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MegaTraveller Discuss of the MegaTraveller ruleset and the Rebellion Milieu

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Old March 5th, 2018, 12:32 PM
Ahmad Romanov Ahmad Romanov is offline
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Default Simplified Ship Finances?

I totally get players and referees that want the detailed bookkeeping and really enjoy crunching the numbers on trade and profit... that is all cool. But I am not sure if it fits my own personal play-style to do that... I was wondering what you all thought of this solution to keep the "business" side of running a starship in the background while focusing the game session itself on adventures and action.

Basically, players have their own private monies (counted in CR as normal, and privately owned by the individual player, whether it is cash in the pocket or a big bank account on some planet). They use this to buy whatever personal items they need during the game.

Separate from that is a starship slushfund... it doesn't have an exact CR amount. Rather, the ship has a vaguely defined "operating cost," which could be "hundreds of thousands of credits," or "tens of millions of credits" and so on. I reality, though, the starship account will just be a target difficulty to meet expenses (routine, formidable, etc.). Whenever a roll is required (such as when the pilot gets a bad mishap and damages the ship, or some system gets blown off in combat, or just when the ship needs its an annual maintenance overhaul), the players roll dice against the difficulty.

The risk qualifier for the test is based on the situation... can't repair that drive plate? Maybe it will hold on another month before it blows... Uncertain and hazardous! Want to upgrade a room to take high passengers? Safe, obviously. Overdue on a payment and the bank is trying to take the ship? Confrontation, fateful... you should have run from the bank's repo-bounty hunters when you had the chance!

The players will always be aware of the current difficulty... it will be higher if the ship is on a mortgage, lower if the crew just scores a big payout, higher if they haven't had a job in a while...

When the crew earns money for a job, they can decide how much of that is going into bonuses (basically, money that goes straight into the players pockets as CR) and how much is going to the starship account). For example, the referee could say "Ok, the duke pays you the promised 60,000 credits for the last job, what are you going to do with the money? You can probably each take 5,000 credits without increasing the ship expense difficulty, but if you go without pay, you will actually lower it one level for a month or two, buying you time till your next job."

If you really need to eyeball that quickly, then you can probably assume the monetary payout (in CR) for a mission x 10 gives you an operating cost range. So if you complete a single job worth 60,000 CR, it would cover the recent expenses for a ship in the "600,000 CR per annum" operating cost range (based on the assumption that the players will run about 10 big missions a year, or one every two weeks, with lesser missions neither significantly contributing to or taking from these earnings). Thus, if your ship has an operating cost in the single millions, this mission probably wouldn't reduce the the payment difficulties, and might actually give them a tighter deadline to earn money (before the expenses difficulty goes up) if the crew skims too much for bonuses. A huge payout after a seminal moment in the campaign and the players should automatically get to reduce the ship costs (maybe they buy out the ship entirely from the bank, or they make enough to sit comfortable for a while and take on pro-bono work or just explore and travel to a new sector).

To be clear, the amount of expenses that a ship is worth is entirely up to the referee and usually just indicates how much money he wants to hand out in his campaign... a campaign where a Free Trader could be operated for mere tens of thousands means he wants the players to be able to skim a lot of cash bonuses and be comfortably rich (a "Monty Haul" game, if you will). A campaign where a Free Trader costs millions or tens of millions to operate annually (maybe it's old and unreliable, maybe the bank has a heavy lean on the ship, maybe the licensing fees are exorbitant) just means the referee wants to keep the players a little more desperate and hungry.

Now, this is not really a system for handling speculative trading... if you wanted to do that, I would probably just treat it as mission. You buy the goods "automatically" and you get a payout (plus or minus some broker rolls for haggling) if you get them to a specific world in a specific amount of time. More valuable goods simply take up less space and thus restrict the amount of other cargo missions you can take (i.e., you can afford to buy 15 tons of computers or 75 tons of cheap tourist souvenirs). The "value" (really, the base payout for the trading mission) is unchanged, however... it's simply up to the referee, as to how much he wants a trade mission to be worth (just like he decides how much a patron might pay for any other kind of mission).

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