SCAVENGERS OF THE LABYRINTH
Out of a population of hundreds of billions, to think that all Iz’kal would be happy to conform to the crushing control of The State, or that all Corvo would be happy to live and die by the amount of credits in their pocket, would be totally unreasonable.
Even going beyond emigration to another area of space, quite a few of these end up as a subclass of undesirables, eking a meager living in the Labyrinth. Some become little more than wonderers, doing odd jobs around Known Space. Some become pirates, preying on those weaker than themselves, or using superior numbers to bring down larger prey.
And some take advantage of the structure of the Labyrinth, and become smugglers.
The Labyrinth has been liked to the inside of a sponge, with an infinite number of chambers and tunnels, connecting most known star systems. Due to the difficulties in communication and navigation, the main volumes are well signaled, with marker buoys, refueling stations, even whole inhabited star systems in some of the larger chambers. Any wormhole terminus opening onto Normal Space in a sensitive system is further patrolled, both by capital ships and customs stations. The bottom line is, if you want to move things discretely in and out of important systems, you’re going to have a really tough time.
Enter the smuggler.
Beyond the large, well known and well-mapped passages, there are an infinite number of other ones. Smaller. Less stable. Like going down a rabbit hole.
They say the probability of survival when navigating an unknown Labyrinth passage is about 45%. Some pop up in systems so distant that there is no reference in Normal Space to any known stars. Some open onto deep space, with no stars or planets or nebulas, just darkness.
And some curl up and rejoin the Labyrinth, linking up with better-known, bigger passages or volumes. And perhaps, sometimes, they do this bypassing a heavily patrolled area. Now you have a very dangerous way to go from A to B, without going through the middle point C, where you’d find a couple of very stern Iz’kal corvettes, with virtually no tolerance towards customs cheats.
A whole subculture was born this way. Like ants walking beneath giants’ feet, a whole class of sentients emerged, dealing, moving and dying, going through the so called back alleys of the Labyrinth. There is money to be made, oh yes. There’s always going to be cargo to be moved and people to be transported beyond the reach of the governments.
And if that’s not your pleasure, well... There’s systems and passages to scout, maybe an individual or two to kill, or some old dead ship to scavenge...
WHY PLAY A SMUGGLER
The ‘smuggler’ is very much a Role Play decision and not an actual Profession, as its ramifications would be too vast. Instead, think that whatever your profession, being a smuggler will allow you to perform it in a flexible and infinitely exciting environment. For example, although you can be an ex-Special Ops military operative, maybe you’ve been discharged, or you grew disenchanted with it, and are now a mercenary, with interests beyond the martial, and travel the Labyrinth as hired muscle. Or maybe you’re a scientist, or a diplomat. You can be the medic, but you’ll also come across different planets and different living things on a weekly basis, where your science knowledge will be invaluable. Being someone highly charismatic or good at subterfuge would be fantastic in most situations, but it would be almost a requirement in a smuggler setting.
The inspiration is already out there. Maybe you’re scouting some new volumes and come across a dead wreck. Will you try and investigate it, not knowing what lies inside? (like in the Faith introductory adventure). Or maybe you’re a plucky crew, fighting a losing battle against the ruling governments, and spend your time doing business in the shadows, doing things you’re not proud of, and maybe some that you are. Anything, just to get enough credits to carry on (like in the iconic series Firefly). Or maybe you’re a simple, legitimate trader, that seems to continuously run into situations well beyond your control, and have to use skill and courage to get out of them alive and with all your limbs still attached.
The Labyrinth is infinite. There’s, quite literally, everything out there.
So take your hand of cards, and manage your luck. The glory and the credits are out there.
All you need is Faith.