In the Star Trader's universe, trade is highly regulated by faction laws and also by the trade laws established by each zone prince. Enterprising captains often find themselves in possession of goods that they are unable to sell either through lack of the correct permit or because the goods have been deemed illegal on a given planet. Black Markets allow such captains to sell their illicit goods outside of legal zone exchanges. It is not easy, however, to find such markets. The captain must have a Smuggler, Smuggler Prince or Fixer contact, with whom they have enough personal reputation to be ushered into these black trading houses. Other contacts (Courtesan, Gestalt Technologist, Retired Explorer, Retired Spy, Retired Xeno Hunter, Song Bade Dancer, Spice Runner, Spice Trader, Spicetender, Troubadour and Warlord) may be able to help a captain enter a Black Market if they are Greedy, Corrupt or have Underworld traits. Once in a Black Market a captain can both buy and sell regardless of the legality of the goods and the trade laws of the zone. Some trades may be limited by the access level that the captain is granted to Market. These access levels (1-5) function much the same way trade permits do but they do not cost money and are not permanent, being granted each time a captain access the market. Black markets will only appear on planets that have a government rating of 4 or higher.
Besides ignoring the legality of goods and trading without the proper permit there are other advantages to trading in a Black Market. These include:
- All sale prices are (25%) higher -- better profits for smugglers
- Black Markets have less impact on supply / demand, allowing a captain to complete longer trading cycles in a single zone
- All "big trade" talents in the Black Market are more powerful than their legal Exchange counterparts
- Black Markets ignore conflicts such as Trade Bans
Access[edit | edit source]
Access to Black Markets can be difficult. Because it costs your contact influence to usher you into the Black Market, they will not do so unless you have sufficient rep with them. Very importantly, the captain's reputation with the contact also determines the access level they will be granted to the market, which determines the permit level of goods they will be able to trade. Some talents may help a captain gain access at a higher level however. This is important because if the captain is hoping to move their permit level 3 goods in a Black Market but can only gain level 2 access to it they will not be able to make the desired trade. They should raise their reputation with the contact before trying to access the market. The highest level of access (5), means that Access cards are at the highest possible level and that the % chance that Access cards are drawn is higher, and that the % chance of 3 good cards vs. 2 risk cards is higher.
Like other operations, becoming a great Smuggler will require a dedicated build. Increasing ship Stealth and Intimidate Skill Pools should be a key priority along with building a strong network of Contacts who offer Black Market access. Smugglers will also need to invest in Talents that will help them determine the results of the card game. Most of these are provided by Smuggler and E-tech crew members. It is strongly advised to hire multiple Smuggler crew members. In the early game, it can be difficult to gain consistent access to a Black Market. It is often better to stash goods in a Wild Zone than to lose them, coming back for them when circumstances are more favorable. As a Captain's crew and ship develop they will be able to better influence the card game and access more challenging markets.
When accessing a Black Market the captain must also test their skills in a card game of risk and reward. The Captain will draw 5 cards which are determine by risk and reward factors. He or she may then have the opportunity to modify their draw through the use of crew talents which allow them to redraw, remove or improve a card. Then one card will randomly be selected from the remaining cards providing either a negative, positive or neutral result. The captain continues to play the game until he or she successfully draws a market Access card or gives up.
Risk factors include:
- Government level of the zone
- Military level of the zone
- Level of reputation with the contact.
Reward factors include:
- Zone trade law
- Captain's Charisma
- Intimidate and Stealth Skills
- Level of reputation with the contact.
Negative outcomes include:
- Loss of crew moral
- Encountering a hostile patrol (crew combat)
- Loss of contact reputation
- Loss of contact influence
- Damage to the captain
- Crew death
- Confiscation of illegal goods; this only includes goods illegal in the zone, not goods the captain doesn't have a permit to sell.
Positive outcomes include:
- Access to the market
- Trading at a higher access level
- Intel records
- Learning a rumor.