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Old October 8th, 2018, 10:00 PM
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Default What ships move cargo in Traveller?

At the gaming store and online, I have a lot of discussions about how trade works in Traveller, but recently something which is at the depths of nerdy questions has begun to bug me that I think that only the really knowledgeable vets on here can answer:

Is there any suggestion about the economic model in Traveller in any of the editions - I don't think it's ever been explained outright (though I could be wrong).

For example, a common view Traveller interstellar trade is that huge megacorporate haulers dominate trade on the large shipping lanes, but I'm pretty sure that's a player invention (though has MWM mentioned it in AotI?). Is there any suggestion of actual intermodal containerization as we think of it today? I always had the impression Traveller's goods were all carried "loose" (like in cargo boxes).

In canon, is trade assumed to be moved entirely by small ships?

Have suggestions of the economic model shifted between editions of Traveller or even within editions? (Like was there a shift from CT books 1-3 to Merchant Prince / High Guard?)
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Old October 8th, 2018, 10:49 PM
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I use a homebrew system to determine the economic power of a system / world that derives a value between 1 and 10. What I've found using it is that there are typically 2 to 5 systems in a subsector that are the major economies. The rest of the systems / worlds in the subsector are either minor players economically, or are total basket cases.

What I assume is that the really big shippers and megacorporations only ship to those few economic powerhouses in the subsector. They might go to the subsector capitol too even if it isn't one of the major powerhouses. Outside that, they don't bother with the rest of the systems.
That's where small ships come in. These are hauling cargo at a scale that leaves them a full manifest to these smaller economies. The micro-haulers of 100 to 200 tons might even visit some of the basket case systems to eke out a few extra credits. So, the purpose of the small ship is not to make major movements of cargo between major ports but rather to pick up cargo at a major port and haul it to a minor port and vice versa.
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Old October 9th, 2018, 04:16 AM
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I liked the analogy someone made some time ago:

Megacorps and lage lines move the cargo and passengers along the main routes in very large ships (as the one shown in MT:RS page 80, 20 kdton, J3, 10800 donts of cargo, or even larger, J4 ones, to allow for the J4 parts of the mail lines), or similarly large lineers. This would be like the current railroads, and, of course, out of most players' scope (though one of those lineers may be an scenario for an adventure).

One in those cargo/passengers hubs along the main lines, smallr lines and even free traders take the distrubution to other worlds in the zone. This would be as the lorries/vans making médium/detail distribution from railroad stations to the factories, stores and customres in current world. Here's where the players (and oher small lines/tramp traders( have their niche, as the lorries companies or independent lorry/van drivers.

About how the cargo is carries, IMTU 1 dton standardized containers are quite usual, so allowing most shps to know beforehand how many containers they can carry, and easing the handling of the cargoes.

Many planets, considered unimprtant by most companies, are mostly serviced by tramp merchants, in many instances by subszed (often by sbsector dukes/governments) ones that avoid em to be out of touch of the rest of universe.
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Old October 9th, 2018, 04:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by epicenter00 View Post
Is there any suggestion about the economic model in Traveller in any of the editions - I don't think it's ever been explained outright (though I could be wrong).
We might not have a grand strategic overview of the Imperial economy (GURPS Far Trader excepted), but we do have bits and pieces.

Shipping is probably only a small part of the economy, yet we know more about it than most other sectors. We know very little about e.g. industry or agriculture.


Quote:
TRADE ROUTES AND FEEDER LINES
At first glance, starships seem to just follow straight lines from origin to destination. The reality is quite different. There is a kind of terrain in interstellar space; clusters of worlds and regions of empty space direct ships into distinct channels.
The Imperium is crisscrossed with trade routes which jump between major worlds, connecting vital suppliers with essential markets, important government worlds with high population worlds, and strategic resources with exploiting industry. Trade routes are a natural outgrowth of economic and market pressures. When a market is no longer profitable, the trade routes bypass it.
The trade routes are the territory of the Imperium’s largest trading companies. They maintain fleets of commercial transports and merchants who serve these tradeworlds, and they reap large profits in doing so.
But the trade routes directly serve fewer than a tenth of the worlds of the Imperium. The other 90 percent of the imperium’s worlds are served by feeder lines, tramp freighters, and free traders. These smaller companies and unscheduled ships carry passengers and cargo between worlds off the main trade routes.
A traveller leaving Menorb for Heya would first catch a tramp freighter for Pixie and transfer to a scheduled liner for Kinorb. Once at Kinorb. he would wait for the first available ship to Heya. Ships along the trade routes are scheduled and predictable; ships travelling to worlds off the main routes are unscheduled and unpredictable.
MT Player Manual, p35.


I do not think the Imperium is supposed to be a static homogenous monolith that works the same every-time, everywhere.
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Old October 9th, 2018, 06:28 AM
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Sounds like someone should set up an Uber service, plus lag.

Travellers than rate their rides.
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Old October 9th, 2018, 12:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnotherDilbert View Post
I do not think the Imperium is supposed to be a static homogenous monolith that works the same every-time, everywhere.
I think this is true.
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Old October 9th, 2018, 01:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnotherDilbert View Post
I do not think the Imperium is supposed to be a static homogenous monolith that works the same every-time, everywhere.
Serio. Eres sabio.
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Old October 9th, 2018, 01:21 PM
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While my "model" for trade has long been something akin to the trade routes section found in TTA, I also realized that a section discussing trade routes and carriers in a border subsector didn't tell me much about trade routes and carriers around Sylea, Terra, Vland, and other regions.

Using a rough analogy the Usual Suspects won't completely grasp, in some parts of the Imperium trade is LBB:3, in other parts trade is LBB:7, and in yet other parts trade is GT:FT.
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Old October 9th, 2018, 03:22 PM
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I would say the GURPS Trader is the biggest stab at this topic.

As far as how it works, beyond the 'main trade route' bit already quoted not a lot of 'how it works' out there, and that's a good thing.
Because you can then tailor to your universe.

Small ship/Big ship universe matters, whether it's frontier or a 3000-year Core matters in both population and what is getting shipped, whether it is megacorps or Spacer Guild or small intrepid lines doing some old fashioned Yankee trading, this is all universe decision/flavoring.

A lot of people have opinions and/or choices, but I wouldn't characterize that sort of thing as definitive.
Are you interested in forum opinions/options, or just published/canon?


Oh I should mention that earliest containerization, the container they had parked next to the Type R in the original CT ship supplement. It never floated my boat so I ignore it, but should be mentioned for completeness' sake.
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Last edited by kilemall; October 9th, 2018 at 03:33 PM..
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Old October 9th, 2018, 03:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Condottiere View Post
Sounds like someone should set up an Uber service, plus lag.

Travellers than rate their rides.

I expect that something like that would be a TAS thing, and would explain positive or negative DMs for exceptional/dismal service/luxuries and better ticketing rates.


I also do negative DMs for higher then usual Low Berth deaths, which usually would happen with skimping on Medics.
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