At Spin Two Swords
Trading and Tech Levels
Eventually someone must ask: if I can just mass produced items using a nanite spray booth on a TL 14 world, why not just make as many nanite spray booths as I can and ship them all around the galaxy?
The answer is money. A TL 8 world simply doesn’t make the kind of money needed to buy things from a TL 14 world. The stuff they produce is certainly desirable elsewhere in the galaxy, but it’s simply not on par, economically with higher tech worlds.
Try it this way, how much would a primitive stone hammer (TL 0) cost if you went to a store and it was sitting next to a modern steel claw hammer (TL 5). Chances are, had you the money, you’d choose the latter of the two hammers without thinking twice about it. So, why doesn’t the guy who makes the primitive stone hammer step up and start making the more advanced hammer? Because he needs money to do that, and no one’s buying his primitive stone hammer.
This is obviously an extreme example, but it is not far fetched. Rich areas have top of the line technology. Poor areas do not. The Imperium may look like a tech discrepancy, which it is, but it is actually a wealth discrepancy that keeps the tech discrepancy in place.
That being said, reverse engineering and the availability of plans have made it much easier to cross a tech divide. If you have no idea how a laser works, but you are handed a working laser, the science behind lasers, and enough how-to material to get it working, it wouldn’t be long before you too can get the laser built, but how long before you can mass produce it? For that, you need money.
Two other factors are deleterious to the efforts of low tech worlds. The first is that it is simply in the best interest of keeping low tech worlds from advancing in tech level. High TL means less emphasis on manufacturing. Nanites and self-replicating robots will kill a product line in the same way that file sharing has killed mass-produced music. Once a society can make as many guns as they want and keep them in operation with a spray can, the arms manufacturers have nothing really to sell anyone (plans for guns, sure, but then, if the average person has a gun CAD program, they don’t really need that either). Megacorps are happy to sell things to low tech worlds so long as those things don’t put them out of business.
Second, the Third Imperium is successful because it runs worlds with low local tech levels. Every time it has attempted to lord over a TL 12 race, it has pretty much failed. At TL 15 or 16, a world is beyond the Imperium’s reach. Thus, it is in the Third Imperium’s best interest to keep worlds hovering at around TL 10. At that level, they continue to be consumers (which is the central source of the Imperium’s funds) and are incapable of mounting up a force capable of rivaling the Imperium.
Officially, there are no laws against trading resurrection juice to cavemen, but between corporate policy, corporate strong-arms, imperial interference, and the tenets of capitalism, it is unlikely that the tribal chieftain will return from Valhalla.
Effect on Trading
Sell prices take a modifier based on Tech Level and Law Level. If there is a difference between buyer and seller of more than 3 points, there is a penalty equal to the difference +3. People who make stone hammers aren’t likely to have enough money to buy supercomputers.