Monday, September 12, 2016

J is for Jobs

"It is the working man who is the happy man. It is the idle man who is the miserable man." - Benjamin Franklin

Whether it's a corkboard pinned to a wall at the one-room Class E starport on a low level world, or the bank of employment kiosks at Regina Downport, most starports will have the means to allow contact between people for employment. However, the jobs listed at the starport are not always the best ones around. It's the low hanging fruit, but it's generally easy to get. Many of the jobs posted are with the understanding that the employment period will only be a week or two. Some jobs will require a longer commitment. Frequently these jobs are geared toward only one PC, so referees should decide if they want to break up the group, even if temporarily. A temporary side job for one or two PCs might be a good diversion when you can't get the whole gaming group together.

I put together a quick job generator in Excel that break the jobs down into the following categories:
  • Low-Tech Work
  • Mid/High-Tech Work
  • High-Tech Work
  • Bounty Hunting
  • Mercenary
  • Starship Positions
  • Repo Work
  • Income Opportunities
  • Skill Related
Adventure 6 - Expedition to Zhodane shows a good example of job write-ups and also rates the job as inconsequential, interesting, or essential (essential being required to complete the predetermined adventure). To that list I would also add volunteer, illegal, and scam. I usually don't create an actual write up for the job, but just review them briefly and see which ones look interesting.

Low-Tech Work
    The saddle maker is looking for an assistant.
    The baker is looking for an assistant.
    The town needs a new security guard.
Mid/High-Tech Work
    The city needs a new border protection officer.
    The news reporter seeks short term help.
    The insurance investigator seeks short term help.
High-Tech Work
    The city needs a new dairy farmer. (a high-tech dairy, of course)
    The crime lab analyst seeks short term help.
    The security officer seeks short term help.
Bounty Hunting
    Bounty: Wanted for burglary: Alive Cr4,000
    Bounty: Wanted for use of psionic power: Preferred alive Cr20,000
    Bounty: Wanted for murder: Dead or alive Cr60,000
    A team or individual is needed for a patrolling mission.
    An individual is needed for a rescue mission.
    A team is needed for an escort mission.
Starship Positions
    A starship seeks someone with Ship's Boat-2.
    A starship seeks a temporary communications technician.
    A starship seeks a full-time chief engineer.
Repo Work
    Repo furniture / electronics (non-friendly). Helpful skill: Disguise
    Repo recreational watercraft (non-friendly). Helpful skill: Computer
    Repo merchant starship (non-friendly). Helpful skill: Carousing
Income Opportunities
    Money can be made in illegal gambling (risky crowd).
    Money can be made volunteering for medical experiments.
    Money can be made transporting a small cargo (legal, high risk and pay).
Skill Related
    Person with Blade Combat skill is needed.                                           
    Person with Medical skill is needed.                                               
    Person with Interrogation skill is needed.

These aren't much on the surface, but a little creative thinking can make them an interesting opportunity. This list can provide more than just employment for a PC. Looking through the list might give you ideas for other adventure hooks.

Why does the city need a new border protection officer? What's happening at the border?
Maybe some of the jobs are interrelated. Are the medical experiments related to the bounty on the psion? Is the burglar with the bounty the reason the town needs a new security guard?

PCs can check the job kiosk up to World Pop times per week. While many more actual jobs might be available, this represents the best job they found in that time period.

Example fleshed out: Person with Medical skill is needed.

The Job
The PC makes contact with the HR Director at a Startown hospital, who is looking for someone with experience to help out for about a week at the hospital. The HR director insists the interview be done at their facility. The interview is one sided, as the Director asks about the PCs medical experience, certification, etc. but dodges any questions about what type of work the PC would actually be doing. "We'll go over all that later" or something similar will be a standard response. When the time comes to tour the facility, the PC is led into the Crippled Children With Big Sad Eyes ward. Okay, not literally, but there are dozens of sick and injured children, all in terrible pain, all gut-wrenchingly pathetic. The pay offered should be small, but reasonable. If the PC accepts the job, the HR director should show him around the place and introduce him as "one of the new volunteers", ignoring the PCs corrections, if any. The character will be expected to work very long hours - every time he wants to take a break, get some food, or some sleep, another child should start screaming in pain, or some young cancer patient will ask the PC to give her doll a hug.

If the PC asks about his paycheck at the end of the week, anyone he talks to will mention that volunteers don't get paid. If the PC insists that he is a paid, short-term contractor, anyone he talks to will be genuinely surprise the PC wants payment since "all of the short-term contractors we've worked with have donated their pay to the children's relief fund". If the PC puts his foot down about getting paid, they will be told that payments are processed through corporate, and the payment should be ready in 2 - 3 weeks. If the PC acts like he is about to do something stupid or violent, the HR director will settle with him out of petty cash.

This isn't quite a scam, just a tactic the underfunded hospital uses to get free, experienced help. Players who like to play the White Knight should be given a chance to shine, and get their picture in the news with a sick child, or some other non-monetary reward. Lots of praise - no money. Surprise the player later in the game by throwing in some perk and having an NPC say they recognized the character from the story in the news. The perk might be anything from a round of drinks at a starport lounge to free fuel.

Players who refuse the job can be hounded for the rest of their gaming career about playing a medic who wouldn't even help out a bunch of sick kids.


  1. Just a side note first. While the saddlemaker and baker might represent Low-Tech jobs, they are not unskilled, especially that of the saddlemaker. Neither are advertising for "apprentices", to teach them the skill, but "assistants", who can immediately be put to work on the job.

    Wanted: Mercenary with training experience to organize, equip, train, and lead a small planetary constabulary against what appears to be a well-organized poaching ring. Must have training skills and experience, knowledge of Low Tech weaponry, good outdoor skills, and some experience commanding troops. Preferably from a Tech Level 8 or lower planet, must be willing to work within possible Tech Level constraints with respect to weapons.

    Wanted: Skilled small boat builder, with expertise in wooden nautical vessel construction, and Low Tech power plants. Knowledge and skill with Tech Level 3 power plants and sailing are greatly desired. Must show ability to build and operate a 10 to 20 meter wooden vessel equipped with either sails or early steam power plant. Metal working knowledge would be a very large plus as well.

  2. I'm of the opinion, that like the real Merchant Marine, there are hiring halls and guild/unions for skilled spacers on major trade routes. And sometimes, it's the players looking for an employee, and you can use this to also build up a contact network, and possibly a reputation. "Hey, I've heard of your ship! You helped my buddy who was down and out get home last year. I can give you a good deal on some thing. Maybe make it work your while."

    1. That's an excellent point. A whole other level of opportunities opens up when it is the PCs looking to hire someone. Thanks!