Idea - Black Markets & Smuggling

I thought it would be nice if a) smuggling had a little more depth and b) players had the ability to create black markets. After a collision of brain cells I came up with the following non-fully thought out ideas. Any suggestions or comments welcome - I’m sure there’s plenty sticking points I’ve not thought of :)



  • Establishing and Developing Black Markets
1. For a black market to form, a non-controlling criminal faction must be in a boom state whilst inhabiting a system that prohibits specified goods.

2. When this occurs players Allied* with the faction will trigger passenger missions to ask players to transport in several 'smuggling logistics teams' as well as a variety of illegal commodities as part of the logistics teams pay-off.

3. If the passenger and commodity missions are successful, players have the opportunity to establish a black market by smuggling in prohibited goods, either by general trade or by taking missions from the appropriate faction(s).

4. When the amount of goods transported into the system reaches a specific value (based on the population of the system) the Black Market will then appear in the station services menu.

5. Once established a black market can then expand to a maximum of three sizes dictated by the size of the population in the system, these being:

Small > Medium > Large

A small black market in a small system will be at its maximum size. A small black market in a large system has the opportunity to expand to a medium and then large black market. Profits in large black markets would be the greatest but are countered by a greater scanning of ships and security presence.

6. The successful formation of a black market will affect the controlling faction by attracting criminals to the system via passenger missions whilst lowering the standard of living, their influence, security levels and cause civil unrest/lock downs. Once a criminal faction takes over a system the black market would disappear.

7. Any illegal goods that are the subject of a scan whilst entering the station/system will result in a negative effect on the formation/existence of a black market.

8. Black markets will shrink and eventually disappear from a system if the faction running the black market goes into bust or fail to receive enough goods to keep them running.

* = I have suggested elsewhere that Frontier should add another level of affiliation with factions which give more high value missions (high value in terms of in game effects, not necessarily credits. I called this rank 'Embedded' (as I couldn't think of anything else!) and it would sit beyond Allied. It might fit in nicely with higher NPC Tier interactions.


  • Changes to Smuggling Goods
Players should be given a wider variety of considerations, rewards and punishments when smuggling prohibited goods. There should be a large increase in mission payouts for the successful smuggling of goods based on the security of the system and their value. The effect on the factions providing those missions should be greater to reflect the risk/reward. Penalties for being caught smuggling should also have more variety based on the value of the contraband and the systems security. Smuggling should not be easy, but it should be challenging, fun and when successful, rewarding.

So here's a table below showing a variety of outcomes for when a player carrying prohibited goods is scanned by system security. A few considerations:


  • A commander scanned and found to be carrying illegal goods inside the 7.5km exclusion area will be asked to dock and face the relative punishment.
  • A commander scanned and found to be carrying illegal goods outside the exclusion done will be asked to leave/attacked on sight depending on the security level of the system.
  • A player not docking within the time limit, or choosing to leave the exclusion zone will face being shot down by ATR vessels and/or be sent to a detention centre.
  • Any player successfully leaving a system after a scan will be given a bounty suitable to the value of goods being carried but avoid the loss of their ship, fine and application of a bounty.
  • Where 'Maybe' is an option the player faces some RNG in determining if an event takes place.
  • A player being sent to a detention centre after landing will have to pay a fine to get their ship back but will not be given a bounty.
  • I also considered giving the player a chance to offer a financial bribe to a corrupt customs official in order to escape the relative punishment. Failure would see further punishment, success would get you off the charge.
Table of Events for being caught Smuggling.

 
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Interesting ideas! +1 :)

I think a dynamic black market system with more depth is well needed, and these seem to fit the bill. Obviously, the ability of some govt types to remove black markets will have to go, but that's long overdue anyway.
 
The only thing I'd want to add that I can't see here is that the black markets allow both buying and selling.

Other than that, this concept adds a real dynamism to criminal enterprise, which has been sorely lacking since forever. I like that their existence and well-being is based on a lot of manipulable factors.
 
The only thing I'd want to add that I can't see here is that the black markets allow both buying and selling.

Other than that, this concept adds a real dynamism to criminal enterprise, which has been sorely lacking since forever. I like that their existence and well-being is based on a lot of manipulable factors.
Yeah the lack of ability to purchase at black markets is an odd one.
 
The only thing I'd want to add that I can't see here is that the black markets allow both buying and selling.
Yeah the lack of ability to purchase at black markets is an odd one.
It sounds good on the surface, but I struggle to come up with anything not already covered.


Buying materials / data would be interesting, but the Material Traders cover that.

Knocked-off PP modules maybe? But that would kill the only remaining incentive to sign up for PP.

Upgrades? Covered by engineers and tech brokers.

Illegal trade goods? Why bother paying over the odds for them when you can source them cheaply enough from places where they are legal.

Hacking criminal records? IF have got your back there.


Happy to hear any ideas - I'm sure there are some, I just can't think of any :)
 
It sounds good on the surface, but I struggle to come up with anything not already covered.


Buying materials / data would be interesting, but the Material Traders cover that.

Knocked-off PP modules maybe? But that would kill the only remaining incentive to sign up for PP.

Upgrades? Covered by engineers and tech brokers.

Illegal trade goods? Why bother paying over the odds for them when you can source them cheaply enough from places where they are legal.

Hacking criminal records? IF have got your back there.


Happy to hear any ideas - I'm sure there are some, I just can't think of any :)
Buying certain stolen data caches could make you a target of specific groups or factions and/or unlocks missions? Maybe returning stolen objects/materials does something similar? Maybe missions are given that request you go and find stolen goods from black markets? Might need more thought though :)
 
It sounds good on the surface, but I struggle to come up with anything not already covered.


Buying materials / data would be interesting, but the Material Traders cover that.

Knocked-off PP modules maybe? But that would kill the only remaining incentive to sign up for PP.

Upgrades? Covered by engineers and tech brokers.

Illegal trade goods? Why bother paying over the odds for them when you can source them cheaply enough from places where they are legal.

Hacking criminal records? IF have got your back there.


Happy to hear any ideas - I'm sure there are some, I just can't think of any :)
Having the market operate as a full market adds more overall texture for folks playing as grey-area pilots, and could open up trade to a whole new selection of BM-only goods as well. The game has expanded its original roster of obtainable goodies quite substantially since the beginning, and in many varied areas; making a list of stuff to buy and sell for criminal profiteers should be easy and would be another sub-layer of trade, possibly taking a page from both regular trading and rares.

If some of the grey goods were distributed somewhat like rares (except with more sensible drop rates that should also be applied to rares, and probably more than a single source so they're not literally another rare) then it could also add a draw to its source locations, and an incentive for players to keep those places riding dirty, just like we do with the big-ticket illegal rares like Onionhead and such. I was just thinking that the BM trading is inherently unstable, but as it's based on criminal enterprise this seems actually appropriate. Safe dependable trading is for clean pilots and we have plenty of that already. Crime needs about a thousand more layers to it and this seems like a pretty easy one to accomplish.

"Hey, stopping by Beta Pluralis, gonna drop off that load of Hacked Autochefs (regular greymarket item) and pick up a bunch of those Unlicensed Holomags (rare greymarket item not as widely available even in the BM circuits) for the trip to Diso. Man, IDK how they even get those made; think they were shut down for a bit in BP, but should be going again by now what with the civil war cutting into SysAuth's investigation time." Plus, it doesn't make much sense to call it a market if you're only selling. That's called a fence, not a market. There's room for an entire trading career in there that stays almost completely outside the law, instead of just dumping off our hot smartphones.

The PP thing is irrelevant, as that entire game section requires a revisit, and toys shouldn't be its primary draw in the first place.
 
Supplying Black Market goods should pay above-market average prices, not below.

Here's the thing: If a particular good cannot be legally purchased somewhere, but there is a demand for it, those who want that good are going to have no other option but to pay the price those able to supply such goods are asking - and that price is typically going to be quite a bit higher than what it could purchased for somewhere where that good is legally available.

I'd throw out a number of really real world examples of this, but that just gets people all worked up for reasons I will never be able to comprehend. But you can completely take my word for it - it really does work out that way.

This increase in supply price also means that those who desire to supply such goods are somewhat at the mercy of those willing to supply them, which, in turn, means higher supplier costs.

Let's look at Elite Beer for example:

It fetches a market average price of 215 Cr per ton where legal.

Where it is not legal, black market prices to sell this should be higher than 215 Cr per ton, as those black marketeers are going to be able to sell it for more than 215 Cr per ton to those wishing to buy beer.

But we all know Elite Logic and Actual Logic align much like What Works in the Classroom vs. What Works in the Real World.
 
Illegal rare goods are an ideal candidate fro this. If blocked rare goods could be purchased from a blackmarket, I'd have a lot more time on my hands.
Absolutely.

In addition there is almost nowhere on the planet in real life where a black market doesn't exist, or in times of financial stress/shortage would not appear. There's different types too - a arms dealer wouldn't necessarily want to handle stolen goods for example.

I dream of the day we see the BM interactions through a bulletin board with a risk of a sting operation by the local po-po. (like in Frontier, lol) with the risk contingent on the type of security and society in which the system or planet resides.

Some examples:- For a prison or military dictatorship, intoxicants, proscribed material will pay the best, with the consequent risk and penalties being applied much higher. From RL, a certain white very moreish powder has a street value of around £16 per .25g, so a tonne of this stuff is worth £64M. If i get caught with a tonne though, I could be looking at life in prison. It doesn't have to be drugs of course, any Macguffin will have the same effect

In Elite, Onionhead is probably the closest equiv (rares notwithstanding), so not only would smuggling small amounts be immensely profitable, but also would give smugglers reasons to use small ships. You could use a T9, but you'd almost always be caught.

so tl;dr - black markets should exist everywhere (but be hard to find) and the payouts should be higher (dependent on system)
 
so tl;dr - black markets should exist everywhere (but be hard to find) and the payouts should be higher (dependent on system)
Yep, agreed. Black markets appearing dynamically based on the circumstance of the system / faction would be great.

We could then do away with the rigid rules around govt types and black markets. They don't make much sense and give player factions with Authoritarian govt types a tilted BgS advantage in not being susceptible to black market negative affects and UA bombing.
 
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