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  #11  
Old August 22nd, 2010, 01:35 PM
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I have to agree with you Hans, one of the things my players have done in the past is hire a full time broker to line up cargos along the stops of their trade routes so that they didnt have to do so themselves. gave them a very fast turnaround, and they made HEAPS of money, and I imagine that thats exactly how subsidised ships and corperations do their trade.

It does however make things interesting when the players set all this up and have to leave the established route for whatever reason, and their scheduals suddenly became "broken".

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  #12  
Old August 22nd, 2010, 02:51 PM
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If you have a cargo load waiting upon arrival, your turnaround is 3 days...

Most of a day inbound, most of a day outbound, and a day to make the load/unload.
allowing 8 days for normal jumping, that's an 11 day cycle... or 2.7 jumps per calendar month instead of 2.1 (2.5 instead of 2 per imperial month). It's a huge benefit.

An orbital 100 diameter transfer station makes it even faster... say a day turnaround... for a 9 day cycle. 3.3 per Calendar Month, 3.1 per Imperial. But it loses out by paying in-system shipping and transfer fees.

There, however, is all the economy of scale needed to generate corporate merchantile activity... and T20 gave all the needed numbers except in-system transfer.

Corollary: best way to lower shipping costs in traveller: reduce the time jump takes
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  #13  
Old August 22nd, 2010, 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Cryton View Post
gave them a very fast turnaround, and they made HEAPS of money, and I imagine that thats exactly how subsidised ships and corperations do their trade.

Cryton,

That's precisely how corporations in Traveller - and the real world - trade. They have local factors and local brokers who understand local markets, have local contacts, and can thus provide steady opportunities based on their specific local knowledge.

That's only part of the equation however. There's something very important to brokers, shippers, and other business people which that subsidized ships and corporations can provide and which the players cannot provide.

Quote:
It does however make things interesting when the players set all this up and have to leave the established route for whatever reason, and their scheduals suddenly became "broken".
Bingo!. Give the man a cigar!

The players in their tramp trader cannot even begin to offer the continuity and dependability of service that a subsidized ship and/or corporation can. Business people want long term contracts with dependable, legally enforced schedules they can check their calendars by.

Spacely Sprockets of Arglebargle-IX wants to know it's shipments to Moronica-V will be steady and timely because it's share of the sprocket market on Moronika-V depends completely on Spacely's sprockets arriving steadily and on time. If a shipment is lost or delayed in some manner, Spacely Sprockets will lose a chunk of it's market share to Cogwell Cogs. All this means that Spacely will only use with reputable shippers and will ink long term contracts with those shippers. Long term contracts are good for both sides as they provide Spacely with dependable deliveries and the shippers with dependable cargoes.

Continuity and dependability are part of the speculative trade picture too because a known or even suspected luxury is going to be sold for as much as the producer can demand. A dependable shipper with a continuity of service is going to be able to approach the yeoman of Schmoeland and arrange to purchase organically grown cocktail umbrellas at a fixed price over a lengthy period of time. That is something the players aboard their tramp trader cannot hope to match. As with long term shipping contracts, these long term purchasing contracts are good for both sides as they provide the growers with a known income and the shipper with known cargoes.

Dependable service and a continuity of service means that the players are shippers and purchasers of last resort. Spacely isn't going to consign a load of Arglebargle sprockets bound for Moronica to Cap'n Blackie of the free trader Running Boil unless Spacely has no other choice and, unless they have no other choice, a yeoman of Schmoeland isn't going to sell a dTon of organically grown cocktail umbrellas to Cap'n Blackie either because dependable shippers with a continuity of service have arranged to purchase those umbrellas years in advance.

Being a shipper or purchaser of last resort is a special event and not an everyday occurrence. This means a trade/cargo system meant to provide goods and cargoes for the players aboard tramp traders shouldn't automatically produce large lots of trade goods/cargo with every roll of the dice. A trade system focused on the needs of role-playing should be the goal of any role-playing game, but a trade system focused on the needs of role-playing doesn't have to be economically illiterate.

Sadly, automatically producing large lots of trade goods/cargo with every roll of the dice is exactly what the economically illiterate "Golden Pair" trade model does.


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  #14  
Old August 22nd, 2010, 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by aramis View Post
If you have a cargo load waiting upon arrival, your turnaround is 3 days...

Most of a day inbound, most of a day outbound, and a day to make the load/unload.
I included the day inbound and the day outbound in the nine day trip. If you include them in the turnaround, the trip becomes 7 days (+/- 10%) and a free trader spends seven days in port (or rather, in-system) instead of five. Same difference.

Quote:
allowing 8 days for normal jumping, that's an 11 day cycle... or 2.7 jumps per calendar month instead of 2.1 (2.5 instead of 2 per imperial month). It's a huge benefit.
Why would you allow 8 days for jumping when the average jump is 7 days?

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An orbital 100 diameter transfer station makes it even faster...
That it would, except for the fact that ships will arrive up to 90 degrees away from the station -- a quarter of the circumference. Still, you would save some hours in most cases. You need enough trade to pay for the station, though.

Note, BTW, that none of the rules take into account worlds that orbit deep inside the solar jump limit.


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  #15  
Old August 22nd, 2010, 09:14 PM
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Some jumps take 6 days, some 8, most take 7 days. You plan for 8.

There used to be a system for determining it. Nowdays I use the astrogatin roll. Miss by one or exact on your roll, 8 day jump. make it by 6 or more, 6 day jump. miss by more than 1, misjump.

In any case the existing system DOES work for a Planet Express type game. As you know Planet Express are the guys you call when you have no other choice, and they go anywhere.
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  #16  
Old August 22nd, 2010, 09:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Cryton View Post
Some jumps take 6 days, some 8, most take 7 days. You plan for 8.
Jumps take 168 hours +/- 10%, distributed along a bell curve. So most jumps will fall well within the outside figures.

A regular passenger liner might plan for the full 185 hours in order to have a fixed departure time. Or they might sell tickets on conditions that passengers show up on 16 or 20 or 24 hour notice. A regular freighter certainly won't want to waste an entire day just because it arrived half a day early.

Also note that when you allow for a full day to get from the jump limit to the ground and vice versa, you're allowing 24 hours for something that actually only takes 10 hours with a size A world, less with smaller worlds. That leaves you 14 hours 'slack', roughly what you need to compensate for being as late as jump variation ever makes you.

So I stick with my figure of 10 days turnaround, and I could give you a good argument for 9 days turnaround (But I won't ).


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  #17  
Old August 23rd, 2010, 12:33 AM
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You're leaving out bureaucracy, traffic control, and landing. Most starports don't have high ports. And travel time to/from 10D orbit & 100D alone is 2-8 hours. Plus the assorted vagaries of customs, etc... a day each way is a good safe allowance. A day for the actual load/unload, as well is a reasonable safe assumption. Some worlds, you might get by with 2 days turnaround... but not reasonably at most, especially if not an airframe and only 1G. And for a containerized freight freighter, like most Types A and R are shown, it's reasonable to load a container a minute, to the 30 or so containers of the Type A and the almost 50 of a type R. Sure, it is JUST an hour load and unload... once the loader, containers, and paperwork are all together. But they are not likely to actually be at the pad prior to your arrival.

It's that nasty lack of FTL commo rearing its ugly head, again. Once you jump in, yes, they can start arranging it... but unless the warehouse is actually got its own pads (and some will), it is safest to allow the excess and not stress the crew unduly.

The 8 days allowed for jump is to allow for the high-end. If a crew gets lucky, and does it in 7, that's a day's port liberty; in 6, 2 days. But allowing 8 days allows for keeping to that schedule long term.
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  #18  
Old August 23rd, 2010, 05:30 AM
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You're leaving out bureaucracy, traffic control, and landing. Most starports don't have high ports. And travel time to/from 10D orbit & 100D alone is 2-8 hours.
As I said, 10 hours at most.

Quote:
Plus the assorted vagaries of customs, etc... a day each way is a good safe allowance.
Yes, it is. Which is why there should be no need for any extra time for an extra safe allowance. I'm allowing the same amount of time as the rules allow free traders, plus 24 hours on the ground. Total: 10 days. If anything, regular company ships should get through customs and other red tape faster than reee traders. Not so?

Quote:
The 8 days allowed for jump is to allow for the high-end. If a crew gets lucky, and does it in 7, that's a day's port liberty; in 6, 2 days. But allowing 8 days allows for keeping to that schedule long term.
A high-end passenger liner might do so in order to keep a rigid shedule (as I already said earlier). On the other hand, it might not. It's those pesky bank payments. Take the Tukera Longliner [TA:138]. Costs MCr526.4 and carries 36 passengers. Every day it spends on the ground costs it somewhere around Cr90,000. There's only one way to recoup that money, and that's by selling tickets to passengers. Would you pay several thousand credits in order to have a fixed departure date and time, or would you be satisfied with knowing a range of three days and get a 24 hour warning?


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Old August 23rd, 2010, 02:17 PM
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Huh, just used the MGT trade system last night with my players -

The content of their trade runs are wholly opaque usually, they being just crew members on wholly government owned ships that are going on with specifically itemized 'laundry lists' of prioritized goods for the colony.

On this particular run, the fleet captain had discretion to liquidate assets with which to purchase additional ships for the colony's bi-annual convoys. The NPC's had found a 1kton bulk freighter that they could have for a song - only it was damaged and merchant fleet would have to hole up at the world for the duration of the repairs.

Permission was given to all the captains to make a single jump away from the repair system and back. I used this as an opportunity to let the players decide what cargo their captain'd carry, for a chance to share in the profit, and hopefully learn a bit about a Traveller trading system/mini game.

Misreading the first trade run, they only rolled 2D6 on the buy and sell % tables and they still managed to make a killing. (One of the lots was high end Robotic Parts). They'd managed to fill the 80 ton cargo bay easily with under-priced goods ~anyways. Mistakes we'd were caught before the return run, but I didn't backchange anything that'd happened.

About this time I was remembering something I could never fathom from the old system - duplicated here. There were no population restrictions to rolling on the tables for tonnage of available cargo, but freight was population controlled. I seem to remember old Merchant Prince had fixed this, but at the expense of making every 'cargo' blandly generic with a base value of 4k credits. The only rationalization I could come up for 'roll all cargo available on a pop 1 planet' was that each world had massive warehouses, regardless of population size and one merchant would be sitting on the ground just WAITING for the PC's to empty his warehouses.

And they'd be full again if they jumped back in a month. High population (not just Hi class worlds, but planets with populations of 7 or 8 codes as well, I'd think - the equivalent of most large first world countries today) worlds on the flipside, I would think would have several times the amount of 'excess' cargo than would be listed.

Getting back to the game last night, I was trying to figure out how you could lose on ANY trade run rolling 3d6 with even an average broker skill, but let that slide just to see how the return trip would play out. After some RP meeting one of the scarier/powerful subsector personalities interested in the PC's stories, they rerolled through the process to find cargo's, got almost the identical available cargos, at almost the exact same markdowns, headed back to their repair system, and sold that at a lesser, but still considerable profit. Rationalization felt a bit weak, but I attempted it. (This Fl class hive-like clone-grown colony underground mining world, shipped these 20 tons of diswashers to this Ag, Ni world, and the Ag Ni world shipped them back ... coffee machines, etc.) Bonuses were paid out and everyone was happy, but I was squinting at the rules a bit weirdly.

An hour or so later, the PC's were finally given use their own 100 ton trade-scout ship to fly back to their home planet. They had dismountable tanks in their cargo bay, effectively cutting cargo in half, but without a given 'laundry list' to carry back the space was available for their first private speculative trade run home.

The large number of mediocre rolls at least made it difficult to pick cargos, but they eventually settled on the equivalent of 20 tons of 'sucrose' at a considerable markdown, which they flew home and made some 200k credits profit. Taking into account even a number of jumps through empty systems, fuel scooping, purifying fuel with the convoy home, (and working back life support, ship operating costs, salaries if the whole run had not been subsidized), they still would have made a profit.

I like the flavor in the tables etc. but even not taking favorable trade codes into account, the system generates way too many options for low to moderate populated systems such that the PC's can always buy SOMETHING (something=equalling enough to fill the entire cargo bay, up to at least 200 tons) low and sell it high guaranteed.

(Is going to take a much longer look at Far Trader now thanks to Whipsnade)
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Old August 24th, 2010, 02:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Whipsnade View Post
That's only part of the equation however. There's something very important to brokers, shippers, and other business people which that subsidized ships and corporations can provide and which the players cannot provide.

The players in their tramp trader cannot even begin to offer the continuity and dependability of service that a subsidized ship and/or corporation can. Business people want long term contracts with dependable, legally enforced schedules they can check their calendars by.

Continuity and dependability are part of the speculative trade picture too because a known or even suspected luxury is going to be sold for as much as the producer can demand. A dependable shipper with a continuity of service is going to be able to approach the yeoman of Schmoeland and arrange to purchase organically grown cocktail umbrellas at a fixed price over a lengthy period of time. That is something the players aboard their tramp trader cannot hope to match. As with long term shipping contracts, these long term purchasing contracts are good for both sides as they provide the growers with a known income and the shipper with known cargoes.

Dependable service and a continuity of service means that the players are shippers and purchasers of last resort.

Being a shipper or purchaser of last resort is a special event and not an everyday occurrence. This means a trade/cargo system meant to provide goods and cargoes for the players aboard tramp traders shouldn't automatically produce large lots of trade goods/cargo with every roll of the dice. A trade system focused on the needs of role-playing should be the goal of any role-playing game, but a trade system focused on the needs of role-playing doesn't have to be economically illiterate.

Sadly, automatically producing large lots of trade goods/cargo with every roll of the dice is exactly what the economically illiterate "Golden Pair" trade model does.
Perhaps it doesn't work like that in the Far Future, and even the great shipping lines can no longer ensure that degree of reliability in transport.
A large cargo might need a big ship to transport it - but if you have, say, a thousand tons of anagathic precursors to ship in bulk somewhere, and you put it in one cargo hold in one big ship, and that one big ship misjumps, then that's a thousand ton cargo the destination is never going to see, and a whole lot of debt back home.

But if it got broken up and put in the holds of a bunch of smaller ships, at least some of the shipment is likely to get through, because a hundred ships with a bunch of ten ton cargoes aren't all likely to misjump on the same route, are they?

Furthermore, due to the threat of piracy, corporate warfare between rivals etc., a shipping firm cannot afford to put its most precious payloads into its more visible ships because those vessels are clear targets for piracy and hijacking. So the corporations have to hire the more discreet, honest small traders to ship these cargoes on the QT, while the larger vessels run decoy with empty cargo holds, or cargo holds filled with less valuable loads.

Sometimes, it's a double bluff. The tramp traders think they have the real cargo - and so do the pirates or privateers, because the corporation has fed that news to the pirates through a known mole. That gets the pirates off their backs while the real cargo rides home happily in the cargo hold of the big, obvious corporate cargoliner hiding in plain sight.

And lastly, even the largest corporate shipping lines cannot afford to acquire the taint of impropriety, yet they do have to get some cargoes delivered. No matter how illegal those cargoes may be at the destination world, like a shipment of copies of Darwin's "On The Origin of Species" to Pysadi or copies of The Zhodani Dictionary to Jewell.

Hence, free traders operating as private contractors. Verbal contracts, no questions asked and if they get caught, the corporate lines' hands are clean.
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