Traveller Store CotI Features New Posts Mark Forums Read Register

Go Back > Citizens of the Imperium > General Traveller Discussions > In My Traveller Universe

In My Traveller Universe Detail what parts of Traveller you do (or don't) use in your campaign.

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old February 3rd, 2015, 01:20 AM
salochin999 salochin999 is offline
Citizen: SOC-13
Join Date: Apr 2014
Posts: 595
Gallery : 0
salochin999 Citizen+salochin999 Citizen+
Default A Big & Small ship universe in the same OTU

Finished my IMTU Spinward trade map which may be of interest to someone.

(courtesy of the awesome )

The map (pdf)


purple are long distance routes
dark green are short distance
light green are subsidized by the Imperium for reason of policy (e.g. building up border systems)

(a lot of the short distance routes are overlaid by the long distance)


A Big Ship Universe (BSU) and a Small Ship Universe (SSU) in the same Universe

By BSU I mean both individual ships much bigger than the classic Book 2 type ships and also large numbers of large ships e.g. massive fleets of dreadnoughts.

By SSU I mean like the classic CT adventures in systems where there's fewer ships and most are in the 100T to 800T range.

So basically Coruscant vs Tattooine or "Foundation" vs "Firefly"

Now given the size, wealth and productive capacity of the major OTU planets the OTU logically must be a BSU (imo) but does it have to be a BSU everywhere?



A lot of this stems from the shipping cost data

and trade discussion

found elsewhere on the forum.


Trade Premises

1) Systems are likely to be mostly self-sufficient in terms of raw materials because not only do they have a whole planet to mine they have their whole solar system.

2) Interstellar shipping costs per ton per parsec are high relative to average cargo value per ton (stated as 5000cr in Merchant Prince). Plus regardless of the average cargo value if you look at the value of trade goods in Book 2 or elsewhere the value of common raw materials and food is low compared to shipping costs so it's only going to be economic to ship low value goods short distances and only to places where there is a demand for such goods.

3) On the other hand high value goods: tech, luxury items, rare materials, unique planetary items etc can be profitably transported long distances but only in large amounts to systems which have a high demand for high value goods.



Trade in Traveller will mostly revolve around the alpha planets.

(Defined IMTU as class A star port, pop 8+, TL 12+.)

1) The alpha systems have high value tech to trade for what they want.

2) The alpha systems might have a demand for common raw materials because they have already used up the easiest sources in their system so deep mined local copper might be more expensive than copper that is open mined on a nearby system and then shipped - as long as it was nearby.

3) Assuming that an alpha planet can always grow enough food to feed their billions even if it's in vats or on orbital stations or whatever they might still consider "natural" food items as a luxury or preference especially things like meat and fruit so I can see alpha systems having a demand for those from nearby systems - again stressing nearby.

4) The alpha planets will provide the main market for high value goods simply because their population size and TL implies they will will have a large market and lots of prosperous or wealthy individuals.

So the alpha planets are the main markets and provide the hubs of trade.



If you accept the conclusion then the nature of trade in the Imperium will resolve into three main categories.

1) Short Distance Trade
This is where sub-alpha systems within say 4-6 parsecs of an alpha has something to trade with the alpha for tech. This would create small clusters of systems around an alpha whose economies become integrated. (These clusters would likely once have been the core of the pocket empires swallowed up by the Imperium as it expanded.)

2) Long Distance Trade
Hub to hub trade between alphas. There is no reason for ships plying these routes to stop at the worlds along the route so these routes would likely take the form of orbital refueling stations by an outer gas giant or ice planet. The hub to hub ships just jump in, dock, refuel and do maintenance checks at the space station then jump out again, only stopping for real when they reach the destination.

3) Tramp Trade
Most everywhere else will have relatively low volumes of trade providing a living for Book 2 type subsidized merchants and Free Trader speculative trade.


Additional Reasoning

Apart from the trade aspect there is also the general GDP and productive capacity aspect. The alpha planets will both physically produce the fleets and provide orders of magnitude more revenue to support them than most systems so in terms of fleets - the bedrock of the Imperium - the alpha planets are what matters.

More specifically what matters
1) alpha planets
2) alpha clusters
3) routes between the alpha clusters
4) border fortress systems



Simply by saying IYTU the Imperium only cares about the above list you can divide the OTU in two. The BSU exists in the alpha clusters and at border fortress systems and military bases and partially exists in systems along the long distance routes. The SSU is everywhere else.


How to decide which systems are which?

You could do it the GURPS way of giving systems a trade value based on their world stats but I think the potential self-sufficiency of systems and the randomness of whether or not a system has something worth selling makes a random element to trade value both plausible and potentially more interesting so IMTU I'm using the canon star port class as the indicator of trade value i.e. if they built it there must be a reason.

1) The alpha systems are defined as class A, pop 8+, TL 12+ (or sub-sector capitals).

2) Non-alpha systems with A or B star ports within 4-6 parsec of an alpha system are assumed to have something to sell to the alpha in exchange for tech and are part of the alpha cluster.

3) A or B systems away from an alpha are treated as being actively built up by the Imperium for some reason.

4) C, D and E systems are assumed to not have much anyone else needs and so have a low volume of trade serviced by Book 2 type ships.


Example: Glisten sub-sector

1) As an alpha system Glisten itself would clearly part of the BSU

2) Mertactor, Mille Falcs, Egypt, Overnale, New Rome, Romar, Aki, Weiss, Bendor, Squanine, Dobham, Ffudn are all part of Glisten's trade cluster and so with variations mostly in the BSU.

3) Grote could be a system being actively built up by the Imperium as a border fortress and link to District 268

4) The main world of systems like Inthe and Crout aren't part of the BSU (star port class too low) but as their outer zones are part of a long distance trade route this makes the outer part of their system part of the BSU. Players jumping to Inthe might see lots of big freighters and a squadron of patrolling dreadnoughts at the outer rim of the system but as they head to the habitable zone they gradually cross over to the SSU.

5) Even with a sub-sector as busy as Glisten there's still about 11 other systems that are SSU and another 7 or so that are half and half. Plenty of room for the sort of adventures I like where a party picks up a job somewhere like Glisten that involves travelling to somewhere like Aster and back again.



Anyway, very long post but this setup finally works for me after a long time of a) wanting to play in the Spinward Marches but b) psychologically not being able to "find the wilderness" for SSU type adventures in it so I think doing something along these lines might work for other people who have had the same problem.

In a nutshell the BSU is where the Imperium cares and the SSU is where it doesn't.
Reply With Quote

To see more of this thread, please login or register.


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Small ship universe Old_Dr_Skull In My Traveller Universe 268 June 16th, 2013 02:49 AM
Bk 5 Small Ship Universe Piper The Fleet 53 January 7th, 2013 02:56 PM
Stellardate:2998 Starships in a Small Ship Traveller Universe robject The Fleet 0 January 10th, 2012 01:31 PM
Small Ship Universe JustinInOz The Fleet 30 August 7th, 2009 07:43 PM

This website and its contents are copyright ©2010- Far Future Enterprises. All rights reserved. Traveller is a registered trademark of Far Future Enterprises .
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright (c) 2010-2013, Far Future Enterprises. All Rights Reserved.