21 January 2016
Metagame: Non-Material Currency.
First off, my apologies dear Readers for not posting in like forever. Many things have happened since we met last.
First off the company is doing well, the HERALD CLASS STARSHIPS Traveller5 ACS Supplement is doing well, and many thanks to Stephanie McAlea for her most excellent new cover for the book (pictures here when the print book goes live). And even as I type this a proof is being prepared and sent for (hopefully) Approval, since the last onces had problems other than my mediocre cover. Closed out our first business year and feeling pretty good.
So, enough nattering business small talk, let us get a round and get to the meat of the Meet.
Trade, kids, life blood of the Empire. Or so they tell us. And yes, it is true but mostly because it drives men out into the voids between the stars to find that new thing that will bring in the CrImps.
But for all the questing for cold hard currency there are two other currencies within the Traveller community that while having very little legal standing have that standing based on long traditions of spacers throughout the Imperiums of the Mankinds. Those currencies are the Marker/Token and the Favor.
The Marker/Token, currency to a million spacers.
No one knows when or for what the first Marker was requested and when and for what it was called in for, but it is a tradition said to go back to mythical Terra and even precedes the Astroporters' Guild, the Jump Wars, and the Second Exodus of Terra. However, no matter its true history The Marker or Token is considered to be an article of value and its use is governed by few but iron clad rules.
They are generally only requested or granted among known associates or at least persons/entities that have been vouchsafed to each other. This is not merely a good word and casual meeting at a seedy Startown dive, but a process involving serveral meetings, background checks, and is usually not done off the cuff. Or not when both parties have a mostly even footing. When the Patron deals with a Traveller and it doesn't involve The Dance as the semi-formal process is known, the Traveller might want to get that Insurance Backup before lifting off to adventure.
If given or accepted the conditions agreed to are binding and may not be refused once accepted. This can make a Marker a somewhat dangerous proposition as usually the Patron granting the Marker is likely to leave out what they will request later while demanding to know what the Marker is for now.
They are rarely requested or granted for small values. In the non-material currency market they are the megacredit bank draft to the Favor's Cr 10 coin. You can get a deadhead passage on a Favor, for a Marker you get the ship. The problem being is one can then have their Marker called in and suddenly find rather nasty people on board and doing things best not talked about.
Markers among very trusted colleagues can be verbal and need nothing more than those involved remembering who owes what to who. A Merchant Prince dealing with an Imperial Earl will rarely commit such a Marker to hard copy, however when either of them deals with a Traveller as a Patron they will often give the Traveller a Token. The Token is a physical or digital representation of the Marker. It may have some significance on its face or by design but again very rarely will you find a Token that tells the bearer what it can be called in for and who from. Point of fact, sometimes having the wrong Token at the wrong time can be a very bad thing. One is advised to leave an unknown Token alone, trying to redeem them has been a lethal experience for some. Yet for every bad Rumor one hears there is the competing tale of a found Token being returned and the finder greatly rewarded. *shrugs* You roll the dice and you take your chances.
So, can you sue over a Marker? Well, yes and no. While there have been cases in the Imperial High Law most of those involve nobles, military units and the occassional merchant house. The truth is the Imperial Courts will generally refuse to hear such cases and tell the litigants to figure it out themselves. About the only time they will hear such a case is when there is a direct consequences for the Imperium.
Most often such disputed Markers will be arbitrated by a third party sometimes assigned by the Courts if the parties attempt to bring suit or special Moot or Senatorial Committees called for by someone in either of those houses, for merchants it is usually decided by a Guild committee. The military uses an unofficial Abritration Board composed of equal numbers of enlisted/ratings and officers called on an ad hoc basis. So, yes theoretically you could try and sue over a Marker.
Is suing over it a good idea? Many times, no, not at all. We are after all discussing a currency that buys regiments, agents in the enemy camp, and sometimes the loyalty of a vacillating subordinate, they have also been said, but almost never proven to buy assassins, plagues, safe passages in Red Zones. Bringing The Heat into such things tends to be bad for everyone but the Lawmen. Buyer beware.
The Favor, or buy me dinner shipmate.
The Favor. Ah, Favor, a word with such a sweet sound to the ear of a Traveller. A word which may be used as currency among friends, shipmates, and fellow respectable Travellers. A small currency though. While a serious Marker may buy a battleship or a lord, the Favor buys you lunch or a day of Liberty with some chores being the most common return value of such exchanges.
Being a small currency it can unlike a held Marker can be refused if the exchange is thought to be an unequal one. While this has probably resulted in more Startown, Port and shipboard scuffles and icy silences between the parties than one would like, it rarely escalates to killings or wars. It has spilt up a crew or three now and again however.
Favors are often granted between fellow Travellers on the mere association of having the same memetic makeup and that a Favor granted to a stranger can come back to you later in the oddest ways. In fact while religion has faded in its influence in human events it still has adherents to this day and among the Travellers the Favor has an almost mythical status. Many "pious" Travellers make it a point to grant a Favor at some point on Liberty before boarding for Liftoff, and those of a more compassionate mind tend to try and spread good will among the Dirtsiders by granting Favors only to natives of the world they're on. Both do it believing it will bring them, their shipmates and The Favored good fortune and well being. The standard Traveller will only grant Favors to those known to them or vouched for by a trusted colleague.
These are the other currencies that Travellers may find of use in their adventures among the stars and worlds of the Imperiums of the Mankinds. And class is now open to questions. And can someone grab me a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster? I can spot you a Watch. ;)