rolls that would benefit from lengthy mental analysis.

Attribute Modifiers: ST -2 [-10]

Advantages: Born Biter [1], Enhanced Time Sense [45], Sharp Teeth [1], Ultraspeech (Burst x100 +30%) [13]

Features: Green skin; hairless; Gracile 1.

Disadvantages: Monstrous Maw (-2 to reaction when mouth visible while speaking or eating) [-2], Susceptible (Disease) -2 [-8], Social Stigma (Alien Outsider) [-5].

Trader Traits

Born Biter: Traders can target any hit location susceptible to cutting attacks (i.e. the neck, the skull, etc), and may use bite attacks to cripple or sever limbs. Their bites are considered two-handed grapples for the purposes of strangling or breaking free. See GURPS Martial Arts page 115 for more (Treat a Trader as SM +1 for the purposes of bite-attacks).

Ultra-Speech: A trader can have a minute and a half conversation in less than a second. If the GM is strict on speaking times during combat, a Trader player can communicate with other Trader characters in full, minute-long exchanges. If the GM has looser restrictions, Traders should be freer to have entire conversations during a turn. To understand Klik requires both Enhanced Time Sense and Ultra-Hearing.

New Traits

Perks

Cutting Edge Training (Trader Tech): Traders have limited examples of TL 12 technology. Working with this more advanced technology applies a -5 to the rolls of a normal Psi-Wars character to build, maintain or repair this technology. Characters with his Perk (or the High TL advantage) may ignore those penalties.

Ear for Klik: When Traders speak to one another, it is usually in a register too high for other races to hear, and spoken too quickly to parse. Even so, some people have managed to learn some of its basics. A character with Ear for Klik may roll IQ when two Traders converse in Klick. A success indicates that he can get a general sense of what's being said ("They're making a transaction" or "I think he made a joke about you."), but no specifics. This is similar to One Way Fluency, but degraded by the lack of Ultraspeech and Enhanced Time Sense.

Intuitive Navigator: Prerequisite: 3d Spatial Sense, Enhanced Time Sense, Intuitive Mathematician. The character does not need a robot or a computer to perform hyperdimensional calculations; he may do so in his own head, in the standard 15 minutes as usual. This is effectively Accessory (Navigation System). Additionally, if the character critically fails a Navigation roll he made using this perk, he may roll Mathematics; on a success, the critical failure is reduced to a mere failure.

Disadvantages

Code of Honor (The Trader Ways): Never break the word of a deal; Never speak an explicit untruth; Wear as flashy and expensive an outfit as you can reasonably afford given your level of success; Always honor Trader traditions and never hide your heritage [-5]

Social Stigma (Trader Exile): The Trader has committed a grave crime in their Guild Fleet and been cast out. They may never set foot on a Guild fleet ship again and legitimate Traders will refuse to deal with them. [-5]

Techniques

Trader Drive Training
Hard Technique
Prerequisite: Mathematics 12+; Lightning Calculator; Navigation (Hyperspace).
Default: Navigation (Hyperspace)-4; may not exceed Navigation (Hyperspace)

When navigating with a Trader Drive, characters may substitute this technique for their Navigation (Hyperspace), thus effectively buying off the -4 to Navigation.

Common Traits

Traders are both biologically and cultural distinct from the rest of the sapients in the galaxy. They have their own culture (with a distinct Cultural Familiarity) and their own language, but they often learn the language and cultural familiarity of others to better blend in, as they suffer at the mercy of the other races of the galaxy. Nonetheless, they retain some aspects of their own unique language patterns, which often manifests as quirks.

Traders tend to be deeply bound to a guildfleet, a collection of ships that slowly travels the galaxy and act as mobile cities for their civilization. Traders tend to have a deep bond with their guild fleet and often display stereotypical behavior for a particular guildfleet (though this rarely rises above the level of a quirk). Their penchant for travel often means they collect a great number of favors and connections with other races in the galaxy.

Other races propagate a myth that Traders are smarter than everyone else; this is untrue. However, their unusual brains often result in a greater degree of mathematical and navigational genius among their number.

Some aliens consider Traders to be quite attractive, but most find them, while not unattractive, to be weird. Many of the “prettier” Traders actually have Classic Appearance (Exotic), which specifically appeals to anyone who has Xenophilia.

Common Advantages: 3D Spatial Sense, Claim to Hospitality (Guild Fleet) [2], Classic Appearance (Exotic), Contact (Fellow merchants, fellow Traders) [varies], Cultural Familiarity (Any) [1], Cutting Edge Training (Trader Tech) [1], Favor (any!) [varies], Lightning Calculator or Intuitive Mathematician [2 or 5], Reputation (Honest dealer) [Varies], Versatile [5]

Common Disadvantages: Code of Honor (Trader Ways) [-5], Favor Owed [-1], Impulsive [-10], Pacifism (Reluctant Killer), Reputation (Deal Breaker) [Varies], Secret (Broken Deal) [-5], Sense of Duty (Family or Team) [-5] or (Trader Race) [-10], Vow (Never violate the word of a deal, or never speak an explicit untruth) [-5].

Common Quirks: Dislikes Violence, Fast-Talker, Involuntary Utterance (squeak or click).

Guild Fleet Quirks

Traders have stereotypes about the Traders from other Guild Fleets, and even outsiders notice how different groups of Traders can behave quite differently. Some examples might include:

Klikaklak: Party Animal; Gourmand; Broadminded; Nosy; Eavesdropper; Mind-Numbing Magnetism (Playful, Talkative); Congenial; Idealistic (Tolerance); Easily Influence (Cooperative); Responsive; Hedonist; Minor Addictions; Preferred Look (Any specific alien); Inappropriate Manner (Oily or Wishy-Washy);

Ito: Attentive; Code of Honor (Professional); Decisive; Disciplined; Forthright; Insensitive; Legalistic; Methodical; Mind-Numbing Magnetism (Precise); Perfectionist; Philosophical (Neo-Rationalism); Prefers Trader Tech; Resistible Odious Personal Habit (Cynical, Tactless); Serious;

Rhee: Philosophical (Neo-Rationalism); Pompous; Reacts poorly to non-traditional Traders; Epitome (Trader); Chauvanistic; Idealistic (Trader Superiority); Nostalgic; Resistible Odious Personal Habit (Argumentative, Gloating, Sanctimonious); Pompous; Proud; Likes Traders; Dislikes Humans; Chauvinistic; Daily Ritual (Any Neo Rational); Grudge (other Trader guildfleet)

Teleku: Amoral; Aloof; Androgynous; Inquisitive; Dishonest Face; Superstitious; Strange Smell; Insensitive; External Mood Influence (Hyperweather); Secretive; Resistible Odious Personal Habit (Cruel, Melancholy, Treacherous); Suspicious; Allergy (something common to the galactic core); Photosensitive; Slightly Unusual biochemistry;

Trader Power-Ups

Cyberneticist

25 points

Traders long ago mastered the arts of cybernetics, robotics and computers. Traders can put this to work hacking into computer systems, or studying the discipline of Symbolic Superlogic.

Advantages: Cyberneticist 4 [20]

Skills: Computer Operation (E) IQ+4* [1], Computer Hacking (H) IQ+4* [4];
*+4 from Cyberneticist

Hyperspatial Strategist

25 points

Traders play a game called “Tika,” a sort of hyperdimensional chess game. You’ve mastered the basics of the Tika, improving your spatial senses and your strategic skills.

Advantages: 3D Spatial Sense [10], Chessmaster [1]

Skills: Games (Tika) (E) IQ+1 [2], Strategy (H) IQ+2 [12]

Rikarik Sharp

20 points

Traders play a game called “Rikarik,” which involves lightning-fast card-counting. You’ve mastered the basics of the Rikarik, sharpening your memory and your mathematical skills.

Advantages: Eidetic Memory [5], Intuitive Mathematician [5].

Skills: Gambling (A) IQ+1 [4], Games (Rikarik) (E) IQ+2 [4], Mathematics (H) IQ-1 [2].

Trader Navigator

25 points

You are among the most elite of Traders: a Navigator. You have become a living, organic computer capable of rapidly calculating Hyperspatial routes in your head, and you have been fully trained in the use of a Trader hyperspace drive.

Advantages: 3D Spatial Sense [10], Intuitive Mathematician [5],

Perks: Intuitive Navigator [1]; Social Regard (Venerated; Traders Only) [1].

Skills: Mathematics (H) IQ [4]; Navigation (Hyperspace) (A) IQ* [1]

Techniques: Trader Drive Training (H) Navigation+0 [3]

*+1 from 3D Spatial Sense

Trader Biological Variations

Chitinous Trader

4 points

Some male Traders, have distinctive crests on their head and thicker, fibrous skin that almost has the consistency of chitin.

Advantages: DR 5 (Tough Skin -40%) [3], Striker (Forehead crest, thr+1 cr Cannot Parry -40%, Limited Arc: Straight Ahead -40%) [1]

Albino Trader

-2 points

Some traders, especially from those who spend a great deal of time beyond the fringe, take on a pasty white complexion and gain liquid red eyes. In addition to their unusual appearance, this makes them sensitive to light and sunburns.

Quirks: Photosensitivity [-1], Sunburns Easily [-1].
Features: White skin.

Traders as Player Characters

When playing a Trader, a player may want to consider their unique culture and how it interacts with their choice of template and background lens.

Trader Background Lens

Traders are usually wanderers. They’re almost never “from Humble Origins,” and Trader rulers are rarely aristocratic in the classic sense. They can be criminal outcasts, certainly, survivors and some are enslaved by other races and thus become Slaves or Escaped Slaves. The Trader Wanderer Lens below represents a typical Trader background. For more complex Traders (Enslaved Traders or criminal Traders) consider blending your chosen background lens with the Trader Wanderer Lens below.

Trader Wanderer

20 points

You were born as a Trader into a Guild Fleet. You’ve learned the ins-and-outs of growing up on a giant ark and working with spaceships your entire life, as well as the perils of dealing with survival in space. Some of these traits are included to facilitate the Trader working well with other characters. Characters may forgo Cultural Familiarity and Language (Galactic Common) if they don’t regularly interact with the galactic core or with others from the Core; they might trade their Language and Cultural Familiarity for another one (for example, Lithian) if they regularly interact with that culture.

Required Advantages: Cultural Familiarity (Trader) [0]; Cultural Familiarity (Galactic) [1]; Claim to Hospitality (Guild Fleet) [2]; Cutting Edge Training (Trader Tech) [1], Language (Klick, Native) [0]; Language (Galactic Common, Accented) [4];

Skills: Area Knowledge (Constellation) (E) IQ+1 [2], Navigation (Hyperspace) (A) IQ [2], Spacer (E) IQ+1 [2], Vacc Suit (A) IQ [2], and choose one of

  • Piloting (Starfighter, Corvette or Impulse Craft) all (A) DX [2]
  • or Shiphandling (H) IQ-1 [2]

Additional Skills: Choose another 4 points from Free-Fall or Gunner (Beams) both (E) DX+1 [2], Area Knowledge (Constellation) or Games (Rikarik or Tika) all (E) IQ+1 [2], Cartographer, Connoisseur (Starship), Electrician, Freight Handling, Mechanic (Starship), Merchant, Prospector, Smuggler all (A) IQ [2], Engineer (Starships) Law (Contract Law), Mathematics or Shiphandling all (H) IQ-1 [2], Carousing (E) HT [2], Scrounging (E) Per+1 [2], or improve any lens skill by one level for 2 points; or improve any lens skill by two levels for 6 points.

Additional Techniques: The character may spend additional points on Trader Drive Training (H) Navigation-2 [2].

Additional Traits: You may spend some of your template’s advantage points (or any leftover points) on 3D Spatial Sense [10], Claim to Hospitality (Other Guildfleet) [2], Contact (Fence, asteroid miner, port authority, smuggler, merchant, fellow Trader, skill 12, 15 or 8, 9 or less, somewhat reliable) [1, 2 or 3], Contact Group (Belter Cooperative, Corporation, Smugglers, fellow Traders, fellow space wanderers, alien enclaves, etc) (Skill 12, 15 or 18, 9 or less) [5, 10, 15), Calibrations [1], Cultural Adaptability [10], Cultural Familiarity (any) [1], Drunken Pilot [1], Duct Tape Savant [1], Equipment Bond (Ship) [1], Favor (Any) [Varies], Feel of the Ship [1], Guild Rank 1-2 [10 or 20], Language (Any) [varies], Language Talent [10], License (Legitimate Merchant) [1], Lightning Calculator or Intuitive Mathematician [2 or 5], Primed to Go [1], Quick Shunt [1], Reputation (Honest dealer) [Varies], or Versatile [5], Seasoned Spacer [1], Signature Ship [varies] Smuggler Lane [1], Soar like a Leaf [1].

Optional Disadvantages: Add the following disadvantage options to your template: Chummy or Gregarious [-5 or -10], Code of Honor (Trader Ways) [-5], Jealousy [-10], acifism (Reluctant Killer), Reputation (Deal Breaker) [Varies], Secret (Broken Deal) [-5], Sense of Duty (Family or Team) [-5] or (Trader Race) [-10], Vow (Never violate the word of a deal, or never speak an explicit untruth) [-5] Wealth (Struggling) [-10].

Notes on Trader Exiles

The Trader Exile is a unique variation of this Lens among Traders. Such characters gain the Social Stigma (Trader Exile) [-5] disadvantage and lose any Guild Fleet Rank, Claim to Hospitality they might have on Guild Fleets, and are not allowed to take Trader Contacts or Contact Groups (unless those contacts or contact groups are most unsavory). They often borrow traits from the Outcast lens, in addition to the Wanderer Lens above.

Trader Templates

Preferred Templates

Traders usually prefer to be Diplomats or Smugglers, both of which allow them to bring their superior deal-making skills to the fore. Trader society frowns upon Con Artists, but Traders who choose to go this route tend to be very good. Traders make excellent cyberneticists, and such often end up as Scavengers or Mechanics. Finally, Traders don’t generally engage in war, but they do worry about their own safety, and so some Traders become Security Agents.

Given their unique organizational structure, the following lenses can be applied to the following templates to create a more Trader-appropriate version of the character.

Guildfleet Councilor

For the Diplomat

Like the Shinjurai, the Traders once ruled a great swathe of the galaxy, but now seeks the tender mercies of greater powers. Locked off worlds in their Guildfleets, the Traders need to gain the goodwill of whatever system currently hosts them, so Guildfleet Councilors are a common sight, especially when a Guildfleet newly arrives in a system. Some Councilors spend years away from their Guildfleet, tending to broader Trader Interests in Guildfleet councils, or representing their people to the Courts of the Slavers, the Alliance, the Empire or the Cybernetic Union. Their travels take them everywhere, so a Guildfleet Councilor could presumably show up on any sort of world!

Advantages: Guildfleet Rank 2 [20]; Legal Immunity (Diplomatic) [20]; Status +2‡ [0];

Disadvantages: Duty (Guildfleet, 9 or less) [-5]; take an additional -30 points from Diplomat Disadvantages.

Guildfleet Smuggler

For the Smuggler

Traders rely on the charity and goodwill of whatever host system they occupy, whether in an official, or unofficial, capacity. While Guildfleet Councilors work the interests of the legitimate authority, the Guildfleet Brothers and Uncles work the host system’s underbelly. This requires smuggling in a semi-sanctioned capacity, with Traders doing whatever it takes, even blockade running, to get at the resources that the Guildfleet needs.

Advantages: Guildfleet Rank 1 [10].

  • Add “Improve Guildfleet rank to 2 [20] for 10 points,” Intuitive Mathematician [5] and Intuitive Navigator [1] to Smuggler Advantages.

Disadvantages: Choose one of:

  • Social Stigma (Criminal Record) [-5] and an additional -25 points in Smuggler Disadvanteges

or

  • Secret (Smuggler) [-20] and an additional -10 points in Smuggler Disadvantages.

And add Sense of Duty (Guildfleet or Traders) [-5 or -10] to the disadvantage list.

Trader Cultural Overview

The Traders earned their name through commerce, but they earned their place at the galactic center through innovative navigational techniques. Early Traders mastered higher mathematics that allowed them to envision and interact with hyperdimensional space. Using these techniques, they were able to crack the secrets of Hyperspace better and earlier than any other race: the Eldoth, Ranathim and Westerly might have managed interstellar travel, but none did so as quickly and thoroughly as the Traders. They soon found other races, even ancient empires, but rather than swap blaster fire with these new species, the Traders chose to swap trade goods, and thus earned their name.

When the last Ranathim Tyranny fell, the Traders discovered that the only humanity, a new-comer to the galactic scene, competed with them for dominion over the galactic center. With the Westerly colonists and the Shinjurai Planet-States, they struck up alliances marred only by bitter economic feuds, and the occassional raid. But when the Maradonians burst onto the scene with their Alexian Crusades, the delicate Trader mercantile empire was ill-prepared for the psionic might of Alexus Rex and his space knights. One horrifying war later, and the Traders lost their homeworld, and all claim they had to the Galactic Core, to an isomeric holocaust: they fled on their Arks, scattered by the wrath of Alexus Rex.

Today, Traders ply the stars with their great arks, vast dreadnoughts that house entire cities of Traders within them, including housing, restaurants, hospitals, industry and ship-repair facilities. These great arks collect together into great “Guild fleets,” which used to act as roving industrial centers and corporate headquarters, but with the destruction of their homeworld, these guild fleets have devolved into extended clans, serving to guard and protect the remnants of the Trader people. Traders have only one permanent settlement: Jubilee Station, a huge space station/space colony in the Trader Belt that acts as a permanent Trader marketplace, a home for myriad alien cultures, and a point to which all Guild Fleets return every 20 years for their grand Trader Jubilee, where they swap stories, star charts, and even family members, and then set off to explore something new.

Trader Names

Traders lead with their Guildfleet name first, and then their personal name. Traders who often interact with humans might take “nicknames” that are easier for humans to pronounce.

Guildfleet Names: Atelax, Ito, Klikaklak, Lulelo, Tekelu, Rhee

Female Names: Amara, Keres, Kitee, Malika, Meeka, Pipa, Sela, Tatu, Tia, Tira
Female Nicknames: Annie, Betty, Debbie, Judy, Kitty, Lisa, Patty, Peggy, Vicky

Male Names: Kili, Lee, Matitu, Meex, Melo, Rex, Rikee, Riku, Talix, Thrax.
Male Nicknames: Billy, Denny, Eddie, Jimmy, Kevin, Nick, Timmy, Rick or Ricky.

Life in the Guild Fleets

Most Traders live their entire lives in the great arks of the guild fleets, and those few who don’t usually end up spending a lifetime on smaller ships (like a tramp freighter) or on the Jubilee Station.

Guild Fleet Infrastructure

Trader Arks, vast ships larger even than an imperial dreadnought, act as interstellar cities. All Trader arks sport a great, brightly-lit, cavernous hangar bay in the front, which doubles as a huge cargo bay. These hangar bays act as space ports, complete with busy traffic, shouting technicians and harried cargo-loaders racing from ship to ship, preening emissaries meeting powerful politicians in the nicer part of the port, and little impromptu “space-front” kiosks springing up to serve local traveler's needs.

Transport trams, elevators and great walkways lead the visitor deeper into the ark. The area nearest to the harbor resembles a great internal city. The nicest and most spacious residences lay nearest to the hangar bay, where most aristocrats, dignitaries and wealthy residents live, and hotels where a wealthy visitor might stay. Visitors here can explore Trader restaurants, casinos and stores. Some of the nicer arks even sport parks and playgrounds for young Traders.

As one travels deeper, the luxuries fall away for common apartments and offices and simpler restaurants and shopping districts where the average Trader works and live. At the heart of the forward part of the ark, nestled in its center is the “storm shelter,” a vast town-sized complex with a large hospital and numerous temporary residences. In principle, none should live in this area, but as arks grow more crowded, more poor Traders might start to take up permanent residence.

Deeper in the ship, the great industrial tramways which act as an industrial artery reach their terminus at the great, dimly-lit industrial machinery at the heart of the ark. Common workers make their home in the surrounding residences, and the often need to huddle in very tight confines. Here, the poorest of the poor live, scraping out an existence from the industrial sludge by gathering fallen scraps and trying to find work in the great factory. In principle, an ark follows a tightly designed layout, but in practice, arks have been modified or adjusted as needed over time, and the industrial region of the ark often sees makeshift homes, impromptu walkways and raggedy machine shops as Traders try to survive, only to have the Grandfather of the vessel order all that cruft cleared away, especially in times of emergency.

The rear of the ship contains vast webs of infrastructure, with massive engines, towering hyperdrives, and gigantic (and often outdated) fusion reactors. This region hums with machinery and one rarely sees a single Trader, instead finding legions of drones and robots quietly working away in the most dangerous parts of the ship.

Guild Fleet Law

Guild ships like an ark follow a strict hierarchy that melds administrative rank with social status. A “Grandfather” or “Executor” runs the entire fleet, and often rules from his personal ark. “Fathers” or “Sub-Executors” run individual arks within the fleet. A collection of all Fathers in the fleet gather as Councilors, who advise the fleet Grandfather. Executors and Sub-Executors have absolute dominion over their arks in theory (and often have a small army of security agents and warbots at their disposal), but in practice, they find themselves tightly constrained by Trader ethics and customs, as well as the wealth and power of their subordinates. Each arc has a council of Uncles (or Masters) who advise the Father or Executor of that ark. While succession follows along familial lines, when up-start Traders prove themselves, they often find themselves appointed to higher ranks within the the Guild Fleet, gaining a title on merit, rather than familial line.

Guild Fleets tend to be Control Rating 3. They tend to have strong economic freedoms (you can buy and sell nearly anything), but violence is strictly censured and Trader government is surprisingly intrusive. Traders don’t mind swapping drugs, weapons or even slaves on a guild ship, nor do they mind strict curfews or harsh restrictions about where one may go in a ship, but they’ll react very badly to murder, blaster fights on their ships or sabotage of their ship.

Criminal and civil law matter a great deal to Traders, but so do matters of etiquette and violations of contracts. Whether or not a Trader has violated a contract or an agreement is deeply important to Traders, as one’s honesty and reliability is a key element of one’s social standing. All legal disputes find a place in front of at least three members of the council that run the ark. Characters may hire lawyers, or defend themselves; no lawyer will be provided “for free.” They hear the matter (Trials by Judge (B508)) and decide, generally based on Law (Trader Criminal) for criminal trials, or Law (Trader Contract) for contractual disputes. The laws in question are only partially formal and often informal custom and sheer cleverness counts for something too. Desperate plaintiffs can play one judge off of the other to gain an advantage in his case; thus Savoir-Faire (High Society), Public Speaking and Politics can act as complementary skills.

From violations of criminal law, Traders don’t generally bother with imprisonment; minor crimes result in an often considerable fine; major crimes result in exile, or death by spacing. For violations of contracts, Traders typically do nothing except broadcast the results of a trial. The problem with violating a contract is that everyone knows not to do business with you. This typically results in a negative Reputation.

Trader Culture

Once upon a time, Traders mattered, and they do not quickly forget this. Their mighty arks carry the relics of a once great civilization, and they hold tightly to the values of their past, as well as to one another. They accept other cultures, of course, because other cultures are good for business! But when they’ve finished hiding their teeth, swapped Mirs with their client and fulfilled their word, they go home to rest, let loose and revel in who they are.

Traders value the art of the deal. Traders enjoy watching a clever solution to a difficult problem, and they especially like it when that solution makes an economic impact. The most important and famous of Trader society typically have the largest bank accounts. Traders frown on inelegant, “brute force” solutions, but especially frown on cheating. A client who is left feeling bamboozled is a client who won’t return for additional business. Traders want to grow their business, and they want to know that they can trust their business partners and politicians. Any Trader who gains a reputation as a cheat or a liar quickly finds himself ostracized by society. Most Traders make a point of never violating the word of any agreement (and tend to master convoluted legal practices to avoid just that!) and never speak an explicit untruth (leaving facts out or letting someone believe what they wish is, of course, fair game). But not all rumors of malpractice are true! The ambitious and politically powerful remain on constant vigil against rumor as much (or more) than they worry about their own personal conduct; what matter is that a Trader a reputation for honesty, not that he is honest.

Traders stood on the brink of extinction, and have barely recovered since. They know how fragile their life has become and they have learned to deeply value family. Where guild fleets once acted as mobile corporations, they now represent extended clans, and Traders take family values very seriously. A good Trader goes out, cuts some deals, finds a good Trader girl, gets married, raises a family, and then serves as an Uncle or Father of his Ark.

Trader (or “Guild Fleet”) Culture is a 1-point Cultural Familiarity.

Rikarik

Rikarik is a gambling card-counting game favored by Traders, and often featured in their casinos. Each game has a unique assortment of cards, which the dealer reveals in a flash at the beginning of the game (more advanced variants has a “pocket” of cards that the dealer never reveals, and a simpler variant, for slower aliens, has the dealer allowing the players to inspect the cards to their satisfaction first). The game then plays in a series of hands. In each round, all players are dealt a hand of cards, the first of which is played “face up.” The players then guess, based on previous hands and the cards they’ve seen, what their opponents might have, make a bet, and then attempt to win by taking the “trick” of the round.

The game is played as a quick contest of either Games (Rikarik) (if trying to win with superior strategy) or Gambling (if trying to win by out-betting your opponents). If characters had a chance to see the cards at the beginning of the game (either by being allowed to inspect the cards, or by having Enhanced Time Sense when the dealer flashes the cards), they gain a +1 to this roll, or +2 if they have Photographic or Eidetic Memory. Characters with Lightning Calculator or Intuitive Mathematician may roll Mathematics as a complementary roll to Games (Rikarik) or Gambling. These bonuses reflect the players ability to guess what their opponent has. Characters who can outright see what their opponent has (through cheating or through ESP) gain a +4 instead of the above bonuses.

Tika and Hyper-Tika

Tika is a strategy game similar to chess or tafl, played on a board of eight by eight squares. Each piece has an octagonal base, marked one through eight. The players each take turns moving pieces to try to capture their opponent’s king, but they may also rotate their piece to represent a change of position on a third dimensional axis. Hyper-tika plays with a rotating ring on each piece that allows the players to move their pieces along a fourth axis! Tika experts often play timed games.

Players compete with a Quick Contest of Games (Tika). Players without 3D Spatial Sense suffer a -2 to play but can eliminate the penalty with a Mathematics roll, provided they have Intuitive Mathematician. Players may also use Strategy or Tactics as a complementary roll. In Hyper-Tika, increase the penalty for lacking 3D Spatial Sense to -4. In a timed game, characters with Enhanced Time Sense gain a +5 against opponents who lack the advantage.

Leather Eels

Traders often keep long, brown, leathery fish in aquariums in their restaurants or at home. Leather eel flesh has a very smoky savory taste to it, but is exceptionally tough to chew without the slicing, sharp teeth of a Trader. Traders prefer to eat leather eel raw (even still living), because the longer it has been dead, the more likely it is to be contaminated: they just unhinge their jaws and devour it. For non-Traders, they will happily grill it or, especially stew it: leather eel stew can have a very tender texture, but Traders argue that stewing leather eel boils all the flavor away.

The Mir (or Mira)

The Traders used to run the banks that controlled the virtual, cryptographic Credit, but since being ejected from the core, have reverted to the use of a more ancient currency, the Mir, which is a metal coinage made of Rhodium. Traders craft Rhodium into sets of “rings,” which can interlock into patterns that Traders can wear as a sort of jewelry. A single ring weighs about 10 grams and is worth $200, and appears as brilliantly shiny “white gold.” Purity varies considerably, but most Traders try to keep it high.

A Connossieur (Currency) roll can determine the origin of a Mir (different Guild Fleets at different times constructed different patterns based on the current fashion trends) and whether or not the Mir is authentic. Many counterfeiters or forgers will electroplate rings of silver, lead or (the best forgeries) silver-gold alloys with rhodium to give it the right appearance and the right density.

Wealthy Traders wear Mira jewelry to flaunt their wealth, and literally carry thousands of dollars worth of Mir on their bodies.

For lower currencies, Traders use paper currency, small chits like the Desa (Desa-Mir), worth $20, and Centa (Centa-Mir), worth $2. Some Traders purposefully wear obviously forged Mira as cheap jewelry, and many Traders call such jewelry “Centa-Mir”, and sometimes refer to such Traders as “Centa-Traders.”

Blip-Beat

A catch-all term for all Trader music, Traders regularly listen to music that's 1,000 to 10,000 beats per minute, and often sounds like extremely high-pitched squeals and electronic noise to others. Blip-Beat is popular among certain Shinjurai youth, especially those on Denjuku, for the night-club scene, where they dance in a wild, thrashing manner that bemuses Traders who see it, who perceive their own music as far more stately and grandiose than how humans experience it. However, lacking a major dance tradition themselves, some human-influenced Traders have begun to ape the thrashing dances of Shinjurai youth-culture.

The Trader Jubilee

Once a generation, the Trader guild fleets gather from all parts of the galaxy to return to Jubilee Station, an enormous space station/colony in the galactic center. Traders swap stories and starcharts, have great feasts and games, and pitch ideas about what their guild fleet will do during the next twenty years: what missions they’d like to undertake, what commerce they want to try, where they want to explore. Traders (from any guild fleet!) hear the pitches and decide what guild fleet to join for the next 20 years. While most Traders stay with their own guild fleet, most Traders expect to swap fleets at least once in their life, especially young men who have just reached adulthood. By spending time on another fleet, they learn a new trade, see new parts of the galaxy, and meet (and marry!) new Traders, and can bring that knowledge with them when they return to their original Trade Fleet at the next Jubilee.

The next Jubilee is imminent and already Trader fleets make their way to the galactic core; some Traders fret that the Empire will close its borders to such a huge incursion of vast dreadnoughts. The very existence of Jubilee Station is something of a controversy, especially with the Empire dominating the galactic center, as the Empire could easily take the station hostage.

Trader Philosophy and Religion

Domen Kunirei

Domen Kunirei, the Cult of the Wandering God, does predate the Ranathim’s first encounter with the Traders, but the religion has largely folded the Trader culture and ideals into this unique cult. Unlike most other cults, Domen Kunirei inspires little in the way of fevered devotion. Instead, most who follow the Divine Masks treat it as a “practical cult,” and give offerings to its cult or prays to its idols before embarking on a dangerous trip or engaging on a business deal.

The “Mask” of Domen Kunirei is their “God,” Kirelim Genit, the Wise Wanderer, the God of Journeys. His idols generally depict him as a slender (almost emaciated) Ranathim male with four arms, a walking staff, a data pad, a bag of wealth and/or the adornment of jewelry and a host of flies around him. Kirelim Genit watches over the Traders, space travelers, mercantile deals, promises, scientists and, along with Khemet Lashafra, exists in the deep void.

Kirelim Genit commands his followers to never break the letter of their word, to never violate the spirit of a deal, and to extend hospitality to all visitors. Superstitions around the cult tend to center on what happens when one violates their word or a mercantile deal, especially while in deep space, and the dangers of killing a visitor to whom hospitality has been extended.

Unlike the more mainstream Domenna, Domen Kunirei is not known for its miracles. This is perhaps intentional: the earliest incarnations of Domen Kunirei had a haunted, witch-like reputation as a cult of a God with whom one made dangerous deals and who ruled over the strange, incomprehensible depths of deep space. Those who enact its miracles generally invoke the Path of the Void.


The Traders had a (mostly) cordial relationship with the Shinjurai during their early days as a galactic power, and both shared a fascination for science and technology. They often collaborated on the philosophy that would later become Neo-Rationalism, and Trader authors can be found in the Neo-Rational canon. To this day, many Traders dedicate themselves to Neo-Rationality and its strict mental discipline. Neo-Rationalism is mostly commonly found among the Ito Guild Fleet and the Rhee.

Those Traders who wander deep into the Umbral Rim at least pay lip service to the Domenna of the Divine Masks. Traders have their own unique cult within the Umbral Rim, Domen Kunirei, which doubles as a Cult of the Wandering God. The Klikaklack in the Umbral Rim often pay at least lip service to it, and the Teleku in the Umbral Rim and the Deep Fringe can be quite devoted to this God, especially their own, dangerously heretical version that invokes the miracles of the Void.

When the Communion Crusades began, the Traders of the Trader belt had close ties to many of the Westerly that had converted to True Communion and joined them on their crusade. During that time, many Traders converted to True Communion. While the religion has fallen out of favor, one can still find Traders among the faithful of True Communion, especially those in service to the Far Strider chapter of the Templars.

Additional Trader Topics

Trader Tech

Trader Guild Fleets

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