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Old July 7th, 2008, 05:02 PM
jawillroy jawillroy is offline
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Default The Shipless Merchant: Does Chartering Pay?

I found myself glancing over this ancient thread: http://www.travellerrpg.com/CotI/Dis...ght=chartering
and I wonder if anyone had played this out - a group of PCs undertaking a trade venture employing a chartered vessel, rather than owning their own?

It still takes a good packet of capital: a free trader, iirc, costs about 190,000 cr to charter for two weeks, and that I would take to be a basic price for a trip to a nice, safe A or B port. Anywhere else IMTU would take serious danger money and a very desperate shipowner (how much would you charge to risk a misjump?) To make such a journey worthwhile, the hiring agent better have a full hold of spec cargo lined up and a sure thing on the other end...

I could see a small number of PCs buying a stake in 1-3 tons of a "sure-fire" cargo, and chartering a scout at perhaps 30-40kcr to move it, rather than relying on liner routes...
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Old July 7th, 2008, 05:30 PM
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I've never chartered a ship, but I have played a trader who simply paid for High Passage and 1000 cr per parsec to ship cargo. It requires a fair bit of capital, but made a profit (using LBB 1-3 Trade System).
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Old July 7th, 2008, 05:46 PM
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Originally Posted by atpollard View Post
I've never chartered a ship, but I have played a trader who simply paid for High Passage and 1000 cr per parsec to ship cargo. It requires a fair bit of capital, but made a profit (using LBB 1-3 Trade System).
*Nods.* That's doable. IMTU, any A or B port within three parsecs will have regular service connecting them. (Sidebar: IYTU, how regular is regular service?)

Seems that those worlds will be the only places a sane shipowner would charter to, as well. I suspect there'd be an advantage to chartering if it saved the trouble of lining up passage at every single world...

Now, if you want to run tech to a frontier world, I figure you won't be able to easily book passage. For that, you'd need a charter. And you'd have to be willing to pay a serious premium for making the captain put unrefined fuel in his engines for the return trip - if he accepted the gig at all. Maybe a significant share in any profits?
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Old July 7th, 2008, 06:06 PM
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I view starports like seaports on earth – Type E = monthly ships, Type D = weekly ships, Type C = daily ships, Type B = Hourly Ships and Type A = tens of ships arrive and depart per hour (it avoids those starving pirates).

For routes, I compare the world to each adjacent world and determine of one of the cargoes from the Spec Trade table will generate a net positive modifier between those worlds. If it does, then there is a ship making regular trade runs between those worlds.

In the case of my particular character, I was in no hurry. Since I can get a cargo transported to/from orbit for 100 cr per ton, I figure that I can warehouse it for a month at that same price. If that means spending two months stuck on a world trying to buy more cargo, then so be it. Eventually, a ride comes along.

You are right that this would become a lot more 'exciting' in the MT wilds or under TNE.

Last edited by atpollard; July 7th, 2008 at 06:10 PM..
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Old July 7th, 2008, 06:41 PM
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Won't work in MTU.

First, the standard charter rates are such that a Trader with a mortgage can't make their payments under charter, never mind a profit. The only ones who can make a profit under charter hires are those who own their ship. And they can probably make more money running highly profitable speculative cargo. Ergo there are no charters in MTU. At least not at the book rates. Period.

Second, to carry passengers, freight, or engage in speculative trade in MTU requires a Commercial Trade license, which is part of a Merchant Captain's license and comes with the ship (either under mortgage or full ownership). It's not something you find in a box of cereal or buy on the street*. So there is no "speculating without a starship" in MTU. And to anticipate the question, no. An ex-Scout on Detached Duty is not allowed to engage in trade with their type S. And a Noble is not allowed to engage in trade with their Yacht either. Though that's unlikely to stop either of them from carrying a few tons of "stuff" for a friend or giving a friend a ride in either case. But it won't be freight (rolls) and it won't be speculative cargo (rolls) and it won't be paying pax (rolls). And really, most Nobles should find it below their place to be mucking about in trade even if nobody would dare press the case against them if caught.

* well ok, you could buy one on the street, it'll be a forgery and it might even pass a casual inspection, but it'll cost a lot of creds IF you can find one

But, YTU whatever
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Old July 7th, 2008, 07:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by far-trader View Post
Won't work in MTU.
Setting aside the curious issue of penniless nobles with huge expenses and no income (other than perhaps selling their autographs),

What does a character who leaves the Merchant Career with Trader-2 and Broker-3 as his dominant skills DO for a living?
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Old July 7th, 2008, 07:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jawillroy View Post
I found myself glancing over this ancient thread: http://www.travellerrpg.com/CotI/Dis...ght=chartering
and I wonder if anyone had played this out - a group of PCs undertaking a trade venture employing a chartered vessel, rather than owning their own?

It still takes a good packet of capital: a free trader, iirc, costs about 190,000 cr to charter for two weeks, and that I would take to be a basic price for a trip to a nice, safe A or B port. Anywhere else IMTU would take serious danger money and a very desperate shipowner (how much would you charge to risk a misjump?) To make such a journey worthwhile, the hiring agent better have a full hold of spec cargo lined up and a sure thing on the other end...

I could see a small number of PCs buying a stake in 1-3 tons of a "sure-fire" cargo, and chartering a scout at perhaps 30-40kcr to move it, rather than relying on liner routes...
No, but working on a tangent to this, http://www.travellerrpg.com/CotI/Dis...ad.php?t=14102 but the ship is a mustering out bene from the Scouts, in other words instead of a Type-S they got a Marava.

Yes, I know, horrific, but so are the payments . The idea is that the crew would actually be doing work of the IISS + Inteliigence Branch, not out and out spy work, but being in the right place at the right time, and handling resupply missions and other IISS related duties, that are transparent to those around them.

The adventure is based on Ling Standard Products chartering the vessel from Bowman/268 to Mertactor/268 and back, about a 2 month charter. Since the ship is paid off the monies become a nice profit, however operating expenses and salary cut into that. They're retracing ship movements for LSP who recently did a D-268 market share study to find that a certain % of uranium is being marketed on Mertactor and but the production numbers by most of the mining firms/systems in the District don't add up. LSP wants to determine where this is coming from so they can step in and take things over.

I plan on having Arkesh Spacers buying the uranium from a mine on Flexos, and taking it to market at Mertactor, netting them millions in the process. Naturally Arkesh won't know that LSP is behind the investigation and will use their "predatory" methods to discourage anyone taking too keen a notice of their business. It's not really illegal, they just want to quietly do
business without any interruptions. The miners on Flexos haven't told the terraformers and it's all just hush-hush.

Eventually LSP will have the Marava take a "Colonial Advisor" to Flexos, and offer the terraformers "assistance" (meaning cash & goods) which they'll probably jump at, and "Oh BTW, we want to see your uranium mine on the polar cap." The miners will have sources in the terraforming group and with the assistance of Arkesh shoot down the "Advisors" air/raft or G-carrier with shoulder launched missiles before it reaches the mine. This ought to stall things at least another month, in which the mine + Arkesh will ramp up production and try to get the most out of it, before staging a "cave in".

I got the seed from the Milieu-Zero book p32 and thought it was nice.

LSP has big enough pocket to afford a charter (and they're next door on Bowman) and will eventually bring in the rest of the PCs "triumvirate" a Broadsword + either a Type-T or Gazelle, when they finally take over the operation and put Arkesh out of business.


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Old July 7th, 2008, 07:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by atpollard View Post
Setting aside the curious issue of penniless nobles with huge expenses and no income (other than perhaps selling their autographs),

What does a character who leaves the Merchant Career with Trader-2 and Broker-3 as his dominant skills DO for a living?
In the case of the Trader-2 they find a Merchant Captain with a ship but lacking that skill or level and get hired.

In the case of the Broker-3 (imtu) he finds a nice apartment on a world, near the starport (at least a class B) and becomes a Broker. In MTU Broker skill requires an intimate knowledge of the market (local) and connections. It's useless to a travelling Merchant. As for why at least a class B starport, that's another MTU thing. Starport class corresponds to attracting the quality of Brokers. So class A has up to Broker-4, class B up to B-3, class C up to B-2, class D up to B-1.

The penniless Noble with a mortgage for a Starship is screwed but I make most Yachts tied to an estate*. The Noble doesn't own it, they just get to use it. All they have to pay for is crew and expenses of operation. And that might be covered by the small annuity they get and/or "guest" obligations (similar to the IISS DD free fuel and such at IISS bases, but applying to other Noble estates).

* it's not new, it's not the current trendy version, but it works
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Last edited by far-trader; July 7th, 2008 at 07:44 PM..
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Old July 8th, 2008, 08:35 AM
Ron Gianti Ron Gianti is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jawillroy View Post
I found myself glancing over this ancient thread:

It still takes a good packet of capital: a free trader, iirc, costs about 190,000 cr to charter for two weeks, and that I would take to be a basic price for a trip to a nice, safe A or B port. Anywhere else IMTU would take serious danger money and a very desperate shipowner (how much would you charge to risk a misjump?) To make such a journey worthwhile, the hiring agent better have a full hold of spec cargo lined up and a sure thing on the other end...
I ran speculation in a Free Trader at the Class A and B starport systems coreward of Regina for one year, made 100 million credits with no risk of pirates... In depressed areas with Class A and B ports, you can still make enough money to buy your own used Free Trader in one year.

As far as risking a misjump, I can't see any amount of profit that would be worth it. The best trade routes have refined fuel anyway and the misjump is almost certain death. I'm tempted to say IMTU that breakdowns are the worst thing that unrefined fuel causes.
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Old July 8th, 2008, 10:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Gianti View Post
The best trade routes have refined fuel anyway and the misjump is almost certain death. I'm tempted to say IMTU that breakdowns are the worst thing that unrefined fuel causes.

I've thought along those lines recently. My reaction was to use the number of hexes/direction as a guide and say that only a gravity well can precipitate the ship out jump, so that you find the next closest system (after rolling and finding an empty hex) and place the ship there. THis way you can either find water on a planet, comet, Oort or a GG and still have a chance to survive.

This also makes a case for empty hex jumps to get back to civilization.


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