I love the idea of trading between the stars, but mostly because of the drama it produces. Thus, for the kind of gaming I like, all the official versions of the Traveller trade system are too fiddly. True, it could be replaced by “The referee just makes stuff up.” However, I also like the way hard randomness generates narrative.
What if the economics of small free traders were different from those applying to the big players?
Perhaps the commercials lines have got all the routine sources of income tied up in regular shipments, buying low selling high. What the free traders have is agility.
A typical Free Trader has a fixed monthly costs
- Cr3,778 maintenance
- Cr188,925 mortgage.
Meaning they need to bring in at least Cr200K monthly, not counting all the other expenditures.
So here’s what I have in mind:
1. Identify possible destination worlds
- Ignore designated “Lo” and “Po”.
So, you look at the chart and decide how far you are prepared to go to make a sale!
2. Make the usual Streetwise and Broker rolls separately
- DM = number of possible destination worlds.
- Effect = Number of Tip-Offs.
- Streetwise roll generates Tip-offs involving roleplayable Missions of varied safety and legality.
- Finding or earning a tip-off can involve also involve a roleplayed mission.
So the more worlds you consider, the more possibilities of finding a Tip-Off. It follows that hub worlds with many connections are the best places to look for opportunities.
3. Generate Tip-Offs
Each Tip-off comprises…
- Destination: Randomly pick from possible destination worlds.
- Available consignments: 2D6
- Tonnage (per consignment): 2D6 tons.
- Purchase Price (per consignment): D6 x Cr10,000. DMs, Broker.
- Expected Markup: 2D6 x 10% (record this for now)
- Expires: 2D6 weeks. (Yes, some won’t do you any good)
- Details (including any mission): Referee makes these up.
DMs: Tip-offs involving a mission get +2 on one or more of the rolls.
- Broker check. Effect nudges the Mark-up up or down by 10% per point.
- DM-2 if late.
4a. Fail to arrive and sell on a different world
Broker check as per normal arrival, but with the following DMs:
- -2 for selling on the wrong world!
- -1 for each difference in Trade Code
So on average, a Tip-Off would be 7 consignments of 7 tonnes at Cr 30,000 per consignment, with a markup of 70%, if you can get it there in 7 weeks.
A Free Trader could take all 49 tons, with an outlay of Cr210,000 and an expected markup of Cr147,000.
If they can make three jumps every two months, plus take passengers, then that’s almost sustainable…